Relationship between Paedo/Credo

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Puritan Board Freshman
So hey PB! I am a student in college. I have been dating/courting/what-have-you a girl for a year now. The Lord has blessed us so greatly in our relationship. She has such a heart for the Lord, and, like me, feels a call to missions. We are of the same (reformed) view doctrinally and agree totally in our theology.

Except on one very large issue.

One of us holds a credo view and the other paedo. I will not tell you which of us is which, to aid your objectivity.

We have talked about it several times, very peaceably and lovingly, but have not budged in our convictions. In (what I pray is) an earnest search for the biblical truth on this matter I have read hundreds of pages of polemic from writers on both sides, all the way from Tertullian to Calvin to John Murray to Macarthur and many in between. I have delved so deep into this issue that I feel like I've seen the word 'discontinuity' ten thousand times in the past month.

After all of that, I now have an intense appreciation and respect for both sides, but am only reinforced in the correctness of my stance. She as well is quite convinced of her stance, and her Father is a pastor of a church of her view. My question is, how should we best handle this moving forward, and/or is this something that should prevent us from moving forward, and perhaps something that should lead to us breaking up if we do not come to an agreement? One confidant said, "Just baptize them twice," which I certainly do not agree with. A few others have said, "Don't worry about it, that'll get sorted out in pre-marital counseling if you guys reach that point." and along those lines, "If she's serious about you and she's serious and God, she'll submit to your stance." But I am not so sure. Should we even get engaged if we do not come to a theological agreement on this? Or is that irresponsible since this is such an important issue in 1) our kids' lives 2) the church(es) we join and 3) the church(es) we plant if we go that path of missions, which we both are interested in. Likewise, is this an area where submission is appropriate, or is it one of such stark disagreement that she cannot in good conscience marry me knowing she will have to submit to a view she finds unbiblical. Romans 14:23 comes to mind. Would she not be, in marrying me, knowingly putting herself into a future in which she has to submit to what she believes to be wrong, and thus submitting is a sin for her no matter which view is true? Obviously if we were married and agreed on it and then I switched stances away from her stance submission would be right and good, but this is different- she can choose not to marry me.

I am obviously perplexed by this situation, and would love any counsel or wisdom. And prayers too of course. God bless you guys.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Obviously, you don't totally agree in theology. Practica is still theology.

What I suspect you mean is that the two of you are standing on ground that's roughly the same, when it comes to soteriology--TULIP, the order-of-salvation, basically a few of what might be called "the major pieces." Praise the Lord for it, but realize that the two of you probably arrived there by two different paths and two different manners. It's like getting to the same answer for an equation by two different methods. And it is not as if the two methods are really the same, just rearranged components.

Baptism is properly a "second-order doctrine," which is to say that you can be "wrong" on baptism in some significant ways, and still have saving faith. A man can also make baptism into a work, thus adding to the gospel and earning St. Paul's "Anathema!"

The reality is: even when a man don't fully realize it, his practice of baptism is not essentially a superficial and surface thing; but it has incredibly deep roots in his theology. If it be a thing of much indifference, then in reality one is lacking deep theology. No place for roots to sink.

I think the fact that the two of you (the couple in the OP) are in a tug-of-war on this subject is more telling than perhaps you know, or can articulate. Baptism is still important, even if you can't express all the "how" and "why" of it. It is an element of who you are, theologically.

Thinking that baptism is basically malleable is like thinking your skin-color isn't basic to your identity, just because it's a secondary characteristic. When M.J. chemically altered his melanin (or whatever it was he did), he was expressing a serious conflict.

What I'm saying boils down to this: The girl really needs to decide that you are going to be her safe-guide for the rest of your lives together, if this is going to work out. If your whole relationship is presently hinging on the "baptism" question, then probably it's something that you need to figure out together, or else it will always remain a thorn in your (one-flesh) side.

Unless it recedes soon into her comfort in just trusting you in matters of spiritual import. Love can win, sometimes it wins even if on someone scorecard, it isn't the best choice. And the couple who are determined to stay faithful, and patient with one another's faults, will have the grace they need to do so.

But all things considered, she doesn't have the same level of responsibility respecting how her church (which should be the couple's church) treats her children. Her responsibility is limited, which protects her; meanwhile she will have PLENTY to do with spiritual formation in her children, regardless of what her church or her husband does or fails to do. She'll be responsible for her own duties.

Still, if she has a strong conscience about this issue from the beginning, I would not advise her to just bury those concerns. Perhaps, she shouldn't pursue this relationship, if this conflict doesn't melt away from her heart of its own accord. Or from your own heart.

In any case, the children are going to need one clear set of guidelines. If the family attitude teaches them that baptism--despite the fact that it is one of the plain MARKS of the church--is actually not so important, that will truly impact their theology; it will impinge on the spread of its roots in the soil. Don't forget, that the superficial plants on the surface of the ground have an effect on the quality of the soil they grow in. It isn't a one-way impact. Roots help hold the soil in place.

It's good you're wrestling with this matter, and not simply chasing your hormonal instincts. You should seek out the opinion of your parents (both sets), and pastors/elders. People who are actually, physically close to you. Internet advice is disembodied.

Off topic: please see the link below in my signature, "Signature Requirements" in blue so you can update your signature information, and be publicly accountable for your posts on the board (it's a board rule, applicable to all). Thanks.


Puritan Board Doctor
I believe the issue of baptism is one in which a married couple should be in agreement. If you and your girlfriend cannot agree on this issue, then, while it may be difficult, I think it best to end the relationship now before any more is invested.


