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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
A couple of days ago, I posted the following on the paedo forum. A fellow credo brother requested that it be pasted here so that he could respond. Gladly. Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.

Call me clueless . . . but it FINALLY hit me after all of these Baptism threads, that the issue that separates paedos from most credos MIGHT have more to do with ecclesiology than sacramentology. Duh! For you on the other side, this may be patent and obvious to you. But, believe me that an intelligent credo would seldom have reason to see it that way. We were hammered to believe that credo baptism is self evident and obvious in the Bible. Anything else partakes of Romanism or liberal Protestantism we were told. Except for the few Reformed Baptists, the CT implications are left unexplored.

Some of you have become quite exercised bringing up the emotional arguments regarding treating covenant children like "vipers in diapers" or "playpen pagans" in the baptism threads, notions that sounded quite foreign to me. While it may be a logical inconsistency in Baptist thinking, most Baptists I know neither frame it that way nor even contemplate such implications regarding their kids.

Today, listening to a MP3 on infant baptism it finally hit me. Paedos see baptism as an outgrowth of the covenant structure to scripture. Of course baptism is viewed as the sign and seal of the New Covenant (just as circumcision was the sign and seal of the Old Covenant). What I was missing, however, was the inner logic of the CT position. Since having the covenant sign did not necessarily make you a member of True Israel neither does baptism necessarily apply only to true believers (there is that promise to "you and to your children"). Ta da!

Most of us crredos, however, are stuck on the idea that the church is ONLY to be a regenerate membership, not a combination of saved and unsaved peoples. Unbelievers in the church may be a reality, but it would never be assumed the way it is when using the comparison to the OT covenant. The old Baptist saw is "a regenerate membership safeguarded by believer's baptism."

My guess is that credo baptism was adopted as a way of applying "regenerate membership" ecclesiology rather than coming from an inductive study of the Bible and who should be baptized (it certainly did not grow out of a deep understanding of covenant). The deeper goal was not to restrict who you baptized, but to insure that the composition of the visible church comes as close to being coextensive with the number of the elect as possible. Then, when Arminianism swamped the Baptist boat in the 19th and 20th centuries, the democratic emphasis upon volunterism and "choosing" to become a Christian took center stage. Here, believer's baptism made even more sense. If becoming a Christian was simply a matter of choosing, then baptism for "choosers" (aka believers) should be obvious. (This does not, however, explain why Methodists practice infant baptism!)

Maybe my bow tie is on too tight this afternoon and my theological acumen has gone out the window. However, here is my question: do you paedo brethren think that the deeper problem with the credo position is the tendency in most Baptist circles to operate out of a flawed notion of the proper composition of the visible church with the sacramentological implications following? In other words, where is the "real" rub, with the proper candidates for baptism or with the ecclesiological understanding of the church as made up only of regenerate persons?

I now think I can see why paedos believe that their children should be baptized. Now it makes sense to me! And, it makes even more sense why some of you get so ticked off at the credo position, believing that it implies terrible things about our (and your) children and their spiritual state.

Does this line of thought seem to fairly represent what is at stake? If so, my efforts at understanding this subject will require me to dig deeply into the nature of the church and its proper biblical composition rather than merely the arguments for and against infant baptism.
 

hollandmin

Puritan Board Freshman
hey Dennis,

I have spent some time looking at the paedo-baptism position as well. I completely understand where they are coming from, but I don't believe that their position is accurate.

Let me point you to a book that I have read that is a really quick read, but it expresses the reformed Baptist position very well, think you would find it quite compelling in regards to the covenant of grace and where our children reside.

Reformed Baptist Academic Press

Blessings,

Toby
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Yes, we all do create strawmen.


The paedo position is perfectly logical givien a few different presuppositions. The White Shisko debate on baptism is a very good debate that seems to get to most of those presuppositions.

Presbyterians do want to honor God not merely save on the water bill.


But remember, in the one covenant of grace there IS discontinuity despite the general continuity that we see.

William Paul Jewitt's book on baptism (I forget the name, can anyone help me) is a good credo-baptist book from a covenantal perspective.
 

hollandmin

Puritan Board Freshman
Here you Go!

Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace: An Appraisal of the Argument That As Infants Were Once Circumcised, So They Shoud Now Be Baptized - Paul Jewitt
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
I agree with Pergamum. Shift a few presuppositions about the covenant and you could argue for paedobaptism.

A few books that I found helpful were :

Believers Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ by Schreiner/Wright
Baptism in the Early Church by [paedos] Stander/Louw

The first book was very helpful as much of it deals with Reformed paedobaptists arguments.

