Why I believe in Infant Baptism

The one assumption that is necessary for me to engage Credobaptists with my reasoning, is that Baptism=Circumcision; i.e. the Old Testmant mandate for circumcision (which the NT very clearly explains is gone), was replaced with Baptism, and baptism serves an analogous covenental purpose. I’m pretty sure this point is not in dispute; if so, then all of this typing is in vain, and I will have to attack the question at a deeper root.

I think it would be fair to say that the church I grew up in was Dispensational in theology (but I could be wrong [I guess I am wrong; see comments below from Albino Hayford and Danielbalc]). One thing I know for sure was that they took a strong stand for Credobaptism, not Paedobaptism: if you were baptized only as a baby, that wasn’t legit, and you needed to be dunked as a confessing believer (and I’m not here to argue dunk vs. sprinkle). I never had a problem with that; the theology seemed pretty clear-cut:

In the Old Testament, the physical nation of Old Israel had the Old Covenant, which was one of works; one of those works, without which you could not be considered part of Old Israel, was to be circumcised, which was a symbol, signing and sealing the recent entrance to the physical people of Old Israel, which was actually accomplished by physical birth into an Israelite family.

In the New Testament, the spiritual nation of New Israel has a New Covenant, which is one of faith. One symbolic work, however, without which your membership in New Israel would be in question, is to be baptized, which is a symbol, signing and sealing the recent entrance to the spiritual people of New Israel, which was actually accomplished by spiritual rebirth, i.e. believing and confessing Jesus as Savior and Lord.

All very neatly summarized with the terms: Natural Economy, Spiritual Economy. And this is where the label Dispensational fits in; God dispenses new revelations at key points in history; to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, through Jesus. (etc.?) So it’s not too surprising that God “changed the rules” after Christ dispensed the New Covenant, i.e. the OT sign is OK for babies, but the NT sign is only for confessing believers. Or, the NT sign is for spiritual babies (who are in the spiritual community by being born again), and the OT sign is for physical babies (who are in the physical community by being born).

What made this whole system crumble for me was the keystone holding the whole arch together: Natural Economy vs. Spiritual Economy; Covenant of Works vs. Covenant of Faith. Physical Nation vs. Spiritual Nation. It all comes down to this:

Abraham was justified by faith.

Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:9-13, Hebrews 11:8-10,17-19,39-40, James 2:21-23 ,

God’s chosen people in the OT are in a covenant of faith, not works; they can be saved (by Jesus), by believing in God’s promise of a Messiah. I have been seeing more and more evidence in the Bible that this was how true & faithful OT Israelites viewed themselves:

Deut 18:15-18; John 1:19-23; John 6:14; Luke 2:25-32, 36-38; 1 Peter 1:10-11; Micah 5:2; Matt 2:4-6

So just like Credobaptists now argue “You can’t baptize a baby, because you can’t be sure if he’ll grow up to have saving faith, which is the true membership criteria for God’s chosen people”, I can argue “Israelites (Israelis) can’t circumcise a baby, because they can’t be sure if he’ll grow up to have saving faith in the coming Messiah, which is the true membership criteria for God’s chosen people”. Unless, circumcision (and baptism) is something else; unless circumcision (and baptism) is a sign not reserved for those with faith, but also for the families of those with faith.

To examine this issue more closely, take a look at the origin of circumcision: Gen 17: 9-14, 23-27. (See especially v 14, which has Sheet Music worried about his grandchildren (see here, and subsequent posts and comments). I guess I should also be worried about my nephews and nieces; but despite Gen 17:14, I maintain that baptism is not required for salvation.)

Were all of the people for whom God commanded circumcision God’s chosen people? Certainly not! God’s promise flowed through only part of the family tree of Abraham&Sarah: not Ishmael, but Isaac (not yet born), not Esau, but Jacob, and on down from there. Thus all these other circumcised members of Abraham’s household were not part of God’s chosen people! Especially Ishmael! However, God directed that they were to be included in the covenant community by the sign of circumcision.

In the same way, we include our children in our covenant community via baptism, even though they have not yet demonstrated saving faith.

What I think is really great about this understanding of the relationship between circumcision and baptism is the continuity it shows between the Old and New Covenants. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Understanding OT Israel as a community of faith has helped me to see the entire Bible, New and Old Testaments, as pointing to the only critical focus: Jesus Christ.

158 Responses

  1. I think that your opening statement is the most telling.That you form the equation between c and b so easily indicates to me that for some reason you see the equivalence as obvious. (I think so too). But the problem is that no credo-baptist that I know of sees it that way.

    So, you will have to go deeper. While you do so, it may be useful for you to try and find out why you see it as obvious. Others don’t.

    As for dispensational(ism), that is a loaded word that most often winds up in discussions eschatological. But you mean it in the overall general sense. I would then agree that to a degree, BMT was dispensational in that they were quite comfortable in dispensing (sorry) with any need to spot continuity where you (and others) have. The “apuritansmind.com” web-site draws heavily in his paedo-baptism defense (or credo-baptism critique) on dispensationalism issues.

    Implied continuity has to be considered since the Jewish dudes listening to Peter’s sermon (“this is for your children” etc. which promises dramatically echo the three levels of promise to Abraham, BTW) knew nothing of dispensations, or New Testaments.

    Your write-up explains where you stood and how you got to where you stand.

    If the Hoagies and Stoagies do a debate on credo vs. paedo I strongly recommend they get an outsider for the credo point of view unless Brian T. would handle it.

  2. It is important to know the impetus for the anabaptist tradition. The abuse of infant baptism (once baptized nothing else matters as kingdom membership is guaranteed) led many to emphasize baptism for believers as was explicitly done in the N T. (Any infant baptism in the N T is by inference only.) Although I have been in anabaptist churches where such young children were baptized it was hard to know if there was any substance/understanding of their professions of faith. So baptism of believers is not without abuse as well.

    Thus I both understand the reasons for practising either Credobaptism or Paedobaptism AND the abuses of both forms. I personally can be comfortable in a church in either tradition.

  3. I was baptized as an infant in the Catholic church. I wasn’t raised knowing the Bible or going to church regularly, but I came to faith as a young man in college, and requested to be rebaptized. At the time I was attending a charismatic church that had no issue with rebaptizing me because they didn’t believe in infant baptism.

    Now I’m a member of a reformed presbyterian church (PCA) which does not rebaptize those baptized Catholic as infants. I understand the reasoning behind this. But if I heard this position as a new believer, with a very young and weak faith, I would have felt extremely uncomfortable. I felt that I needed to be baptized to recognize the radical change that had occurred in me.

    Perhaps a full explanation of the theology behind infant baptism would have helped me. But I have to say that I was shocked when I first heard the PCA’s stance on rebaptism.

  4. Chuck,

    Thanks for your feedback; I agree that abuse of paedobaptism must be avoided, but think of how Luther & Calvin, reacting against the Catholic belief of baptism=salvation (a simplification on my part, I’m sure), never shied away from infant baptism. I’m glad that my church stresses at every baptism that baptism does NOT equal salvation.


    As for your experience, it’s hard to draw a line between what was a effectual baptism, and what was not. The WC makes clear that the legitimacy of a baptism in no way depends on any merits or doctrine of the baptizer (which is good, because otherwise we’d all be hosed), but doesn’t mention anything about the understanding of the parents. Or what if your parents had a proper understanding of baptism, but in the meantime you didn’t grow up Christian, and were converted as an adult; would that have changed your opinion? It’s interesting to think that perhaps by changing your faith structure after-the-fact can make an illegitimate act become legitimate. And scarily postmodern in terms of allowing individual perspective to have a causal effect on the truth of something.

  5. By the way, LWC is NOT dispensational, but Covenant in their theology (you took “Understanding God” class with Tina, right? So you should remember that).

    As to baby baptism, it is disappointing to see you drive down a path that has no Sriptural support. Peter’s words in Acts 2: Repent and be baptized every one of you for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the Holy Spirit.” shows us that repentance always comes first. When I confront “baby baptizers” with their lack of Bible, they always gasp for air and head to the Philippian jailer excuse, “his household”…”There must have been babies in his household, right?” No. This is a classic argument from silence. In fact, the Bible says that the jailer’s family “believed”. Hmmmmm… Nowhere does the Scripture mention, even one time, babies being baptized…Doesn’t that make you a little nervous?

    Now I know what you’re thinking. We don’t find baby dedication in the Bible either. But then we don’t consider baby dedication to be a sacrament of the church on a level with baptism, either. We are simply dedicating our baby to the Lord and praying for God’s hand of blessing on our child. When he comes of age, he will make his own choice whether to serve the Lord or not, then follow Jesus in water baptism.

    But then, why am I not shocked that you are into baby baptism now, since your group probably doesn’t believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit either. But, hey, at least now you can puff away on those cigars and throw back a bottle of wine or two without any “puritanical” guilt, right?

    Ok, I’ll get back to my “24” viewing now.


  6. Mr. Hayford:Strangely, baptism in the Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to have added to your sense of gentleness. Sarcastic verbal attacks?  Please recall that we are all brothers in Christ. I didn’t see ruberad deriding your position, only exploring and then refuting it. In fact, he spent the first 5 paragraphs making arguments in favor of your position, explaining that he had once held it — whereas you deny any Scriptural support whatsoever for ruberad’s position, though his post cites numerous passages, both OT and NT.

  7. Please excuse my friend Albino Hayford (aka Albino Shaq); he was raised by NBA all-stars, and although his three-point shot owes much to that heritage, he also has a propensity to trash-talk.

    Nowhere does the Scripture mention, even one time, babies being baptized…Doesn’t that make you a little nervous?

    I am humbled by your logic. Can you point me to the nearest Kingdom Hall? I feel I can no longer remain a Trinitarian. And I’m going to have to speak to my pastor about all those unscriptural musical instruments in our worship service.  And watch your mailbox for a package; I’m mailing a headscarf for your wife.

    Of course the NT focuses on adult baptism, because that’s who converts when a religion is new! There is no NT narrative of a child being born to a Christian family (Jesus and John were born to Jewish families), so the Bible is never explicit on the issue. And although we cannot be sure which of MANY families may have had small children, the language “and your children”, “and household”, spoken to a Jewish audience, obviously relates to God’s covenental relationship with their whole families (Acts 2:39, 16:14-15, 16:33-34, 18:8)

    Besides; you cannot claim that infants were not baptised in the early church, because history tells us that they were. The tradition of Infant Baptism was handed down to us since the early church, who inferred it from the Abrahamic covenant. Do you think that Infant Baptism was going on wrongly, and the Holy Spirit overlooked it, except to withhold the inspired hand of the NT writers from endorsing it? If it was wrong, wouldn’t the NT writers have addressed it (as they addressed circumcision)?

    You claim argument from silence, because there is no verse that commands baptizing of babies.  I claim argument from silence, because there is no verse that condemns the apostolic practice of baptizing babies.

  8. BTW, I’ll concede on labeling LWC as dispensational, although they can’t be that covenental if they don’t recognize the continuity of the Abrahamic covenant through the NT.
    Unfortunately, I can’t remember much of that class (I think my mind was dulled by the music), except memorizing the books of the Bible, the fruits of the spirit, and this astounding position on church discipline (I quote as nearly as I am able): “We don’t deal much with church discipline; there’s no point, since people would just leave for another church.”

  9. What’s the sign of the Abrahamic covenant as it is scripturally applied to our children in the church today?

    For you Biblicists out there, give me one verse where God explicitly tells us to stop giving this sign (whatever it is) to our children.

    FWIW (and on a personal note) two of Ruberad’s friends that I miss and don’t see much are The Forester and Albino Shaq/Hayford 

  10. And finally ‘bino, I don’t see you denying the relationship between circumcision and baptism. To change my mind, you’ll have to convince me that baptism is not NT circumcision, that true OT Israel was not a community defined by faith, or that Ishmael was included in the Abrahamic covenant.

  11. Asside from your numerous misconceptions about LWC I have only one point to bring up that has yet to be mentioned in the conversation. That is the association within the covenant community simply by nature of birth without the action of baptism (circumcision). Is this not what is implied by Paul in I Corinthians 7:14 “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclen, but as it is, they are holy.” My understanding of this passage is essentially similar to the argument for what infant baptism suppossedly accomplishes. That is a sign of inclusion (by faith) within the covenant community. The strange thing about Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is that baptisim doesn’t come up, but faith does. It’s like Paul is saying “we include our children in our covenant community via our belief even though they have not yet demonstrated saving faith.” (To borrow the articulate words of Ruberad). Not that I am trying to question the inspiration of the Holy Spirit but it seems like this would have been a fairly natural place to include some sort of reference to the action of baptism. But we don’t get anything like that instead we get the inference that BELIEF of the Father or the Mother is the inclusionary influence on the child. I for one don’t have a major problem with people who baptize their children, but I do have a problem with people who have a problem with NOT baptizing their children. Don’t be “fearful” of the salvation of a child who hasn’t been baptized because of a different understanding regarding an unclear practice. I also think that if a child was baptized as an infant and then grows up and wants to be baptized as an adult it would be wrong to prevent them from doing so. Just a note of caution incase your little guys grow up and get baptized, love them anyways.

  12. Mr. Forester,

    One of the true pities of bulletin boards is that we can’t see each other’s faces or hear the tone of voice of others. What you perceive as lack of respect is simply the way Reuben and I relate to each other. All in good, testosterone-laden fun. Reuben knows I respect him highly; he was the best man in my wedding and, gasp, I dedicated his firstborn to the Lord (by the way, does he need to be re-sprinkled now?) at the same time I officiated at his wedding.

    I will respond more fully to Bruce (my spiritual daddy — “remember care groups when you used to sing choruses like simple folk?”) and Reuben tomorrow. I just got back from my dad’s first blast of chemotherapy, so I’m sending out updates on him (doing pretty good).

    I love you guys. I will do my best do lead you back to belief in the power of the Holy Spirit and evangelical baptismal orthodoxy.

    Albino Hayford

  13. Amen! This is why I started a blog, dagnabbit! To reconnect with my peeps in meaningful dialogue!

    Thx Dbalc, I was thinking about how to include the verses you mention, since I see from them similar validation for the concept of “in the visible covenant community, but not perhaps among the true people of God”. I do fall into the non-judgemental category you mention; I have no problem with people that don’t baptize their kids (similarly to my church, which endorses, but not enforces IB). I wrote the post mainly to defend myself against those who don’t think I should have changed my position (ahem–‘Bino). And I have no problem (or don’t think I’ll have a problem) with the concept that my kids might grow up and decide that their IB is illegit, and (re)do it themselves, just to be sure. (See also The Forester’s situation, in his first comment above).

