Thursday, April 30, 2009

Strawbridge vs. White Debate on Baptism - Some Caveats

Coram Deo at Defending Contending (link) has a post discussing the issue of infant baptism and the new covenant and promoting a debate between Dr. James White and Greg Strawbridge on the topic of infant baptism.

He writes:
Yet precisely WHAT does Christ mediate to those who are baptized as infants and grow to adulthood, but who never come to faith in Him? Listen to the debate below to hear the shocking response to this question by infant baptism apologist Dr. Gregg Strawbridge, editor of “The Case for Covenental Infant Baptism”.
I think it is worth noting that Strawbridge doesn't represent the Reformed (Westminster/Savoy/Dordt/Helvetican) position on the topic. Instead, he represents the view of those within the Federal Vision movement.

While Strawbridge is a legitimate target as representative of the Federal Vision, as to the Reformed (Westminster/Savoy/Dordt/Helvetican) position, Strawbridge is a straw man: he does not represent the historic Reformed (Westminster/Savoy/Dordt/Helvetican) position on the subject.

Why my "(Westminster/Savoy/Dordt/Helvetican)"? Because, of course, it's normal also to include other groups as Reformed, such as Reformed Baptists. That group (Reformed Baptists) was already represented in the debate by my friend Dr. James White (with whom, as everyone knows, I disagree amicably on this subject).

While I think Dr. White did a great job in the debate, and while it may be edifying to hear the debate, I hope people will not listen to it thinking that Strawbridge represents the Reformed (Westminster/Savoy/Dordt/Helvetican) side. Personally, I would like to see Dr. White debate Strawbridge on the issue of justification, since that seems to be a more central problem with the Federal Vision movement.

With all those caveats, for those interested in the debate: (part 1) (part 2)

-TurretinFan

43 comments:

natamllc said...

As one who has a bad taste in my mouth or spirit when it comes to regarding the Federal Vision movement today, I am not taking sides basis that as I respectfully have to disagree with Dr. White on this matter as I listen to it.

I am certainly not qualified to say that Dr. Strawbridge is a strawman. But I have to accept that representation on face value seeing it is one you represent.

Instead of citations I am going to try and just comment on the verses that come to mind as I listen to this debate between Dr. White and Dr. Strawbridge.

I am first of all thinking about "Election". As I take ahold of the Word of God I am reminded that "Election" has a predetermined intent and the event of Our Creator in creating us for this purpose is done well before the "foundation" of the world was laid. Whom God created He created for them to give Him through service and worship His Glory, Honor and Power.

With that in mind, I would point to the "promise" God made to the practicing "pagan" Abram the "Hebrew". He promised that "in" him "all the "families" of the earth shall be blessed.

I then consider, in light of that, the baby leaping for Joy in his mother's womb, John the Baptist.

Which leads me to point to the writings of the Apostle Paul, especially Ephesians 3. When I read Ephesians 3 with the preceeding thoughts in mind I have to agree that it does not matter one way or the other, baptism, infant or later on in one's mental capacity to embrace the "affect" predetermined long before conception and birth, that one is perfected into the image of Christ.

I am going to break my rule and quote one verse that in my mind establishes that infant baptism is equally effective in affecting the relationship that will develop and mature "by the Hand of God and His Self Determination" for the "Elect" Soul.

Here is the verse. Make the same distinction "Jesus" makes then about the "plants". I am pasting the broadest brush stroke here but it is a particular point Jesus makes to underscore the "purity" of one's heart:::>

Mat 15:1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
Mat 15:2 "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat."
Mat 15:3 He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
Mat 15:4 For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.'
Mat 15:5 But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, "What you would have gained from me is given to God,"
Mat 15:6 he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.
Mat 15:7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
Mat 15:8 "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
Mat 15:9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
Mat 15:10 And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand:
Mat 15:11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person."
Mat 15:12 Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"
Mat 15:13 He answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.
Mat 15:14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."
Mat 15:15 But Peter said to him, "Explain the parable to us."
Mat 15:16 And he said, "Are you also still without understanding?
Mat 15:17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?
Mat 15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
Mat 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
Mat 15:20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone."

Again, I am saying these verses establish that God "Elects" and the Elect come into that Election by the "power of God, by His Hand upon the soul" not the power of the hands of man.

Jesus makes this point: "...."Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up...."

So, baptism only has a place in the soul because of "which" kind of "plant" they are.

I do not have a clue how other plants exist other than God's predetermined "Plants" which will never be uprooted!

The man on the cross the day Jesus died, may have been a Jew and had been "circumcised", but he certainly hadn't been "baptised" but he certainly was "blessed" that day by his own "death".

Baptism points to a "change" of heart. It is still God who changes the heart of stone and makes it a heart of flesh where the Lord dwells as the Law of Righteousness thus lifting from that soul the curse of the Law we were born into first.

Equally, Jesus seems to point to a person whose "heart" does not change.

The promise is to those "Called" and "Elected" by God well before the foundation of the world was laid.

So, for me, I have no problem in the baptism of the infants who are baptised in my Fellowship.

