Friday, October 9, 2020

The Heretical Religion of Wokeism

"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell, but as for me and my house, we shall serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15)

This verse has given many Christians the courage to stand up to the world and serve the Lord Jesus, but if you look closer you'll see that it's more than just a declaration of faith, it's also an intellectual challenge.
Joshua invites his hearers to choose the God they would like to serve best, but in so doing he takes it for granted that the people need a God, and will serve a god whether they want to or not. That is, he presupposes that they, being men, will always be slaves, that they are feeble creatures like sheep, and cannot get along without something reigning in their lives. In light of this he asks the people to consider if they will serve the gracious Living God, or the cruel god of the nations. It's a question for us as much for them since we do not get to answer "Is there a god over us?" only, "Which god will we serve?"

Our service to our god must necessarily exist in the form of rules. (As an aside I think this is simply fundamental to the universe/our existence.) We can't fly a plane, do the dishes, or even eat without having rules attached to it, so it should not surprise us that serving God must come with fixed rules as well. Everything else has a process attached to it that can be written down and understood, so why should serving God be any different? Eating food raw can make you sick, so cook it. Cook beef at W degrees for X minutes gives a more flavorful result than cooking at Y temperature for Z minutes. Well that's really no different than, "thou shalt not covet" or "if you love me you will keep my commandments." Even those who would say "Christianity is not a religion it's a relationship" can't get away from the fact that relationships have rules as well. Omit the rules of time, presence, or faithfulness, and you'll lose your relationship.

I'm told the word religion comes from the Latin word religare, meaning 'to bind', so that 'religion' is a short-hand word to speak of the number and type of rules we've bound ourselves to. That has the ring of truth, and it seems to obvious that I don't need to add any more to it. Now hold that thought, because I want to circle back to it after a brief interlude. Now that we got the flour in the pot it's time to add the eggs.


The previous 30 years of contemporary American civic religion was more or less Oprah's brand of telegenic Moral Therapeutic Deism. It was psychology and soft-soap, and to a large extent it permeated and change the thinking patterns of the visible church herself. I don't want to talk about what characterizes Moral Therapeutic Deism, but instead I only want to briefly show how it set the bounds for our evangelism, then our parachurch work, then our church work. 

I take it as self-evident that Christianity more or less got rid of talking about hell and instead talked about the positive benefits of accepting Jesus into your hearts. We moved away from judgment and toward affirmation and discussion about how much God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. We comforted, we didn't confront. We soothed, we didn't sting. We had a message of therapy better than those other therapists because we had the genuine cure, since "our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God." We were mothers, and not fathers, and we largely passed on those hard truths that make us squirm or feel uncomfortable. Things like sacrifice, and doing what's right even if there is no reward in it, or being willing to tell someone to be quiet and sit down. We had less to say about holiness (if anything) and had much to say about love. God is love, but He's also a consuming fire, and is as the four living creatures constantly remind us, Holy Holy Holy, so any theology that is only half the truth is headed for a crash. 

Not that what we said was wrong per se, or that the church was generally unfaithful (I wouldn't say that either). Don't hear me say that we gave up being obnoxious and pugilistic and I'm lamenting about how that's bad. Because that's not bad, that's good. What I mean is, we generally overemphasized certain truths because we judged the culture would be more receptive to them, and we could get them to consider the whole of Christianity if they could find a point of relation to us. But we also got comfortable, or lazy, and stopped catechizing our kids with knowledge of the Scriptures and the catechisms and instead armed them to talk about their testimony and how Jesus makes them feel good. Pietism with the help of culture won the war for our evangelism strategy. And that was ruinous, because now the culture has changed and we've spent the last 30 years building up our infrastructure to exploit what we thought were good inroads, and poof, just like that the time we spent specializing in penetrating a culture is worthless because that culture no longer exists. In fairness, Jesus warned us ahead of time that if we built the church with wood hay or straw He would test it with fire, so we should have taken Him at His word ahead of time. 

