Credo-Baptism Answers What Convinced You Credo-Baptist Position?

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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
To my Baptist brethren, let me ask,

What was/is it that most persuaded you that baptism is to be given only to professing believers?

Was this a struggle for you, or was it something you came to more easily?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I was saved at 18 and after reading the New Testament about 12 times through that summer it seemed, on the surface at least, that the pattern is to believe and then be baptized. I never really thought about the children.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I never really thought about the children.
Interesting. So, you have never struggled with whether infants of believers should be baptized? I ask because a lot of Reformed Baptists do. They begin reading a lot of paedobaptist authors and begin to think, "If they are right on so much, can they be wrong on this?"
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Interesting. So, you have never struggled with whether infants of believers should be baptized? I ask because a lot of Reformed Baptists do. They begin reading a lot of paedobaptist authors and begin to think, "If they are right on so much, can they be wrong on this?"
I am struggling with it now. But at first I just assumed credo-baptism because we never hear of a baby being baptized in the New Testament. I thought Presbyterians simply could not depart from Romish ritualism.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I am struggling with it now. But at first I just assumed credo-baptism because we never hear of a baby being baptized in the New Testament. I thought Presbyterians simply could not depart from Romish ritualism.
Then perhaps it would be fair to say you are not, at this point, a convinced credo-baptist. What is it, if anything, keeps you from embracing the peadobaptist position?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Then perhaps it would be fair to say you are not, at this point, a convinced credo-baptist. What is it, if anything, keeps you from embracing the peadobaptist position?
There is not a single example of an infant being baptized in the New Testament.

The pattern given of conversion is belief and then baptism as an outward sign of that internal change.

There is both continuity and discontinuity between the covenants. Paedobaptists stress the continuity too much; while Dispensationalists stress the discontinuity too much. Building a NT theology of baptism's mode and subject from the OT theology of circumcision is a wrong-headed approach, but is essentially what Presbyterians do. Instead we should focus on the NT examples and explanations (such as Romans 6:4).
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
While I would certainly disagree with the dispensationalists in their radical separation of the old and new covenants, there is still something that is indeed “new” (Hebrews 8:13).

In the Baptist view, what is new is that the covenant is no longer mixed, meaning that entrance to the covenant does not depend on an external sign, but on an internal change wrought by the Holy Spirit whereby we truly become his people and he truly becomes our God (Jeremiah 31:33).

In this sense, those who claim to be Christians and do Christian things, but who have not been truly converted, are in no sense “in” the covenant regardless of whether or not they have been baptized. Baptism, in the Baptist view, is simply meant to be a proclamation of what has already occurred. If a person has genuinely been justified and regenerated, it is a beautiful sign indeed. If not, then they merely got wet.

One of the problems I have with the Presbyterian/Reformed doctrine of paedobaptism is that it seems to be a doctrine devised to justify a practice well after the fact. If we could somehow go back in time to the year 500 AD, and we were to ask the local priest why he baptized infants, I am fairly certain he would not articulate anything even close to the reformed doctrine of paedobaptism.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
To my Baptist brethren, let me ask,

What was/is it that most persuaded you that baptism is to be given only to professing believers?

Was this a struggle for you, or was it something you came to more easily?
Christopher, that is a great question and one that I enjoy answering.

I joined this board in August of 2005. At the time I was struggling with my view on baptism. My screen name at the time was "Baptist in Crisis". I had become a Calvinist a few years earlier and had just left the cage stage. I read the Puritan Board before joining and was intrigued by the baptism threads. I wanted to become a paedobaptist. I thought it was the last domino to fall and all I needed was a slight push. So, I joined the PB and unwisely jumped right into the baptism threads. At that time there were baptism threads that were more akin to baptism wars. The threads became heated and often had to be closed by a moderator. My ignorance certainly didn't help the situation.

