The Case for "Believer's Only" Baptism

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ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
He would indeed, because God had just told him that Ishmael was very firmly out of His covenant.
'And Abraham said to God, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!" Then God said: "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. "'
Gen 17:18-19 (NKJV)

Exactly, that's why I asked for clarification. What's the point?
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Can I make a request that EVERYONE stop calling ANYONE dispensational please?

When people quit acting like salvation sola gratia, solo christo, sola fide is something that Paul introduced in the New Testament to get people not to baptize their infants, I'll stop calling them dispensationalists.
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
David, I asked everyone stop this (it was several others) and the only qualifier I would place on ignoring that request was if the person it is being said to was CLEARLY dispensational in word and deed. We certainly don't want to call someone dispensational who says they are not! It's no different than those who call us all replacement theologians.
 

aleksanderpolo

Puritan Board Freshman
The reason is that the question involves who is actually in the covenant. Who is the covenant made with

Of course that is the question. Let me ask you then: Are you in the new covenant? Are you 100% sure you are one of the elect? If so, how? If no, then why were you baptized given that you use the "we are not sure if infant are in the New Covenant or not" argument to deny them the covenant sign?
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
I am going to fall back to Randy's argument that baptism and circumcision are two different things. :) This stuff about knowing or not knowing who the elect are seems dangerous to me. I don't see either side claiming this though I do see it too often used as a way to discredit one side or another.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
CT, you're going to have to clarify this-

The statement that I responded to, implied that the people were in shock because people had the covenant sign and were not "acting right". My Abraham comment was meant to say that such things should not be a complete shock to the system. Such actions have happened since the beginning of the covenant.

CT
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Hey Ken,

I provided a short answer to this question earlier in the thread. I'll quote it here:

Sorry David. As is usual in the Baptism Forum things move so rapidly that I don't have the time to keep up. By the time I get on again there will probably be another 40 replies that I will have to sort through and my question will never get answered.

Is this, then, the Paedo view:

OT male infants were required to be physically circumcised as a sign of Abraham's covenant. Even though only *some* of the OT infants were physically circumcised, the Bible teaches that *all* infants were spiritually circumcised when Isreal passed through the Red Sea. Therefore, *all* infants of at least one beleiving parent must be physically baptized.

If that is not the Paedo view, please correct me as I truly desire to understand what it is.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
I am going to fall back to Randy's argument that baptism and circumcision are two different things. :) This stuff about knowing or not knowing who the elect are seems dangerous to me. I don't see either side claiming this though I do see it too often used as a way to discredit one side or another.

Yeah, they are different. One gets you wet and one gets you bloody. :D

CT
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Sorry David. As is usual in the Baptism Forum things move so rapidly that I don't have the time to keep up. By the time I get on again there will probably be another 40 replies that I will have to sort through and my question will never get answered.

Is this, then, the Paedo view:

OT male infants were required to be physically circumcised as a sign of Abraham's covenant. Even though only *some* of the OT infants were physically circumcised, the Bible teaches that *all* infants were spiritually circumcised when Isreal passed through the Red Sea. Therefore, *all* infants of at least one beleiving parent must be physically baptized.

If that is not the Paedo view, please correct me as I truly desire to understand what it is.

I think you're on the right track. But I wasn't meaning to say that all of the Israelites were spiritually circumcised, which would mean that they were regenerated. Paul and Peter just use huge redemptive-historical events from the Old Testament to give us a better understanding of what water baptism symbolizes (passing through the Red Sea being the escape from slavery and the passing through the flood by Noah and his family being a picture of escaping judgment). I was just trying to show that Baptism isn't entirely new to the New Testament. Infants were included in both of these groups that the apostles used to help describe water baptism. The main point I'm trying to show is that the differentiation between the sign and the thing signified has always existed, first with circumcision and even now with Baptism. Not everyone who is baptized has the benefits that baptism signifies, just like not everyone who was circumcised had the benefits that circumcision signified (which were basically the same as baptism, unless, again, you're dispensational). I have to go to work but if you have any more questions I'll try to answer them when I return. :handshake:
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Just to make a point we credo's do believe physical circumcision is a shadow and is fulfiled in the one made without hands. It proceeds faith. Faith and repentance lead us as Children of Abraham to the sign of the New Covenant which is Baptism.