Peace.

j
 

hollandmin

Puritan Board Freshman
Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace: An Appraisal of the Argument That As Infants Were Once Circumcised, So They Shoud Now Be Baptized - Paul Jewitt
I have never read it but I knew the one you were talking about. The book
Covenant Children today by Alan Conner is the linked I posted before. I have read it and found it to be quite good in regards to the credo-baptism position. It gives a very good explanation as to how Covenant theology coincides with credo-baptism.

Blessings,
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Hello Dennis,
Just want to respond to some of your thoughts. You said;
My guess is that credo baptism was adopted as a way of applying "regenerate membership" ecclesiology rather than coming from an inductive study of the Bible and who should be baptized (it certainly did not grow out of a deep understanding of covenant).
Dennis, it might be that the credo understanding comes from just reading the book of Acts, along with the promises of Jn 14-17 and the teaching of Jesus to believe and be baptized.
15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
The next issue that comes up is;
I now think I can see why paedos believe that their children should be baptized. Now it makes sense to me!
It is interesting that they did not see this as what the apostle Paul was teaching as late in the book of Acts in Acts 21
20And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

21And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
This seems to indicate a change in the administration of the covenant- "saying that they ought not to circumcise their children". in the verses that follow,it is almost a repeat of the teaching of Acts 15. It does not say, well baptism has now replaced circumcision as the sign of the covenant. If it said that in Acts 15 when the question of circumcision was being addressed the issue would be settled.
The teaching of who constitutes the church is central. In Eph.5 I do not see where the non elect are said to be the body of Christ. Both agree that what is called the Invisible Church will be assembled on the Last Day.
Unbeliever's who assemble among the sheep are an issue both sides have to deal with. I struggle with this issue,and am constantly going over it.
The padeo scheme has a logic to it,and by stressing the [external administration] of the COG they speak to this issue by applying all the Nt warnings in Hebrews and Rev 2-3 to false professors, or apostates.
This view has an answer for these verses that is logical , and deserves to be considered.
Reformed Baptists also have to speak to these issues. Looking at the indicitives in Romans 6 , and the reality of the condition and position of these Justified believer's is not trying to fit or force a view on the scripture,but rather speaks to the reality of those who are baptized [Spiritually] into Christ.
As to how we view our children, we know that we are responsible to train them from the scripture. We know that if they are going to be saved,God must do the saving. We know that if they repent and believe by God's grace they also will take part in the resurrection life of Christ,having been translated into the kingdom.
Our children are holy in that they have the blessing of living with believing parents.This is no different than living in a padeo home, in that padeo children do not participate in the Lord's supper until they are older, if they profess that they believe and want to be "members".
When we baptize a child they can take the Lord's supper also.
You also said this;
And, it makes even more sense why some of you get so ticked off at the credo position, believing that it implies terrible things about our (and your) children and their spiritual state.
Dennis, if the children or anyone else has not the Spirit they will perish.
Romans 8:9. If they are not born again they will perish. If they do not have the Spirit, they are natural men in Adam as far as we can tell.
If they are those included in the Covenant of Redemption they will savingly believe and openly confess Christ Jesus as Lord, by believer's baptism.[ Those in the covenant of redemption, believe In Time, visibly and openly]
We are thankful that God works in households.We are thankful he works through means . We cannot presume anything.We must daily seek Him for grace and mercy for our family. "Covenant children" if they do not have the Spirit cannot rightly understand spiritual truth anymore than anyone else.
We look for evidence of the grace of God in our children. It is not as if we try to keep them from any truth.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
any credo reviews on this book? Does it stand up or make errors in argument?
Jewett was one of my profs at Fuller. He had just announced that Paul was wrong on women when I arrived and he was later to declare his support for homosexual relationships. This did not stop me from buying his book, but it did keep me from reading it.
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.
Hey, that used to be my title here on the PB, instead of "freshman" or whatever. It got whacked during an update a little while after Scott Bushey left the board.

Anthony's comments are well stated. Here are a couple more observations.
Most of us credos, however, are stuck on the idea that the church is ONLY to be a regenerate membership, not a combination of saved and unsaved peoples. Unbelievers in the church may be a reality, but it would never be assumed the way it is when using the comparison to the OT covenant.
I'm not stuck Dennis. I'm submissive to the clear teaching of Scripture. I gladly and joyfully embrace it. There is a difference. Even the paedos agree with believer's baptism. That's not even the argument, really. The argument is on the validity of baptizing infants into the covenant (as you touch on in your closing statements). This is where it must be understand that the NC is a spiritual fulfillment of many OC promises, and therefore only fitting for those who are spiritually circumcised. The OC could be observed externally, but true obedience was based on a spiritual reality. One could be an Israelite, but not an "Israelite indeed," if you will. Nobody is in the NC unless they are regenerate. That is the condition presented in Scripture.

