Oikos Baptism - Lee Irons

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steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
I'd like to interact with Lee Irons' essay, graciously provided by A.J. on a previous post. I brought this up before without any response.

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*All five [six, if Gaius is included] recorded instances of household baptism in NT:
1. The household of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48; 11:13-18)
2. The household of Lydia (Acts 16:13-15)
3. The household of the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:30-34)
4. The household of Crispus (Acts 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:14)
5. The household of Stephanus (1 Cor. 1:16)
6. The household of Gaius (1 Cor. 1:14 – by implication)
“The relevant datum is not the number of baptisms that occurred but the number of occurrences that were recorded. Excluding the baptism of John and of Jesus’ disciples, this latter count is a modest twelve. That three or perhaps four of these involved ‘households’ shows that the practice of baptizing households must have been rather frequent in apostolic times; and it is indeed true that many of those households must have included children and infants … Not that there were infants and small children in each case of recorded household baptism; but under no circumstance could Luke have used the ‘household formula’ had he wished to say that only adults were baptized” (Baptist theologian, Paul K. Jewett, correctly summarizing Jeremias’s argument; Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978], pp. 48, 52). Jewett says “three or perhaps four” because he ignores the conversion/baptism of the households of Crispus and Gaius, and discounts that of the household of Cornelius.

In the New Testament passages concerning the salvation, conversion, or baptism of a house the children of every age must be included, firstly because ... ‘house’ can be supplemented by ‘all, whole’ or replaced by ‘all who are his, with-all-the-house;’ secondly because in several passages the customary formula ‘he and his (whole) house’ is found, which in the Old Testament usage ... includes children, in fact has them particularly in view” (Jeremias, p. 16).

Just wanted to note that while paedos emphasize the fact of household baptism in these cases, there are a few things that tend to be glossed over, which makes it difficult to make a case for paedo baptism from oikos references.

1. In the case of Cornelius, the household is saved AND "the Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning" (Acts 11:14-18).
2. In the case of the Philippian jailer, he was charged, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your house” (Acts 16:31. Additionally, And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house (v 32). Subsequently, "And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole house" (v 34).
3. Likewise, "Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his house, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized" (Acts 18:8).
4. Jeremias' use of "all" and "whole" to mean every individual within a house betrays the common Reformed principle that "all" and "whole" (eg. as in 'whole world') does not necessarily include every individual, especially when it comes to salvation. John Owen did a good job of beating that horse to death.

So, of the 6 potential instances of household baptism in the NT, half of them experienced belief and/or the Holy Spirit falling on them. This means that half of the references to household baptism argues for credo baptism.

Exegetically, it seems like a stale mate. Oikos cannot be used as an argument and Paedos are left depending on a theological framework, rather than scriptural statements.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Dennis,
Correct; It is a framework derived from a number of issues. Combining the OT principles on covenant w/ the Oikos formula is how we come to our position.

Try and undo your thinking about credo baptism for a moment; One of the questions you need to ask yourself is if you were a Jew from that age, how would you have interpreted the call? Would it have been interpreted individually or would you have though it was a call to you and your family? When John was calling for repentance and baptism, was the Jew of that day responding as an individual or was his family involved? When the scriptures say that everyone came out to meet w/ John, do you thing this "everyone" were single individuals or did the federal heads of each family bring their households?

When did God cease being a God of families?
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Certainly, the OT principles and theological framework are use and may be valid (and I'm working through that as well), but it's not the concern of this present thread per se.

I just think Oikos supports both camps and cannot be used as ammo against the credo position alone.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Certainly, the OT principles and theological framework are use and may be valid (and I'm working through that as well), but it's not the concern of this present thread per se.

I just think Oikos supports both camps and cannot be used as ammo against the credo position alone.

I agree; It supports both premises. Presbyterians baptize adults! :p
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The Philippian jailer text is actually far clearer than some modern translations render it, as they tend to obscure the personal references. The addresses are primarily personal (to the Jailer), and in fact v34 states that he rejoiced with his house, he having believed God. The participle (bold) is nominative, masculine, and singular.

This does not settle the debate, by any means, however in the context of the Philippian Jailer anyway, the evidence for a covenantal-understanding is quite strong enough.

As for the other examples, it missed the point entirely to point to the fact of other likely beleivers being in the house. Not only do pb not doubt this, but rejoice in it.

The question is "How does the Bible use the language of household?" To make a primarily theological interpretation of household as "necessarily" excluding non-professing infants, is no less an imposition on the text. It is the pb argument that to mention "household" baptisms at all is only to speak in exactly the same way as the Covenant of Grace arrangements were conducted in the Old Testament. And there they were included. Ergo, to not see the "household" designation as inclusive is to "read such persons OUT" of the definition, a view just as much subject to the eisogetical accusation.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
The Philippian jailer text is actually far clearer than some modern translations render it, as they tend to obscure the personal references. The addresses are primarily personal (to the Jailer), and in fact v34 states that he rejoiced with his house, he having believed God. The participle (bold) is nominative, masculine, and singular.

The event leading up to his household's baptism is vv. 32-33 "And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household." So while it may be true that he is the primary believer, the word was spoken to everyone in the house.

As for the other examples, it missed the point entirely to point to the fact of other likely beleivers being in the house. Not only do pb not doubt this, but rejoice in it.

The question is "How does the Bible use the language of household?" To make a primarily theological interpretation of household as "necessarily" excluding non-professing infants, is no less an imposition on the text. It is the pb argument that to mention "household" baptisms at all is only to speak in exactly the same way as the Covenant of Grace arrangements were conducted in the Old Testament. And there they were included. Ergo, to not see the "household" designation as inclusive is to "read such persons OUT" of the definition, a view just as much subject to the eisogetical accusation.

I agree that inclusiveness may be suggested of households in biblical usage and this is a carry over from Hebraic thinking. The point is that many NT passages do not allow for an inclusive meaning when the broader context is applied.

The paedo argument is:

A. households were baptized, that means everyone was baptized including infants.

But, the same logic needs to be applied to other details in the text:

B. Households heard the word, therefore everyone heard the word, including infants
C. Households were filled with the Spirit, therefore everyone was filled, including infants
D. Household believed, therefore everyone believed, including infants.

If B-D cannot be substantiated, why should A?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Well, Dennis,
So far as I can see it, your concession in the first point is all that is necessary to demonstrate the point. You concede that it is sufficient to speak of the principal person to speak of the whole house. As for other believers in the house, the text speaks directly of NONE, not a single one. So, you read it into the text. QED.

Your rejection of an inclusive meaning in the "context" of "many" NT passages (assuming you are speaking still of the baptism passages) is simply your arbitrary imposition.

