Paedo-Baptism Answers How do I answer these questions?

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MooreJo

Puritan Board Freshman
A credobaptist friend of mine posed these questions and I want to know how to correctly answer them. He tends to be a "chapter and verse" type of guy who will seldom settle for anything other than explicit scriptural support.


Is baptism and circumcision related in any way? If so, how so?

Secondary question: what is the sign and seal of the covenant in the New Covenant?

Thanks ahead of time for any input. I've only been paedobaptist for less than a year and I'm still learning every day.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
A credobaptist friend of mine posed these questions and I want to know how to correctly answer them. He tends to be a "chapter and verse" type of guy who will seldom settle for anything other than explicit scriptural support.


Is baptism and circumcision related in any way? If so, how so?

Secondary question: what is the sign and seal of the covenant in the New Covenant?

Thanks ahead of time for any input. I've only been paedobaptist for less than a year and I'm still learning every day.

1) They are both signs and seals of the covenant-one was bloody, the other, washing. *All covenants are perpetual. For example, God will never flood the Earth with water again.

2) Water baptism
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Continuity. Good and Necessary consequence. Inference. If he reads through the scriptures with what I have said, 'in mind', he will see the progression.

Ask him if he believes in these things and if so, where in scripture does he see the commands:


1) Paedobaptism-the sign changing from circumcision to water baptism

2) The Trinity

3) The Covenant of grace and redemption

4) The change in the sabbath from the last day of the week to the first day

5) Woman taking the supper

6) The local church vs the Universal Church

7) The Regulative Principle

8) Membership

9) Baptism of adult children belonging to Christian parents

10) Mode of baptism

11) Church Polity

You will find, many people, with the same argument, believe in the above without any research on their part-by default, if u will. Usually the PB issue is rooted in a hatred for the doctrine because they have been told it has a direct relationship w/ Rome. Which is faulty.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Junior
Formerly a Baptist, when I joined the OPC the idea of baptism without a profession of faith didn't make sense to me until the parallel between baptism and circumcision in Genesis 17:9-14 was explained to me. Then it made perfect sense.
9And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12And 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. 13He 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.14And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
In addition, I've read that Colossians 2:9-15 is also an argument in favor of the relationship between baptism and circumcision.
8Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
A credobaptist friend of mine posed these questions and I want to know how to correctly answer them. He tends to be a "chapter and verse" type of guy who will seldom settle for anything other than explicit scriptural support.


Is baptism and circumcision related in any way? If so, how so?

Secondary question: what is the sign and seal of the covenant in the New Covenant?

Thanks ahead of time for any input. I've only been paedobaptist for less than a year and I'm still learning every day.
WHY has he posed the questions? That's my question. Is this about a friendly discussion and debate? Is it about information exchange? Is it about him trying to play "gotcha?" Or about you and your own efforts to change his mind or clear your doubts?

My question is sincere, because the best answer for you is really contingent on the background to the inquiry, and not bound up in the issue at the surface.

Assume the questions reflect simple curiosity about what your church teaches. Then you might reply to the first question, "Our understanding is that the Bible teaches that baptism for God's people in the New Covenant has approximately the same function and meaning as circumcision did for God's people under the Old Covenant, and even before the Old Covenant (Sinai) going back to the Abrahamic covenant."

As for where this might be taught in Scripture, Col.2:11-12 makes a fairly clear verbal and theological connection between the two covenant signs. However, the Baptist generally has some response to this assertion. His explanation makes sense to him, just as ours does to us; thus proving that the mere connection Paul makes there is not alone sufficient to prove that the second has come in and replaced the first by something quite close to one-for-one.

You would need to show, independently, how it is that these two signs do 1) teach and represent basically the same things, so making Paul's argument a "rope" connection, rather than a single thread; and 2) that the subjects of baptism should be substantially the same under the New Covenant as for circumcision before the coming of Christ. There are numerous texts in the NT that support the second thesis, but appealing to them piecemeal tends not to sound convincing to Baptist brethren. For example, the several household baptisms that are mentioned in Acts and the Epistles we take as supportive of the basic idea in (2); but the Baptist brings other presuppositions to those texts, and they can be taken in a way that does not compromise him.

