Hodge on Infant Baptism

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dsanch1120

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello everyone. As I've been praying and studying through infant baptism, I read Charles Hodge's section on Infant Baptism in his Systematic Theology, and am a bit confused about something I read.
He begins his section on infant baptism with the following quote (emphasis added by me).
The difficulty on this subject is that baptism from its very nature involves a profession of faith; it is the way in which by the ordinance of Christ, He is to be confessed before men; but infants are incapable of making such confession; therefore they are not the proper subjects of baptism. Or, to state the matter in another form: the sacraments belong to the members of the Church; but the Church is the company of believers; infants cannot exercise faith, therefore they are not members of the Church, and consequently ought not to be baptized.
In order to justify the baptism of infants, we must attain and authenticate such an idea of the Church as that it shall include the children of believing parents


Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 546–547.
It seems like Hodge is taking infant baptism as a given and defining the church based on it. Most other paedobaptists I've read tend to define the church first and then advocate for paedobaptism based on that definition.
Am I misunderstanding something here? I like what Hodge has to say about the church, but this line of reasoning really confuses me.
 
Hello everyone. As I've been praying and studying through infant baptism, I read Charles Hodge's section on Infant Baptism in his Systematic Theology, and am a bit confused about something I read.
He begins his section on infant baptism with the following quote (emphasis added by me).

It seems like Hodge is taking infant baptism as a given and defining the church based on it. Most other paedobaptists I've read tend to define the church first and then advocate for paedobaptism based on that definition.
Am I misunderstanding something here? I like what Hodge has to say about the church, but this line of reasoning really confuses me.
Hodge does not have an Ecclesiology chapter. That may explain some different ways of presenting infant baptism. But both ways are just different pedagogical ways of presenting infant baptism. Usually ecclesiology just presents the marks and attributes including visible and invisible and also the history of the church from OT to NT. Hodge is trying to make things as concise as possible, to explain ecclesiology with a direction towards infant baptism. Again, because he didn't write (he wanted to) an Ecclesiology chapter
 
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Hodge is also presenting this in an "if/then" sort of format. If infant baptism is justified, then our understanding of the church must include children of believing parents.

Conversely he is implying that if, in our investigation, our understanding of the church does NOT include children of believing parents, then infant baptism is not justified. He's not reasoning backwards to a definition of the church, just stating up front what must logically be true in order for infant baptism to be true.
 
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Hodge does not have an Ecclesiology chapter. That may explain some different ways of presenting infant baptism. But both ways are just different pedagogical ways of presenting infant baptism. Usually ecclesiology just presents the marks and attributes including visible and invisible and also the history of the church from OT to NT. Hodge is trying to make things as concise as possible, to explain ecclesiology with a direction towards infant baptism. Again, because he didn't write (he wanted to) an Ecclesiology chapter

Hodge is also presenting this in an "if/then" sort of format. If infant baptism is justified, then our understanding of the church must include children of believing parents.

Conversely he is implying that if, in our investigation, our understanding of the church does NOT include children of believing parents, then infant baptism is not justified. He's not reasoning backwards to a definition of the church, just stating up front what must logically be true in order for infant baptism to be true.
That makes a lot more sense now. Thank you both!
 
That makes a lot more sense now. Thank you both!
Note also: Hodge states a strong case for credobaptism; if you read the first paragraph analytically, he sets up no "straw man" Baptist case, but a robust one. Then in the second paragraph, before supplying any counter-thesis, he states what any paedobaptist advocate must therefore prove is the (ecclesiological) case, in order for overturning so presumptive a case for (exclusive) credobaptism.

I am in full agreement with the answers already provided. I simply wanted to add this note about the relative strength of the original argument. It is a bold task he undertakes. He does not ridicule or dismiss the contrary position he aims to defeat. If the contest is fairly dealt, only a stronger argument can prevail through dislodging a faulty premise.
 
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