As for reconstructing the PB argument, you haven't accurately represented it at all, so there really isn't anything to interact with.

Peace.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
The concession was that inclusiveness may be suggested in the text, but inclusiveness cannot be meant in all cases, when one considers the wider context.

This rejection of inclusiveness is due to the unlikelihood that infants in the households were capable of hearing, believing, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, as the others were. If these experiences accompanied every individual in the household, then it had to accompany the infants as well.

This is not to say that infants cannot be regenerated, that is another debate altogether. But if the paedo is to use these texts as a scriptural basis for pb, then they need to demonstrate that all individuals in a household were capable of hearing, believing and being filled with the Spirit.

In terms of reconstructing the pb argument, I mentioned that covenant theology is not within the scope of this thread. If pb's argue something more than ...
households were baptized
households contained infants
therefore baptize your infants,
then I am very interested to hear the rest of the argument.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
In terms of reconstructing the pb argument, I mentioned that covenant theology is not within the scope of this thread.

With all due respect, from a PB perspective, CT is at the core of your inquiry; I don't expect you to understand that for if you did, you would have your answer.

This rejection of inclusiveness is due to the unlikelihood that infants in the households were capable of hearing, believing, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, as the others were. If these experiences accompanied every individual in the household, then it had to accompany the infants as well.

The above statement is true. However, infants are not baptized based upon the line of reasoning here. Federal headship is key. Gods promise and command is key.

Oikos cannot be used as an argument and Paedos are left depending on a theological framework, rather than scriptural statements.

A theological framework based upon scripture
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
I appreciate the importance of covenant theology and how critical it is to form the pb argument, I really do. My point is a very meager one. it is in response to some pb advocates who make the claim that infant baptism is easily and clearly demonstrated in scripture through the oikos passages. I think those passages are simply not that obvious and one-sided.

in my opinion, one must be convinced for paedobaptism based on wider biblical theology rather than oikos prooftexts.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Dennis,
If your intent, small as it may be, is to question whether "oikos" passages are an unmistakable demonstration of infant-inclusion, then your point is valid.

However, I'm not sure that was the intent of the writer of the original article. Nor do I suspect that you will find the best pb defenders heading straight for those passages to begin to mount a Scriptural justification for their practice. I know that I would not.

However, by the end of my argument, I would almost certainly go to those passages to show how my argument leads naturally to the presence of such statements in the NT Scriptures.

A cb advocate will also find within his argument an explanation for the abundance of "household-baptism" references in the NT. However, his explanation for them will not arise out of his theology of baptism. That is, his explanation of them is not provided for from his understanding of the NATURE of baptism, or its FUNCTION. Rather, in his case it arises from his theology of conversion and his Pneumatology.

To put it another way: for anyone, cb or pb, the FACT of baptism cannot provide a theological understanding of the practice. Is /= (does not imply) ought. So theology is always prior. The pb theology of baptism virtually demands that households, including infants, be baptized--and lo, we find households baptized in the NT, which is corroborating evidence for the practice.

But even if there were none to read of--no households like the Philippian Jailer's or Lydia's, which are baptized solely (on a textual-basis) of one individual's faith testimony--we would still have infant baptism as a product of our theology of baptism, based as it is on the unity of the Covenant of Grace, and the instructions taught to Abraham as to the proper recipients of the sign of the covenant, regardless of the form that sign might take.

On the other hand, in the cb theology of baptism there is no baptismal expectation or understanding borne out of what baptism is or signifies that offers a similar explanation for the presence and practice of household-baptism in the NT. It's source is in other areas of theology--conversion and Pneumatology (doctrine of the Holy Spirit's work)--as I mentioned above.

Those descriptions of household baptism for the cb indicate ONLY that there were multiple conversions or professions of faith on the several occasions mentioned. In other words,, they could be mentioned in the text or not, and it would not affect the cb understanding of baptism itself. They offer nothing corroborative respecting baptism as an ordinance. On the basis of "what must be the case," i.e. professions (even where not explicitly mentioned), households or such portion of them as justified the term used were baptized.


So, in the end, your final line
one must be convinced for paedobaptism based on wider biblical theology rather than oikos prooftexts
is applicable also to credobaptism. A specific course of reasoning must be followed in order to arrive at the "necessary" conclusion. A wider "biblical theology" than simply a theology of baptism must be relied on to explain "oikos"-baptism practice.


Regarding some of your other statements:
1) The "every member" argument (that for our argument to work, everyone must do everything the passage states of the principal actor) fails immediately. This is the fallacy of composition. Something that may be predicated of the whole may, in fact, not be predicable of individual parts of the whole.

Take v34 as an example, but switch terms. Bob, the breadwinner of his household, works for company X, and he just got a raise. "And he rejoiced, with his house, that he had received a raise." Did his wife get a raise? His son? Does his two-year-old need to know what's going on to be included in the celebration? No, no, and no.

On the other hand, perhaps his wife works for the same company, and she will get a raise also because of her husband's promotion. So, there may be more raises in the household (although we are not told specifically about them). Now, is this the ONLY supposition on which we can accurately say that the whole house rejoiced? No, of course not. And to eliminate the possibilitly of infants on that basis is arbitrary (and illogical).

I will even go farther, and say that its just as clear that there could have been some in the house who refused baptism, or who were not present that night to be baptized, and still the statement would be accurate--that his whole house was baptized. My point is not dependent in either case on a rather wooden literalism that forces our use of language into a mold.

The fact is, that "household" itself is a term that the Bible uses over and over, often explicitly including any and everyone in the house, including "children and little ones." So to impose a limitation on the term is most definitely a theological decision. It may or may not be correct (obviously I think it is not), but the cb position needs to acknowledge its own theological predispositions, and not claim for itself the "disinterested" reading of the text.

2) As you say, the possibility exists in any case for the infants to meet the salient criteria for an effectual baptism, namely the regenerating work of the Spirit (whether even at this instant or later, and according to whatever means he wills, i.e. hearing, believeing, etc). I don't need to demonstrate that directly from any of these texts for such to be true, based on theology of conversion.

3) As for constructing the argument, that depends on what you might be looking for. Are you interested in how those texts are used? Or what the argument for baptizing infants is? In the first case
premise: Households (defined as believers and their children), not merely individual professors, should be given the sign of the covenant
premise: We find households (no special definition given) in the NT given the sign of the covenant
conclusion: All elligible persons in that household that were present (based on the previously promulgated criteria) were assuredly baptized.​
In the second case, you are asking for a defense of premise 1
premise: God visibly placed children of believers in his covenant in Gen17.
premise: He has nowhere in Scripture removed them visibly from his covenant.
conclusion: Children of beleivers are to continue to receive the sign of his covenant.​

To end this long post, cb's reject the idea that the term "oikos" lends any substantiation to the pb's claim that Scripture implicitly affirms infant participation in the rite of visible inclusion in the church. However, they accept the idea that the terms "rejoicing" or "hearing" in Acts 16 implicitly affirm that all them at that moment who rejoiced and heard also professed faith, and were consequently baptized. That's just a double standard.
 