As time went by I found that the "slight push" I desired never came. With every thread came more and more questions. I read books that were recommended by my paedobaptist brethren but all they did was generate more questions. I decided to have patience, believing that all my questions would be answered in due time, but that was not the case. The turning point for me was in studying the nature of the New Covenant. Was the New Covenant, as my paedobaptist brethren suggested, really a refreshed Old Covenant or was it completely new? That became the main question. I already decided that no matter which side of the issue I chose, I had to be convinced overwhelmingly by scripture alone. As I studied the continuity/discontinuity of the Abrahamic Covenant and the "newness" of the New Covenant, I found that my questions were finally being answered. I was not convinced by the conclusions of paedobaptist authors. Eventually, I became convinced that there was a discontinuity in the Abrahamic Covenant and that the New Covenant is, indeed, new.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I am not a 'convinced' Baptist, nor am I a 'convinced' amillenialist. In both cases, each side has very good arguments, but one has slightly less holes than the other.

What I am convinced of is the danger of sowing discord within godly churches over the issue of baptism.
 

Minh

Puritan Board Freshman
An important part of it is of course the Scriptural evidences (see the footnote of section 2 in Chapter 29 on Baptism in LBCF).

But what concerns me also is how Roman Catholicism perverts the doctrine of baptism as a sacrament for forgiveness of sins. Hence, baptism is generally viewed by Romanists and non Christians as an instrument to escape the wrath of God instead of Jesus Christ. As a believer who seek the preciousness of the Savior and His truth, I am appalled by how society simply use baptism to “Christianize” infants. I believe such tendency disregard the Gospel and the true intent of the simple sacrament.

This is my opinion, and I continue to hold fellowship with Reformed brethren who hold the opposite viewpoint as long as they are truly convinced.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I decided to have patience . . .
Oh, that more of us would adopt this course in our theological pursuits. The discomfort occasioned by unsettled questions in the mind drives many to hasty conclusions; the error of which is only recognized too late or not at all.

My testimony is very much like yours, @Herald. I too was willing to be convinced. I wanted to be a paedobaptist. I really wrestled with this issue. But ultimately, I never was convinced from Scripture that it is a biblical practice. I am indebted to Baptist brethren who challenged me lovingly but pointedly to show a clear biblical warrant for baptizing infants. I could not.
 
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Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
Never struggled, never doubted; while it's been very interesting and enlightening to see and participate in debates with paedos, I have felt no seduction from that side. It simply isn't logical, if you see that Abraham was the father of the faithful--and the New Covenant ushers in that reality in its fullness.
 

Delahunt

Puritan Board Freshman
Growing up in a Bible Church context, “Repent and be baptized” was my understanding as an integral part of the promise made by Peter to the Jews and all Christians.
Diving into Reformed Theology five years ago forced me to address the paedobaptist arguments. I found Pascal Denault’s book “Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology” to be a great help, about three years ago. Denault helped me deeply sympathize with the paedobaptist view, but showed how it was deficient. In the end, the New Covenant is substantially new. Herald’s post above resonates deeply with me.
When I have engaged with paedobaptists on this topic, I have simply been pointed to books. Obviously if the forum were PB, there would be a real defense made. Usually my interactions with paedobaptists occurs on Twitter, where potshots reign supreme and true & useful discussion is buried.
 

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Freshman
Repent and be baptized. Baptizing and then seeing if our children repent doesn't seem very logical to me.

"But in the very next verse, the promise is for us AND our children"

To which I reply yes.. so let us and our children repent and be baptized. In that order. Never struggled at all with this issue the past 5 years I've been a believer.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
I was composing a long reply, but had to restart my browser and lost it. I don't have time right now to type all of that again, so I'm basically just going to list some of my reasons and can give fuller argumentation later if anybody is interested. 1, 3, and 6 were basically the reasons for me leaving Presbyterianism.

1. The RPW. This was the main reason for me leaving Presbyterianism after having been in it for a few years, having attended OPC, PCA, and EPC congregations and having been a member of the OPC. There is no command, example, or inference for infant baptism in the NT. The specific passage that caused me to rethink was Acts 2. I think Acts 2 is a strong passage for credobaptism rather than pedobaptism. If we must pound the pulpit when reading Acts 2 and making arguments for baptism, it seems to me that the place to do it is at v. 41.

2. Also regarding Acts 2, isn't the promise here the promise of the Spirit? Isn't that the context of Peter's sermon, rather than an allusion to Gen 17?

