Ishmael's Circumcision and Baptizing Children of Promise

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Hunn

Puritan Board Freshman
I read "Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace" by Paul Jewett a few months back, and one of the arguments that stood out to me was the fact that Abraham circumcised Ishmael after he already knew that the covenant would be established with Isaac(Gen 17). I haven't seen this addressed by paedobaptists anywhere though I don't doubt that it has been.

This is my question. How do you explain the discontinuity between the sign of circumcision in which both the child of promise and the child not in the covenant were included, and the sign of baptism in which only the covenant children are baptized?

Forgive me if at any point I've misrepresented your position. Thanks!
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Um, the household should be baptized. But the reality is that modern households look different than ancient ones. Among other things, we don't have slaves in our households. But if we did, I'd baptize them.

And Ishmael was circumcised - along with every other male in the household - because of their relationship to Abraham (and by extension, their participation in the covenant community) not on the basis of election. Just like everyone in my household is baptized because of their relationship to me (and by extension, the covenant community) and not on the basis of election. Well, except my wife, because she came into the union already having received the sign of the covenant on the basis of her profession of faith when she was an early teen, so I think she's elect, but I'm not certain... somedays I'm more certain than others. ;)

Seriously, you may disagree with my position, but where am I being inconsistent?
 
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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I would add that the language does not say "Ishmael is not in the Covenant anymore." It communicates in whom the Seed will be established. The 11 tribes, beside Judah, were not cut off because the Seed would be established in the line of Judah.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Ben is right on target, but we might want to add that even though Ismael was not the son of promise, he still received blessing as a member of Abraham's household:

As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. (Gen 17:20)

Interestingly, just a couple verses later we read:

Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him. (Gen. 17:23)

So, per Ben's point, Jewitt would also need to consider the fact that it was not just Ismael and Isaac who were circumcised, but all of Abraham's (male) household. That does not seem to support his point, in my opinion.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Ben is right on target, but we might want to add that even though Ismael was not the son of promise, he still received blessing as a member of Abraham's household:

As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. (Gen 17:20)

Indeed, there are temporal benefits to being associated with the people of God.
 

Hunn

Puritan Board Freshman
Um, the household should be baptized. But the reality is that modern households look different than ancient ones. Among other things, we don't have slaves in our households. But if we did, I'd baptize them.

And Ishmael was circumcised - along with every other male in the household - because of their relationship to Abraham (and by extension, their participation in the covenant community) not on the basis of election. Just like everyone in my household is baptized because of their relationship to me (and by extension, the covenant community) and not on the basis of election. Well, except my wife, because she came into the union already having received the sign of the covenant on the basis of her profession of faith when she was an early teen, so I think she's elect, but I'm not certain... somedays I'm more certain than others. ;)

Seriously, you may disagree with my position, but where am I being inconsistent?

Interesting. I wouldn't have expected you to say that you would baptize slaves. So by extension would you baptize a wife or older children of a believer, if they hadn't already been baptized? That's entirely consistent. Is this the view held by most reformed believers?
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Interesting. I wouldn't have expected you to say that you would baptize slaves. So by extension would you baptize a wife or older children of a believer, if they hadn't already been baptized? That's entirely consistent.

If I marry again I will insist on my wife being baptised if she hasn't been. Does that seem strange?
 

Hunn

Puritan Board Freshman
I would add that the language does not say "Ishmael is not in the Covenant anymore." It communicates in whom the Seed will be established. The 11 tribes, beside Judah, were not cut off because the Seed would be established in the line of Judah.

I see your point about how it refers to the seed as well as the covenant. But I think there is a difference between Ishmael and the 11 tribes, who were included in the Mosaic Covenant. At what point would Ishmael and Esau and there descendants no longer be part of the covenant?

---------- Post added at 08:41 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:38 PM ----------

Interesting. I wouldn't have expected you to say that you would baptize slaves. So by extension would you baptize a wife or older children of a believer, if they hadn't already been baptized? That's entirely consistent.

If I marry again I will insist on my wife being baptised if she hasn't been. Does that seem strange?