Hebrew Student

Puritan Board Freshman
I always had difficulty with this argument because, in the Ancient Near East, servants and slaves who were bought from other countries were considered part of households. While I acknowledge that this argument would argue for the inclusion of infants in Baptism, I can't escape the conclusion that it would likewise be an argument for the inclusion of servants and slaves as well, even servants and slaves who were grown adults in their mid thirties.

God Bless,
Adam
 

Nathan Riese

Puritan Board Freshman
I always had difficulty with this argument because, in the Ancient Near East, servants and slaves who were bought from other countries were considered part of households. While I acknowledge that this argument would argue for the inclusion of infants in Baptism, I can't escape the conclusion that it would likewise be an argument for the inclusion of servants and slaves as well, even servants and slaves who were grown adults in their mid thirties.

God Bless,
Adam

Yes, that would be consistent.

Circumcision was a sign and seal of faith (Romans 4:11), yet all of Abraham's household was circumcised, including "servants and slaves as well, even servants and slaves who were grown adults in their mid thirties"
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
One needs to appreciate the fluid dynamics of human social structure. What was "normal" in the sense of patriarchy was already changed by time and culture before the days of the NT. But still, the Roman head-of-house was an absolutely dominate figure in that culture.

However, one should grant the likelihood that Abraham accurately presented the choice that that God spoke to his servants--stay in my house, serve me and my/our God, and be circumcised; or be separated (here' some nice parting gifts). Otherwise, we have the extreme implausibility that Abraham held down the reluctant man and operated on his member without his voluntary consent. This, to me, is far more incredible than to suppose that those who had basically left with Abraham from Ur, to follow this man and his call from God, were also willing (in the main) to take this step also.

We know there were uncircumcised aliens who lived among Israel in the Promised Land, who were sometimes slaves. But they could not eat the Passover, they could not live as an Israelite without a conversion. How could this even be possible if such alien slaves were subjected to this physical infliction most involuntarily? Perhaps there were times when they felt a bit "coerced," such was a slave-condition. But to become circumcised was, essentially to guarantee eventual emancipation (in most cases) under Jubilee laws.

While we have difficulty getting a clear idea of how ancient societies "worked", given the great disparity between them and us: the existence of slavery, servanthood, stewardship, sonship, women as war-booty, etc., yet we are not without a clue as to what was likely and what wasn't. And to reckon that Abraham had few "volunteers" to stay, and be circumcised, turns biblical religion--where the body follows the heart--on its head.

We have consistently stated that where "consent" is called for, or implied, we certainly give place to it.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Dennis,
If your intent, small as it may be, is to question whether "oikos" passages are an unmistakable demonstration of infant-inclusion, then your point is valid.

Thanks. It is a small point, but hey, it looks like credos need every inch we can get. Covenant theology is certainly the kicker that we're all struggling through.

A cb advocate will also find within his argument an explanation for the abundance of "household-baptism" references in the NT. However, his explanation for them will not arise out of his theology of baptism. That is, his explanation of them is not provided for from his understanding of the NATURE of baptism, or its FUNCTION. Rather, in his case it arises from his theology of conversion and his Pneumatology.

I'm not so sure about this. From a cb perspective (at least mine), texts are read with the assumption that baptism as practiced in the NT always followed faith and repentance, as a sign of union and identification with Christ. It is a sign of covenant, yes, but a covenant in Christ's atoning blood, appropriated through faith. PBs have another preunderstanding of the theology of baptism, and they concurrently hold the keys when it comes to continuity with Abraham, which makes the cb look deficient. But that's another debate for another time.

To put it another way: for anyone, cb or pb, the FACT of baptism cannot provide a theological understanding of the practice. Is /= (does not imply) ought. So theology is always prior. The pb theology of baptism virtually demands that households, including infants, be baptized--and lo, we find households baptized in the NT, which is corroborating evidence for the practice.

Well hang on. First, take the death and resurrection of Christ: those were events that needed to be later interpreted theologically after the fact. The fact of the event was ESSENTIAL to shaping and understanding its theological significance. Therefore the practice of baptism in the NT should take priority to the theology. In baptism, if we observe that the apostles baptized infants before a demonstration of faith - that would produce a pb theology of baptism. If we observe that baptism followed faith - that would produce another theology of baptism. Secondly, a theology of baptism that offers continuity with Abraham, while elegant, does not mean that a new practice and a new meaning cannot be introduced. The mere fact of a change from circumcision to water baptism suggests the possibility of discontinuity.

On the other hand, in the cb theology of baptism there is no baptismal expectation or understanding borne out of what baptism is or signifies that offers a similar explanation for the presence and practice of household-baptism in the NT. It's source is in other areas of theology--conversion and Pneumatology (doctrine of the Holy Spirit's work)--as I mentioned above.

Again, this is assuming that discontinuity is impossible - that baptism must signify precisely what circumcision signified. Also, it assumes that household baptism in the NT was all-inclusive, for which the evidence goes either way.

Those descriptions of household baptism for the cb indicate ONLY that there were multiple conversions or professions of faith on the several occasions mentioned. In other words,, they could be mentioned in the text or not, and it would not affect the cb understanding of baptism itself. They offer nothing corroborative respecting baptism as an ordinance. On the basis of "what must be the case," i.e. professions (even where not explicitly mentioned), households or such portion of them as justified the term used were baptized.

If the notion that oikos is inclusive of every individual is weakened (as per my argument), then this opens up the possibility that oikos is used loosely and generally. If it is loose, then it may be that the apostles only baptized members of the house who professed faith, but the NT writers still wrote within linguistic convention that the household was baptized. Given this, this is one way the texts can be read and can provide corroborative evidence. I know that this cannot be substantiated anymore than the pb reading of these passages, so your next point ...

So, in the end, your final line, one must be convinced for paedobaptism based on wider biblical theology rather than oikos prooftexts is applicable also to credobaptism. A specific course of reasoning must be followed in order to arrive at the "necessary" conclusion. A wider "biblical theology" than simply a theology of baptism must be relied on to explain "oikos"-baptism practice.

... is valid. The credo must appeal to a wider bibilical theology of baptism that is faithful to NT descriptions and interpretations.

