Why Baptize Infants? (A Reformed Perspective) with Dr. R. Scott Clark, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary, Escondido, California
I appreciate that Dr. Clark gets right to the point:
Because God said to Abraham, ‘I’ll be a God to you and to your children after you’ that’s why… Abraham is the pattern of the Covenant of Grace or the Administration of Salvation, that is what we mean. The administration of free, gracious, uncoditional acceptance with God. He’s the pattern of that all throughout scripture. And so it’s articulated in Genesis 17 where you see the institution of the Covenant children in the visible Covenant Community, into the sphere of the Administration of Salvation. You see that in Genesis 17 and everyone, all the male children are to be admitted into the visible Covenant Community.. Abraham is always the pattern.
This is the cornerstone of Reformed Paedobaptism. It is an unquestioned assumption. In this eight minute video Dr. Clark does not provide us with the reasoning behind this assumption. In fact, I haver never read a published work that has answered the “Why Abraham?” question. Every book on paedobaptism answers the question, “Why do we baptise infants?’ with “The Abrahamic Covenant.” but none of the books I have read has ever given a reason why this covenant. At the end of this video Dr. Clark repeats the phrase, “If Abraham is the pattern…” but he has not answered the question, “(Why) Is Abraham the pattern?”. As I’ve stated these are unquestioned assumptions in paedobaptist theology. If you are aware of a published work that answers this please share it with me, I would love to read it. As a Reformed Anti-paedobaptist I would ask, “Is there ‘free, gracious, uncoditional acceptance with God’ before Genesis 17? According to Hebrews I believe there is a Covenant Community before Abraham.
As a Reformed Anti-paedobapist I believe Abraham is not the pattern or prototype. Reformed Biblical Theologians agree that Adam and Eve in Eden are the Pattern/Prototype. I’m thinking here of Ed Clowney, G.K. Beale, Bill Dumbrell, T. Desmond Alexander, and Graeme Goldsworthy, to name a few. Adam and Eve in Eden are the prototype. After the Fall Redemptive History presents us with types such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, and yes, Abraham. Type. Not prototype or pattern. As a Reformed Anti-paedobapist I believe we should point to Redemptive History for our position and not to Jeremiah 31 as is so common among us. I believe the Jeremiah 31 response should only come from Dispensationalists, not Covenantalists.
Here are some verses and other comments Dr. Clark mentioned:
Romans 6 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein? Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.”
Can this be true of infants?
Colossians 2:11-12 Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ: for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power: in whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross; having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Can this be true of infants?
Circumcision was nothing but a ritual death. And so that was true for Abraham as an adult who was circumcised, it was true for Isaac who was circumcised as an infant. Those were ritual deaths.
Was it true for Ishmael and Esau? What about Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah?
Is it true that infants have died to their old selves and now live to Christ?
Acts 2:38-39 For the promise is to your and to your children And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.
I don’t understand why Paedobaptists keep bringing this verse up. The phrase “even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him” qualifies the three groups mentioned.
- As many (of you) as the Lord our God shall call unto him.
- As many (of your children) as the Lord our God shall call unto him.
- As many (that are afar off) as the Lord our God shall call unto him.
Using Paedobaptist logic why shouldn’t we go ahead and baptise the whole world?