Circumcision was placed upon Abrahams decendents for two purposes. One was National and the other was spiritual. Not all shared in the spiritual as exhibited in Ishmael. Stephen makes a statement concerning the Covenant of Circumcision in Acts. Nehemiah Coxe shows us in his book 'CT From Adam to Christ', that not all who partook in the Covenant of Grace where necessarily circumcised during or after Abrahams encounter with God. And not all who were in the Covenant of Circumcision were necessarily in the Covenant of Grace. Although it was a sign to Abraham's righteousness it wasn't necessarily meant to be a sign of righteousness for his decendents like baptism is a sign signifying one is forgiven of sin and found in Christ.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
One more thing the 1 Corinthians 10 passage is not about New Covenant baptism but about wickedness and God's displeasure in it. It is mentioned as an example so that we do not become like those who displeased God.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."—Romans 6:3-4.

I am a simple Christian, and consider the spiritual sense of the passage with a higher esteem than the external sign. As Spurgeon commented, "May God the Holy Spirit help us to reach its inner teaching."

Taking this passage, and reading it, we cannot take the Apostle to be speaking of anyone but of proper persons. He must not be speaking of unbelievers, hypocrites, or decievers. The Apostle says, "so many of us" putting himself into the grouping which I cannot imagine to be anything but the children of God.
Geoff,

I acknowledged that the passage clearly demonstrates that Baptism is a sign of Union with Christ. Did you miss that part?

Baptism then is the representation of the believer's union with Christ, in His death, burial, and ressurection. It is also our realized union with Christ. Baptism doesn't not merely represent our profession or creed. Hypocrites may have words only. It represents the true spiritual reality that we have died with Him, been buried with Him, and have been raised with Him.
Really? So everyone who is baptized is united to Christ? Is that your argument?

Where in the world do we rightly bury those who are alive? How is it that some suppose it is right to bury in Baptism those we know who are not dead in Christ? Even in our Baptist churches we will not baptism one who shows no sign of repentance and faith.
Who "buries in Baptism" in the passage Geoff? You are making an improper inference to the text. The parallel is found in Romans is our union with Christ in His death and resurrection. It does not refer to mode but is part of our being foreknown, elected, called, ....

I imagine that I will not be able to presuade your mind in regards to baptism. I already read in your words the daggers of debate. If we are both born again children of God let's not sit accross the table from one another and throw things, giving the appearance of enmity.
I was answering your post. You led with a facile quote that essentially quoted a text about the elect and a quote from Spurgeon that essentially read: "Golly! How could anybody be so stupid as to think babies are included in this?" I responded with a challenge to you to exegete the passage. You have thus far not done so. Let's not get into contests about Godliness here. Love rejoices with the Truth. I have answered you forthrightly, providing an interpretation of the passage. You have not demonstrated how a passage about the elect either excludes or includes infants nor how it, in the context, refers to mode. I know how you're inferring it but your inference does not make it so.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
CH, we have been through this before and you refuse to recognize our argument. The interpretation is not from prejudice. It involves who is actually in the New Covenant as described in Jeremiah 31.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 - Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah -- 32 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Pay close attention. The New Covenant is made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, which is described in the New Testament by Paul in Romans and Galatians as all those who are "of the faith of Abraham."

The actions of God on those in the New Covenant are as follows:

1) He will put His law in their minds
2) He will put His law in their hearts
3) He will be their God and they His people
4) He will cause them all to know Him
5) He will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more

NOW, the reason why credo-baptists believe that only those who have at least professed faith in Christ should be baptized has to do with who the covenant is made with. The sign of the covenant can only be placed on those who are in covenant - those who are of the faith of Abraham and have had the actions of God (according to the terms of the covenant in Jeremiah 31) done to them. This is simply not true of infants and young children, as well as adults who continue in unbelief.

