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Romans Excursus on Baptism. Part I. Historical Overview. A Brief Overview of the History of Baptism in the Christian Church Q. Why?

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Romans excursus on baptism

Romans

Excursus on Baptism


Romans excursus on baptism

Part I. Historical Overview


Romans excursus on baptism

A Brief Overview of the History of

Baptism in the Christian Church

Q. Why?

A. By understanding how the issues of baptism developed within the history of the Church, we can understand how certain (mis)understandings developed, as well as why, where, and when they developed. We will then be in a better position to evaluate those (mis)understandings.

Q. What?

A. We will consider the historical development of meaning the baptism, the mode of baptism, and the subjects of baptism.


Romans excursus on baptism

Key Scripture passages during Early Church

Mark 16:16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved . . .”

John 3:5 “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’”


Romans excursus on baptism

The Post-Apostolic & Early Church

The 2nd & 3rd Centuries


Romans excursus on baptism

  • The Shepherd of Hermas (c. 140 AD)

    • And I said to him, “I should like to continue my questions.” “Speak on,” said he. And I said, “I heard, sir, some teachers maintain that there is no other repentance than that which takes place, when we descended into the water and received remission of our former sins.” He said to me, “That was sound doctrine which you heard; for that is really the case. For he who has received remission of his sins ought not to sin any more, but to live in purity.

    • Mandates, 4.3


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Justin Martyr (100-165)

    • “Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’”

    • “. . . in order that we . . . may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe.”

    • The First Apology, chp. 61


Romans excursus on baptism

Irenaeus (c. 125-190)

“The first mention of infant baptism, and an obscure one, was about 185 by Irenaeus.”

Walker, History of the Christian Church

Note: this in not merely obscure, it is always not positively the first mention of infant baptism. There is plenty of debate over this occurance.


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Irenaeus (c. 185)

    • “For He came to save all through means of Himself—all, I say, who through Him are born again to God 1 — infants 2, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord.” [Heresies.2:20]

  • 1 The reference in these words may be to baptism, as appears from comparing book iii. 17, 1.

  • 2 It has been remarked by some this may be a reference to the baptism of infants in the primitive Church.


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Tertullian (c.160-220)

    • “Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life!”

    • Baptism, chp. 1


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Tertullian (160-240)

  • Opposed baptism of children.

    • “And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children.

    • Let them know how to ask for salvation, that you may seem (at least) to have given to him that asketh.” [cf. Luke 6:30]

    • Baptism, chp. 18


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Tertullian (160-240)

  • Opposed early baptism of anyone.

    • “For no less cause must the unwedded also be deferred . . . until they either marry, or else be more fully strengthened for continence.

    • If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay.”

    • Baptism, chp. 18


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Origen (185-253)

    • “According to the usage of the church, baptism is given even to infants” [Homil. VIII in Lev. Chp. 12]

    • “Infants are baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Of what sins? Or, when have they sinned? . . By baptism native pollution is taken away, therefore infants are baptized.” [Homil. In Luke, 14]

    • “For this cause it was that the church received a tradition from the apostles to give baptism even to infants.”

    • Comm. on Rom 5:9


Romans excursus on baptism

The Nicene Era

The 4th Century


Romans excursus on baptism

Constantine & the Edict of Milan (313 AD)

Christianity is legalized.

In 313 Constantine announced that it was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best, thereby granting tolerance to all religions, including Christianity.

This edict made the Empire officially neutral with regard to religious worship; it neither made paganism illegal nor made Christianity the state religion.


Romans excursus on baptism

Constantine

The Edict of Milan “was a decisive step from hostile neutrality to friendly neutrality and protection, and prepared the way for the legal recognition of Christianity, as the religion of the empire.”

“With Constantine, therefore, the last of the heathen, the first of the Christian, emperors, a new period begins.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 2, 72, 73.


Romans excursus on baptism

Constantine

“The story, that in one year (324) twelve thousand men, with women and children in proportion, were baptized in Rome, and that the emperor had promised to each convert a white garment and twenty pieces of gold, is at least in accordance with the spirit of that reign, though the fact itself, in all probability, is greatly exaggerated. “

Schaff, Hist. Vol 3, 31-32.


Romans excursus on baptism

Constantine

“The emperor now issued a general exhortation to his subjects to embrace the Christian religion, still leaving them, however, to their own free conviction. In the year 325, as patron of the church, he summoned the council of Nice, . .”

“He first introduced the practice of subscription to the articles of a written creed and of the infliction of civil punishments for non-conformity.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 3, 32.


Romans excursus on baptism

Constantine

Q. How would these facts regarding Constantine impact “the Christian church”?

Q. How did the view of baptism at this time correspond with the “Christianization” of the Roman Empire? How were Christians “made”?

Q. What impact would this potentially have on the view of infant baptism?


Romans excursus on baptism

4th Century

“Gregory Nazianzen [329-390] sees in baptism all blessings of Christianity combined, especially the forgiveness of sins, the new birth, and the restoration of the divine image. To children it is a seal of grace and a consecration to the service of God.”

“According to Gregory of Nyssa [335-394], the child by baptism is instated in the paradise from which Adam was thrust out.”

“Chrysostom [347-407] taught: We baptize children, though they are not stained with sin, in order that holiness, righteousness, sonship, inheritance, and brotherhood may be imparted to them through Christ.”

Schaff, History, Vol 3, 481.


Romans excursus on baptism

4th Century

“Augustine [354-430] brought the operation of baptism into connection with his more complete doctrine of original sin. Baptism delivers from the guilt of original sin, and takes away the sinful character of the concupiscence of the flesh, while for the adult it at the same time effects the forgiveness of all actual transgressions before baptism.”

“Like Ambrose [337-397] and other fathers, Augustine taught the necessity of baptism for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, on the ground of John 3:5, and deduced therefrom, in logical consistency, the terrible doctrine of the damnation of all unbaptized children, though he assigned them the mildest grade of perdition.”

“The council of Carthage, in 318, did the same, and in its second canon rejected the notion of a happy middle state for unbaptized children.” Schaff, Hist. Vol 3, 482.