Puritan Board Freshman
I was in this situation once before. I was the Presbyterian and met a Reformed Baptist. We were long distance and discussed baptism A LOT. We even went through a book together. I ended up changing my view, but I realized later that this was a totally emotional move. I was basically ignoring the arguments for infant baptism. After about a year, I was confronted with the Reformed Baptist view of covenant theology and all I could see were the errors in it. I realized that I was still really a Reformed Presbyterian at heart and could not in good conscience marry and submit to a Reformed Baptist.

No matter what, if she agrees to marry you then she will have to submit to your view regardless of her own views on the matter. She will have to teach your views to your children. Emotions can be very difficult here. It may not fully hit her until you guys have your first child just how difficult it is for her to submit to the opposing view. Some women have been able to do this, but I was certainly one who could not. Like you said - if she has to submit to baptizing the infant even though she doesn't agree with it, she will feel like she is sinning and vica verca.

I also agree with Bruce that any disagreement on baptism goes much deeper than just baptism itself. Whatever your view is on baptism it has major impacts on/is built off of how you view the family, federal headship, covenant theology, the church, "individualism," and hermeunitics just to name a few. When I thought through all of these implications, I knew I could not in good conscience submit to a reformed Baptist view and it would just make me absolutely miserable to try and do so. She will likewise need to think these through and see if she'd be willing to submit to them or not. If you guys could come to an agreement on the issue now, that would be ideal but it is also hard to genuinely do if you two are very emotionally attached to each other, as most couples tend to be.


Puritan Board Freshman
When you studied baptism did you solely look for arguments regarding the sacrement itself or did you look at the entire theology supporting each system as a whole? I'm asking this because I went through a similar exercise not too long ago (but not for the same reason as you). One thing you should examine is if you have emotional attachements to your position that might hinder you from accepting a different view (this goes for both you and your girlfriend). If you were to discover that you were holding to the wrong position would you be willing to make the appropriate adjustments?

I'm saying this because I know how hard it can be to change position on theological understanding and how it can affect your relationship with your church and fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. I know many people are not willing to objectively look into some of these issues out of fear of the consequences.

If you are confident about your position I would suggest you gently discuss about this issue with her father (since you mentioned that he was a pastor) and be willing to listen to his arguments while not being compromising on yours if you are not truly convinced of his position.

If your position is the right one you should be able to clearly explain it to your girlfriend. If she rejects it without any good argumentation and you can see the stubbornness in her stand that might be an indicator of how your relationship might go in the future, if on the other hand she calmly refutes your arguments and you are the one that get stubborn you might have to look at your heart.

I for one believe that disagreement in theology has only 2 possible roots, ignorance or pride. Ignorance is the easiest one to fix ;).


Puritan Board Junior
If your views differ from her fathers views (to which she holds firmly) on Baptism then you don't need to try to change her view. You need to move on or start spending more time with her father (who is still her head until he gives her to you).


Puritan Board Junior
First of all, welcome to PuritanBoard :) I hope that you will be greatly edified while you are here.

In one practical case, how would the two of you agree on praying for the salvation of your children?

One will probably begin with them being totally depraved sinners in need of regeneration and saving grace, with thankfulness that they are in a place where they can hear the Gospel.
The other will probably begin with their place in the Covenant, thankfulness for their membership in the church, and the holiness and blessings they have as covenant children.

And if the two of you pray together every night for your children as you should, you'll have to wrestle with this each time you do.
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Puritan Board Junior
It has probably been mentioned on the Board before, but there is a book called William
The Baptist. Your experience exactly mirrors the very substance of the book. The dilemma
you presently have is dealt with detail by detail. Deals with issue of marriage, and then the
problem around the new baby. I would definitely download it if I were you. May I suggest
that you both read it together a chapter at a time, and prayerfully discuss it together. Those
I have given copies to have been greatly helped. It is told in an agreeable story form and thus
is experimental yet powerfully lays down biblical principles. May the good Lord guide you both.

Brock Organ

Puritan Board Freshman
So hey PB! I am a student in college. I have been dating/courting/what-have-you a girl for a year now. The Lord has blessed us so greatly in our relationship. She has such a heart for the Lord, and, like me, feels a call to missions. We are of the same (reformed) view doctrinally and agree totally in our theology.

Except on one very large issue.

One of us holds a credo view and the other paedo.

Hi Moosepig,

May I suggest the doctrinal issue is a much bigger difference than many would naively assess; for one possible example of where these kinds of differences can go, consider the recent case where one parent faced contempt of court charges for baptizing the children without the consent of the other parent:

Child baptisms spur legal dispute
Mom Could Face 20 Days In Jail for Baptizing Her Kids Without Her Ex-Husband’s Permission | Video |

I think you two should not only talk about what to do if/when there are children in the marriage, but also each of you should discern what is best for the children should you two face the unfortunate example situation described above.

Kind Regards!


Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you all for your courteous replies!

I appreciate the encouragement to seek out personal, real-world advice. This is certainly not something to deliberate only with the aid of the internet.
As we move forward this conversation will certainly largely include her Father, which will edify all three of us given his extensive theological knowledge.

To Etienne, yes have I have sought to understand both the central depth of and surrounding nuances of covenant theology and of the RB theology which is similar (especially compared to other denoms) but distinctly diverging in infant baptism and thus, obviously, there is a divergence in the roots to lead to that. I also really appreciate the encouragement to seek humility- it would be a travesty for either of us to adversely impact our relationship and disrespect our theological honesty with the Lord all out of selfish stubbornness.
Jeff I read all of William the Baptist yesterday after your recommendation and found it to be a very compelling case for paedo, and I definitely think will help us find a place to orient at least some of our conversation around.

Again thank you all for your thorough replies and insight. As I said in my OP I feel this is something that should be lovingly and extensively dealt with before, not during, any potential pre-marital counseling. If I can remember I will try to update this thread if/when there is resolution one way or the other, though that may be quite some time from now!

God bless you all!
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