To their credit the American civic religion has at last remembered that that things like duty, honor, courage, resilience, pain, are all good things too. The old virtues that make boys into men are back. But the pendulum has swung away and now there's no motherly aspect in the new civic values as well. It will fight, it will not reconcile. It will attack, it will not submit. It demands sacrifice and change toward perfection, it will not accept you for what you are or for where you are. 

Now that we've got the eggs and the flour it's time to add the sweet sugar and mix everything together.


Wokeism (I can't think of a better name, although Church of the Holy Wokeness is pretty accurate) is at this moment the dominant civic religion, with a unique set of binding rules and popular civic values. But the more I look the more I see wokeism as both a continuation of Moral Thereputic Diesm and a derivation from Christianity. Just like Islam, Unitarianism, Jehovas Witness, Mormonism, or Liberalism is an offshot of Christianity, so too is Wokeism. The amount of overlap is really astonishing. Consider the parallelism:

Original Sin
Christianity - Adam's breaking of God's command resulted in sin being passed to each person. It is an inescapable propensity to rebel against God and sin. It colors everything we do.
Wokeism - Racism is the original sin. At the founding of our country, at the beginning of Western Civilization, we created iron clad oppressive preferences and institutions that endure to this day. They form the warp and woof of the fabric of our society.  

Christianity - Jesus paid the equivalent punishment of an eternity in hell to a holy God. His payment on our behalf as a true man was accepted and this is shown in His resurrection.
Wokeism - Man is purified and put into a right relationship with the community by being an ally 

Unforgivable sin
Christianity - Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, typically understood as a lifelong committed rejection of Christ.
Wokeism - Racism or racist ideas. Typically understood as an embracing of "right wing" politicians and being unwilling to vote left. 

Christianity - Telling others about the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and how by Faith in Him we can live with Him forever, but the rejection of Him brings eternal damnation.
Wokeism - Telling others about how they need to repent or suffer the consequences.  

Being Born Again
Christianity - Becoming aware of your indwelling sin and need for a savior. Your eyes are opened to the truths of God. Where you once were blind, now you have a new heart and spirit from God. You must be born again to be saved.
Wokeism - Awakening to the truths you were blind to before. Your eyes are open to the truths of oppression/oppresor power dynamic. You must be born again to be saved.

Public Confession 
Christianity - reciting together the ancient confessions of faith that define the boundaries of historic orthodox.
Wokeism - reciting in public gathering the need to be an ally and do better about racism.

Christianity - Not everyone is among the elect. Only a special number is chosen for eternal life, the rest are passed over and reprobated.
Wokeism - The chosen few who reach enlightenment are among the elect. The remainder are not saved, but are deplorable and passed over forever lacking the necessary righteousness. 

Christianity - because Christ lived a sinless life and atoned for our sins by His death, we can have forgiveness with God when we have faith in Him
Wokeism - None. However, the parallel with Penance in Catholicism is almost identical. 

There are other doctrines that parallel each other of course, this is just the list that strikes me personally as noteworthy. 


So Wokeism is a religion that binds its adherents to a life of suffering and servitude. It offers no forgiveness for being born on the wrong side of the class war, but if you come to grips with your part in being oppressive and renounce your privilege, it allows you to live on in the outskirts of the community. It rejects not only the Christianity that permeates American thinking, but in particular the gentle, overly polite winsome form of Christianity championed by Focus on the Family. 
Notice that in every case of doctrine the interesting difference amounts to the person of Christ being absent from the thought patterns. Further, the very idea of an individual personhood is absent from the confessions and thinking in Wokeism. That is, Wokeism uses a pantheistic system where God is everywhere and in everything, and is not a person, and likewise the individual adherent has no real meaning. People are cells in a larger body, and matter only in so far as they can be consumed to further a greater goal. Racism isn't nearly as important as systematic racism.