It is because of this that your following statement seems strange to me.
My guess is that credo baptism was adopted as a way of applying "regenerate membership" ecclesiology rather than coming from an inductive study of the Bible and who should be baptized (it certainly did not grow out of a deep understanding of covenant). The deeper goal was not to restrict who you baptized, but to insure that the composition of the visible church comes as close to being coextensive with the number of the elect as possible.
Personally, I find this baffling brother. "Credo baptism was adopted" as a reaction against unsaved membership? That's what I gather from your statement. It seems to me that you are imposing goals or motives where they don't exist. Baptism is an act of obedience and identification. One doesn't need to be baptized into the covenant any more than they need to be circumcised. But, as an act of obedience and in a desire to identify with Christ believers are baptized. To do any less is to be disobedient to Christ, which signals unbelief. The relationship is identical to the reality that faith brings forth works, but works can never establish faith (though works definitely help strengthen existing faith).

Bringing Arminianism into it confuses the issue as well. Again, it makes credobaptism reactionary; focused on the trends of the day or fending off errant theology, rather than following a direct commandment of our Lord Jesus. These statements also imply that infant baptism was the norm before believer's baptism existed. Even many paedos, though they believe in the validity of infant baptism, would agree that the early church did not baptize infants. They see it clearly as a covenantal relationship based on their theological grid (which Anthony addressed well).

I would urge caution while digging "deeply into the nature of the church and its proper biblical composition." Ecclesiology is not that complicated, though much of the modern church has made it so. God's Word in regard to this is rather simple. But much theological wrangling and academic prowess has confused the simplicity of the church and made physical works supercede spiritual realities.

While, as you say, it's understandable in light of the thinking behind the paedo position, that doesn't mean that it's right. Because of this, even though you desire to start with a deep study of ecclesiology, it inevitably will center on "the arguments for and against infant baptism."

May your study be fruitful and edifying.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Dennis, I am sadly unable to sit and focus on the other thread where you asked this, the replies given (which I'm sure were great, as the replies to my questions were), or the replies here, so my comment may be simply out of place in the discussion, redundant, for which I apologize --and of course I myself am confused working through these things so it may simply be worthless. One thing that clarified for me when I asked my questions is that some paedo baptists have a very different ecclesiology than we baptists do, but they are the ones who believe that the Westminster Confession teaches that 'professing faith' and 'obedience' as a requirement for baptism are not 'personal', but somehow objective in submitting to baptism and a process of discipleship itself. This is indeed a radically different ecclesiology. Yet the common understanding of the Westminster Confession is that only believing parents and their infants should be candidates for baptism. This is because the promises are made by God only to parents who believe, and so only infants of parent(s) with a credible profession of faith in the judgment of the church have a right to baptism in the eyes of men. The ecclesiology is very similar to ours. The visible church is composed of believers: the church still judges who is and who is not a candidate for the visible church based on profession of faith, because the Covenant is with believers: the promises to children are only for the infants of believers. Personally I have the same view of infant inclusion in the promises as most paedos. I simply don't know that this is/was the basis for baptism in the NT (and I believe there is some inconsistency in the way many paedos acknowledge differences in the administration of circumcision and baptism but want to accuse baptist brethren of a faulty hermeneutic for taking those differences one step further than they do). With some paedos I honestly don't believe there is a fundamental or radical difference in ecclesiology: the visible church is still about believers. Whether or not we baptise infants is more of a minor difference on whether a special standing for believers' children is grounds for their inclusion with the 'believers'. There is more fundamental difference in ecclesiology between them and their paedo brethren with whom they would disagree about the interpretation of the Confession (and most of the arguments leveled against baptists by those who argue that the profession should not be personal could be leveled against many in their own tradition, such as John Brown, Thomas Boston, etc). This has actually added rather to my confusion than clarified anything for me. So here's baking soda in your eyes. (I'm currently baptizing my couch with baking soda, purifying it for our covenant use, as it were...)
 

refbaptdude

Puritan Board Freshman
Call me clueless . . . but it FINALLY hit me after all of these Baptism threads, that the issue that separates paedos from most credos MIGHT have more to do with ecclesiology than sacramentology. Duh! For you on the other side, this may be patent and obvious to you. But, believe me that an intelligent credo would seldom have reason to see it that way. We were hammered to believe that credo baptism is self evident and obvious in the Bible. Anything else partakes of Romanism or liberal Protestantism we were told. Except for the few Reformed Baptists, the CT implications are left unexplored.
Dennis,

You need to read some of the older Baptist writers concerning the topic of covenant. The heart of the issue is not “sacramentology” or “ecclesiology”, ultimately it is about COVENANT.

