Simple question for my paedo brethren

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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Call me clueless . . . but it FINALLY hit me after all of these Baptism threads, that the issue that separates paedos from most credos MIGHT have more to do with ecclesiology than sacramentology. Duh! For you on the other side, this may be patent and obvious to you. But, believe me that an intelligent credo would seldom have reason to see it that way. We were hammered to believe that credo baptism is self evident and obvious in the Bible. Anything else partakes of Romanism or liberal Protestantism we were told. Except for the few Reformed Baptists, the CT implications are left unexplored.

Some of you have become quite exercised bringing up the emotional arguments regarding treating covenant children like "vipers in diapers" or "playpen pagans" in the baptism threads, notions that sounded quite foreign to me. While it may be a logical inconsistency in Baptist thinking, most Baptists I know neither frame it that way nor even contemplate such implications regarding their kids.

Today, listening to a MP3 on infant baptism it finally hit me. Paedos see baptism as an outgrowth of the covenant structure to scripture. Of course baptism is viewed as the sign and seal of the New Covenant (just as circumcision was the sign and seal of the Old Covenant). What I was missing, however, was the inner logic of the CT position. Since having the covenant sign did not necessarily make you a member of True Israel neither does baptism necessarily apply only to true believers (there is that promise to "you and to your children"). Ta da!

Most of us crredos, however, are stuck on the idea that the church is ONLY to be a regenerate membership, not a combination of saved and unsaved peoples. Unbelievers in the church may be a reality, but it would never be assumed the way it is when using the comparison to the OT covenant. The old Baptist saw is "a regenerate membership safeguarded by believer's baptism."

My guess is that credo baptism was adopted as a way of applying "regenerate membership" ecclesiology rather than coming from an inductive study of the Bible and who should be baptized (it certainly did not grow out of a deep understanding of covenant). The deeper goal was not to restrict who you baptized, but to insure that the composition of the visible church comes as close to being coextensive with the number of the elect as possible. Then, when Arminianism swamped the Baptist boat in the 19th and 20th centuries, the democratic emphasis upon volunterism and "choosing" to become a Christian took center stage. Here, believer's baptism made even more sense. If becoming a Christian was simply a matter of choosing, then baptism for "choosers" (aka believers) should be obvious. (This does not, however, explain why Methodists practice infant baptism!)

Maybe my bow tie is on too tight this afternoon and my theological acumen has gone out the window. However, here is my question: do you paedo brethren think that the deeper problem with the credo position is the tendency in most Baptist circles to operate out of a flawed notion of the proper composition of the visible church with the sacramentological implications following? In other words, where is the "real" rub, with the proper candidates for baptism or with the ecclesiological understanding of the church as made up only of regenerate persons?

I now think I can see why paedos believe that their children should be baptized. Now it makes sense to me! And, it makes even more sense why some of you get so ticked off at the credo position, believing that it implies terrible things about our (and your) children and their spiritual state.

Does this line of thought seem to fairly represent what is at stake? If so, my efforts at understanding this subject will require me to dig deeply into the nature of the church and its proper biblical composition rather than merely the arguments for and against infant baptism.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
WooHooo!!

Paridigm shift ahead.
:D

Ditto.



And, Dennis, I think that you have put out a very accurate summary analysis regarding that issue. Ecclesiology is the root of the argument indeed. Enjoy your reading :)
 

Casey

Puritan Board Junior
Great post, thanks. :) Interesting point how Arminianism and "decision-ism" further validated the credo position for Baptists as a historical development.

Yes, the doctrine of the invisible/visible church along with the continuity of the one covenant of grace (from the Old into the New Testament) is at the center of the issue, it seems to me. Different language for the same thing: Ecclesiology and continuity.
 

skellam

Puritan Board Freshman
I think you're summary is accurate as well and reflects how I came to my position several years ago. I think I really became convinced on paedobaptism when I started to really think about the implications of covenantal theology on baptism. When I realized that God was working with his people through covenants and considered how those covenants are applied to the visible church in the new testament era, it came together for me.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The continuity of "covenant community" from the Old Testament to the New Testament is parallel because not all circumcisized were truly saved. God dealt specially within the covenant community (not guaranteeing every member salvation) but by offering the ordinary means of grace there.

