A Study of Baptism in Scripture, Part 1

The investigation of historical evidence for believer’s baptism1 has been less profitable than one might wish. It did little to persuade my paedo-baptist friends to convert to credo-baptism. And the ensuing discussion made me a little concerned about whether they are still my friends. Before going forward with the last part of the discussion, let’s look at biblical evidence for infant and believer’s baptism.

Apostolic practice

First, what do the Scriptures say was done under the supervision of the apostles? The book of Acts tells of new believers who were baptized and welcomed into the church. The baptism of believing adults was part of the missionary endeavor of the church. Jesus commanded it in the Great Commission.

In Acts 8:36-38, Philip finishes explaining the gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch.

And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”2 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

Baptists sometimes point to v. 37 as a clear statement about what it takes to be baptized: faith. But a closer look will show that it doesn’t logically exclude infant baptism. The eunuch asks, “What prevents me from baptism?” Peter answers: faith. “Me” in this question is an adult. What prevents an adult from being baptized? Faith. Reformed paedo-baptists would give the same answer today. Like Philip, they refuse to baptize an adult who does not give a credible profession of faith. But the eunuch only asked about himself. He didn’t ask about infants.

Household baptism

Paedo-baptists also believe that the oikos formula (“and his/her household”) indicates infant baptism.3 The book of Acts mentions several households that were baptized. Paedo-baptists argue that a “household” in this day was a large multi-generational group, which surely included infants. So, if households were baptized, we should assume that infants were baptized. Acts 16 offers an example:

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (ESV, Acts 16:13-16)

But if the use of oikos for baptisms proves infant baptism, it must also prove other things, such as infants fearing God (Acts 10:2), infants rejoicing (Acts 16:34) and infants believing (Acts 18:8).

The answer of a good conscience

The foyer of my childhood Lutheran church had a small tract about infant baptism. As I remember, it read, “The Apostle says, ‘baptism now saves us.’” I thought, “Wow, that would seem to settle it—is that really in the Bible?” It was.

There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (NKJV, 1 Pet. 3:21)

Despite its use by my Lutheran church to defend baptismal regeneration, this passage may be read differently. Jamieson, Fausset & Brown describe the word “answer”:

answerGreek, “interrogation”; referring to the questions asked of candidates for baptism; eliciting a confession of faith “toward God” and a renunciation of Satan ([AUGUSTINE, The Creed, 4.1]; [CYPRIAN, Epistles, 7, To Rogatianus]), which, when flowing from “a good conscience,” assure one of being “saved.” Literally, “a good conscience’s interrogation (including the satisfactory answer) toward God.”4

In other words, accepting baptism is the answer that comes from a person whose conscience has been made right—regenerated. The early church conflated baptism with regeneration in much the same way that some modern Baptists have conflated praying a sinner’s prayer with regeneration. Many modern Christians speak as though (and even believe) that praying a prayer saves us. We would not have prayed for salvation if we didn’t believe. For us, a prayer was the response of the regenerated sinner. For the first century Christian, baptism was the response. And it “saved them” in the same sense that the sinner’s prayer “saves.”

Others read this as “an appeal to God for a good conscience” (e.g., ESV). The appeal could include either a new believer asking God for forgiveness or perhaps parents appealing to God, by means of baptism, for the future regeneration of their child.

1 Corinthians 7:14 tells us that the children are made holy by believing parents. But that doesn’t answer the question of whether the rite of baptism is a means of that sanctification. There is a sense of expectant waiting in this verse regarding unbelieving spouses. Similarly, we should expectantly await the regeneration of our children. The question of whether to baptize them in anticipation of this or to wait for signs of faith is not addressed in this passage.

Buried with Him in baptism

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (ESV, Col. 2:11-12)

Both sides use this passage. It is possible that this refers primarily to spiritual baptism into Christ. It is said to be a circumcision “without hands.” And it does say, “through faith.” Paul is saying that the baptism he has in mind works through faith. There are objections from paedo-baptists: First, whose faith is in view? Some see the faith of the parents or of the church. Second, at what point in time does the faith work? Can faith follow the baptism, but still work through the knowledge of the event? Can baptism help us understand that we are in God’s family, even though it happened to us long before we were regenerated? After all, the old covenant believer was “cut off” from the world to God long before he was able to demonstrate faith. And circumcision was to remind him later in life that he was “cut off.” This brings up the question of the similarity of, or difference between, the covenants. This will be discussed in Part 2.

