Baptist error in common with Judaizers?

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non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
Even if this were to be true, does it follow that they are to be baptized?
Yes, because similarly to circumcision, members of the covenant are to be marked out for ownership by the Lord.
I read the comments by Rich above with much interest, perhaps I have been guilty of using 'circumcision is nothing' verses as a sound bite in the past. However, even if you say that baptism is a replacement for circumcision, don't we still have to admit that the sign has changed? One sign was a surgical act performed on male children, the other something done with water done to both males and females. So given that the sign has not gone completely unaltered between the Old and New Testaments, why is it so unbelievable that God would change the timing of its application as well?
Good thoughts. We agree that the sign has indeed changed. But what is the nature of that change? Has it been made more restrictive, or less restrictive? A less restrictive assessment would favor including infants since they were included before.

To the timing of it, I suppose infants may be baptised earlier than the previous 8 day limit. Again, this would be an expansion.

Why does saying children are in the covenant seem to mean necessarily that they must be baptized?

One reason is the command in the great commission in which discipleship and baptism go together.

Thanks for a great discussion, Mark!
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
Re: argument from silence, I suppose it is. Arguments from silence aren't always invalid.

Re: Abraham Covenant, that's why the scripture speaks of the "new covenant." There are no pre-existing new covenant members, so there is no taking out of members. They were never included in this new covenant.

I've never heard this argumentation before. The patriarchs and saints of old were not justified by faith in the coming Christ? The CoG was introduced in Gen 15 if not Gen 3.

Thanks, Don.
Blessings,
 
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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I've never heard this argumentation before. The patriarchs and saints of old were not justified by faith in the coming Christ? The CoG was introduced in Gen 3 if not Gen 15.

Thanks, Don.
Blessings,

Interesting that we're called children of Abraham and he is called the father of the faith and that we're heirs to his promise.

He even had the Gospel preached to him beforehand.

Two peoples of God? Hardly.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Pre-Abrahamic saints?

What covenant sign was for believers before Abram?
What Nt. verse do you believe shows water baptism,is now a "covenant sign",
rather than a Part of New Covenant worship,in obedience to the charge ,,,,,,,Believe #1 and be baptized #2,,,,that is found throughout Acts.
Why do you not see it as regenerate church membership,upon a persons profession of faith?
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Yes, because similarly to circumcision, members of the covenant are to be marked out for ownership by the Lord.

Thanks for your comments.

My point is, though, why must members of the covenant be marked out? Where does it say so in the New Testament?

The principle might have been established in Genesis, but since the sign has changed, how do we know that this is one of the things that has not changed?

It just seems to me many paedobaptist make the jump from saying a child is in the covenant to saying they must have the sign applied. How is this proven?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
What Nt. verse do you believe shows water baptism,is now a "covenant sign", rather than a Part of New Covenant worship,in obedience to the charge ,,,,,,,Believe #1 and be baptized #2,,,,that is found throughout Acts.

Circumcision represented cutting off the sins of the flesh. Baptism represents washing away the sins of the flesh. Both were done in obedience to God's commandment, but also in confirmation of the promise that He will be our God. As for Acts, it repeatedly puts baptism in this very light. E.g., Acts 2:38, 39. Commandment + Promise = Covenant.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
I've never heard this argumentation before. The patriarchs and saints of old were not justified by faith in the coming Christ? The CoG was introduced in Gen 3 if not Gen 15.

Thanks, Don.
Blessings,

The Covenant of Grace is not identical the New Covenant. If it were, why does Jeremiah speak of it in the future tense?

The "new covenant" is not in Genesis 3 or 15. It's in Jeremiah 31 speaking of a future, new covenant. It's inaugurated by Christ's blood at the Last Supper. It's further exposited in Hebrews.

[bible]Jeremiah 31:27-34[/bible]
[bible]Luke 22:20[/bible]
[bible]1 Corinthians 11:25[/bible]
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for your comments.

My point is, though, why must members of the covenant be marked out? Where does it say so in the New Testament?
"Be baptized everyone of you...for the promise is to you and to your children."

The principle might have been established in Genesis, but since the sign has changed, how do we know that this is one of the things that has not changed?
I think because the nature of the covenant family has not changed. The promise is still to our children, even as Gentiles, for there is no difference.
It just seems to me many paedobaptist make the jump from saying a child is in the covenant to saying they must have the sign applied. How is this proven?
I think the burden is on the baptist to prove the contrary. Why? Because families of faith have not changed. Our relation to Abraham has not changed. Transition between old and new covenants was very gradual, as we have seen. Suddenly excluding children would have been a rupture so great it would have been documented I assume.

I don't see how a 'better covenant' would exclude a tangible sign to parents somewhat anguished over their children's future.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I don't see how a 'better covenant' would exclude a tangible sign to parents somewhat anguished over their children's future.

David - what you call a "better covenant" is actually the New Covenant, and the answer to the question of baptism will come from a proper understanding of the New Covenant.

The fact that parents would be anguished over their children (re: tangible sign) has nothing to do with the New Covenant. The New Covenant (In my humble opinion) is not a refreshed or renewed covenant. It is a brand new covenant. It contains shadows of the old, but it is new. If you want to know where I am coming from in regards to the New Covenant, read New Covenant Part I and New Covenant Part II.

Transition between old and new covenants was very gradual, as we have seen.

Really? If true, why do think the transition between covenants was gradual?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I've repeatedly noticed that Baptists tend to roll the Abrahamic Covenant into the Sinaitic Covenant and see them as identical in some of their arguments (mind you not all).....I have honestly found Baptists to be very uncareful with the word circumcision and not noting the different ways that Paul uses it. As long as a "circumcision means nothing" verse supports their view, they'll throw it in to support a credo formula even where it contextually cannot support what they're trying to get it to say.

Rich,
Reformed Baptist make the distinctions between the Abrahamic and Sinia Covenants. and concerning the Colosians 2:11,12 passage, I believe Rich Barcellos does a bang up job on it. http://www.reformedreader.org/RBTRII.1.Col.2.Barcellos.RPM.doc

Circumcision isn't an empty term to us as you seemed to imply in the same post. And you are correct that we are heirs and children of Abraham. But we are regenerate and that is what makes us heirs. We are justified with faithful Abraham by faith alone. That is what makes us children of Abraham. OT Circumcision was done away with as Paul notes, "Circumcision avails nothing."