Also, remember that nonbelievers (gentiles) were baptized to get into "Israel" in the Old Testament. The continuity of this throughout all of Scripture, one continuous plan of God has helped me understand infant baptism in context better.

Further, remember that churches that baptize infants also baptize adults by profession of faith. The "signs and seal" ordinance of baptism has more than one aspect, sealing promises to "you and your children" (Acts 2:39).
 

Presbyterian Deacon

Puritan Board Graduate
WooHooo!!

Paridigm shift ahead.
:D

Ditto.



And, Dennis, I think that you have put out a very accurate summary analysis regarding that issue. Ecclesiology is the root of the argument indeed. Enjoy your reading :)


Yes! Ecclessiology and the nature of the covenant. Who is in the covenant? And how does one become part of the covenant?

Certainly the Old Testament pattern of "circumcision and indentification with the covenant body" seen in Israel is more than a type and shadow of the New Covenant. In the new covenant, circumcision is replace by baptism and the infants of believers are included in the covenant body-- as were the infants of Israel of old.

There is one church. One people of God in all ages! The church extends from the beginning to the end of time.

Charles Hodge said:

This is really the turning point of the controversy concerning infant church membership. If the church is one under both dispensations: if infants were members of the church under the theocracy, then they are members of the church now, unless the contrary can be proved.

(Hodge, Systematic Theology, III:555).
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
[...]

Does this line of thought seem to fairly represent what is at stake? If so, my efforts at understanding this subject will require me to dig deeply into the nature of the church and its proper biblical composition rather than merely the arguments for and against infant baptism.

Bingo!

:ditto: the paradigm shift post above.

The threats of God we find in the NT directed at BELIEVERS, namely in Hebrews, is a huge indication of the biblical composition of the church.
 

Seb

Puritan Board Junior
What I was missing, however, was the inner logic of the CT position. Since having the covenant sign did not necessarily make you a member of True Israel neither does baptism necessarily apply only to true believers
[...]
Paedos see baptism as an outgrowth of the covenant structure to scripture.

Dennis,

When I saw this for the first time on my way from credo to paedo I wanted to tear out the page in my Bible that said "New Testament", because I finally began to see Scripture as God's continual story of redemption, and it was unfolding from beginning to end, and not taking some drastic unrevealed change about two-thirds of the way through.

For me, a lot of Scripture that I had viewed as disconnected began to interlock, fall into place, and make more sense.
 
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rmdmphilosopher

Puritan Board Freshman
When I saw this for the first time on my way from credo to paedo I wanted to tear out the page in my Bible that said "New Testament", because I finally began to see Scripture as God's continual story of redemption, and it was unfolding from beginning to end, and not taking some drastic unrevealed change about two-thirds of the way through.

Yes! This is how I felt as well. I just recently (within the last three months) became of the paedo persuasion, mainly through my encounter with Biblical Theology and all the thoughts that came crowding into my head about the marvelous continuity in the tight-weave of Scripture.

I prize and cherish my paedo convictions these days--a dangerous thing among my predominantly RB friends--as the badge of a firm belief in and a growing understanding of the main thrust of Scripture.

Congratulations, Dennis, on penetrating to the heart of the matter!
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Don't congratulate me too much yet. I'm a Baptist of more than a half century vintage. Don't bet the farm on a "paradigm shift" before its time. Unfortunately, we all tend to assume many of our childhood beliefs and protect them with cartoonish caricatures of our opponents positions. Listening to the program Steve Kellam recommended was an epiphany for me. Finally (31 years after seminary graduation), I got the logic of the paedo position.

Several issues are nibbling at the corners of my brain . . .

1. The paedo interpretation makes sense of Jesus' baptism (to fulfill all righteousness), the warnings in Heb 6, 10, and meaning of parables (e.g., the Dragnet) better than I had thought possible.