This study has not been exhaustive, but to my knowledge, there is no clear direct Scriptural evidence for or against either form of baptism. What one side holds as clearly supporting their view the other side simply views another way.

Notes

1 Baptism in Church History, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

2 There are textual challenges to the last half of verse 36. Trends towards baptismal regeneration and infant baptism would seem to incline editors to remove rather than to add this statement. If it was added, it is more likely to have been added by a believer in believer’s baptism.

3 For an extended discussion, see: Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries, Joachim Jeremias, Wipf & Stock Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 1960, pp. 76-78.

4 Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, Commentary on 1 Peter 3, available online: http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=7&con…. Square bracketed content original.

[node:bio/dan-miller body]

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I realize this is just a "part 1" but even in these passages the evidence is not neutral on the question.
A huge factor in determining what constitutes clear evidence is what your starting point is when you look at the evidence. In this case, it's better method to look at the nature of salvation first. With that as a theological foundation, we come to baptism texts with the understanding that the burden of proof lies on those who want to give baptism some effectual relationship to grace.

But I think there's another historical area worth digging into as well: what was the Jewish view of baptism prior to Christian baptism or even the baptism of John? Since baptisms of one sort or another were already known, there would be insight there as to what the apostles mean. They would not need to state what was already assumed by their hearers/readers.
I don't know what the answer to that is, but I suspect that baptizing infants was not routine. So we are really not coming to these texts on level ground. We're coming from a history in which babies were not baptized. The result is that the texts would need to pretty explicitly specify that it's for infants. Silence on that specific point doesn't have equal significance for both options.

The old counterargument is that there is a connection to circumcision in the OT. But again, baptism is distinct from circumcision in John's day as well as Jesus' (people did both separately). We would need some very clear teaching to get the idea that the two are becoming one somehow.
The Col. 2 passage can be read as teaching circumcision->baptism, but certainly doesn't have to be. And other options are at least equally good. (If you start with a sola fide understanding of salvation, other options are far better: i.e., the passage isn't about water baptism. How did the Reformers manage to miss this? It has much to do with customs that had already developed in an environment in which sola fide was not in focus.) On that, see http://sharperiron.org/article/reformers-defense-of-infant-baptism ]The Reformer's Defense of Infant Baptism

James K's picture

Jesus said who was to be baptized: disciples.

End of story, paedo are sinning.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

JobK's picture

I have read not a few paedo-Baptist writings that concede that support for their practice is less directly given in the Biblical text - whether by command or example - than it is the product of covenant theology. Israel was the church of the Old Testament, it has been replaced by Christians. Circumcision was how infant Jews were initiated into the the covenant community in the Old Testament, so baptism is how infant Christians are initiated into the covenant community in the New Testament. The fact that not all infants baptized are believers is dealt with by A) pointing out that not all circumcised Jews were believers either and Cool what many covenant theology advocates call "the ecclesiola within the ecclesia", meaning the (hidden?) body of regenerate Christians within the visible (state) church. As the purpose of the state church was to provide political, economic and social unity and stability, it was in the interests of the state church to maximize its membership, and also make excommunication from the state church synonymous with banishment from - or at least marginalization within - the state, or at least the mainstream. So, it was not in their interests to require a public profession of faith because that would have radically lowered the membership of the church-state and the ability to use it for political, economic and social control. So, when the interests of the state contended against the interests of the gospel, the state won out. This went back to at least Augustine, who served as the propagandist of the Roman Empire when the empire used murderous force to prevent the Donatists from breaking away and start their own church. The Reformed church-states followed the Roman example in their own murderous persecution of the Anabaptists, and used Augustine's writings to justify it. The Reformed church-states claim against the Anabaptists that believer's baptism was a heresy worthy of death was totally ridiculous, impossible to justify using the Bible. But they were operating from the presuppositions of covenant theology and the Catholic doctrines that preceded it. Just as Augustine used "compel them to come in" of Luke 14:23 to justify compulsory membership in the state church (and did so specifically with respect to the Donatists) those with a prior commitment to paedobaptism because of covenant theology will use household baptisms and similar Bible texts to justify the conviction that baptism serves the same - or at least an analogous - purpose for the Christian church that circumcision did for Old Testament Israel.

