Today I went to a conversation about Infant Baptism. Dr. Davis (who is a theology prof at GCTS) has rocked my world every time I’ve heard him and so I had to go to this. As of this morning, I was not a supporter of infant baptism and so it was cool to hear such a thoughtful response concerning this debatable subject.
Dr. Davis is all about infant baptism yet he said he thinks the other side makes a strong case. In defending the position, Dr. Davis argued that:
- God commanded that circumcision, the sign and seal of righteousness by faith (Rom 4:11) be applied to Abraham and his male descendants (Gen 17:10). Circumcision was spiritual in its intent, pre-Mosaic in institution, and international in its scope (Gen 17:12,13). Abraham was declared righteous before being circumcised and circumcision was a profession of faith. Dr. Davis also mentioned here that Abraham is the prototype to ALL people as opposed to Moses.
- In Christ, the Abrahamic covenant is confirmed, NOT abolished (Gal. 3:14; Matt 5:17-19). Basically Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, and this covenant is the backbone of the salvation plan. This was the “Old Testament form of the Great Commission” and thus Jesus Christ is the 2nd Adam, and Abraham.
- Baptism replaces circumcision in the New Covenant (Col. 2:9,11-12; Eph 3:19).
- NT does not indicate reduction in status for children of believers (Mk. 10:13-16; Acts 2:39; cf. I Cor. 7:14): The Apostle Paul was thinking about the family union in this context.
- Consequently, infant children of believers may be baptized, as sign of membership in the covenant of grace. Promise of salvation signified by baptism to be personally ratified by child through exercise of personal faith (“a valid check… must be endorsed to cash it”).
Other considerations are that there are no examples of later child baptisms from Christian homes within the NT. That is, although there would most likely have been child baptisms before conversions, no adults were later baptised again. Also, the earliest dissent does not claim that it is NOT apostolic (Tertullian, in his De Baptismo, merely disagreed with the doctrine on pastoral terms). As Dr. Davis says, infant baptism “fittingly symbolizes priority of God’s grace in salvation.” Baptism is basically an object lesson of the gospel because it points to Jesus and His resurrection. Dr. Davis also pointed to Historical/sociological considerations and also patristic testimonies in support of infant baptism.
Dr. Davis stressed he doesn’t believe infant baptism is salvific. Rather, it is a “means of grace” which can then be fully received later pending a genuine decision of submission to Christ. For me, the most interesting part of his talk was that he reminded us that Abraham and Isaac (his son) had different experiences of circumcision. Abraham was circumcised as an adult, but then Isaac was circumcised as a child with no apparent knowledge of what was going on. Are we then to follow in this example with regards to baptism? I’m still not convinced. This whole “means of grace” terminology is too weird for me and I still hold to the fact that since baptism is the gender inclusive version of declaring your faith, it should be done when someone has actually made that decision for themselves. Comments?