Romans excursus on baptism

4th Century

“In Augustine we already find all the germs of the scholastic and Catholic doctrine of baptism, . . . According to this view, baptism is the sacrament of regeneration, which is, negatively, the means of the forgiveness of sin, that is, both of original sin and of actual sins committed before baptism (not after it), and positively, the foundation of the new spiritual life of faith through the impartation of [grace].”

“The subjective condition of this effect is the worthy receiving, that is, penitent faith. Since in the child there is no actual sin, the effect of baptism in this case is limited to the remission of the guilt of original sin; and since the child cannot yet itself believe, the Christian church (represented by the parents and the sponsors) here appears in its behalf, as Augustine likewise supposed , . .”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 3, 482.


Romans excursus on baptism

Summary of the First Five Centuries

In Summary, from the earliest records of the ‘early church fathers’ it is evident that baptism was viewed as necessary to regeneration.

From this view point developed the later idea (as articulated by Augustine) that anyone who died without baptism would be eternally lost – including infants and children.

It is little wonder that the practice of infant baptism developed in the early church given these mis-interpretations of baptism.


Romans excursus on baptism

The Mediaeval & Middle Age Church

6th – 13th Centuries


Romans excursus on baptism

Mediaeval church (590-1073 AD)

“Mediaeval Christianity was intensely sacramental, sacerdotal and hierarchical. The ideas of priest, sacrifice, and altar are closely connected. The sacraments were regarded as the channels of all grace and the chief food of the soul. They accompanied human life from the cradle to the grave. The child was saluted into this world by the sacrament of baptism; the old man was provided with the viaticum [necessities for a journey] on his journey to the other world.”

“The chief sacraments were baptism and the eucharist. Baptism was regarded as the sacrament of the new birth which opens the door to the kingdom of heaven; the eucharist as the sacrament of sanctification which maintains and nourishes the new life.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 4, 436.


Romans excursus on baptism

The Middle Ages (1049-1294 AD)

“Baptism is the door to the other sacraments and to the kingdom of heaven. It is certain evidence that the heart is already regenerated. For the necessity of baptism, Thomas Aquinas and the other Schoolmen rely upon John 3:5, ‘except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ”

“Of all the sacraments the most necessary, baptism effects regeneration, nay, it is regeneration itself. Baptism also has the positive effect of conferring grace, an effect which is symbolized by the clearness of water.”

Schaff, Hist, Vol 5, 708-9


Romans excursus on baptism

The Middle Ages (1049-1294 AD)

“Children are proper subjects of baptism because they are under the curse of Adam. As the mother nourishes her offspring in the womb before it can nourish itself, so in the bosom of mother Church infants are nourished, and they receive salvation through the act of the Church.”

“The definition of baptism excludes all unbaptized children, dying in infancy, from heaven.”

Schaff, Hist, Vol 5, 710


Romans excursus on baptism

The Protestant Reformation

16th Century


Romans excursus on baptism

Unbaptized Children?

“The Reformers, Zwingli excepted, shared the views of the mediaeval theology that unbaptized children dying in infancy are lost. . . It remained for a still later Protestant period to pronounce in favor of the salvation of all such children in view of the superabounding fullness of the atonement and our Lord’s words, ‘for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ ”

Schaff, Hist, Vol 5, 710


Romans excursus on baptism

Martin Luther (1517-1530)

“Luther thanks God that this sacrament has been preserved uninjured, and kept from "the foul and impious monstrosities of avarice and superstition." He agrees essentially with the Roman doctrine, and considers baptism as a means of regeneration; while Zwingli and Calvin regarded it merely as a sign and seal of preceding regeneration and church-membership.”

“Luther agreed substantially with the Roman Catholic doctrine of baptism.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 7, 218; 607

“As to the mode of baptism, he gives here, as elsewhere, his preference to immersion, . .” Schaff, Hist. Vol 7, 218


Romans excursus on baptism

Martin Luther (1517-1530)

“Luther’s view of baptismal regeneration seems to be inconsistent with his chief doctrine of justification by faith alone. He says, ‘It is not baptism which justifies any man, or is of any advantage; but faith in that word of promise to which baptism is added: for this justifies and fulfills the meaning of baptism. For faith is the submerging of the old man, and the emerging of the new man.’ ”

“But how does this apply to baptized infants, who can not be said to have faith in any proper sense of the term, though they have undoubtedly the capacity of faith? Luther here brings in the vicarious faith of the parents or the Church. But he suggests also the idea that faith is produced in the children, through baptism, on the ground of their religious receptivity.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 7, 218


Romans excursus on baptism

Zwingli (1484-1531)

“He was much less influenced by tradition, and further removed from Romanism. He himself aimed from the start at a thorough, practical purification of church life, and so far agreed with the Radicals. Moreover, he doubted for a while the expediency (not the right) of infant baptism, and deemed it better to put off the sacrament to years of discretion.”

“He rejected the Roman doctrine of the necessity of baptism for salvation and the damnation of unbaptized infants dying in infancy.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 8, 72-73


Romans excursus on baptism

Zwingli (1484-1531)

“On maturer reflection he modified his views. He learned from experience that it was impossible to realize an ideal church of believers, and stopped with what was attainable.”

“As to infant baptism, he became convinced of its expediency in Christian families. He defended it with the analogy of circumcision in the Old Testament (Col. 2:11), with the comprehensiveness of the New Covenant, which embraces whole families and nations, and with the command of Christ, "Suffer little children to come unto Me," from which he inferred that he who refuses children to be baptized prevents them from coming to Christ.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 8, 72-73


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin (1509-1564)

“Whether the person baptized is to be wholly immersed, and that whether once or thrice, or whether he is only to be sprinkled with water, is not of the least consequence: churches should be at liberty to adopt either, according to the diversity of climates, although it is evident that the term baptize means to immerse, and that this was the form used by the primitive Church.”