So the real issue is not paedobaptism as much as it is covenant theology. However, an issue with directly challenging covenant theology itself is that it seems that the primary contemporary alternative to covenant theology is premillennial dispensationalism, and in particular Arminian (or to be honest, "Calmanian", as few actual Remonstrants and Wesleyans exist outside of Methodism) premillennial dispensationalism. Perhaps the Reformed "New Covenant Theology" sorts would be the ones best suited to taking on the paedobaptism issue. The problem is that there is no single or normative "new covenant theology", and also I am not aware if there has been a widely known scholarly - i.e. systematic theology - treatment of NCT.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

DavidO wrote:
I think you mean Philip, not Peter.

Yes. Typo there. I'm sure it was because somebody was using Micro$oft Word instead of Libre Office or Open Office!
Will fix shortly.

(Edit: OK fixed. In Acts 8:36-38, Peter Philip finishes ....)

JamesK wrote:

The great commission

Jesus said who was to be baptized: disciples.

End of story, paedo are sinning.


This is where I switch sides and argue for paedo baptism! Not really, but I'm going to play advocate for the view because I think there is no long term advantage (and significant disadvantage) to understating their case.
As far as the Great Commission goes, there is a command there to do something to disciples but there is no command to refrain from doing something to their babies. So if we really were starting with a theological blank slate (kind of how Dan is approaching it in the article), the GC would offer nothing in support of exclusive baptism of disciples.

Bill Roach's picture

For whatever it's worth, I believe that Household Baptist is a better description of what Presbyterians believe, rather than Paedobaptist. No real Presbyterian believes that one should indiscriminately go around baptizing babies at the local Wal-Mart(and most, if not all, Credobaptists don't say that they do, either.) The word(Paedobaptist) seems to lack the real meaning of what people like me believe about Baptism. The thrust of the argument is that the family follows the faith of the head of the family. IF they are of an age where they reject it, then they are not baptized. I think the biggest obstacle in believing the Presbyterian position is the individualistic thinking of our day. The believers in the First Century were much more of a Covenant mindset than we are today. I doubt very much that any church in that day would have the word "Independent" in their "Yellow Page" ad. Certainly, one could argue that it wasn't necessary at the time and is now needed. That would be a good debate for another day.

My study of baptism started with pulling up every verse that had the word baptism in it, and ended with a study of Covenant Theology. In my study, CT had the best answers to I Corinthians 7:14 and John 15:6. I came to the place where I thought the preponderance of the evidence came down on the side of Household Baptisms. I am not 100% sure I'm right...probably closer to 65%. In my study, CT had the best answers to I Corinthians 7:14 and John 15:6.

A question for James K...what verse are you specifically referring to, please?

Thanks,

Bill

M. Osborne's picture

JobK wrote:
Perhaps the Reformed "New Covenant Theology" sorts would be the ones best suited to taking on the paedobaptism issue. The problem is that there is no single or normative "new covenant theology", and also I am not aware if there has been a widely known scholarly - i.e. systematic theology - treatment of NCT.

I was baptistic all my life, but not a convinced credobaptist until I read Fred Malone's defense from the Reformed Baptist perspective. He argues for baptism of disciples alone based on the nature of the New Covenant in contradistinction to the Old Covenant: the New Covenant actually gives people new hearts, actually puts the law of God on their hearts, unlike the Old Covenant. Only those with a credible confession of faith should be considered New Covenant beneficiaries.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
I am not 100% sure I'm right...probably closer to 65%. In my study, CT had the best answers to I Corinthians 7:14 and John 15:6.

I appreciate your openness about that. I'm about 88% sure you're wrong. Wink

I think James K's argument has some unstated premises. There are a couple that would make the argument work and several that fail.

One that fails...
1. Jesus commands us to baptize disciples
2. Everything Jesus commands to be done to one sort of person, He forbids to be done to another sort
3. So, the command to baptize disciples is a prohibition against baptizing anyone else
The second premise is clearly a problem.

One that might work a little better, but still not great... (2nd premise still pretty weak)
1. Jesus commanded us to baptize disciples
2. If He had wanted us to baptize anyone else He would have said so
3. So He doesn't want us to baptize anyone else

I'd have to do more thinking than I have time for right now to make a strong argument from the Great Commission passage. It can only be done if you have a really strong second premise that you derive from one or more other passages and/or some historical context.