Steve Butts captures the sense when he writes:
For me, a lot of Scripture that I had viewed as disconnected began to interlock, fall into place, and make more sense.

2. As a Calvinist you have only two viable alternatives: Dispensationalism (e.g., MacArthur) or Amillennialism/Postmillennialism. Once you see a blurring of the distinction between Israel and the Church in the NT and begin to interpret the OT in light of the NT, Amillennialism (or Postmillennialism) becomes almost inevitable. And, if you begin to look at the Bible in terms of continuities rather than discontinuities, infant baptism would seem to be the most logical conclusion.

3. New insights into theology may be correct, however, the burden falls upon the one with the novel view not the one holding the traditional postion. The church followed infant bapism for nearly 1,600 years before those of us Baptists "discovered" credo baptism and regenerate membership. Shouldn't we bear the burden of explaining why our view is more biblical?
 
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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
2. As a Calvinist you have only two viable alternatives: Dispensationalism (e.g., MacArthur) or Amillennialism/Postmillennialism. Once you see a blurring of the distinction between Israel and the Church in the NT and begin to interpret the OT in light of the NT, Amillennialism (or Postmillennialism) becomes almost inevitable.

While not trying to make a case for or against it, or its strengths or weakeness compared to other views, my understanding is you could also have an historical premillennial view within the "doctrines of grace." A few of the Westminster Divines held what we might call an historic premillennial view.
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
I came to the Reformed faith only about 7 years ago and the paedobaptism domino fell very early and without much pushing. To me, it does no harm to include infants just as they were included in the OT, and just as Jesus seemed to include them during His ministry. Either Jesus did a very "Arminian" thing by loving the sinner, but hating their sin, or He counted them as part of the church by virtue of their believing parents bringing them to Him. He didn't give the same latitude with others, that's for sure.

Now, to some opposed, paedobaptism seems to run contrary to other tenets like the regulative principal. This is the reason that the link between the OT and NT is crucial. If we see God give a positive command to include children in the OT, and we do not see that abrogated in the NT, then there is no reason to conclude that infant baptism is forbidden.

The other indicator is that there is no sanction against the eldership for baptizing anyone who is an unbeliever.

That, and household baptisms swung the gate around for me. But then, I did not have to decide the matter while having infants to be baptized.

In the end, it wasn't a struggle for me. I guess I'd rather defer to centuries of Christian practice and the good and necessary consequence of inference by my forebears.

In Christ,

KC
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
2. As a Calvinist you have only two viable alternatives: Dispensationalism (e.g., MacArthur) or Amillennialism/Postmillennialism. Once you see a blurring of the distinction between Israel and the Church in the NT and begin to interpret the OT in light of the NT, Amillennialism (or Postmillennialism) becomes almost inevitable.

While not trying to make a case for or against it, or its strengths or weakeness compared to other views, my understanding is you could also have an historical premillennial view within the "doctrines of grace." A few of the Westminster Divines held what we might call an historic premillennial view.

Yes, Scott, I have been historic premil and learned it from my prof, George Ladd in seminary. However, once you concede that Israel and the Church are not as sharply delineated as the dispensationalists contend, you also find that the amil arguments make a lot of sense. Rev. 20 becomes a kind of odd intrusion into the picture. People like Ladd and Moo sort of posit a millennium only because of a handful of verses in Revelation without being able to deal with it very well.

But, after I began surrendering to the relentless logic of amil, it made me reconsider the similarly strong tendency of covenant theology to produce paedo baptist understandings.
 

Dawie

Puritan Board Freshman
Call me clueless . . . but it FINALLY hit me after all of these Baptism threads, that the issue that separates paedos from most credos MIGHT have more to do with ecclesiology than sacramentology. Duh! For you on the other side, this may be patent and obvious to you. But, believe me that an intelligent credo would seldom have reason to see it that way. We were hammered to believe that credo baptism is self evident and obvious in the Bible. Anything else partakes of Romanism or liberal Protestantism we were told. Except for the few Reformed Baptists, the CT implications are left unexplored.