Calvin, Institutes, IV.15.19


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin (1509-1564)

“But while meeting the Baptists half-way on the question of the mode, he strenuously defends paedobaptism, and devotes a whole chapter to it. He urges, as arguments, circumcision, which was a type of baptism; the nature of the covenant, which comprehends the offspring of pious parents; Christ’s treatment of children, as belonging to the kingdom of heaven, and therefore entitled to the sign and seal of membership; the word of Peter addressed to the converts on the day of Pentecost, who were accustomed to infant circumcision, that "the promise is to you and your children" (Acts 2:39); Paul’s declaration that the children are sanctified by their parents (1 Cor. 7:14), etc.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 8, 587


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin (1509-1564)

“He assigns to infant baptism a double benefit: it ratifies to pious parents the promise of God’s mercy to their children, and increases their sense of responsibility as to their education; it engrafts the children into the body of the Church, and afterwards acts as a powerful stimulus upon them to be true to the baptismal vow.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 8, 587


Romans excursus on baptism

The Reformers on mode

“The mode of baptism was not an article of controversy at that time; for the Reformers either preferred immersion (Luther), or held the mode to be a matter of indifference (Calvin).”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 7, 607


Romans excursus on baptism

The Anabaptists

“All the Reformers retained the custom of infant-baptism, and opposed rebaptism as a heresy. So far they agreed with the Catholics against the Anabaptists, because in their view the baptism of infants was no baptism at all.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 7, 607


Romans excursus on baptism

The Anabaptists

“The Anabaptists or Baptists sprang up in Germany, Holland, and Switzerland, and organized independent congregations. They thought that the Reformers stopped half-way, and did not go to the root of the evil. They broke with the historical tradition, and constructed a new church of believers on the voluntary principle.”

“Their fundamental doctrine was, that baptism is a voluntary act, and requires personal repentance, and faith in Christ. They rejected infant-baptism as an anti-scriptural invention. They could find no trace of it in the New Testament, the only authority in matters of faith.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 7, 607


Romans excursus on baptism

The Anabaptists

“They were cruelly persecuted in Protestant as well as Roman Catholic countries. We must carefully distinguish the better class of Baptists and the Mennonites from the restless revolutionary radicals and fanatics.”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 7, 607


Romans excursus on baptism

End of Historical Overview


Romans excursus on baptism

Part II. Current Thought


Romans excursus on baptism

Part II. Current Thought

Roman Catholicism maintains the mediaeval position on baptism.

The current Protestant position on infant baptism is closely tied in with the thought and arguments developed in the 17th century.


Romans excursus on baptism

Roman Catholic


Romans excursus on baptism

ARTICLE 1 - THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.“

Catechism of the Catholic Church


Romans excursus on baptism

The Baptism of infants

1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.

1251 Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them.

Catechism of the Catholic Church


Romans excursus on baptism

Protestant

Anglican branch

Lutheran branch

Calvinistic branch


Romans excursus on baptism

Protestant Branches


Romans excursus on baptism

The Anglican Church

The 39 Articles form the basic summary of belief of the Church of England. Clergymen were ordered to subscribe to the 39 Articles by Act of Parliament in 1571.

Article XXVII: Of Baptism

Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but is also a sign of Regeneration or new Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.


Romans excursus on baptism

United Methodist

The Articles of Religion. When the Methodist movement in America became a church in 1784, John Wesley provided the American Methodists with a liturgy and a doctrinal statement, which contained twenty-four "Articles of Religion" or basic statements of belief. These Articles of Religion were taken from the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England—the church out of which the Methodism movement began—and had been the standards for preaching within the Methodist movement.

Article XVII—Of Baptism

Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.


Romans excursus on baptism

Lutheran

Article VIII: What the Church Is.

“Although the Church properly is the congregation of saints and true believers, nevertheless, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ: The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, etc. Matt. 23:2. Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil men”

Augsburg Confession


Romans excursus on baptism

Lutheran

Article IX: Of Baptism.“Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace.”

Augsburg Confession


Romans excursus on baptism

Reformed & Calvinistic systems

Presbyterian


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Overview Magisterial Reformation.

  • The Magisterial Reformers (and the subsequent movements from them) have a particular understanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and the nature of the “visible church,” which is a key factor in their understanding of baptism.

    • I. Reformers’ view of three-fold division of Law.

    • II. Reformers’view of the OT as still in force

    • III. Reformers’ view of unity of the OT & NT Church.

    • IV. Reformers’ view of the unity of the “covenant.”

    • V. Reformers’ view of the “visible” church.


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin

Three-fold Division of Law.

“The term ‘law’ for Calvin may mean (1) the whole religion of Moses; (2) the special revelation of the moral law to the chosen people, i.e., chiefly the Decalogue and Jesus’ summary; or (3) various bodies of civil, judicial, and ceremonial statutes.”

Editor’s footnote, Battles’ translation, Institutes, II.7.1


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin

Old Testament still in force.

“Some unskilful persons, from not attending to this, boldly discard the whole law of Moses, and do away with both its Tables, imagining it unchristian to adhere to a doctrine which contains the ministration of death. Banish this wicked thought from our minds! For Moses has admirably shown that the Law, which can produce nothing but death in sinners, ought to have a better and more excellent effect upon the righteous.”

Calvin, Institutes, II.X.2


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin

Unity of OT & NT “church”

“All men adopted by God into the company of his people since the beginning of the world were covenanted to him by the same law and by the bond of the same doctrine as obtains among us.”

“The covenant made with all the patriarchs is so much like ours in substance and reality that the two are actually one and the same.”

Calvin, Institutes, II.X.2


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin

The Unity of the Covenant.

“The covenant made with all the fathers is so far from differing from ours in reality and substance, that it is altogether one and the same: still the administration differs.”

Calvin, Institutes, II.X.2


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin

The Unity of the Covenant.

“Let us pass to the very formula of the covenant, . . . The covenant which God always made with his servants was this, "I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people," (Lev. 26: 12). These words, even as the prophets are wont to expound them, comprehend life and salvation, and the whole sum of blessedness. . .

