Monday, December 28, 2015

Credo Baptism -- The Argument

Note: this is the actual argument for the credo-baptist position, not an argument drawn from the New Testament evidences. 

There's no denying that the Presbyterians have cogent and logical based system in place to justify infant baptism in the New Testament. The problem for them is that it's all for naught since it's the Bible itself that puts forward a discontinuity regarding infant inclusion in the New Covenant. To show this we turn to Jeremiah 31. 

The Text

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,
32not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

The Argument

P1: Only those who are in the New Covenant should receive its sign.

P2: All those who are in the New Covenant have the forgiveness of sin.
C: Only those who have the forgiveness of sin should be baptized.

Premise one is conceded immediately by all paedo-baptists, so there's no need to offer a defense for it. 
Premise two is therefore the battleground for us, if we can firmly establish this then we've won the conclusion.

A Closer Look

The preamble (v31-32) is clear that unlike the Old Covenant, everyone in the New Covenant will be eternally faithful to God. That is, there's a time coming when unfaithfulness among God's people will be completely wiped out.
Gone will be the mixed multitude. Gone the idea that you can be in covenant and still unsaved. And likewise gone will be the unsaved receiving the sign of the covenant. That made sense when the sign was awarded based on bloodline, but now that forgiveness is the grounds for entrance to the covenant that problem is gone too. 
The easiest way to see this is to work backwards through the text, so we’ll start with the last promise first.
  1. Promise four is an explicit, straightforward statement about how God will forgive the iniquity of those within the covenant. It's, as we know, talking about faith. Therefore, since all those within the New Covenant have forgiveness of sins, we shouldn't apply the sign of it to infants who can't possess it.
  2. The third promise is regeneration, another work of grace exclusive to the elect. Now, thanks to this new covenant, God will cause His people to be born again into a living hope, just as it says in John 6:44-45, “No man can come to Me, unless the Father who has sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. As it is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall be all taught by God.’ Every man therefore who has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes to Me.”
    Here again, if the promise means those within the Covenant are regenerate, and baptism is the sign of the Covenant, then there are only two choices. Either baptism causes regeneration (which we know is false) or only the regenerate should receive the sign. And how do we know who those are? Because they bear fruits which are in keeping with repentance. Because they confess Christ.
  3. Promise two concerns what the New Testament calls adoption—although it’s couched in Old Testament terminology because until Christ the Fatherhood of God is not fully revealed. This promise is the outworking of forgiveness found in promise four; it’s the direct result of receiving the pronouncement of ‘not guilty’ from God, and it teaches us that at the moment of faith the elect are not only forgiven but reconciled, and drawn into a right relationship with God. As it says in Rev 21:7, “He that overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.”
    Therefore those who are adopted should receive the sign. Adoption happens upon belief. Those who believe should be baptized.
  4. Finally, the first promise regards our sanctification and growing in grace. After we have been justified, adopted, and regenerated we are made progressively more holy as we keep the law in love. We abide in Him and His revelation, walking willingly with Him in joyful obedience. Something an infant can't do.

Together these four promises encompass all of salvation, their sum and substance is that in the New Covenant God is going to cause His chosen ones to obey His law, become born again, become His people, and be forgiven. And because we know that justification and regeneration are reserved for the sincere professors of faith, it must be the case that the entirety of the new covenant is reserved for, and concerns, salvation. It goes without saying then that given the terms of this covenant we're not to put the sign of it on someone just because they're born to believing parents. We're to put it on them because they're believers themselves. The imperfect is going away, and in it's place will be a pure and perfect people. 

Now not every Baptist is going to agree with the ordering as I've laid them out here. Some might see promise one as the indwelling of the Spirit and three as being about regeneration.  Well, fine. We all agree nonetheless that the point of the New Covenant is about salvation and in particular the forgiveness of sin, and that's what matters to construct the argument.

So with that said let's go on to the New Testament to show the proof that this is the correct view.

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