There is one final point I want to make to underscore something early on in the part 1 Dr. Strawbridge made about "children" of nonbelievers being baptised.

That point that is made is of particular interest to me.

What are we to do when a child by invitation of their friend comes and God begins to move upon their heart and opens it?

My view is that would not happen unless the parents were of the Elect before so that that promise of all families being blessed in Him would take effect. Why the parents are not apart of the Fellowship or not, is not the question. What is important though is the "witness" that the child or young adult now has been given the Spirit and sealed with Him, that they might now be catechized and trained and discipled in the Faith. The Ethopian Eunuch comes to mind as was discussed in the debate also.

Anyway, that's what I am thinking as I listen to this debate!

Turretinfan said...

"What are we to do when a child by invitation of their friend comes and God begins to move upon their heart and opens it? "

We should fan that spark into a roaring flame!

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

Yes TF, and I suppose you would have to be chalked up an idiot to think not two things otherwise:

Your monikers: Turrentin"fan" and "GO WESTMINSTER YOUNG MAN";

and the "fan" fanning would certainly and undoubtedly have something to do with the fires of Francis Turretin="fan"! :)

Coram Deo said...

Greetings TF!

I followed your backlink from DefCon, thank you for picking up this interesting debate.

Please understand that it wasn't (and isn't) my intent to pull a cyber "sleight-of-hand" by setting forth Strawbridge as some sort of spokesman for all Reformed thinkers. In fact given the diversity among the Reformed I can think of no such singular voice.

This being said, would you care to offer a response to the question I posed?

To wit, WHAT does Christ mediate to those who are baptized [into the New Covenant Community] as infants and grow to adulthood, but who never come to faith in Him?In Christ,
CD

Turretinfan said...

The object of mediation is people. Christ mediates between the Father and the elect. If a person is baptized but does not have faith, Christ is not his mediator: he has no mediator.

A baptized person is only outwardly within the covenant if he does not have faith in Christ, just as the circumcized Jews were only outwardly within the covenant if they did not have faith. Outward covenant membership has many advantages, but none that are themselves saving.

-TurretinFan

Coram Deo said...

The object of mediation is people. Christ mediates between the Father and the elect. If a person is baptized but does not have faith, Christ is not his mediator: he has no mediator.Amen!

A baptized person is only outwardly within the covenant if he does not have faith in Christ, just as the circumcised Jews were only outwardly within the covenant if they did not have faith. Outward covenant membership has many advantages, but none that are themselves saving.I realize that I'm probably treading a well worn path here, but what are the advantages of heaping hot coals upon one's head by drawing near to the Lord with one's lips while one's heart is far away from Him?

In other words if the New Covenant is for those with a living faith in Christ - which it is - then by default it is not for those without a living faith in Him. I apologize if I'm overly simplistic, but I'm failing to grasp your implied outward/inward tension on this point.

According to my understanding of the scriptures the New Covenant is of a radically different nature than the Old Covenant which it replaced, amen?

The NT church is the spiritual reality (antitype) represented by the temporal shadow (type) of OT ethnic Israel.

Every male in OT ethnic Israel was required to be circumcised as the outward sign of God's covenant, within which a remnant was faithful and elect.

The NC, however, is (as you've rightly said) for the elect only. There is no "faithful remnant" within the true church; the true church is 100% elect and faithful by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.

Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant to those within the New Covenant community, therefore those without faith in Him by definition have no Mediator meaning they are outside the New Covenant community, without Christ, and without hope.

Do you agree?

In Him,
CD

Turretinfan said...

"I realize that I'm probably treading a well worn path here, but what are the advantages of heaping hot coals upon one's head by drawing near to the Lord with one's lips while one's heart is far away from Him?"

As Romans 3:1-2 indicate, there are many advantages, especially access to Scripture.

"In other words if the New Covenant is for those with a living faith in Christ - which it is - then by default it is not for those without a living faith in Him. I apologize if I'm overly simplistic, but I'm failing to grasp your implied outward/inward tension on this point."

There are two administrations of the covenant of grace: the Mosaic and the Apostolic. In both administrations, the true members of the covenant are those with a living faith in the Messiah. In both administrations, there are those who are outwardly part of the congregation, but who are inwardly far from God.

"According to my understanding of the scriptures the New Covenant is of a radically different nature than the Old Covenant which it replaced, amen?"

There are two major differences: Christ's coming and the opening of the light to the Gentiles. Christ's coming did away with the types and shadows that existed under the Mosaic administration. The opening of the light to the Gentiles changed the national character of the congregation of God.

"The NT church is the spiritual reality (antitype) represented by the temporal shadow (type) of OT ethnic Israel."

No. The elect are the spiritual reality foreshadowed both by the congregation of Israel and the church.

"Every male in OT ethnic Israel was required to be circumcised as the outward sign of God's covenant, within which a remnant was faithful and elect."

The sign of the covenant is now applied to both sexes. But, it is applied to all those within the church, not only (of course) the elect, since we cannot see that spiritual reality.

