Why do paedobaptists baptize female infants?

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jpfrench81

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hello all,

So I've been studying paedobaptism for a while now and I am listening to William Shishko's series in Christian Baptism (highly recommended, regardless of your persuasion). Here is one thing I haven't figured out. Why are female infants baptized? In the OT circumcision rites, only the male children were circumcised. I'm not making the circumcision=baptism argument, but it is often pointed out that the household receives the covenant sign. In the OT, it was only the males. In the NT, its males and females. Why is this? Thanks.
 

AltogetherLovely

Puritan Board Freshman
My guess is because we're told to baptize them:

Acts 8:12 -
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Is it a slight discontinuity? Sure, but pretty insignificant. And we're directly instructed to do it. That fits perfectly well in a paedo hermeneutic, and represents no difficulty or contradiction.

*Woops, my husband just informed me that this forum was only for Paedo's. Mods can delete this if they wish, but I think it's a fair answer, even if from a baptist :)
 

John Weathersby

Puritan Board Freshman
For the same reason credos baptise female professors.
Brad, wouldn’t you say that a credo female professor would not be an infant, by way of ability to recognize a creed? Thus, pedobatism of a female (infant) is NOT the same as credo baptism of a confessing adult female believer.

I think the question posed is an interesting one, worthy of some discussion. Admittedly I’m slightly ignorant here, but, isn’t the pedobaptism reflection of covenant expressed by circumcision?

-----Added 7/9/2009 at 05:50:32 EST-----

Hello all,

So I've been studying paedobaptism for a while now and I am listening to William Shishko's series in Christian Baptism (highly recommended, regardless of your persuasion). Here is one thing I haven't figured out. Why are female infants baptized? In the OT circumcision rites, only the male children were circumcised. I'm not making the circumcision=baptism argument, but it is often pointed out that the household receives the covenant sign. In the OT, it was only the males. In the NT, its males and females. Why is this? Thanks.
The females received the OT sign by way of the Husband's and Father's male headship, so there's no disconnect going on.
This said, would the baptism of the female infant’s father suffice?
 

John Weathersby

Puritan Board Freshman
My guess is because we're told to baptize them:

Acts 8:12 -
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Is it a slight discontinuity? Sure, but pretty insignificant. And we're directly instructed to do it. That fits perfectly well in a paedo hermeneutic, and represents no difficulty or contradiction.

*Woops, my husband just informed me that this forum was only for Paedo's. Mods can delete this if they wish, but I think it's a fair answer, even if from a baptist :)


Acts 8:12 is clearly a credo command for baptism, and specific to men and women. I would say this passage is not applicable to pedobaptism of an female (infant implied/pedo).

-----Added 7/9/2009 at 05:55:43 EST-----

For the same reason credos baptise female professors.
Brad, wouldn’t you say that a credo female professor would not be an infant, by way of ability to recognize a creed? Thus, pedobatism of a female (infant) is NOT the same as credo baptism of a confessing adult female believer.

I think the question posed is an interesting one, worthy of some discussion. Admittedly I’m slightly ignorant here, but, isn’t the pedobaptism reflection of covenant expressed by circumcision?

-----Added 7/9/2009 at 05:50:32 EST-----

The females received the OT sign by way of the Husband's and Father's male headship, so there's no disconnect going on.
This said, would the baptism of the female infant’s father suffice?
No, since we have clear evidence that male and females in the New Covenant are to physically receive the sign.
Josh, do you mind providing refrences?
 

John Weathersby

Puritan Board Freshman
My guess is because we're told to baptize them:

Acts 8:12 - Is it a slight discontinuity? Sure, but pretty insignificant. And we're directly instructed to do it. That fits perfectly well in a paedo hermeneutic, and represents no difficulty or contradiction.

*Woops, my husband just informed me that this forum was only for Paedo's. Mods can delete this if they wish, but I think it's a fair answer, even if from a baptist :)
Acts 8:12 is clearly a credo command for baptism, and specific to men and women. I would say this passage is not applicable to pedobaptism of an female (infant implied/pedo).
That's because your assuming discontinuity of a command that was never abrogated (i.e. applying the sign to believers and their children). I would agree that it "is clear a credo command for baptism," but that it's not a command for credo only baptism.
Josh, I'm not saying it's a command for credo ONLY baptism, I am only saying the immediate context bars this reference (Acts 8:12) from commanding pedobaptism of females. If that makes any sence! :think:
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
Brad, wouldn’t you say that a credo female professor would not be an infant, by way of ability to recognize a creed? Thus, pedobatism of a female (infant) is NOT the same as credo baptism of a confessing adult female believer.
Baptism is the "admission of the party baptized into the visible Church". The reasons for baptizing are the same, the prerequisites are different. Both sides of the issue would not normally argue that there is some connection with circumcision, but may differ as to what that connection is.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Josh
The females received the OT sign by way of the Husband's and Father's male headship, so there's no disconnect going on.