    And I must confess, before the power of the Holy Spirit led me to my present church, where I discovered reformed baptismal orthodoxy, Albino Hayford did indeed officiate my wedding, and dedicate my #1 son (and it wasn’t a mock dedication!). ‘Bino, I’m praying for your dad, and looking forward to a good report of God’s healing power.

  14. Hi DanielBalc,

    What a pleasure it is to see you make an appearance here!

    In reference to your statement above:

    I for one don’t have a major problem with people who baptize their children, but I do have a problem with people who have a problem with NOT baptizing their children.

    Do you then have a problem with God’s own stated view regarding the denial of baptism to your infants: Genesis 17:14 “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.” Or are you dispensational after all?

  15. I will tease you with this excellent article by John Piper (Reformed Theologian whose church I attended while in college in St. Paul) before writing down my own thoughts:

  16. As he is an officer in the church, responsible for the teaching of thousands, I am most interested in DanielBalc’s answer to the above, but to be fair it would seem that I must pose the same question about Gen 17 to RubeRad (and his pastor, Brian) as well due to this:

    “I have no problem with people that don’t baptize their kids (similarly to my church, which endorses, but not enforces IB)”.

  17. Yet another excellent article attacking the “Covenant Continuity” argument for baptizing babies:


  18. The Piper is an excellent article, from a theologian I respect. I didn’t know he was a Baptist. It’s fascinating how he tries to turn my own argument against me. He hits right on what I also considered the fundamental, or “linchpin” point. I wasn’t even aware of Rom. 4:11, which I believe makes my argument even stronger. I will add it to my links in the original post.
    Where I disagree with Piper is in his restricting of the New Covenant to true believers, the continuation of the remnant of Old Israel, only. Given verses like Dbalc refers to above (1 Cor 7:14), and Jesus’ estimation of the position of children within the Kingdom of God, some parts of the Covenant (although obviously not salvation) apply to family members of those with faith. If the standard for baptism is membership in the true church, i.e. saving faith, then we ought not administer it to anybody, because we cannot see the true heart of man (e.g. Simon the sorceror was baptized, after a false confession of faith — Oopx!)
    I counter your excellent article with another excellent article (thx dad), addressing all of Jim’s points (and more) specifically, and in great detail:

  19. To go back to the original debate the question Bruce wants answered is “Do you then have a problem with God’s own stated view regarding the denial of baptism to your infants?” That’s not God’s stated view on the baptism of infants. That is Gods stated view on the covenant sign of circumcission. The covenant sign we now have is what? is it Baptism or is it the Holy Spirit? I Draw your attention to Ephesians 1:13-14 ” 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” No mention of baptism there. The best indication of Baptism being the equivilant of Circumcision is Colossians 2:11-15. But in that passage it seems like the passive nature of the baptized is not because they are infants, but because it was an action accomplished by Christ at the cross. In other words don’t be concerned that your grandkids haven’t been baptized, because it is Jesus who baptized them. When they come to the point where they recognize the saving work of Christ and the Holy Spirit comes into them confirming their place in his kingdom THEN they will be prompted to be water baptized so that everyone can know that they know that they are saved. Paul made the clarification of the timing in Romans 4 when he called Abraham the Father of all who believe both uncircumcised and uncircumcisied, on the basis of faith. The sign of baptism then is not only a sign of inclusion in the covenant community it is a sign of the faith inside you. Abraham recieved the promise (covenant) BEFORE circumcision, 14 years before according to tradition. for 14 years his belief was what God credited to him righteousness before commanding the sign of circumcission. Was that sign for God or for Abraham? Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” The constant denegrating of circumcision in Pauls epistles should tell us an awful lot about attempting to maintain it as a precedent of the New Covenant. The Abrahamic covenant is not the covenant of circumcision, it is the covenant of justification by faith (Genesis 15:6). This isn’t my opinion it’s God’s (Romans 4:11). Read Genesis 17 then read Romans 4 then read Genesis 15 Then read Romans 4 then read Genesis 17 then read Romans 4. Then if you still have a problem with people who don’t baptize their infants then maybe you should think about the possibility that bias is getting in the way of objectivity. ;-)

  20. I was in the midst of writing when Ruberad posted his last entry. How could you have not known about Romans 4:11 before making the decision to baptize your children?

  21. Yeah that Piper Article is really good I should have read it first then I could have saved myself from writing that ridiculously lengthy diatribe. This was fun, my first time blogging or foruming or whatever the lingo is but I’ve got much more important things so I will excuse myself from further comments.

  22. More important than debating theology? Shame on you!

  23. Just a quick point; DBalc, if you’re going to make a point about Abraham believing before being circumcised, then you’re in immediate hot water, because the next thing that happens is God commands every male in his household (including Ishmael and every infant in posterity) to be circumcised.

  24. Doesn’t seem fair to be accused of intellectual dishonesty (biased, not objective) and then have the accuser run off and hide. Reminds me of when I was a kid and was advised I needed to stand up to the bully and bop him one if he pushed me too far. Well, I bopped him one and rather than wait to get his response, I took off like a bat outa’ h-e-double hockey sticks.

    So, reading the Eph. 1:13-14 reference I am struck by the irony of a Pentecostal reducing the Holy Spirit to a mere sign. I would have thought that more substance would have been attributed to the Holy Spirit than a sign.

    Nevertheless, the interesting thing is that while the passage contains no reference to baptism, it doesn’t contain a reference to circumcision either. Perhaps this verse is being taken out of context and applied to an area which it shouldn’t be applied.

    Not to be condescending, but it pays to always keep separate the sign and the thing signified. It seems to me that the gift of the Holy Spirit is more than a mere sign of the Abrahamic covenant. Whether it is the thing signified, I am not sure.

    I also wonder how the ground rules changed. Before, it was something you gave to your children. Under your system, DBalc, this covenant sign is out of the parents hands. Shouldn’t there be some verse somewhere that explains how the rules/procedures changed, especially if it is this radical?

    As for the Abrahamic covenant not being a covenant of circumcision, the language of Gen 17 seems to argue against that notion.

    As for Col. 2:11, the tie between b and c is so strong as to suggest infants shouldn’t be denied it if they weren’t denied circumcision. Christ is the servant of the covenant as well as the Lord of the covenant. Christ actively fulfilled perfectly our failed role as covenant keepers, and passively endured our punishment as covenant breakers. This means that he bore the ‘cutting off’ on the cross – i.e. the circumcision without hands. Your baptism (a burial, which is symbolic since it states that you were buried with him – ewww, gross) is nothing other than a crucifixion, the non-symbolic circumcision of Christ. The circumcision of infants was a prefiguring of Christ’s death on the cross. Why sever the solidarity with Christ’s crucifixion just because the prefiguring has been consummated? I would think that giving this sign to your children should be done with even more joy than it was done previously.

    Well, I am pooped. Defending the orthodoxy of 2000 years is tiring business. More later, I guess.

    BTW, bonus points to DBalc for not yielding to the temptation to let some other ‘expert’ do his arguing for him

  25. Rubes last comments really draw me back in especially that they went without comment from Bruce. Rube just denies the entire notion of justification by faith. For the record it’s not my opinion that Abraham was justified BEFORE circumcision that’s what Romans 4:10-11 is all about. Your problem is not with whether or not you should baptize your children. Your problem is with faith. Under what circumstances was it credited? Before or after he was circumcised? it wasn’t after, but before! AND he recieved the sign of circumcision, a seal of righteousness that he HAD by faith while he was still uncircumcised. How am I in hot water by defending the entire key to the gospel?

    Bruce the Holy Spirit is much more than just a seal, but yuor answer reaffirms my position. You see your effort is to try and find a place for all of the Genesis 17 covenant of circumcision in the New covenant. I simply pointed out how the Bible doesn’t do that and how Roman teaches us that the Genesis 17 covenant is not the covenant we are under but the Genesis 15 covenant is. You want to find where circumcision belongs in the New Covenant right? It DOESN’T belong. Hence Acts 15. Hence Romans 4. Hence Galatians 5. Circumcision was a gift from God to Abraham so that he could be reminded of teh covenant. My point is that we have that today and it’s not infant baptism. It’s the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But God gave them other things to remind them. The law, The Patriarchs, The Temple Worship, The Divine glory etc. (Romans 9). Do all of those have an explicit New Covenant fulfillment? I think they do and that it is in each case the Holy Spirit is their fulfillment (how is that reducing the Holy Spirit to a “mere” anything?) Your reading of Col 2 is right on so how can you still be having trouble with Genesis 17:14? If I read your response correctly you now see why that verse should not leave you with trembling for your grandchildren, but rather confirm all the more the grace of God in accomplishing salvation outside of works.

  26. DBalc, you are in hot water because you lean entirely on the (true) fact that Abraham had faith before circumcision, while ignoring the God-commanded circumcision of every other male in his household, regardless of faith. I’m not exactly sure how that denies justification by faith. I am only denying “baptism by faith”.

  27. DBalc,

    “Roman teaches us that the Genesis 17 covenant is not the covenant we are under but the Genesis 15 covenant is.”

    is new to me. Gotta check that one out. You may very well be the first theologian in history to hold this position!

  28. […] Well, nobody’s mind was changed by the (ever-growing) interchange on Infant Baptism (except I was more strengthened by the discovery of Rom 4:11!! [as DBalc comments, “How could you have not known about Romans 4:11 before making the decision to baptize your children?”]). […]

  29. Please refer to a new top-level post I have made, that might serve to refocus the discussion

  30. Ok, let’s take a good-old-Texas crack at your circumcision of children = baptism of children leap in logic.

    Old Testament believers were not commanded to circumcise their infant children as children of believers but as the offspring of Abraham (Gen. 17:9). This distinction is VERY important. This is further seen in the fact that the practice was to be continued through succeeding generations WITH NO REFERENCE TO THE PERSONAL FAITH OF THE PARENTS but rather to the child’s connection to Abraham.

    The blessings of the Abrahamic covenant had special reference to Abraham’s future offspring, with blessings of fruitfulness and many nations from Abraham (v. 6), of possession of the land through Abraham’s descendents (v. 8), and of blessing to all families of the earth through Abraham’s descendents (12:3). These are the blessings that circumcision signified and sealed to Abraham.

    The New Testament confirms this view of the Abrahamic covenant over and over. Even the Pharisees understood that covenant blessings were for the offspring of Abraham. When the Pharisees came to John the Baptist for baptism, they didn’t come because their parents were in covenant but because they thought they were children of Abraham. The discussions between Jesus and the Pharisees assume that the real question of heart religion was whether they were children of Abraham. Paul makes this explicit in Galatians 3:29 and other places. The only claim that a believer has for being an heir of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant is that he is a child of Abraham.

    Of course, the New Testament lifts the promises of the Abrahamic covenant out of the shadows of the Old Testament, but the essential terms of the covenant are still the same. The sign of the Abrahamic covenant is for the seed of Abraham.

    When Abraham was told to circumcise his offspring, he understood it to mean his physical descendents. Clearly, however, this meaning no longer has significance for those under the new covenant.

    So do we find N.T. evidence for the wiping out of the O.T. shadow (the physical significance of the seed) and emphasis on the reality (the spiritual significance). Interestingly enough, we find many passages that explain and emphasize this change of focus (cf. Matt. 3:9, John 8:32-40, Gal. 3:7,9,18,29,4:28).

    No, my friends, God’s message to us is stll, “Repent and be baptized every one of you for the forgiveness of sins”.


    If I don’t baptize my infant kids, something that (everyone agrees) is NOT mentioned explicitly, and if implied, not at all emphasized as important in the New Testamant, what is the WORST THING that can happen? Well, nothing. Even you guys aren’t saying that infant baptism saves the child’s soul for eternity. On the other hand, if I do baptize my kids as infants, I may create a false sense of security on their part (that we have encountered in many Roman Catholics here on the border). “Oh, I don’t need to be born-again, I was baptised as a Christian by my parents.” Our children need to be born-again and make a decision for Christ, and must follow that decision and their repentance as all Christians did in the book of Acts, by being baptized.

    I know it’s kind of scary to think that the church you knew in your youth could have, in fact, been right all along.


  31. Nice post, Jim, very clear. But in the end, not convincing to me. In the OT, circumcision was a seal applied to infants, usually in vain, because all but a remnant of Israel were not circumcised in their heart. But it is clear that the OT mandate for circumcision stood anyways. That’s probably why it was so hard to shake in the NT.

    It is the same in the NT. The vast majority of baptisms are in vain, either because babies don’t grow up to saving faith, or because unelect adults get baptized and don’t persevere. And we IB’ers absolutely should (and do, to the point of annoyance, at least at my church) stress that baptism IS NOT salvation, and is no guarantee of salvation. The fact that too many don’t stress or even believe this in no way makes the doctrine incorrect.

    But you raise another point with what’s the WORST THING that can happen? Dad points to Gen 17:14. What is the reformed theology for what happens to unbaptized infants who die? If baptism is not salvation, how could it make a difference in that respect? What is the equivalent baptist theology for what happens when infants die before they are able to understand and make a confession of faith? And don’t give me this “Age of accountability” hokum, unless you can find verses for it.

  32. And don’t give me this “Age of accountability” hokum, unless you can find verses for it.

    Glad to see you are now also insisting on clear Scripture to defend church practice…welcome to my world.

    I shall respond shortly.

  33. You are breaking new ground here, Jim, if by your statement ” The sign of the Abrahamic covenant is for the seed of Abraham” you mean the physical seed of Abraham. That is certainly how any sane person would read your statement based on your next sentence “When Abraham was told to circumcise his offspring, he understood it to mean his physical descendents. Clearly, however, this meaning no longer has significance for those under the new covenant.”

    You say you are not dispensational?

    Are you similarly dispensing with the promises of the Abrahamic covenant?

    Why bring in the “New” covenant in this discussion? The New covenant is the doing away with the Mosaic covenant. The AbCo is unaffected, is it not?

    FWIW, I don’t think you have the right to sign off “humbly” when it is painfully obvious to your readers that you are more often that you realize being condescending and dismissive of their view points.

  34. A few questions (Still working on my “babies in heaven” answer:

    Okay, if circumcision equals infant baptism, why did the circumcised jews who believed in Jesus also need to be baptised? Or, more importanly, why did the Jews themselves require practice baptism AND circumcision of new proselytes? Also, do you fellas give communion to 2-year-olds?