"The NC, however, is (as you've rightly said) for the elect only. There is no "faithful remnant" within the true church; the true church is 100% elect and faithful by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone."

The invisible church is the elect only, but the visible church (like the nation of Israel of old) is mixture of wheat and tares. God will sort them out in the end.

"Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant to those within the New Covenant community, therefore those without faith in Him by definition have no Mediator meaning they are outside the New Covenant community, without Christ, and without hope."

Christ was the only way by which anyone has ever come to God. Both in the Old administration and now in the New.

And perhaps - for now - that should be the last word, unless you feel a pressing need to clarify something. I don't want to turn this into a comment box debate on this subject.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

I saw that last admon TF. Risking it though you wrote to CD this:

"....The sign of the covenant is now applied to both sexes. But, it is applied to all those within the church, not only (of course) the elect, since we cannot see that spiritual reality...."

When I read that I immediately thought of Rebekah, Isaac's wife and the mother of Esau and Jacob.

I would amen your observation about the males being circumcised under the old relationship of ceremonial practices. That does not mean that the females were "without" His Faith. Their Faith was equally as strong and in the case I present, even stronger than the male's Faith! Rebekah's Faith is what carried the day for us, the Elect of God!

It was Rebekah's "Faith" that Jacob clung too that he also "acted" out before his Father Isaac that fateful day:

Gen 25:19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham fathered Isaac,
Gen 25:20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife.
Gen 25:21 And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
Gen 25:22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, "If it is thus, why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.
Gen 25:23 And the LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger."


Rebekah went to God because of the "Faith" that was living within her heart and soul.

She received the "Word" that she then gave to Jacob:

Gen 27:5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it,
Gen 27:6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "I heard your father speak to your brother Esau,
Gen 27:7 'Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.'
Gen 27:8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you.
Gen 27:9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves.
Gen 27:10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies."
Gen 27:11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man.
Gen 27:12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing."
Gen 27:13 His mother said to him, "Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me."

We miss that fact in these debates sometimes! I am glad you have not!

It edifies my resolve that I too am listening to the Same God you are and He is not forked tongue like some forked tongued indians I know! :)

exotesparemboles said...

"The NT church is the spiritual reality (antitype) represented by the temporal shadow (type) of OT ethnic Israel."

I believe a close look at the book of Hebrews shows that the Israel in the OT, specifically the wilderness generation, is a type and the NT (new covenant) church is the antitype, yet still containing those who are both regenerate and unregenerate. That is why the author of Hebrews on the one hand, warns them to not be like the disobedient (ch. 3-4), but to emulate those who were faithful to the covenant (ch. 11).

Also, one of the most serious warnings in the NT speaks of the promise that God will judge His people. I have recently written an essay on Heb. 10:30 as what I believe is a double entendre given the original intent of Deut. 32 and its use in Heb. 10:30.

http://exotesparemboles.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/hebrews-1030-as-a-double-entendre-vindication-through-judgment/

Also, I believe Scripture shows that the makeup of the New covenant church was composed of families (compare Eph. 1:1 "saints" with Eph. 5-6 "husbands, wives, children, slaves")

Cheers,
exo

Rhology said...

RE: justification, you're absolutely right!
I didn't realise how bad the FV can be until Jonathan Goundry debated that FV guy, and I was floored when the FV debater kept emphasising MONOcovenantalism! Wha!?!?!?

But I hear that not all FV-ers are as bad as he, like Doug W. I hope so, 'cause I like Doug W alot of the time.

orthodox said...

Paedo-communion.. yes or no?

Turretinfan said...

Paedo-communion is another difference between the Orthodox (Reformed Churches) and the Eastern Orthodox. Because infants cannot discern the Lord's body, it is nor proper for them to receive it. So, unless a child is precocious ...

-TurretinFan

orthodox said...

If the "discern the Lord's body" verse is enough to exclude infant baptism, why doesn't the "repent and be baptised" verse exclude baptism?

Anonymous said...

So infant baptism lost the debate. No surprise, since it is unscriptural. The end.

Lockheed said...

Why apply the sign of baptism and yet withhold the one thing that Christ actually identifies with the New Covenant, the cup of communion?

If you say "because infants cannot examine themselves", the credo-baptist is in full agreement for neither can an infant profess faith nor repent ask Scripture demands of those baptized. It is strange that most paedobapists insist on confirmation for the partaking of the Supper but no declaration of faith or repentance for baptism and yet both are clearly taught in Scripture. There is as much Scriptural support to show that one must "repent" and "believe" before being baptized as there is to one "examining" themselves prior to partaking the cup.

It would seem more consistent with the types and shadows of the OT to not only baptize (circumcise) but also commune (allow to partake of the passover meal) infants. Were infants and children excluded from the passover meal?

Turretinfan said...

Lockheed:

You asked: "Why apply the sign of baptism and yet withhold the one thing that Christ actually identifies with the New Covenant, the cup of communion?"

As I mentioned above, the reason is that the communion of the new covenant requires discernment.