This is the case. Also as Calvin says, circumcision was totally unsuitable for girls, which is another reason God mercifully spared them.

Also Leviticus 12 teaches that the period of separation for the uncleanness of the mother of a girl was longer than that for a boy.

Is this because Eve sinned first?

Circumcision - as well as pointing to the need for heart circumcision (regeneration/faith) - also spoke of the sanctification of the male organ of reproduction until the Holy Seed i.e. the Messiah should come.

Now that He has come, God has, in His grace, chosen another sign that can be applied to both males and females.

The New Covenant is more gracious than the old, and this is one way in which this is shown, in that males and females, and male and female babies can take part in this Covenant sign. If the Covenant sign were withdrawn from (male) babies in the NC this would make the NC (at least slightly) less gracious than the Old.

Shedding of blood is no longer involved in the two sacraments: Christ has put an end to shedding of blood by shedding all the blood needed to be shed.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
Baptism is the "admission of the party baptized into the visible Church". The reasons for baptizing are the same, the prerequisites are different. Both sides of the issue would not normally argue that there is some connection with circumcision, but may differ as to what that connection is.
To be overly technical, I'd say that Baptism is the sign of entering the visible church, since infants of believers are inducted already to the Covenant by virtue of their existence.
Just quotin' the Confession, brother.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Josh
To be overly technical, I'd say that Baptism is the sign of entering the visible church, since infants of believers are inducted already to the Covenant by virtue of their existence.

They are in the covenant by virtue of their birth - and are ''engaged/betrothed'' to God by birth. God expects them to receive/be given the mark of the covenant (''engagement ring'').

See Genesis 17:14 and Exodus 4:24-26.

It is the hope and prayer of God's people that at baptism we are witnessing the beginning of a permanent relationship between God and the baptisee.
 

jpfrench81

Puritan Board Sophomore
So is this the reason:

Females received the sign in the OT through their Father since it was inappropriate for females to be circumcised and God only commanded males to be circumcised in the OT. In the NT, God commands females to be baptized also, so it is also appropriate for females to receive the sign of the covenant?
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
The administration of the Covenant of Grace has expanded from the OT to the NT.

Abraham --> Jacob --> Moses --> David --> Christ

one man --> one family --> one nation --> one kingdom --> the entire world

In this ever-expanding administration of the covenant it would make sense to include more types of people in the new administration.
 

Reformed Rush

Puritan Board Freshman
Quote from Josh
To be overly technical, I'd say that Baptism is the sign of entering the visible church, since infants of believers are inducted already to the Covenant by virtue of their existence.

They are in the covenant by virtue of their birth - and are ''engaged/betrothed'' to God by birth. God expects them to receive/be given the mark of the covenant (''engagement ring'').

See Genesis 17:14 and Exodus 4:24-26.

It is the hope and prayer of God's people that at baptism we are witnessing the beginning of a permanent relationship between God and the baptisee.
Baptism is the sign of entry to the Covenant, not the actual entry of it. That was my point.

Agreeing with you, Joshua, but I think it is also important to distinguish between covenants.

All Jewish males and Jewish servants were circumcised into the visible, temporal, covenant God provided Israel as a nation. The sign of entry into this covenant was not always salvific.

The sign of water baptism (signifying the regenerating baptism of the Holy Spirit) depicts entry into the invisible, Everlasting Covenant of Redemption, which is always salvific.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
All Jewish males and Jewish servants were circumcised into the visible, temporal, covenant God provided Israel as a nation. The sign of entry into this covenant was not always salvific.

The sign of water baptism (signifying the regenerating baptism of the Holy Spirit) depicts entry into the invisible, Everlasting Covenant of Redemption, which is always salvific.
But we know that water baptism is not entry into the invisible Church as Hell will be housing both the baptized and the unbaptized.