This thread looks interesting..... I just may revisit the board a little more often and jump in after fully reading the thread. :owen:
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
David - what you call a "better covenant" is actually the New Covenant, and the answer to the question of baptism will come from a proper understanding of the New Covenant.

The fact that parents would be anguished over their children (re: tangible sign) has nothing to do with the New Covenant. The New Covenant (In my humble opinion) is not a refreshed or renewed covenant. It is a brand new covenant. It contains shadows of the old, but it is new. If you want to know where I am coming from in regards to the New Covenant, read New Covenant Part I and New Covenant Part II.



Really? If true, why do think the transition between covenants was gradual?


Read John Owen on Hebrews Chapter 8. You all would benefit greatly from it.
http://www.godrules.net/library/owen/131-295owen_v2.htm
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
"Be baptized everyone of you...for the promise is to you and to your children."

[BIBLE]Acts 2:39[/BIBLE]

Why do paedobaptists like to leave off the end of that verse? Because then they would have to say that, if this is teaching that promise is to ALL of their children, they would have to also apply the promise to ALL who are far off.

But no, the promise is to the children whom the Lord will call and those who are far off, whom the Lord will call.

I think because the nature of the covenant family has not changed. The promise is still to our children, even as Gentiles, for there is no difference. I think the burden is on the baptist to prove the contrary. Why? Because families of faith have not changed. Our relation to Abraham has not changed. Transition between old and new covenants was very gradual, as we have seen. Suddenly excluding children would have been a rupture so great it would have been documented I assume.

There was a large group excluded -- physical Jews! That is the thrust of the end of Romans 2. Once that barrier was overcome, and the new Christians understood that circumcision of the flesh not was the important thing, and that the physical Jews were not going to be included in the New Covenant if they did not have faith, it is natural to apply that principle to children. Physical descent means NOTHING in terms of Jews inheriting the promises of God, and yet in baptizing their infants, paedobaptists are still holding on to some principle that physical descent means something as far as the promises of God.

I don't see how a 'better covenant' would exclude a tangible sign to parents somewhat anguished over their children's future.

So you would say that giving a tangible sign to an infant would make parents feel less anguished over their children's future? What difference does applying the covenant sign make as far as someone's eternal destiny? It sounds like you are advocating either presumptive regeneration/election or a form of baptismal regeneration.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich,
Reformed Baptist make the distinctions between the Abrahamic and Sinia Covenants. and concerning the Colosians 2:11,12 passage, I believe Rich Barcellos does a bang up job on it. http://www.reformedreader.org/RBTRII.1.Col.2.Barcellos.RPM.doc

Circumcision isn't an empty term to us as you seemed to imply in the same post. And you are correct that we are heirs and children of Abraham. But we are regenerate and that is what makes us heirs. We are justified with faithful Abraham by faith alone. That is what makes us children of Abraham. OT Circumcision was done away with as Paul notes, "Circumcision avails nothing."

This thread looks interesting..... I just may revisit the board a little more often and jump in after fully reading the thread. :owen:
I will grant that not all so abuse it but there are some luminaries that do. I've even seen Piper use Gal 3:29 in this fashion. If the shoe fits then wear it but I'm trying to point out that the criticism is valid for some.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
The Covenant of Grace is not identical to the New Covenant. If it were, why does Jeremiah speak of it in the future tense?
I don't know what to say. Abraham was to bless all the families of the earth- (apparently not the children though) this is the new covenant in Christ. The newness is in contra-distinction to the old Mosaic covenant I presume, and is not brand-new as though disconnected from Abraham.
The "new covenant" is not in Genesis 3 or 15. It's in Jeremiah 31 speaking of a future, new covenant. It's inaugurated by Christ's blood at the Last Supper.
I am more appreciating Rev. Buchanan's insight from the Ishmael thread wherein he reveals our different approach to old and new testaments. Perhaps a new thread would be in order unless more fodder can be had on the primitive church's use of circumcision and baptism together until the final hour of transition.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
David - what you call a "better covenant" is actually the New Covenant, and the answer to the question of baptism will come from a proper understanding of the New Covenant.
Thanks Bill, I do wish to look at the New Covenant the way you do in order to better grapple with this. Don pointed out also that this is really Brand-new, forcing a divide from most of what went before. Is that correct? It's really a question of continuity eh?

The fact that parents would be anguished over their children (re: tangible sign) has nothing to do with the New Covenant. The New Covenant (In my humble opinion) is not a refreshed or renewed covenant. It is a brand new covenant. It contains shadows of the old, but it is new. If you want to know where I am coming from in regards to the New Covenant, read New Covenant Part I and New Covenant Part II.
Thanks, I will take a look.
Really? If true, why do you think the transition between covenants was gradual?

Why the transition was gradual is because God is merciful and knows we're a little slow to catch on when new revelation pops up. How it was gradual doesn't dismiss the fact that the new covenant was activated in an instant at the cross. But He patiently allows the faithful a generous learning curve to get up to speed. This is exhibited by circumcision and baptism both being used together along with the full temple cultus continuing for 40 years.

A gradual transition is shown by the fact that the sacrifice ceased when Christ was sacrificed AND also when the temple was given to the flames.

A similar transition occured in the test of wills between David and Saul. David became King when he was anointed by Samuel AND he became king when Saul was taken out of the way.

We live in a transitory time today. The Kingdom is already AND not yet.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
[BIBLE]Acts 2:39[/BIBLE]

Why do paedobaptists like to leave off the end of that verse? Because then they would have to say that, if this is teaching that promise is to ALL of their children, they would have to also apply the promise to ALL who are far off.
No. "you and your children" are one item. Thus if the parent is called then the child is necessarily called. That this is a string of three equal items in Peter's mind is very unlikely. It is 'to the Jew first and also to the Greek.'

So you would say that giving a tangible sign to an infant would make parents feel less anguished over their children's future? What difference does applying the covenant sign make as far as someone's eternal destiny? It sounds like you are advocating either presumptive regeneration/election or a form of baptismal regeneration.