You asserted: "It is strange that most paedobapists insist on confirmation for the partaking of the Supper but no declaration of faith or repentance for baptism and yet both are clearly taught in Scripture. "

The declaration of faith and repentance for baptism is either the individual's own, or (in the case of infants) that of the parent(s), just as with circumcision.

You continued: "It would seem more consistent with the types and shadows of the OT to not only baptize (circumcise) but also commune (allow to partake of the passover meal) infants. Were infants and children excluded from the passover meal?"

a) It's really only more consistent in doing other than what Reformed Baptists do with respect to the sacraments. It's not more consistent with Scripture.

b) It's a little hard for infants to eat lamb. But, more importantly, there was no requirement that the lamb be eaten with discernment.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

To answer O's question, see my response to Lockheed. I think it might be interesting to see a Reformed Baptist vs. Eastern Orthodox debate on the subject of paedocommunion.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

I agree with that that it would be interesting to hear the debate between Reformed Baptists and Eastern Orthodox on paedocommunion.

As I read the following remarks above after my last comments these verses came to mind:

Joh 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Joh 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.


We must all agree that there are aspects of this creature, you and me, four parts, spirit, soul, body and flesh, that apply only to that part.

Both circumcision and baptism, after each order, are accomplishing the same thing.

The disorder within a child comes as the child is trained up. Partly the disorder rests upon the parents and their ability to train up a child in the way they should go as they are walking out His Faith with "their" God. And too, partly it is the sinful nature that came with the package at birth. And partly it is a direct confrontation with the enemy spirits allowed to attack us for our benefit.

I have never heard of a newborn born without their flesh component.
Have any of you? :)

The Sacraments indeed are a physical remembrance of physical torture and death done upon a God/human "flesh". It conveys God's Heart and Intent to forgive us all our sins, all of them! It also conveys the utter defeat and soon coming destruction of Satan and the fallen angels.

The most those could "claim" they saw being tortured and put to death was the God/human "flesh" and nothing more unless the eye was opened by God to see more.

In fact, as Scripture teaches, there were only "glimpses" of God that they saw and realized in knowing that God/human as we shall understand:

Mat 16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
Mat 16:14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
Mat 16:15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Mat 16:16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Here we see "Jesus" "making" known to Peter only a glimpse of Who He and Who the Father "Is".

None of them understood the Resurrection. None of them understood the "Last Meal" and what He was saying. It takes a move of the Spirit of God for anyone of us to "Know".

Whether a grown man with his own agenda, as these twelve clearly had or a newborn infant being circumcised eight days later only is obedience to His Faith.

The Sacraments indeed are after one recognizes what partaking is all about, to be sure. You would be amazed just how young some of our children are, who were first baptised at infancy, who recognize what the Sacraments mean. Listening to them would astound you both with their level of understanding and the Presence of God, that sure anointing as they speak about Communion.

It is God, who none of us has seen with our human eyes, who reveals to us Who Jesus Christ is.

John the Baptist leaped with "Joy", clearly a cognizance faculty at work in his spirit, soul and body while as yet in the womb.

It is His Faith and His Presence that makes Known, not my faith or my presence.

Well anyway, that's my other two bits to everyone's two and three and four bits above!

Lockheed said...

"...the new covenant requires discernment."If the New Covenant requires discernment, exactly what covenant are children and infants are baptized into?

Of course, this is the baptist's argument since there is just as much Scriptural support for one to believe the Gospel prior to baptism as discern the body of Christ prior to partaking the Supper.

The declaration of faith and repentance for baptism is either the individual's own, or (in the case of infants) that of the parent(s), just as with circumcision.There is no evidence from Scripture that anyone was baptized on the basis of someone else's faith. Any claim to household baptism, apart from each individual believing, must be backed up with Biblical evidence of such. What Presbyterian truly follows this concept anyway, apart from the Federal Vision types? Do you force unbelieving teens and other unbelieving, unrepentant family members living with you to be baptized?

In fact the pattern is always personal repentance and expression of faith prior to baptism. Hence the command to "repent and be baptized" and the like all through Scripture, more places, in fact, than any command to examine oneself and/or discern the body of Christ prior to partaking of the cup. How can an infant "count the cost" (Luke 14:18, "believe" (Mark 16:16), "repent" (Acts 2:38)?

It is therefore inconsistent to withhold the cup on the basis that an infant "cannot discern" and yet apply baptism to an infant who cannot "believe".

Consider also that Reformed paedobaptists demand an expression of faith from adult converts prior to baptism AND the partaking of the cup. Why demand a confession of an adult but not an infant? What if the adult is the offspring of a believer, do you still withhold baptism for a confession? Can't you hear the inconsistency screaming?

At least we baptists see the command to "repent" prior to baptism applying to everyone that the command "discern" applies to.

It's really only more consistent in doing other than what Reformed Baptists do with respect to the sacraments. It's not more consistent with Scripture.Explain why Tur8infan.

Again, my claim is this:
1) There is as much evidence in the NT that a profession of faith and repentance is a requirement for baptism as the command for "discerning the body" and "examining oneself" is a requirement for communion.