And though nothing more had been expressed, they had a sufficiently clear promise of spiritual life in these words, "I am your God," (Exod. 6: 7). ”

Calvin, Institutes, II.X.2


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin

The “Visible Church”

“I have observed that the Scriptures speak of the Church in two ways. Sometimes when they speak of the Church they mean the Church as it really is before God . . . Often, too, by the name of Church is designated the whole body of mankind scattered throughout the world, who profess to worship one God and Christ, who by baptism are initiated into the faith; . . In this Church there is a very large mixture of hypocrites, who have nothing of Christ but the name and outward appearance. . . Hence, as it is necessary to believe the invisible Church, which is manifest to the eye of God only, so we are also enjoined to regard this Church which is so called with reference to man, and to cultivate its communion. ”

Calvin, Institutes, IV.1.7


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin

The Visible vs. Invisible Church – not man’s job to distinguish between the two.

“Our faith is no worse because it recognizes a church beyond our ken [mental perception]. For here we are not bidden to distinguish between reprobate and elect – that is for God alone, not for us, to do. . . ”

Calvin, Institutes, IV.I.3


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin

On Infant Baptism.

“He urges, as arguments, circumcision, which was a type of baptism; the nature of the covenant, which comprehends the offspring of pious parents . . .”

Schaff, Hist. Vol 8, 587


Romans excursus on baptism

John Calvin

“For it is most evident that the covenant, which the Lord once made with Abraham, is not less applicable to Christians now than it was anciently to the Jewish people, . .

Then, since the Lord, immediately after the covenant was made with Abraham ordered it to be sealed, infants by an outward sacrament, how can it be said that Christians are not to attest it in the present day, and seal it in their children?

The covenant is common, and the reason for confirming it is common. The mode of confirming it is so far different that they had circumcision, instead of which we now have baptism.”

Calvin, Institutes, IV.XVI.6


Romans excursus on baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647

The WCF represents classic Reformed and “Calvinistic” thought.


Romans excursus on baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith

The three-fold division of Law.


Romans excursus on baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith

CHAPTER XIX, of the Law of God

I. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him, and all his posterity, to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; . . .

II. This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments, . .


Romans excursus on baptism

CHAPTER XIX, of the Law of God

III. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a Church under age, ceremonial laws containing several typical ordinances; partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated under the New Testament.


Romans excursus on baptism

CHAPTER XIX, of the Law of God

IV. To them also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other now, further that the general equity thereof may require.


Romans excursus on baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith

The OT as still in force.


Romans excursus on baptism

CHAPTER XIX, of the Law of God

V. The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God, the Creator, who gave it. Neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Westminster Confession of Faith

  • The WCF’s approach to other topics reflects the ideal that the OT is still in force, most notably in its view of Civil Government (Magistrate).


Romans excursus on baptism

“The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.” WCF XXIII.iii


Romans excursus on baptism

“I. For the better government, and further edification of the Church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils.”

“II. As magistrates may lawfully call a synod of ministers, and other fit persons, to consult and advise with about matter of religion; so if magistrates be open enemies to the Church, the ministers of Christ, of themselves, by virtue of their office, or they, with other fit persons upon delegation from their Churches, may meet together in such assemblies.”

WCF, XXXI, of Synods and Councils.


Romans excursus on baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith

The unity of the OT & NT Church.


Romans excursus on baptism

“. . . God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a Church under age, ceremonial laws . . .” WCF XIX.iii

“. . . under the New Testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected. . .” WCF XX.i

The implication of these statements is that the OT chuch is the same as the NT church; the only difference that the OT church was “under age.”


Romans excursus on baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith

The unity of the Covenant.


Romans excursus on baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647

CHAPTER VII, of God’s Covenant with Man

V. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel . . .

VI. . . . There are not therefore two covenants of grace differing in substance, but one and the same under various dispensations.


Romans excursus on baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith

The Visible vs. Invisible Church.

“I. The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

“II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children; and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”

WCF XXV, of the Church.


Romans excursus on baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith

On Baptism.

Given this approach to the Old Testament, and view of the “visible” church, it will not surprise us how baptism is viewed.


Romans excursus on baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647

CHAPTER XXVII, of the Sacraments

V. The sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the New.


Romans excursus on baptism

CHAPTER XXVIII, of Baptism

I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, . .

IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.


Romans excursus on baptism

CHAPTER XXVIII, of Baptism

VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in his appointed time.


Romans excursus on baptism

Summary of Protestant, Reformed & Calvinistic

OT law is divided into moral, ceremonial, and civil law.

The OT is still in effect except ceremonial laws which “are now abrogated under the New Testament” and “sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people.” (WCF XIX)

There is One Covenant, by which both the OT “church” and the NT church are unified.

The church, the “covenant community”, is visible & invisible.

Circumcision was the sign of the OT covenant community, the OT visible church, which (obviously) included infants.

Baptism is the NT sign of the covenant community, the NT visible church.

The unity of the covenant argues for infant baptism.


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Summary of Protestant, Reformed & Calvinistic

  • The argument for infant baptism rests on:

    • A particular understanding of the OT Covenant and its relationship to the NT.

    • A particular understanding that the visible church (of both OT & NT) includes infants.


Romans excursus on baptism

Part III. Current Reformed


Romans excursus on baptism

Part III. Current Reformed

Peadobaptist Thought


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Review:

  • Summary of Protestant, Reformed & Calvinistic

  • The argument for infant baptism rests on:

    • A particular understanding of the OT Covenant and its relationship to the NT.

    • A particular understanding that the visible church (of both OT & NT) includes infants.

    • Based on the above, the understanding that circumcision and baptism are synonymous in meaning.


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Two Influential Reformed Authors

  • Two very influential Reformed Authors of the 19th and 20th centuries represent the classic arguments for infant baptism.

    • John Bannerman (1807-1868) Scottish Presbyterian

    • John Murray (1898-1975) Westminster Theological Seminary


Romans excursus on baptism

  • James Bannerman, in his book The Church of Christ, defended paedobaptism with the classic argument:

    • In the first place, then, circumcision and baptism are both to be regarded as the authorized ordinances for the formal admission of members into the church.

    • In the second place, circumcision and baptism are expressive of the same spiritual truths and are to be identified as signs and seals of the same covenant blessings.

    • In the third place, the oneness of circumcision and baptism is yet further established by the fact that baptism has come in the room of circumcision.