No. It's just a measure of comfort we paedo' parents enjoy. No offense-
We dedicate our buildings, we baptize our children.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
No. "you and your children" are one item. Thus if the parent is called then the child is necessarily called. That this is a string of three equal items in Peter's mind is very unlikely. It is 'to the Jew first and also to the Greek.'

Could you elaborate on this? I'm not convinced that "you and your children" can be grouped together separate from those who are far off. The preposition kai, meaning for, precedes both "your children" and "all who are far off." The ESV, for example, translates it "FOR you and FOR your children and FOR all who are far off."

No. It's just a measure of comfort we paedo' parents enjoy. No offense-
We dedicate our buildings, we baptize our children.

You're being vague, and I still don't get it. What comfort do you have as a paedo parent that a Baptist parent doesn't have?

You said that baptism is a "tangible sign to parents somewhat anguished over their children's future." Aren't you saying that that Baptist parents are necessarily or generally more anguished about their children's future?

By the way, I don't advocate infant dedication, and many (most?) Reformed Baptist churches don't.
 
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Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Why the transition was gradual is because God is merciful and knows we're a little slow to catch on when new revelation pops up. How it was gradual doesn't dismiss the fact that the new covenant was activated in an instant at the cross. But He patiently allows the faithful a generous learning curve to get up to speed. This is exhibited by circumcision and baptism both being used together along with the full temple cultus continuing for 40 years.

A gradual transition is shown by the fact that the sacrifice ceased when Christ was sacrificed AND also when the temple was given to the flames.

A similar transition occurred in the test of wills between David and Saul. David became King when he was anointed by Samuel AND he became king when Saul was taken out of the way.

David - I understand your logic in trying to defend a gradual transition, I just don't see it in scripture. The conflict between circumcision and baptism had more to do with the issue of Jew and Gentile than it did with a divine "breaking in" period. I believe the council at Jerusalem and the Apostle Paul both recognized the obsolescence of circumcision and addressed it as opportunity presented itself.

The need for a blood sacrifice ended in the mind of God upon the death of our Lord, but the practice did not cease until Titus sacked Jerusalem. The fact that the sacrifices were performed by and unbelieving priesthood and the fact that post-crucifixion sacrifices were futile seems to eliminate a transition period. A thorough reading of Hebrews 9 should make this clear.

David - the wrath of God against sin was settled for the elect at Calvary. Transition? τελέω (teleo), "it is finished." The veil of the temple was not partially torn, it was rendered from top to bottom. When Paul writes, "therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" he is accenting the immediate dichotomy between the old and the new. If there was a transition it was in the hearts and minds of men, not God.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
Could you elaborate on this? I'm not convinced that "you and your children" can be grouped together separate from those who are far off. The preposition kai, meaning for, precedes both "your children" and "all who are far off." The ESV, for example, translates it "FOR you and FOR your children and FOR all who are far off."
The assumption for all who are far off is that THEIR children are included as well. The children below age come with their parents. Why didn't Peter say, "for you and all who are far off"? That would essentially say what you are saying.

By the way, I don't advocate infant dedication, and many (most?) Reformed Baptist churches don't.

Thanks for the correction.:cheers2:
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
The assumption for all who are far off is that THEIR children are included as well. The children below age come with their parents. Why didn't Peter say, "for you and all who are far off"? That would essentially say what you are saying.

I think Peter is meaning spiritual children, not physical, for only spiritual children can receive the promises.

In what sense are physical children who are not spiritual children recipients of the promise? None. Are the promises to the "children of Abraham" to physical children (i.e. Jews) or spiritual children? The children of Abraham are spiritual children, as Jesus teaches the pharisees in John 8:39-40.

[BIBLE]John 8:39-40[/BIBLE]

What is the promise in Acts 2:39? I think if you look back one verse, you see that the promise is the Holy Spirit, which, of course, only believers receive.

[BIBLE]Acts 2:38[/BIBLE]

Galatians 3:14 and Ephesians 1:13 also refers to the Holy Spirit as the promise.

[BIBLE]Galatians 3:14[/BIBLE]

[BIBLE]Ephesians 1:13[/BIBLE]

But why did physical children get circumcised if they weren't necessarily recipients of the promise? Therein lies the difference between the old and the new. The recipients of the promise is made clearer in the New Testament, and the practice of baptizing only those who are thought to be recipients of that promise (i.e. professing believers) is a manifestation of that.

Note that Ephesians 1:13 refers to the Holy Spirit as a "seal." 2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 4:30 also refer to the Holy Spirit as a "seal." Circumcision in the Old Testament is referred to as a "sign" and "seal," and baptism is a sign, but never called a seal. That's because the Holy Spirit, not baptism, is the seal of the New Covenant. Circumcision and baptism are not completely analogous because baptism no longer serves as a seal!

There is a consistent pattern of Old Testament using physical as a type to point to spiritual, and New Testament manifesting the spiritual as opposed to the physical. In the Old Testament, the covenant was to physical Israel, who were promised a physical land. In the New Testament, physical is shown to be nothing but a sign to the spiritual. Physical, ethnic Israel is just a type for spiritual Israel.

Yet, as I have said before, paedobaptists agree with Covenant Baptists that Physical Israel is not the recipients of the promise, but they still hold to physical descent (i.e. children) as recipients of the promise. That, to me, seems inconsistent. There is no sense in which baptized children of believers who are not elect are recipients of the promise any more than a baptized adult who is not elect is the recipient of the promise.

Thanks for the correction.:cheers2:

Happy to oblige. ARBCA puts out a publication called "Baby Dedications Ancient & Modern: Are They Biblical?" by Richard Barcellos. His answer is, of course, "no."

http://65.71.233.194/arbca/publications.htm
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I'll offer a disagreement with David (even though we are on the same side).

We don't "forget" the last half of that verse (Acts 2:39). It happens that it isn't especially relevant to the point we're usually trying to make from that verse.

First note the *3* parts of the promise contained in that verse:

The promise is
1) to as many of YOU as the Lord our God will call ("These are not drunk as YOU suppose")
2) to as many of YOUR CHILDREN as the Lord our God will call
3) to as many WHO ARE AFAR OFF as the Lord our God will call

The promise is contained in both the general call, and the effectual call. Reformed paedobaptists have never separated the efficacy of the promise from faith. Reason? Because the promise was NEVER separated from faith!