Some good resources are:

Covenant Theology From Adam to Christ - Nehemiah Cox and John Owen
SGCB | Reformed Baptist Academic Press

Body of Divinity – John Gill

The Cross and the Covenants – R.B.C. Howell
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
A couple of days ago, I posted the following on the paedo forum. A fellow credo brother requested that it be pasted here so that he could respond. Gladly. Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.

Call me clueless . . . but it FINALLY hit me after all of these Baptism threads, that the issue that separates paedos from most credos MIGHT have more to do with ecclesiology than sacramentology. Duh! For you on the other side, this may be patent and obvious to you. But, believe me that an intelligent credo would seldom have reason to see it that way. We were hammered to believe that credo baptism is self evident and obvious in the Bible. Anything else partakes of Romanism or liberal Protestantism we were told. Except for the few Reformed Baptists, the CT implications are left unexplored.


I am not so sure that this is a reasonable assessment. It might be if you are an Independent Fundamentalist. When you read the Coxe book and the Malone book you will see that it has to do with how one views the Covenant of Grace and who its members are. It also has to do with how one defines the Covenants and how they relate to each other.


Some of you have become quite exercised bringing up the emotional arguments regarding treating covenant children like "vipers in diapers" or "playpen pagans" in the baptism threads, notions that sounded quite foreign to me. While it may be a logical inconsistency in Baptist thinking, most Baptists I know neither frame it that way nor even contemplate such implications regarding their kids.
Jonathan Edwards said that all of our kids are born Vipers. LOL

I do believe they are born in original sin and need to regenerate.

Today, listening to a MP3 on infant baptism it finally hit me. Paedos see baptism as an outgrowth of the covenant structure to scripture. Of course baptism is viewed as the sign and seal of the New Covenant (just as circumcision was the sign and seal of the Old Covenant). What I was missing, however, was the inner logic of the CT position. Since having the covenant sign did not necessarily make you a member of True Israel neither does baptism necessarily apply only to true believers (there is that promise to "you and to your children"). Ta da!
Having the Covenant sign in the Old Covenant did make you a member the Nation Isreal. If you didn't have the sign you were not permitted to be a member of the household of Abraham. The Covenant of Circumcision included both elect and non elect because the purpose of the Covenant was twofold. It had promises for the descendants of Abraham because of posterity and Promises that were spiritual in nature. These Pomises were not all-inclusive to Abraham's household. All of the promises made to Abraham's Prosterity were for all of them. But the Spiritual Promises were not. You can see that in the blessing Abraham sought for Ishmael. "Oh that Ishmael might live before thee.

(Gen 17:18) And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

(Gen 17:19) And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

(Gen 17:20) And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

(Gen 17:21) But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
Read Genesis 17 a little closer and you will see what I am saying. Nehemiah Coxe does a great job with the Abrahamic Covenant and the Covenant of Circumcision. You will get alot out of it.

Most of us credos, however, are stuck on the idea that the church is ONLY to be a regenerate membership, not a combination of saved and unsaved peoples. Unbelievers in the church may be a reality, but it would never be assumed the way it is when using the comparison to the OT covenant. The old Baptist saw is "a regenerate membership safeguarded by believer's baptism."
I am not so sure that your assessment is correct here either. We have always acknowledged the fact that some might creep in unawares. But when they are found out they are to endure Church discipline and cast out if they do not hold to their confession of faith in Christ. Reading Malone, Coxe, and Conner will show you more about what Confessional Baptist see.

My guess is that credo baptism was adopted as a way of applying "regenerate membership" ecclesiology rather than coming from an inductive study of the Bible and who should be baptized (it certainly did not grow out of a deep understanding of covenant). The deeper goal was not to restrict who you baptized, but to insure that the composition of the visible church comes as close to being coextensive with the number of the elect as possible. Then, when Arminianism swamped the Baptist boat in the 19th and 20th centuries, the democratic emphasis upon volunterism and "choosing" to become a Christian took center stage. Here, believer's baptism made even more sense. If becoming a Christian was simply a matter of choosing, then baptism for "choosers" (aka believers) should be obvious. (This does not, however, explain why Methodists practice infant baptism!)
You are incorrect here also. Baptism of Confessing Christians is what the early church did. And that is what is recorded in the Scriptures. It is also done because the Children of God are spiritual children as defined in the New Covenant. It is done because the Covenant sign signifies something that is a reality in a persons life. The New Covenant is a better covenant than the one the old was because true members of this covenant can not fall away. It is an unbreakable covenant based upon Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8. It isn't like the Covenant that God made with those who were in the Old as these passages say.