Bill Roach's picture

M. Osborne said,

"the New Covenant actually gives people new hearts, actually puts the law of God on their hearts, unlike the Old Covenant"

Michael, are you saying that the law of God is not written on the hearts of the Gentiles, or hasn't always been there? If so, do you get that from Jer 31:33? Also, what do you understand Romans 2:15 to teach in regards to the law of God being written on the hearts of unbelievers?

Thanks,

Bill

Bill Roach's picture

Aaron,

How does one know who the disciples are? I think we all can agree that everyone baptizes people that will not be in heaven. I know some Baptists who will baptize on just a profession(like 3000 in one day in Acts, or Philip and the eunuch by the water) and others who say that their must be fruit(some period of time to pass.)

As it applies to baptism, is it really our job to go around and determine who the disciples are and aren't? It would seem more consistent that we consider the children of believers holy(I Cor 7:14) simply by virtue of their birth, until they prove themselves to be unholy(apostatize.) Holy obviously doesn't mean "saved," but it does mean set apart unto God. Like Israel was, but "not all Israel is Israel."

Does that make sense?

BTW, I really am trying to continue to learn here so that I can bump my 65% up to 88% or down to 45%. I committed a long time ago to not run to my corner in these Baptism discussions and have an attitude of I'm right and I'll show the world. I want to learn. I want to keep Reforming. God help me.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm on my way out my office door and I'd like to take a shot at your questions for Mike. Very quick, haphazard shot.

1. I think one key to the relat. of Gentiles to the NC is the grafted in language of Rom. 9-11
2. On Rom.2.15... when I studied through Romans for the 2nd or 3rd time recently, I came to the conclusion that much of what Paul says about "law" doesn't make sense read as "The Law" (as in, the stipulations of the Mosaic Covenant). It seems to me that what's gong on 2.15 is P. is explaining that even unbelievers and non-Jews carry "law" within them in one sense: they have a conscience-based knowledge of some basics of right and wrong (which they go ahead and violate anyway.... just like religious people do). So the overall arg. there is that people who officially have law and people who officially do not have law, both really do.

But the Jer. New Covenant reference to law written in hearts has a different sense I believe. The context includes some comprehensive language about the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea (or it's in some parallel prophecies if not Jer.). This is a true knowledge of God (as in, "Hey, I know you. We met at..." vs. "I read about you in....").

But I look forward to see Mike's answers.

On who the disciples are...
I have to make some assumptions here. Jesus does not seem to think the disciples He is speaking to there will have any trouble knowing who future disciples are, even though they will lack the ability to see their hearts.
So the fact that Jesus commands disc. to be baptized there indicates we are able to tell "well enough." I suggest Acts 2 clarifies the standard: those who accepted the gospel there were considered disciples and baptized.

M. Osborne's picture

Bill Roach wrote:

Michael, are you saying that the law of God is not written on the hearts of the Gentiles, or hasn't always been there? If so, do you get that from Jer 31:33? Also, what do you understand Romans 2:15 to teach in regards to the law of God being written on the hearts of unbelievers?

I would say that Romans 2:15 and Jeremiah 31:33 address different issues.

Yes, those without special revelation (specifically in Romans 2, Gentiles) have a God-given faculty that helps them know what's right and wrong. In this sense they know the law, what God expects of them.

I think in the full context of the passages that describe the New Covenant, the law written on people's hearts means that they are given the ability to obey, something that the law written on stone could never do. This covenant involves:

  • The law written on hearts (Jer. 31:33)
  • People actually knowing God relationally (Jer. 31:34)
  • Full forgiveness of sins (Jer. 31:34)
  • Spiritual cleansing (Ezek. 36:25)
  • The Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36:27) who causes them to obey God (this is parallel to the internalization of the law)
  • True repentance (Ezek. 36:31)
  • The abolition of Old Covenant ceremonies (Heb. 10:15-18)

When I studied the paedobaptist position, one of their more persuasive arguments was, "How can we take such a step backward not to acknowledge the children of believers as part of the covenant community?"

But when I studied the New Covenant, I realized that not treating children as part of the covenant is actually a step forward, because the New Covenant actually effects spiritual transformation. I agree with the paedobaptists that what circumcision was to the Old Covenant, baptism is to the New. Where I disagree with the paedobaptists is that you cannot call children of believers New Covenant beneficiaries until the New Covenant actually transforms their hearts.