We connect Peter's promise-language to the language of the earlier declaration of the same promise because..., well..., it's the SAME promise. The thing about Genesis 17 is that it is not separate from Genesis 12 and Genesis 15.

1) The promise is to YOU (Gen. 17:2; 12:2; 15:1)
2) The promise is to YOUR CHILDREN (Gen. 17:7; 12:2; 15:4)
3) The promise is to THOSE WHO ARE AFAR OFF (Gen. 17:4; 12:3; 15:5)

The promise has ALWAYS been conditioned on faith, never apart from it. That fact never affected whether the children of the believer should receive the sign of the covenant (promise) or not. They were to receive it because God said so. Those coming into the family of faith, the visible church, from out-of-bounds came in by profession of faith in God and in his Word of covenant (promise). And they were subjected to circumcision as a sign of their faith.

Our argument is: Nothing of substance has EVER CHANGED regarding the promise itself, the persons to whom the promise is made, and the persons incorporated outwardly in the visible representation of the promise (the church). And Peter's language reflects this attitude. He self-consciously appropriates the OT language of covenant inauguration.

As we keep asking, what are these devout Jews--steeped in the OT literature, breathing a covenant-atmosphere--going to make of Peter's words? How are these people, who clearly understood the necessity (all the way from Abraham's day) of faith in the promise for its efficacy, going to interpret "...and to your children" ? Where in the Bible (NT or OT) do we find God removing the children of the faithful from the church? Or does it sound very much as though Peter indicates in Acts 2:39 that basically nothing has changed?
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
I'll offer a disagreement with David (even though we are on the same side).

Thanks for this, Bruce. You're always a pleasure to discuss and debate with.

I feel much more comfortable with the paedobaptist who says that the promise is conditioned on faith regardless of the application of the sign. The paedobaptist who says that their children are necessarily recipients of the promises, and that parents who baptize their children have greater assurance ... frankly, that view scares me because it seems to presume election.

Okay, on to the points of our disagreement: :D

Our argument is: Nothing of substance has EVER CHANGED regarding the promise itself, the persons to whom the promise is made, and the persons incorporated outwardly in the visible representation of the promise (the church). And Peter's language reflects this attitude. He self-consciously appropriates the OT language of covenant inauguration.

I feel like you are talking out of both sides of your mouth because in one sense you say that "nothing of substance" has changed, and then you say Peter is using "covenant inauguration" language. So which is it? If it is a new, inaugurated covenant, why are we assuming that the elements of a previous covenant still apply?

And if it's a new, inaugurated covenant, why do you speak of "removing" children from the visible covenant? Jews were in the previous visible covenant, but they still needed to be baptized to be incorporated into this new, inaugurated visible covenant. Thus, there is no "removal" of children from the new visible covenant community. In my mind, it's a fundamental error to look to the Old Covenant to see how the New Covenant functions.

As we keep asking, what are these devout Jews--steeped in the OT literature, breathing a covenant-atmosphere--going to make of Peter's words? How are these people, who clearly understood the necessity (all the way from Abraham's day) of faith in the promise for its efficacy, going to interpret "...and to your children" ? Where in the Bible (NT or OT) do we find God removing the children of the faithful from the church? Or does it sound very much as though Peter indicates in Acts 2:39 that basically nothing has changed?

This is where I think the historical-grammatical method can go too far. For one, it's impossible to prove what the people at the time were thinking, especially 2000 years later, and even if you could with some reasonable accuracy, the people could have been wrong.

This method has been used by dispensationalists (most recently by John MacArthur) to show premillennialism because the Jews interpreted the prophecies to be fulfilled to national Israel literally.

The fact is that the listeners just didn't get it. Peter talked about the promise (the Holy Spirit) being to those who are far off, and yet in the same book the people are astonished when the Holy Spirit comes upon the Gentiles. historical-grammatical is a good, useful way of studying the bible, but it does have its shortcomings.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
David - I understand your logic in trying to defend a gradual transition, I just don't see it in scripture. The conflict between circumcision and baptism had more to do with the issue of Jew and Gentile than it did with a divine "breaking in" period. I believe the council at Jerusalem and the Apostle Paul both recognized the obsolescence of circumcision and addressed it as opportunity presented itself.

The need for a blood sacrifice ended in the mind of God upon the death of our Lord, but the practice did not cease until Titus sacked Jerusalem. The fact that the sacrifices were performed by an unbelieving priesthood and the fact that post-crucifixion sacrifices were futile seems to eliminate a transition period. A thorough reading of Hebrews 9 should make this clear.

David - the wrath of God against sin was settled for the elect at Calvary. Transition? τελέω (teleo), "it is finished." The veil of the temple was not partially torn, it was rendered from top to bottom. When Paul writes, "therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" he is accenting the immediate dichotomy between the old and the new. If there was a transition it was in the hearts and minds of men, not God.

Agreed. It was sin to know the truth and not act accordingly. (Isn't all sin that way?) But not everyone knew at exactly the same time, hence there seems to be something in the record of a grace period. Thanks for your thoughts.
I will make time for those two papers
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
I Are the promises to the "children of Abraham" to physical children (i.e. Jews) or spiritual children?

Physical children in households of faith. Not to physical children of non faithful households. Faith is always in the foreground. Obviously if the child grows up to be faithless the promise no longer applies.

What is the promise in Acts 2:39? I think if you look back one verse, you see that the promise is the Holy Spirit, which, of course, only believers receive.
Believers receive baptism because they have a prior condition of fruit of the Spirit, namely faith. Children raised in faithful households also have a prior condition namely birth into a faithful household. We baptize them because they have holy status in a holy institution: the faithful household.
But why did physical children get circumcised if they weren't necessarily recipients of the promise? Therein lies the difference between the old and the new. The recipients of the promise is made clearer in the New Testament, and the practice of baptizing only those who are thought to be recipients of that promise (i.e. professing believers) is a manifestation of that.
I think God puts certain children in faithful households to be recipients of the promise. That is enough evidence for me. But the Baptist says, "Yes, this child is born into a Christian home, but how do I know God is calling Him?" This sounds a little absurd since we are dealing with the sovereign almighty God.

