Baptism

I am still really busy at work and travelling back and forth to Atlanta, so I apologise for not updating regularly.

My latest journey revolves around baptism, and what it really means. Having grown up reformed (from the Dutch reformed persuasion), I was perplexed when I first started going to churches in the southern USA, and saw adult baptisms, but no infant baptisms. As I explored more, I realized that it was a pretty sensitive topic, debated with much fervor and passion.

I think I have read most of what the believers baptism doctrine says, and I can still not reconcile it with the mercy and grace of God for all His children. God has a covenant of grace with His children. His grace is a gift, not something earned by public professions of faith, but a gift extended to all of His elect, be they adult or child.

Of course, we don’t know whether a child is part of God’s elect or not, but as believing parents, we also believe God’s promise:
Deu 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

In the case of adults who have never been baptized, it is clear that under missionary circumstances a profession of faith is necessary, as was the case in most of the NT.

Here is where the big differences between the credo and paedeo baptist doctrines come in. The Baptist doctrine believes that since children (especially infants) cannot exercise faith, they cannot confess faith and should therefore not be baptised. So faith is required for salvation, as the Baptists also state:
There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.” BFM (2000) Part IV

Should we therefore then conclude that since children cannot be baptised, since they cannot have the kind of saving faith that the BFM speaks about here, that there is no salvation for children?

I’m sure many Baptists will recoil in horror at such a thought, yet it seems to be a logical extension of the Baptist doctrine.

Baptism is the sign of inclusion in God’s everlasting covenant of grace, and is promised to His children and their children:
Gen 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
Act 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
1Co 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

Infants shared in the covenant of grace, that’s the reason they were circumcised. It has spiritual significance, and not physical. Baptism replaced circumcision as the symbol of the covenant:
Col 2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Baptism is a symbolic representation of the covenant of grace God has with His children. His children includes all, adult and infant, Jew and gentile. His sovereign grace is what saves all of us. Baptism does not regenerate, nor does it save. The Holy Spirit regenerates, and salvation is by God’s grace alone. Baptism of believers children is symbolic of their inclusion into the covenant of grace according to Gods promises, and puts the responsibility on the parents of those children to raise them with that understanding.

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Act 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Jesus clearly saw children as part of His kingdom:
Mat 19:14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Who are we to try and exclude children from God’s promise, from His covenant of grace? The Baptist doctrine (along with its increasingly more Arminian leanings) have frustrated me greatly in my journey to find a church. The Baptists must know something is wrong in their system, because I have witnessed multiple baby “dedications”. However, that practice is not something that has Scriptural precedent. Nowhere in the Bible do we witness baby dedications, and it has no spiritual significance.

In the next post I will look at the modes of baptism.

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One response to “Baptism

  1. Having been on both sides of this issue, I have observed that the heart of the debate over baptism can be summed up in two disagreements:

    1.) The nature and purpose of baptism itself.

    2.) The status of children in God’s eyes.

    Once both of these are properly understood, infant baptism becomes natural.

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