This is the biblical reason, far from your claim of prejudice. It has everything to do with the Bible and nothing to do with prejudice.

I'll bite without prejudicing your position.

Let me logically follow your premises:

1. The New Covenant consists of the elect alone (those who are of the faith of Abraham)
2. The sign of the New Covenant (baptism) should thus be placed on those who have the faith of Abraham (the elect)

Am I good so far? Let me continue:

3. The elect are known by God alone.

Conclusion: Nobody should be baptized.

Now, you wish to modify. At this point you are going to shift the argument subtlely. You realize that you cannot baptize on the basis of election because you know that the Church consists of false and true professors. Even Judas received Christian baptism (under the authority of Christ nonetheless!).

Thus, you will argue that professors ought to be baptized.

Question: Does profession=regeneration?

If not, then what does the nature of the New Covenant being made with the Elect alone have to do with the decision on who you baptize?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I think

Romans 4:16 - Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all

and

Romans 9:6-8 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.

and

Galatians 3:7-9 - Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

should be sufficient. Notice that these passages deal with the blessings and promises of the Abrahamic covenant which the sign of the covenant (circumcision or baptism) would signify and seal. Notice that they are not passed down to physical descendants of anyone. Notice that they are given to those who are of the faith of Abraham.

Since you state that this has not been interacted with, I will do so.

If you read Galatians 3, you will note that the very point that Paul is making, with respect to the Abrahamic Promise, is that the Law never annulled that promise. In fact, Abraham's Promise is clearly signified as fulfilled by Christ in Galatians and Romans. This is why Abraham is said to have believed the Gospel.

When you say: "Notice how they are not passed down to physical descendants of anyone...."

Really? Isaac, Israel, Moses, David, Elijah, .... Were they not physical descendants of Abraham? You seem to think that spiritual descendancy excludes that physical descendancy can occur. Why were the Proverbs written if there was not some expectation for parents to train children in the hopes that they would follow in the faith? Why do children of believers become believers in far greater numbers? Ought we not see a somewhat random spread of new believers among the heathen and the Churched if election is so indeterminate? When polled, 80% of Baptists on this board acknowledged that 100% of the kids of Reformed Baptists in their Churches eventually get baptized.

Now, you won't get an argument from me that physical descendancy is not a guarantee of faith. Read Galatians 3 again, though. The example Paul uses is of Abraham and his promise. He points out the fact that the Law, which the Judaizers are trying to identify with, is not the promise but the Gospel is. The Gentiles have received the inheritance promised to Abraham and his seed. His promise preceded and was not (nor could not) be revoked by the Law that came 400 years later.

Thus, Romans 4 makes the point that we are heirs to the promise of Abraham. He received the same Promise that we do. He received a sign in his flesh that signifies the same Promise we've been given. This is why he's a present example for us and not merely some figure that started some sort of "physical only" plan. In fact, to denigrate circumcision to that level is extremely impious in light of Galatians 3 and Romans 4.

And who was he commanded to place that sign upon?

His children. Not because they were elect but because of a command and a Promise. A Promise not of election but of salvation to those who had faith.

Ishmael is therefore a picture of unbelieving Judaizers and the persecution of those of faith because He was circumcised with a sign of the Gospel and he rejected the Promise in his flesh and chose to rely on the flesh instead of believing in faith.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Since you state that this has not been

And who was he commanded to place that sign upon?

His children. Not because they were elect but because of a command and a Promise. A Promise not of election but of salvation to those who had faith.