Note that Ephesians 1:13 refers to the Holy Spirit as a "seal." 2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 4:30 also refer to the Holy Spirit as a "seal." Circumcision in the Old Testament is referred to as a "sign" and "seal," and baptism is a sign, but never called a seal. That's because the Holy Spirit, not baptism, is the seal of the New Covenant. Circumcision and baptism are not completely analogous because baptism no longer serves as a seal!
This is an interesting point which I will study. It seems like a small technicality however.

There is a consistent pattern of Old Testament using physical as a type to point to spiritual, and New Testament manifesting the spiritual as opposed to the physical. In the Old Testament, the covenant was to physical Israel, who were promised a physical land. In the New Testament, physical is shown to be nothing but a sign to the spiritual. Physical, ethnic Israel is just a type for spiritual Israel.
This seems a little overly Platonic. I think you're extrapolating 'physical Israel' into physical begetting of any kind. Faith alone doesn't mean spirit alone.

There is no sense in which baptized children of believers who are not elect are recipients of the promise any more than a baptized adult who is not elect is the recipient of the promise.

Yes, but this sort of approach prys into the secret will of God. Is this wise? If someone makes a profession of faith we still don't 'know' if he's included in the promise, do we?

This is why we say, "we believe we are saved", and not, "we knowwe are saved".
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I'll offer a disagreement with David (even though we are on the same side).

Thanks for this, Bruce. You're always a pleasure to discuss and debate with.

I feel much more comfortable with the paedobaptist who says that the promise is conditioned on faith regardless of the application of the sign. The paedobaptist who says that their children are necessarily recipients of the promises, and that parents who baptize their children have greater assurance ... frankly, that view scares me because it seems to presume election.
Frankly, I don't know any decent theologian who asserts the promise is unconditional, or ever was unconditional. That may be an error needed to be guarded against, but the concern itself is no argument against paedobaptism--any more than it would have been effective against paedocircumcision. Presuming justification is the real bogeyman.

Okay, on to the points of our disagreement: :D
Our argument is: Nothing of substance has EVER CHANGED regarding the promise itself, the persons to whom the promise is made, and the persons incorporated outwardly in the visible representation of the promise (the church). And Peter's language reflects this attitude. He self-consciously appropriates the OT language of covenant inauguration.

I feel like you are talking out of both sides of your mouth because in one sense you say that "nothing of substance" has changed, and then you say Peter is using "covenant inauguration" language. So which is it? If it is a new, inaugurated covenant, why are we assuming that the elements of a previous covenant still apply?

And if it's a new, inaugurated covenant, why do you speak of "removing" children from the visible covenant? Jews were in the previous visible covenant, but they still needed to be baptized to be incorporated into this new, inaugurated visible covenant. Thus, there is no "removal" of children from the new visible covenant community. In my mind, it's a fundamental error to look to the Old Covenant to see how the New Covenant functions.
Sinai was a "new, inaugurated covenant," and it kept many of the previous covenant's (Abraham's) features. It incorporated and expanded and built upon the former's foundation. So I do not see how you think the above is a cogent argument against my position; how you think I am "assuming" certain things to be true without warrant.

I do not predicate that the Christ-covenant era is inaugurated on a radical disjunct with the past. The previous covenant-dealings are the preconditions for what comes after, and the connections between them prove their organic unity. How do the Jews NOT have a case against the NT church if they can demonstrate that the Christians follow a fundamentally different faith? The pattern set at Sinai is the basis for my reasoning (not "assuming") that the covenants are fundamentally unifed.

I ask about the "removal of children" because in the OT, children are a part of the visible church. Inauguration at Sinai didn't change that. And if you want to speak of baptism, the NT tells us that the OT (circumcised!) saints were later baptized (1 Cor. 10:2) even multiple times (Heb. 9:10) with various substances (Heb. 9:19, cf. Ex. 24:8; 30:17-21; Lev. 16:19; 14:7; etc.). So, there we have Jews who are circumcised still being baptized. So baptism isn't a purely NT concept introduced for the first time by John. My point is that the children are already IN the church in the OT. You are suggesting that due to this penultimate inauguration of covenant, in which we now partake, they have been removed. There is no continuity between the OT church and the NT church. What you are saying is simply that the New Covenant wipes the slate clean. You are radically dichotomizing the Covenant of Grace, even before you deny there is now in this era NO VISIBLE ADMINSTRATION of it.

Is there ONE church or TWO? Were the 12 disciples in the OT church? When did they put their faith in Messiah? Wasn't it even before Jesus arrived? And when he did arrive, Their faith made the transition from "coming" Messiah, to Messiah "come." So did they have to be REMOVED from one covenant with God, in order to be PUT BACK IN to the other? Because if you do, then you are saying that there is no continuity between the OT and NT eras. There is a clean break. This is the real difference between "expansion" theology and "replacement" theology. However, if the transition between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant is seamless, and if children were IN the Old Covenant church and now they are OUT, then you are saying that in the transition they were REMOVED from the New Covenant church.

In my view, it is a fundamental error to fail to see how the baptist view removed believers' children from the church at the beginning of the NT era. As to not looking to the Old Covenant to see how the New Covenant functions, all I can say is: I consider that an impoverished evaluation of the OT. I don't actually believe you really think that, because I can't see you ignoring, for example, the Monarchy (in its better moments) as explaining and teaching the nature, elements, and functions of King Jesus' reign. Or the Priesthood as doing the same for his mediation. I think it might be more accurate to say that you disagree with SOME of the principles that our side is extracting from the OT for use today (with appropriate modifications). But that is a far cry from abandoning the use of the Old Testament as a source of instruction.

As we keep asking, what are these devout Jews--steeped in the OT literature, breathing a covenant-atmosphere--going to make of Peter's words? How are these people, who clearly understood the necessity (all the way from Abraham's day) of faith in the promise for its efficacy, going to interpret "...and to your children" ? Where in the Bible (NT or OT) do we find God removing the children of the faithful from the church? Or does it sound very much as though Peter indicates in Acts 2:39 that basically nothing has changed?

This is where I think the historical-grammatical method can go too far. For one, it's impossible to prove what the people at the time were thinking, especially 2000 years later, and even if you could with some reasonable accuracy, the people could have been wrong.

This method has been used by dispensationalists (most recently by John MacArthur) to show premillennialism because the Jews interpreted the prophecies to be fulfilled to national Israel literally.