2) The paedocommunionists are consistent in acknowledging that just as federal headship applies to baptism, it would likewise apply to communion. For just as the "declaration of faith and repentance" can be the parent's for baptism (as you said), why cannot the "discerning" be likewise?

3) Baptists are consistent in acknowledging that Scripture demands both individual repentance for baptism and discernment for the Supper.

It's a little hard for infants to eat lamb. But, more importantly, there was no requirement that the lamb be eaten with discernment.Firstly, the infants and children usually saw the lamb slain for the passover. There was no need to discern a lamb when they saw it slain.

But one who was to partake of passover was to "consecrate themselves", can infants do that? (2 Chron 30:15, 35:6)

Why does federal headship apply to baptism but not the one thing actually declared by Christ to be "the new covenant"?

Lockheed said...

I then consider, in light of that, the baby leaping for Joy in his mother's womb, John the Baptist.This has been brought up twice now, and I want to address it. How is this an argument for federal headship paedobaptism?

If you're arguing that infants can be filled with the Spirit, there's no argument, but if you're claiming that this somehow suggests that infants must be baptized, there's simply no case.

Remember, the paedobaptist claim is that infants should be baptized on the basis of their parent's faith, not their potential filling of the Spirit, God's love for them, or any other quality of the infant themselves. Yet these kind of arguments are trotted out at every debate.

Simply put, there is no argument between credobaptists and paedobaptists on the nature, qualities and capabilities of infants in relation to the regenerating work of the Spirit, God's general love for them, or their ability be saved, rather, the argument is over who the proper subjects of baptism are as define in the New Testament by the written words of the Apostles themselves.

Turretinfan said...

"Remember, the paedobaptist claim is that infants should be baptized on the basis of their parent's faith, not their potential filling of the Spirit, God's love for them, or any other quality of the infant themselves."

With respect, Lockheed, both arguments are relevant: both the fact that the parents have faith as well as the potentiality of at least a seed of faith in infants.

-TurretinFan

Lockheed said...

both arguments are relevant: both the fact that the parents have faith as well as the potentiality of at least a seed of faith in infants.How is this "seed of faith" an argument for paedobaptism ~ based on federal headship? Do you require evidence of a "seed of faith" prior to infant baptism? If not, how is this in any way relevant?

Reformed Baptists do not deny that God can and does work in infants, we simply believe, as Scripture's amply provides, that one profess faith prior to baptism. That doesn't mean God cannot or does not regenerate, save or otherwise work in infants and children.

We simply take your argument against paedocommunion and consistently apply it to baptism.

Turretinfan said...

Lockheed:

As I mentioned to CD above, I don't want to turn this comment box into a debate over infant baptism. Nevertheless, I'll address the contentions in your lengthy comment above:

Lockheed: ""...the new covenant requires discernment."If the New Covenant requires discernment, exactly what covenant are children and infants are baptized into?"

You've poorly parsed my original comment. It is the communion that requires discernment. I assume that your quotation was based on misreading, not on a desire to misrepresent. So, to clarify "requires discernment" modifies "communion" not "covenant."

Lockheed: "Of course, this is the baptist's argument since there is just as much Scriptural support for one to believe the Gospel prior to baptism as discern the body of Christ prior to partaking the Supper."

Already addressed above.

Lockheed: ""The declaration of faith and repentance for baptism is either the individual's own, or (in the case of infants) that of the parent(s), just as with circumcision." There is no evidence from Scripture that anyone was baptized on the basis of someone else's faith. Any claim to household baptism, apart from each individual believing, must be backed up with Biblical evidence of such. What Presbyterian truly follows this concept anyway, apart from the Federal Vision types? Do you force unbelieving teens and other unbelieving, unrepentant family members living with you to be baptized?"

There is no evidence in Scripture of any woman taking communion. Nevertheless, we do admit women to communion. The Scriptural basis for children being given the outward sign of the covenant is found in the Old Testament, with there being no indication in the New Testament that such a practice should be discontinued (as well as several evidences suggestive of its continuation ... i.e. the household baptisms).

Yes, though, in cases where an unbaptized person comes to faith in Christ, we normally baptize them and those under their headship. Obviously, if a child is sufficiently grown that he can refuse baptism, we would not baptism that child. When slaves were around, we did baptize them too.

Lockheed: "In fact the pattern is always personal repentance and expression of faith prior to baptism. Hence the command to "repent and be baptized" and the like all through Scripture, more places, in fact, than any command to examine oneself and/or discern the body of Christ prior to partaking of the cup. How can an infant "count the cost" (Luke 14:18, "believe" (Mark 16:16), "repent" (Acts 2:38)?"

The John the Baptist example demonstrates that young infants can, in theory, have faith, repentance, and a regenerate heart. (and you wonder why it keeps getting trotted out in debates ...)

And, like circumcision, it is a sign of repentant faith. Nevertheless, as with circumcision, it is appropriate for all the outward members of the covenant, not only those who have professed faith.

Lockheed: "It is therefore inconsistent to withhold the cup on the basis that an infant "cannot discern" and yet apply baptism to an infant who cannot "believe"."