Rather, consider the unity of the Covenant:

Same promise: Ex 19:4-6 cf 1Pet 2:5,9; Jer 31:33cf 2Cor 6:16
Faith was a condition in both: Gen 15:6 cf Rom 4:3
The object of faith in both is Christ: John 8:56; Acts 2:25-32; Heb 4:2
Christians are made partakers of the same blessing: Gal 3:8, 9, 14.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Females in the OT were excluded from a significant amount of participation in the Mosaic administration. They were also excluded from the rite of circumcision as far back as its institution with Abraham, in the nature of the case.

Of course, Females were not on that account excluded from the Old Covenant. They were certainly members and beneficiaries. Their own "by faith" participation was perhaps even more apparent than a proper male participation, since they had so much less of the outward ritual ownership.

Examples abound, some of whom we are even reminded of in the NT: Sarah, Rebekah, Rahab, Naomi, Ruth, Hannah, Mary...

The New Testament, besides telling us explicitly of Females being baptized, indicates that this is one way the New Covenant is "better". Gal 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female,..."


Credo-baptists regularly assume that Paedo-baptists build their doctrine and practice of baptism the same way they do: by appeals to example. Since Baptists point to the numbers of adult-baptisms in the NT, ergo baptism must only be for adults.

Then they reason the same thinking process must be true of Paedo-baptists. And since Paedo-baptists famously relate OT circumcision to NT baptism, then the OT practice functions for the Paedo-baptist the same way NT baptism examples do for the Credo-baptist.


This is just, flat wrong. The above described Credo-baptist conclusion is the only thinking process that I can conceive of that could possibly produce this "objection."

Think about it. Given the amount of NT data on the inclusion of Females in baptism, why would any Credo-baptist ever even demand this sort of justification from a Paedo-baptist? Unless he though the Paedo-baptist practice was founded on some sort of exemplaristic outgrowth of OT practice?

The thought is actually so ludicrous, it might be offensive if it weren't more properly evidence that generally speaking, Credo-baptists do not take the time to understand the differences between paedo-baptist theology of baptism, and their own.

It is simply assumed that there are two basic understandings of baptism--Baptist and Roman--and the Paedo-baptist resides in some sort of half-way house between the two: evangelical in faith, but papist in practice (and fumbling for exemplary justification for their "error"). Naturally, we believe our theology of baptism leads us away from errors in either extreme--neither exemplaristic nor sacerdotal.


Lastly, there is one very obvious, practical and prophetical reason why circumcision was for males (only), and why now there is no reason for the "sign of the covenant" to be limited to one gender. Of course, I say "obvious" because I'm a paedo-baptist, and don't think of circumcision principally in terms of some secular land-promise devoid of spiritual significance in the first degree.

God gave Abraham circumcision, as a testimony to him and the rest of the world that the Savior of the world was going to be a Jewish male. It's as simple as that. The land? just a means to an end. A nation? just a means to an end. And every OT believer knew that, starting with Abraham. If they didn't believe it, then they weren't walking by faith.

The sign of the covenant has no more typological significance. So, there's no theological reason to restrict the sign to one gender, and the new sign is not gender-specific, and the NT church obviously recognized that fact. Just one way the NC is better.
 

Reformed Rush

Puritan Board Freshman
All Jewish males and Jewish servants were circumcised into the visible, temporal, covenant God provided Israel as a nation. The sign of entry into this covenant was not always salvific.

The sign of water baptism (signifying the regenerating baptism of the Holy Spirit) depicts entry into the invisible, Everlasting Covenant of Redemption, which is always salvific.
But we know that water baptism is not entry into the invisible Church as Hell will be housing both the baptized and the unbaptized.

Rather, consider the unity of the Covenant:

Same promise: Ex 19:4-6 cf 1Pet 2:5,9; Jer 31:33cf 2Cor 6:16
Faith was a condition in both: Gen 15:6 cf Rom 4:3
The object of faith in both is Christ: John 8:56; Acts 2:25-32; Heb 4:2
Christians are made partakers of the same blessing: Gal 3:8, 9, 14.
Agreed, but again distinction must be made when speaking of baptisms, according to which covenant is in effect.

Infants are baptized with water to gain entry to the visible church (external covenant), which is not efficacious until or if that soul is baptized by the Holy Spirit and thereby gains entry to the invisible church body of Christ (internal Covenant of Redemption).

All Jews received the temporal promises of covenant from God; circumcism sanctifying them from all the other races, but they were not all saved.