The fact is that the listeners just didn't get it. Peter talked about the promise (the Holy Spirit) being to those who are far off, and yet in the same book the people are astonished when the Holy Spirit comes upon the Gentiles. historical-grammatical is a good, useful way of studying the bible, but it does have its shortcomings.
Don, this portion of your post really surprises me. You start off saying that you think I'm pressing G-H hermeneutics too far. Brother, it is a vital part of interpreting Scripture to attempt to understand the first writer, his audience, and the culture about which he writes, especially when his writing is presented as an eyewitness or contemporary account, and ought to be accepted by us as authentic and reliable testimony.

I'm not asking you to read minds. I'm merely asking that you approach the text from the vantage point of Old Testament believers. And if we want to know what they believed in their minds, we should look at the OT prophets and what they wrote. All that "filler" in the Old Testament, surrounded by the "scaffold" of history, i.e "the interesting parts"? All that stuff is the verbal expression of the interpretation of the facts, the descriptions, and the chronology of the revelational record, as inspired by God. They are expressing the mind of the Old Testament church. They are theologically reflective as well as occasionally predictive.

The NT witness itself tells us how vitally the Jews took their connection to Abraham. The OT Torah (Moses) was the core of their religious identity. The Exodus and Sinai continued for centuries as pivotal identity-making events. Due to the dearth of books for the commoners, most people had vast portions of Scripture memorized. And certain key texts we know from the NT, as well as Jewish tradition, were fundamental (e.g. the Shema).

Now, to say that they were wrong, or could have been wrong, in terms of their concentration--in either case, that's less important than the fact that Peter and the others meet them where they are. It is natural to the teacher or preacher to link to some piece of the TRUTH that the hearers already admit, and then to lead them by that pre-commitment onto solid ground, and away from the pitfalls of error.

For you to make a connection between a "literalist" hermeneutic, and this historic, covenantal reading of Acts 2:39, is once again to ascribe to paedobaptists a FALSE, PHARISAICAL, LEGALISTIC view of the whole notion of both circumcision and baptism. Its as if we've never had any conversations here before about the way we paedobaptists understand the whole matter SPIRITUALLY. As if the ERRORISTS of Jesus' and the apostles' day were correct, or occupied the default position on Covenant Inclusion.

Until you begin to understand that we do not think ANYONE had a scintilla of the substance of the OT covenant apart from faith; until you begin to see that we make a distinction between those only OUTWARDLY in the covenant starting with ISHMAEL and EASU, and continuing with KORAH, DATHAN, and ABIRAM, followed by ABSOLOM, AHAB, and ZEDEKIAH and countless others--the difference between them, and those who partook of the SUBSTANCE of the Covenant (Promise) by faith... you will keep burning the straw man.

We do not baptize anyone fundamentally because they made a profession of faith, or because they are children of believers, or because Acts 2:39 is a command to baptize. We baptize because we believe GOD has commanded that certain people be given the objective sign of his Covenant with his people. And no one knows, neither on paedobaptist principles nor credobaptist principles, whether that objective sign has been applied to one for whom subjectively the sign points to the reality, namely: "this is one of my spiritual children."

Determining who those people are who are to receive said sign is taught by an appeal on our side to the entire witness of revelation, OT and NT. I said the OT promise and the NT promise were the SAME promise--Salvation by Grace through Faith. I showed the correlation between the promise to Abraham (Gen. 12, 15, & 17) and Peter's declaration on Pentecost. All by itself that statement doesn't teach anything about covenant sign. But wholistically it asserts covenant continuity, which continuity implies other ties which must be investigated, to see where they lead, and if they are true.


In the last analysis, Don, I don't think you want to disparage G-H interpretation in an attempt to weaken the other side's argument. You will only cut out your own legs underneath you. Because get rid of it and what's left? "Literalistic" interpretation is not accurate G-H treatment. It is an abuse of it.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'll offer a disagreement with David (even though we are on the same side).

Please disagree! I am learning so much here.
It is truly an honor to be archived with all you gentlemen in the baptism forum.
Except for Trevor.


Just kidding!
:lol:
 
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Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
I suppose I'm a sucker for a beating. Oh well it's better than TV! Well sometimes.


The “believers only” position is at the end of the day a self inflicted legal wound that confounds the Kingdom in eschatological tension, the same tension that defines saving faith that is the suffering IN faith alone TODAY, in spite of what I see, experience or measure with my eyes with faith’s final and consummate coming along with the consummation of the kingdom at the second advent. All of these things are linked together, baptism, faith, Gospel, the church here and now and to be. For the believers only position says fundamentally we are to have a “regenerate church”, at least hypothetically speaking, “HERE and NOW”. It attempts to “drag” the Kingdom into today as quasi consummate and final status, just like the Judiazer’s did and just like Rome attempted with “Christendom”, hence a hypothetical pure regenerate Kingdom. But no faith is needed in a consummate kingdom, and that is a key thing, the eschatological tension becomes resolved and thus no suffering of faith is needed. Yet the passage of the dragnet among others shows the Kingdom dragging in ALL kinds and the angels ALONE charged by Jesus as Jesus’ alone give such authority to separate out the “good and bad” at the END OF THE AGE.

It is important to note that the MANIFESTATION here and now of the Kingdom IS the church militant, the suffering church, the church IN the mode of faith, not the church glorified in consummation and reality at the end of the age when the Kingdom is in full and final bloom revealed and then and only then is purity possible, all truly regenerate and elect separated out, and at that by Jesus’ authority only being exercised by His angels so charged. But that MUST await the return of Christ, His second advent. Then and then alone will there be a “believers” only church/kingdom. And we should note very well that “believers” will mean those trusting ALONE in Jesus as righteousness for them. In that time there will be NO need for signs and seals FOR FAITH such as baptism because the Kingdom and the children will BE manifest and faith that suffers in eschatological tension resolves to final and full reality. The Gospel sign of promise, baptism, will not be needed for all things will BE revealed, no eschatological tension of awaiting the promise will EXIST as the promise will consummate finally and fully. Thus, technically speaking, there is never ANY need to baptize “believers only” as in “pure regenerate” when that is (will be) REAL because when there WILL BE believers only TRULY all will know and see, no guess work or faith awaiting as faith finds fulfillment in finality. Thus, in confounding the prophetic and eschatological realities pulling them into one ‘mish mash’ here and now, believers only leads to a very problematic doctrine that we’ve seen repeated time and time again before by the people of God; namely the attempt of man to bring down the Kingdom of heaven here and now as opposed to wait in faith as God will bring it about, first and second advent…there IS a second advent.

