church study

The Error of Infant Baptism

Baptizing infants. Why is it done? Is it Biblical? Does it matter?
Jollyblogger did a series on it some time ago and I carefully avoided
speaking about the subject so as not to become a bandwagon-jumper.
Currently dealing with baptism I am brought to the point to discuss
this matter that many Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, hold

Before I start, note that I will be resolutely standing against years
of church history just as I have done with the Calvinist doctrine. This
would be the time for those of you that have a problem with such
defiance to look elsewhere.

There are several stances on infant baptism (paedobaptism). One is that
it is the preliminary sacrament that must be accomplished to assure
saving grace. In this school of thought the parent professes faith for
the child—in outright contrary to Scripture and the Gospel. If anything
this series on baptism has shown that baptism by water does nothing for
a person and salvation is a work of God alone made available through
personal faith (or trust) on the only one who can save.

The Protestant Paedobaptist Position (say that 3 times fast)

Some Protestants view baptism (and therefore paedobaptism) as a symbol
of the covenantal community. A paedobaptist would look to the
historical Jewish circumcision as a justification for his position.
Ever since God made a covenant with Abraham ({{Gen 17}}), there was
circumcision in Jewish households. The mandate did not save the
individual nor did it promise to make the individual a true follower of
the Law—it would demarcate that member as part of the covenantal
community. A paedobaptist would then probably solidify his position by
showing us where Paul speaks of the gentile fulfilling the role of the
Jew ({{Roman 2:27-29}}). He would also point to Hebrews saying that
believers are part of a new and better covenant. In place of
circumcision, which Galatians speaks so vehemently against they might
say, there is now baptism that must be done by those who believe. But
as in the Old Covenant, the whole house would be circumcised then in
the New Covenant, the whole house must be baptized. Support for this
baptism as being a covenantal sign would be the house baptisms of Acts
and Corinthians and the {{Romans 11}} passage of gentiles being grafted
into the vine. Lastly, some superficial support would be found in {{Col
2}} circumcision not with hands and the mentioning of baptism.

The paedobaptist would explain that this is a sign that the family is
being raised behind the covenantal walls demarcated by the fellowship
in Christ of the believers in the house. The children in that house are
acknowledged as sanctified by the believers, and although not
apparently saved, they have been set-apart for some blessing to be part
of that community.

I say not apparently because there are some forms of Protestant
paedobaptism that sprinkle the child as a symbol of faith that they are
baptizing one of God’s own elect. They readily
acknowledge that baptism does not save but they’ll go onto show how the
New Covenant is just as conditional as the Old Covenant. That the elect
are not shown by their belief but by their proclaimed faith, continued
belief and a life of covenant keeping. In the Last Day, they will be
confirmed by God as being Elect so when an infant is baptized it
is a symbol of the believer’s faith in stating that “yes, this child is
Elect” and “I am obeying God to prove my election.”

Why Infant Baptism is Wrong

The picture of baptism has several illustrative aspects (see previous posts). As
a memorial illustration it looks back to the recipient of baptism dying
in Christ and being risen in Him ({{Rom 6}}). To do so to an infant who
can’t possibly confess their faith is a (excuse the term) watering down
of the symbol. These infants are being made to take part in the symbol
of a spiritual reality when there can’t even be evidence of the
spiritual reality. If we don’t grab and baptize adults who step through
the doors of our churches because we believe that they are elect even
though they have never said anything we shouldn’t do so to infants.

As an identifying illustration ({{1 Peter 3}}), the baptized stands
welcoming persecution in light of his public confession of a good
conscience. This person now states openly that they are willing to
suffer for good rather than stay quiet and get by all right. By
baptizing an infant as part of this identification, we are
illustratively making the proclamation that this infant is to welcome
persecution for Christ. Now, we wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) go into a
Muslim nation and dip them in water, baptizing them and stating that
they are identifying with Christ and stand behind Him so why would we
do it to an infant?