Somehow thinking of this through a Dispensationalist grid never helped me. Thinking of the OT/NT transition as a transition from one people/institution (Israel) to another (the church) simply didn't have explicit Scriptural support. But the transition that the NT authors did labor to explain is this transition from Old Covenant shadows to New Covenant realities. At this point in my studies, I've re-thought the whole future-of-Israel question, and while I think the NT does teach the ongoing and future salvation of physical Israelites, I also see that they will never approach God on an Old Covenant basis again.

Hopefully this makes sense...

Grace and peace,
Mike

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

G. N. Barkman's picture

Good discussion. I trust you will keep it going. I would like to point out that Fred Malone, who makes a very strong case for credobaptism, also espouses covenant theology, which comes out very clearly in his excellent book, referenced above, BAPTISM OF DICIPLES ALONE.

It is true that paedobaptism leans heavily upon some form of CT, and is difficult to sustain without CT, but it does not follow that everyone who espouses CT also espouses infant baptism. Historically, there has been a strong lineage of baptists who are calvinists and covenant theology, but emphatically not paedobaptists.

I would not want someone to get the impression from previous posts that covenant theology leads one to paedobaptism. It does not, or at least, it does not necessarily.

The previous post that references New Covanent Theology is helpful. As one who embraces many elements of CT, but also some elements of NCT, it appears to me that this is really no more or less than historic baptist theology, at least as it existed in the history of baptists in the United States.

Cordially,
Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

James K's picture

This has only become a complicated issue because we have allowed so much nuance and history to confuse the issue. Let us be clear about something: the Westminster confession would call nonpaedos sinners for NOT practicing it. This isn't just some inhouse debate or a discussion about the color of curtains in the sanctuary. This is an issue that the paedos used to severely persecute believers.

Aaron, contrary to the point you are trying to make, that somehow the lack of an exclusion could somehow allow for it, one simply needs to reread it.

Matthew 28:18-20
18 “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.

The only command Jesus gave to baptize was this.

1. Make disciples
2. Baptize them
3. Teach them

In that passage, Jesus didn't forbid baptizing dogs, bicycle tires, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or Florida Gator football memorabilia. You throw the Gator stuff in the trash.

Further, many covenantists love to point out how many times "all" refers to a fraction of something bigger. "All the city..." doesn't really mean every person in the city came to see Jesus, etc. Yet with "households", we are to pretend they are bigger than what they demand.

So the paedo is in the impossible position of:

1. Successfully convincing those not entrenched in covenantism that infants can be disciples.
2. Successfully arguing from silence.
3. Successfully proving that the household included infants. Even if it did, the statement does not demand that the infants were baptized.

No, what paedos really need is to be in charge of the government again to they can legislate credos out of practice again. Luther and Zwingli were both cowards on this point by giving in to secular powers over God's word.

James

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

James K's picture

Bill, you asked Mike:

"Also, what do you understand Romans 2:15 to teach in regards to the law of God being written on the hearts of unbelievers?"

If Rom 2:15 refers to the law of God, ie, the Torah, being written on the hearts of unbelievers, the promise of Jer 31 is moot and worthless. I hope that helps.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

M. Osborne's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:
Good discussion. I trust you will keep it going. I would like to point out that Fred Malone, who makes a very strong case for credobaptism, also espouses covenant theology, which comes out very clearly in his excellent book, referenced above, BAPTISM OF DICIPLES ALONE.

It is true that paedobaptism leans heavily upon some form of CT, and is difficult to sustain without CT, but it does not follow that everyone who espouses CT also espouses infant baptism. Historically, there has been a strong lineage of baptists who are calvinists and covenant theology, but emphatically not paedobaptists.

Yes...I'm always amused at those who think that if you believe XYZ from covenant theology, you have to be a paedobaptist. For myself, I went toward covenant theology and toward a firmer credobaptism at the same time, for the same reasons.

I'd love to call myself Reformed Baptist...but then guys like Charlie would tell me I don't exist. Smile

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

James K's picture

Michael, reformed baptist is what the reformation would have been if some of its major shakers weren't chicken.

James

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Charlie's picture

Aaron, on the historical situation, all my research has suggested or asserted that Jewish proselyte baptism was in fact of the entire household. So, any presumed cultural connection between Christian and Jewish baptism would lend toward infant baptism. Also, it's beyond dispute that Jews in general considered their children to be part of the covenant, with all the attached blessings. If the NT in fact excludes these children from the covenant community and attendent blessings, I would think there would have been a huge outcry and much explicit teaching. If we are to assign the burden of proof based on history, it all points toward inclusion of children. An explicit reference to this Jewish teaching is Matthew 19:14 / Luke 18:16.