This is not a new struggle and we have seen too many times before. We saw it with the Judiazers and Rome and many in between sects over the kingdom and end times. The connection between faith, Gospel, Kingdom, the church and sacraments is all interconnected. All the “kingdom here and now” purity types fundamentally attempt to drag the Kingdom into the earth in FULL consummation in some form or another today (today meaning today for the Judiazers of their time and “today”, Rome, and etc…). And the results are always the same, the signs and seals, circumcision/baptism, become Law to be obeyed and not Gospel to be received as gift for the tension of faith that suffers in the here and now without the final reality.

The Judiazers sought to have Christians be circumcised as “Jews” in order to really be saved and they made it a “work of man” not God’s promise and working because they saw Judaism as the pure kingdom here and now (regenerate church). Paul rebuked this, he did not rebuke trusting in the sign in as much as it was a Gospel sign rather the wrong use of the sign that confused everything and robbed the joy brought about by faith. Rome, did the same thing and ONLY those IN the Roman church were saved (still held today if pressed about it) made their own Roman church THE church or like the Jews the pure kingdom or regenerate purity, and thus they too made the sign of Baptism a law and work of man. And believers only baptism does exactly the same thing but now you are not to be a Jew or a Roman Catholic but Truly Regenerate, the same kingdom “today” on earth thinking, thus making the sign a law and work of man (as man assesses conversion and gives it) because you have to go about the job of “purifying” the church – strictly forbidden by Jesus Himself.

All three suffer from the same thing, confounding the Kingdom’s, confounding the now and not yet aspect of the prophecies and eschatological tensions, and all three try to ultimately END the suffering of BY FAITH ALONE. Because here and now it IS a suffering faith as is the kingdom a suffering kingdom, the church a suffering church and the Lord of glory in a still seemingly suffering, foolish and stumbling block Cross. The Christian faith, people, church and kingdom here and now suffers to WAIT without reality IN HAND.

On the earthly level of a faith/trust we see this easily, this suffering versus end result consummation (eschatology) from an example of an earthly promise given. Someone promises you a great gift, a gift to solve all your problems, your debt, your failing health or even your forgiveness of a crime. Yet, you must trust ONLY FOR NOW in the promise for the time. You must wait and trust only without the having in fullness. And the yearning for the resolution, the IN THE MOMENT TENSION of waiting, passively, by passion IS suffering. This is how true saving faith SUFFERS. Yet, the flesh cannot live in this passion and suffering but must bring about resolution, the flesh eschews suffering at every turn. So the flesh tries to “get it done” some how. And its not just the Baptist, WE ALL struggle with this as God’s people. E.g. we see this in Abraham who rushed to have the promise kingdom child (Isaac) and produced a law child Ishmael. It was a zeal, but a zeal WITHOUT faith, a suffering until, and apart from faith in a promise suffered by faith laying within an eschatological tension of “now and not yet”, he tried to “do it”, bring it about. It is the flesh’s attempt to DO the work of God rather than WAIT upon God to work and do as He promised. It is a temptation we all struggle with. The result is always an expression of “working our way to heaven” and a law “child” if you will is produced, a legal church, a legal sacrament and so forth. This is EXACTLY what happened with the impatient Judiazers of the time and so they egregiously changed the sign of circumcision from promise/Gospel in God’s Word and name by God TO DO, to an execution of/Law by man to do here and now and bring about (like bringing about a regenerate church, an obsession among believers only). The RCC did the same thing attempting to BRING ABOUT the promise here and now and thus egregiously changed the sign of baptism from promise/Gospel in God’s Word and name by God TO DO, to an execution of/Law by man to do here and now. Slowly over time it led that church, Rome, out of the Gospel and ultimately to deny it just as the Jews did. And so does believers only baptism attempt to bring about the kingdom consummation here and now, this time as a purely regenerate church (after all you have to detect this some how if it HAS TO BE, even if one theologically ‘punts’ the question when asked ‘how you do it’), and similarly egregiously changing the sign of circumcision/baptism from promise/Gospel in God’s Word and name by God TO DO, to an execution of/Law by man to do here and now and bring about the desired kingdom purity.

This is why ultimately eschatology, faith, suffering, tension, patience, and sacraments are wrapped up into one and one’s view of the sacraments affects everything else. This is why its so hard to “argue” one to the other, the ENTIRE paradigm is out of wack not just a piece here and there needing repair. It’s how the Kingdom is seen, rightly or wrongly, faith understood rightly or wrongly, end times rightly or wrongly and the sacraments rightly or wrongly and ultimately the Gospel rightly or wrongly in the present here and now as opposed to Christ’s second and final return. And it results in either God doing the work as promised WHEN HE is pleased to do it producing faith and Gospel, versus us vainly throwing in our chip to “help him out” and producing new Ishmaels and law.


Larry
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Frankly, I don't know any decent theologian who asserts the promise is unconditional, or ever was unconditional. That may be an error needed to be guarded against, but the concern itself is no argument against paedobaptism--any more than it would have been effective against paedocircumcision. Presuming justification is the real bogeyman.

I was objecting to the theologian who says that the promise to the children does not depend on them having faith. There are plenty of paedobaptists who say children are recipients of the Acts 2:39 promise even if they are not regenerated yet.

Sinai was a "new, inaugurated covenant," and it kept many of the previous covenant's (Abraham's) features. It incorporated and expanded and built upon the former's foundation. So I do not see how you think the above is a cogent argument against my position; how you think I am "assuming" certain things to be true without warrant.

I would say that Sinai is not a "new, inaugurated covenant," but a continuation of the old. It is not referred to as a new covenant, and there wasn't even a changing of the signs and seals.

It's ironic that the OP said that the Judaizers are like the Baptists, but to me, I think the Judaizers are more like the paedobaptists because they want to assume continuity between the covenants and still apply circumcision.