Regarding some of your other statements:
1) The "every member" argument (that for our argument to work, everyone must do everything the passage states of the principal actor) fails immediately. This is the fallacy of composition. Something that may be predicated of the whole may, in fact, not be predicable of individual parts of the whole.

It would be a fallacy if it were my words, not scripture's, which state that households were not only baptized but also believed, rejoiced and were filled with the Spirit. If we assume that infants cannot profess belief and receive the Spirit in such a manifested way, then they should not be lumped into the whole.

Take v34 as an example, but switch terms. Bob, the breadwinner of his household, works for company X, and he just got a raise. "And he rejoiced, with his house, that he had received a raise." Did his wife get a raise? His son? Does his two-year-old need to know what's going on to be included in the celebration? No, no, and no.

Verse 34 ( "And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.") is not the key, but rather, verse 31-32 ("They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."/ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.")

Also, this argument pertains to only 1 of the 6 references, two others have similiar textual things of note.

I will even go farther, and say that its just as clear that there could have been some in the house who refused baptism, or who were not present that night to be baptized, and still the statement would be accurate--that his whole house was baptized. My point is not dependent in either case on a rather wooden literalism that forces our use of language into a mold.

Yes, we agree! The word household is being used loosely, not woodenly. It refers generally to members of the house, but not necessarily every individual. It is this wooden literalism that would lead to the conclusion that infants believed and were filled with the Spirit.

The fact is, that "household" itself is a term that the Bible uses over and over, often explicitly including any and everyone in the house, including "children and little ones." So to impose a limitation on the term is most definitely a theological decision. It may or may not be correct (obviously I think it is not), but the cb position needs to acknowledge its own theological predispositions, and not claim for itself the "disinterested" reading of the text.

Wait a sec. Doesn't this contradict your previous paragraph (in bold)? If members refused or were absent and yet the household was baptized, how can you now say that the household explicitly includes everyone?

2) As you say, the possibility exists in any case for the infants to meet the salient criteria for an effectual baptism, namely the regenerating work of the Spirit (whether even at this instant or later, and according to whatever means he wills, i.e. hearing, believeing, etc). I don't need to demonstrate that directly from any of these texts for such to be true, based on theology of conversion.

Regeneration and Spirit filling can happen to infants, but it is not normative, is it?

3) As for constructing the argument, that depends on what you might be looking for. Are you interested in how those texts are used? Or what the argument for baptizing infants is? In the first case
premise: Households (defined as believers and their children), not merely individual professors, should be given the sign of the covenant
premise: We find households (no special definition given) in the NT given the sign of the covenant
conclusion: All elligible persons in that household that were present (based on the previously promulgated criteria) were assuredly baptized.​
In the second case, you are asking for a defense of premise 1
premise: God visibly placed children of believers in his covenant in Gen17.
premise: He has nowhere in Scripture removed them visibly from his covenant.
conclusion: Children of beleivers are to continue to receive the sign of his covenant.​

Again, the theology of covenant inclusion is critical but outside the present debate.

To end this long post, cb's reject the idea that the term "oikos" lends any substantiation to the pb's claim that Scripture implicitly affirms infant participation in the rite of visible inclusion in the church.

the pro-pb use of oikos is implicit at best, but it is also implicit for the pro-cb position as well.

However, they accept the idea that the terms "rejoicing" or "hearing" in Acts 16 implicitly affirm that all them at that moment who rejoiced and heard also professed faith, and were consequently baptized. That's just a double standard.

You've misunderstood my argument. Rejoicing and hearing do NOT apply to infants, but for those who heard and believed. That's been my whole point all along:

If a household had infants, then consistent interpretation of the text would have them hearing, believing, rejoicing, and being filled with the Spirit, as well as being baptized.
But we know instinctively that they cannot peform these things, at least it's not normal.

Therefore, a consistent reading requires that oikos is probably used loosely, and not inclusively on all occasions.
 

Hebrew Student

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey Pastor Buchanan!

I hear what you are saying.

I do think there are some other considerations, though, since, as you said, one needs to appreciate the fluid dynamics of human social structure. For example, we live in a very individualistic society. We know nothing of a monarch who commands us to "Jump!" and we have to say, "How high?" Servants were just that: servants. They had to do what their masters said. Now, it is true that Hebrew masters were commanded to treat their servants with respect, but allowing them to forgo something clearly prescribed in the law of God?????? That is hard to imagine.

Also, remember that Abraham did have servants other than the ones who left Ur with him. For example, he acquired Egyptian servants from the king of Egypt [Genesis 12:16], King Abimelech of the Canaanites [Genesis 20:14], and we are even fairly certain that Hagar was one of the servant girls he acquired in Egypt, since the same Hebrew term šipḥa is used of her in Genesis 16:1 that is found in both Genesis 12:16 and 20:14. Hence, he appears to have been aquiring slaves all along his travels.

Secondly, we do know of at least one servant who did not share the religion of his master, namely, Joseph. He is clearly said to be "In the house of his lord, the Egyptian" [Genesis 39:2]. Yet, Joseph clearly demonstrates that he does not share their religion. Not only that, but circumcision was practiced in Egypt as well as Israel [although there was no religious significance to Egyptian circumcision]. Also, I remember reading several Ugaritic administrative texts that also speak of foreign slaves, even Assyrian slaves with Akkadian names being sold to all kinds of buyers at Ugarit from all over the ancient near east.

Also, as far as foreign servants not participating in festivals, it seems to make sense, because God demanded both circumcision of the flesh, and circumcision of the heart. As Isaiah said, if you have one, but do not have the other, the rituals are meaningless to the point of not even being commanded [Isaiah 1:11-14]. How all of this fits into covenant theology, I don't know. It is a problem on which I will probably end up doing my master's thesis.

God Bless,
Adam
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
These household baptisms in the NT seem to be circumstantial evidence that ties in with other elements of the paedobaptists' case.

Was individualism, or an individualistic view of salvation, getting going around the time credobaptism really took off?
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
These household baptisms in the NT seem to be circumstantial evidence that ties in with other elements of the paedobaptists' case.

Was individualism, or an individualistic view of salvation, getting going around the time credobaptism really took off?

This is very possible, and there may be an element of truth to it, but consider also my biased suspicion that paedobaptism was borne in an era of church history where infants of believing parents were dying without having been given assurance of salvation. In the Christian metaphysics of the time, physical elements were thought to be imbued with real spiritual efficacy. eg. the bread and wine of the eucharist, and the waters of baptism as having regenerative and salvific power. Even to this day, many Eastern Orthodox view infant baptism as a form of "insurance" to secure salvation for the infant in the event of early death.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Dennis,
From a cb perspective (at least mine), texts are read with the assumption that baptism as practiced in the NT always followed faith and repentance, as a sign of union and identification with Christ
This first line pretty much sums up the whole reponse, and validates most of what I claimed. It shows

1) that you DO have a theology of baptism that precedes your practice. You say as much right there--you bring to the text basic assumptions. That is called Theology. It isn't "fair" to say ok-for-me-not-ok-for-you. But you haven't even examined all your own basic assumptions and recognized them.