(Jer 31:31) Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

(Jer 31:32) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

(Jer 31:33) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

(Jer 31:34) And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
(Heb 8:6) But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

(Heb 8:7) For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

(Heb 8:8) For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

(Heb 8:9) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

(Heb 8:10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

(Heb 8:11) And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

(Heb 8:12) For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

(Heb 8:13) In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Our Differences have to do with our views of the Covenants and who its members truly are.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
I am not so sure that your assessment is correct here either. We have always acknowledged the fact that some might creep in unawares. But when they are found out they are to endure Church discipline and cast out if they do not hold to their confession of faith in Christ. Reading Malone, Coxe, and Conner will show you more about what Confessional Baptist see.
Randy, I already credited you elsewhere for your generosity. I plan to read Coxe, Conner, and already have Malone's revised ed. too. But, after coasting through a seminary where nobody I knew raised any questions about baptism, and having been raised in a Baptist church, you tend to slide through with your Sunday School understanding of the three or four bullets for each view.

You are incorrect here also. Baptism of Confessing Christians is what the early church did. And that is what is recorded in the Scriptures. It is also done because the Children of God are spiritual children as defined in the New Covenant. It is done because the Covenant sign signifies something that is a reality in a persons life. The New Covenant is a better covenant than the one the old was because true members of this covenant can not fall away. It is an unbreakable covenant based upon Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8. It isn't like the Covenant that God made with those who were in the Old as these passages say.
But, it is not what the church did for almost 1,600 years and continues to do in large percentages of it even today. My comment was regarding the fact that "all of a sudden" in church history a group decided that what had gone on was unbiblical and that a new practice (or re-newed practice) was the correct one. In my opinion (as you say Randy I could be wrong) the issue Baptists faced was the feeling that the Reformation did not complete the job of reforming the church. As long as membership in the church comes through infant baptism, the church will always have way too many unbelievers mixed in with the saints. "Recovering first century" baptism was, in my judgment, done as an expedient to protect the composition of the church from being a bunch of nominal Christians in "name only." It is interesting that a "regenerate membership" is historically coextensive (I thought) with the innovation of credo baptism. My point was that I'll bet the second look at baptism came after the decision as to what the church should be.

At least in the Baptist polity books, the term for one of the Baptist "distinctives" is "a regenerate membership safeguarded by believers' baptism." If that much-used slogan represents an historical reversal of the actual order of "discovery," then you would be correct and I would be wrong. Does anybody here know Baptist history well enough to venture a definitive judgment?

Our Differences have to do with our views of the Covenants and who its members truly are.
That is why one of my next books will be Coxe.
 
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refbaptdude

Puritan Board Freshman
But, it is not what the church did for almost 1,600 years and continues to do in large percentages of it even today.

Dennis,

There are a lot of false assumptions in your statement above. Let me just lay out one at a time:

Do you think that covenantal paedobaptism as held by Presbyterians existed before the Reformation?
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Personally, I find this baffling brother. "Credo baptism was adopted" as a reaction against unsaved membership? That's what I gather from your statement. It seems to me that you are imposing goals or motives where they don't exist. Baptism is an act of obedience and identification. One doesn't need to be baptized into the covenant any more than they need to be circumcised. But, as an act of obedience and in a desire to identify with Christ believers are baptized. To do any less is to be disobedient to Christ, which signals unbelief. The relationship is identical to the reality that faith brings forth works, but works can never establish faith (though works definitely help strengthen existing faith).

Bringing Arminianism into it confuses the issue as well. Again, it makes credobaptism reactionary; focused on the trends of the day or fending off errant theology, rather than following a direct commandment of our Lord Jesus. These statements also imply that infant baptism was the norm before believer's baptism existed. Even many paedos, though they believe in the validity of infant baptism, would agree that the early church did not baptize infants. They see it clearly as a covenantal relationship based on their theological grid (which Anthony addressed well).
First, I AM a credo and have been baptizing professing believers by immersion since the late 70s.

Second, my observation was trying to make sense of the fact that after a virtually uniform practice of infant baptism, we Baptists discovered that the NT taught believers' baptism in the 1600s. Since virtually the whole church had been baptizing infants since early in the church era, credobaptism was somewhat "reactionary" in that it was reacting to infant baptism. However, my Baptist polity profs always emphasized the nature of the church over the issue of the proper candidates for baptism. My prof argued that the primary distinctive of Baptists is not immersion (some of the early ones sprinkled), nor even believers' baptism, but a regenerate membership. I did not mean "stuck" in a negative way so much as highlighting the importance it holds in Baptist thinking (cf. Presbyterians are stuck on paedo baptism and a representative form of church polity).

Third, I know that a number of paedos argue that the early church practiced credo baptism (e.g., Barth).

