Still struggling with paedobaptism!

Discussion in 'Baptism' started by ChananBachiyr, Dec 3, 2016.

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  1. ChananBachiyr

    ChananBachiyr Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello all, I was hoping for some continued assistance.
    I'm still really struggling with the idea of paedobaptism... I've been studying Covenant Theology for weeks and I get it, but I still can't understand that connect for the paedo position.

    I believe that if a doctrine is to be adopted, it should be able to withstand scrutiny and testing, which is what I've been doing, trying to come to a conclusion.

    There's an article here, and I'm not saying I agree with everything in the article, but I am saying that this particular quote makes perfect sense to me:
    "To summarize, the Christian’s circumcision is that union with Christ’s death and resurrection, symbolized by baptism, which is evidenced by outward faith. Verses 13-14 also correlate this view by defining those who have received the "circumcision" as those who have actually experienced the New Birth and blotting out of sins. This new life of faith is the New Covenant heart-circumcision "by the circumcision of Christ" which fulfills the type of Old Covenant circumcision. Only these people were "buried with Christ in baptism" in this passage because their hearts had been circumcised. Their water baptism symbolized their prior spiritual baptism. The great inconsistency of some covenant paedobaptists is that they will consider union with Christ in baptism in Rom.6:3-4 as a secondary reference to water baptism and count it primarily a reference to the New Birth. Yet, they will use the same concept of union with Christ in baptism in Col.2:11-12 as a primary reference to water baptism’s relation to circumcision instead of its clear intention of relating circumcision to regeneration. My conclusion is that Paul defined the circumcision of Christians in Col.2:9-11 as primarily union with Christ by faith, secondarily symbolized in their water baptism, as in Rom.6:3-4 and Gal.3:29. What then is the counterpart of the Old Covenant sign and seal of circumcision in the New Covenant? I believe the Scriptures define it to be the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit exhibited in faith . . . Therefore, as circumcision (the shadow) was the sign and seal of entrance into the Abrahamic Covenant, so regeneration (the form) is the sign and seal of entrance into the New Covenant (Eph.1:13-14; Jn.3:5-6). Baptism is then the indirect counterpart of physical circumcision only through its association with the direct counterpart, spiritual circumcision. This is why we only see confessor’s baptism in the New Testament record. It was easy to know who entered the Abrahamic Covenant, they were born into the household and were outwardly circumcised. But how can you tell if one has entered the New Covenant and had experienced spiritual circumcision? Only by their repentance and faith, outwardly signified by the outward sign of fulfilled circumcision and cleansing water baptism . . . Water baptism is then the outward sign of the inward circumcision of the heart rather than the outward counterpart of the outward circumcision of the flesh. Just as Abraham’s "seed" initially entered the covenant by physical circumcision and confirmed it by spiritual circumcision, his New Covenant "seed" initially enter the covenant by spiritual circumcision and confirm it by baptism. The physical descendants of Abraham’s New Covenant "seed" are not to be permitted the sign of baptism until they also become the spiritual "seed" of Abraham ("A String of Pearls Unstrung," by Fred Malone, pp.13-14)."

    That makes perfect sense to me!

    What do you guys make of this?
    Can I be helped?
    Is it possible to fellowship with and attend a presbyterian church if I don't hold to paedobaptism?

    Thank you all for your patience and help.
  2. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

  3. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Hello Daniel,

    I've written a good bit on paedobaptism vis-à-vis believer's baptism in the threads listed below. Maybe they can help with some of the nuances involved, and clear things up a little. Feel free to ask any questions you wish.

    The gospel, infants, imbeciles, and election

    (five posts in this thread, showing the Lord can savingly quicken an infant)

    John 1:12-13 & baptism revisited thread (A response to Dr. Bob)

    This thread (started by someone else) went to 7 pages!
    Why I am now a Baptist thread (11 posts in all, starting with):

    A couple of baptism questions thread (2 posts, starting with):
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member


    If you formulate a good question, I or someone can try and answer it. But the OP seems more like your personal declaration of agreement. And a dare to try and move you from it.

    I'm not sure if it was a previous question of yours, or someone else' recently--but I replied somewhere that paedobaptism is properly a conclusion. It's a stance that makes sense on the basis of a certain theology of baptism. It is a product of a method of interpreting Scripture.

    I think trying to understand paedobaptism from where you are coming from is simply going to leave you scratching your head, and frustrated.

    I get the sense that you are 1) attracted to particularities and resonances in the Presbyterian orbit; 2) Presbyterians typically use covenant-theology as a hermeneutical tool to get into Scripture; 3) infant baptism is often defended by Presbyterians by an appeal to covenant theology; ergo, 4) you have to "get" infant baptism" in order to "get" covenant theology in order to "get" Presbyterianism, and perhaps feel at home.