There's more to say of course, but this has run on long enough and it's time to bake and think though some more.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Orthodoxy Chapter 5 - The Flag of the World

So it’s beyond question that our world is a fairy tale, but there’s also no denying that something is seriously wrong with it as well, because in the fairy tale the giant doesn’t eat Jack. Nature is beautiful, but she’s also red in tooth and claw, and there's a reason BBC Earth isn't showing a lion pride ripping off the flesh of the antelope. Closer to home, those honey making needle insects have a propensity to stab and swarm, and while bears may look cute and cuddly, they maul when pestered.

Some people (for lack of a better word let’s call them optimists) want to maintain a sunny outlook by pretending none of these evils exist. You see this frequently from online totalitarian apologists, but you also see it from general do-gooders who haven’t thought things through. They begin by closing their eyes to the way the universe really is, and end by fully supporting Cuban communist regimes because, "they really helped the literacy problem there." As Chesterton says, “[Defending] the honour of this world, [the optimist] will defend the indefensible… he will not wash the world, but whitewash the world.” I happen to think the impulse to close your eyes and pretend away the problem is extremely strong in our culture at the moment, and I do wish Chesterton had said more about it in this chapter. When the modernistic idea that we have unlimited and boundless control over our universe fell apart around the 1960s the post-modern idea that the only distinctions that matter are in our minds took its place. But for post-modernism to work we have to all agree that there is no such thing as evil. Thus the world is full of optimists who are lawyers for the devil. Or in Chesterton's terms they're advancing the idea that it’s better to be mentally deranged than sane. It’s the prison of reason again in a slightly brighter package.

Others look at the fallen state of things with acceptance to the point of passivity. In contrast to the optimist, the pessimist pretends he’s not a part of the show, but above it, somehow able to transcend it. He’s the candid friend who is not really candid. He takes “gloomy pleasure in saying unpleasant things. He has a secret desire to hurt, not merely to help.” The pessimist is no less trying to escape the world than the optimist, he’s just doing it in a different way, which makes him even more of a traitor. “The assumption is that a man criticizes this world as if he were house-hunting, as if he were being shown over a new suite of apartments. If a man came to this world from some other world in full possession of his powers he might discuss whether the advantage of midsummer woods made up for the disadvantage of mad dogs, just as a man looking for lodging might balance the presence of a telephone against the absence of a sea view. But no man is in that position. A man belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it… he has loyalty long before he has any admiration.

It’s beyond question then that we need to help our world move toward the book fairy tales and away from our dark reality, but what are the changes exactly and who shall make them? The pessimist who deep down wants things to stay bad, or the optimist who doesn’t believe things are bad at all? Well… neither. The only person we should trust is the one who loves with a transcendent, holy love. Only that person is qualified to offer solutions.

And that's because only divine love transforms. I don’t mean to say something imprecise like God's love is the fuel of our universe, or the warp and woof of its weaving, but… it’s pretty much that. Without His love working through us change is flatly impossible. Take a mundane example like loving the city you live in: “Let us suppose we are confronted with a desperate thing—say [Detroit]… it is not enough for a man to disapprove of [Detroit]: in that case he will merely cut this throat or move to [Charleston]. Nor certainly, is it enough for a man to approve of [Detroit]: for then it will remain [Detroit], which would be awful. The only way out of it seems to be for somebody to love [Detroit]: to love it with a transcendental tie and without any earthly reason. If there arose a man who loved [Detroit] then [Detroit] would rise into ivory towers and golden pinnacles… A mother does not give her child a blue bow because he is so ugly without it. A lover does not give a girl a necklace to hide her neck.” We need to be willing to look at the world, as ugly as it can be, and love it like a woman standing by her man, because that’s how existence works. We need to love without reason if we are to see improvement in it.