Some of you have become quite exercised bringing up the emotional arguments regarding treating covenant children like "vipers in diapers" or "playpen pagans" in the baptism threads, notions that sounded quite foreign to me. While it may be a logical inconsistency in Baptist thinking, most Baptists I know neither frame it that way nor even contemplate such implications regarding their kids.

Today, listening to a MP3 on infant baptism it finally hit me. Paedos see baptism as an outgrowth of the covenant structure to scripture. Of course baptism is viewed as the sign and seal of the New Covenant (just as circumcision was the sign and seal of the Old Covenant). What I was missing, however, was the inner logic of the CT position. Since having the covenant sign did not necessarily make you a member of True Israel neither does baptism necessarily apply only to true believers (there is that promise to "you and to your children"). Ta da!

Most of us crredos, however, are stuck on the idea that the church is ONLY to be a regenerate membership, not a combination of saved and unsaved peoples. Unbelievers in the church may be a reality, but it would never be assumed the way it is when using the comparison to the OT covenant. The old Baptist saw is "a regenerate membership safeguarded by believer's baptism."

My guess is that credo baptism was adopted as a way of applying "regenerate membership" ecclesiology rather than coming from an inductive study of the Bible and who should be baptized (it certainly did not grow out of a deep understanding of covenant). The deeper goal was not to restrict who you baptized, but to insure that the composition of the visible church comes as close to being coextensive with the number of the elect as possible. Then, when Arminianism swamped the Baptist boat in the 19th and 20th centuries, the democratic emphasis upon volunterism and "choosing" to become a Christian took center stage. Here, believer's baptism made even more sense. If becoming a Christian was simply a matter of choosing, then baptism for "choosers" (aka believers) should be obvious. (This does not, however, explain why Methodists practice infant baptism!)

Maybe my bow tie is on too tight this afternoon and my theological acumen has gone out the window. However, here is my question: do you paedo brethren think that the deeper problem with the credo position is the tendency in most Baptist circles to operate out of a flawed notion of the proper composition of the visible church with the sacramentological implications following? In other words, where is the "real" rub, with the proper candidates for baptism or with the ecclesiological understanding of the church as made up only of regenerate persons?

I now think I can see why paedos believe that their children should be baptized. Now it makes sense to me! And, it makes even more sense why some of you get so ticked off at the credo position, believing that it implies terrible things about our (and your) children and their spiritual state.

Does this line of thought seem to fairly represent what is at stake? If so, my efforts at understanding this subject will require me to dig deeply into the nature of the church and its proper biblical composition rather than merely the arguments for and against infant baptism.

In the OT Israel was the type of the elect in eternity.

In the NT it's the church.

The type for regeneration in the OT and NT are different (circumcision and baptism), but refer to the same work of God. (The types also express different aspects of that work).

This is what the Jews don't understand - they were merely a type of God's true people. They took it as the real thing though.

That type is now exercised by the Church - which many churchmembers likewise don't get - it's still the same problem.

As there were many circumcised but unsaved Jews, so church members. They only carry the type on them, but not the work in them.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Dennis, see my post on the covenant faithfulness thread. Even though I am there arguing against a completely objective understanding of the covenant of grace, the issues of covenant and ecclesiology are at the forefront. I do think you are on the right track with the discussion of ecclesiology and the covenant. It is where those two intersect that the nub of the issue lies. One could put it this way: what is the status of the children of believers with regard to the covenant? Are they part of the church? And here is where the visible/invisible distinction is so incredibly crucial. The issues of continuity and discontinuity between the NT and the OT factor in crucially here as well. If there is any sense in which we can say that the church is continuous with Israel, then there seems to me to be a strong case for viewing children the same way the OT church viewed children: part of the visible church, and possibly part of the invisible church (we cannot always discern fruit, but then we can't always with adults either). Galatians 3 needs to be one of the texts that you dive into with excruciating detail on this, particularly what the text means when it says that those of faith are the sons of Abraham. It seems to me that the Baptist position will usually interpret this in a somewhat truncated sense that only those who actually believe are the sons of Abraham. The Presbyterian position will usually say that the covenant underlies the whole discussion. It is not merely that believers are the true heirs of Abraham, but that Christ is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant (read fulfillment not as an ending of the covenant, but as the full flowering of the covenant). In other words the new covenant is the full flowering in Christ of the Abrahamic covenant. If that is so, then the privileges of children are probably not less than the Abrahamic covenant but more.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
By the way, I think the parable of the wheat and the tares does not help us in the question of the makeup of the church, since the text says that the field is the world, not the church. However, the parable of the dragnet (Mt 13:47-50) does say that the visible church has a membership made up of regenerate and unregenerate. And there it is said that it God's job to do the sorting. I wonder if the Baptist mentality has taken too much on itself in trying to do the sorting ahead of time.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
A Caution