Job, neither covenant theology nor the state church can explain pedobaptism. Infant baptism is universally accepted as theologically valid by the 3rd century, at the very latest. Constantine is 100 years later. Also, the Reformers didn't accept infant baptism as a function of a state religion. They affirmed it through theological argumentation and with reference to the spiritual, not political, community. Their views of infant baptism do not depend on a prior theology of church-state relations. A cursory reading of their own writings will confirm this. (I suggest Willem Balke's Calvin and the Anabaptist Radicals as a good secondary source on Calvin.)

To several, on the issue of baptism and disciples, I think there is a misunderstanding. Covenantal pedobaptists do not do not say disciples AND children should be baptized. Rather, they affirm that children are disciples. The Bible teaches parents to raise them "in the Lord." New Testament texts are addressed to children. So, we would affirm the order of baptize then disciple. Since our children are necessarily our disciples, they ought to be baptized.

Regarding the household (οικος), it is not analogous to a contemporary nuclear family. The point isn't whether the specific households mentioned in the NT had infants in them. The point is that the conversion of the head of the household places everyone in the household into a new relation, regardless of who might be in those households. (This was true in the OT and intertestamental periods as well.) Most scholars will say that οικος has special reference to children in the family (Stauffer, Jeremias). The reference to 1 Cor. 7:14, the "holy children," of course isn't directly about baptism. But it makes sense only within a theological framework that acknowledges that the faith of one person (particularly a parent or "head" in some sense) can somehow affect the spiritual status of others in that person's sphere.

On the Reformed Baptist question ... whatever. I think Baptists who use covenant theology to support antipedobaptism should be heard. It's a legitimate theological move. I found Malone to be very disappointing, and that when I was still Baptist. But there are others such as Jewett who do a better job.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

James K's picture

Quote:
Aaron, on the historical situation, all my research has suggested or asserted that Jewish proselyte baptism was in fact of the entire household.

That would be because the Old Covenant was made with a nation. Everyone born into a Jewish home was part of that covenant. The New Covenant just doesn't work that way by any biblical text.

If unbelieving Children are disciples, then Jesus' command is pointless. Making disciples follows going into the world, ie, those outside the faith and seeing their conversion. The disciples to be baptized are disciples of Christ, not the parents.

It is entirely possible that by the 3rd century paedobaptism was valid. However, in the 1st century, it wasn't.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think MOsborne has some solid points I'd like to here "household baptizers" answer.
On the other hand, Charlie's claim that the early Christians would have assumed whole-household position in the covenant (new) because of the Jewish history and the norms of proselyte baptism--and that we should expect the NT to explicitly clear this up--can't be dismissed out hand.

Maybe Mike's CT anti-paedobaptist sources have an answer for that one?

Personally, I do see a marked shift in emphasis from OT to NT in the level of individuality. You have a couple of references to households in Acts but so much individual faith in both Acts and the gospels. .... like to say more about this but have to run.
There is a reason we do not allow today that kings or presidents can declare their entire nations converted and line them up to be sprinkled. The NC does not work that way.
I'd argue it doesn't work that way for families either.

Dan Miller's picture

James K wrote:
Jesus said who was to be baptized: disciples.

End of story, paedo are sinning.

Uhm… yeah, this is the question I am eventually driving towards…

---=-=-=-=-===-=-=-=-=---

Arguments based on the relationship of the covenants is the subject of Scripture in Baptism-Part 2. The question is who was intended to be in the covenant and should therefore receive its sign?

Charlie wrote:
…Also, it's beyond dispute that Jews in general considered their children to be part of the covenant, with all the attached blessings. If the NT in fact excludes these children from the covenant community and attendent blessings, I would think there would have been a huge outcry and much explicit teaching.

Job, neither covenant theology nor the state church can explain pedobaptism. Infant baptism is universally accepted as theologically valid by the 3rd century, at the very latest. Constantine is 100 years later. Also, the Reformers didn't accept infant baptism as a function of a state religion. They affirmed it through theological argumentation and with reference to the spiritual, not political, community. Their views of infant baptism do not depend on a prior theology of church-state relations. A cursory reading of their own writings will confirm this. (I suggest Willem Balke's Calvin and the Anabaptist Radicals as a good secondary source on Calvin.)