No, I think that is consistent with your position. But I assume you would be marrying a believer who we all would agree would need to be baptized. But if you came to faith as an adult and your wife was still an unbeliever, would you have her baptized if she consented?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Also, Abraham obeyed God's precept and left God's purpose to be worked out by Himself. As in Hebrews 11, he obeyed not knowing whither he went. Obedience is man's business; providence is God's.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Pastor Winzer, like most of the time, answered your question to me, reflecting my position.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Nick -

Concerning Paul Jewett, please bear in mind that the man lamentably ended up apostasizing, and the seeds of his apostasy are evident in his book.
 

Hunn

Puritan Board Freshman
Also, Abraham obeyed God's precept and left God's purpose to be worked out by Himself. As in Hebrews 11, he obeyed not knowing whither he went. Obedience is man's business; providence is God's.

In the context of the other posts, I'm taking this to mean that you guys think baptizing your household(to include adults) is a command. Is that correct? I was under the impression that only children would be baptized. I doubt that other instances would come up in practice very often anyway.
 

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
Also, Abraham obeyed God's precept and left God's purpose to be worked out by Himself. As in Hebrews 11, he obeyed not knowing whither he went. Obedience is man's business; providence is God's.

In the context of the other posts, I'm taking this to mean that you guys think baptizing your household(to include adults) is a command. Is that correct? I was under the impression that only children would be baptized. I doubt that other instances would come up in practice very often anyway.

Those who are of able age are required to give a credible profession of faith AND be baptized. Yes, this applies to the whole household.

 

Hunn

Puritan Board Freshman
Those who are of able age are required to give a credible profession of faith AND be baptized. Yes, this applies to the whole household.


Would all pb's require a profession of faith before baptism for those of able age, or would some baptize those without a confession (such as in the case of slaves)?
 

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
Those who are of able age are required to give a credible profession of faith AND be baptized. Yes, this applies to the whole household.




Would all pb's require a profession of faith before baptism for those of able age, or would some baptize those without a confession (such as in the case of slaves)?

I doubt any Reformed paedobaptist would advocate baptizing an adult without a profession of faith. The idea inherent in a household baptism is that all those who are of able age are baptized upon a profession of faith, including slaves, adopted sons, or other dependents. You are misunderstanding if you are thinking that an adult is to be baptized without making a profession of faith.
 

Hunn

Puritan Board Freshman
Those who are of able age are required to give a credible profession of faith AND be baptized. Yes, this applies to the whole household.




Would all pb's require a profession of faith before baptism for those of able age, or would some baptize those without a confession (such as in the case of slaves)?

I doubt any Reformed paedobaptist would advocate baptizing an adult without a profession of faith. The idea inherent in a household baptism is that all those who are of able age are baptized upon a profession of faith, including slaves, adopted sons, or other dependents. You are misunderstanding if you are thinking that an adult is to be baptized without making a profession of faith.

It seems to me some of the guys above were making that argument. It's very possible that I am misunderstanding. I guess this is kind of related to what I was talking about with the discontinuity. Gen 17 mentions nothing about the faith of slaves and others in Abe's household. I'm not saying that they didn't, just that the text doesn't mention it. So I'm wondering why faith would be required from the adults of the household but not from the children.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
The Scripture is not always explicit as we might like. Acts 16, for instance, says nothing about Timothy being baptized, even though it explicitly says he was circumcised (as an adult). Do I think Timothy was baptized? Of course, but the text doesn't say that because that's not the point of the passage.
 

Hunn

Puritan Board Freshman
The Scripture is not always explicit as we might like. Acts 16, for instance, says nothing about Timothy being baptized, even though it explicitly says he was circumcised (as an adult). Do I think Timothy was baptized? Of course, but the text doesn't say that because that's not the point of the passage.

Good point, Tim! We wouldn't have to have these discussions if scripture was as explicit as I'd like!

Here's a hypothetical question related to the above discourse. This is just to try to better understand the pb position. I'm trying not to debate.