I have thought a bit about the "paradigm shift" post in this thread, and it leads me to issue a moderator's caution. What I hear Dennis saying is not "I believe the paedo position now," but "I see where the paedo position is coming from, and, given its starting points, the conclusions logically follow." This is not the same thing as accepting the starting points. I know Dennis well enough to know that he will not be convinced by someone cheerleading him into the paedo position. If Al Mohler were a part of the PB and was reconsidering his position on baptism, and was saying the same things as Dennis, would anyone really be justified in saying to him excitedly, in effect, "Now your eyes are opening!" Dennis has been a credo for a good long while, and he has held to it because he felt that it was the biblical position. I sincerely hope that no patronizing was intended by the "paradigm shift" comment, and certainly no infraction will be given. Nevertheless, we must be careful of assuming that someone is further towards the paedo position (or in the opposite case towards the credo position) than he actually is. Much more edifying comments would be along the lines of careful biblical exegesis.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
I have thought a bit about the "paradigm shift" post in this thread, and it leads me to issue a moderator's caution. What I hear Dennis saying is not "I believe the paedo position now," but "I see where the paedo position is coming from, and, given its starting points, the conclusions logically follow." This is not the same thing as accepting the starting points. I know Dennis well enough to know that he will not be convinced by someone cheerleading him into the paedo position. If Al Mohler were a part of the PB and was reconsidering his position on baptism, and was saying the same things as Dennis, would anyone really be justified in saying to him excitedly, in effect, "Now your eyes are opening!" Dennis has been a credo for a good long while, and he has held to it because he felt that it was the biblical position. I sincerely hope that no patronizing was intended by the "paradigm shift" comment, and certainly no infraction will be given. Nevertheless, we must be careful of assuming that someone is further towards the paedo position (or in the opposite case towards the credo position) than he actually is. Much more edifying comments would be along the lines of careful biblical exegesis.


To think that you would actually need to issue a moderator's caution for those comments is the only post that I see to be patronizing here, brother. Give me an infraction if you want for that comment, but otherwise find something more helpful to do than wag your finger at brothers who are giving some playful words of encouragement to another. Dennis is a big boy whom, I am sure, can stand up for himself if need be. Edifying comments and the basic living of the Christian life goes much further than having your head stuck in a stack of commentaries all day long.

:oops:
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Very well stated Dennis. A few thoughts.

1. I agree that the Credo position often seems to be more of an outgrowth of a desire for a regenerate Church membership and then it tries to back into a Covenantal framework to fit it. I've repeatedly noted that you cannot move from an ideal New Covenant membership to the baptism of an individual because the elect are not infallibly identifiable.

2. Interestingly, Hebrews is the Book many Baptists dwell in for the above view but I think Hebrews, of all books, is most critical of Baptistic understandings of discipleship. My problem isn't merely what a Baptist thinks about infants but about "regenerate" Church members. I think Hebrews is a perfect book, properly understood, that would indicate completely the opposite and that the Church's ministry is for us to fear together and remind people that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God and that all should be pressing in to believe in Christ. Viewed properly, we ought to expect that the Gospel preached every Sunday is not merely for the building up of the Saints but the conversion of some Saints who have formerly professed but never really believed. But if you're no longer telling your neighbor: "Know the Lord" then how can this be? Even in an SBC Church where Reformed theology is not firmly ensconced you see an assumption that the baptized are already regenerate.