To several, on the issue of baptism and disciples, I think there is a misunderstanding. Covenantal pedobaptists do not do not say disciples AND children should be baptized. Rather, they affirm that children are disciples. The Bible teaches parents to raise them "in the Lord." New Testament texts are addressed to children. So, we would affirm the order of baptize then disciple. Since our children are necessarily our disciples, they ought to be baptized.

Regarding the household (οικος), it is not analogous to a contemporary nuclear family. The point isn't whether the specific households mentioned in the NT had infants in them. The point is that the conversion of the head of the household places everyone in the household into a new relation, regardless of who might be in those households. (This was true in the OT and intertestamental periods as well.) Most scholars will say that οικος has special reference to children in the family (Stauffer, Jeremias). …

1. I have to agree with Charlie on this aspect of burden of proof. The believing community (OT) was accustomed to treating their children as part of the covenant community. This would seem to place the burden of proof on believer-baptists.

2. It is very possible in Acts that entire households were actually converted in belief.

3. http://sharperiron.org/article/baptism-history-part-1 ]Aristides seems to describe a Christian community that did not consider it's children or servants to be Christians, but in need of persuasion.

charlie wrote:
…The reference to 1 Cor. 7:14, the "holy children," of course isn't directly about baptism. But it makes sense only within a theological framework that acknowledges that the faith of one person (particularly a parent or "head" in some sense) can somehow affect the spiritual status of others in that person's sphere.
Underline mine. Charlie, I think that your argument is valid, but I don't think it helps with infant baptism. Credobaptists also trust their teaching and discipling will result in faith on the part of their children.
1 Corinthians 7 speaks of unbelieving spouses with the same language of children. We influence those around us with the Gospel and if we are genuine and let the gospel change our lives, those close to us will not be able to deny its power for long. Yet there is no call by anyone to baptize unbelieving spouses because we have an expectation that they will come to faith.
So it seems to me that both groups can expect their children to come to faith on the basis of 1 Corinthians 7, regardless of baptismal status. Therefore, the verse carries its meaning very well in both theological systems.

M. Osborne's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
On the other hand, Charlie's claim that the early Christians would have assumed whole-household position in the covenant (new) because of the Jewish history and the norms of proselyte baptism--and that we should expect the NT to explicitly clear this up--can't be dismissed out hand.

Maybe Mike's CT anti-paedobaptist sources have an answer for that one?

I agree with Charlie about the default assumption for early Christians, that if this was the default assumption, that it would require a big adjustment in perspective. Since I'm heading out to a men's retreat later today, I probably won't be able to collect some Scripture...but I find it chiefly in the passages that contrast outward and inward Jewishness: these passages both made me suspect the future of physical Israel as described by Dispensationalists, and also suspect the paedobaptist view that believers' children are part of the covenant. I do think the apostles dealt with and corrected that assumption. Sorry for the lack of substance...my break time is only so long.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

JT Hoekstra's picture

When quoting Jesus in Matt. 28 concerning baptism in water it is automatically assumed that He meant us, as in today, now, and throughout the church age.

But is it also automatically assumed when He says, 'do ALL I have commanded...' such things as selling all and giving to the poor, own no more than one coat, and the many, many other commands he gave His apostles - those somehow have no bearing in 2011, or at least is not AS important than being dunked.

Eph 3 says there is ONE baptism. Which one? Water? Spirit? Moses? Fire? The Bible mentions at least 12 baptisms, more than 3 of those in the N.T.

I have seen words here like this: refusal to be baptized (in water) is a sign that one may not be a true believer. So baptism by water is the 11th commandment, but only in the Christian age?

My point is, water baptism has become the protestant, reformed, whatever, version of a Roman Catholic tradition, but has caused more spiritual bloodshed among believers than any R.C. tradition other than the popes. And you have only gotten started with part 1. Maybe that's why the word was transliterated...

James K's picture

JT, the great commission text for baptism is between going into the world and teaching the baptized. If baptism isn't for today, then why would the others?

Did Jesus command everyone to sell everything and give to the poor? Nope. Neither did the Apostles throughout Acts or in their letters.

