Questions for the Teacher…
I have been reading articles on the web, and I am confused as to what baptism of infants achieves. One infant baptism advocate has mentioned these points;
“to wit, that that have special privileges as the Hebrews did of Old Covenant, via the rite of circumcision, which is transferred to the NT:
1). They are able to be taught the Gospel by their parents and church;
2). Learn the doctrines of Scripture, again through their parents and the church;
3). See, witness, examples Christian faithfulness, lived out by their parents and the body of Christ.
4). And in turn be a recipient of promises of the Covenant grace, due to the promises made by God through the waters of Baptism.”
But I am not sure, how does a child who has been baptized fare better than my own children, who have been raised to learn scripture, see Christian faithfulness, etc?
As to point 4),
- what promises are they recipients of specifically?
- How can they be recipients of any of the promises of God for believers, if they are not yet believers?
- And how does that fit into the doctrine of election? Do you believe that all children of believers are of the elect?
- What does infant baptism mean if the child never grows to acknowledge Christ as an adult?
- What does it mean if your child dies before baptism?
- If it has benefits, can you be specific about what they are – exactly what you believe they are missing if they are not baptized as an infant?
- How is it a sign of the visible church, when many people baptized as infants don’t become believers?
And, if sprinkling is the go, what does it mean here:
And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Jesus was baptized in the Jordan (if you were just sprinkling, why get “in” the Jordan?) and “coming up out of the water” , rather than just shaking your head if you were being sprinkled? (it may be something really obvious, but I haven’t seen it addressed yet)
Why is it, in Acts 15, that when there was “no small dispute” over whether the Gentiles should be circumcised, (enough dispute that it was deemed necessary to make a trip to Jerusalem and put the question to the apostles and elders), if infant baptism (or any baptism) was a fulfillment of circumcision, why didn’t they just say so then? Why not say, they don’t have to be circumcised, because they are baptized instead? It doesn’t appear in the resolution from the apostles either, who mention the whole don’t eat strangled things story, but if it was the new institution instead of circumcision, it would seem the time to mention it.
I have read that the onus is on the side of believer baptism proponents to prove a leaving of the accepted order established in the old testament, that being “whole households”, in that whole families were circumcised, and that being the established pattern, the burden of proof falls to believer baptists to show where a new standard was introduced that is; the idea of a covenant that did not include automatically the children.
If that is a valid exegesis, then the same would have to apply to the issue of music, which I believe the reformed position to be that it is not explicitly shown in the new testament, therefore it is not valid? My reasoning being as follows, that the Psalms were clearly written to “the chief musician”, that David himself was a musician of such note he was called to play to calm Saul when he was tormented, there are several calls to praise Him with the cymbals and so forth. Given that it is an established pattern in the old testament, could you not then argue, if such is a valid method, that one assumes when the NT church has “one bring a song, one bring a psalm” that it would naturally be accompanied by music, and that the onus is on the reformed thinker to prove there is now a new, radical change from the OT, and have scripture to support it?
Likewise, the above correspondent mentions that;
“we must infer that women participated in the Lord’s supper, there being no direct mention of any women present, and this is the same method by which we must assume the presence of the practice of infant baptism in the NT.”
My difficulty with that is that we would also be able to (surely!) infer that children participated in the Lord’s supper in the early church. The Agape/love feasts/Lord’s supper was celebrated as a full meal in the NT church, and as families would all through the OT have fed their children, one would have to assume that they also continued the practice in the NT, and proof would need to exist that a radical change had occurred, and now the children were not to be involved in the main meal of the day, each Lord’s day.
I understand the reformed position to be (generally, I have read the R.C.Sproul is not in line) that children do not participate in the Lord’s supper. I am bemused that there is a distinction which allows them to participate in baptism without a declaration of faith, or repentance, but does not allow the participation in the ordinance of the Supper, because of the same inability to examine oneself and declare faith.
So it would seem that use of the regulatory principal here has a “have your cake and eat it too” appearance to an outside observer. The one method of explaining scripture validates one of your positions, but invalidates two others in the process (as I see it, perhaps there is an explanation, and I am missing it.)
I am very open to hearing sound teaching on this subject, and I beg you don’t read my questions as disrespectful or contentious. I genuinely accept that much of the teaching I have received in the past has been without solid foundation, but for this very reason, I am reluctant to accept a new position on any subject without the most thorough search of the scriptures, and the most sound explanation, and a serious amount of ruminating to boot (not to mention a lot of bothering my friends!)