3. On that note, then, the biggest issue I have with treating infants as a special class of "viper", it assumes too much about both the infant and the person making the impious claim. I would say to the man calling the baptized infant a viper to fear lest he too be found to be unbelieving. The confidence that some decree concerning the election of their baptized professors undermines exactly what I noted in 2. and this unhealthy view of discipleship is undergirded by their gross over-confidence to be able to call the child of a believer a viper until they profess. What knowledge have they gained before or after the profession that permits them to know the mind of God concerning the child within Church walls? I'm bothered by the spiritual attitude it breeds that some people develop because they just become accustomed to thinking this way without really evaluating whether or not they have any warrant to assume the status of any man, woman, or child.

In short, at the core of this distinction between the invisible and visible Church is the distinction between the decree of God and His revealed Word. It is the distinction between the Covenant of Redemption and the Covenant of Grace. I believe the Reformed Baptist starts out with a proper understanding (generally) of the benefits of union with Christ but, in the process of trying to identify who those are, actually tries to turn the Church into the administrators of the CoR when they are called to administrate the CoG. When men then violate God's command that the hidden things belong to Him, they actually undermine and damage the administration of the CoG.
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
2. Interestingly, Hebrews is the Book many Baptists dwell in for the above view but I think Hebrews, of all books, is most critical of Baptistic understandings of discipleship. My problem isn't merely what a Baptist thinks about infants but about "regenerate" Church members. I think Hebrews is a perfect book, properly understood, that would indicate completely the opposite and that the Church's ministry is for us to fear together and remind people that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God and that all should be pressing in to believe in Christ. Viewed properly, we ought to expect that the Gospel preached every Sunday is not merely for the building up of the Saints but the conversion of some Saints who have formerly professed but never really believed. But if you're no longer telling your neighbor: "Know the Lord" then how can this be? Even in an SBC Church where Reformed theology is not firmly ensconced you see an assumption that the baptized are already regenerate.

:ditto:

I've always wondered how Baptists can use Hebrews to support their claims, when it seems to very clearly support Covenant Theology, and by extension, paedobaptism as well...
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
2. As a Calvinist you have only two viable alternatives: Dispensationalism (e.g., MacArthur) or Amillennialism/Postmillennialism. Once you see a blurring of the distinction between Israel and the Church in the NT and begin to interpret the OT in light of the NT, Amillennialism (or Postmillennialism) becomes almost inevitable.

While not trying to make a case for or against it, or its strengths or weakeness compared to other views, my understanding is you could also have an historical premillennial view within the "doctrines of grace." A few of the Westminster Divines held what we might call an historic premillennial view.

Yes, Scott, I have been historic premil and learned it from my prof, George Ladd in seminary. However, once you concede that Israel and the Church are not as sharply delineated as the dispensationalists contend, you also find that the amil arguments make a lot of sense. Rev. 20 becomes a kind of odd intrusion into the picture. People like Ladd and Moo sort of posit a millennium only because of a handful of verses in Revelation without being able to deal with it very well.

But, after I began surrendering to the relentless logic of amil, it made me reconsider the similarly strong tendency of covenant theology to produce paedo baptist understandings.

You're ahead of me in understanding the millennial views, especially in relation to covenant theology.

I just didn't want you to think if you do find infant baptism consistent with covenant theology and all the implications flowing from that that you would necessarily have to restrict yourself to that in eschatology.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
By the way, I think the parable of the wheat and the tares does not help us in the question of the makeup of the church, since the text says that the field is the world, not the church. However, the parable of the dragnet (Mt 13:47-50) does say that the visible church has a membership made up of regenerate and unregenerate. And there it is said that it God's job to do the sorting. I wonder if the Baptist mentality has taken too much on itself in trying to do the sorting ahead of time.

Yes, I misspoke and realized it as soon as it was written. However, with a busy day, I did not go back and make a change. Thanks, Lane.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
I just didn't want you to think if you do find infant baptism consistent with covenant theology and all the implications flowing from that that you would necessarily have to restrict yourself to that in eschatology.