‘But wait a moment,’ you say, ‘the problem with Detroit is a lack of love? Isn’t the problem that they lack a robust educational system and suffer from dwindling tax revenue base resulting in numerous disadvantaged economic zones? What does love have to do with that? Why, we could put an expert in charge of sorting this all out, follow their recommendations, and be home by lunch.’ No. That doesn't work. It's never worked. And besides, reason apart from love is the thing that builds the prisons and traps us in the first place, remember? We like the lie of the experts because it’s familiar, and because we’ve been told the lie so often it’s comforting to us, but it’s just not true. “If only we had a little bit of urban planning and a gentrification roadmap we could save Detroit” is the spirit of the age and the advice of the experts, and it’s wrong. What matters in saving Detroit is the principle that if we aim for the greater we’ll get the lesser for free, but if we aim at the lesser we’ll get neither. Ask for love and get change for free, ask for change and get stagnation. When we are committed to a higher idea than reforming (that idea being love) we will get the reforming for free. “Some readers will say that this is a mere fantasy. I answer that this is the actual history of mankind. This, as a fact, is how cities did grow great. Go back to the darkest roots of civilization and you will find them knotted round some sacred stone or encircling some sacred well. People first paid honour to a spot and afterwards gained glory for it. Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her… Morality did not begin by one man saying to another, ‘I will not hit you if you do not hit me”; There is no trace of such a transaction. There is a trace of both men having said, “we must not hit each other in the holy place.” They gained their morality by guarding their religion. They did not cultivate courage. They fought for the shrine and found they had become courageous. They did not cultivate cleanliness. They purified themselves for the altar, and found that they were clean… and only when they made a holy day for God did they find they had made a holiday for men.

But there is a danger in this loving approach to fixing things too, and it’s the same danger as before. So while we need someone who loves the world to change it we also don’t want to grab the nearest hedonist and put them in charge. We need someone who loves the ideal we’re trying to achieve as well. It’s not enough to realize we are called to love first and change second, we must love God transcendently, and nothing else. To love anything else as the ideal is to love what we see of ourselves in something else, which ultimately amounts to loving ourselves. “Of all the horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within… That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon… cats or crocodiles… but not the god within… All the same, it will be as well if Jones does not worship the sun and moon. If he does, there is a tendency for him to imitate them; to say, that because the sun burns insects alive, he may burn insects alive… nature worship is natural enough while the society is young, or, in other words, Pantheism is all right as long as it is the worship of Pan. But nature has another side which experience and sin are not slow in finding out, and it is no flippancy to say of the god Pan that he soon showed the cloven hoof. The only objection to Natural Religion is that somehow it always becomes unnatural. A man loves Nature in the morning for her innocence and amiability, and at nightfall, if he is loving her still, it is for her darkness and her cruelty.” It is only a love for the transcendent and Holy God that results in a transcendent love—all other objects result in the love being pulled down to Earth and becoming corrupted. Thus, we must have a God outside the system, who created the system, if we are to understand the world.

In accepting this idea Chesterton found his sanity. “I was like one who had advanced into a hostile country to take one high fortress. And when that fort had fallen the whole country surrendered and turned solid behind me… All those blind fancies of boyhood which in the fourth chapter I have tried in vain to trace on the darkness, became suddenly transparent and sane. I was right when I felt that roses were red by some sort of choice: it was the divine choice. I was right when I felt that I would almost rather say that grass was the wrong colour than say it must by necessity have been any other. My sense that happiness hung on a crazy thread of a condition did mean something when all was said: it mean the whole doctrine of the fall.” Chesterton now could make sense of it all. “The optimism of the age had been false and disheartening for this reason, that it had always been trying to prove that we fit into the world. The Christian optimism is based on the fact that we do not fit into the world… the modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I had still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy… I knew now why grass had always seemed to me as queer as the green beard of a giant, and why I could feel homesick at home.