Romans excursus on baptism

  • John Murray, in his book Christian Baptism, wrote:

    • “As we proceed to set forth the argument in support of infant baptism it is necessary to bear in mind all that has been said already respecting the nature of the church, particularly the tenet that the church is generically one in both dispensations.

    • The basic premise of the argument for infant baptism is that the New Testament economy is the unfolding and fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham and that the necessary implication is the unity and continuity of the church.”


Romans excursus on baptism

These statements beg the question, what was the covenant with Abraham, and what was its accompanying sign of circumcision?

Gen 12:1-3

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; 2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; 3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."


Romans excursus on baptism

  • P.R. Williamson, “Covenant”, Dictionary of the Old Testament, Pentateuch, gives insightful information regarding Gen 12:

    • “Genesis 12:1-3 is clearly a pivotal text insofar as the book of Genesis is concerned. Heralding yet another new stage in God’s dealings with humanity, it . . . fixes the agenda not only for the patriarchal narratives, but also for the rest of the Pentateuch and beyond.”

    • “The twofold agenda of Genesis 12:1-3. In the first segment (Gen. 12:1-2a) Abraham is to be the recipient of blessing, whereas in the second (Gen. 12:2b-3) he is to be the mediator of the blessing.”


Romans excursus on baptism

  • “Thus the first half of Genesis 12:1-3 relates primarily to Abraham, holding out to him the prospect of nationhood. There is, however, a subtle shift in promissory focus in the second part of this divine speech. No longer is the emphasis on a national entity that will stem from Abraham but on an international community to whom Abraham will mediate blessing.”

  • “It is clear from the above analysis that the covenants mentioned in Genesis 15 and 17 are manifestly different in both nature and primary emphases. The suggestion that they are simply two stages of the one covenant is seriously undermined . . . . These chapters focus on two distinct but related covenants.”


Romans excursus on baptism

  • “The different emphases in Genesis 15 and 17 mirror the two separate strands set out in the programmatic agenda of Genesis 12:1-3. Genesis 15 concentrates on the divine promise to make Abraham a ‘great nation’ (Gen 12:2), whereas Genesis 17 focuses more on the divine promise that through Abraham ‘all the families of the earth will experience blessing’ (Gen. 12:3).

  • Thus understood, two distinct covenants were established between God and Abraham. The first (established in Gen 15) solemnly guaranteed God’s promise to make Abraham into a ‘great nation.’ The second covenant (anticipated in Gen 17, but not yet established) similarly guaranteed God’s promise to bless the nations through Abraham and his ‘seed.’”


Romans excursus on baptism

  • The covenant with Abraham included:

    • Promised physical blessing of land and a nation – which would be known as Israel, the Jews.

    • Promised to be the means through whom the Messiah (the ‘seed’) would come; specifically that Messiah would come through the Jewish nation.

    • These two aspects are “distinct but related.”

  • What about the sign of Circumcision?

    • Paedobaptists argue that circumcision and baptism point to the “same spiritual truths.”

    • Let’s examine that.


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Paul Jewett, in his book Infant Baptism & the Covenant of Grace, offers this critique:

    • “The argument from infant circumcision to infant baptism patently turns on the assumption that the promise made to Abraham and his descendants is the promise ratified in Christ to all believers. . . We should never forget, however that this affinity of the old with the new must be counterbalanced by a proper emphasis on the diversity between the two.”


Romans excursus on baptism

  • “The Old Testament obviously differs from the New in that God condescended to man’s weakness by exhibiting the promise of eternal life, . . under the figures of temporal and terrestrial blessings. . . Not that he signified in the covenant with Abraham no more than earthly blessings, but that these earthly blessings should be a mirror in which the Israelites might contemplate heavenly things.

  • Nevertheless, as long as the old covenant was in force the temporal and terrestrial blessings were a part of the promise given to Abraham.”


Romans excursus on baptism

  • “With the advent of Messiah, the temporal, earthly, typical elements of the old dispensation were dropped. . . It is our contention that the Paedobaptists, in framing their argument from circumcision, have failed to keep this significant historical development in clear focus.

  • Proceeding from the basically correct postulate that baptism stands in the place of circumcision, they have urged this analogy to a distortion. They have so far pressed the unity of the covenant as to suppress the diversity of its administration. They have, to be specific, Christianized the Old Testament and Judaized the New.”


Romans excursus on baptism

“All Christians, of course, read the Old Testament in the light of the New; but it is another matter to read the Old Testament as though it were the New, as though the terms ‘old’ and ‘new’ had no theological significance. Yet this is what Paedobaptists do whey they argue that circumcision, like baptism, signified and sealed spiritual blessing exclusively.”

For example, Calvin, regarding Col. 2:11-12, wrote the following regarding circumcision & baptism:


Romans excursus on baptism

“Certainly, if circumcision was a literal sign, the same view must be taken of baptism, since, in the second chapter to the Colossians, the apostle makes the one to be not a whit more spiritual than the other. For he says that in Christ we ‘are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.’

In explanation of his sentiment he immediately adds, that we are ‘buried with him in baptism.’ What do these words mean, but just that the truth and completion of baptism is the truth and completion of circumcision, since they represent one thing? For his object is to show that baptism is the same thing to Christians that circumcision formerly was to the Jews.”

Calvin, Institutes, IV.16.11


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Another more recent example of a Paedobaptist who argues that circumcision (like baptism) signifies exclusively spiritual blessings is Pierre Marcel:

    • “All that we have today in our sacraments, the Jews had formerly in theirs, namely, Jesus Christ and his spiritual riches. . . There is, it is true, a difference between the sacraments as regards outward appearance, but they are identical as regards their internal and spiritual significance. The signs have changed while faith does not change.”

  • The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism (1953)

  • Author’s own italics


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Paul Jewett points out the fault of viewing circumcision as identical in spiritual meaning as baptism:

    • “We can only protest that such an emphasis on the inward and spiritual blessings sealed by baptism as the key to the interpretation of the Old Testament rite of circumcision is a faulty approach, which needs to be balanced by a recognition of the outward and external blessing that circumcision also represented to those who received it.”

