Paedo-Baptism Answers Galatians 3:7-9

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Nick Muyres

Puritan Board Freshman
I have a Baptist friend who believes that the lynchpin to his argument against paedobaptism Is found in Galatians 3:7-9 and Jeremiah 31:31-34. Galatians passage says that it is only those who are of faith that are Abraham’s sons and then Jeremiah 31 obviously talks about the new covenant. I don’t know how to respond and would love an explanation of how and why these passages do not contradict the reality of infant baptism and the covenant structure. I desire edification as well as to help my Baptist brother understand my position better.
Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Perhaps the first thing to note is that your friend is making "lynchpins" of argument of texts that do not mention baptism. That's OK, because our full arguments do not only use texts that mention baptism, or circumcision. But his is a theological argument. He is reasoning (again, no problem with such) to a conclusion about baptism based on... something else. What could it be?

He has an opinion about the nature of the New Covenant, likely that it is of a different kind (or at least partly so) from the nature of earlier covenants in the Bible. And this different nature of covenant informs him about what he thinks baptism should mean and do, and how it should be applied or experienced.

As a Presbyterian, you confess that there is only one, spiritual Covenant of Grace, and this covenant exists throughout Scripture, beginning in Genesis with an emphasis on Abraham formally coming into covenant with God. Starting with him, one begins to see different administrations of that covenant in the world. There's Abraham's or the Patriarch's administration. That one is followed by the Mosaic or Sinai administration. There are similarities and differences between those two.

The latter administration continues through many ages of the existence of the national people of God: wilderness wandering and conquest of the land, period of the judges, period of the united kingdom, period of the divided kingdom, exile, and return. But it all falls under Moses, or "that covenant I made with [them] when I... led them out of... Egypt," Jer.31:32.

So, the question is: is there such a difference in the Christic administration (or New administration) of the Covenant of Grace, that the nature of the thing requires rethinking the proper recipients of the sign of the covenant? The sign of the covenant has moved from being circumcision under the Old Covenant, and even before that under Abraham's covenant when it was first given; to being baptism in the present time. From the start, the children of believers (Abraham being first) i.e. just the males, were marked out as those included in the outward administration of the covenant.

Has the New administration come now to put these same children (and never including the daughters) out of or beyond that administration? Or, has the New administration kept those children (and expanded to include the daughters) for recognition as belonging to the outward covenant administration? Some Baptists will say that there is no outward administration to the New Covenant, but only an inward and spiritual administration.

Our argument is that ALL the covenant administrations, going all the way back to Abraham, and before him to Noah and back to Adam, they all had two kinds of administration, an outward and earthly one led by human beings using signs; and an inward spiritual administration of the realities by the Holy Ghost. Only the secret elect are made partakers of the reality, and only God knows them from the best fakes, who evade discipline by the mere men of leadership, and possibly fooling even themselves. It has always been this way.

OK, but doesn't Jer.31:32 say of the New Covenant that it won't be like the former? Sure, but how is that language to be understood? It can't mean that until Christ the law was never put in the mind and written on the heart. That is the nature of regeneration, and there were true saints in Israel. It can't mean that now no NT born again believer has any use for teachers. Not when they have been given by Christ as gifts to his church. I know Pratt (in that linked article) has some things to say about how he sees those New aspects being realized (ultimately). But for now...,

Note that the New covenant is new in respect to Moses. But Jeremiah says nothing in respect to Abraham. The highlighted contrast is in the change of administration to be realized when the temporary Sinai administration, top heavy with extra externals, is set aside as obsolete. But what came 430yrs after the promise to Abraham could not set aside that former as obsolete, so teaches Paul in Gal.3:17. It's that covenant with Abraham, being carried and kept alive in Moses, at last being incorporated and fulfilled in Christ.

So, we simply do not feel the weight of the Baptist argument that claims: this present New Covenant is actually more pure (than in OT times), and the witness of the rite of baptism ought to be kept for him who (outwardly) claims that purity belongs to him. We agree, it is a better administration now than then. But we do yet have earthly administration; and it is still imperfect (carried on by sinners). Therefore, we just baptize the ones we believe God says to baptize.
 
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