The sign didn't signify the same thing for his children necessarily. But it was a sign of a covenant that had national promises also that were not necessarily spiritual promises. Some of the promises to Abraham and his seed (not the seed which is Christ) were outside of the Everlasting Covenant as Abraham and Ishmael found out. Baptism in the New Testament is a picture of one who is buried in Christ and forgiven of sin. That is not necessarily so with the Covenant of Circumcision.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
The sign didn't signify the same thing for his children necessarily. But it was a sign of a covenant that had national promises also that were not necessarily spiritual promises. Some of the promises to Abraham and his seed (not the seed which is Christ) were outside of the Everlasting Covenant as Abraham and Ishmael found out. Baptism in the New Testament is a picture of one who is buried in Christ and forgiven of sin. That is not necessarily so with the Covenant of Circumcision.

I respectfully disagree. That is something you're reading into Romans 4 but is not in the passage itself. You have to understand that, from my perspective, I see your pre-suppositions as forcing you to make Paul say much more than he does in Romans 4. My Confessional understanding of the passage is different and doesn't require me to read anything into it at all. In Romans 4, the passage says that circumcision is a sign of the faith that Abraham had while still uncircumcised. In the context of the passage, all the baggage about it being a National and physical symbol is completely a-contextual. In fact, Romans 4 is laboring the fact that Abraham had nothing to boast in as far as the flesh goes, which is why he is introduced as our example. By importing the rest into the passage you would completely wreck the point that Paul is making. He would be better served to leave circumcision out of the example as it is fleshly in your understanding.
 

Calvibaptist

Dallas Cowboys' #1 Fan
What Paul said in Galatians 3 wasn't anything new, unless you're a dispensationalist (which it seems like you may still be, at least a little bit, according to your profile info).

Just for the record, I am not a dispensationalist. I used to be, but reject the main tenets of dispensationalism, such as a differentiation between Israel and the Church, discontinuity between the covenants, different salvation in OT/NT (which they don't hold any more), and rapture of church.

Someone calling me a dispensationalist is like me calling everyone else unregenerate because they used to be.

Therefore, if your interpretation is true, then it was wrong for believers in the Old Testament to circumcise their children, because many of them didn't have the blessings of Christ (see Hermonta's statement about Abraham, who gave his son Ishmael the sign of God's covenant even after being told that Ishmael wasn't going to make the covenant with him.).

So, Abraham disobeyed God by giving Ishmael a covenant sign? God told Abraham to circumcise all his children (even the ones that were not in covenant with him) and he obeyed. It was not wrong because it was obedience.

Perhaps no one answered it before because we assume around here that dispensationalism isn't an acceptable Reformed hermeneutic. If salvation in the OT is the same as in the NT, then Paul's discussion of spiritual blessings and who gets them has nothing to do with water baptism. It's nothing more than a rebuke of those who think they are entitled to something because of a sacrament.

Of course salvation in the OT is the same as in the NT. Dispensationalists were ridiculous for arguing anything different. My question did not concern "spiritual blessings." My question concerned who was in the covenant, which is what the verses I quoted referred to. The covenant sign, in this case baptism, should only be given to those who are in the covenant.

Baptists use some of the same requirements (profession of faith) to administer the covenant sign of baptism that you use to administer the covenant sign of communion. Why do you not allow unbelievers to partake of communion if it is a covenant sign? How do you know that every one who is partaking of communion is truly elect? We believe that the requirement for a profession of faith is involved in the covenant sign of baptism as well as the covenant sign of communion.

This is not dispensational. It is covenantal.
 

Calvibaptist

Dallas Cowboys' #1 Fan
I'll bite without prejudicing your position.

Let me logically follow your premises:

1. The New Covenant consists of the elect alone (those who are of the faith of Abraham)
2. The sign of the New Covenant (baptism) should thus be placed on those who have the faith of Abraham (the elect)

Am I good so far? Let me continue:

3. The elect are known by God alone.

Conclusion: Nobody should be baptized.

Now, you wish to modify. At this point you are going to shift the argument subtlely. You realize that you cannot baptize on the basis of election because you know that the Church consists of false and true professors. Even Judas received Christian baptism (under the authority of Christ nonetheless!).