    FWIW, Lighten up, Bruce. If I can’t talk smack in these discussions, my interest will wane. As I remember, you did get in on at least one pickup game of b-ball with Albino Shaq back in the day. I also remember you jealously coveting my “chromatic scale runs” in the church orchestra. :-)

    Your Servant,

  35. This

    FWIW, I don’t think you have the right to sign off “humbly” when it is painfully obvious to your readers that you are more often that you realize being condescending and dismissive of their view points.

    was a FOOBAR if I ever saw one.

    Make that “… more often than not being condescending …”.

    By the way, it takes one to know one. But I leave off the “humbly” lie.

  36. OKOK, let’s cool it folks. Dad’s low-key sarcasm is even harder to read via plain text than ‘bino’s loving trash-talk.

    And, no, we don’t give communion to 2year-olds. I haven’t investigated this issue as thoroughly as IB (or at all, really), but I read somewhere that the OT was pretty clear that participation in the passover supper was limited to understanding family members.

  37. I have a question for those who practice paedobaptism, partly out of ignorance. If infants are baptized, are they also given the Lord’s Supper?

  38. Hi Carl!  Welcome to our steel-cage IB-off!   

    I don’t have much awareness beyond my own church, but based on us toeing the reformed line pretty strictly, I’ll say no in general. Our communions are always accompanied by warnings against non-christians. And I Cor 11:27-32 seems pretty clear that the Lord’s Supper is for true believers only.

  39. It wouldn’t seem logical to deny the Lord’s Supper to someone who has been baptized.

  40. I don’t know how it is currently practiced in Reformed (or other) churches, but when it first began historically the infants were asked questions about their faith and repentance (just like the adults) and the parents answered for them. The early infant baptizers believed that it was necessary to believe and repent before being baptized and so were forced into this nonsensical situation.

  41. It wouldn’t seem logical to deny the Lord’s Supper to someone who has been baptized.

    That’s because you believe only the saved can be baptized. The reformed position is that it wouldn’t seem logical to deny baptism to someone who is within God’s covenant.

  42. Are you saying that you can be within God’s covenant but not be saved?

  43. Yes, that is a fundamental part of the reformed understanding of baptism. It is exactly analogous to OT circumcision in that the vast majority of Jews were circumcised (and thus in the covenant), but not “saved”, i.e. not part of the true remnant that had faith in God’s promises, esp. of a coming messiah.

    I just thought of a new quip, which might or might not be inspired: You can be in the covenant while not keeping your end of the covenant (yet, hopefully).

  44. Is there any difference in infant baptism and adult baptism?

  45. Sorry – I can’t stop thinking of questions. Are baptized infants regenerate and indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

  46. Carl, you are answering questions I am not able to answer with certainty, but I’ll take a stab at it.

    For one thing, I’ve read somewhere that (reformed-wise), baptism, regeneration, confession, justification, etc. do not have to happen in a fixed order.

    As for a difference between adult and infant baptism, I think the baptist position sees adult as normal, and infant an (incorrect) aberration, while reformed would consider (after the church is well established) infant to be normal, and adult to be a (happy) aberration (but in the early apostolic age, it was of course a much  more common aberration).

    The WSC does appear inelegant, with infant baptism as almost a footnote:

    Q. 95. To whom is Baptism to be administered?
    A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

    The full-on Westminster Confession has this to say about baptism (note that WSC#95 a more gracefully phrased point IV, and note especially VI. about timing) :

    Chapter XXVIII
    Of Baptism
    I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.

    II. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the Gospel, lawfully called thereunto.

    III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person.

    IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.

    V. Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

    VI. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.

    VII. The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.

    I probably should have started this thread by quoting this, the documented baseline reformed position.

  47. How’s this for an update on my earlier pithy summarization:

    [Circ|Bapt] signifies entrance of an individual into God’s Covenant of Grace, whereby IF the individual lives up to their end of the covenant (i.e. grows to have saving faith in the covenant promises), then God will faithfully execute his end of the covenant by granting grace unto salvation.

    That of course is not quite right, because it implies it is up to the individual to fulfill his end of the bargain, when actually it is all God’s power & election anyways, but hopefully you get the point.

  48. My question was partly a reaction to your statement that children can be baptized because they are already in the covenant. But if they are in the new covenant, according to Hebrews 8 (quoting Jeremiah), then they are regenerate, with new hearts. You can’t be both in the new covenent and unregenerate (at least not according to the New Testament). So, your statement that unregenerate infants are in the covenant goes directly contrary to the teaching of the New Testament.

    There is also no evidence from the New Testament that you are in the covenent if you are not saved. Being saved is synonymous with enjoying the benefits of the New Covenant (forgiveness, the gift of the Holy Spirit, etc.).

    I’ve yet to see anyone (including J.I. Packer, who I once heard defend infant baptism) base their arguments on the New Testament. They always go directly to the Old Testament, with vague references to the New Testament, and lots of contortions. But the arguments themselves don’t come from the New Testament. You can’t get to child baptism from exegesis of the NT. (Unlike the trinity, which can be clearly demonstrated from exegesis.)

    It’s just unfortunate that with their Sola Scriptura battle cry, the early reformers weren’t able to jettison infant baptism along with numerous other unbiblical Roman Catholic practices (and in fact had the poor anabaptists killed, but that’s another story and it’s not your fault).

  49. I’m glad you absolve me of murther most foul, Carl. I must say, however, that I am guilty of thinking in my heart that they might be fools, even though I have never cried “Raca!”

    You seem to be equating “regenerate” with “saved”. My understanding of the definition of the word “regenerate” is having the ability to exercise saving faith in Christ, although not necessarily having done so “yet” (from the time-based perspective of our earthbound bodies). Since sinful man is incapable of making that choice, the Holy Spirit’s regenerating action on the elect gives man that ability.

    Due to an Arminian dependence on man’s time-based choice for Christ, you are also wrapped around the axle of time, cause and effect. Since the elect are foreordained since the foundations of the earth, it makes no difference, in the eternal run, what order in someone’s lifetime baptism, regeneration, and confession occur.

  50. Titus 3:5 pretty clearly says that we are saved by regeneration. You can’t be saved and not regenerate. You can’t be in the new covenant but unregenerate. You can’t in the new covenant but not saved. At least, not according to the New Testament. This means that there are two kinds of salvation.

    According to Romans 6 baptism indicates that we have died and risen and with Christ. How could this person not be saved and regenerate – not at some point in the future, that idea doesn’t come from the NT.

  51. By putting an emphasis of the time of confession, you are making a before-after distinction of saved vs. not saved. I maintain that the elect are always saved, and at some point in their lifetime, the Holy Spirit regenerates them, and at some point in their lifetime, they confess Christ. Once you divide someone’s lifetime into “not yet saved” and “saved”, you are putting too much emphasis on the choice of sinful man, and heading down the road to no assurance of salvation (is there a category for “used to be saved”?).

    God saves his elect. The non-elect, not so much. I am confident that there is no case where the Holy Spirit regenerated someone, but forgot to watch out for them so that they got hit by a bus before they had a chance to use their regenerated soul to make a confession for Christ and “get saved”.

    As for Romans 6, how can a non-elect person (or a person who confesses, but later falls away) who gets baptized have been buried and risen with Christ?

    It’s funny how this discussion has degenerated to Calvinism vs. Arminianism, which is probably the fundamental root of all of the differences between orthodox reformed and modern evangelical theology.

  52. The problem is that we don’t live in the eternal now of God. So, while this is true with God, in the Bible we are not told to live or think this way. This is a common mistake. That gets into philosophy, not the actualy teaching of the New Testament (once again).

    Yes, God saves the elect. But they are saved at a point in time.

    Initial faith happens at a point in time. Baptism happens at a point in time. The gospels and Acts talk of people being saved at a particular point in time, after they believed, not before. Not that faith is a work, but that they could not experience the benefits of the covenant until they received the word of the gospel in faith. Even if they were destined to believe, they still didn’t experience the benefits of the covenant (and were not said to be in the covenant) until they believed.

    And they were not baptized until they had received the word with faith and repentance. Baptism symbolizes salvation as something already experienced, not something which is yet to be experienced in the future.

    (Your statement about Romans six actually ends up making baptism meaningless, so I’m not sure what your point was there.)

  53. IIt really has degenerated but it really isn’t a Calvanism vs Arminianism question at all.

    I just want to know if Bruce has recieved a satisfactory reason why he should not fear for his grandchildren who are not baptized. I stand by my original statment that I don’t have a problem with baptizing infants my problem is the presumption that failure to do so puts their lives in jeopardy. So what do you think Bruce? If I have given you any reassurance at all I will feel pretty good about this whole thing. If you are still worried or wondering if you should be worried then my arguments were inadequate and I sincerley apologize but realize there is nothing more I can say.

  54. Well, it seems to me that circumcision of infants is (was) also meaningless (and the NT basically says that in the new covenant it is), but that’s what God commanded anyways.

  55. you are making a before-after distinction of saved vs. not saved

    WOW! Man, Reuben, if I were you I would really spend more time reading Paul’s letters more and Calvin’s Institutes less! I must admit, you really shock me with some of your pronouncements! Judas Priest! The Bible CLEARLY makes a distinction between “before and after you were saved and not saved.” Romans 10:9-10; 13; Acts 16:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17

    So you would not encourage someone to get saved? Wouldn’t you appeal to your “unsaved” friends to be “born-again”? Don’t you see a difference in people after they receive Christ and become believers? I’ll say it backwards….WOW! When you said you are no longer evangelical, YOU WEREN’T KIDDING!

  56. Woah. Circumcision is meaningless NOW (at least in regard to salvation). But it was not meaningless in the Old Testament. The NT doesn’t say that the Israelites wasted their time with circumcision.

  57. Well, they certainly circumcised a lot of babies who did not grow up to partake in the benefits of the covenant; and it would have seemed a lot more meaningful if circumcision were a personal choice after conscious initiation to God’s promises, say at your bar mitzvah or something. But that’s just not the way God set it up.

  58. Thanks for letting me participate and for responding. I have a huge amount of respect for Calvin and for the Westminster Confession and all that. They made huge advances in the church. I just don’t think they got it right all the time. I’m signing off for the rest of the night!

  59. Correction: that I “don’t have a problem with baptizing infants” is refrenced to people like Rube who will teach their children what baptisim, faith and genuine repentance really is (hopefully they will then make the decision to be baptized). I do agree with Albino regarding the negative effect it can have and does have on catholics which is why I will not be baptizing my children.


    A man is stranded on a desert island for 15 years. A Navy ship finally sees smoke from his fire and sends a crew ashore to rescue him. When they arrive, they see the castaway’s fire and three buildings. “What are these buildings?,” they ask. “Oh, this first one is my house and the second one is my church.” “But what about the third one?,” they inquire. “Oh,” the castaway says, “That third building is the church I used to go to.”

  61. And because I don’t see it in scripture ;-)

  62. Classic Jim. What denomination do you suppose he was? My best guess is… American

  63. Thx Carl and all for participating, and keeping a civil (if sometimes trash-talkin’) spirit. We’ll all laugh about this in Heaven.

    I agree that Calvin/WC/me are not always right. Sadly, although I have a pretty clear picture of where other people are wrong, it’s harder to tell where I am wrong! But that’s OK; I prefer criticizing others to changing myself anyways.

  64. Okay, I lied… I was rereading your beginning statement and had some more comments.

    You said:

    “So just like Credobaptists now argue ‘You can’t baptize a baby, because you can’t be sure if he’ll grow up to have saving faith, which is the true membership criteria for God’s chosen people,’ “

    (Not sure how to get the block of copied text to all tab over – maybe someone can enlighten me…) [RR: happy to do it for you]

    I have myself never made this argument, and as Bruce said, I’ve not heard others make the argument. This means that credobaptists would make future events the criteria for baptism. Quite the opposite. We make past events the criteria for baptism – faith and repentance – not as works, but as the God-enabled response to hearing the word. Nevertheless, they are in the past.

  65. Based on your original statement, it seems like your main point of contention is that you heard to much teaching about the discontinuity between the two testaments – more than the continuity. Is that accurate? Those who follow Calvin would tend to agree with you (while Lutherans and followers of their teaching would see more discontinuity).

    I actually think that you are right that there is much more continuity between the testaments than some groups allow. You might check out some of N.T. Wright’s material – The Climax of the Covenant would be a good place to start. Of course, many reformed folks don’t like him, so be warned.

    I think that the new covenant is not primarily a huge break with the old covenant, but its fulfillment. That seems to be the entire message of both Jesus and Paul. We are now living in the time of the fulfillment of the covenant. (Mark 1:15; Romans 15:8-9) I just don’t think you need to equate baptism with circumcision in order to go this route.

    I don’t think, as many people seem to think, that the God of the OT is one of wrath and the one of the NT is one of love. There is punishment and discipline in both testaments (one could argue that hell is a much bigger deal than physical exile!), and there is faith, love and forgiveness in both testaments. And there are both spiritual and physical blessings in both testaments (we don’t await an etherial kingdom, but a material new heaven and new earth – along with new bodies, whatever that material is – just as the great promise in the OT was the physical land).

    So, I think you should keep looking for those very strong strands of continuity between the testaments. But that doesn’t mean that baptism equals circumcision.

    (By the way, doesn’t reformed theology teach that both Adam’s and Moses’ covenants were covenants of works? Maybe you disagree with this.)

  66. I think you misunderstood the words I was trying to put in your mouth. How about if I say it this way:

    Credobaptists now argue ‘You can’t baptize a person in infancy, because it is before any confession of faith, which is the true membership criteria for God’s chosen people.

    As for Adam & Moses, that’s kind of sticky, because it gets into the issues that lead to Theonomy, which I believe is an incorrect result of excessive zeal to see OT/NT continuity.  (In the sense that you probably also lump infant baptism in this category, our debate is a matter of where to draw the continuity/discontinuity line.)

    As for Adam, probably it was a covenant of works.  Populate the earth, don’t eat the fruit.  Pretty simple.  As for Moses, I don’t think it can be considered a covenant of works.  As the NT says, if salvation was attainable through the law, then the law would have sufficed, and we wouldn’t have needed a new covenant.  After all, what is God’s principal complaint against Israel through the OT?  Not failing to have priests properly inspect the mold behind your kitchen sink, but worshipping idols, following other gods, losing faith.  And the law had provision for violation of the law, in specifying a schedule of sacrifices for atonement; and I think that (properly done) those sacrifices are an act of faith akin to I John 1:9, say, in a different mode.

  67. Boys, boys boys…..my head may actually explode…..

    You boys go on arguing about this……meanwhile….I’ll stick with
    the “Go into all the world and preach the gospel, make disciples, and baptize them in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Oh, and for good measure, let’s throw in caring for the widows and orphans, because that, after all is “true” religion. O wait…..and the “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And your neighbor as yourself.” That’s a good one, too.