Baptism isn't a tradition, it is a command of Christ. The bloodshed by the way, was spilled on account of the paedos, not vice versa.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Rob Fall's picture

was spilled by the paedos. Outside of the aberration of Muenster, when have Baptists ever persecuted pedo-baptists? An American example of the persecution of Baptists is the case of Obediah Holmes in Massachusetts Bay Colony under John Cotton and Governor John Endicott.

James K wrote:
SNIP
Baptism isn't a tradition, it is a command of Christ. The bloodshed by the way, was spilled on account of the paedos, not vice versa.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

JT Hoekstra's picture

I do not understand your first statement, about 'going between' - would you explain further?

However, Jesus DID tell the young man of Matt. 19 to keep the commandments to obtain life. He lists 6 of The 10.
The young man says he has done all that, from his youth.
If (first class conditional) you want life, Jesus says, sell all you have and give to the poor.

I see this as a command of Christ.

~~~~~However...

There is no water in Eph. 4:5 or I Cor. 12:13. There is One God...and only one baptism. No water involved for infants or adults. It's a tradition that not many agree upon as to its purpose or what it accomplishes. I submit that is because it belongs to the kingdom yet to come, and the apostles were told to look for and preach/teach about. Then came that unique Apostle Paul. He does not repeat a command to baptize or be baptized in water. Peter, for example, had to swallow hard (pun intended) the changes. The Messiah's return would be delayed. God had a secret (Deu. 29:29).

Real Baptism is done at the moment of salvation whether a believer opts for it or not. Nothing to do, everything is done.

I admit getting rid of this water tradition would start a major conflict in most local churches, but if you are honest you will see water baptism is not for today, the church age.

Thanks for reading.

Andrew K.'s picture

Quote:
Eph 3 says there is ONE baptism. Which one? Water? Spirit? Moses? Fire? The Bible mentions at least 12 baptisms, more than 3 of those in the N.T.

Well, since the baptism of fire is a reference to judgment, I think we can safely throw that one out.

神是爱

G. N. Barkman's picture

Hmmm.

Perhaps we can be excused for thinking that water baptism, as commanded by Christ, is for this age, when we notice that this is what the disciples of Christ practiced after Christ returned to heaven. Not just once or twice, but repeatedly and regularly throughout the recorded history of Acts. And to top it off, there are enough references to water baptism in the epistles to clarify and reinforce what we read in Acts.

How did we somehow miss the astonishing revelation that water baptism is not for this age?

Sincerely,
Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

JT Hoekstra's picture

Greg,
I already answered your question - "How did we miss...?

Because it is a tradition of men.

How do YOU miss scripture that says there is ONE baptism? If Spirit baptism is the one, then all other practices are traditions.

The book of Acts is a transition. What references in the epistles refer to water baptism other than Paul being thankful he did NOT baptize many at Corinth?

I do not nor did I claim to have received revelation, astonishing or otherwise. I quoted scripture. I assume you are making fun of me with your sarcasm. You signed 'sincerely' but I doubt that. Your logic is that so many have been baptized it absolutely HAS to be the one baptism. You also point out the disciples did baptize, as they were told. Yes, and they had all things in common, had no more than one coat (unless they were disobedient to Christ) and taught others to sell their houses and land and pool their money (Acts 4:34, 35), to the end that Paul YEARS later urged congregations to send an offering to Jerusalem so they could buy food. Why do we (you) not follow these commands of Christ as they did? (Believe me, I am not advocating a social gospel, merely pointing out that if you argue the disciples were obeying the command to baptize, therefore we must also obey this command, you must also accept ALL He commanded them to do - Matt. 28:20.)

To your last point, however, it has been discussed here (SI) many times how the universal church 'missed' doctrine such as the Rapture, for many hundreds of years, because Israel did not exist or was spiritualized out of the picture - and possibly for other reasons. "How did we miss the astonishing revelation that" the rapture IS for this age?

Cheers,

jt

James K's picture

Rob, I think I worded that wrong. I was saying that the blood spilled was the blood of baptists because of the persecution of the paedos.

JT, I do not disagree with the Scripture, I disagree with your hyperdispensationalist take on the the Scripture.

Eph 3 lists those things that unite us together. The baptism of the Spirit, which happens at conversion, unites all believers together in Christ. Water baptism is an answer to God of a good conscience because of the spiritual cleansing already performed. Water baptism does not provide actual cleansing, so in the sense Paul was referring to in THAT text, it isn't baptism. However, it is still a church requirement as demonstrated by Paul's other statements and the record of the church in Acts.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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