We withhold it out of caution, since there is a warning against eating unworthily. There is no warning against being baptized unworthily (as though such a thing were possible).

Lockheed: "Consider also that Reformed paedobaptists demand an expression of faith from adult converts prior to baptism AND the partaking of the cup. Why demand a confession of an adult but not an infant? What if the adult is the offspring of a believer, do you still withhold baptism for a confession? Can't you hear the inconsistency screaming?"

a) If they are children of a believer and under that believer's headship, they ought to have been baptized already. If they were not already so baptized, I assume a Presbyterian chuch would proceed to do so without delay.

b) If, however, their parents refuse to give them the sign of baptism, the church will give it upon profession of faith since the only two ways to be part of the congregation are by one's parents and by profession of faith.

Lockheed: "At least we baptists see the command to "repent" prior to baptism applying to everyone that the command "discern" applies to."

Since the command regarding discernment applies to communion alone, such an application to baptism is unwarranted.

Lockheed: "'It's really only more consistent in doing other than what Reformed Baptists do with respect to the sacraments. It's not more consistent with Scripture.'Explain why Tur8infan."

I think I have done so above.

Lockheed: "Again, my claim is this:
1) There is as much evidence in the NT that a profession of faith and repentance is a requirement for baptism as the command for "discerning the body" and "examining oneself" is a requirement for communion.

2) The paedocommunionists are consistent in acknowledging that just as federal headship applies to baptism, it would likewise apply to communion. For just as the "declaration of faith and repentance" can be the parent's for baptism (as you said), why cannot the "discerning" be likewise?

3) Baptists are consistent in acknowledging that Scripture demands both individual repentance for baptism and discernment for the Supper."

As to (1), there is no warning about being baptized unworthily. The question is not the quantity of verses brought to bear, but the content and message of the verses. The "beleive and be baptized" are inclusive verses. The warning against unworthy eating is an exclusive verse.

As to (2), communing is a personal act by the communicant, baptism is not an act by the recipient. That's a sufficient basis to distinguish the two.

Lockheed: "'It's a little hard for infants to eat lamb. But, more importantly, there was no requirement that the lamb be eaten with discernment.' Firstly, the infants and children usually saw the lamb slain for the passover. There was no need to discern a lamb when they saw it slain."

Umm ... the lamb was Christ. It seems likely that most of those who partook did not discern this, both among the adults and among any non-adults that partook. There was no requirement for discernemnt at that time. More is required now, because more light has been given.

Lockheed: "But one who was to partake of passover was to "consecrate themselves", can infants do that? (2 Chron 30:15, 35:6)"

Well ... 2 Chronicles 30:15 refers to the priests sanctifying themeselves to go offer burnt offerings.

But, generally speaking, those who came to the Passover had to be ceremonially clean (although there was an exception for those who had been made unclean by touching a dead body). An infant could be ceremonial clean, although the infant could also potentially be ceremonially unclean.

Lockheed: "Why does federal headship apply to baptism but not the one thing actually declared by Christ to be "the new covenant"?"

Christ didn't declare communion to be the new covenant. It is the cup OF the new covenant.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Lockheed:

To answer your last comment, "How is this "seed of faith" an argument for paedobaptism ~ based on federal headship? Do you require evidence of a "seed of faith" prior to infant baptism? If not, how is this in any way relevant?"

It's a response to the objection that alleges that infants cannot be regenerate.

Lockheed again: "Reformed Baptists do not deny that God can and does work in infants, we simply believe, as Scripture's amply provides, that one profess faith prior to baptism. That doesn't mean God cannot or does not regenerate, save or otherwise work in infants and children."

Yet, as noted above where I made reference to John the Baptist, sometimes you argue as though you didn't think that.

Lockheed wrote: "We simply take your argument against paedocommunion and consistently apply it to baptism."

As noted above, my argument against paedocommunion is based on a specific warning. There's nothing "consistent" about applying that warning to baptism. So, no. That's not what Reformed Baptists do.

Now, I have refrained from actively going after the Reformed Baptist position, and unless you (Lockheed) feel you need to clarify something you already said, I'm going to call a close to this particular exchange, since it does seem headed in the direction of a com-box debate on the subject (which is not where I want it to go).

-TurretinFan

Lockheed said...

It's a response to the objection that alleges that infants cannot be regenerate.Who exactly believes that?

Turretinfan said...

No one, apparently, and yet we still get objections like those you made: "How can an infant "count the cost" (Luke 14:18, "believe" (Mark 16:16), "repent" (Acts 2:38)?"

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

I wrote: "Christ didn't declare communion to be the new covenant. It is the cup OF the new covenant."

This shows why I should always have my Bible open when I type here. The verses that Lockheed is thinking of say:

Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

1 Corithians 11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

The verses I was thinking of say:

Mat 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mar 14:24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

2Co 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Hebrews 9:15-16

15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

The death of Christ is the new covenant. The cup symbolizes and portrays his death viz his blood, which is shed for the elect.

-TurretinFan

orthodox said...

