Featured Can I Break the CoG by not paedobaptizing?

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Ben Zartman, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Mostly to my Presbyterian friends, I ask: when I fail to baptize my children, am I thereby breaking the Covenant of Grace? The person who did not circumcise his children in the OT was breaking the Mosaic Covenant. Does the person in the NT then break the CoG when he fails to apply the sign to his children? Is not the NC unbreakable, as contrasted with the OC?
    Thanks in advance--I'm trying to understand the vagaries of Presbyterian theology, and as a Baptist, I can't puzzle this one out.
  2. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Oops, I just noticed this is in the wrong forum--can a mod please move it to Covenants? I can't figure out how...
  3. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I believe u mean the Abrahamic covenant.

    Covenantally speaking, the command to place the sign on our children is perpetual. It doesn't matter what timeframe.

    Gen 17 says:
    7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land pwherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

    The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Ge 17:7–13.

    One can see the perpetuity of the command here...
  4. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Gen 17 also makes mention of being 'cut-off' if one fails to apply the sign. This cutting off is akin to missing out on a spiritual means of grace that is available to you, but reject. It is not a cutting off from the internal side of the covenant of grace, but you do miss out on the benefits that would come with it, if you did submit. So, ultimately, one who denies the placement of the sign is breaking the C of G in an external fashion; The regenerated elect cannot break the C of G internally.
  5. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Senior

    So when a Baptist such as myself would have their children water baptized after their profession of faith, there were still under the internal CoG as you would see it, but outside the External one until then?
  6. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    So I'm breaking the CoG externally and missing out on a blessing by not paedobaptizing? Do you believe this endangers my children?
  7. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    No, that would be considered externally;However, in the Presbyterian/Paedobaptist scheme of things, neglecting placing the sign on one's child is rebellious and the child suffers out of ignorance by the parent.

    My daughter is in the C of G by merit of her being marked out by her baptism. Her position is external, until the time she is regenerated and converted, which shows itself by her profession and submission to full communicant membership in the local church and her taking the Lord's supper, to which then, we would consider her a full communicant member and *presume* she is regenerated, converted, elect and in the internal side of the C of G now.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
  8. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I want to be careful with my words here. Keep in mind that I am a reformed Presbyterian and think a certain way because of it. Does it endanger your child? Is sin ever safe? Jesus Himself told us that the "kingdom belongs to such as these'. Consider Moses and Zipporah.

    Now, I understand that we think differently; that being, does the OT sign cross over into the NT. Is the sign for all peoples of God now or is it just for people that have made an outward confession? I get the differences in our thinking. But keep in mind, you are asking this question of a Presbyterian/Paedo, hence, I am giving you the default treatment, based on that.
  9. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Edited my last post to you.
  10. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Junior

    Remember that the Covenant of Grace is not to be equated with the New Covenant.
    WLC 31:
    Q. 31. With whom was the covenant of grace made?
    A. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.

    Q. 33. Was the covenant of grace always administered after one and the same manner?
    A. The covenant of grace was not always administered after the same manner, but the administrations of it under the Old Testament were different from those under the New.

    The covenant of grace began to be administered in Genesis 3, when the promise of the Seed of the Woman was given. It was administered through various ordinances in different parts of the Old Testament, and it is now administered in a distinct way in the New. The Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New Covenants all brought about changes in the administration of the Covenant of Grace. Those changes included laws about how it was to be administered.

    When we break one of the laws of the covenant, we are not so much "breaking the Covenant of Grace" as we are breaking the laws by which the administration of the Covenant is ordered. We cannot break the covenant of grace because Christ is the one whose merit is considered in the Covenant--as WLC 31 above says, God made the covenant with Christ as the second Adam. We only have a participation in the Covenant of Grace because Christ is our federal representative before the Father. We can do nothing to alter our position--the Covenant is not ours to break.

    I hope that's helpful.
  11. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Consider the term, ‘covenant breaker’. All those, not of faith are Covenant breakers.
    16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

    The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Heb 3:16–17.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
  12. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Freshman

    Agree with Scott. This is how Presbyterians would answer your question.
  13. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks Scott,
    I'm trying to pin down the Presby view. So your default treatment is what I was looking for.
  14. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks Tyler,

    I can actually agree with all of this, and add an Amen. This is how Baptists see the CoG as well: beginning at Gen 3 and continuing perpetually in various administrations. But you have expressed it beautifully. Maybe Presby's aren't as far out in left field as they seem.
    Thanks again.
  15. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Sophomore

    You may not have meant it that way, but I think it was pretty funny. Thus the "funny" face response.
  16. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Junior

    Does it answer your question from the original post?
  17. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, thanks. I wondered how Presbyterians dealt with that, and you have explained it very clearly.
  18. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Ed,
    I was actually looking for a smiley face to append, just so you would all know it was rather tongue-in-cheek, but couldn't find it. I'm glad you took it well in spite of that.
    Blessings to you
  19. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    I'm not sure if this has been said ... but I think you ask the wrong question. My question would be why would you want to disobey God and not baptize your children if you truly believe it is the appropriate thing to do? If your wife (I'm presuming you are a man) is dead set against it, that would be at least a difficult position. Of course she would also have to be against submission to authority of the husband.

    If this is just hypothetical (i.e., you do not ask because you believe in what I like to call covenant baptism ... it is more descriptive than paedobaptism which could include those that baptize without a believing parent and believe in baptismal regeneration) then still the question would be why would someone that truly believed *not* baptize their children? It would be disobedience for them. You could just as soon ask the question if someone was having an affair outside of marriage would it involve breaking the CoG. If they continued in doing so, were unrepentant about it, what would you think? Continual disobedience is evidence of one not truly being regenerate. I don't know of any churches that have excommunicated a member for not baptizing their children as the source of contumacy, but if a member stated they believed they should baptize their children, but refused to do so out of pure stubborn willfulness ... and they actually said that was the case ... then I can't help but believe that it would eventually rise to that level.

