The Circumcision of the Federal Head and Baptism

Status
Not open for further replies.

Devin

Puritan Board Sophomore
(Prescript: I am a rank amateur on the issue of baptism, and I'm not sure I'm representing both sides as best as I can. Therefore, please bear with me.)

Often, Paedobaptists will ask Credobaptists to account for the change in the recipients of the covenant sign in light of the long tradition of infants being circumcised and so such. In critiquing the view that circumcision and baptism correlate to one another, Credobaptists will then ask why Paedobaptists give the covenant sign to females since only boys were circumcised in the Old Testament. The typical response that I have heard from Paedobaptists is that the females DID receive the covenant sign through their federal head.

My question is: If the circumcision of the federal head can be applied to those uncircumcised, can the baptism of the federal head be applied to the unbaptized children?

I realize that this is probably not a very common question, but I couldn't let it go after thinking about it. I'd love to hear some thoughts from my Paedobaptist brethern on the issue. :book2:
 

Gryphonette

Moderator
My question is: If the circumcision of the federal head can be applied to those uncircumcised, can the baptism of the federal head be applied to the unbaptized children?

[respectfully] Mercy Maud, that IS a good question.

Wish I'd thought to ask it!
curtain.gif

 

Gryphonette

Moderator
There's a strong feeling of censure these days toward almost any "individual" aspect of salvation; thinking about it, doesn't the move from a form of covenant sign that was "representative" for half the population to an "individual" covenant sign, indicate that an individual's salvation is, well, individual?
 

Barnpreacher

Puritan Board Junior
Originally Posted by Gryphonette
There's a strong feeling of censure these days toward almost any "individual" aspect of salvation; thinking about it, doesn't the move from a form of covenant sign that was "representative" for half the population to an "individual" covenant sign, indicate that an individual's salvation is, well, individual?


Anne,

It's funny, but as I was reading your post I was also listening to this message.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?currSection=&sermonID=52106223031

I don't know if you have time to give this message a listen to, but it's worth it. I believe it answers your questions from a paedo view, but the messenger is quite simple and to the point.

As a credobaptist I can say that listening to this message helped me better understand the paedo view.

God bless!
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
It's a good and question that poses challenges on either view. For the paedo view it means that it's possible that some adults are baptized who have not actually believed. The baptist has to argue that in every household baptism there were no infants and everyone made a credible profession of faith before baptism.

There are discontinuities between the administration of the covenant of grace under Moses (in the typology) and under Christ (the reality). In the typology the covenant was administered via various sorts of federal relations. In the new covenant, those federal relations are fulfilled and dissolved. Christ is the federal head of believers. He is our priest. He is our king. The new covenant is more inclusive (e.g., females) than the old. Remember, the contrast between the new and old covenants is not between Abraham and Christ but between Moses (and the typological, national, temporary covenant administration) and Christ.

That said, there covenant of grace is still administered in groups (though without the typological federal element). Congregations are groups. Families are groups. Households are groups. In Acts 16:15 Lydia and her "whole household" were baptized. Must we assume that they all believed? If we regard baptism as public initiation into the visible covenant community and the supper as the confirmation of one's status in the covenant community, then the household baptism is less problematic.

These narratives are difficult on either view, but on the traditional Reformed paedo view, where we distinguish between those in the covenant of grace externally and those who have embraced the benefits of Christ by faith and thus have an internal relation to the covenant of grace, we don't have to fold everything into the first sign. Unlike the FV, we don't have to make baptism unite every baptized person to Christ head for head -- thus confusing the sign with the thing signified. Unlike the baptist view, we don't have to make proof of regeneration an absolute prerequisite for the sign of initiation thus introducing a radical disjunction between the administration of the covenant of grace under Abraham and Christ.

We also have a proper place for two signs and seals that perform two distinct functions, initiation and confirmation. We can account a little more easily for such group baptisms. Lydia made a profession of faith and as the head of her household the rest (likely servants and probably infants given the sense of "household" in 1st century usage) were initiated into the visible covenant community. They have yet to undergo catechism in preparation for profession of faith and communion.

rsc
 

B.J.

Puritan Board Freshman
I was reading an article by Greg Welty (Circumcision to Baptism) were he argues that a Paedo cannot explain why God changed the sign from circumcision to baptism.


He writes:

"But if “it cannot be doubted that it was appointed alike for the sanctification of
males and females,” why was there need for a new sign, explicitly applied to females as
well as males? If “the females were, through them, partners and associates in
circumcision,” then any need for baptism remains a mystery."


Of course those of you fimiliar with the article will know he is arguing against Calvin's presentation of Paedo Baptism in the Institutes.

He continues....

"If “the truth and completion of baptism is the truth and completion of
circumcision, since they represent one thing,” and if “baptism is the same thing to Christians that circumcision formerly was to the Jews,” and if “the promises of both signs, and the mysteries which are represented by them, agree,” and if “the apostle makes the one to be not a whit more spiritual than the other” (4.16.11), and if there is a “very complete resemblance between baptism and circumcision, as seen in the internal office,
the promise, the use, and the effect” (4.16.16), then it follows that whatever is signified in baptism was already signified in circumcision. Why then the need for baptism at all? Calvin leaves a fairly significant transition in redemptive history entirely unmotivated."
HTML:


Any comments?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top