Thus, you will argue that professors ought to be baptized.

Question: Does profession=regeneration?

If not, then what does the nature of the New Covenant being made with the Elect alone have to do with the decision on who you baptize?

Apply the same logic to fencing the table in communion. No one should take communion because we don't know who is really regenerate. But we (and you) take their profession (and evidence of fruit) to be enough to apply the covenant sign of communion to them. We do the same with Baptism and, therefore, believe that we are baptizing fewer people who are not in covenant with God than you are.
 

Calvibaptist

Dallas Cowboys' #1 Fan
At this point, I am going to back out of the discussion because it is going nowhere, as usual. But I will continue to read and learn

BTW, this thread is one of the reasons why I enjoy this board so much. I have been on other boards where the discussion was anything but deep. That is not the case here.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
I respectfully disagree. That is something you're reading into Romans 4 but is not in the passage itself. You have to understand that, from my perspective, I see your pre-suppositions as forcing you to make Paul say much more than he does in Romans 4. My Confessional understanding of the passage is different and doesn't require me to read anything into it at all. In Romans 4, the passage says that circumcision is a sign of the faith that Abraham had while still uncircumcised. In the context of the passage, all the baggage about it being a National and physical symbol is completely a-contextual. In fact, Romans 4 is laboring the fact that Abraham had nothing to boast in as far as the flesh goes, which is why he is introduced as our example. By importing the rest into the passage you would completely wreck the point that Paul is making. He would be better served to leave circumcision out of the example as it is fleshly in your understanding.

I think you are not understanding my point. I agree with you concerning the fact that it was a sign and seal to Abraham concerning his righteousness. That I totally agree with. I am just not convinced it meant the same thing for everyone who was circumcised after him. Case in point it didn't mean the same thing for Ishmael or anyone who was not a member of the Covenant of Grace after him. Plus I don't see Romans 4 being a complete exegesis of what circumcision was. There is no mention of those who would be cut off if they did not receive this sign of the Covenant of Circumcision who where his decendants.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Apply the same logic to fencing the table in communion. No one should take communion because we don't know who is really regenerate. But we (and you) take their profession (and evidence of fruit) to be enough to apply the covenant sign of communion to them. We do the same with Baptism and, therefore, believe that we are baptizing fewer people who are not in covenant with God than you are.

This would only apply if I believed that the command to elders was to distribute the Lord's Supper to the elect alone. That is your assertion but it is not mine in the Confession.

Further, if you notice what you have done, you have really changed the grounds for Baptism at this point. You're not baptizing on the basis of election but on the basis that "...we are baptizing fewer people who are not in covenant with God than you are...."

Really? How do you know? As I noted earlier, almost all Baptists responded that 100% of the kids in their Churches eventually get baptized.

How do you know that a single person, beside yourself, is in the Covenant?

Where is the Scripture passage that states: "The New Covenant is with the elect, therefore baptize on profession because the goal is to baptize fewer people who are not in covenant with God...." This logic seems right to you but it is extra-Biblical reasoning at that point.

I'm really not trying to be mean. This is meant to challenge you guys to think this thing through a bit. The point I'm making is that the argument on the perfection of the New Covenant doesn't really get you anywhere in the Baptism question because, in the end, you're forced to turn to some other method to determine who to baptize. Profession does not equal election and there is no argument in the Word that says that baptism of adult professors is performed on the basis that they are more likely elect. The basis is that they desire to be disciples.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I think you are not understanding my point. I agree with you concerning the fact that it was a sign and seal to Abraham concerning his righteousness. That I totally agree with. I am just not convinced it meant the same thing for everyone who was circumcised after him. Case in point it didn't mean the same thing for Ishmael or anyone who was not a member of the Covenant of Grace after him.