    The good news is….by the time you solve this great question….we’ll be looking Jesus in the eyes. WooHoo!!!

    Ok…now that I said that…..I’ll be a hypocrite and comment anyway…….

    I could be wrong, but if the early church and more specifically, the
    Apostle Paul had equated circumcision(OC) with infant baptism(NC),
    there would have been more than an inference. In fact, the Apostle
    Paul clearly equated the OC Circumcision of the flesh to the NC
    circumcision of the heart. I’m just guessing here…but if the
    Apostle had intended on equating OC circumcision to infant baptism…..that’s precisely what he would have told Peter, and what
    he would have written in his letters when he, in fact went into
    detail about circumcision.

    Having said that….if Reuben and his crew want to dedicate their
    babies by Baptizing them, more power to ’em. As long as they know
    that Baptism in the NC is an outward demonstration of an inward “new life”. That “new life” is not the first birth, but the “must be born again” birth. OC circumcision was an external covenantal expression of birth into the physical family/kingdom of God. NC Baptism is the external Covenantal expression of birth into the eternal, yet invisible, Kingdom of God. Paul was very clear on
    this…OC….circumcision of the flesh….NC…circumcision of the

    But, then again…I’m just a “Platter spinnin’ Radioboy”. :-)

  68. Hey Kerry, I remember you! Thanks for dropping in!

    I agree,

    Baptism in the NC is an outward demonstration of an inward “new life”. That “new life” is not the first birth, but the “must be born again” birth.

    However, we are outwardly demonstrating our reliance on God’s promise of inward new life, subject to our eventual confession of faith (which in turn is subject to God’s election and the Holy Spirit’s regenerating power).

    An important point to remember is that our view of baptism deliberately emphasizes that it is God who chooses us — even while we are yet his enemies; as opposed to the baptistic view which celebrates man’s choice for God.

  69. Let’s not conflate the sign (c or b) with something signified (the heart of flesh vice stone). Also, be careful not to migrate from the AbCo to the NewCo; they are not the same.

  70. Hi again Reuben – Thanks for your clarifying comments above. I think that is closer to what I would say. Baptism is based on our having already entered into the covenant by faith, and not only that but more importantly, baptism symbolizes not what will happen but what has already happened by God’s grace inwardly – death and resurrection with Christ.

    I think these last comments get at some good points. One of the key passages mentioned above is Col. 2:11. While Paul mentions circumcision, he makes it clear that he is NOT talking about physical circumcision (physical circumcision = baptism). He is talking about the inward reality which can only happen to someone who is in the new covenant.

    Also, note that in this very passage he specifically ties baptism to faith – all of this inward work happens “through your faith in the power of God,” through the faith of the one baptized, not someone else’s faith, nor the faith of the community, nor of the parents.

    (Anyhow, what I’ve found in these debates is that usually each side tends to get even more hardened into their original position, since everyone is defending their positions. In my case, it just serves to get me deeper into my position. A good exercise nevertheless.)

  71. No. He is talking about physical circumcision. Namely, the physical circumcision of Christ – his cutting off, the literal fulfillment as covenant servant of what the token cutting was of Abraham and his descendants.

  72. ‘Of Christ’ is an objective genitive, where the subject of the cutting off is God the Father, Himself, who with out human hands, cut His Son off from the covenant community.

    And it’s DBalc’s point that this fulfillment alleviates the requirement given in Gen 17:14. So, yes, DBalc, I have no reason to fear not having grand kids baptized.

  73. To elucidate on Bruce’s succinct point, I think I am talking about physical circumcision. It appears that another root of our disagreement is that you equate baptism with the spritual circumcision of the heart (mentioned I believe even in the OT), where I equate it with the physical, symbolic act we are commanded to perform. Hence credobaptism makes sense to you, and paedobaptism to me.

  74. 1) As in confusing the sign for something signified. 2) As in confusing the ‘writing of the law on our hearts’ – new version of the abrogated Mosaic covenant – with the AbCo – the eternal, unabrogatable, covenant.

    (First time you called me Bruce?? Touching) [RR: in this blog maybe, not at work]
    Edit previous post of mine to read ‘the subject of the cutting off’ not cutting of. [RR: done] 

  75. Bruce, I am very glad that your fears, or at least fears that you should have fears, have been alleviated. But a big question remains… Do you still encourage infant baptism in light of your earlier view that it was Gods command that infants be baptized?

    Comment #14 “Do you then have a problem with God’s own stated view regarding the denial of baptism to your infants: Genesis 17:14 “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.” Or are you dispensational after all?”

    Do you still take Genesis 17 as a command for IB?

  76. because if you don’t, then the “obvious connection” of the early argument has become much less obvious. Consequently IB becomes our version of a baby dedication.

    And Rube, do you end up baptizing the one that you had dedicated (by Jim no less)?

  77. Yes, #1 was baptized at the same time we became members of our church (he was 2 y.o. then), and #2 and #3 were baptized as newborns.

    I don’t necessarily regret or recant the dedication, I just consider it a prayer for the child and the parents, which is always a good thing.

  78. Not to get off track but “had dedicated by Jim” sounds like more than a mere prayer. It sounds like something done for you by another – a la sacerdotalism.

    Not to get off onto another track, but baby dedication is a clear violation of the Regulative Principle of Worship that admonishes us that only what God has commanded us to do in worship is permitted. All other things done in worship are an affront to and a usurping of God’s right to dictate to us how he must be worshipped.

    DBalc, the answer to your recent question to me is that I don’t see how the alleviation of the command (Gen 17:14) due to Christ’s fulfillment of it in any way necessarily severs the (rough) equivalence of c and b. The eq is established in many ways (but most directly in Col 2:11) that a Biblicist would have a hard time with. There is hope for you that you won’t go to your grave remaining a Biblicist. As for the Albino, I can’t see such hope.

  79. Bruce, I’m very glad that you can now acknowledge that that the connection between c and b is a “rough equivalence” where at the begining you called it an “obvious connection”. To me that is the cornerstone of the debate and your concession in this area (although only a slight concession) gives me hope that well lets just leave my hopes for you out of this conversation. I will say that I hope to see you in the gym sometime because you make a 4 mile run go by a lot quicker.

  80. You won’t see me at the gym cause I now go to the LA Fitness in 4S ranch. Although if I go on Saturdays I would probably pick the one in Poway.

    I wouldn’t get too excited. Obvious connection and rough equivalence are two separate mutually exclusive qualities. So, I am afraid you will have to settle for clarification rather than concession.

    Not to get off topic, but – Brees or Rivers?

  81. Not to get off track but “had dedicated by Jim” sounds like more than a mere prayer. It sounds like something done for you by another – a la sacerdotalism.

    What is a dedication (in the minds of both camps) but a mere prayer?

    What is sacerdotalism?

    What is a biblicist?

    What is a Brees and a Rivers?

    But that reminds me of one time when AlbinoShaq was telling of an intern whose qualifications included having performed a “mock baby dedication”; so I asked ‘bino “isn’t a baby dedication just a mock baptism?”  Which in our current context is actually more than just a great zinger, but also a great question.  What sacramental meaning are you attaching to baby dedications that you feel interns can only practice them in Mock form?

  82. I’ve been an avid Brees supporter from the start and I truly felt that drafting Rivers was a mistake. That said I wouldn’t mind turning it over to Rivers next year and spending the money you would have spent to keep Brees around on offensive line and secondary help. Defense wins championships. (But thats a long way off I’m waiting on April 3 and the defending NL west champions come charging onto the field in their motorized wheel chairs!)

    I think there is a misunderstanding of the word “practice” in your questions about the intern. Interns could certainly practice (perform) a real baby dedication, but like in anything else it’s better to have practiced (rehearsed) before. A baby dedication is not a sacrament.

  83. Baby dedication is, or approaches, sacerdotalism because, while it consists of prayer, it is in reality a ceremony where the child is brought in a worship service to be dedicated by someone else, in someone’s stead. It employs the services of a human mediator in some sort of (I don’t want to say magic) ceremony that is clearly man invented and man centered. (This is obviously a radically different situation than when a child is brought before the elders because he is sick and needs prayer.)

    While this is nonsense on the face of it, (how can you give someone to God when the child is already clearly God’s to begin with) why can’t this be done in the privacy of one’s home. (An additional rant, which has nothing to do with sacerdotalism is this. Why would an Arminian ever do such a thing at all since their belief is that God is powerless over the free will of man as regards his choice to become a Christian or not. Maybe they are trying to impress God with their piety and love for religiousity?).

    Biblicism is a way of handling the Bible. It is characterized by at least a couple of things. First, it is treated atomistically. Individual verses are used singly without them being fit into the grand themes of God’s redemptive historical revelation. This is demonstrated by thumping of “repent and be baptized” as if it is the only and final revelation on the subject of Baptism. Or thumping “as many as received Him” as if it is the only and final verse needed to defend free-willism or decisional regeneration. Not that single verses are all that is given. Multiple verses often are but they are like individual pearls that haven’t been put on a chain in any coherent way. The arguments are built from the inside out rather than from the Biblical Theological, or even Systematic Theological perspective. This is why we haven’t heard why you shouldn’t be heading off to the Kingdom Hall, having lost any rationale for believing in the trinity.

    The second thing that characterizes Biblicism (and this has not really been evidenced in any of these discussion much) is that the Bible is treated like a handbook of moral, successful, correct living. Obviously this too is an atomistic treatment. I remember specifically being taught at BMT that the Bible is the owners’ manual for life.

    Finally, sorry about the Brees Rivers diversion. I was just trying to lighten up and remind everyone that, while I am a religious pain, I do enjoy sports, thus making me a normal person afterall.

  84. Let me briefly add that I am not claiming for myself any special ability or superiority WRT to Biblical interpretation. I have none, in fact. The sad fact is that after nearly 6 decades of being a Christian, I am now just beginning to feel my way into a more proper, fruitful study of scripture. You might want to argue that I am falling for Reformed/Covenant theology like unto a man whose ears are being tickled by ‘every wind of doctrine’. Good luck with that argument.

    I have encountered numerous people at seminary who, rather than being the formal, dry scholastic types who don’t really know Christ at all that evangelicalism so frequently warns about, are just astounding in the faithfulness to Christ and his story of redemption.

  85. Reuben,

    It was an honor both to officiate at your wedding and to dedicate your baby #1 to the Lord. We teach that any believer can baptize any other convert, and that anyone can also pray a prayer of dedication over infants (no clergy collar or title needed). So I guess that explodes the “sacerdotalism” myth. To me, denominations that insist on seminary training and masters degrees as a requirement for ministry are the ones that create more of a “clergy-laity” separation, and maybe even raise the bar higher than Jesus intended (go back and read up on the first 12 disciples’ qualifications).

    If by “sarcerdotalism” you also meant putting a human agent between us and Christ, we are in agreement. We believe in “one mediator”, but we are also encouraged to “pray for one another”, “bless one another”, “lay hands on one another”, etc.

    There is nothing “magical” about dedicating a baby. The parents are bringing the child before the church family for a prayer of blessing, that usually involves a mini-sermon to the parents, reminding them of their responsibility to raise the child in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

    I actually see it the way that Carl does. I think that the Calvin and his crew, although making great strides, did not throw off enough residual roman catholic trappings, leaving his followers, years later, defending catholic practices like baby baptism, that have scant Bible support. It’s too bad, because on many topics, Calvinists do have a lot of clear, solid Bible.

    Because I don’t think you believe that baptizing child #1 in any way “saved” him, and that he must later be “born-again” for himself, I think his baptism was harmless (although a little annoying if I’m being honest). It is important to make sure that all your kids know Jesus as their PERSONAL Savior, and make every effort to let them know that they must follow Christ for themselves. Again, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here.

    As to “mock” baby dedications, we also had the students perform “mock” funerals and “mock” weddings. This was just a way to get them comfortable with public ministry. One student got the dead person’s name wrong 5 TIMES during his eulogy/sermon :-) I did get the humor in your quip, though.

    I’m sure Bruce is irritated with my “Bible thumping”, but too bad. Your frustration is that on this topic, we have the clearer verses, whereas you have to go on a theological “Easter egg hunt” to shoehorn in baby baptism into the N.T. Lean into the screen. LET IT GO! Leave baby baptism to the catholic traditions of men.

    As that great street preacher, Billy Sunday, once said: “When scholarship disagrees with the Scripture, scholarship can go to hell!”

    A question for Bruce: Do you still believe in spiritual gifts and prophecy or have you become a cessationist, too?

    I love you guys and love your families. We are on the same team and have the same enemy. Keep kicking “spiritual booty in heavenly places with Christ Jesus!” I’ve got your back.

  86. PASTOR JIM: Now if the family would come forward and stand together with us, we will dedicate #1 to Jesus.

    I want to read from Mark 10:13 –16 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms and blessed them. In Luke, the Scripture says that the people brought “babies” to Jesus.

    What a beautiful picture…Jesus taking children in his arms and blessing them. Today we are following the example of Jesus and we are going to bless little #1 and dedicate him to the Lord.

    T and RubeRad, before we dedicate #1, I want your commitment that you will bring him up in the “training and instruction of the Lord”. I want to know that you will read the Bible to him, I want to know that you will take him to church with you, I want to know that you will pray for him and be an example of Godliness to him. Will you commit to do these things?

    I also want to know that the extended family will read the Bible to #1, will pray for #1, will see that he understands the Gospel, and will also commit to being examples of Godly behavior to him. Will you also commit to do these things?

    I would like to invite all of you to stretch out your hands toward little #1 as we give him to Jesus to be blessed today.


  87. Bruce,

    A dead horse you keep whipping is this “Biblicists can’t prove the Trinity with clear Scripture” argument. I don’t agree. I think the three persons of the Trinity is easy to prove from the N.T., just hard to explain logically to an unbeliever. Here I go Bible-thumping again:

    All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19].

    May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all [2 Corinthians 13:14].

    Also, I really like being called a “Biblicist”, since all my adult life I’ve preached the Bible. I may start using the moniker myself.

    Altogether now, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes, that’s the Book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E!”

    If I may give an impression, as an outsider, of Calvinists, they appear to honor Calvin’s Institutes almost on the same level as the Scripture. Almost a whiff of “Doctrines and Covenants” and the “Pearl of Great Price” along with the Bible? I would like to hear where you disagree with Calvin. List a few areas where he “got it wrong”.