    • “It is our contention that the covenant as administered in the Old Testament had a twofold aspect: one temporal and earthly, one eternal and heavenly. And circumcision was the sign and seal of earthly covenant blessings as well as of heavenly.”


Romans excursus on baptism

Genesis 17:12 "And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. 13 "A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

How many servants did Abraham have?

Genesis 14:14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.


Romans excursus on baptism

  • Jewett comments regarding Gen 17:

    • “The emphasis is entirely on this outward relationship, with no hint that one might be disqualified to receive the rite who did not personally share the faith of the patriarch. . .

    • To suggest that all the males of Abraham’s household (Gen. 14:14 indicates there were several hundred) individually volunteered a ‘personal profession of faith’ before receiving circumcision, as did Christians converts in the New Testament who received baptism, is to indulge in a gratuitous reconstruction of history. . .

    • In Genesis 17, . . the text says nothing of personal faith, but only that physical attachment to Abraham’s house by birth or purchase qualifies one to receive the sign.”


Romans excursus on baptism

  • “The only way to do justice to the data is to admit that circumcision, as a sign of the covenant made with Abraham, had a double reference corresponding to the twofold aspect of the covenant as originally administered.”

  • Conclusion: Circumcision refers to the covenant(s) that God made with Abraham, namely that he would be physically blessed, and that his descendants (the nation of Israel) would be the nation from whom the Messiah would come.

  • Furthermore, circumcision was applied to ALL who would live within and be a part of the nation of Israel.


  • Romans excursus on baptism

    • Circumcision, then, is a national identity mark.

    • Granted, the nation so identified was highly privileged:

      • to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, Rom 9:4-5

    • But although the nation of Israel did contain “God’s people” –clearly not every Israelite was one of “God’s own” in the spiritual sense.

      • “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” NASB

      • “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” NIV

      • “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” ESV


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Wayne Grudem (1948-) summarizes it this way:

      • “The old covenant had a physical, external means of entrance into the ‘covenant community.’ One became a Jew by being born of Jewish parents. Therefore all Jewish males were circumcised. Circumcision was not restricted to people who had true inward spiritual life, but rather was given to all who lived among the people of Israel.”

      • “The presence or absence of inward spiritual life made no difference whatsoever in the question of whether one was circumcised. . . At the time of the Old Testament . . . there was no attempt to restrict circumcision only to those whose hearts were actually circumcised spiritually and who had genuine saving faith.”


    Romans excursus on baptism

    “The New Testament does not talk about a ‘covenant community’ made up of believers and their unbelieving children and relatives and servants who happen to live among them.

    (In fact, in the discussion of baptism, the phrase ‘covenant community’ as used by the paedobaptists often tends to function as a broad and vague term that blurs the differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament on this matter.)

    In the New Testament church, the only question that matters is whether one has saving faith and has been spiritually incorporated into the body of Christ, the true church.”


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • “The means of entrance into the church is voluntary, spiritual, and internal. One becomes a member of the true church by being born again and by having saving faith, not by physical birth.”

      • Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. John 1:12-13 NIV


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Grudem continues:

      • “Children would automatically be circumcised in the old covenant, since their physical descent and physical presence in the community of Jewish people meant that they were members of that community in which faith was not an entrance requirement. But in the new covenant it is appropriate that infants not be baptized, and that baptism only be given to those who give evidence of genuine saving faith, because membership in the church is based on an internal spiritual reality, not on physical decent.”


    Romans excursus on baptism

    CONCLUSIONS

    regarding the “classic” argument for Paedobaptism.

    Through Abraham, the Jews were “chosen” to be the nation (Israel) through whom the Messiah would come.

    Therefore those who were truly saved during the OT time were by and large found within (restricted to) the nation of Israel.

    To be a faithful, obedience, believer (saved) in the OT time, you would have to be or become a Jew (males must be circumcised), all had to abide by OT laws.

    However, NOT EVERYONE who was a Jew was truly saved – Rom 9:6-8.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • CONCLUSIONS

    • regarding the “classic” argument for Paedobaptism.

    • The Covenants given to Abraham and his descendants were:

      • 1. that God would give Abraham and his descendants the Promised Land. This land would of course be for the purpose of providing a place for Israel as a nation to live so the Messiah could come, etc.

      • 2. that God would, through Abraham and his descendants, the Messiah would come so as to bless the whole world – all NATIONS – which is to say all other nations, other than Israel.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Let’s briefly answer our Paedobaptist brothers, Bannerman and Murray.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • James Bannerman:

      • “In the first place, then, circumcision and baptism are both to be regarded as the authorized ordinances for the formal admission of members into the church.”

    • Actually, circumcision was the formal admission into Israel as a national identity, which did NOT require saving faith.

    • While the true church was within nation Israel, not all national Israel was within the true church, Rom. 9:6.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • James Bannerman.

      • “In the second place, circumcision and baptism are expressive of the same spiritual truths and are to be identified as signs and seals of the same covenant blessings.”

    • Actually, the ‘spiritual truths’ of circumcision and baptism and the covenants to which they correspond differ considerably.

      • Circumcision includes the temporal & physical aspects (nation & land) of the covenants with Abraham which baptism does not include.

      • Baptism signifies only spiritual saving union with Christ under the New Covenant (as opposed to the Old which is now obsolete - Heb 8:13); and can be applied regardless of national background.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • James Bannerman.

      • “In the third place, the oneness of circumcision and baptism is yet further established by the fact that baptism has come in the room of circumcision.”

    • Actually, that baptism has replaced(“in the room of”) circumcision indicates the opposite of their “oneness” as evidenced by the fact the circumcision was replaced !

    • If the two are so identical (as is claimed) why replace it? This only introduces more problems that it alleviates.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • John Murray.

      • “As we proceed to set forth the argument in support of infant baptism it is necessary to bear in mind all that has been said already respecting the nature of the church, particularly the tenet that the church is generically one in both dispensations.”

    • This is misleading in that the underlying assumption is that national Israel is identified as the ‘church’ in the Old Testament in the same sense that the ‘church’ is identified in the NT.

    • The rest of the argument builds on this assumption without further critical examination.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • John Murray.