3. If pedobaptism is true, then so is pedocommunion. From what I understand, the church, east and west, practiced pedocommunion, with Rome only abandoning it once the doctrine of transubstantiation was solidified. (It won't do to have junior vomiting out the "Body of the Lord.") I thought that it was easier to explain away the 1 Cor 11 argument against infant communion than it was to explain away the multitude of Baptist proof texts against infant baptism. If the "breaking of bread" in Acts 2 is a reference to the Lord's Supper, as some interpreters have held, then the passage teaches pedocommunion as well as pedobaptism if we accept the pedobaptist argument of "You and your children."

4. The vast majority of contemporary pedobaptists are inconsistent in adopting what are essentially baptistic views of church and state, which is more or less what the American revision of the WCF does. If we're going to have continuity with the OT when it comes to the subjects of baptism, then what grounds do we have for abandoning it when it comes to the relationship between the church and civil government? To use one of their favorite epithets against them, it is dispensationalism!!! :D

5. Without resorting to baptismal regeneration, how can a pedobaptist explain 1 Pet 3:21? In what sense is baptism "the answer of a good conscience toward God" to a "covenant child?"

6. Prior to Zwingli, who acknowledged his departure from the fathers on this subject, can we find any clear and unambiguous example of an argument for infant baptism in church history that doesn't involve baptismal regeneration?

7. Circumcision was more of a national marker than a spiritual one. To be sure, it had spiritual significance (which some Baptists wrongly deny.) But a boy was to be circumcised regardless of the faith of his parents. Reformed pedobaptists long ago abandoned that idea.

8. The household baptisms either seem to exclude infants or are inconclusive at best on the question of who was baptized.
 
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Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
The issue that has troubled me in recent years is sectarianism, and not just the issue of restricting communion to those who have been properly baptized. The specific issue is whether or not pedobaptist churches are true churches. If we accept the usual marks of the church, I don't see how we can say yes since they do not properly administer the sacraments. If we say they are true churches, then we have to reject the idea that baptism is a mark of the church and have to say that you can have a true (albeit irregular) church without valid baptism.

At times, the idea that you can have a church without valid baptism has struck me as being the height of absurdity and has caused me to want to revisit the whole issue. But as thorny as these questions are, to my mind it doesn't invalidate the arguments against pedobaptism that I listed above.

(Saying that gospel preaching pedobaptist churches aren't true churches is associated with Landmarkism, although I don't think that was exactly the issue at stake in the initial Landmark controversy. As I understand it, even the anti-Landmark Southern Baptists didn't think that pedobaptist churches were true churches. But unlike the Landmarkers, they thought it was ok to invite gospel preaching pedobaptists into their pulpits.)
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
The issue that has troubled me in recent years is sectarianism, and not just the issue of restricting communion to those who have been properly baptized. The specific issue is whether or not pedobaptist churches are true churches. If we accept the usual marks of the church, I don't see how we can say yes since they do not properly administer the sacraments. If we say they are true churches, then we have to reject the idea that baptism is a mark of the church and have to say that you can have a true (albeit irregular) church without valid baptism.

At times, the idea that you can have a church without valid baptism has struck me as being the height of absurdity and has caused me to want to revisit the whole issue. But as thorny as these questions are, to my mind it doesn't invalidate the arguments against pedobaptism that I listed above.

(Saying that gospel preaching pedobaptist churches aren't true churches is associated with Landmarkism, although I don't think that was exactly the issue at stake in the initial Landmark controversy. As I understand it, even the anti-Landmark Southern Baptists didn't think that pedobaptist churches were true churches. But unlike the Landmarkers, they thought it was ok to invite gospel preaching pedobaptists into their pulpits.)
We have to regard certain Presbyterian churches as true ones because they indeed proclaim salvation in Christ alone through faith alone. They don't baptize infants out of open rebellion; they do it believing it's the right thing to do, even if they're dead wrong in doing so. If we were to reduce true 'churchdom,' if you will, to only what agrees with our conscience according to its present light, we'd become like the separatist fundamentalists--only able to hang out with and attend a small group of congregations that were always suspiciously watching each other for signs of defection. And so I regard as a true church many where even because of RPW violations I could not comfortably worship--I cannot get on my high horse and proclaim to them that they are unchurched because they have caved to idol of CCM, or because they only observe the Lord's Supper twice a year, or because they sprinkle water on unconverted babies, or because there's a choir (horrors!). They may be like the church at Laodicea--getting ready to be spewed out of the savior's mouth, but He was still warning them, calling them to repentance, and walking among their candlestick.
And if they say: "If you regard us as a true church, why not come and cast in your lot among us?" I can only reply that to their own master they must stand or fall, but so must I.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
I also caution patience.