Fourth, my reason for bringing in Arminianism is to give more of a history of ideas type explanation of historical causality. One of the reasons for the decline in Calvinism in America (I am convinced) was that its doctine was increasingly out of sync with the ethos of the culture. For example, frontier revivalism greatly favored the Baptists. That is not a statement about truth, but about why some find certain things attractive. The alternative is to say that "I just follow the Bible." What inerrantist (paedo or credo) won't say that? Yet, as we come to the data of Scripture, we find some interpretations convincing and others lacking. So, some of us think credo baptism is the "clear" teaching of the Word of God and others see it as paedo baptism that is "clear."
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
One of the books that might help set fears about how "Baptists discovered that the NT taught believers' baptism in the 1600s." I mentioned it above it's titled "Baptism in the Early Church" by Stander and Louw. Both are paedobaptists, who believe and argue in their book that the early church was credo. In the conclusion they write, "It would be wrong to assume that adults were baptized up to a certain point in time, and that infant baptism was then instituted. The patristic literature discussed in this book represented data, clearly showing that the age of a person as such was not an issue. It was a matter of confessing personal belief, and understanding what baptism meant."

This book isn't a slam dunk but it's worth a look.

One review wrote, "From the outset the Early Church seemed to link water baptism very closely to the remission and cleansing of sin. If one wasn't baptized by water they had no forgiveness of sin. This theological theme continued but grew in different directions concerning its efficacy and benefits during the next four centuries. According to the authors the connection between baptism and modern day covenant theology is proven to be almost non-existent in the writings of the Early Church. They link infant baptism's induction into the church because of necessity. In other words the deathbed was the reason infant baptism was introduced into the church. The book was very illuminating and I agreed with part of its conclusion. "The symbol became the actual means. The rite of baptism itself, rather than Christ, became the guarantee of eternal salvation."

Peace.

j
PS: Stander is a Pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
But, it is not what the church did for almost 1,600 years and continues to do in large percentages of it even today.

Dennis,

There are a lot of false assumptions in your statement above. Let me just lay out one at a time:

Do you think that covenantal paedobaptism as held by Presbyterians existed before the Reformation?
no
 

refbaptdude

Puritan Board Freshman
Dennis,

Then is covenantal infant baptism a new innovation after 1600 years?

What is the view of infant baptism that is held by the majority of the visible church today and historically? Remember there is a Western and Eastern Church.

Your brother in Christ,
Steve
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Dennis,

I know you're a credo. That's much of why I was baffled.
Just thinking out loud. Unlike some of you I attended a seminary where we did not discuss baptism much/at all/"I can't remember it coming up." So, while I could have given you a high level analysis of theopaschtite themes in Moltman and Barth, discourse on whether the vav was a true conversive or consecutive, and analyze Jewett's arguments for why Paul was wrong in 1 Tim 2, baptism was pretty much on the level of Sunday School knowledge. I was raised a Baptist, ordained a Baptist, and never had reason to deal polemically with infant baptism. It was assumed. My knowledge consisted of the stock Baptist arguments for credo baptism and against infant baptism without actually reading any paedo people.

Leaving the fold of the ABCUSA, I decided it was about time to re-examine my premises in the areas that had been understudied by me: baptism and eschatology. By understudied, I mean those areas where insufficient attention was paid to the arguments of those holding positions with which I disagreed.

As to the fine observation about covenantal baptism being an innovation, that is an interesting point. Yes, the arguments for infant baptism by Roman Catholics and Lutherans differ sharply from those of Reformed paedo baptists. However, in a contest between two ideas, I believe that the burden of proof falls upon the innovator to prove their case. When historic premils, amils, and postmils debate with dispensationalism, for example, the fact that the uniquely dispensational hermeneutic did not surface until the 19th century throws the burden of proof upon them, not upon those who hold a view or practice that has historic continuity.

From a very early time, the church practiced infant baptism. Why? How did the presumably original practice of believers' baptism change? And, with a nearly 1,600 year legacy of continuous practice of paedo baptism (regardless of the theological/biblical justifications), how did our Baptist forebearers suddenly discover the "obvious" teaching of the New Testament?

Those are the questions I was asking. And, Joe, I do think that culture impacts the history of ideas. Specific historical factors contributed to the supremacy of credo baptism in the Protestant world globally. While we must always ask "What has God said?," I also want to know why different people find some arguments obvious that others see as empty. If my exegesis is to be sound, my presuppositions must be identified and weighed and my intellectual biases accounted for in some way.