      • “The basic premise of the argument for infant baptism is that the New Testament economy is the unfolding and fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham and that the necessary implication is the unity and continuity of the church.”

    • While we recognize the obvious continuity between the Abrahamic covenant and the NT church, this is misleading in that the assumption is that it is identical in every respect with the New Covenant without further critical examination.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    “The only way to do justice to the data is to admit that circumcision, as a sign of the covenant made with Abraham, had a double reference corresponding to the twofold aspect of the covenant as originally administered.”

    Jewett


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Part IV. Some Key NT Passages Examined


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Romans

    Excursus on Baptism


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Part IV. Some Key NT Passages Examined


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists:

      • 1. The Promise. Acts 2:39.

      • 2. Household Baptisms. Acts 10; 16; 1 Cor.

      • 3. Holy Children. 1 Cor 7:14.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists.

      • 1. Acts 2:39.

      • “the promise is for you and your children”

    • Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." NASB


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists.

      • 1. Acts 2:39.

    • John Murray:

      • “The relevance of this text concerns the clause in verse 39, ‘for the promise is to you and to your children.’ There is no room for question that the children are coordinated with the adults who are being addressed by Peter on this occasion. And the important consideration is that the promise, which is urged as an incentive to, or reason for, repentance and baptism, stands in the same relation to the children as to the adults being addressed.”

    • Christian Baptism, p.67


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists.

      • 1. Acts 2:39.

    • Murray:

    • “We are not in a position to appreciate the significance of this unless we bear in mind the covenant relation established by God and clearly revealed in the Old Testament. . . Genesis 17:7 . . .

    • It is this principle, institution, or arrangement alone that give meaning to Peter’s appeal. . . It demonstrates that Peter . . . Recognized that there was no suspension or abrogation of that divine administration whereby children are embraced with their parents in God’s covenant promise.”

    • Baptism, p.68


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists.

      • 1. Acts 2:39

    • Critique of Murray.

    • Murray concedes that: “children are coordinated with the adults” and that “the promise, which is urged as an incentive to, or reason for, repentance and baptism, stands in the same relation to the children as to the adults being addressed.”

    • In other words, it is obvious (even to Murray) that:

      • 1) adults and children are addressed by Peter.

      • 2) the promise is address to adults & children.

      • 3) the promise is “an incentive” to repent.

    • Lets take a closer look at some particulars of Acts 2:39.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 1. Acts 2:39

    • The “promise” is addressed to adults & children alike.

    • Q. What “promise”?

    • A. Context, Context,CONTEXT !

    • The “promise” is a summary for the Gospel message which Peter has just preached (Acts 2:14-16).

    • In context, it is obvious that the “promise” is addressed to those capable of hearing and understanding – those with intellect.

      • “the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” Heb 4:2

    • Infants are incapable of hearing and understanding, and therefore can not exercise faith.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 1. Acts 2:39

    • The promise is an incentive to “repent”.

    • In response to the message (the “promise”), the crowd asks “what shall we do?” (v.37).

    • The answer is “repent and be baptized” (v.38).

    • In context, it is obvious that the “promise” is addressed to those who are capable of repenting – those with volition to choose.

      • “before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good” Isa 7:16

    • Infants are incapable of discerning between good and evil, and are therefore incapable of repentance.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 1. Acts 2:39

    • The promise is addressed to “children”.

    • Q. Does the context help us understand who “children” are?

    • “This phrase has sometimes been take as a justification for infant baptism, but this is to press it unduly. If we are to link it with the context, we note that the prophecy in verse 17 thinks of children who are old enough to prophesy.”

    • I. Howard Marshall, Tyndale NT Commentary, ad loc

      • “I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY” Act 2:17a


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 1. Acts 2:39

    • The promise is addressed to those who are “far off”.

    • “The point of the phrase is rather to express the unlimited mercy of God which embraces the hearers and subsequent generations of their descendants and in addition all that are far off, a phrase which certainly included Jews scattered throughout the world and the Gentiles also. . . In all cases, however, the promise is mediated by the call of God – and with these words Peter rounds off the quotation from Joel 2:32 with which his discourse had begun.” Marshall, ad loc.

      • “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.” Joel 2:32


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 1. Acts 2:39

    The promise is addressed to those whom the Lord will “call”.

    “These promises cannot be said to attach themselves to all the crowd before Peter, but only to "as many as the Lord our God shall call." . . That phrase . . . must also qualify "your children". The promises do not belong unto the children of believers apart from effectual calling.”

    Walter Chantry


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists.

      • 1. Acts 2:39

    • Critique of Murray.

    • Again I state, it is obvious even to Murray that the promise(which requires intellect) as an incentive to repent(requiring volition) is addressed to children.

    • Q. How does Murray get around this in regard to infants?

    • A. By referring the ‘promise’ to the OT covenant, which is assumed by Murray to be identified with the NT covenant:

      • “The basic premise of the argument for infant baptism is that the New Testament economy is the unfolding and fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham”

      • Baptism, p.45


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists.

      • 1. Acts 2:39

    • Critique of Murray, conclusion.

    • The position of peadobaptists regarding Acts 2:39 is clearly NOT based on exegesis of the passage itself (even as Murray admits).

      • “There is no room for question that the children are coordinated with the adults who are being addressed by Peter on this occasion. And the important consideration is that the promise, which is urged as an incentive to, or reason for, repentance and baptism, stands in the same relation to the children as to the adults being addressed.”

      • Murray, Christian Baptism, p.67

    • The passage is approached with the presupposition that the Old and New Covenants are identical, the explanation of Acts 2:39 is then given in the light of that presupposition.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists.

      • 2. Household Baptisms.

    • There are a few passages in Acts, and one occurrence in 1 Corinthians which refer to “households” being baptized.

      • “when she and her household had been baptized” Acts 16:15 NASB

      • “and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.” Acts 16:33b NASB

      • “Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas” 1 Cor 1:16 NASB

      • (The conversion of Cornelius is also cited, Acts 10:44-48 together with 11:13-18)


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 2. Household Baptisms.

