An Oddity in À Brakel

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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
I was reading Wilhelmus À Brakel's treatment on baptism when I get to the section on "The Baptism of Children" and he begins by identifying what children are NOT to be baptized. Even as a Baptist, I was more than a little off-put by his statement. This is what he says:

First, children to be baptized must not be children of Jews, Muslems, heathens, or heretics, even if a member of the covenant has adopted them as children, for such adoption does not change the fact that they were not born within the covenant.

Wilhelmus À Brakel
The Christian's Reasonable Service, Vol. 2, pp. 504-505​

This statement would seem to be wildly at odds with Reformed doctrine and practice. Especially in light of the New Testament doctrine of Adoption. I was hoping to hear some of your thoughts.

I obviously don't agree with infant baptism, however this particular statement has piqued my interest simply because 1) I have never heard anything like this in other Reformed theologians and 2) on account of how strange it seems to exclude adopted children from the sign given to natural born children or even children adopted from believing parents. It comes across as even cruel, and 3) À Brakel makes no attempt to justify this statement.

I was interested in hearing your thoughts.
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Not sure if any others have ever taken up that same view.

For more on the doctrine of adoption, see the works of John L. Girardeau and R.A. Webb.
It is entirely possible that one or the other might even interact with À Brakel's view.
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
I've heard of other Reformed people with the same view in the early history of the Canadian Reformed Churches. Today, however, it would be rare to find someone who holds to this. I certainly don't.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Adoption, as we know it, is a full incorporation of the individual into the family. It is on this basis that the covenant privilege is extended to adopted children. The child is brought up in the nurture of the Lord. One possible explanation of a Brakel's view is that the word "adoption" might not have meant to him what it means to us. In the past adoption regularly served economical and political ends. It may have been for the purpose of apprenticeship or dynastic continuity. The "personal" idea of adoption, in which the individual is taken into the family circle and made a part of the every day life of the family, may not have been the usual form of it as a Brakel knew it. I am not saying this was the case but it may have been.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
It would seem that someone holding this opinion sees the covenant as being more genetic than familial.

---------- Post added at 04:59 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:56 PM ----------

That is as plausible an explanation as could be given Rev. Winzer. I appreciate your input.
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
It would seem that someone holding this opinion sees the covenant as being more genetic than familial.

From the context, I seem the get the same impression. Perhaps this is an explanation why eternal justification before faith tends to be more popular in Dutch Theology than Westminster Theology? There seems to be some connections and implications, though I'm not sure I can clearly articulate them as they appear in my head as I write this.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I ran across a statement in the book of order of one of the reformed bodies from the 1950s in the Continental tradition several years ago that suggested that adopted children should not be baptized. I'm not optimistic that I can come up with either the book or the body at this point. But the view cited does not appear to be unique.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
It would seem that someone holding this opinion sees the covenant as being more genetic than familial.

I was about to post essentially the same thing using different words.


That is as plausible an explanation as could be given Rev. Winzer. I appreciate your input.

Absent evidence to the contrary I would tend to agree here as well. It would be interesting to know what kinds of adoption existed in a Brakel's place and time.
 
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