Assume a man is converted as an adult and has an unbelieving wife. She doesn't believe and can make no profession but she is willing to submit to her husband, be baptized, and be part of his church. Can she be baptized?
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Assume a man is converted as an adult and has an unbelieving wife. She doesn't believe and can make no profession but she is willing to submit to her husband, be baptized, and be part of his church. Can she be baptized?

Yea verily I say unto thee - Though the probability of the exact circumstances you describe actually occuring are virtually nil and stretch the limits of my imagination... yes, she can and she must be baptized if she is to be a part of the visible church. But note - I would not allow her to commune.

And I would say the same of any slave in the household either.

As my dependents, I say that they will attend worship and be a part of the visible church.

The only alternative is for the paedobaptist to arbitrarily set an age at which the person speaks for themselves, thus destroying the concept of the covenant household, and becoming de facto credo baptists.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Well, technically speaking, all paedobaptists are also credobaptists -- that is, we will also baptize upon profession of faith.
 

Hunn

Puritan Board Freshman
Assume a man is converted as an adult and has an unbelieving wife. She doesn't believe and can make no profession but she is willing to submit to her husband, be baptized, and be part of his church. Can she be baptized?

Yea verily I say unto thee - Though the probability of the exact circumstances you describe actually occuring are virtually nil and stretch the limits of my imagination... yes, she can and she must be baptized if she is to be a part of the visible church. But note - I would not allow her to commune.

And I would say the same of any slave in the household either.

As my dependents, I say that they will attend worship and be a part of the visible church.

The only alternative is for the paedobaptist to arbitrarily set an age at which the person speaks for themselves, thus destroying the concept of the covenant household, and becoming de facto credo baptists.

Glad I could give your imagination a whirl, sir. Your position is consistent; I'll give you that.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Assume a man is converted as an adult and has an unbelieving wife. She doesn't believe and can make no profession but she is willing to submit to her husband, be baptized, and be part of his church. Can she be baptized?

In a society where women are subject to men she would be baptised; in a society where women make their own choices she would be baptised on her own profession of faith.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Assume a man is converted as an adult and has an unbelieving wife. She doesn't believe and can make no profession but she is willing to submit to her husband, be baptized, and be part of his church. Can she be baptized?

In a society where women are subject to men she would be baptised; in a society where women make their own choices she would be baptised on her own profession of faith.

I'd like to have the society where women are subject to men, please.

---------- Post added at 11:06 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:06 PM ----------

Isn't the church a society where women are subject to (their) men? Hmmm.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I'd like to have the society where women are subject to men, please.

---------- Post added at 11:06 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:06 PM ----------

Isn't the church a society where women are subject to (their) men? Hmmm.

I'd like that too if the society were subject to God. I think if the society were subject to God and women were subject to men it would be a relatively happy society. But take a wicked and rebellious society where subjection to men might mean brutal oppression for women, and I think that would be very undesirable.

Good point about the church. These are the kinds of tensions which are raised by a changing society. The church is a distinct society reflecting a redeemed order; hence the church itself continues to function under male headship. But the church is in the world and relates to individuals according to societal customs. On the latter basis I would say there is a reason for affording individuals the civil freedom which society has given them; e.g., we might receive as a church member one who was guilty of murder and should have been punished with death; we engage in civil discourse with false religions which by God's law have no right to exist, etc.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'll go ahead and be inconsistent, set up artificial age limits, etc. and say that no, individuals capable of professing faith who refuse to do so should not be baptized. Having adult baptized members of the church who are not under discipline but are still barred from the Table is a contradiction in terms, and contrary to all Reformed (read: biblical) ecclesiology. If one has servants (not slaves), they should be believers, and capable of making their own profession of faith (Ps. 101).
 

Barnpreacher

Puritan Board Junior
Dabney in his Systematics says,
All adults who make an intelligent and credible profession of faith on Jesus Christ are to be baptized on their own application; and no other adults. The truths signified by baptism, are such that it is obviously inappropriate to all adults but those who are true believers, in the judgment of charity.
 
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