    • The peadobaptists recognize that these passages are NOT conclusive:

      • “There are the instances of household baptism. We cannot prove conclusively that there were infants in these households.” Murray, baptism, p.65

    • They then work on an assumption about these passages:

      • “It would be practically impossible to believe that in none of these households were there any infants.” Murray, baptism, p.66


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 2. Household Baptisms.

    • Critique of “Household” baptisms.

    • The single most important critique of the peadobaptist’s use of these passages is that they are building on assumptions (which they claim are implicit - implied), and that they are ignoring EXPLICIT statements in the NT regarding faith and baptism.

    • 1st in the CONTEXT of so-called household baptisms, the message is first preached and believed (required faith and repentance of which infants are incapable):

      • Acts 11:14 “he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household”

      • Acts 16:32 “and they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.”


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 2. Household Baptisms.

    • Critique of “Household” baptisms.

      • Acts 16:34 “having believed in God with his whole household”

    • 2nd in other recorded baptisms in Acts, faith also precedes (is the condition for) baptism.

      • Acts 2:41 “those who had received his word were baptized”

      • Acts 8:12 “when they believed Philip preaching the good news . . . they were baptized, men and women alike.”

      • Acts 16:14-15 “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized. . .”


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 2. Household Baptisms.

    • Critique of “Household” baptisms.

      • Acts 16:34 “having believed in God with his whole household”

      • Acts 18:8 “when they heard were believing and being baptized.”

    • 3rd in the NT, faith and repentance are the EXPLICIT prerequisites for baptism.

      • Mark 1:15 & 16:16 “repent and believe in the gospel” & “he who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved”

      • Acts 3:38 “repent, and each of you be baptized”


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 2. Household Baptisms.

    • Critique of “Household” baptisms - Conclusion.

      • “We cannot prove conclusively that there were infants in these households.” Murray, baptism, p.65

    • Q. Why would you build your position of baptism on assumptions and alleged implications which are contrary to explicit NT testimony?


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists.

      • 3. Holy Children. 1 Cor 7:14

      • “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.” NASB

    • This is probably the most obscure NT passage to cite in regard to infant baptism for the plain and simple fact that neither this verse nor the surrounding context regards baptism.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 3. Holy Children – 1Cor 7:14.

    • Once again, even peadobaptists recognize that 1 Cor 7:14 does not explicitly support infant baptism.

      • “It does not, of course, offer stringent proof of infant baptism.” Murray, baptism, p.65

    • So, what exactly does 1 Cor. 7:14 mean? And can its meaning and/or principles relate to infant baptism?


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 3. Holy Children – 1Cor 7:14.

    The Context of 1 Cor. 7 has to do with the marriage relationship between believer and a non-believer as a result of conversion of one (but not both) subsequent to being married.

    Note: Paul (and the rest of the Scripture) forbids marriage of a believer and unbeliever. He is not address that issue here.

    The Situation which Paul is addressing requires a little background and context to understand.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 3. Holy Children – 1Cor 7:14.

    Background / Context.

    1 Corinthians 5:9-10 “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.”

    1 Corinthians 7:12-14 “But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.”


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 3. Holy Children – 1Cor 7:14.

    Background / Context.

    “The key controlling principle lies in the recognition of the nature of the anxiety which Paul seeks to allay. The believer asks Paul with genuine concern: if I have left behind the old life and become a new creation in Christ, does not my relation with my unbelieving, unrepentant spouse and my entire home atmosphere threaten to pollute and to corrode my purity as one who belongs to Christ?”

    Thiselton, NIGTC, ad loc


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 3. Holy Children – 1Cor 7:14.

    • Regarding 1 Cor 7:14, Gordon Fee, NICNT wrote:

      • “Both the argument and the language of this passage are unusual for Paul. The problem lies with the use of the word ‘sanctified’ of the spouse and ‘holy’ of the children, words that ordinarily carry moral/ethical implications. The word in fact has already been used in 1:30 and 6:11 as a metaphor for salvation itself. But whatever it means here, it cannot carry that force, not only because the idea that marriage can effect salvation for the pagan partner would be nonsense to Paul but also because v.16 completely disallows such a sense.”


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 3. Holy Children – 1Cor 7:14.

    “Paul himself, in his letter to which they are now responding, had told them not to have close associations with immoral people. According to 5:10 they had interpreted that to mean ‘no intermingling with outsiders,’ of which the closest kind would be a believer’s sharing the marriage bed with a pagan. Thus they would have argued that such an association ‘defiled’ the believing spouse.

    To the contrary, Paul now argues, it is not the believer who is defiled, but the unbeliever who is sanctified in her or his relationship with the believer. This does not mean that they have acquired salvation or holiness. But from Paul’s perspective, as long as the marriage is maintained the potential for their realized salvation remains.”


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 3. Holy Children – 1Cor 7:14.

    “The second part of the verse fits into this same framework. . . Through their relationship with the believer, who maintains the marriage and thus keeps intact the relationship with the children, they too can be understood as ‘holy’ in the same way as the unbelieving spouse. Thus in both cases Paul is setting forth a high view of the grace of God at work through the believer toward members of his/her own household, and for him that constitutes grounds enough for maintaining the marriage.”

    Fee, ad loc.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    Scripture texts often cited by Peadobaptists. 3. Holy Children – 1Cor 7:14.

    “Holy Children” – Conclusion.

    1 Cor. 7:14 has absolutely nothing to do with baptism. It was written to address the concerns of believers regarding their marriage to unbelievers.

    To cite 1 Cor. 7:14 as evidence for infant baptism is completely out of context, and once again (as with other arguments for infant baptism) is based on assumptions rather than the exegesis of the text itself. The text is explained in light of the previous assumptions.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    • Conclusion regarding the Scripture texts most often cited by Peadobaptists.

      • 1. The Promise. Acts 2:39.

      • 2. Household Baptisms. Acts 10; 16; 1 Cor.

      • 3. Holy Children. 1 Cor 7:14.

    • Peadobaptists explain all of these verses on the basis of assumptions rather than on exegesis of the texts themselves; all the while ignoring the explicit statements regarding faith as the prerequisite for baptism.


    Romans excursus on baptism

    - end -


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