  88. Here is our baby, Rachel’s dedication video clip, for those who have never seen one: (Where’s the magic?)


    Ok, one more video to watch (no theological connection other than proving the depravity of man and tangentally offering an argument for euthanasia). Janet Reno sings Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”

  90. Bruce, again your attack of a baby dedication as “sacerdotalism” is ridiculous and is actually better directed towards IB. No one claims anything more of a baby dedication then the IB claim of “inclusion in the covenant community (church)”. What’s the difference? The biggest one is the dedication puts a large emphasis on the child making a personal decision at some point later in life (accompanied by a subsequent decision to be baptized). Whereas IB carries with it the connotation that the infant is now guaranteed in their eternal security (for a contemporary examination of this fact go to itunes and download the last episode of “LOST” where it was quite clearly explained that baptizing a baby saves the baby.) Now we know that is the catholic position, but how do we know that is NOT the reformed position, especially since there is such a heavy emphasis on IB? It just seems like an incoherent attempt at defending an indefensible position, or if you prefer, individual pearls without being stung in any order. As Jim said you may claim us to be “biblicist” in a negative sense, but you must then realize you are percieved as an “institutionalist”. I guess thats alright if you consider the institues to be inspired, which your defenses seem to do.

    Now I realize the perception of the “defending an indefensible position” is EXACTLY the way that you percieve our position which is why in many ways these discussions end up being fruitless. Again we go back to bias. It’s difficult when neither side attempts to acknowledge their bias so I will go ahead and point mine out now. My bias is two-fold 1) I was raised in a church and family that put a stong emphasis on the Bible as the standard of authority and if something isn’t in the Bible we didn’t do it. As such I didn’t learn about the institutes until I went to Bible College at which point I dismissed them because I felt as though they contradicted my heritage of biblical emphasis, or as you call it “biblicism” (that position later changed when I studied them more and embraced many portions of them). 2. I am strongly anti-catholic. Catholicisim is, in my opinion the most detrimental of all false religions and in many ways the personification of the Revelation symbols of the Great Beast from the earth (Rev 13). Therefore nearly anything even resembling RC I am opposed to. This has indeed led me to many questions about my own charismatic history in regards to the emphasis on miracles. Not that I ever approached cessationism but I do raise an eybrow towards many stories I hear. The point is that these two biases combine very strongly in my position on IB. 1. I don’t see it in the Bible. 2. I do see it in Roman Catholicism. The great Irony of this whole thing is that in mainline reformed churches today I see a bizzare blending of my two biases. First I see a stronger emphasis on “Systematic Theology” and “Orthodoxy” then I see on personal relationship with Jesus Christ or even individual Bible study. Second I see an emphasis on traditionalist, liturgical worship patterns (hymns only, closed communion table, necessity of seminary degree, infant Baptism, etc.) Such things remind me strongly of Catholicism. Consequently I have biases against this position. Now it is clear that you have biases as well, and don’t attempt to shroud them in the supposed claim “biblical orthodoxy” (which I also claim) because that just further entrenches you in my bias. If your bias is against charismatic abuses of scripture then I am right there with you, but I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water (an overused phrase for which I apologize). You can’t reject something simply because of surface flaws (ie. overemphasis on charismatic experiences) but they must be on fundamental biblical errors (where my rejection of Catholicism comes in because of the denial of Justification by Faith).

    reformed doctrine as a whole I agree with. My rejections are mostly on the things that connect them to the Roman Catholic church, (most notable is IB) and the things that deny the clear teachings of scripture (cessationism). This puts me in a great place where I embrace Christian brothers and sisters of other denominations without doubting the sincerity of their faith. After all it’s impossible to tell who is and isn’t elect right? Saddly the majority of “calvanist” (which I consider myself in essense but not in title) have taken a position of arrogance and superiority thus causing further divisions. The most notable personal example of this is the time a seminarian told me that my church is not a true church. Who the hell does someone think they are to be make such a judgment? What basis (or should I say bias) did they have for that judgment? You guessed it, the “institutes” (or at leas his interpretation of it). I’m sorry but that just further entrenched my bias.

    Why bring this up? because that’s the last thing that should happen in these debates. I pray that is not at all your attitude, not because of me, but because of the obvious personal ties you have with this church and the gaps that widen with each further shovel scoop digging you into your position.

    My advice is to acknowledge bias when it is there and then evaluate the history of that bias, it could help (as it heled me) to become more understanding of other positions and more fruitful in establishing mutually benefitial relationships within the community of Christ.

  91. That there is a lot of abuse of both me and the position of orthodox covenant theology that will take quite a bit of time and


    to get through. Be patient.

  92. Yikes! Reading that sounds almost like a personal attack, please don’t take it that way. You know that I love you and your family and that I have always thought very highly of you. I truly do think of you as a “patriarch” in my life.

  93. Don’t feel like you need to spend any time defending yourself personally because that truly is not necessary. As for defending orthodoxy the whole point is which orthodoxy are you defending? Thats where bias comes in. What is “orthodox” christianity? Every denomination can claim that (I think Non-denominational has the best claim) but it has to be stated that any claim is from, to some degree, a biased position. Right?

  94. Again my own personal illustration of the negatives that can come from debate is not to say that has occured in this conversation. It is merely a warning to not allow that to occur. Unfortunatley upon review of my comment (#90) I can see how I did a very poor job of communicating that and actually may have reopened a wound. I sincerely apologize for that and hope that your forgivness is given. I did not intend to place any abuse on you. again I apologize.

  95. I love and forgive you, brother. Some responses to parts of your diatribe:

    the dedication puts a large emphasis on the child making a personal decision at some point later in life

    So does every baptism at my church.

    IB carries with it the connotation that the infant is now guaranteed in their eternal security (for a contemporary examination of this fact go to itunes and download the last episode of “LOST” where it was quite clearly explained that baptizing a baby saves the baby.)

    IB understood wrongly (catholically) is indeed just like that. And an amusing zinger reference to pop culture, although we all know better than to indulge in exegesis by ABC. Just because some (most) understand something wrongly, doesn’t make something wrong. If that was the case, we should all just pack up and quit Christianity because the Crusades were evil.

    Now we know that is the catholic position, but how do we know that is NOT the reformed position

    Because every reformed person says so! Because the baseline doctrinal statement of reformed theology (the Westminster Confession) explicitly says so:

    Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

    I see a stronger emphasis on “Systematic Theology” and “Orthodoxy” then I see on personal relationship with Jesus Christ or even individual Bible study.

    You are confused between Reformed (orthodox)-type Presbyterian churches, and Mainline (liberal)-type Presbyterian churches. In the latter, they don’t care about a personal relationship with Jesus; they are more interested in reinterpreting the Bible so that it isn’t so silly (virgin birth? c’mon! Resurrection? probably just a myth. Christ the only way to salvation? But God loves everybody!) — that is for those who even bother to crack their Bibles ever anyways.

    In the early part of the 20th century, when this liberal, social-gospel movement poisoned the presbyterian church, there was a revolt, including the creation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which stayed true to the Bible and the gospel. It is precisely because they kept reading their Bibles (individually), and studying Systematic Theology, that they remained orthodox, and didn’t fall away like all of the legion of well-intentioned compromisers who just wanted to vaguely “spread Jesus’ love” — while divorcing it from the critical truth of man’s depravity and need for salvation.

    Now I grew up in LWC and BMT thinking that all Catholics and all denominations were devoid of truth and Christ.  You might still be under that impression.  What you need to understand is that the truth is (almost) all Catholics and (most) denominations are devoid of truth and Christ.  You and me (and yours and mine), we’re on the same team, fighting to bring the world and the rest of the church to the true Gospel; that man is actually in desparate need of salvation, and that God loved man enough to prepare a way (one way only!) through the sacrifice of his Son.
    And finally, AlbinoHayford, I’m not going to let you squeeze out of the “mock dedication” thing so easily. Obviously funerals and weddings (and communions) would have to be practiced in “mock”: because they really mean something special. You have to have a real dead person, or you have to have two people who are committing their lives to each other, or you have to be following the biblical mandate to remember our Lord’s sacrifice. But a baby dedication? Why would it have to be mock? Is the mock prayer said in the mock dedication not meant to be heard by God? Are the parents not meant to take seriously their charge to raise the baby as a Christian? If for no other reason than for the benefit of the baby (who couldn’t use more prayer?), why not have the intern perform a real baby dedication? Or do you really think there’s something special about a baby dedication, that it is not appropriate to do more than once?

    That’s all for now; closing in on 100… who’s going to be the lucky caller?!

  96. Do you really think “most denominations are devoid of truth and Christ”? Glad to see that you watch LOST, what do you think is going on there?

  97. Well, that is an inflammatory statement that is really hard to quantify exactly, and therefore hard to defend (or attack). Any time you make a judgement like that about any group of Christians, you have to allow for exceptions at the church and especially individual level.

    For instance, you and I would agree that the Roman Catholic church is in heresy, and critically misses the boat on Justification by Faith (as well as maintaining a number of other less harmful, kooky doctrines, like idolatry to Mary & Saints, infallibility of the pope, celibacy of priests, atonement only via confession priests, purgatory, sinlessness of Mary, Infant Ba… wait a minute! I got carried away by my momentum there!). However for better or for worse, many American churches don’t much respect the authority of the Vatican, and I am willing to believe that some of the so-called “evangelical catholic” churches out there might be in better shape. And certainly there must be many members of Catholic churches who are true believers in Christ, despite the best efforts of the Holy Roman Empire.

    And we know that Methodists and Episcopals are in trouble with gay clergy — it is an issue that doesn’t have anything to do with justification by faith, but anybody who allows for homosexuality at all (not to mention in the clergy) really doesn’t take their Bible seriously enough. But not all churches within those denominations are bad. Half of the Episcopals (and way more than half of African Episcopals) are much more sensible. My cousin LN (a long time evangelical) actually became an episcopalian, because of a great church she found in Cleveland. And the wide-ranging Anglican label in England includes many churches you would feel quite comfortable in (a specific instance, Greyfriar’s church, Reading, Berkshire)

    And of course, as I mentioned above, the Presbyterian church has shamefully fallen away from the truth. The PCUSA is the “main” american pres denomination, the liberally evil spawn that followed the same road as the now-liberally evil Princeton Theological Seminary. PCA, OPC are still “orthodox”, but we’re small-time rebels compared to the number of congregations and congregants in the PCUSA. But the church my brother (and lately dad) are going to is PCUSA, and actually preaches the Bible.

    So yes, I think it is defensible to say that most denominations are devoid of truth and Christ.

    As for LOST, I don’t know what’s going on. I’m just getting more and more confused. I haven’t taken the time to read any of the web forums where people who have it all figured out spoil it for the rest of us. T-bird thinks it might just all be somebody’s dream, probably Walt’s. She sees some connections between island events and pictures in that comic book he was reading.

  98. Wow, using Lost’s theological beliefs as a means to refute Infant Baptism. I haven’t seen a Straw Man like that since “The Wizzard of OZ.” =)

  99. Hi Reuben and everyone else,

    I got an invitation to read your blog and have been reading the comments above. Hey Daniel and Jim long time no talk. It’s good to hear from you guys and see your interests in theological discussions such as infant baptism. This is a very important topic, which has divided much of Protestantism in the US. I don’t presume to be an expert on the matter, however would like to contribute to the discussion. Although, first I’d like to comment on a few items that were mentioned above.

    First, it was asserted that seminary training for the clergy is not necessary, or even detrimental, during the discussion. The 12 disciples were even cited as affirming this position. However, I believe that this affirms the exact opposite. The twelve disciples left there homes to be with Christ for three years of in depth training. Seminary training (which is typically three years) would appear insufficient for the clergy, in light of these credentials. The Apostles were trained by an infallible teacher, our Lord, before they were commissioned to spread the Gospel around the world. I believe if more clergy were thoroughly trained and equipped it would be a good thing for Christ’s Church, not detrimental.

    Jim you cited Mark 10:13-16 as a passage you use during baby dedications. It is quite ironic you cite that passage, which teaches us not hinder the children from coming to Christ. The kingdom of God belongs to them, yet you assert that they cannot receive the sign of kingdom.

    Daniel, you referenced a practice in Reformed Churches of a closed communion table. I am not exactly sure what your referring to, but the Bible does teach us to restrict communion to those who have received the sign of the covenant. In Exodus 12:43-48, the partaking of the passover meal (the Old Testament antitype to communion) is restricted to those that have been circumcised (the Old Testament antitype to baptism). Of course, you probably do not agree with my application of this text. This entire debate (IB), however is a hermaneutical one. The hermaneutical differences are implied continuity versus implied discontinuity.

    Implied continuity, which I affirm, asserts that Divine commands given in the Old Testament may only be abrogated by God in the New Testamant. Hence, the Reformed position is that the sign of the covenant commanded to be given to an infant in the Old Testament, not being abrogated in the New should then continue.

    Both of you indicated that Infant Baptism is not taught in the Bible, which only allows Believer Baptism. However, I challenge either of you to cite one verse that explicitly denies the right of God’s covenant people to put the sign of the covenant on their children without an icegetical imposition on the text. And let me qualify that I agree with believe and be bapized for the unbaptized pagan adult, however this does not preclude covenant parents from putting the sign of the covenant on their children as has been done since the time of Abraham.

  100. Mike, I guess it’s good to hear from you, but I must admit I am not really sure who you are. Could you clarify the “S” for me?

    To be quite frank I don’t want to indulge in another debate that would simply take us off the topic (closed communion table) but since I did bring it up let me ask this general question. At what age are children in the reformed church allowed to partake of communion? Is there any requirment, class or (yikes) profession of faith necessary before they are allowed to share in the communion? I think that discussion does add to the IB debate for obvious reasons.
    You are correct in my disregard for your scriptural base (EX 12:43-48) on the implied continuity principles as sighted above. It must be stated though that the argument has been for the implied continuity of the Abco and not the Moco (at least that has been my impression) so if this is true then there is much clearer teaching on IB then on closed communion (which is why the debate is not a necessary one to indulge in at this time, unless you want to also debate the implied continuity of Moco (mosaic covenant) and if that is the case we are going to have to go way backwards).

    Though I would like to answer the question directed towards Jim I will allow for him to respond before I do. And finally as to your challenge to find a scripture that explicitly denies Infant Baptism I have to admit to you that I can’t (if I could would there even be any debate? Actually maybe gven this crowd). But I also would like you to do me a favor and find a scripture that explicitly denies necrobaptism (I don’t know if that is really a word but if it is it means “baptisim for the dead”). If you can’t find it then I want to know why aren’t you baptizing for dead friends and family members to include them in the covenant communtiy? The really scary thing about this conept is that there may actually be more scriptural basis for “necrobatpism” then there is for paedobaptism.