>b) It's a little hard for infants to eat lamb.

Really? A brand new-born perhaps, but since when is the argument about that?

>But, more importantly, there was no requirement
>that the lamb be eaten with discernment.

I presume we are talking about 1Cor 11:29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.

Of course, this strictly speaking isn't a "requirement", rather it is stating a cause and consequence.

Of course, the next verse is.. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.

Since in something approaching two millenia of paedo-communion, nobody has noticed children being weak and sick and dying from it, the logical conclusion is that the consequent is not applicable to infants. And since impirically there is no problem, then there is in fact no consequence and thus no problem.

BTW, since the communion is a reenactment of the passover, whence children partook, did the church practice paedo-communion until 1 Cor was written, in your alternative sola-scriptura universe?

But I still haven't heard how 1Co 11 is supposedly a "requirement", but "repent and be baptised" is not a requirement.

I also see a great irony that you yourself do not discern the Lord's body, all you discern is wheat and grapes and possibly some spiritual presence(?).

Turretinfan said...

Most of what O says I have simply published so that people can gawk. But there is one point that I want to highlight:

"Since in something approaching two millenia of paedo-communion, nobody has noticed children being weak and sick and dying from it, the logical conclusion is that the consequent is not applicable to infants."

There may be reasons why some churches that claim ancient lineage practice paedocommunion, but this is not one of them.

In fact, the real reason relates to the idea that infants who have been cleansed of original sin (something a lot of folks like "Orthodox" like to pretend doesn't exist) and who do not have actual sin do not need to examine themselves, because such an examination would turn up nothing.

This view, of course, is Biblically errant, since even infants do have actual sin.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

O, you put forth an interesting study and thought.

I would ask you with regard to infant baptism, what is the sum effect you are pointing to, seeing Paul wrote these words in chapter 7 about "their holiness" before the Lord and the Holy Ghost and the Holy Christian Church and the governing Authorities of the Holy Christian Church sanctioned by the Holy Ghost?

1Co 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

I would add, that not only are the "children" holy, the unbelieving husband is too! Hmmmmm?

What then was your point about infants and baptism? Wasn't the truth hinged already upon paedocommunion and not paedobaptism?

Mitch said...

Steve Hays recently had a interesting question about communion and kids/babies, if you deny communion to kids/babies then would you also deny communion to pregnant women?

Turretinfan said...

No, of course not. Nor do I go around taking special precautions regarding what is cast out in the draughts after the supper by the communicants. I don't hold to any form of transubstantiation.

-TurretinFan

Lockheed said...

No one, apparently, and yet we still get objections like those you made: "How can an infant "count the cost" (Luke 14:18, "believe" (Mark 16:16), "repent" (Acts 2:38)?"You and I would agree that regeneration is not the result of believing, counting the cost or repenting, but the fruit thereof. I also assume that we both do not subscribe to baptismal regeneration.

Thus the objects that infants cannot "count the cost" etc. was in direct response to the idea that because we're commanded to "discern the body" etc in regards to the Supper infants should be excluded from partaking. Since infants cannot "count the cost" etc, why should they be baptized? You can point to circumcision all you want, but I believe the inconsistency is now clearly evident.

Since Scripture commands believers to "count the cost", repent, etc, should not one withhold baptism until one is able to do so?

Reformed Baptists do not believe that belief results in regeneration, thus a child or infant may be regenerate, however, the fact that one might be regenerate is not Biblical reason for baptism, rather, the profession of faith is shown, time and again, as the reason to baptize.

Thanks for your time.

Turretinfan said...

Lockheed:

I'm afraid you're missing the point. The regeneration is the predicate of faith etc. It is not argued simply that JtB was regenerate but also that he had faith.

-TurretinFan

Lockheed said...

It is not argued simply that JtB was regenerate but also that he had faith.Perhaps I'm still not getting it... Since when do the Reformed believe in or teach infantile faith?

Are you suggesting that we baptize infants on the basis of the possibility of infantile faith or on the grounds of federal headship or both?

Perhaps I need to approach this in a different way. Consider me not simply a Baptist agitator, but a serious investigator into this practice who has attended a paedobaptist church for several years.

Thanks!

Turretinfan said...

Again, no. It's not a positive argument for baptizing infants. It's just a response to the claims like the one you made above that infants shouldn't be baptized because infants cannot possibly have faith.

-TurretinFan

Lockheed said...

It's just a response to the claims like the one you made above that infants shouldn't be baptized because infants cannot possibly have faith.Wow, its amazing that you can completely miss what I've said for this caricature, I sincerely hope its simply my inability to explain myself that has led to this.

This has never been my argument. Rather, my argument is that Scripture demands faith for baptism, as it does discernment for partaking the Supper.Since it is your position that the warnings of 1 Cor 11 disallow infants from taking the Supper apart from their personal discernment, I'm simply saying that it is only consistent to disallow baptism until a personal profession.

You point to discontinuity between the Supper and passover meal, and yet there is as much discontinuity between baptism and circumcision.