Take, for instance, your inability to grapple with the is/ought problem. I explained it from a strictly logical perspective; but instead of acknowledging the situation you assume quite a few more things that Baptists claim as "normative" without question, and then claim that the practice of baptism points to or sheds light upon the resurrection! This is quite incredible. And it most assuredly is debatable.

As you say, there are so many issues that it might be nice to avoid digressing upon, however, we can barely talk about JUST one facet of baptism before our diverging definitions of basic quanta force us into a much wider discussion.


2) that you derive your theology of baptism primarily from historcal texts, and not from didactic texts. Didactic texts are exactly where a THEOLOGY of baptism is supposed to come from, which then informs and shapes our practice. In my view, the cb very plainly brings a finely defined baptism TO didactic texts (epistles, primarily), and reads them in light of baptismal practice that is not, in the main, adjustable. You explain the didactic by means of and in light of the practice (as you admit, in the case of resurrection).

So, for example, "buried with him in baptism" becomes a visible enactment of baptism-by-plunging, despite the absence of widespread burial practices below-ground in the ANE; and the other metaphors for baptismal union that use the same structure, but have no convenient physical correlate to the practice of baptism (i.e. putting on clothes, and drinking a drink).



I showed exactly how "household baptisms" are a product of a pb theology of baptism. And I think I was clear that the cb theology of baptism does not, indeed cannot, point to household baptisms. As household baptisms appear in the text, a cb such as yourself will certainly explain them satisfactorily, and in no wise at variance from your baptismal theology, however it is not IN your baptismal theology that such baptisms are explicable.

How could they be? As you indicate in your own terms, baptismal theology explains baptism as a product of (arising from) an individual's faith. Whole-house conversion would give rise to whole-house baptisms (plural), but not whole-house baptism (singular). There is nothing about baptism-as-sign-of-covenant as you understand it that explains household baptisms. The doctrines of conversion and Pneumatology are the source of your explanation for the incidents.

This is all fine and good, but you were originally disputing pb "reliance" on household baptism to explain their practice and in so doing misrepresenting (or misunderstanding) the proper place of those passages in our theological enterprise. It was, and remains my goal to set that issue in order. Let me state once more, and plainly: PBs do not use "practice" of baptism like CBs do. The fact that we both recognize "implications" of household is irrelevant.

We BOTH have "equations" that include "practice," pointing to what we should be doing. But in each equation, the element of practice has a very different impact. What pb believe about baptism itself explains to us the presence of household baptisms in the NT text. What the cb believes about baptism itself does not explain the presence of them.

************
Your response to my (1) is non-responsive. You say the Bible states one thing, which I have already quoted Scripture as saying the opposite. So, please show how in the passages concerning the Philippian Jailer (especially), or Lydia or Stephanus, there are statements to the effect of anyone else's belief. The nearest thing you could appeal to that comes closest to attributing faith-proper to a whole house is Acts 18:8. And it would still be a fallacy of composition to try to make Scripture say more than it does.

Then also, unlike the simple co-location of a series of texts that speak of household baptism (which seeks to establish the relatively modest claim that household baptism is actually more normative than individual baptism, based on number of references), your claim is much more extensive--seeking to prove that (for instance) the extraordinary manifestation of the Spirit in the one case of Cornelius demonstrates something definitive about the other 4-5 references to household baptisms. This is extravagant, and another example of trying to establish norms from bare examples.

Pointing to other words in Acts 16 (like the Apsotle's imperative "believe!" given to those assembled with the Jailer) only begs the question in your favor, and allows you a privilege of reading implications out of a passage, while you prohibit those you disagree with from likewise doing. The passage only states that HE believed, but that the HOUSE was baptized.

Moreover, I can grant your position (that there WERE probably other believers, immediately or later on) and it doesn't disturb any element of my argument. I'm not sure you can do the same for me. In fact, I'm somewhat amused that you describe MY position as more wooden that yours. Your position (which you put in BOLD at the bottom of your post) includes the categorical "ALL", which to my knowledge no pb claimant makes for his position, despite the way you may have read him. All we ever claim is that household is too broad a term to preclude infants, and that they are rather to be expected, based on a simple definition.

I allow for the hearing of infants, and for the HS to fall on them! You say this isn't normative, and perhaps I can grant that. But what effect does that have on the question? It is only a problem for the position that asserts that the reality must (normatively) precede the symbol. Otherwise, who cares?

You seem to want to apply the minute circumstances of one text (Acts 10) to EVERY permutation of the evangelistic mission.

You say that in NO CASE could there have been any infants baptized in any of the half-dozen cases (out of a max of 12). This is theologically necessary for you, and makes one wonder as a result about the promiscuous NT use of a term that is "pregnant" with inclusivity of exactly such persons as you deny. When one observes the manner in which the term "house" is used throughout the Bible, one is pressed to wonder why the "discontinuity" effect has so profoundly narrowed the meaning of the word in this particular context. The answer is, of course, theological necessity.

Dennis, you cannot escape this fact. You do not approach these texts bias-free. And you cannot just accuse the pb of bringing his his theology in, while giving the cb a free pass.

But, once again, the fundamental issue is how we use these examples anyway. You say it is already demonstrated that profession ALWAYS precedes baptism, based on some unambiguous examples in the (evangelistic) context of the book of Acts. But even to argue that "some" proves "all" is logically fallacious. The simple truth is that the "ambiguous" examples outnumber the unambiguous, and so we are still facing the issue that one's theology of baptism will influence his reading of those instances.

Belief (saving faith) is necessary to salvation. Your contention is that actively demonstrated faith (the reality) is prior-necessary to the proper reception of the symbolic rite of baptism. These are two separate propositions. The bare words of the texts themselves do not support the latter contention.

_______________

Too long, once again.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Take, for instance, your inability to grapple with the is/ought problem. I explained it from a strictly logical perspective; but instead of acknowledging the situation you assume quite a few more things that Baptists claim as "normative" without question, and then claim that the practice of baptism points to or sheds light upon the resurrection! This is quite incredible. And it most assuredly is debatable.

As you say, there are so many issues that it might be nice to avoid digressing upon, however, we can barely talk about JUST one facet of baptism before our diverging definitions of basic quanta force us into a much wider discussion.