On this particular subject, a number of PB members have had "A-ha" experiences with credo-to-paedo or paedo-to-credo shifts as well as those of us who had our epiphanies with discovering the doctrines of grace. My desire is to understand both positions sympathetically before defending my view dogmatically. This will take some time and exploration on my part since the whole idea of infant baptism is utterly foreign to my background and sensibilities ("aren't they just liberals or Roman Catholics who do that?).
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Hi Dennis

I'm going to try to respond to you situation, but be warned in advance. I won't use 'authorities' just Scripture.

Call me clueless . . . but it FINALLY hit me after all of these Baptism threads, that the issue that separates paedos from most credos MIGHT have more to do with ecclesiology than sacramentology. Duh! For you on the other side, this may be patent and obvious to you.
You are correct on both points. Some credos like myself have known that paedo derives from ecclesiology for years.


But, believe me that an intelligent credo would seldom have reason to see it that way. We were hammered to believe that credo baptism is self evident and obvious in the Bible. Anything else partakes of Romanism or liberal Protestantism we were told. Except for the few Reformed Baptists, the CT implications are left unexplored.
Tim-Now I was not taught that credo was self evident, just that
a) certain statements seem to point to credo
b) all the examples of baptism we have were credo and
c) the paedo position was not a necessary consequence of any Scriptural statement.

Today, listening to a MP3 on infant baptism it finally hit me. Paedos see baptism as an outgrowth of the covenant structure to scripture. Of course baptism is viewed as the sign and seal of the New Covenant (just as circumcision was the sign and seal of the Old Covenant). What I was missing, however, was the inner logic of the CT position. Since having the covenant sign did not necessarily make you a member of True Israel neither does baptism necessarily apply only to true believers (there is that promise to "you and to your children"). Ta da!
Good analysis of the Presbyterian position. What they miss however, is that there are discontinuities between the Sinaitic and Mosaic covenant. Circumcision was given to boys only, now baptism is given to both sexes. Given an explicit change between the covenant signs we must be open to the possibility that the NT may make the change implicitly; i.e. by making statements whose necessary consequence is that credo baptism is a New Covenant requirement.

Most of us crredos, however, are stuck on the idea that the church is ONLY to be a regenerate membership, not a combination of saved and unsaved peoples. Unbelievers in the church may be a reality, but it would never be assumed the way it is when using the comparison to the OT covenant. The old Baptist saw is "a regenerate membership safeguarded by believer's baptism."

My guess is that credo baptism was adopted as a way of applying "regenerate membership" ecclesiology rather than coming from an inductive study of the Bible and who should be baptized (it certainly did not grow out of a deep understanding of covenant). The deeper goal was not to restrict who you baptized, but to insure that the composition of the visible church comes as close to being coextensive with the number of the elect as possible.
And they had good reason for so thinking as I shall shortly show.

... However, here is my question: do you ...think that the deeper problem with the credo position is the tendency in most Baptist circles to operate out of a flawed notion of the proper composition of the visible church with the sacramentological implications following? In other words, where is the "real" rub, with the proper candidates for baptism or with the ecclesiological understanding of the church as made up only of regenerate persons?
The real rub is "who is the church?" A good and perhaps necessary consequence of Gal. 3:7's restricting the children of Abraham to those who have Christian faith is that only those who have such faith should be baptized. Similarly in 1 Peter 1:22,3 all the "brethren" are "born again" and in the same epistle's 3:21 we have baptism described as "an appeal to God for a good conscience." Babies cannot make such an appeal. If Col 2:12 refers to water baptism (something I doubt but I am in the decided minority here) then water baptism is explicitly linked with a status change before God that is only true in believers not unbelievers.
 
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timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
As to the fine observation about covenantal baptism being an innovation, that is an interesting point. Yes, the arguments for infant baptism by Roman Catholics and Lutherans differ sharply from those of Reformed paedo baptists. However, in a contest between two ideas, I believe that the burden of proof falls upon the innovator to prove their case. When historic premils, amils, and postmils debate with dispensationalism, for example, the fact that the uniquely dispensational hermeneutic did not surface until the 19th century throws the burden of proof upon them, not upon those who hold a view or practice that has historic continuity.

From a very early time, the church practiced infant baptism. Why? How did the presumably original practice of believers' baptism change?
Keep in mind that covenantal infant baptism is equally a novelty and must not be presumed not to be an innovator. Twenty years ago I read Joachim Jeremias' Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries in which he analyzes baptism in the early church and shows among other things (if I remember correctly) that the theology on which IB was adopted was something that most covenant theologians today would reject.

And, with a nearly 1,600 year legacy of continuous practice of paedo baptism (regardless of the theological/biblical justifications), how did our Baptist forebearers suddenly discover the "obvious" teaching of the New Testament?
By reading the bible and discovering that regenerate church membership was required. See the Swiss Anabaptists of the 1500's.
 

refbaptdude

Puritan Board Freshman
Why? How did the presumably original practice of believers' baptism change?
Dennis,

It did not change! The issue at hand is not credo baptism, because everyone agrees that it is the biblical and historic position. Every Christian community in world subscribes to adult credo baptism (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Nazarene, etc..). Credo baptism is the catholic (universal) view of baptism.