But your reply of course begs the question, if an infant can have faith, why do you believe it impossible for them to "discern"? Surely neither is possible apart from the supernatural grace of God.

I have to ask this again... why does federal headship apply to baptism, even though Scripture, time and again, demands faith before baptism but it doesn't apply in regards to the Supper.

Cannot the federal head "discern" for the whole household?

Turretinfan said...

Lockheed: "Wow, its amazing that you can completely miss what I've said for this caricature, I sincerely hope its simply my inability to explain myself that has led to this."

It must be. I did not intend to caricature but to rephrase your previous comment: "If you say "because infants cannot examine themselves", the credo-baptist is in full agreement for neither can an infant profess faith nor repent ask Scripture demands of those baptized."

Lockheed: "Rather, my argument is that Scripture demands faith for baptism, as it does discernment for partaking the Supper."

Whether or not the Scripture "demands faith for baptism," I hope will admit that it provides absolutely no warning comparable to the warning given to those who unworthily partake of communion. As such, the expression "as it does" glosses over a remarkable difference.

Lockheed: "You point to discontinuity between the Supper and passover meal, and yet there is as much discontinuity between baptism and circumcision."

No, there is not.

Lockheed: "But your reply of course begs the question, if an infant can have faith, why do you believe it impossible for them to "discern"? Surely neither is possible apart from the supernatural grace of God."

Sure, I misspoke. Let me clarify. It is impossible for us to determine whether they can discern. Out of an abundance of caution, we bar them from the table until we reasonably believe that they can discern. That's not just true of infants, but of all who seek to come to the Lord's table.

Lockheed: "I have to ask this again... why does federal headship apply to baptism, even though Scripture, time and again, demands faith before baptism but it doesn't apply in regards to the Supper."

Because federal headship applied to circumcision, and there is no reason to suppose that we should discontinue the federal practice. There's nothing comparable to the discernment warning that would make us think that baptism of infants of believers would not be baptized, just as infants of believers were circumcized.

Lockheed: "Cannot the federal head "discern" for the whole household?"

No. The verse says "a man ... himself."

-TurretinFan

orthodox said...

"I hope will admit that it provides absolutely no warning comparable to the warning given to those who unworthily partake of communion"

And you of course can quote the scripture that defines "unworthily", can you?

Do you think the Jews which made up all the early church, who circumcised their children on the eighth day, and whose children participated in the passover meal, considered their children "unworthy" to receive? Hardly.

Did Jesus for that matter? Suffer the little children come unto me etc.

Turretinfan said...

"And you of course can quote the scripture that defines "unworthily", can you?"

Yes, of course.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

TF,

not sure if this one will be published?

Not sure how far you want to go with this thread?

Something came to me this morning as I read these words of Lockheed:

"....You and I would agree that regeneration is not the result of believing, counting the cost or repenting, but the fruit thereof. I also assume that we both do not subscribe to baptismal regeneration...."

I do not know where you stand with his point?

I know where I stand though. It is this.

What occurred when reading those words cited above or rather, what came to me in the way of the Word of God is the reality of Aaron's rod.

Think of it. Here is an Almond limb, severed from all source of "natural" law and life. It is cut off. Yet, by God's "power" and "creative authority" it not only buds, blossoms, it also bears "fruit"! It then is put "inside" the ark of the Covenant with the tables and the jar of manna.

How much more to God is the "Elect" human infant in the womb or out than an Almond tree, let alone a severed limb cut off it's tree?

We narrow ourselves in these matters of baptismal regeneration to our great ability to opine our understandings of these things missing the Choice God makes. And that is sad. Whether the child is regenerated in the womb as John the Baptist or after, is not really the issue. What is the issue is the "Life" within at any stage, even to the degree that God asked the Prophet, "Hey, can these bones live?"

God associates His Own to one kind of "Plant" and then makes the distinction to another kind of "plant" by regeneration. Baptism is the outward "sign" of the inward death that must occur in order for there to be the intended and chosen "resurrection".


To those "Plants" of His choosing, the Elect, they shall never be uprooted not because of their abilities anyway. Our Life in this life is God's doing and it is wonderful in our sight, such wretched souls as we are born.

Anyway, as I read his words, I thought about it and as I did those verses about Aaron's rod came to me. I know it was the Holy Ghost because it has got to be about several years ago, and I have a fairly good memory, since I thought about his rod.

His "life's work was to be the line of Priests that was set aside for a better line of Priests in His "Life's Work".

Gary said...

Maybe the Infant Baptism debate has been approached from the wrong direction. Instead of starting with our disagreements, let's start with what Baptists/evangelicals and orthodox Christians AGREE upon: All persons who believe and have faith in Christ as their Savior should follow his command and be baptized as soon as possible.

So the next question is: Can an infant believe and have faith?

Evangelical and Baptist brothers and sisters in Christ: If I can prove to you from Scripture that infants not only can but DO believe and have faith, would you accept infant baptism as Scriptural?

http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/09/the-bible-says-that-infants-can-have.html

Rhology said...

I should think one would also need to be able to show how we can know which infants have saving faith.