I do understand you and I disagree. Paul didn't say that circumcision was a sign just to Abraham. And, again, it would not fit the context of Romans 4 to introduce a sign that was only spiritual to Abraham but then physical to everyone else after him. It also doesn't do justice either to the nature of Covenants made. It's like saying that the Covenant of Works meant one thing to Adam but didn't mean the same thing to us.

I'm not trying to be pugilistic for the sake of it but we profoundly disagree on this point on the nature of the sign. Remember, Paul has every right to provide the fullest revelation of what a thing signified. You cannot go back to earlier passages in the OT and try to use that as a basis to de-Spiritualize the Gospel significance of the sign. Even if you do, the OT is pregnant with the idea that circumcision is not fundamentally something that is primarily physical and National.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
I do understand you and I disagree. Paul didn't say that circumcision was a sign just to Abraham. And, again, it would not fit the context of Romans 4 to introduce a sign that was only spiritual to Abraham but then physical to everyone else after him. It also doesn't do justice either to the nature of Covenants made. It's like saying that the Covenant of Works meant one thing to Adam but didn't mean the same thing to us.

I'm not trying to be pugilistic for the sake of it but we profoundly disagree on this point on the nature of the sign. Remember, Paul has every right to provide the fullest revelation of what a thing signified. You cannot go back to earlier passages in the OT and try to use that as a basis to de-Spiritualize the Gospel significance of the sign. Even if you do, the OT is pregnant with the idea that circumcision is not fundamentally something that is primarily physical and National.

First off I do believe the sign was spiritual to others beside Abraham. It wasn't for everyone who was descended from Abraham. I also believe the COW is found in Abraham as there is a curse in it of being cut off. That is different for the New Covenant Member according to Jeremiah 31. The Everlasting Covenant promised in Isaac is the Covenant of Grace. The signification of righteousness passes on to one and not to the other.

And I don't think you are being pugilistic. I think we are discussing this so we can understand each other. Note that Romans 4 speaks of those who are not of the circumcision who will be and are children of Abraham. The significance moves to what justifies... faith. That is what Romans 4 is discussing. Nothing more and nothing less.

Plus I don't see Romans 4 being a complete exegesis of what circumcision was. There is no mention of those who would be cut off if they did not receive this sign of the Covenant of Circumcision who where his decendants.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
First off I do believe the sign was spiritual to others beside Abraham. It wasn't for everyone who was descended from Abraham. I also believe the COW is found in Abraham as there is a curse in it of being cut off. That is different for the New Covenant Member according to Jeremiah 31. The Everlasting Covenant promised in Isaac is the Covenant of Grace. The signification of righteousness passes on to one and not to the other.
When the Abrahamic promise is introduced, it is introduced as Promise. I think where you and I see things differently is that you are conflating Circumcision with Sinai. I believe this is a profound error. God's promise to Abraham was unequivocal and eternal - He promised to accomplish it Himself and He did so through His Son. Paul labors the point, in repudiation of the Judaizers, that the Law was added but never annulled the Promise.

And I don't think you are being pugilistic. I think we are discussing this so we can understand each other. Note that Romans 4 speaks of those who are not of the circumcision who will be and are children of Abraham. The significance moves to what justifies... faith. That is what Romans 4 is discussing. Nothing more and nothing less.
Right, I don't disagree. Nevertheless, in the context, Abraham is introduced as a defeater to the notion that anyone has anything to boast of in the flesh - including circumcision itself which is revealed as a sign of the promise by Paul.