I ask about the "removal of children" because in the OT, children are a part of the visible church. Inauguration at Sinai didn't change that. And if you want to speak of baptism, the NT tells us that the OT (circumcised!) saints were later baptized (1 Cor. 10:2) even multiple times (Heb. 9:10) with various substances (Heb. 9:19, cf. Ex. 24:8; 30:17-21; Lev. 16:19; 14:7; etc.). So, there we have Jews who are circumcised still being baptized. So baptism isn't a purely NT concept introduced for the first time by John. My point is that the children are already IN the church in the OT. You are suggesting that due to this penultimate inauguration of covenant, in which we now partake, they have been removed. There is no continuity between the OT church and the NT church. What you are saying is simply that the New Covenant wipes the slate clean. You are radically dichotomizing the Covenant of Grace, even before you deny there is now in this era NO VISIBLE ADMINSTRATION of it.

This is a different discussion, but Old Testament washings are NOT baptism. In fact, if you do a study on John's Baptism, the baptisms of John were strange in that baptisms were at the time usually for Gentile converts, but John was baptizing Jews!

If Old Testament washings were baptism, then wouldn't those baptized by John be "rebaptized"? I thought "rebaptism" was a cardinal sin to paedobaptists!

Is there ONE church or TWO? Were the 12 disciples in the OT church? When did they put their faith in Messiah? Wasn't it even before Jesus arrived? And when he did arrive, Their faith made the transition from "coming" Messiah, to Messiah "come." So did they have to be REMOVED from one covenant with God, in order to be PUT BACK IN to the other? Because if you do, then you are saying that there is no continuity between the OT and NT eras. There is a clean break. This is the real difference between "expansion" theology and "replacement" theology. However, if the transition between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant is seamless, and if children were IN the Old Covenant church and now they are OUT, then you are saying that in the transition they were REMOVED from the New Covenant church.


In my view, the OT "church" is part of the shadows that is passing away and is realized in the NT church, but not all of the OT church get brought into the NT church. There is no "removal" from the Old Covenant because the Old Covenant simply passes away.

Were the Pharisees in the OT "church"? I think they were, but they were never brought into the NT church. You, I suppose, would say that they were removed, but I say that they were never brought into the new in the first place.

In my view, it is a fundamental error to fail to see how the baptist view removed believers' children from the church at the beginning of the NT era. As to not looking to the Old Covenant to see how the New Covenant functions, all I can say is: I consider that an impoverished evaluation of the OT. I don't actually believe you really think that, because I can't see you ignoring, for example, the Monarchy (in its better moments) as explaining and teaching the nature, elements, and functions of King Jesus' reign. Or the Priesthood as doing the same for his mediation. I think it might be more accurate to say that you disagree with SOME of the principles that our side is extracting from the OT for use today (with appropriate modifications). But that is a far cry from abandoning the use of the Old Testament as a source of instruction.

I look to the Old Testament for principles but not for practice. For example, you're right in regarding the monarchy, I see elements of Jesus' reign. However, in practice, I don't advocate a monarchy, or a restoration of Old Testament civil laws.

In the same way, I see in the Old Covenant the sign given to physical children, and on the whole, a physical nation, and the promise of a physical land, as pointing to the ultimate fulfillment given to spiritual children, and on the whole, a spiritual church, and the promise of a spiritual land. This seems far more consistent to me.


Don, this portion of your post really surprises me. You start off saying that you think I'm pressing G-H hermeneutics too far. Brother, it is a vital part of interpreting Scripture to attempt to understand the first writer, his audience, and the culture about which he writes, especially when his writing is presented as an eyewitness or contemporary account, and ought to be accepted by us as authentic and reliable testimony.

I don't want to dwell on this so much. I thought I made it clear that G-H is good and necessary. My point is simply that it can be taken too far, and in this case I think you are assuming too much in terms of what the Jews would have assumed, and even if they did assume this, they could have been wrong.


We do not baptize anyone fundamentally because they made a profession of faith, or because they are children of believers, or because Acts 2:39 is a command to baptize. We baptize because we believe GOD has commanded that certain people be given the objective sign of his Covenant with his people. And no one knows, neither on paedobaptist principles nor credobaptist principles, whether that objective sign has been applied to one for whom subjectively the sign points to the reality, namely: "this is one of my spiritual children."

Determining who those people are who are to receive said sign is taught by an appeal on our side to the entire witness of revelation, OT and NT. I said the OT promise and the NT promise were the SAME promise--Salvation by Grace through Faith. I showed the correlation between the promise to Abraham (Gen. 12, 15, & 17) and Peter's declaration on Pentecost. All by itself that statement doesn't teach anything about covenant sign. But wholistically it asserts covenant continuity, which continuity implies other ties which must be investigated, to see where they lead, and if they are true.

I agree with you that the promise of salvation is one and the same, but continuity of the promise of salvation does not imply continuity of the covenant sign OR the recipients of it. Most paedos admit that the covenant sign has changed, but they even admit some discontinuity on the recipients. Now females are baptized, and most paedos don't baptize household servants.

Where is the command to circumcise female children in the OT, or baptize female children in the NT? There is no command on either side, yet paedos still do it.

Even within the signs themselves there's an emphasis on physical versus spiritual. Circumcision is a physical sign on an organ that is used to further physical lineage. Water is a symbol of spiritual life. Even the sign itself speaks to the sign not being by physical lineage any longer.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Larry, just going to reply briefly to your main ideas because of the length of your post ...

Baptists are not attempting to drag the kingdom into today. There are very few postmillennial baptists, in fact. Most are futurist in their eschatology, meaning that they don't see the fulfillment of the kingdom until Christ comes back. There are far more paeedobaptists who are trying to inaugurate a postmillennial earthly kingdom.

Nor do we presume all that we baptize and take into membership are regenerate. "Regenerate church membership" is the ideal we strive for, but not what we claim to have.

Baptists are merely trying to make the present church the best witness possible. We unite with conservative Presbyterians in the acts of church discipline in that we want to keep the purity of the church by putting out those who are not living by faith.

But in addition, Baptists are also guarding the front door as well as keeping the back door open in that we are (or should be) just as cautious who we take into church membership. Thus, we aren't going to just baptize someone just because of who their parents are. This is how unbelievers get into the church.
 
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