    By the way I don’t know what an “icegetical imposition” is. Do you mean “exegetical imposition” or is this a concept I am simply unaware of?

  101. Hi Mike.

    You seem to imply that I am anti-seminary. This isn’t true. I believe (depending on the seminary, of course) that it can be helpful, but I don’t believe that it should be a requirement for ministry. That would knock out Dwight Moody and many other men of God from being pastors.I have a four-year B.A. degree in Pastoral Ministries from Northwestern College, and I learned more working with Pastor Doug Balcombe in a local church in the first six months than I learned in 4 years of college. Your argument about the disciples would seem better suited to defending an practical apprenticeship with a seasoned pastor, more than classroom studies in a seminary. But please don’t misinterpret me, I believe in scholarship, just not when it disagrees with Scripture or excludes men of God from the ministry.

    You said:

    Jim you cited Mark 10:13-16 as a passage you use during baby dedications. It is quite ironic you cite that passage, which teaches us not hinder the children from coming to Christ. The kingdom of God belongs to them, yet you assert that they cannot receive the sign of kingdom.

    Don’t see any irony here. We don’t read that Jesus “baptized” the children that came to Him. He took them in his arms and blessed them. I continue to assert that Calvin and his crew failed to throw off all vestiges of Roman Catholicism, leaving his adherents, years later, defending Roman Catholic practices without much Scriptural basis.

    Am I to assume that you can’t give us any clear Scripture for infant baptism? Well, we knew that going into this discussion, and that’s what makes it interesting. It seems that the burden of proof would be on those who want to add “infant baptism” to “baptism following repentance” because the verses just aren’t there. We have clear Bible for baptizing converts, and you are in the uncomfortable position of practicing something for which you don’t have any clear Bible (but a LOT of church tradition). If you want to talk irony, I find it ironic that you defend a practice that is not found in the N.T., but don’t practice the spiritual gifts used in public worship CLEARLY OUTLINED by Paul in I Cor. 12 and 14. Weird, huh?

    As to communion, I still think that if babies are baptized, you need to serve up the Lord’s supper to those same infants…they would have every right to participate…but the sight of infants participating in the Lord’s Supper might reveal the silliniess of them being baptized in the first place.

    Anyway, welcome to the discussion.

  102. Having nothing to do with the topic at hand (and who was it, anyway, that lobbed the red-herringed hand-grenade into the (hardly unique to the Reformed-camp) idea that their handlers of the word must be trained??) and FWIW,

    does it ring any bells that the teacher to student ratio at WSCAL is 1:12?

    The practical theology dept. at WSCAL includes (but is not limited to) service internships at the local church level.

    And, again, FWIW

    I believe in scholarship, just not when it disagrees with Scripture or excludes men of God from the ministry.

    This is question begging, as I am sure you know. You are assuming the correctness of the position that is under investigation. (Inasmuch as hermeneutical issues are as much or more a part of the debate than the particular stance on Baptism.)

  103. Ok, I’m finally gonna ask: How the heck are you block quoting? I sit in the lotus position and await your wisdom.


    What is wrong with youth ministry illustrated in video form:

  105. I had to ask too, so don’t feel bad.

    You precede the (presumably) pasted text by the html directive(s) characters:

    less than sign, the word blockquote, greater than sign.
    your pasted text
    less than sign, forward slash, the word blockquote, greater than sign.

    I could just type the correct string but I am not sure right now how to tell this html processor I don’t mean it. Otherwise it will start blockquoting when all I am trying to do is demonstrate the correct html directives.

    Please do blockquote me so I can have a chance to start making my retractions.

  106. Welcome Anthony and Mike S (I’ll give the rest of you a hint: it’s four syllables, and in Mad Gabs it might be represented as “A Moody Troll”). I’m glad to have at least one more person on my side (and 1 undecided?) join the discussion!

    Dbalc is the lucky commenter #100! Here’s your virtual prize! (pretend it’s whatever you want)

    Let’s see if we can get 100 comments on Anthony’s blog, to encourage him to keep it more up to date!

    And let’s see if this explains how to “block-quote” more clearly.  Your comment-editing box would look like:

    When you said

    < blockquote > Something idiotic < / blockquote>

    You sounded like an idiot!

    Except don’t have any spaces in the < ,>-delimited HTML blockquote tags (which I had to do for that example, to fool the comment-maker into not turning my illustration into an actual blockquote)

  107. let’s see if this explains how to block-quote more clearly


  108. Don’t get too cocky; never forget that I have the power to edit your text!

  109. I might have missed it but did we get a response the the “are there any cessationist in the house?” Jim seems to be accusing people of this but I don’t remember anyone declaring themselves as such. In the meantime Mike, I wasn’t mocking your typo in my last entry (I make plenty of typos so I hope that most of us overlook them) I was actually unsure if it might have been a theological term I am unaware of, after all I didn’t go to seminary.

    Anthony, my reference to LOST was not a strawman but an example of what most people think of IB. I brought it up because it should be clear to IB defenders what most people think they are defending. BTW have you baptized your baby? And I pose the same question to you that I posed to Rube, when she grows up if she wants to be baptized are you going to encourage or discourage that desire?

    I like rubes position that he will support that desire, but I wanted to find out further on that, are you going to teach them that they should want that? Or are you going to teach them that it is not necessary since they were baptized as infants?

    BTW I don’t believe in baptism for the dead I only brought it up to show that you can’t debate something by saying “show me one scripture that denies Infant baptism” .

  110. Bruce, are there specific questions that I have failed to answer from you? with the tremendous amount of comments and questions I am not always sure if you are looking for somethng to be directly responded to. I feel like I have, but if there is some area where you are unclear on my position and/or my rational that came to that position just ask and I’ll be more than happy to indulge.

  111. To All:
    My vote for best SB commercial was FEDEX and the dino-kicking caveman. What’s yours?

  112. None. But the godaddy.com website was quite an eye-opener. (JK)

    Hopefully, armed with blockquoting expertise, I will attempt to get to some statements (bombs, really) that I have not yet commented on. But that will be a little later tonight, LW.

  113. Whereas IB carries with it the connotation that the infant is now guaranteed in their eternal security (for a contemporary examination of this fact go to itunes and download the last episode of “LOST” where it was quite clearly explained that baptizing a baby saves the baby.) Now we know that is the catholic position, but how do we know that is NOT the reformed position, especially since there is such a heavy emphasis on IB?

    Not to disrespect LOST, but the episode with the baby baptism (the worst so far) was laughable at best. You say it is clearly the Catholic view but then you go on to say that you are unsure if it is the Reformed view, suggesting that it is or at least might be. Then you “Bruce Li” that Straw Man to the floor.

    Description of Straw Man

    The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of “reasoning” has the following pattern:

    1. Person A has position X.
    2. Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
    3. Person B attacks position Y.
    4. Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

    This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor drawing of a person to hurt the person.

    In other words, we shouldn’t even hear the word “Catholic” in this discussion because it is a separate doctrine. You essentially committed steps 1 through 3 and flirted with step 4 like a priest at boy scouts.

  114. OOOH! Anthony shows up in the 4th quarter, and brings the hurt!

  115. Anthony,

    That is why baby baptism is pointless. You also believe the baby must repent and be born-again for themselves later in life, and you don’t believe that those sprinkles of water save the baby from hell, so what is the point? If you don’t believe either of those two things, please stand up and be counted.

    I submit to you that Catholicism was indeed the origin of this practice. If you find it in the book of Acts, please send me the prooftext…we DO find it all over church tradition, and your boy Calvin should have unloaded this Catholic practice years ago and saved us all a lot of time.

    Again, if anything spiritual happens to the baby at baptism (bringing the baby into the Kingdom, for example), then you had better get some baby-sized wafers for your next communion service.

    P.S. I also watch LOST, and also think that Walt’s comic book has the answers we are seeking as to the purpose of the Island.

  116. I’m working on my own article site, now, but it is really raw. In 2 more days or so it will be worthy of Reuben’s admiration.

  117. Thanks Jim for jumping in and reiterating the root of what IB supporters are defending. If anything is to be considered a strawman it would have be Anthony’s accusation of my using it since he #1 says that my interpretation of Infant Baptisim is the Catholic view of salvation via baptism #2 mocks my position as a strawman distorting the reality of the argument (funny, I think I remember such a formula being caleld something).

    For the record, I am not accusing any of the participants of this discussions of defending the catholic view of IB. I am aserting that the history (and majority perception) of Infant Baptisim comes from the Catholic traditions. Do you deny this connection? Nevermind, don’t bother denying or affirming the connection it’s clearly just a strawman that I set up with absolutley NO relevance to the debate at all. BTW thank you for your contributions to the discussion they have really helped by bringing up scriptural arguments for Infant Baptism that I hadn’t considered yet.

  118. For starters: Here is DBalc from entry #25.

    Roman teaches us that the Genesis 17 covenant is not the covenant we are under but the Genesis 15 covenant is.

    Just a little joke here: is this what you guys call “rightly dividing the word of truth”.

    Please, give me an exegesis of the relevant passages in Romans (or anywhere else) that teaches 1) there exists more than one Abrahamic covenant. Please include in this the rationale for determining that circumcision is not the sign of the single covenant, but a separate covenant unto its own. 2) That we are under one but not the other.

    Please don’t feel rushed on this.

    This is important to me. I have been trying for a long time to get someone to tell what the sign of the AbCo is today. You have told me that the sign is now also the thing signified (btw, not unlike the Romish do when they coalesce the sign – bread- with the thing signified – Christ’s body. You are more Catholic than you are prepared to admit. And I am trying to banish all traces of RC out of your system.)

    If your exegesis holds, then I can quit asking the question – what is the sign today – since I will have God’s word that he either discontinued the need for a sign in this case or that he discontinued the covenant altogether.

  119. Next, for Albino, and post #30:
    You wrote the following:

    The blessings of the Abrahamic covenant had special reference to Abraham’s future offspring, with blessings of fruitfulness and many nations from Abraham (v. 6), of possession of the land through Abraham’s descendents (v. 8), and of blessing to all families of the earth through Abraham’s descendents (12:3). These are the blessings that circumcision signified and sealed to Abraham.

    The New Testament confirms this view of the Abrahamic covenant over and over.

    For me to give assent to this dispensational view I will respectfully ask you to elaborate on your above argument taking these verses in Hebrews 11 in mind:

    By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

    These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

    Or maybe I didn’t understand your whole point. Until you elaborate further, I am going to have to hold off buying your line.

  120. Daniel, The S stands for Samudio, I used to go to church with you about 3 years ago. Hopefully that refreshes your memory.

    Actually, in regards to being closer to Rome I would submit that you are much closer to Rome than I. The Roman church holds to 7 sacraments like you (learned this in Covenant’s class), however I affirm 2. The Roman church holds to continued revelation like you, however I affirm the sufficiency of Scripture and a complete canon necessitating a cessation to special revelation. The Roman church is semi-pelagian not sure about you but I know Jim would be in that category. As for me, I would not take credit for my salvation in any way shape or form.

    I can cite the Bible for my position, Genesis 17 commands believers to put the sign of the covenant on their offspring. This command has never been repealed, thus is still in effect. As for the Mosaic Covenant, the cermonial aspect of this covenant is explicitly repealed by Paul in Galatians and the author to the Hebrews. The civil (or theocratic) aspect of this law has been repealed as revealed in passages such as Rom 13:1 and 1 Pet 2:13-14.

    Implied continuity actually follows very nicely from the nature of revelation, which according to Hebrews 1:1-2 is manifested progressively throughout history. It is much more logical than your position, which introduces discontinuity and division of God’s Word. Wouldn’t we expect that the New Covenant is more inclusive than exclusive? For example, not only do males receive the sign of the covenant, females now receive it as well. Your position would exclude children of believers, which is a step back from the Old Covenant. Their is something lacking in this position, hence the desire to somehow affirm the children are included by performing baby dedications. Infant Baptism may not be explicitly referenced in the New Testatment. However, the references to household baptisms in the New Testament, certainly imply it strongly. And when you use Scripture (Gen 17) to interpret Scripture (Acts 16:33) the unclear can be interpreted by the clear.

  121. I must recant my earlier statement separating the Genesis 15 and 17 covenant. That indeed is a misrepresenation of the text. As I now see it how you read it I can better explain the point I was trying to make. I was refering to a covenant of works, as would be represented by obedience to circumcision, and since Genesis 15 clearly is not a covenant of works I was trying to seperate them. Not that the covenants are different, but that Genesis 17 is refering to a sign of the Genesis 15 covenant, it (gen 17) itself is not a covenant. I mantain that the explicit teaching of Paul in Romans 4 is an elimination of the necessary sign of circumcission. This is not simply Paul’s idea, but directly taught by the timing Abe’s recieving of the covenant (Genesis 15:6) and his recieving of the sign of the covenant (Genesis 17) 14 years later. This, Paul cites as the rationale behind salvation available to all nationalities, ethnicities, genders, etc. Agreed? At this point I read, reasoned and (poorly) explained the elimination of the need for a “replacement” sign of the covenant in the New Testament. Though many have attempted to make baptism that sign (as is clearly being attempted by the supporters of IB), these attempts are at best tenuous and at worst heretical. (Personally I don’t think they are heretical but rather attempts of an insecure and fading position to defend traditions which should have fallen years ago; indeed your desire to “defend the orthodoxy of a thousand years” is just that.)

    So where does that leave us? Evidently within a debate on continuity and discontinuity (square one). BUT it’s at this point that I call a time out and take us back to Romans 4. I (and many others) assert that Paul eliminates the need for a “sign of the AbCo today”. You however (by your own admission) are desperatley searching for one. I attempted to teach the NC sign as the indwelling Holy Spirit sighting Ephesians 1:13. Thats when it dawned on me, “why am I looking for an equivalent sign of circumcision now?” (This is where I began my allusion to the importance of understanding the history of our biases). And now I realize especially in light of Romans 4 that I DON’T need one. It is the “Jews who demand a sign” (I Cor 1:22) (Now you might grab that word “semeion” and proclaim it only speaking of miraculous signs but (BIG BUT) it is the exact same word used in Romans 4:11 when talking about the “sign” of circumcision). In fact most of the time it is used in the New Testament it is talking about a miracle, no wait, not most of but EVERY time. Likewise the Hebrew word in Genesis 17 is used to refer to the everything from the sign of the rainbow (Gen 9), to the sign of the consecration of the first born (Ex 13) to the sign of the sabbath (Ex 31) to all of the signs seen in the plagues of Egypt (Ex 7).