As a unifying illustration as Paul explains in {{Ephesians 4}}, it
would be a picture that we have all as believers been baptized in
Christ. By baptizing an infant as part of this unifying illustration,
we are saying that this person has been regenerated as much as those
who are believers as adults. As such we might as well give them bread
and wine to remember to the Lord, which is explicitly given for
believers to remember Christ. We should then also be allowed to go into
our jobs, baptize people to have them to be united with us in the Body
of Christ as regenerate sans confession.

If baptism is sign of the parent’s faith that the infant is Elect and
part of the covenantal community then there is as much justification
for baptizing anyone we speak to as long as we believe that they are
really elect. Jeremy actually makes some really good points that allow
for baptizing the dead in light of baptizing infants.

Regarding the sign of a covenantal community* the Scriptures speak of
the sign of the New Covenant as the wine and the cup, reflecting
Christ’s blood shed for us ({{1 Cor 11}}). The sign of the New Covenant
is never stated as being the baptism by water and in fact, it is never
stated as defining a covenantal community as spoken of in the Old
Testament. The covenant in the Old Testament was specifically given to
the Jewish nation and they agreed to its tenets as a people ({{Exo
19}};{{Ex 24}}) . The Covenant given by God and mediated by Christ was
completed of His own sovereign power with no say from men. The notion
that the New Covenant is conditional is contrary to Scriptures and I am
certainly surprised when some devout Calvinists state as much. The New
Covenant is God writing on the hearts of men, not men proving that God
has written in their hearts. True, they will come into that they will
come into the benefits of that Covenant by faith and exemplify the
truth of the matter in their maturing lives, but this is also why we
shouldn’t be professing this sealing on an infant. Besides the fact
that the infant can’t tell her right hand from her left, how much less
will she understand God’s salvation?

Also, if the New Covenant were to be almost a better addendum to the
Old Covenant (as if believers are the fulfillment of Abraham’s
covenant) where certain things are supposedly replaced (Sunday for
the Sabbath-false; Baptism for Circumcision-false) then it would stand
to reason that there would be more restrictions on baptism than
paedobaptists are enforcing. The Old Covenant would specify that only
males are circumcised on the 8th of the month but paedobaptism offers
no restrictions.

Lastly the House baptisms spoken of in Acts and Corinthians in no way
prove that infants were baptized in those situations. That’s an
argument from silence and in many cases, a logical stretch. In Lydia’s
case, a businesswoman about two hundred or so miles from home, I would
seriously doubt she was carrying an infant about on her business trip.
In Cornelius’ case I would seriously doubt that the infants in the
house (if there were any) were also filled with the Holy Spirit and
began prophesying. Plus, just because you have a house and a family
doesn’t mean that there’s an infant at home.

So finally, infant baptism merely muddies the water on what baptism
signifies, is based on false assumptions regarding the Covenant of God
and is textually a stretch to establish from Scriptures. To perform the
sign as a symbol of the parents dedication still waters down the true
significance of the sign, and in those cases I would suggest that
parents bring the baby up before the congregation and pray for the
parents and the child. This would be an effective public dedication by
the parents and in no way besmirches what God has established in the
Scriptures for the elect.


The Full Series
1. Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
2. One Baptism Versus the Many?
3. Baptism and Big Problems
4. Baptismal Regeneration (Acts 2:28)
5. Deluge of Baptism Questions (Acts 1-22)
6. Baptism and Romans (Rom 6:1-11)
7. Noah and Baptism (2 Peter 3:20,21)
8. Paul On Baptism (1 Cor 1:14-18)

9. The Error of Infant Baptism

10. Remember Your Baptism (Rom 6:1-11)


Russ On Baptism

Baptism of Linkage

*I could not go on a long discussion
regarding the doctrine of Covenants or showing the differences thereof.
Jollyblogger placed the burden of proof on those of us who say there is
a difference but that goes beyond the scope of this article already 500
words too long.

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