2) that you derive your theology of baptism primarily from historcal texts, and not from didactic texts. Didactic texts are exactly where a THEOLOGY of baptism is supposed to come from, which then informs and shapes our practice. In my view, the cb very plainly brings a finely defined baptism TO didactic texts (epistles, primarily), and reads them in light of baptismal practice that is not, in the main, adjustable. You explain the didactic by means of and in light of the practice (as you admit, in the case of resurrection).

Baptism as pointing to our identification with Christ's death and resurrection is not without didactic warrant.

Rom 6:3-5
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,

Col 2:11-12
In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

I'd be interested to hear how debatable these texts are in affirming cb, but that would be another discussion...

Your response to my (1) is non-responsive. You say the Bible states one thing, which I have already quoted Scripture as saying the opposite. So, please show how in the passages concerning the Philippian Jailer (especially), or Lydia or Stephanus, there are statements to the effect of anyone else's belief. The nearest thing you could appeal to that comes closest to attributing faith-proper to a whole house is Acts 18:8. And it would still be a fallacy of composition to try to make Scripture say more than it does.

I concede to your exegesis of v. 34: "and he and his whole house rejoiced that he believed in God." Certainly, the Jailer's faith alone is technically in view here. But consider v. 32: "and they [Paul and Silas] spoke to him the word of the Lord with all the ones in his house." Unless there are nuances I'm not aware of in the Greek, a natural reading makes sense to me that Paul and Silas spoke the Word not only to him but also to everyone else in the house who could hear and understand. If we assume that "faith comes by hearing the word of Christ", then those of the household who heard and understood came to faith and were subsequently baptized. The rejoicing, then, comes from the fact that he, as the head of the house, believed and led the household to conversion. The Apostles say "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your house" (v. 31). If the Apostles pronounced his entire family saved on the basis on his faith alone, and not theirs, wouldn't this be problematic theologically? We would have to interpret "saved" in a non-redemptive sense. But looking at the fact of the family's rejoicing, it's safe to assume that they're rejoicing because they likewise believed and were saved.
Then also, unlike the simple co-location of a series of texts that speak of household baptism (which seeks to establish the relatively modest claim that household baptism is actually more normative than individual baptism, based on number of references), your claim is much more extensive--seeking to prove that (for instance) the extraordinary manifestation of the Spirit in the one case of Cornelius demonstrates something definitive about the other 4-5 references to household baptisms. This is extravagant, and another example of trying to establish norms from bare examples.
I agree the examples are few in number, but how many is really required to establish a doctrine or practice, especially when it makes sense? "All scripture is God-breathed and useful ..." The Spirit fell on everyone in Cornelius' house such that it was manifestly evident. If there were infants in the house, it didn't happen to them ... at least I don't think so. At any rate, the fact of the Spirit's manifestation is not my point. My point is that if baptism was given to everyone in the house, then we must be consistent and say that Spirit manifestation, and rejoicing and belief in other texts, happened to everyone in the house. It's the simple rule of interpreting consistently instead of picking which things were given to the household and which weren't.
Moreover, I can grant your position (that there WERE probably other believers, immediately or later on) and it doesn't disturb any element of my argument. I'm not sure you can do the same for me. In fact, I'm somewhat amused that you describe MY position as more wooden that yours. Your position (which you put in BOLD at the bottom of your post) includes the categorical "ALL", which to my knowledge no pb claimant makes for his position, despite the way you may have read him. All we ever claim is that household is too broad a term to preclude infants, and that they are rather to be expected, based on a simple definition.
And I agree that the term never precludes anyone as a general rule, but this doesn't mean it MUST include every individual in EVERY instance. When it is applied within these contexts, or theologically for that matter, we find that it could not include infants. It is probably much like John's use of "kosmos." One way it is used is meant to convey inclusivity generally, but depending on its context, this cannot mean total inclusivity. For example, John 12:19: "So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!" Obviously every individual on earth could not be meant in that text. We all know this stuff ... To require that household necessarily means every individual under a roof is wooden, isn't it?

You say that in NO CASE could there have been any infants baptized in any of the half-dozen cases (out of a max of 12). This is theologically necessary for you, and makes one wonder as a result about the promiscuous NT use of a term that is "pregnant" with inclusivity of exactly such persons as you deny. When one observes the manner in which the term "house" is used throughout the Bible, one is pressed to wonder why the "discontinuity" effect has so profoundly narrowed the meaning of the word in this particular context. The answer is, of course, theological necessity.
Theologically necessary, yes, but it's also within the bounds of reason and common sense. A newborn (in most cases) can't understand and give assent to the gospel.

Dennis, you cannot escape this fact. You do not approach these texts bias-free. And you cannot just accuse the pb of bringing his his theology in, while giving the cb a free pass.
Certainly correct. We're all bringing in our theology and biased readings of the text. I'm just saying that oikos passages do not provide a strong scriptural argument for the practice of pb. These passages can in fact be used to deflate the pb argument and support the cb. In other words,, pb's don't own the monopoly on them.

But, once again, the fundamental issue is how we use these examples anyway. You say it is already demonstrated that profession ALWAYS precedes baptism, based on some unambiguous examples in the (evangelistic) context of the book of Acts. But even to argue that "some" proves "all" is logically fallacious. The simple truth is that the "ambiguous" examples outnumber the unambiguous, and so we are still facing the issue that one's theology of baptism will influence his reading of those instances.
Right. The scriptural prooftexts alone aren't sufficient to convincingly establish either position. That's really been my only point - pathetic as it is!

cheers.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Dennis,
Baptism, among its many signs, symbolizes union with Christ and judgment (Luke 12:50). So, into his death and resurrection we are identifed with him by our being baptized. This union-of-baptism is into the Spirit, symbolized by drinking (1 Cor. 12:13); and into his righteousness, by putting on clothes (Gal.3:27).

Your point seemed to me to be saying that baptism was after a certian manner, and then Paul took that manner and used it or applied it to resurrection. I am not persuaded that the physical manner of baptism is meant to point us specifically to the resurrection, but that our union with Christ (symbolized by baptism) is to include His death and resurrection. How might the physical manner of baptism point to drink or dressing?

I cannot answer any more tonight, but perhaps I can address more of the above tomorrow...
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Continuing (hopefully, briefly):

Let me say again, that from the beginning, I have been largely in agreement with your most fundamental observation about our starting points. My purpose in all this effort has been an attempt to express this difference with greater sharpness and clarity, and to explain how the difference in these starting points actually explains quite a lot, regarding how we read the very same texts of Scripture. We use them in different ways; we understand what we bring to various texts differently.


No one is "pronounced" saved by the Apostle's command, (Act.16:31). The command "Believe..." is directed principally to the Jailer, and implicitly to everyone, as the words, "...you and your house" imply. But the words as they are actually expressed are a promise TO the Jailer: that if he believes he will be saved, and if his family follows him in faith they too will be saved.

