I have been a committed Reformed Baptist for almost a year now–I wrote a post about the reasoning that brought me to that position on January 3, 2006. In my post, I had written the following:
First, you should know that I am approaching the issue from a Reformed, Covenant Theology perspective. From this, my main question is: Is there a covenant community in the new covenant containing both the regenerate and the unregenerate, as there was in the old covenant? I believe that the Bible does not reflect such a community under the new covenant.
Today, my question is still the same, but my conclusion is very different. The Lord has confirmed in my heart and mind from Scripture the validity of paedobaptism, or infant baptism.
26For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Emphasis added)
As I meditated on these verses, I rehearsed my (baptist) explanation of these verses–namely, that these people thought that they were saved, but they actually were not. I did not (and still do not) believe that, once a person is genuinely born again, anything can separate that person from the love of God.
But then I asked myself, “Well, then in what way were these people ‘sanctified’ by the ‘blood of the covenant’?” In an instant, I realized that these verses only made sense if I had an understanding of the New Covenant that included the regenerate and the unregenerate. In an instant, the baptist branch on which I had been standing broke, and, by God’s grace, I became a paedobaptist.
You see, my baptist covenant theology already believed that Christians are saved through Christ’s fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Gal. 3:7-29, esp. 7, 9, 14, and 29); however, my baptist understanding of Covenant Theology strongly emphasized that “it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7). In other words, I believed that the Abrahamic Covenant in the Old Testament was manifested physically and spiritually, but that the only legitimate New Testament children of Abraham (i.e., the ones who would be blessed) were those who were his children spiritually, through faith. But, as the Holy Spirit began to work in my heart, teaching me to understand Hebrews 10:26-31, I saw that this was not a suitable understanding of the nature of the covenants for two reasons:
- Keeping the covenant has always been accomplished by faith. Notice how Paul describes the significance of circumcision: “[Abraham] received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised…” (Rom. 4:11). Circumcision had to do with the righteousness that comes through faith, not a righteousness that comes by the law. Thus, I could not draw as big of a distinction between baptism and circumcision as I previously had, seeing one as dealing with the law, and the other as dealing with faith–both deal with faith.
- From the apostasy passages in Hebrews 10:26-31, Hebrews 6:4-8, 2 Peter 2:1-2, 12-17, and others, it has become clear to me that there are people who are full members of the New Covenant, but who are unregenerate and therefore apostasize, exactly as was possible in the Old Covenant. Therefore, I saw no reason to believe any longer that the nature of covenant membership had radically changed between the Old and the New Covenants. (Observe how, in my original post, I beg the question on this matter: in my first bullet point in response to Dr. Pratt’s article, I essentially say, “I can prove that the New Covenant does not include unregenerate people [my main, underlying question] and cannot be broken [my minor point in that particular bullet point], because only the truly regenerate can be New Covenant members, and the truly regenerate will never break the covenant by falling away.” See the problem?)
So, I was now left with an understanding of the New Covenant with a high degree of continuity to the Old Covenant. Suddenly, I was able to see how Peter’s proclamation on the Day of Pentecost (“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”–Acts 2:39) sounded uncannily like language from when God gave Abraham the sign and seal of circumcision: “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you” (Gen. 17:7). Furthermore, I started to appreciate how close the idea of the household baptisms in Acts were to the way God commanded Abraham to circumcise every member of his household: “Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:12-13).
Finally, I just ran out of arguments against infant baptism, which leaves me where I am today: a reformed Reformed Baptist, beginning the process of finding a Presbyterian (PCA) Church in Birmingham, AL, to call home.
To end this post, I would like to close with a statement that I wrote in my post a year ago, but I have changed all the “baptist” references to “paedobaptist,” and vice versa:
I certainly respect the beliefs of baptists (especially because I know how confusing the issue is and because I know how persuasive a case baptists have), but I am ultimately persuaded by the arguments on behalf of paedobaptism.
Only the grace of God could have changed my mind on this issue, but, when I least expected it, he did just that. I am excited and nervous to become a Presbyterian, but I gratefully acknowledge my spiritual debt to all the baptists I’ve ever known and to those whom I still know. While I now disagree with the baptist theology that I believed all my life, I absolutely respect and cherish the Christians who still hold to it. May Christ bless his church by bringing about a supernatural unity among his people, even as they continue to disagree on the proper subjects, timing, and methods of baptism!