Actually the order was reversed. As an historic premil, I had already surrendered most of the reasons for believing in a millennium within history. Riddlebarger, writing as a former dispensationalist, knew exactly how to deal with the awkward aspects of the notion so as to lead the premil to a more consistent position.

It was after seeing the logic of amillennialism that I recognized the implications for how covenant theology would impact the baptism issue. However, fellow credos be of good cheer. Despite the good natured razzing by the paedos about an impending "paradigm shift" (the posts made me laugh, no I don't take myself too seriously), Lane accurately assessed my intent was to ask questions.

Yes, believe it or not, after 33 years of ministry (22 of those in the pastorate), this was my first time of "hearing" the paedo argument with any degree of sympathy. As I have explained elsewhere, when you attend a caffeteria seminary rather than a Westminster, Dallas, or Asbury, you learn to temporize differentiating doctrines that separate evangelicals. Rather than dealing with them in detail, you tend to ignore them ("can't we just get along?"). Yes, any seminary educated person can spout off the key arguments for or against any doctrinal position, replete with textual support, and even bibliography. That is, however, a far cry from hearing the force of the argument. And, if you were raised to believe that an issue was self-evident, there is often little practical reason to bother thinking about it much at all.

Also recognize that generally, I have been a rather stable person theologically. My positions and core beliefs have not moved much at all since college. However, the existential angst of leaving a denomination that was home for more than five decades opened my mind to reconsiderations of a number of things. Incidentally, if I were ever overestimating the norming and regulative value of confessionalism, Lane's post about the recent ordination of the problematic candidate would be enough to disabuse me of utopian fantasies.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Very well stated Dennis. A few thoughts.

1. I agree that the Credo position often seems to be more of an outgrowth of a desire for a regenerate Church membership and then it tries to back into a Covenantal framework to fit it. I've repeatedly noted that you cannot move from an ideal New Covenant membership to the baptism of an individual because the elect are not infallibly identifiable.

2. Interestingly, Hebrews is the Book many Baptists dwell in for the above view but I think Hebrews, of all books, is most critical of Baptistic understandings of discipleship. My problem isn't merely what a Baptist thinks about infants but about "regenerate" Church members. I think Hebrews is a perfect book, properly understood, that would indicate completely the opposite and that the Church's ministry is for us to fear together and remind people that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God and that all should be pressing in to believe in Christ. Viewed properly, we ought to expect that the Gospel preached every Sunday is not merely for the building up of the Saints but the conversion of some Saints who have formerly professed but never really believed. But if you're no longer telling your neighbor: "Know the Lord" then how can this be? Even in an SBC Church where Reformed theology is not firmly ensconced you see an assumption that the baptized are already regenerate.

3. On that note, then, the biggest issue I have with treating infants as a special class of "viper", it assumes too much about both the infant and the person making the impious claim. I would say to the man calling the baptized infant a viper to fear lest he too be found to be unbelieving. The confidence that some decree concerning the election of their baptized professors undermines exactly what I noted in 2. and this unhealthy view of discipleship is undergirded by their gross over-confidence to be able to call the child of a believer a viper until they profess. What knowledge have they gained before or after the profession that permits them to know the mind of God concerning the child within Church walls? I'm bothered by the spiritual attitude it breeds that some people develop because they just become accustomed to thinking this way without really evaluating whether or not they have any warrant to assume the status of any man, woman, or child.

In short, at the core of this distinction between the invisible and visible Church is the distinction between the decree of God and His revealed Word. It is the distinction between the Covenant of Redemption and the Covenant of Grace. I believe the Reformed Baptist starts out with a proper understanding (generally) of the benefits of union with Christ but, in the process of trying to identify who those are, actually tries to turn the Church into the administrators of the CoR when they are called to administrate the CoG. When men then violate God's command that the hidden things belong to Him, they actually undermine and damage the administration of the CoG.

