Romans 4:11?

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thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman
Romans 4:11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, ESV

I have heard this is the lynch pin verse for proving paedobaptistim but to me it seems to be saying the exact opposite. Seems the faith came first and then the circumcision as a sign of that faith. This would be the credobaptist position. Am I missing something?

Please respond.

For His Glory-
Matthew
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I have heard this is the lynch pin verse for proving paedobaptistim but to me it seems to be saying the exact opposite. Seems the faith came first and then the circumcision as a sign of that faith. This would be the credobaptist position. Am I missing something?

I believe the point being made is that we know circumcision was applied to infants even though it is said to be a sign of Abraham's faith in this verse.

One popular argument for credobaptism is:

1) Baptism is a sign of faith.
2) Infants do not have faith.
3) Therefore, baptism should not be applied to infants.

By the same logic, this verse would prove that:

1) Circumcision is a sign of faith.
2) Infants do not have faith.
3) Therefore, circumcision should not be applied to infants.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
First, in my opinion, there is no linchpin verse for either paedobaptism or credobaptism.

Having said that, for the paedobaptist this verse indicates that circumcision, which points to the reality of righteousness by faith, can be given to those who do not necessarily possess the reality. In other words it is not necessary for one to possess the reality in order to receive the sign. Thus children of believing parents receive the sign for they have received the promise of God (as per Abraham) though not necessarily the internal grace of which it signifies.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Seems the faith came first and then the circumcision as a sign of that faith.

Did those who circumcised infants at eight days old know that they didn't have faith, any way? Of course not. They didn't know whether the infant had faith or not, and God didn't ask them to try to find out. Your Q seems to presume that infants can never have faith before they are circumcised or baptised.

God knew which boys at eight days old had faith, but He asked for them all to be circumcised. If the Lord had been so focussed on the need faith before circumcison, He could have told the priests which boys had faith and therefore which boys were to be circumcised.

We can't even be infallibly sure that an adult has faith before he is circumcised or baptised, and God doesn't tell the Session. You'd think He would if it was so important.
 

thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman
The verse says, the father of all who believe. I could see how you could take it as future belief, though I think other verses in the NT would lead one to see this is incorrect. There is no faith without belief. I think the promise of blessing and the promise of faith were two different things. I believe children born into Christian homes have special blessing on them but our faith as parents is not transferred to them. Faith cannot be transfered. It is a individual work of God. We must not confuse the covenant with salvation. For there were many in the covenant who were circumcised who were not part of true Israel and not saved.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
E.g.
Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts. (Psalm 22:9, ESV)

Quote from Matthew
For there were many in the covenant who were circumcised who were not part of true Israel and not saved.

There are many today who are visibly in the Covenant, in the visible New Covenant Israel, the Visible Church, who are not saved. They are in the Covenant but not of it.

This is true in Baptist churches as well as others.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The verse says, the father of all who believe. That would not be an infant. There is no faith without belief. I think the promise of blessing and the promise of faith were two different things. Faith cannot be transfered. It is a individual work of God. We must not confuse the covenant with salvation. For there were many in the covenant who were not saved.

You wanted to know why paedobaptists believe the verse supports our position. The reason is because it teaches that circumcision was a sign of Abraham's belief, but that did not hinder him from circumcising Isaac. If baptism being a sign of belief hinders an infant from being baptized, then circumcision being a sign of belief should also hinder an infant from being circumcised.
 

thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman
I would say psalm 22:9 is a much better verse of the issue of infant baptism though in view of all of Scripture I am still unconvinced. But a few thoughts about psalm 22:9?

1) Does this transfer universally? Meaning just because David said this does that mean applies to all infants? Was it a special event?

2) This is a psalm is prophecy about Christ sufferings. Is it explaining Christ at the birth of His incarnation or are parts describing David and others Christ? I know some would say how can Christ "trust" in God. But we see that Christ trusted the father all through His incarnation.

3) Trust does not have to mean faith. Bible says, Faith comes through hearing the Word. How could that be here? Are there exceptions?

I would say if we did not have the rest of the Bible and just this chapter of Scripture I would concede infant baptism. Having said this I do not mean to demean those who believe in paedobaptistim. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
I've never heard a paedobaptist use Psalm 22:9 as support for the baptism of the infants of believing parents, because their baptism has nothing to do with their possession of saving faith.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I would like to point out that what is happening here is that an untold number of ancillary issues have completely obscured the original query, which (unfortunately) was bound to create this confusion. The original Q. has to do with Rom.4:11, but now the questions relate to Ps.22:9, and whether or not infants can have faith. Will agreeing or disagreeing on this other question have any bearing on our understanding of Rom.4:11?

I would say psalm 22:9 is a much better verse of the issue of infant baptism though in view of all of Scripture I am still unconvinced. But a few thoughts about psalm 22:9?

1) Does this transfer universally? Meaning just because David said this does that mean applies to all infants? Was it a special event?
Firstly, as Todd points out, paedobaptists aren't asking the same sorts of questions (like, "is this child exercising faith or not?") that the Baptist asks. So far as it has ANY bearing on the issue, all we need to affirm is that the Scriptures tell us that infants CAN have faith, so to claim that baptism MUSN'T be given to infant because they CANNOT believe is simply false.

Second, David is speaking as a covenant member, and he's speaking as a believer. He's speaking as someone who (obviously) can't remember ever NOT believing in the truth he was taught from the moment he came into the world. He no more disbelieves in Jehovah and Israelitish religion than he disbelieves in his mother's affection, that 2+2=4, or any other truth taught him in his youth. He can have all that as background, even without the Spirit's inspiration to confirm.

