Monday, February 25, 2013

Infant Baptism?

Somehow or other a group that believes in infant baptism sent me an email today. They claimed that they had condensed all their studies of the subject of infant baptism into a few pages and urged me to read those online.

I did read the material and must say it is completely unconvincing. Their justification for infant baptism requires that you accept replacement theology (the church replaces Israel) and the idea that the Abrahamic covenant continues to govern the church.

If the church was a continuation of the Abrahamic covenant it is strange that the Jewish believers got so bent out of shape about the fact that the Gentiles who were saved were not required to be circumcised and to live by the law of Moses (Acts 15:1-5). The apostles could have easily explained that nothing had really changed - just a new sign of the covenant, etc.

It seems to me that if covenant theology were correct there would have been no particular reason to replace circumcision with infant baptism. The Bible never mentions, orders or suggests infant baptism, but does have a great deal to say about circumcision. But, of course, the New Testament makes it very clear that believers should not submit themselves to circumcision - so these folks are looking for a different initiation into the presumed covenantal community. (Look especially at Acts 15 and the book of Galatians.)

This group answers the charge that the Bible uniformly links baptism to believing the gospel and never mentions, orders or describes the baptism of infants by saying the Bible never FORBIDS the baptism of infants. This seems to me to be extremely weak theological reasoning. Such an approach could justify almost anything.

I think they should give it up.

The New Testament clearly says that the subjects of baptism are "disciples" (Matthew 28:19-20) In Acts 2:41 it was those who "gladly received" the gospel who were baptized and it was the mark of their addition to the church - not the Abrahamic covenant. (Interesting that they were already circumcised Jews who presumably could have been grandfathered into the covenant they were already in. Besides that, the early church, being Jewish, kept on circumcising their infants, but they baptized believers.)

I cannot see how an impartial reading of the New Testament would ever suggest the baptism of infants.

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