Same thing with the N.T. church. Attending or becoming a member of a visible church, sanctifies members and water baptism allows entrance, but true baptism into the invisible body of Christ comes by regeneration (baptism) of the Holy Spirit.

External baptisms and covenants, which are not salvific, should be distinguished from the regenerating baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Covenant of Grace that is always efficacious to the saving of the soul.

I believe this is allegorically taught in Romans 11:15-27.
 

A.J.

Puritan Board Junior
Hello all,

So I've been studying paedobaptism for a while now and I am listening to William Shishko's series in Christian Baptism (highly recommended, regardless of your persuasion). Here is one thing I haven't figured out. Why are female infants baptized? In the OT circumcision rites, only the male children were circumcised. I'm not making the circumcision=baptism argument, but it is often pointed out that the household receives the covenant sign. In the OT, it was only the males. In the NT, its males and females. Why is this? Thanks.
Joshua, consider this one.

In the New Testament, Are Believers' Children "Inside" This Community or "Outside"?

I'm leading up to this important question: In the New Testament, if parents confess Jesus as Lord, are their children inside this community, the church, or are they outside? Clearly in the Old Testament the children were included in the community of God's covenant, receiving the mark of the covenant (circumcision), participating in the feasts of the covenant (for example, Passover, Exodus 12:25-27), being taught the Law as the guide for their grateful response to God's redemptive grace (Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25). But what about the New Testament? When Christ comes, is there a change in the composition of the community of God's covenant?

The Trend in the New Testament Is to Include People Who Used to Be "Outside."

There are changes in the composition of the covenant people as we move from Old Testament to New, but they are not in the direction of excluding a category of people because of their age or mental immaturity. The most obvious change is that Gentiles, people from other physical families than Abraham's, are welcomed in droves. As we see in Matthew’s mention of Rahab, Ruth, and others in the genealogy of Jesus (Matt. 1), even in the Old Testament God did welcome a handful of Gentiles into his community; but with the death and resurrection of Jesus and the baptism of the Spirit which he poured out on the church, the floodgates of grace are thrown wide open to Samaritans, Greek, Romans--even the Swedes and Scotch-Irish! Secondly, the sign of the New Covenant, baptism, is one that can be and is applied to females as well as males (Acts 8:12), in contrast to Old Covenant circumcision, which was only for males. Although the New Testament still speaks of a distinction in role between men and women in the family and the church, baptism makes clear what was implied in Genesis 1:26-28: in terms of creation in God's image, and now new creation in the image of Christ, and in terms of personal value and worth to God, women and men are equal (Gal. 3:28). Hence women worship with men in Christian congregations, not in a separate courtyard as in the Jerusalem temple or behind a screen as in some Jewish synagogues. So now, with Gentiles welcomed in and women more fully included by receiving the covenant sign along with males, does God now take a very different stance toward the children of believers, excluding them from his covenant people as he is welcoming other groups in?
INFANT BAPTISM: HOW MY MIND HAS CHANGED by Dennis Johnson
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Josh
To be overly technical, I'd say that Baptism is the sign of entering the visible church, since infants of believers are inducted already to the Covenant by virtue of their existence.

They are in the covenant by virtue of their birth - and are ''engaged/betrothed'' to God by birth. God expects them to receive/be given the mark of the covenant (''engagement ring'').

See Genesis 17:14 and Exodus 4:24-26.

It is the hope and prayer of God's people that at baptism we are witnessing the beginning of a permanent relationship between God and the baptisee.
Baptism is the sign of entry to the Covenant, not the actual entry of it. That was my point.

Agreeing with you, Joshua, but I think it is also important to distinguish between covenants.

All Jewish males and Jewish servants were circumcised into the visible, temporal, covenant God provided Israel as a nation. The sign of entry into this covenant was not always salvific.

The sign of water baptism (signifying the regenerating baptism of the Holy Spirit) depicts entry into the invisible, Everlasting Covenant of Redemption, which is always salvific.

I agree of course that one can be internally in the covenant (i.e. having real faith) and not be externally in the covenant i.e. be baptised.

Also one can be externally in the covenant (i.e. be baptised) and not be internally in the covenant i.e. have faith.

Circumcision was also a badge of Israel as a nation as well as a sign of the grace signified. Baptism is a badge of the New Israel as a nation also as well as a sign of the grace signified, although neither circumcision nor baptism have ever been things that one can/should boast in.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
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. (Jeremiah 9:23-26).
 
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