    Maybe infant baptism will be a block you can't get past. You can be a friend to Presbyterians (and join some Presbyterian churches) without or before embracing the concept. Mind you, there's no point joining a church if your attitude is "you can't teach me on certain subjects." For some folks, they listen submissively a long time but struggle to get it.

    But maybe it will not be something you "work" to understand; and one day it just seems like the most obvious conclusion. But for now, it's Fred Malone's position that is the "obvious conclusion" to you. Your post makes it sound like you want someone to "change your mind" with a refutation of FM. Either that, or else add weight to his paragraph and assure you that everything is copacetic with how you see things.

    I have no desire to debate FM, not even the proxy of his writing. I have no desire to force a change in your mind; that's the responsibility of the Holy Spirt. I don't like seeing a person anxious about his doctrine and practice, because he feels pressure to change to something he really doesn't understand. He says, "But all these others do," and so he bends but without conviction.

    That's a terrible move. Please don't make it. Don't try to force a change in your own mind (assuming you hope to).
  5. ChananBachiyr

    ChananBachiyr Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm still working on the reading suggested by Ray, I'm at work now so I can't sit down and read it all yet and I'll definitely check out those forums suggested by Steve.
    However, Rev. Buchanan, I'm trying my best to understand the paedo position because I'm coming from a baptist background, but there are no reformed baptist churches in our area. We've found a great ARP church just 30 minutes away that is a great fit for us, but I want to fully understand and if at all possible, be in agreement with the doctrines of a church before my wife and I join.

    I don't think I'm looking for someone to change my mind, at least that's not my conscious motive, I just want to understand so that my wife and I can settle into this new church, because I'm not sure they'll allow our membership otherwise, and I'm almost positive they won't let me serve.

    Maybe I just disagree and need to leave the issue alone and see if they'll allow us membership anyway, but I don't want to covenant with a church then break it when a reformed baptist church gets planted in the area...

    I'm just troubled... it's a big deal.
  6. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi Daniel,

    I certainly can sympathize with your situation. However, I agree with Rev. Buchanan. Like you, many of us have asked the same questions in the past and we have received valuable information and counsel on the topic of baptism. I've been a Reformed Baptist for some time now and I've been convinced that the only valid candidates for Christian Baptism are those who demonstrate some level of repentance and faith in Christ. With that said, just by reading my Bible on a daily basis, I don't believe believers baptism (as it is practiced among Baptist) is 100% accurate. For example, Fred Malone says:

    "What then is the counterpart of the Old Covenant sign and seal of circumcision in the New Covenant? I believe the Scriptures define it to be the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit exhibited in faith . . . Therefore, as circumcision (the shadow) was the sign and seal of entrance into the Abrahamic Covenant, so regeneration (the form) is the sign and seal of entrance into the New Covenant (Eph.1:13-14; Jn.3:5-6)."

    I'm not going to go to deep into the details here, but I believe there's problems with his conclusion. I don't think anyone disagree's with what he's saying on the surface. In my opinion, though, he fails to consider ALL of scripture, and the nature of "regeneration." Is he saying whoever was born under the Abrahamic Covenant were not regenerate? Not to mention "he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had..." (Romans 4:11). My question is why did God also require the sign to be given to the male children? These are the little details that Baptist never seem to deal with. Matthew 19:14, "...Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Brother, what does this mean to you? I've wrestled with this verse for years and every time I read it I struggle to come to grips with its FULL meaning. :confused:

    I'm not a paedobaptist, but I do think there's several problems with the Baptist view of the Church and baptism. You can't know for sure that anyone is truly regenerate. We have cases where Baptist preachers have preached regeneration for many years and they themselves were never regenerate. Who am I to say that a child who professes faith is not regenerate? Can a child not be a disciple, or another person that's apart of the church who needs to be discipled? All we can do is try our best to examine the fruits of the Spirit, and go from there. We shouldn't have unrealistic expectations for new believers. Sadly, (in my opinion) this is a problem in many conservative Baptist Churches. I'm not saying you or I should become Presbyterian, I'm simply saying you should exhaust every aspect of the topic until you're sure about what you believe. I've read many of the debates here on the board. Simply search the topic of baptism and I can assure you every aspect of the topic has been exhausted. Pray that the Lord gives you clarity as you read through them.

    Your brother, Tyrese
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    FM writes:

    Abraham's covenant: enter it physically, confirm it spiritually.
    New covenant: enter it spiritually, confirm it physically.​

    If you dispute the notion that Abraham's covenant is fundamentally physical, outward, and ritualistic; those inverse relations--where a physical baptism is made to correlate directly with heart circumcision--appear backward.