    Nobody believes (as far as I know) that *any* truly regenerate person can break the CoG (i.e., a person's inclusion in those that are elect) ... but I think all believers know that being stiff necked to the point of refusal to obey what one knows is commanded is reason to doubt the credibility of any profession of faith no matter what point of doctrine or how minor. The issue is not the point of doctrine, but haughty, high-handed sin.
  20. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Not sure what this means. If it means that the sacrament of baptism has instated a child in the (external administration of) the Covenant of Grace, that is inconsistent with the OPC's subordinate standards, and I would think proper covenant theology generally.

    For we say, "the children of believers have an interest in the covenant," http://opc.org/BCO/DPW.html#Chapter_III 1.b.(4); meaning they are already connected to the covenant by birth when they are brought to the font, and have the sacrament administered to them.

    Continuing in the same place the OPC DPW declares, "Therefore, by the covenant sign of baptism the children of believers are to be distinguished from the world and solemnly admitted into the visible church." In other words, we distinguish between the CoG itself and the church as the sphere of outward administration of the ordinances of said covenant.

    To address Ben's OP, understand that as CTs (Presby/Ref. paedob.) we teach that all the prior administrations of the CoG, together with the NC administration, partake of a two-fold administration.

    It was no more possible for an elect person to break and fall from the Abrahamic covenant, than it is for someone now to break and fall from the Christic covenant.

    It is just as possible for a person (elect or not) to break away (temporarily or permanently) from the outward administration of the CoG today--which is a grievous offense, and no trivial thing--than it was for someone to break away from the CoG in pre-NC times.
    I think it's already been pointed out that our Confession states that it is a "great sin" to contemn or neglect this ordinance, (WCF 28.5). We would identify it as a sinful failing, whether it comes about by ignorance, weakness, or open rebellion. However, para.5 is ultimately a very gracious and balanced statement affirming the distinctions between being in the CoG (under any administration) and being baptized or not.

    Next, Scripture declares in regard to covenant-breaking and the sign of the covenant, that to be party to the covenant (as was an 8-day old male in the previous era) who should be marked--and is not marked, "HE has broken my covenant." See Gen.17:14. God regards the little one as covenant-breaker; and this fact places a serious onus on the parent who fails in his duty to that child. Ex.4:24 does not use names but pronouns to witness the Lord's wrathful intent against that breach of covenant; I believe Moses is the subject of divine life-threatening, but it is reasonable literarily for the subject to be the son instead.

    As to how this might relate in a New Testament context, I simply appeal to the threats that are declared in Heb.6:4ff, and other warnings against falling away in the sphere of NC operations. I believe these words are plainly readable in terms of an inward/outward distinction. While the elect can never permanently fall away, because of the eternal purposes of God; and while warnings are providential means for keeping some near who might otherwise fail; there are those who are "enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit," etc. who nevertheless apostatize.

    Those are strong terms (e.g. partakers of the Holy Spirit!), and yet one who has the Holy Spirit sure and certain has him forever. So, in spite of this tremendous language, indicative of immense privileges, some yet depart, proving that for all their participation and profession "they were none of them of us," 1Jn.2:19. This, to me, is the plainest support for a NC-age reality described by inward and outward administrations still.

    Fundamentally, it is not possible for a man to overturn God's predestinating purposes--unfathomable comfort for we who are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation," 1Pet.1:5, who admit how quickly we would fall into unbelief if not for God pro nobis. But I find it most clear that some who draw temporary comfort from such means as do not penetrate to the heart, are engaged in something covenantal about which they may yet turn their backs. Externals alone do not suffice, but they do make for greater condemnation.
  21. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    I fixed Rev Buchanan's post for you:

    For we say, "the children of believers have an interest in the covenant," meaning they are already connected to the covenant by baby dedication when they are brought to the front, and have the sacrament of vows of dedication administered to them.

    Continuing in the same place, "Therefore, by the covenant sign of baby dedication the children of believers are to be distinguished from the world and solemnly admitted into the visible church."

    :) Hope that helps. As a Baptist, I hope you can admit what is really going on with baby dedications.
  22. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Consider the statement that most covenanters teach their children: to 'improve their baptisms'.

    It is in this light that I made the statement I did. I understand that Abraham had faith, prior to receiving the sign as my daughter was a covenantal member while in the womb.

    WLC 167
    Q. 167. How is baptism to be improved by us?
    A. The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.

    However, baptism is a sign and seal of the C of G; to rebel against the rite is to reject the S&S-hence, u are a covenant breaker. So in light of the OP question and my description, my daughter is (officially) in the C of G by merit of her baptism.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
  23. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Please don't get me wrong, Brian: I do NOT believe that infants are to be baptized. I'm just trying to sound out what my dear Presby friends believe about the outworkings of paedobaptism. But fear not--I'm an unwavering credobaptist.
  24. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    And I hope this whole post is a joke, since no confessional Baptist has any use or patience for the foolishness of baby dedications--they are a high-handed violation of the RPW and a foolish fantasy.
    But re-reading it I see it is meant as tongue-in-cheek, since there is no sacrament of vows of dedication and covenant sign of baby dedication. Good one! I was nearly not subtle enough to get your joke.
  25. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    Yes, sort of a joke, sort of serious. I do think a credo can understand the mindset of paedo if they compare it to the solemn ritual of baby dedication. At least I can.

    Glad to know you don't believe in dedications. I didn't know your convictions on this. This forum forced me to do some hard thinking about it, and finally reject it.
  26. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    LOL Okay ... contumacy is not the problem.

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