Clearly, there are covenant members who are not converted as David was, and for exhibit A, I present Jacob. I don't believe Jacob is positively converted until the night he dreams of the ladder, on his flight for his life from Canaan. Nicodemus, Zaccheus--these are men who give evidence of a later conversion-experience. However, we actually DON'T KNOW the secrets of any such men's devotions or rebellions.

David's must have been an idyllic childhood, in many respects. He experienced the sweet effects of the Spirit's work when only a baby, and his parents probably used many ordinary, gracious means to effect David for righteousness (from the human standpoint). And what right do we have to "calculate" the probability of similar circumstances here, there, and everywhere in Israel? We don't. And we don't need to. All we need is to know that God intervenes in infancy, sometimes; or simply begins to work there, and different elect children turn the corner at different times.

2) This is a psalm is prophecy about Christ sufferings. Is it explaining Christ at the birth of His incarnation or are parts describing David and others Christ? I know some would say how can Christ "trust" in God. But we see that Christ trusted the father all through His incarnation.
Ps.71:5-6 says pretty much the same thing, only from the standpoint of an old man ,vv9,18. But besides, it is improper to simply rip Ps.22 away from David's personal situation and statement of faith. David understood that his own experiences were typological. He understood that he was a representative man, a federal man, a covenant man, a "publick person," a "son of man" (Ps.8:4). He was an anointed-figure.

So that, the proper way to understand Ps.22 and other Messianic texts, when they have the kind of "autobiographical" quality of Ps.22, is not to parse the verses to see which belong to David, and which to Jesus--but to recognize that David himself is a type of Christ. In any case, only the rationalistic a priori states that we know an infant "can't" trust Christ, therefore this or other texts that seem to say they "can" must betake another explanation.

But, bottom line is: paedobaptists do not baptize on the presumptive ground (basis) of a present-faith for anyone. We don't baptize because people "may" have faith, adults or infants. We baptize adult converts who profess faith, and children of such baptized parents, because that's the command we reason from Scripture. Both conditions are observable criteria.

And we believe that a regularly conducted baptism does in fact baptize these people. We don't believe that, if the heart wasn't true, that baptism didn't take place (and the action must thus be repeated). Which is final proof that "faith" wasn't a ground of baptism to begin with. But we do believe that baptism belongs only to people who have faith; that is, a person who believes (even if it is later on) in what baptism signifies has got the blessing of the thing. Hence, that connection to circumcision that was earlier spoken of.

3) Trust does not have to mean faith. Bible says, Faith comes through hearing the Word. How could that be here? Are there exceptions?
Do you believe that (some) dying infants go to heaven? How about the mentally handicapped? These are people "incapable" of intellectually apprehending the ordinary, verbal gospel witness. Don't they need faith in Jesus to go to heaven? "Without faith, it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God" Heb.11:6.

So, I propose that a) not all saving faith is intellectual; and b) God is able (miraculously) to make himself apprehensible to the faith he creates in the soul that is (to our perceptions) invisible. Faith, in the classic definition, is composed of three parts: knowledge, assent, and trust. The three all go together, and the first two without the last do not save! "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder!" Jas.2:19. In other words, the most significant aspect of faith is TRUST.

And, frankly, having a baby as you do (if that's your pic as avatar), you know quite well the sort of trusty-faith your child has in its mother. It is almost the purest faith there is, and it has very little of the "intellectual," an aspect you expect (and hope) to come to view as time goes by. Elect babies, going to heaven, have nothing but trust in the arms of Jesus that receive them. They spend the rest of eternity in a perfection of "growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior" 2Pet.3:18.

I would say if we did not have the rest of the Bible and just this chapter of Scripture I would concede infant baptism. Having said this I do not mean to demean those who believe in paedobaptistim. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.
With all due respect, I would call what you offer here (by way of admittedly real and generous statement) a big mistake. Because, what you would be embracing would not be infant-baptism as it is taught, believed, confessed and practiced in our churches. It would be an embrace of infant-baptism on Credo-Baptist principles, which are not able to bear the weight of the paedobaptist theology, piety, and practice.
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
i. Romans 4:11 demonstrates that circumcision was in fact a sign and seal of righteousness, and not just a mark of national Israel as Baptists sometimes argue. It served the same function in the old covenant as baptism does in the new.

ii. It also demonstrates, as others have said, that the sign is applied to the children of believers.

iii. There is nothing contradictory in the fact that Abraham believed and then had the sign applied, as the same would be done with the baptism of adults in paedobaptist churches today. But just like Abraham, their children would be baptised also.

iv. It seems to me that the tendency to look for "lynch pin" verses is a very Baptist hermeneutic. The paedo- case is not built that way.

We must not confuse the covenant with salvation.

Not sure how you meant this as a criticism of paedobaptism. I think this is exactly what Baptists do.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Todd
I've never heard a paedobaptist use Psalm 22:9 as support for the baptism of the infants of believing parents, because their baptism has nothing to do with their possession of saving faith.

Yes. We don't baptise covenant children because they can believe, but because they're covenant children. But baptists can't say that it is impossible for infants to believe, or that we know which infants that are being baptised are not believing.
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
Historically Reformed theologians have had some modest differences as to how the whole infants/faith/baptism paradigm works. For those who may be interested in learning what two Reformed giants thought on the matter, I would commend these selections from Francis Turretin and James Ussher (pages 499-505).
 
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