Rich, my apologies! When you were writing all of those posts about Hebrews a few months ago, I found myself scratching my head and wondering how you saw this impacting the issue of baptism. But, wow, Hebrews makes a whole lot more sense under the paedo explanation! Regardless of whether it is true or not, the explanation is far more satisfying than the one I have been using with people over the years.
 

JoelYrick

Puritan Board Freshman
Dennis, I am wondering if you have had time to look again at 1 Corinthians 7:12-14 through a paedo perspective to see how we handle the passage in comparison to the credo perspective after the "paradigm shift." I found at my time at SBTS that generally there was a view that the passage was unclear so you just have to consider it through other passages (which is fine). Of course, I didn't ever find much of an interpretation after that which was satisfying. That is, until considering a paedo position. It's an interesting passage because I do think the question of ecclesiology comes first and baptism through it.

Thanks!
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Wow, this is a good thread!

Rich, I am amazed at how God works. I was looking at that very passage, Hebrews 10:31, this afternoon. As I read through this thread, I was thinking of that very passage when what do you know, you brought it up, and it clarified a few things for me. Thanks!

Dennis, I went through that same line of thinking in your OP when I went from credo to paedo years ago. It was one of my first steps into reformed theology.
 

turmeric

Megerator
With a covenantal/paedo filter, the book of Hebrews and the warning passages in it lose the slant that Arminians want to give them. Time for a re-read!
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Oh my, another "epiphany"???

I have been listening to the White/Shisko debate on baptism. Again, remember that as a credo, I knew the outline of the arguments on both sides but never engaged in thinking about them much (most Protestant evangelicals are reflexively credo, it dovetails nicely with American notions of voluntarism and democracy). BTW, if you listen to it, skip the free version on Monergism (it is missing 25 minutes of crucial material) and fork out the $4.50 for the whole thing on White's web site.

Hearing Pastor Shishko's closing argument nearly brought me to tears. So THAT is what Rich was talking about when he kept "harping" on "covenant children"? Ah ha! [Lights, bells, whistles going off amid fireworks].

My question (or at least the lead up to it):

Practically speaking, Baptist parents do all of the same "things" paedo parents do for their children (e.g., including Sunday School, family prayer, VBS, Christian books, DVDs, etc.). When you all were fussing over the issue a few weeks ago, my indignation was aroused at the bad rep the Baptists were getting. It just seemed uncomprehending of the ethos of a Baptist church or the way parents actually carry out their divine duties.

However, now that I have heard Shishko's closing (cut #9 on the Aomin.org restored version), it seems to me that paedo baptists may "do" the same things as credo baptist parents, but it would appear that the issue of children is part and parcel of the paedo covenantal theology in a way that it will never be for a credo baptist. In other words, because of the stress on continuity between the testaments, covenantal structure, and the notion of children as part of the New Covenant in an organic way, the whole "approach" to kids is profoundly different. Is that why one of our PB folks complained about Baptists viewing their children as "vipers in diapers"?

As a Baptist pastor, I brought my kids to church, taught them to pray, led in prayers before meals, made sure that they were invovled in everything the church did. And, enjoyed officiating at the baptism of 4 of them myself (during my years of pastoral ministry) when they were between 7 and 9 years old. And, functionally 4 of the 5 turned out GREAT (and one OK). However, I had to rely on "invented" age of accountability teaching and baby dedication (found in . . . Hezekiah 3:16 wasn't it?) to deal with how they could be sort of "part" of things without professing faith and repentance.

The paedo understanding, as Shishko articulated it, engages in covenantal continuation with the OT pattern of children being included in the covenant with all of the blessings appertaining thereunto, without professing that any empirical child is actually elect. Indeed, how can it be an argument against infant baptism that paedos baptize unelect persons when honest credos will admit to having done the same thing?

Honestly, I want to dig into Malone's revised book on the baptism of disciples only, Covenant Children Today and Nehemiah Coxe's book Covenant Theology From Adam to Christ before coming to any firm conclusions. However, WOW was Shishko good in laying out the "case" and capturing the ethos of the paedo view!
 
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