One of the worst cases I've encountered was a young man from a Baptist background who joined this board, having just recently (to my recollection) become aware of Reformed theology and Puritanism. He expressed a desire to study the baptism issue. Several people from both sides cautioned him to have patience. Within a week or two, he professed to be fully convinced of pedobaptism. I can't remember, but there may have been no solid Calvinistic Baptist church in his area.

That was one of my issues, although it was complicated by the fact that I wasn't a member of any church, having left a congregation that had no formal membership, and felt that I needed to join one ASAP.

I could have joined an EPC congregation but it was simply too charismatic. I concluded that none of the Baptist churches in the area were solid, with most being into 40 Days of Purpose (all the rage at that time) and most seeming to be anti-Calvinist. (That's not quite the case there anymore.) Realistically, the only other option was relocation, which was not possible at that time. The nearest Reformed Baptist type congregation was probably a 3 hour round trip.

I felt (and still do) that one of the OPC membership questions was a backdoor for what amounts to confessional membership if the session was so inclined, so I felt pressure (largely self-imposed) to get onboard with their views before I joined. We're often told that you can be baptistic and join a NAPARC Presbyterian congregation so long as you aren't divisive. I think that's generally true, especially in the PCA. But the session in this congregation was prepared to put a couple under discipline who hadn't presented their child for baptism after a year or two. They finally had the child baptized before it got to that point. (I wasn't married at the time but got married about 2 years later.)

All that being said, while I did have a fairly good grasp of the arguments on both sides, I convinced myself that I was more convinced of infant baptism than I really was, if that makes any sense.

If there had been a solid Calvinistic Baptist congregation, I doubt that I would have seriously entertained pedobaptism to the point of wanting to join a Presbyterian church.
 
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Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
Ultimately, the biggest concern I have with infant baptism is one of omission. I view baptism in the form of a vow, which serves as a valuable, God-ordained act to instill conviction as we profess Christ as our Lord and Savior in front of a congregation who is charged to hold us accountable as fellow heirs in Christ. I recently underwent adult baptism a couple years ago and can attest it was just as humbling as my wedding ceremony.

By baptizing infants, we deprive them of the opportunity later as teenagers (or older) to seriously consider their need for Christ and publicly devote themselves to Him with resonating conviction through the remainder of their lives. "But we have a confirmation ceremony which parallels this..." to which I say, why not call that baptism and refer to this other sacrament you've created which pertains more to the parents by something else (i.e. christening).

I will note I attend an OPC church which I am quite happy with and fully agree this shouldn't be a point of division with our Presbyterian brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
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B.L. McDonald

Puritan Board Freshman
What was/is it that most persuaded you that baptism is to be given only to professing believers?
The Bible.

Was this a struggle for you, or was it something you came to more easily?
I became a Christian in my mid-20s and was baptized shortly there after when seeking to join the Baptist Church my wife and I were attending. My understanding that baptism is to be given to those who repent and turn to Christ in faith was never doubted since the testimony of scripture is so clear. This is something our Presbyterian brethren would also give a hearty amen to and is how they too treat converts to the faith as well.

Where we part ways of course is over whether to give the sign and seal of baptism to unbelievers of the same household -- be it infants, older children, or according to some here on PB even unbelieving spouses. I did wrestle with covenantal infant baptism a bit and read a lot of apologetic material and met with a few Reformed pastors to better understand that position. I was willing (perhaps even hoping) to be persuaded, but my conscience would not allow it. As for my reasoning, much of what @Bill The Baptist and @Pilgrim wrote resonates with me.

Oddly enough I often feel more comfortable with my Presbyterian friends than I do with my Baptist friends. Though a credobaptist by conviction, on issues of polity and worship I often find myself at odds with many Baptists. Separate topic altogether, but I mention this to say I have a deep respect and love for my Reformed brothers and sisters...I just couldn't turn the corner and embrace infant baptism.
 