The word was preached to all that were in the house. But if there was a one-day old baby there, then the word was also preached to that child. Whether there was or not, I don't have to eliminate him from the discussion due to a theological commitment. Also, I am not comforable making many of the "assumptions" you refer to, any more than you are comfortable with certain expectations that I bring to the text.

Now, whether there was NO other persons who were converted that night (unlikely, in my opinion), or if there was only ONE or TWO other soundly converted that night, or if there was a DOZEN who professed faith, along with a dozen more who expressed no profession, the text doesn't specify anything explicit about them whatsoever, except that they were present for the preaching, and rejoicing ensued over the Jailer's faith. And that rejoicing in no way precludes those too young to comprehend the full import of the occasion.

But all this, to my mind, is a distraction from the simple implication of (multiple) household baptism occasions, and the emphasis on the faith of a single person (the head) in each of them. The word itself means the totality of the house (or any fraction therof that would justify the use of the term), and that in turn implies the baptism of all elligible persons.

Once we start arguing about eligibility criteria, we have left these passages behind.

*******************

Your comment on the "few" examples reinforces the difference in our approaches. It seems self-evident to you that the examples are totally sufficient to explain the whole practice of NT baptism, and all the church must do is conform to the "clearest minimum" to define the allowable maximum practice.

It almost seems as though you come TO baptism in the text, then DO baptism in practice (according to what that examples alone appear to teach) before you UNDERSTAND baptism. As you seem to explain it, this is natural, as the NT writers only explain baptism themselves upon reflection, and add to the experience of baptism theological metaphor.

But it only seems to be the case, as no one is able to come barely to the text. Not only this, but the didactic texts for the cb make no modifications upon the first perceived conditions that are assumed to be inviolable. They only add layers, or contribute to theological development. Baptism constitutes a "jumping off point" for higher thoughts. Again, the FACT of baptism (and that of a certain kind, mode, and subject) is the starting point.

*******************
As to applying everything to those in Cornelius' house (I hope you see that it is not proper to take that EVENT, and apply even the manner in which they are related there to other occasions without regard for the differences in the them):

1) I do not share any of your reluctance to speak of even babes who might have been present as recipients of the grace of God. I do not confine my understanding of the Bible's presentation of historical facts or doctrine to "the bounds of reason and common sense." This would eliminate miracles. And newborns can be given an apprehension of Christ (saving faith) in ways we cannot imagine. Those elect infants dying in infancy going to heaven certainly get this blessing.

2) I do not share your same pre-commitment to the idea that all the grace poured out on that occasion needed to be evidenced by profession prior to the application of baptism. The rejoicing and belief in the fullest sense might not have happened for the 2-year old until he was 7-year old, and the text still makes perfect sense without any wresting the sense of the words.

As our confession states, the effectual application of the grace promised in baptism is not tied to the moment of (water) baptism, but is effectual at the providential time (perhaps much later) when the Spirit determines to make it so. So when salvation is said to come to the "house", I understand it in the same sense as Zechariah (Lk.1:69), Jesus (Lk.19:9), or Hebrews (11:7).

Enough evidence was there to be able to make a true statement, without assuming everything of everyone in exactly the same way. I'm not being "wooden" here at all. But on the other hand, it strikes me as perverse sort of denial to dare to say to a pb that he LACKS even his modest claims for biblical evidence that infants were ever baptized in the NT.

To take a term--which in the nature of the case means "all from top to bottom"--and to say that a pb is forbidden from understanding that term inclusive of infants (but demanding free rein in implying a cb position from the same texts) is special pleading. I'm not saying you have stated that this.

What I'd like to see is a concession that the pb's expectations for these passages are objectively met, even if the cb interpret the same differently to his satisfaction. I certainly do not see any reason to have any less confidence in the pb understanding of, and positional placement and use of these texts, based on our conversation.

(nope, couldn't be brief... sorry)
Blessings,
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
No one is "pronounced" saved by the Apostle's command, (Act.16:31). The command "Believe..." is directed principally to the Jailer, and implicitly to everyone, as the words, "...you and your house" imply. But the words as they are actually expressed are a promise TO the Jailer: that if he believes he will be saved, and if his family follows him in faith they too will be saved.
True, perhaps technically it is a conditional statement that offers salvation IF the family responds with saving faith. But doesn’t the text, with all its emphasis on the family later rejoicing and being baptized, suggest that that condition was fulfilled right there on the spot? This is a reasonable inference I think.

The word was preached to all that were in the house. But if there was a one-day old baby there, then the word was also preached to that child. Whether there was or not, I don't have to eliminate him from the discussion due to a theological commitment. Also, I am not comfortable making many of the "assumptions" you refer to, any more than you are comfortable with certain expectations that I bring to the text.
True, perhaps the Apostles preached to the baby (if there were any), but isn’t it reasonable to infer that when the Word is spoken to people, it is also heard and grasped by people? These are not separable. If there were hearers in attendance who did not understand the language they were using, would the author have in his mind that the Apostles preached to them as well? It seems that listening and understanding is the whole point of them preaching.

Now, whether there was NO other persons who were converted that night (unlikely, in my opinion), or if there was only ONE or TWO other soundly converted that night, or if there was a DOZEN who professed faith, along with a dozen more who expressed no profession, the text doesn't specify anything explicit about them whatsoever, except that they were present for the preaching, and rejoicing ensued over the Jailer's faith. And that rejoicing in no way precludes those too young to comprehend the full import of the occasion.
There are a few things going on, so let’s keep them separate.
1. There may have been some in attendance that made no profession of faith whatsoever.
2. They are not regarded as a sub-group, but considered within the household.

I think we both agree with these two points. Here’s where a choice must be made:

1. For PBs: Those who did not profess were still baptized because they were a part of the household. Accordingly, to be consistent, they rejoiced as well (at the jailer’s good fortune, not their own).
2. For CBs: Though they are lumped as part of the household, those who did not profess and those who did not hear/understand the gospel were not baptized. Generally though, it can be said that the house was baptized and the house rejoiced (though this does not necessarily include everyone).

But all this, to my mind, is a distraction from the simple implication of (multiple) household baptism occasions, and the emphasis on the faith of a single person (the head) in each of them. The word itself means the totality of the house (or any fraction therof that would justify the use of the term), and that in turn implies the baptism of all elligible persons. Once we start arguing about eligibility criteria, we have left these passages behind.
Eligibility is important because it is integrated with the text and must be applied consistently throughout. Because the oikos were not only baptized but were preached to and rejoiced, the pb is forced to conclude that every person in the house were also eligible to hear the word and to eligible to rejoice, which means everyone. I believe that hearing the word and rejoicing is inextricably tied to faith and baptism. It forms one unbroken chain of events, as it were. I envision in actual practice the Apostles confirming that people actually wanted to get baptized before they got it. Imagine the poor pagan slave in the household who wants nothing to do with the God of Israel, but because he belongs to the house, he is baptized anyway. I don’t see that happening.

