But the two arguments aren't identical. The Dispensationalist Argument requires the reader to put together the whole redemptive sweep of history, but the Inductive Argument only requires the New Testament to make its own case for who should be baptized. Additionally the inductive argument can be used by credo-baptists who are not dispensationalists since it doesn’t reach back into the Old Testament to make any conclusions, making it more broadly applicable. Lastly, this argument rests on the parallels of the text—rather than the differences in them—to make the case that baptism requires belief. It goes like this.
Baptism is a New Testament idea first introduced in Matthew 3:1-6, (or Luke 3:3) where a great multitude are coming out to hear John preach and adults from Judah and Jerusalem are being invited to repent and be baptized. This establishes a pattern that anytime baptism is mentioned it’s followed by either repentance or belief. Consider the testimony of Acts.
Acts 2:38 – Peter commanded the multitude to repent, believe, and be baptized.
Acts 2:41 – The multitude accepts Christ and are baptized.
Acts 8:12 – The Samarians believed, then were baptized.
Acts 8:13 – Simon first believed, and then was baptized.
Acts 8:37 – The Eunuch believed, then was baptized. Note that v37 seems to be an early scribal addition to the text, and fits the same pattern. "If you believe you may. And the Eunuch replied, I believe Jesus is the Son of God."
Acts 9:18 – Paul believed, and then was baptized. See also Acts 22:16.
Acts 10:47 – Cornelius believes, then receives the Holy Spirit, then is baptized.
Acts 16:14 – Lydia believes (because God opens her heart), then is baptized.
Acts 16:31 – The jailer believed and then is baptized.
Acts 18:8 – Both Crispus and the Corinthians believed, and then were baptized.
Since faith and baptism are always seen together, it must be the case that the credo-baptist is correct; for credo-baptism alone recognizes that a personal, living faith is the central aspect of baptism. To baptize a baby who can’t profess faith and shows no fruit of belief is to break the link so clearly presented by Scripture, to be unfaithful to the New Testament understanding of baptism. Scripture is clear that baptism belongs behind faith. Infants do not possess the ability to understand right or wrong (Is 7:16), or even know their right hands from their left (Jonah 4:11), therefore baptism is not for them. If we were to turn the argument into a syllogism it might look like the following:
P1: Only people who have faith or profess repentance are valid candidates for Baptism.
P2: Infants can neither have faith nor profess repentance.
C: Infants are not valid candidates for baptism.
To think that children may (or should) be baptized apart from a personal, living, repenting, faith is to miss the whole purpose of baptism. It's to denigrate the greatness of faith and the centrality of its place in the New Covenant. Baptism is a participation in Christ's death (Rom 6:3), the celebration of a new life and body (1 Cor 12:13, Gal 3:27). It follows after faith. It's the mark of faith, the uniform of faith, the evidence of faith. It should by no means be divorced from an active, living, confessional faith. Salvation is by faith alone, and from faith comes the obedience of baptism. If you accept the centrality of faith in salvation and the example of baptism in Scripture then you come to the conclusion that credo-baptism is correct. Particularly when paired with the text from Jeremiah 31, the third argument for credo-baptism.
Next: the Particular Baptist Argument for Credo-Baptism
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