It is very important that you firmly grasp what is being said above. Again, no one is questioning credo baptism.

Your brother in Christ,
Steve
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
In relation to Steve's comment above, consider the burden of proof again. You stated that what is newer has the burden. But credo is the (for the paedos, "a") clear teaching of Scripture. There is no burden of proof for the adherent of believer's baptism. All accept it.
Next consider that the burden of proof isn't just on the newer (which is paedo), but the claimant. In other words, the burden of proof is always with the one who makes an assertion. Credos simply say that believers are to be baptized. There is nothing else to the formula - when someone becomes a believer they must be baptized. Even for those with a poor understanding of baptism, it's still the same "process," if you will.
Paedos agree with the above, except would "claim" that children of believers should be baptized as well. Therefore, since there is no disagreement on the first claim, and it is clear in Scripture, the burden of proof lies firmly on the shoulders of any who add to, or take away from, the credo position. Paedos add to the credo understanding of baptism, while at the same time, as Steve noted, they agree with credo baptism (for those not previously baptized).

Well, that was a bit over-analyzed. :) Just trying to be clear.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Gentlemen, one of the reasons this topic is so difficult, it that we keep talking past each other on both sides. During my time on PB, that is why I have typically skipped the baptism threads: more heat than light.

While it is certainly true that all forms of Christianity (save a sectarian group here or there) accept the fact that new converts are to be baptized, we are equivocating on our words when we say that such a fact makes infant baptism necessarily the innovator. Again, rightly or (for Baptists) wrongly, the church began baptizing infants at a fairly early date. It continued to be the normal practice until the emergence of the Baptists, albeit defended on a variety of theological bases.

"Credo" does NOT "simply mean" that we baptize adult converts any more than "paedo" means that one ONLY baptizes infants. The credo position teaches that, in opposition to the practice of the RC, Lutheran, and Reformed, we believe in baptizing ONLY adult converts upon their profession of faith. As a credo, I would also stand with you in arguing that the first century church followed the explicit commands of Christ and the apostles and baptized only converts upon profession of faith. But, you can't just wash way a millennium and a half of continual practice (baptizing converts + infants of believers) as if it doesn't matter and then announce that Baptists "just read their Bibles one morning and followed what it said." Whether you cite the radical reformation or English separatists as the historical parentage of Baptists, our forebearers were not inventing Christianity de novo. They were opposing what they saw as a corruption of the faith that included the baptism of infants.

Again, it seems to me that the desire for a pure church stands logically (if not temporally) prior to credo baptism. The RC, Reformed, and Lutheran all saw the church differently from the Baptist vision of a regenerate membership. Why did the Calvinistic Baptists in England separate from Congregationalism with its emphasis upon congregational polity? I was always told it was because they felt that congregationalism was ruined by infant baptism in that it tended historically to produce corrupt Christianity. If you start baptizing infant A today and he grows up to become a nominal Christian who has his infant B baptized and raised in a nominal home, he may chose (merely for traditional reasons) to baptize his infant C even though there is no true faith in the home. Such practice leads to nominal Chrisitanity and corrupt churches the early Baptists believed. So, regenerate membership was seen as "safeguarded by believer's baptism." Hence, my polity profs maintained, Baptists emerged out of congregationalism and English separatism in order to found a pure NT church, with attention paid to congregational government and credo baptism.

Again, guys, all I was trying to do was to raise some questions on the paedo forum in order to sound out their reactions. Currently, I am trying to read a bunch of books on baptism and wanted to be sure that my understanding of the paedo position this time (as opposed to before) was thorough and sympathetic. Before re-committing myself to credo baptism or contemplating a change to paedo baptism, I wanted to "go to school" on the issue.
 

refbaptdude

Puritan Board Freshman
Dennis,

Just hang with me a bit ;)

My previous post was to point out that all churches subscribe to adult credo baptism. And that adult credo baptism is a universal practice of the church. Do you agree?

The issue is not adult credo baptism, but the issue is about paedobaptism – should we baptize infants or not? Baptists get upset when Presbyterians baptize infants and Presbyterians get upset when Baptists do not baptize infants. But Baptists and Presbyterians agree on adult credo (I believe) baptism.

Steve
 

refbaptdude

Puritan Board Freshman
The issue is the practice of “paedobaptism”.

Dennis, why did the church practice infant baptism for the first 1600 years? What was the theology behind this practice? :think:
 
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