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David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
To my Baptist brethren, let me ask,

What was/is it that most persuaded you that baptism is to be given only to professing believers?

Was this a struggle for you, or was it something you came to more easily?
For me it is the fact that these are the only examples we have from Scripture. Scripture only talks about those who believe are then baptized.

I think to link baptism as a complete import of OT signs of circumcision is a severe misrepresentation of the text and has no basis in Scripture. I know my Presbyterian brothers highly disagree. Is there similarities to the purpose of circumcision and baptism? Absolutely. Is it a direct import? Absolutely not.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The line of argument that says, "If paedobaptism is true, then so is paedocommunion" is simply wrong. Sorry. Scripture speaks of self-examination prior to partaking the Lord's Supper, so an infant may be baptised and yet not be given the Supper. Baptists like to adopt this position because they think it strengthens their credobaptist position. But it only gives a voice to weird reformed paedocommunionists, instead.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Forgive me brother, but in this response (which I do not entirely disagree with), you speak of Baptists as "they" in the third-person plural. This gives the impression that you yourself are not a Baptist but rather stand apart from them in your thinking. Given recent admissions on your part that you are reexamining your convictions on this matter, and the general bent of your comments, is it fair to ask whether your views have undermined your ability to profitably interact on a thread like this?
I am still a baptist. But I can now better recognize bad credobaptist arguments since I have been challenged in my thinking.

By 'they" I refer to that sub-class of baptists who try to use this inferior line of argumentation that infant baptism means we must also allow infant communion. It's simply a bad argument.

I will try to assume you are not resorting to cheap rhetorical maneuvering to silence me, but really do care to discuss these issues. Is that fair to ask as well?

I cannot get over the shift in New Testament emphasis on faith prior to baptism and the lack of any explicit examples of infants of believers being baptized (many households don't have infants, after all).
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I will try to assume you are not resorting to cheap rhetorical maneuvering to silence me, but really do care to discuss these issues. Is that fair to ask as well?
I believe my question was fair. Suggesting I was "resorting to cheap rhetorical maneuvering" is very unkind. I would hope you could respond to honest questions without resorting to personal attacks.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I believe my question was fair. Suggesting I was "resorting to cheap rhetorical maneuvering" is very unkind. I would hope you could respond to honest questions without resorting to personal attacks.
My reply was also fair. Trying to silence opposition is also unkind. Many folks are sincere and honest and yet resort to cheap rhetorical tactics. "You are not baptist enough....therefore, you should be silent and not point out weak arguments used by baptists," was essentially your maneuver.

I can only imagine what would happen if you were in charge of the credobaptist forum and had the power to include or exclude me. This goes back to my previous comments this year about the reformed baptist tendency towards authoritarianism. Most don't even realize when they are doing it.

p.s. I commented by accident over on the paedobaptist forum last week and ended up replying several times and it was a very profitable exchange, I believe, and nobody sought my dismissal on procedural grounds. Maybe I ought to just make the leap! ;)

Let me point out that those who wrestle over a position are often the MOST qualified to answer, rather than the partisan who is doggedly committed to defending the party line. A man who has struggled with atheism is often the most able defender of his position against atheism.
 
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RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
To be perfectly honest the Baptist teaching was how I was saved. Since I was Baptized as a baby in the catholic church I always pushed hard against anything that seemed catholic.

The mention of households always seemed odd from a believers baptism only view, but on the flip side Paul had ample opportunity to address this directly and he didn't (Jerusalem Counsel).
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
To be perfectly honest the Baptist teaching was how I was saved. Since I was Baptized as a baby in the catholic church I always pushed hard against anything that seemed catholic.

The mention of households always seemed odd from a believers baptism only view, but on the flip side Paul had ample opportunity to address this directly and he didn't (Jerusalem Counsel).
But I think what we see is that he says believe and be baptized. Two things together. In other words, the whole household must also do those two things. Believe, then be baptized.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Wow. I wish sometimes you could hear the way you sound.
Moderator note here. Pergy was trying to assume the best and educate. He didn't sound disrespectful in my estimation. You questioned his ability and capability. Please be careful. Maybe when a person points his finger he should realize three are not pointing the same way.
 
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