As to applying everything to those in Cornelius' house (I hope you see that it is not proper to take that EVENT, and apply even the manner in which they are related there to other occasions without regard for the differences in the them):
Admittedly, the Cornelius text is my “pet text”, perhaps in the same way that the jailer text is your “pet text.” It seems like we’re using our best ammo but shooting blanks. 
2) I do not share your same pre-commitment to the idea that all the grace poured out on that occasion needed to be evidenced by profession prior to the application of baptism. The rejoicing and belief in the fullest sense might not have happened for the 2-year old until he was 7-year old, and the text still makes perfect sense without any wresting the sense of the words … As our confession states, the effectual application of the grace promised in baptism is not tied to the moment of (water) baptism, but is effectual at the providential time (perhaps much later) when the Spirit determines to make it so. So when salvation is said to come to the "house", I understand it in the same sense as Zechariah (Lk.1:69), Jesus (Lk.19:9), or Hebrews (11:7).
I don’t think that the writer has it in view that the faith and rejoicing of those baptized would come to its “fullest sense” at a later date or perhaps never. The force of the words is direct and immediate and is in line with Luke’s theology and tendency in Acts to emphasize the efficacy of God’s word spreading and changing lives in an almost simultaneous manner.
To take a term--which in the nature of the case means "all from top to bottom"--and to say that a pb is forbidden from understanding that term inclusive of infants (but demanding free rein in implying a cb position from the same texts) is special pleading. I'm not saying you have stated that this. … What I'd like to see is a concession that the pb's expectations for these passages are objectively met, even if the cb interpret the same differently to his satisfaction. I certainly do not see any reason to have any less confidence in the pb understanding of, and positional placement and use of these texts, based on our conversation.
The charge is not primarily negative, in the sense that I’m excluding infants from a term that normally includes them. I agree that oikos is generally inclusive or “organic”, much like kosmos. My challenge to the pb is to take the word oikos and apply it consistently and thoroughly in all pertinent passages that use the word – not only in reference to baptism, but also to other verbs like faith, hearing, and rejoicing. Then, ask, whether it is sensible to include infants in these cases where the text demands it. If the pb is fully embracing of the idea that infants can hear, believe, and rejoice as well as any adult, then great! You have at your disposal proof texts with which to launch an exegetical assault on anti-paedobaptism. But if you’re like me, (maybe I’m just cynical), and believe that infants probably do not have such capacities, then the texts cited need to be taken with a grain of salt and oikos not used in such an absolute way. How does that sound Rev. B?

We’re probably approaching the end of any more exegetical work that can be done on these passages, which weren’t very many to begin with. As you have mentioned, the real key lies in the theological understanding of baptism and what it signifies, - though I feel sorrowfully inadequate and outmatched for that debate with you!

Blessings.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Dennis,
I'm going to leave it at that. We disagree, and that won't go away.

In a number of the statements above, you are still trying to force my view into a very stiff mold, and it won't go. For example, you think that I must (for some reason) force an unwilling slave into a baptism to maintain consistency. This I deny.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Not at all, Sir. The example is of a hypothetical situation where the Apostles (not you) come across a pagan member of the household who does not profess faith. Would he have been encouraged to be baptized on account of the jailer's faith, just because he belonged to the household, or would the Apostles have refrained until his faith was his own? I think the latter is more fitting.

Hopefully I wasn't trying to force anything, just to challenge the pb to a consistent application of oikos in all matters including and surrounding the baptism event.

thanks for your interaction on the thread though. I do appreciate it and have learned something.

Blessings.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Try and undo your thinking about credo baptism for a moment; One of the questions you need to ask yourself is if you were a Jew from that age, how would you have interpreted the call? Would it have been interpreted individually or would you have though it was a call to you and your family? When John was calling for repentance and baptism, was the Jew of that day responding as an individual or was his family involved? When the scriptures say that everyone came out to meet w/ John, do you thing this "everyone" were single individuals or did the federal heads of each family bring their households?

When did God cease being a God of families?

I'll need to stand on PuritanCovenanter's shoulders a wee bit to hash out this argument. To borrow quotes from his blog article, he writes,

An important principle in determining the nature of covenant children is to realize the role that the covenant heads play in this process. In God’s covenant with Abraham, he established that Abraham would have both a physical and a spiritual seed. The promise of a physical seed (Genesis 12:2) would begin with the miraculous birth of Isaac by the power of God (Romans 4:18-21). Isaac’s birth initiated the principle of a physical seed which would govern the covenant’s progress and fulfillment down through the centuries, consummating in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16). But Abraham also had a spiritual seed. Since Abraham was a believer (Galatians 3:6, 9; Genesis 15:6), his spiritual seed constitutes both the believing remnant of Israel and believing Gentiles (Romans 9-10; Galatians 3:8, 14). Thus, God ordained that the nature of covenant children in Abraham’s covenant would be established by Abraham himself as the covenant head, both by his faith and his physical children.

But, what about the New Covenant? Should the nature of covenant children established with Abraham continue on in the New Covenant as well? The New Testament is clear that the New Covenant administration of the Abrahamic Covenant does not require the principle of a physical seed descended from Abraham for “be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). This indicates that in the New Covenant we are dealing with Abraham’s spiritual seed.

To summarize the rest (you can see where this is going), Christ as the federal head of the New Covenant introduces a shift in emphasis from the physical seed to the spiritual. Like many such shifts between the testaments, what is promised in physical form is realized spiritually. Who are Jesus' covenant family? Those who are in continuity with the concept of physical seed, or those in continuity with spiritual seed? As in written in Isaiah 8:18, which is also quoted in Hebrews 2:13 as the very words of Christ, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.”

On two occasions in the gospels, Jesus makes a break with his genetic heritage, effectively renaming those who are his true family:

Lk 8:21, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”

In Luke 11:27, Christ was teaching truths that were so profound that one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But the Lord responded, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (verse 28).

Scripture seems to strongly support the view that those who are united to Christ by faith are of his spiritual household.

In fairness, I do concede to a measure of blessing and set-apartness of children belonging to believing parents, in much the same way that non-believing spouses of believers are likewise "sanctified". But where covenant inclusion is concerned, I see it as the "birthright" of those who have closed with Christ through faith.
 
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