    So what? again I Corinthians 1:22 “Jews demanded miraculous signs and greeks look for wisdom”. What, if any, response does Paul teach us is that sign? “We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Maybe it would help us to be reminded of Isaiah 7:11,14 (The sign of Immanuel; God incarnate AKA Jesus). What am I saying? I am saying the desire for continuance and connection is not only unnecessary but unprofitable since it is all fulfilled in Christ. And I contend that this is without violating covenant theology.

    So I propose that God has discontinued the need for the sign of circumcission. That doesn’t mean that we are left without signs, or that baptism itself can’t be a sign. I beleive that there are constant reminders (signs) of the covenant relationship. I maintain the primary one is the Holy Spirit especially as it is manifested in the working of Spiritual gifts. I stand by my contention that baptism, following repentance is indeed one of these signs as is communion.

    Here is the 64,000 dollar question: Does this open the door for Infant Baptism? The question is, I believe wrongly asked under the assumption that there must be a continuance of circumcision, since that has been eliminated By Romans 4 and Galatians 5 we should be asking a different question altogether. Rather then asking “can this be a sign and can that be a sign?” we should be asking “What is baptism?” and “what is communion?” and “what are the gifts the Holy Spirit?” and “What are miracles?” Not just trying to find out what they are but HOW are they properly practiced. This is the focus of signs in the Pauline epistles, not the identification of what is and isn’t a sign, but the proper practice of them. Is it proper to practice infant baptism? well in addition to having no actual references to such a thing and the obvious refrences to baptism after repentance throughout Acts we come to the conclusion that Infant baptism is simply not biblical, practical or proper. I admit that there are many who can choose to see it differently, but to those I must query why they see it differently and I cannot help but notice the desire to “maintain orthodoxy” but whose orthodoxy is being maintained? The New Testament Church or the Catholic Church? It seems clear to me that this is an area where reformers lacked the confidence and courage to completely abrogate the practices of Catholicism.

    Though I don’t know that this rant will change anyones mind because it’s pretty obvious that even with a lot of research it still comes down to an opinion and a desire to uphold a certain position. The one position (IB) is looking for a sign in order to uphold continuance. The other position upholds continuance without the necessary transference of the sign. Conclusion? Whichever position you want to uphold you will be able to uphold. Paedobaptisim is not seen or commadned in scripture. Credobaptisim is both seen and commanded in scripture. So you are picking between the clearly traditional and the clearly scriptural. Like I said from the start, my problem is not with those who baptize their children, but with those who demand it.

  122. Mike of course I remember you. Genesis 17 to interpret Acts 16:33? Cmon! The infallible interpreters of the Old Testament are the New Testament Authors. Using Scripture to interpret scripture is the cornerstone of everything we do. “Implied continuity” is what you do. I contend that you do it very well, but the continuity is between you and the catholic church as far as this practice of Infant baptism goes.

  123. DBalc,

    I strain myself trying to remain under control. But, your handling of the word ‘sign’ absolutely destroys my equanimity regarding hope for a meaningful dialogue. The word ‘sign’ cannot be warped into whatever idea you choose – as you have done by channeling the thread into miracles. And your contention that all NT signs refer to miracles! Did you really expect me to swallow that -as if it made any difference whatsoever? Here are the many NT references to ‘signs’:

    Kiss by Judas
    A Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes
    Wars, rumors of wars etc.
    Manner of life as a way to affect pagans with the truth
    Paul writing in his own hand
    Visions seen in the revelation of Jesus Christ

    I asked for an exegesis, not a flight of fancy where you somehow see my legitimate request as akin to the Pharisees asking for a sign – i.e. a miracle. And then you go on to conclude that

    I am saying the desire for continuance and connection is not only unnecessary but unprofitable since it is all fulfilled in Christ. And I contend that this is without violating covenant theology.

    I contend that a collapsed bridge in the middle of your write-up prevents me from seriously considering either your conclusion or any points you may make between the point of collapse and the conclusion.

    Another thing you must remember: Every time you bring up references to the New Covenant in the discussion about the AbCo, you are on a rabbit trail since the New Covenant stands in relation to the abrogated Mosaic covenant and as such is irrelevant to the AbCo at least as regards the discussion of the sign.

    This is the only progress you have made: You have retracted a bad statement about Gen 15 vs. Gen 17.

    All of your rantings about the RC or the Reformer’s courage etc. are not worthy of you. They are completely not relevant. I asked for exegesis not emotion.

    Finally, to characterize me as ‘desperate’ for this answer to my question, that isn’t accurate at all. A better word is exasperated regarding the failure by credos to provide an answer.

  124. Dbalc:

    I am saying the desire for continuance and connection is not only unnecessary but unprofitable since it is all fulfilled in Christ. And I contend that this is without violating covenant theology.

    Just because your theological vocabulary contains the word “covenant”, doesn’t mean that you have covenant theology. By saying that continuance and connection is unnecessary and unprofitable, you blew yourself out of the land of covenant theology, smack into the middle of dispensationalism.  You might as well just rip the OT out of your Bible (except you will still need it to argue with true Covenant theologians)

    we should be asking “What is baptism?”

    Now here I agree.  We keep arguing about infant baptism vs. non-infant baptism when we don’t even agree on what baptism is.  See also here, for the diverse definitions we are not discussing (where I tried to “wrap” up this thread (a week ago)).  Basically (to come full circle and reiterate my original post), IBers believe that baptism is simply circumcision, NT flava; a visible sign of membership in the visible covenant community.  CBers believe that baptism must follow salvation, and therefore must be something novel, as that concept has no precedent in the OT.  (Except one: How would an OT convert to Judaeism signify his entrance to the covenant community?  Oh yeah, he would have to be circumcised (as well as any other male in his household))

  125. How can the “failure of creedos” to answer your question (“what is the new testament sign of circumcision”) be exasperating? They can’t answer that question because they don’t believe there is one. The point I am trying over and over to make is that there is no new testament equivilance to the sign of circumcision. There is only abrogation of it (ROMANS 4).

    So why are you frustrated with creedos? Because they don’t see the “implied continuance”? You should be frustrated with the insistance that there must be an equivilant of circumcision in the NT. WHY DO YOU NEED ONE? ( I contend that you need one so that you can affirm traditions; a trap of RC)

    I am done trying to give you the many signs of entrance into the covenant community, you reject them all on the basis that none of them is an exact parrallel to circumcision. But that’s the whole point. there are none.There are plenty of “semeion signs” (I change my notation of “all” to “most”. You were right about the 5 times it’s not refering to a miracle) In the New Testament, you just don’t see any scriptural connection or “implied continuity” in any of them. but isn’t that my frustration as well? That i don’t see the “implied continuity” of circumcision in baptism?

    How does this fact violate covenant theology? I believe the promise of God found in Genesis 15 is the continual covenant throughout all history that brings people into eternal life. The promise of justification by faith. How am I “blown out of the land of covenant theology”?

    Because I don’t see circumcision as having any application today?
    Because I don’t think that the Bible advocates infant baptism?

  126. I am exasperated because this is a debate. I don’t really care what you think (and this is to my shame, because I should). I keep asking a simple question and I get no answer.

    But wait. Now I finally get one:

    they [credo-baptists] don’t believe there is one [a sign of the AbCo]

    But, immediately, you backpedal:

    I am done trying to give you the many signs of entrance into the covenant community,

    So which is it, DBalc, none or many? And you have the nerve to ask me why I am exasperated? Do you proof-read your own work?

    you reject them all on the basis that none of them is an exact parallel to circumcision.

    You don’t read my crap either. I reject them because none of them are signs. If anything they are things signified.

    But that’s the whole point. there are none.

    Now we’re back to none.

    As we say in Michigan, if you don’t like the weather wait a few minutes. Well, you remind me of Michigan weather because here you come with plenty of signs.

    .There are plenty of “semeion signs” (I change my notation of “all” to “most”. You were right about the 5 times it’s not refering to a miracle) In the New Testament, you just don’t see any scriptural connection or “implied continuity” in any of them.

    Needless to say, I am not frustrated with Credos. I am getting frustrated trying to read your output here.

    I still haven’t gotten anything that looks remotely like an exegesis of any of your texts. Especially your pivotal Romans 4. That is why I suggested that you take your time. You will need to establish not that circumcision is done away with. You need to establish that God has done away with any sign of his eternal covenant. I frankly am somewhat appalled that you have the balls to mess with His eternal central unifying covenant in this way without backing. Your mere fiat is not sufficient in the face of God’s covenants.

    Finally, you are starting to resemble the DNC in your incessant harping on this red herring:

    I contend that you need one so that you can affirm traditions; a trap of RC.

    What are you, a palm reader? How do you know this? Do you ‘know what is in men’s hearts’?

  127. Ruberad, you bring up a good point. The initiatory sacrement in the Old Testament for adult converts and children of believers was circumcision. Why would the receipt of the intiatory sign in the New Testament change without clear revelation? Whenever Old Covenant practices were intended change, clear revelation is given. We must assume that the recipients of the sign of the covenant has remained the same with no clear revelation to the contrary.

    There is no teaching in the New Testament about the mode and who should receive baptism. It is only referred to in the indicative, yet the Credos have made the claim that only they have Scriptural support. I do not see any didactic teaching, which affords them that support. On the contrary, we have infallible teaching in the Scripture as noted above that affirms our position. What gives them the authority to ignore the previous biblical revelation?

    Let’s all remember how this teaching (CB) crept into the church. The Anabaptists advocated this teaching in order to fulfill their desire to achieve a perfect church here on earth. They denied the placing of the sign on their children until they were able to make the choice on their own. Which side is trusting in tradition more than Scripture? I contend it is the Credos.

  128. Bruce, according to Genesis 17 what is the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant? Circumcision.

    What does Paul teach us about circumcision in Romans 4? That it doesn’t matter.

    What does Acts 15 teach us about circumcision? That it doesn’t matter.

    “You need to establish that God has done away with any sign of his eternal covenant. I frankly am somewhat appalled that you have the balls to mess with His eternal central unifying covenant in this way without backing.”

    Are you appalled at Paul’s balls for messing with the Abco sign that way? what about the Jerusalem Council?

    I frankly am somewhat appalled that without any clear scriptural backing anyone can change of the sign of the AbCo from circumcision to baptism.

    And no I don’t know your heart.

    God knows the heart and he bears witness to it by giving us the the Holy Spirit, (Acts 15:8) unless you want to contend that he gives the Holy Spirit at baptism, either as an infant or after conversion then I guess you will never have a satisfactory connection between circumcission and baptism.

  129. We know that circumcision is kaput as the sign. That has NEVER been in question. What is the sign now?

    Of course I am not appalled at Paul. Paul had apostolic authority. As did the apostles in attendance at the council.

    You don’t have the authority to declare what does and what doesn’t constitute clarity. With diligent study and a teachable spirit, you might see it as well.

    Your last paragraph is hard to decipher. It seems to be a rejection of Col 2:11 in which there is a more than satisfactory connection between c and b.

  130. Follow up to the discussion on Mark 10:13-16, Jesus didn’t perform baptism it was delegated to the disciples (John 4:2). Thus, we would not expect Him to perform baptisms on the children being presented to Him.

    Daniel, would you consider the children of your church to be in covenant with God? If not, why not? If so, why are they unworthy of the sign of the covenant? The children of the Old Covenant were not excluded from receiving the sign.

  131. Bruce, I must be misunderstanding your earlier statement refering to Col 2:11(#72)

    ‘Of Christ’ is an objective genitive, where the subject of the cutting off is God the Father, Himself, who with out human hands, cut His Son off from the covenant community.

    And it’s DBalc’s point that this fulfillment alleviates the requirement given in Gen 17:14. So, yes, DBalc, I have no reason to fear not having grand kids baptized.

    My point is the circumcision that Christ fulfilled not only alleviates the requirment of Gensis 17:14 that it continually be administered to children but that it alleviates the need for a sign (circumcision) entirely. Not that there is a transference of the sign from c to b. And I thought that my position was clearly understood. BTW there are plenty of men and women more intelligent than you or I who fall on both sides of this.

    BTW when you imply that I have an “unteachable spirit” are you not judging my heart?

    Personally I’m a little disappointed that I am percieved by you as unobjective, yet whenever I hint such a thing about your position you take it as an insult. Can you not admit that you have a biased position you are trying to defend? It’s no secret that lines have been drawn and positions taken, why pretend like you are evaluating anything more objectively then I am? It’s more insulting then you questioning my manhood or authority (Both of which are equal if not superior than yours).

    Mike, your question is an excellent one but before I answer it (and I will) I want to ask you a similar question. Do YOU consider the children of my church to be in covenant with God seeing as how they have not been baptized?

  132. I believe I now have something to work with here:

    My point is the circumcision that Christ fulfilled not only alleviates the requirment of Gensis 17:14 that it continually be administered to children but that it alleviates the need for a sign (circumcission) entirely. Not that there is a transference of the sign from c to b.

    Seeing the Bible covenantally as I do, I am leery of going that far with the text. Reading that much into the text right there exposes unobjectivity, in my opinion. In fact, I don’t see that conclusion as being defensible at all. It strikes me as pure eisegesis.

    My comments about a teachable spirit were meant to point out that clarity on this issue will only come with study, which I don’t think you are willing to do because your (admitted) biases are way too strong. I voiced my comment using evangelically popular terminology (teachable spirit) as a bit of irony. I generally never use evangelical lingo if I can help it. I just couldn’t control myself.

    As for my so-called bias, don’t forget that I have been in both camps and have been able to evaluate the teaching of both. I use the term teaching loosely because depending on which camp you are in, your attitude toward teaching will be different.

    If you are in the non-denominational camp, you are in an absolute majority (isolated from the visible church at large) where no dissenting voice needs to be considered. (I believe this explains why your exposure to covenant theology is nil. But if you are diligent to study with a teachab … oh, I already tried that and got castrated in the process).

    If you are in the Reformed camp, you are constantly in a situation where your position must be explained and defended and taught since the perception is that your stance is wholly against the prevailing wisdom (so-called). This isn’t to say that Reformed churches turn themselves into seminaries. But for the most part, the average member knows alot about why they believe what they believe. Just ask Reuben. He was flabbergasted when he discovered what the average pew-sitter was carrying his Bible for.

  133. BTW, DBalc, your response to Mike S. last post poses a great question. I look forward to the answer from Mike. What if, though, Mike says “Good question, DBalc, I will answer that, but before I do I would like to ask you “blah blah blah”? Why do you get to punt first?

  134. If he answers that way then i’ll have to deal with it then. In the meantime let me address your response. Though you still deny your biases and attempt to hide them by saying you come from both camps I think anyone reading this could see that they are coming through quite strong. Your assesment of the “non-denominational majority” as being unobjective, untrained and unwilling to accept a dissenting voice is a complete stereotype and ridiculous generalization. I’m sure if I were to generalize all in the reformed camp as being bigoted, arrogant, cantankerous and unconcered with evangelsim you would be insulted.