    I define:

    Abraham's covenant: entered spiritually, confirmed physically
    New covenant: entered spiritually, confirmed physically​

    We teach the nature of the covenant of grace is unchanged regardless of the era; wherefore Paul is justified in teaching present era (NT) spiritual truth using previous era (OT) categories and theological vocabulary of previous revelation.

    I say this trying to help you understand a different theology you're dealing with, matters contrary in certain respects from what you've heard until now. These are differences that begin with contrasting interpretive (hermeneutical) commitments.

    You're right. It IS a big deal. And I'd rather you were sympathetic and unchanged in your convictions, than switched up and vulnerable to fresh spiritual attacks.
  8. ChananBachiyr

    ChananBachiyr Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for those, Ray.
    The first one made some decent sense, but on the 2nd one he seems to be reaching awful far with the clothing of Adam & Eve. He also said that Galatians 3:27 means that we're clothed with baptism... which I don't agree with, I believe that's pointing to being clothed with the very righteousness of Christ.
    Also he said that baptism seals our/an infant's regeneration until death, to which I disagree again, I figured Scripture was pretty clear that the Holy Spirit is our seal or earnest "until the redemption on the purchased possession."
    After so many disagreements I had to quit hahaha!

    Regarding the mode, when I first started studying the subject, one of Dr. Joel Beeke's sermons helped me accept different modes other than submersion, so I didn't figure I needed to read the 3rd. :D

    I'm beginning to wonder if I'm psyching myself out over this... I hope not.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
  9. ChananBachiyr

    ChananBachiyr Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, Rev. Buchanan, I would agree with you on that: "enter spiritually, confirm physically."

    Please allow me to confirm:
    From a Presbyterian point of view, I bring my infant child to be baptized, not because I believe it will save him, although I pray daily that God would, by His sovereign grace and mercy grant my child faith and repentance through the preaching and teaching of the word that he'll undoubtedly hear and learn as I am obedient to God in raising Him in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
    I bring him to be baptized because as circumcision was given as a sign and seal of the covenant made to Abraham, in that God would be a God to him and to his descendants after him, which sign and seal was to be given to every male adult and child, even of the sojourner and slaves, those who ended up lost and others saved, that were with Israel; baptism being the parallel to circumcision, is the sign and seal of the new testament, which in like manner is commanded to be given to believing parent's children.

    Is this correct?
    Something still seems to be misfiring up top, if you know what I mean... maybe it's just because it's so different!?
    Maybe I still need to grasp the whole concept of being in covenant with God...
    You mentioned, Rev., that it's a "different theology," maybe that's why I'm stumped at the moment?
    God willing, I'll be speaking with the pastor today!
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
  10. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Hello Daniel,

    When Malone says, “It was easy to know who entered the Abrahamic Covenant, they were born into the household and were outwardly circumcised”, Paul differs:

    “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” (Rom 9:6-8)​

    Those are not counted children of Abraham, nor genuine members of the covenant with God, Paul says, who are but fleshly seed, but only the children of promise. Here he spoke not only of Ishmael, but all who are not of promise, that is, who are not of faith, and are sharply distinguished from those “who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised” (Rom 5:12).

    Even in the Old Covenant circumcision was counted uncircumcision when the heart was uncircumcised:

    Behold, the days come, saith the LORD,
    that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;
    Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab,
    and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness:
    for all these nations are uncircumcised,
    and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart (Jer 9:25, 26). ​

    Paul reiterates this in Romans 2,

    For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. . . For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God (Rom 2:25, 28, 29).​

    As was the case in my discussion with Dr. Bob (in the link above), he had proceeded with the same assumption, and which I answered as I have with you.
  11. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Well I'm Glad the first one helped. Keep immersing yourself ;)in Orthodox Reformed Theology. Be patient. Because this is no secondary issue.
  12. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    This thread gets at some of the differences in thinking between Baptists and Presbyterians:

    The issue is never whether the Covenant of Grace is made with Christ and, in Him, all the elect. This is confessed by the Westminster Standards. The issue is the meaning of baptism and whether we ever act in the Church according to election. Baptists tend to construct their ordinances around the myth that we can move from election to baptism in a direct line of thinking. They even speak of regenerate Church membership as if this is an achievable category.

