Monday, December 28, 2015

Credo Vs Paedo Baptism - a Half-way house

Although I initially ruled out a third option with regards to this debate, I’m going to explore the idea at this point and check to see if there’s any kind of stopping point or stable middle ground between the two views. To be successful the argument would need to locate baptism on grounds other than belief or promise—a tall order—but fortunately there is such a thing, the argument from discipleship:

P1: All disciples must be baptized (Matt 28:19)
P2: Children of believers are disciples (Acts 21:4-5)
C: Children of believers must be baptized

There’s a certain compelling logic to here. Does making discipleship the thing required for baptism answer the evidence in the New Testament? I think it does. Does it push both views to the middle? It certainly skewers the stricter Baptists by showing that children have a right to the sacrament. That means waiting for them to grow up and make an adult profession of faith is unbiblical, and the 9 Marks crowd and the Reformed Baptists have struck out. However the impact goes no further beyond them since the ordinary Baptist can dispute the meaning of the word disciple. He’ll argue that it means more than to train someone, it indicates a give-and-take, a question and answer, the kind of thing you see in a person taking dance instruction from an expert. Children can be discipled in this sense but infants can’t.

If that was the final word then we’d have our middle ground, for that would also make the Presbyterians uncomfortable and not allow them to baptize infants, but unfortunately it’s not the case. The Presbyterians can say discipleship is something you do to someone, not necessarily something they share in. Like the word “tempt” which can either mean “to try and entice someone” or “to be moved inwardly toward an opinion,” disciple means both, and the proper way to understand it is in the external sense only. It’s an obligation from the older disciple to the younger one. So this in my mind doesn’t settle the matter, it just moves the discussion five feet left. The Presbyterian imports his view, the Baptist his, the deadlock is once more engaged, and our suspicions are confirmed. There is no third choice.

However this argument isn’t entirely without effect. It does prove that the Reformed Baptists who want to wait until the person is old enough to vote in a presidential election before they’ll let him be baptized are operating in an unbiblical fashion. Even if disciple means “to participate” this argument shows that children who profess faith should be baptized.

And with that, here are my own personal conclusions on the matter

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