Therefore, it has to be shown in order (1) then (2) on a comprehensive basis. And this is where the differences between Presbyterian and Baptist hermeneutics comes in. Presbyterian conclusion on (2) is the product, the end result of a theology of baptism; it is not strictly speaking the following of a "pattern" or exemplars in Scripture. Classic covenant theology is, firstly, an interpretive "pou stow" (Gk for a place to stand), a starting point; and a governor--like a straightedge or a dialed-in lens for seeing most clearly for doing work.

The sacraments are both seals of the same New covenant (WCF.27:1, WLC.176). Whereas only baptism is specifically called a "sign" (sign and seal) in our Standards, both sacramental descriptions use exact terminology of signification (on the Lord's Supper specifically, see WCF.29:8). The New Covenant is the current exhibit, the present administration of the Covenant of Grace--God's saving intent from before the foundation of the world, shown in and through his covenant-dealings with man since the fall. One plan, one covenant; several distinct expressions of that covenant culminating in the New Covenant to which all the former are promises, and are subject.

This, once again, is a "way of looking at God's Word," the Scriptures as a whole. It is the proper way, one we think God intended to embed in the Bible itself, to guide us as we interpret his grand intention. But, I think your Baptist friend will quite possibly think he has a more proper, more correct way, perhaps one that (in his view) takes more account of how differently God dealt with the world and his chosen nation in the Old Testament era, than he does now--which impacts how he thinks the Bible should be read.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Is baptism and circumcision related in any way? If so, how so?
Heidelberg 69 may be helpful:

"How is it signified and sealed to you in Holy Baptism that you have part in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross?

Thus: that Christ instituted this outward washing with water1 and joined to it this promise,2 that I am washed with His blood and Spirit from the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as certainly as I am washed outwardly with water, whereby commonly the filthiness of the body is taken away.3

[1] Matt. 28:19–20; Acts 2:38. [2] Matt. 3:11; Mk. 16:16; Rom. 6:3–4. [3] Mk. 1:4."

Circumcision represented the removal of that which was unclean, similar to baptism (see Col. 2:11-14). It was never only a physical sign, but also a seal of the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4:11). This is not a novel idea in the NT, but an OT one (Deut. 10:16, 30:6, Jer. 4:4). The connection is very clear.

Also, compare the language of Acts 2 to Gen. 17. The covenant connection is difficult to miss, especially as it relates to children. The obvious difference-- besides the physical sign itself-- is that circumcision was a covenant sign given to an ethnic people which constituted the church. When the gospel went out to the world in the NT, the church was no longer physically related to Abraham but spiritually (Rom. 4:16).

The baptist's objection that there are no NT examples of infant baptism are moot. Here is why:

1. Abraham received the sign after the faith as Rom. 4 teaches. Baptism is also a sign given after faith. This sign of circumsicion was applied to the male household of the circumcised (servants and children). The sign of baptism is applied to the whole household of NT believers (consider Paul and Peter's frequent instruction to the church which included instruction to spouses, children and servants, not to mention that Scriptures explicitly teaches that households were baptised). Notice that in both cases the faith preceeds the sign. In both cases, this fact should not exclude infants from receiving the sign.

2. The fact that the NT never abrogates the household principle is enough evidene to infer that the credo position is that which speculates, not the paedo position. Since the NT never abrogates the household principle, the burden of proof lies on the credo to prove that the NT household did not include infants.

Secondary question: what is the sign and seal of the covenant in the New Covenant?
The sign itself is what physically occurs as it represents something spiritual. As mentioned earlier, circumcision represented the removal of that which is unclean corresponding to the removal of our old sinful natures. Baptism represents the washing of regeneration which cleanses us of our sinful natures. The seal is the inward working of the Spirit assuring us that the physical sign applied is true of the spiritual reality it represents.

I hope this helps...
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
You may be dealing with a big difference in heurmanutic: a willingness to make inference from the overall sweep of redemptive history vs. using single verses to "prove" a point.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
You may be dealing with a big difference in heurmanutic: a willingness to make inference from the overall sweep of redemptive history vs. using single verses to "prove" a point.
In my experience, this is what it almost always comes down to. How are we to read the Bible and the story of God's redemptive dealings therein?

Herman Bavinck says it well:

"We need to overcome our astonishment over the fact that the New Testament nowhere explicitly mentions infant baptism. […] The validity of infant baptism does not lapse on that account, nor does it need tradition to sustain itself, as Roman Catholicism asserts. For also that which can be deduced from Scripture by legitimate inference is as binding as that which is expressly stated in it."

—Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 4, p. 526​
 
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