    Oh but I haven’t been in both camps so I really can’t make such a judgment and since you have you are allowed to assume whatever you want regarding a dissenting opinion.

    Come on Bruce, you’re basically saying that everyone who studies with an “open and objective mind” will inevitablly come into the reformed camp. In short you are saying the reformed camp has everything right. If thats what you are saying then finally, though you wouldn’t admit it, your bias has come out. It’s that (assumed) bias that doesn’t allow for a dissenting voice. It’s that bias that makes you have to so furiously defend this practice (infant baptism). It’s ultimatley that type of bias that leads people into a spiritual superiority that leaves them thinking they are part of some sort of special class of super christian or even worse, among a very small minority of true christians in a sea of wolves in sheeps clothing. I hope that’s not the case because it leads to a breakdown in inter-denominational understanding and unity.

    We clearly do not agree on this issue, we clearly both think we are in the correct opinion, but we should not allow these different opinions to lead to the doubt of anothers salvation or of the genuiness of the others Church affiliation.

    I hope one day that you see you can have a covenantal view of scripture and still believe in a confession of faith preceding baptism. Maybe you once believed that, maybe one day you will come back to that conclusion. In the mean time, try to be objective regarding other people’s perspectives, I’ll try to do the same.

  135. This

    Your assesment of the “non-denominational majority” as being unobjective, untrained and unwilling to accept a dissenting voice is a complete stereotype and ridiculous generalization.

    is what I experienced, although I don’t believe I put it anywhere nearly that strongly. Whether it is universally true or not, I guess I can’t say. Prove me wrong and enroll at Westminster. Your undergrad credits are accepted there. I am sure you are aware that they have a ‘baptist’ curriculum.

    Hoping won’t cut it if you expect me to see that baptism may occur ONLY when it is preceded by a confession of faith. You will need to demonstrate it from scripture. So far, you haven’t.

  136. Let me add this in reference to this

    you’re basically saying that everyone who studies with an “open and objective mind” will inevitablly come into the reformed camp.

    Of course. Why wouldn’t I?

    You say my bias has come out. What is it? Just realize that by riding this ‘bias’ theme you are tampering with my motives for studying scripture. So, be careful when you answer this question. The reason I write this is because I believe you are dead wrong by interpreting my aforementioned judgments as a bias that has any affect on my belief. Actions, yes, choices, yes, but belief, no.

  137. Bruce, I couldn’t have said it better myself. The Reformed faith is the most faithful to Scripture.


    Please be assured that we wouldn’t question your salvation over your false doctrinal position on IB (as you inferred above). I believe that God tolerates error in all of us, of course these errors cannot be on essential issues (i.e. Trinity, Resurrection, etc.).

    I will answer your question with a question, would I have baptized my children in infancy if I thought they were already in the covenant?

    How can we expect someone to be in the covenant without the initiatory sign? There is an exception to this, those that have already realized what the sign signifies (regenerate). This is common for adult converts and in some instances can be the case for children (Luke 1:41).

    I take the Old Testament seriously and believe it has as much authority as the New Testament. The revelation in the Old Testament can only be repealed by God, who would have revealed this abrogation in New Testament. As a result, I am bound to submit to its authority just as much as anything revealed in the New Testament. The Old Testament commands believers to place the initiatory sign of the covenant on their children. The New Testament reveals that circumcision is no longer required, but baptism is, and is now the initiatory sign. Thus, with the revelation given to me I must comply and have the sign applied to my children.

    We see baptism elevated to the initiatory sign in Acts 2:38-39. Incidentally, the Apostle announces here that the promise is for believers and their children. See, the New Testament does not exclude children from the covenantal promise. We see this demonstrated in the household baptism accounts. Unfortunately, the numerous household baptisms referred to in the New Testament aren’t good enough for you to trust what the Scripture in the Old Testament commands so clearly.

    Again I ask, what gives you the authority to trust more in your tradition (rooted in the Anabaptist movement) than in the commandment of Scripture?

  138. Well let me say at this point that the most convincing argument I’ve heard was from John Piper (or at least in his article linked to in comment 15), in which he holds an almost exactly reformed position, except that he restricts the understanding of the NT covenant community to Spritiual Israel, not to the visible church as a whole. I.e. a highfalootin’ way of saying “OT circumcised babies, NT circumcises (the hearts of) spritual babies”. This is a point I myself used in the original post (describing my understanding of the credo- position), and I’m surprised none of the credos have pushed it.

    (For what it’s worth, I think the worst argument I’ve heard is “Catholics believe IB gives salvation”)

    But it still all comes down to differing understandings of what baptism IS. Paedos see it as the continuation of OT circumcision, and Credos see it as a novel NT institution radically different from (but uncomfortably linked to (Col 2)) circumcision. Paedos see it as a sign of God choosing man, and Credos see it as a sign of man choosing God.

    And I don’t think we’re going to get beyond this point, but I’m willing to watch — can we break 150? Only 12 comments to go, and I’ll hand out another virtual prize!

  139. Mike your response says pretty much what I expected. You think that children who aren’t baptized are not in the covenant community. That’s too bad. I think the covenant community is the visible church. I think our children are as much a part of the visible church as are yours.

    Why are they excluded from recieving a sign? you ask.

    Since I don’t think there is a sign of entrance into the covenant community then why should I require a sign of them?

    Again (though it’s loosely based) I refer to I Corinthians 7 and wonder how Paul could consider spouses and children of a single believer to be “sanctified” and “holy” if they had not recieved a sign.

    Guilt by association I guess.

    I now remind you of what you have implied with your response . You think that children who are baptized as infants are in covenant with God. Consequently you think children who aren’t baptized are outside of covenant with God. Is this not dangerously close to an implied salvation by works?

    For the record Rube, I just think it’s interesting how some reformers struggled with getting rid of IB and instead gradually changed it into this more acceptable version.

    And Bruce, seriously the only way I can prove you wrong is by enrolling at westminster? no wonder this has been such a frustrating experience.

    But what should I have expected when my opponents are biased and lacking objectivity

  140. Source:

    it’s interesting how some reformers struggled with getting rid of IB and instead gradually changed it into this more acceptable version.

    Give me names.

    Additionally, you have grossly misrepresented Mike’s argument. Either you intentionally put words into his mouth or you don’t understand his position.

    Furthermore, your added word ‘only’ regarding getting enrolled etc. changes what I said entirely.

  141. I think the covenant community is the visible church. I think our children are as much a part of the visible church as are yours.

    Interesting. For you the visible church is what, people who attend some church (but not Catholic?) with some regularity (Christmas and Easter, plus a majority of Sunday mornings outside the NFL season)? Is there any need to have your name written down as a member of some local church? Is there any need to commit onself to respect any authority? Or can you just show up and decide that you are an ambassador for Christ, just on your own recognizance?

    I think, to a large extent, the visible church is intended to be defined by baptism (as well as explicit submission and accountability to the discipline and discipleship of some form of church authority (i.e. The Bible, pastors, elders, creeds, confessions, etc.) (and probably additional criteria))

    Here’s a (necessarily) flawed analogy: the difference between the visible covenant body and the true covenant body is like the difference between visible Americans, and true Americans. Visible Americans become so by birth, get a social security cards (we call this the SSN of Visible Americanship). (Adults can also become Americans by immigration; they also have the SSN applied to them.) True Americans, however, are defined by their faith in the democratic process and the ideals of the American experiment, and that faith is expressed publicly by VOTING. But since that faith, and that public expression of faith, require a certain amount of maturity and capability for reason, babies cannot be true Americans.

    Continuing to extend the analogy, not all Visible Americans are True Americans (not all Visible American babies grow up to vote, not all immigrants vote after they gain citizenship (however, I bet the proportion of voting naturalized citizens is significantly higher than the proportion of born citizens (just as I bet the proportion of truly saved adult converts to Christianity is significantly higher than the proportion of children born to Christian families that grow up to saving faith))). There even exist Visible Americans who vote, but who do so without true faith in American ideals, and therefore are not True Americans (we call them Democrats). Anybody that thinks that just being born American, or getting the SSN, makes them a True American, is wrong, and such heresy is extremely detrimental to the institution of True Americanism.

    There is a significant relationship between the promulgation of True Americanism, and birthing of children to American parents (both visible and true). This is because of the responsibility of True Americans (shamefully abdicated by way too many Visible, and even True Americans) to teach their children the difference between Visible and True Americans, and to raise their children to become True Americans. Even though the difference between True and Visible Americans is critical to what makes America possible in the first place (if nobody participates in the Democracy, where’s all the Democracy?), there is also something special about just being a Visible American. There are many benefits and priviledges which accrue to Visible Americans, due to the nature of the True American community. And to suggest that only adults (or only voters) should be given the SSN:

    • is a misguided attempt to reduce the number of non-true Americans who think they are True Americans
    • denies to underage Americans the benefits and priviledges which naturally accrue to them by virtue of being Visible Americans,
    • will not eliminate false Americans, and
    • is tantamount to throwing out the baby with the bath water.

    Hey, that analogy is really actually pretty rockin (I should reiterate it as a separate post)! The biggest flaw is that there is no analogue for salvation. However, I think this raises an important point: the chief end of man is not to get saved, but to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The chief end of salvation is not to save our skins, but to restore us to relationship with God (so that we can properly glorify and enjoy Him). What is the chief end of True Americanism in my allegory? There is no room in the allegory for any concept of redemption, but there is for discussion of the proper relationship of a citizen to the rest of his country (i.e. informed participation in the democratic process)

  142. I posted the ChurchAmerican allegory as a new post. The text is somewhat more refined in the post, so you might be interested in reading it there:

  143. DBalc,

    The observation to 1 Cor 7:14 is reading something into the text that is not there. You are assuming that the children are not baptized.

    I just want to make an observation and clarify something.

    You are very quick to dismiss our arguments simply as bias. This type of thinking is very familiar to the way most liberals argue. I know this first hand and have argued with people like this in my family.

    This, however was not just an academic exercise for me. I have had to wrestle with this issue in real life. I had children and I had to decide if it was God’s Will (I mean the revealed Will in His Word, not the modern connotation this term has) for me to baptize them or not.

    I was on the fence for awhile, studied the Scripture and listened to arguments from both sides. Believe me, I did not take this decision lightly or should be accused of blind allegiance to the reformed faith on this issue.

  144. Is this thing dying out? Well, if it does, there are just a couple things I want to say.

    First, I believe I have offended my brothers (some of them). I made statements that were not necessary for the argument and were out of bounds. For this I apologize and ask forgiveness.

    Second, in spite of the inflammatory nature of these disagreements, I find them to be helpful in a lot of ways. One is that this discussion stirred up some dirt which had managed to lay on the bottom, it might have never been noticed. It’s part of God’s sanctifying process – making you aware of your sin. A second good thing, for me, is that these discussions always drive me to study more. And that is a good thing too. I, for one, need to rest in the covenant promises that God has extended to me and my children and I won’t be able to rest in them if I don’t see them.

    Let it be said that I see history, redemption and scripture through the lens of the covenant rather than the covenant being a thing or category to be seen with my naked eye.

  145. Mike Samudio makes good points regarding bias. I would like to say that, to my knowledge EVERY poster to this thread used to be a credobaptist. Over time, half of us were convinced, through scriptural arguments, to change our positions. This fact shows that we are not biased, but rather are able to learn and change when we recognize the truth.

    There are no posters here (so far as I know), nor have I ever heard of any person who switched from a REFORMED understanding of Infant Baptism to the baptist position. Obviously we all know converted catholics, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I also have never heard of somebody switching from a reformed (CRC, PCA, OPC, URC, …) church to a modern, non-denominational church (how does LWC classify itself anyways?), but I know plenty of people going the other way. So are we all biased, or are we all learning more and finding the truth?

  146. it’s interesting how some reformers struggled with getting rid of IB and instead gradually changed it into this more acceptable version.

    I would also like to hear some names, and in the meantime, I contend that the word “acceptable” be replaced with “correct”.

  147. I also have never heard of somebody switching from a reformed (CRC, PCA, OPC, URC, …) church to a modern, non-denominational church

    Do I count?

  148. Well, bruce s, I guess 20 years should count for something, so you have somewhat of a point.  But apparently it didn’t stick, so I’m counting you as part of the trend I am trying to illustrate

  149. PS, nice theme, classnotes, but why don’t you keep your notes in your own (recently severely neglected) blog?

  150. PPS, if you decide to switch to wordpress, wordpress can automagically scrape your old blogspot blog, and reproduce it in wordpress. Logged into your wordpress blog, go to your “dashboard”, and then click the “import” tab, and all should be simple from there.

  151. I highly suspect the last two posts were made simply to get you the virtual prize for the 150th response.

    I need to remember to log out of wordpress before commenting here, or anywhere on a wordpress blog. The classnotes blog is strictly for that alone. I don’t have any intention of mixing personal stuff with class stuff.

    My severely neglected blog needs help, I admit.

    I also suspect that my 20+ years in the CRC (and its reformed teaching) were somewhat beatdown by 10 solid years of drugs. I think the drugs wiped out a lot of teaching. My brain wasn’t exactly in very good shape in 1979. An argument could be made that it still isn’t in very good shape.

  152. Oh hey, I win the prize for 150! Well that’s good, because I was all tapped out after Dbalc’s award for 100.

    By 20 years I meant time out of the CRC, i.e. approx 1980 — 2000, which counts pretty strongly towards leaving CRC for non-denom. But you redeemed yourself (if such a thing is possible) in the end.

  153. One other point which someone else might have made above me, although, I neither have the time nor the desire to read all of them, so forgive me if this is a repeat, is that since those in the OT were so used to circumcizing their baby boys, they would have a hard time understanding why they weren’t supposed to baptize their babies in the NT. So even though the NT is seemingly silent on whether babies should be baptized, it seems that if they weren’t supposed to be baptized, there would be a lengthy discussion in the NT as to why that was so as those who were once under the Old Covenant would have a hard time understanding.

  154. That’s certainly true, although this seems to me like yet another “missed opportunity” for the Bible to make the doctrine of infant baptism clear by highlighting the fact that, in baptism, OT circumcision is expanded to girls & women.

  155. Albino, Hilarious

    Rube, HilariousER

  156. […] Clark asks the same dealbreaker question that converted me from credo- to paedo- (”Why was Ishmael circumcised?“), but with a new twist.  Well not new, but unbelievably, I had never noticed it in Gen […]

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