Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A Simple Question from a Credobaptist

I know that probably half of the few people who read this blog are paedobaptists, and I do not intend any offense for this post. I just have a simple question is all.

R. C. Sproul has a little story that he sometimes relates involving the late Dr. John Gerstner. It goes something like this: Dr. Gerstner is visiting a small country church where he is asked to perform the sacrament of baptism for an infant that day. He says sure, and so they give him a white rose to pin to the baby. He asks what the rose symbolizes. They say that it symbolizes the baby's innocents. Dr. Gerstner then asks, "Oh, I see. Well, what does the water symbolize then?" And then we all laugh at his cutting down of this original sin-denying symbol of the white rose.

But I have a question. Yeah, I say, What does the water symbolize? Does this mean that a baptized infant is now innocent? I direct this question to paedobaptists who reject baptismal regeneration and reject NPism and Federal Visionism. I just don't get it. Baptismal regeneration, though grossly unBiblical, at least has some logic to it. When David says, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me," can we assume that he could also add "And eight days later when I was circumcised I was no longer in sin"?

Though, as a credobaptist I must think that the New covenant is newer than paedobaptists reckon it, I do agree that baptism is, like circumcision, the sign of entrance into the covenant people. However, I understand the Old Testament Jewish nation to be but a type and shadow to the invisible church of the elect. In the Old Covenant typology, God's elect people was represented by a visible group of people who were visibly set apart from the rest of the world (ie, being their own ethnicity and nation). In the New Testament anti-typology it is a spiritual people that are God's people. His chosen are no longer recognizable by who their ancestors were or where they live. The members of God's covenant are those who are co-heirs with the Seed of Israel, Jesus Christ. There is all this talk of covenant blessings and curses for the children of believers, but that is exactly the same error of the Pharisees who claimed Abraham as their father. But Jesus is the seed to whom all blessings of the covenant go, and these blessings are shared with His children, His co-heirs. These children are not children by birth but children by election to be justified through faith alone. Believers are the true children of God, and therefore the baptism of believers only is the proper anti-type to the typology of OT circumcision.

But if not, then well....What does the water symbolize?


Sam said...

Just as not all OT children of Israel entered into the promised land, although all bore the seal, so not all members of the visible church are infact memebers of the invisible church. That minor point made, Calvin says, "Indeed, baptism promises us no other purification than through the sprinkling of Christ's blood, which is represented by means of water from the resemblance to cleansing and washing. Who, therefore, may say that we are cleansed by this water which attests with certainty that Christ's blood is our tru and only laver?"

The baptism of an infant testifies to the covenant that infant is in by birth (not by the baptism) and that it is by Christ's blood alone that he lays hold to all those promises. Hope this helps!

samnj (see you in channel, brother!)

Stephen Thomas said...

I see...so it's not that infant baptism does something that I disagree with (entering one into the covenant), but it only represents something I disagree with (being born into the covenant). That helps me understand the position a little better, I guess, but it still only removes my objection one step. Is God interested in physical birth of spiritual birth?