Plus I don't see Romans 4 being a complete exegesis of what circumcision was. There is no mention of those who would be cut off if they did not receive this sign of the Covenant of Circumcision who where his decendants.
That's not the point, though. It is the revelation of the prime significance of the sacrament. I'm not arguing that we ought to ignore other passages about such things but we cannot overthrow the point that Paul makes concerning the nature of the Promise. I think part of the problem I've seen, again, is that people conflate Abraham's circumcision with Sinai. If you keep them distinct, as Galatians 3 does then you can more clearly see how Paul is condemning the Judaizers misapprehension of the thing. This is why circumcision means nothing if you're a Judaizer but it means everything if you're Abraham!
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I think you're on the right track. But I wasn't meaning to say that all of the Israelites were spiritually circumcised, which would mean that they were regenerated. Paul and Peter just use huge redemptive-historical events from the Old Testament to give us a better understanding of what water baptism symbolizes (passing through the Red Sea being the escape from slavery and the passing through the flood by Noah and his family being a picture of escaping judgment). I was just trying to show that Baptism isn't entirely new to the New Testament. Infants were included in both of these groups that the apostles used to help describe water baptism. The main point I'm trying to show is that the differentiation between the sign and the thing signified has always existed, first with circumcision and even now with Baptism. Not everyone who is baptized has the benefits that baptism signifies, just like not everyone who was circumcised had the benefits that circumcision signified (which were basically the same as baptism, unless, again, you're dispensational). I have to go to work but if you have any more questions I'll try to answer them when I return. :handshake:

:handshake: RBAY (Right back at ya')

What I hear you saying is this: the Paedo view is that even though only *some* infants received the external sign, *all* were part of the covenant of Abraham. (Where is this taught in the Bible, BTW?)

And from this the paedo view is that it naturally follows that *all* infants should receive the external sign of *something*. (Not sure if the paedo sees that something as an external or inward covenant)

But, if this is the Paedo view, (and if I am missing something please show me what it is) then why wouldn't it be OK to only baptize *some* infants in the NT? Why must it be *all*?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
First off I do believe the sign was spiritual to others beside Abraham. It wasn't for everyone who was descended from Abraham.
Let me say one more thing with respect to this and then I need to jet to lunch and then to teach a class.

In the way you say this, you seem to think that a sign changes its significance based on the recipient. This is the key difference between our understanding of baptism as well. The reason our Confession sees Baptism and Circumcision as essentially (that is in their substance) to point to the same thing is that the significance of the Sacraments is in the Promise and NOT the recipient.

Let me re-state that in case it is not clear. What most need to get over is the idea that if two men get circumcized and one is reprobate and the other elect that circumcision signifies something different for the one and not the other. The person's faith, or lack thereof, did not add or subtract from the significance but, rather, one laid hold of the promise while the other did not.

The significance, then, is not inside of us but outside of us - for baptism and circumcision.

Somebody asked me once: "But what did circumcision signify for the Pharisee?" Read Galatians 3 again after I've said this.

Circumcision signified to the Pharisee that those who put their faith in the Gospel will be saved. That Gospel was obscured but some laide hold of it and some didn't. What it didn't ever signify (which is what Paul is laboring in Galatians 3) is that those who obey the Law will be saved and those that don't will be cursed. This understanding of the Law is condemned as missing the entire point of the sign.

Thus, I maintain, that God ordained the sign of circumcision. The significance was, fundamentally, something extra nos and, therefore, the significance was the same for everyone who received it.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Let me ask you a question Rich. In Genesis 17 does God establish his Everlasting Covenant with Ishmael whom Abraham petitioned God for? Does God make promises to Abraham (outside of this everlasting Covenant that is in Isaac) within the covenant of circumcision that allowed Ismael to live with Abraham and be blessed that didn't pertain to the Everlasting Covenant that Ismael was not a part of? I didn't mix Sinia with Abraham. I was mentioning Genesis 17:14 concerning being cut off as opposed to an unconditional covenant which we find in the Covenant of Grace and the New Covenant. By circumcision one was permitted to dwell with Abraham even if he was not a descedant of his. Circumcision had promises of land and inhabitation of the land that were not necessarily spiritual. The promises of inhabitation of the land and prosperity did not necessarily grant any spiritual inclusion except that God was God over the people, unrighteous and righteous alike. Baptism is no where spoken of like this. It is always spoken of in a way that points to the forgiveness of sin and union with Christ.
 
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