    To be simplistic (and perhaps pejorative) paedobaptists leave the secret things to God and see the revealed things (to include the Sacraments) as a form of Divine condescension from the Creator so that creatures can be assured that they have interest in Christ and, in so having interest, can be assured of their election.
  13. ChananBachiyr

    ChananBachiyr Puritan Board Freshman

    Indeed... that line slid under my radar, I definitely have to side with the apostle Paul there.
    I think the hard thing for me to grasp in this the whole invisible and visible church thing and the truth that "God's people" have always been a mixed bag of lost and saved.
    I'm hung up on the lost being in covenant... I think.
  14. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Paul could speak of internal and external aspects of the covenant.
  15. Justified

    Justified Puritan Board Sophomore

    Indeed. "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel" (Rom. 9:6; see also Rom. 2:28). Notice the equivocation of the word Israel. Paul equivocates to bring out Israel's two-fold division: (1) Israel as it represents the visible, covenant community and (2) Israel which refers to the company of believers whose names are written in heaven and the book of life. The Church on earth is a corpus permixtum, a mixed body, this is the case because of its pre-eschatological or pilgrim nature. In the final day the Church will no longer be so, but will be pure, without blemish, as a bride adorned for her husband; there will be no more hypocrites in her midst. Methinks that Baptists have an over-realized eschatology.
  16. ChananBachiyr

    ChananBachiyr Puritan Board Freshman

    Wow, that's spot on.
    So infant baptism is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, which they are obviously in because they will be raised in the fear and admonition of the Lord with and all the details that come with that... ?
    And in the sacrament, I'm not only acknowledging God's covenant, but also covenanting myself to do as a godly father ought... trusting and praying for God's sovereign grace to be given to my child through the outworking of that covenant... yes?!
  17. Justified

    Justified Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, baptism is itself a sign and seal of the covenant of grace. They are in the CoG because they have been either born or adopted into a family who are themselves professing members of the visible, covenant community. They are then by consequence members of the visible church. This does not, however, guarantee their salvation. The Spirit goes whither he wills and saves those whom he says; this is a sublime mystery. Nevertheless, God has promised to be a God unto us and our children, and he is therefore generally speaking faithful along covenant lines. Wherefore, we pray for the salvation of our covenant children, at the same time understanding that the benefits of the covenant are bestowed according to the ineffable will of the sovereign Creator.
  18. ChananBachiyr

    ChananBachiyr Puritan Board Freshman

    I understand.
    So now I suppose the dispensational teaching of only believers in the "church" needs to be forgotten...
    Wow, lots of implications with that...

    Thanks, everyone for your help, I think some things need to sink in for a little while.
  19. Justified

    Justified Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would want to be fair to many of my baptist brothers. It is not really fair to call covenantal baptists dispensationalists. I do think part of the problem, however, is ecclesiological and eschatological; all of this, of course, depends on Scripture.
  20. ChananBachiyr

    ChananBachiyr Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, of course, but the teaching that separates the invisible church from the visible, is that not dispensational?

    As a side note, I was just reading on my break through Hebrews and read in chapter 2, verse 16 "For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham." God ministers to His people through the covenant of promise. This subject is starting to make much more sense...
  21. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    One of the drawbacks of successive revivals has been the concentration on individualism. Which distraction has undermined the biblical emphasis on the principle of covenant family unity. The bible speaks in terms of that He is "the God of families," and also He is "the God of generations". Thus you have about five NT references to household babtisms, so aligning itself with the OT Jewish emphasis on the family entity. In reference to an earlier quote about children, "for such IS the kingdom of heaven," it is worth noting that it's IS, not shall be. The kingdom of heaven is not restricted to the future but can be thought of as the Church, or His kingdom come amongst us.
  22. ChananBachiyr

    ChananBachiyr Puritan Board Freshman

    Wonderful insight, I've never thought of that verse in that way!
    I completely forgot to give him my thoughts on that verse... however, in light of a new understanding, my thoughts don't really matter lol. I'll have to read that passage again now, but that sounds interesting!
    Tyrese, I hope you're still following, what do you think about that interpretation?
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

  24. ChananBachiyr

    ChananBachiyr Puritan Board Freshman

    Ha! I don't know, I'm asking! :lol:
    I figured since dispensationalism seems to be all about separatism, that would fit into the category.
    Israel - Church, Law - Grace, OT - NT, Lost - Saved church seems to fit right in, which, to an extent, there is truth to it, right?? All Christians within the visible church aren't truly a part of the body of Christ (born again) just as all who are of Israel are not the "Israel of God."
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It's not. Dispensationalism teaches there are two different covenantal streams of promise, one for the Jew and one for the Goy. Nothing to do with inner and outer distinctions.
  26. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior


    You may find some of this helpful from Shishko. I've bolded some of the key sections, but the passage below is certainly worth the read as a whole.
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