In fact the pagan conception of optimist collapses because any worldview working from a closed system eventually collapses. Optimist, pessimist, blend, whatever, it can’t hold together given all the pressure from the outside that God is continually shovling onto it. And while this chapter is the personal reflection of Chesterton while he was trying to figure out reality, it’s really no different than what he discussed earlier in the second and third chapters. Rationalism must always end in failure because of our inherent sinfulness.

Beyond the eternal implications of heaven or hell, this chapter has some very practical implications for everyday life. Does your marriage need improvement? You won’t get it without being all in for a sacrificial love that holds nothing back. And why not? Because unless you love transcendently you won’t commit. Do you want to see better fruit from evangelism? You need to love your friend (or neighbor) wholly first. Jesus didn’t come after men became loveable, He loved them and then by that made them loveable. Do you find yourself short with your kids and feeling guilty about it; and even though they’re your whole world you find them barely tolerable sometimes? Set your transcendent love on God. The love must be put in the right place, and you must be reminded that to love God is the first of our duties, and only after we get it right can we move onto loving our fellow man.

Read Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton here.

Next: Chapter 6 - The Paradoxes of Christianity

Friday, September 20, 2019

Credo vs Paedo Baptism: Pushback Part I

If you've been following this series you may have noticed my two Pastors commenting on my work. 

Phil it might help those of us who find your musings more amusing than biblical if you actually showed some exegetical proof of the paedobaptist position being 'more biblical'. You assert it but you don't prove it even in the slightest. Even your assertions are unsupported. Give me one example of infant baptism in the bible from a biblical text? Just one. Show me where the scriptures teach that the Abrahamic covenant is exactly the same as the New Covenant? Just one place is fine. Show me a text that proves that infants without faith are in the New Covenant? Let's get to the scriptures for the discussion before claiming paedo baptism is the most biblical position. As you said brother, you need to do better. I do think that one of the two ordinances of the church would need to be exemplified for us if we would practice it. No problem citing believers baptism, but paedo baptism is simply not there unless I have missed something. 
When you strip away the ad-hominems you find Robert packs a lot into his comment. 
  1. He asserts that I offered no proof for paedo-baptism being the more Biblical.
  2. He argues that because the Scriptures do not explicitly teach infant baptism (Something like, "I Paul command you to baptize infants") that infant baptism is not Biblical. 
  3. He says that I equate the Abrahamic Covenant to the New Covenant.  
  4. He uses the Baptist definition of New Covenant being equal to salvation, and then questions where faithless infants were saved.
That's a lot.
I'm not going to address point one because I think I've made a good showing of myself from Scripture. Plus his statement just seems mean to me.
Point two is pretty commonly thrown out in debates by the Baptist, but if we required an explicit statement and disallowed good and necessary inference then we'd have to bar the communion table against women because nowhere in Scripture does it say they're allowed to partake. Further, Jesus hung the Sadducees out to dry by pointing out God says "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" implying they're all still alive. Had they died then God would've said "I was the God..."  So good and necessary consequence is a real thing.

Point three I don't know how to deal with because I never made that claim. But Romans 4:11 and Col 2:12 do tend to make the point about the two covenants being related, in the sense Baptists disagree with.
Point four proves my point that the two groups are operating under vastly different conceptions of what covenant and baptism actually mean.

The other comment was left by Steve, and he too packs a lot in.
I could have told you this - "Baptists and Presbyterians have a radically different view of what baptism actually is," and perhaps saved you some reading. :) Though, to be more specific, the "radically different view" between the two is not really over baptism - both confess it to be a "sign" (see WCF 28.1 and LBC 29.1) - but over the new covenant of which it's "a sign." That's the actual question, what's the new covenant? (Presbyterians have a harder time explaining what exactly is new about it). Since the new covenant is spiritual - not genealogical, as was the old - it's sign is only properly administered to those who may be legitimately considered members of the new covenant community, i.e., "who do actually profess repentance..." (LBC, 29.2).
To be fair, there's no problem with the oft-repeated Baptist concern: “Infant baptism is a positively harmful doctrine since infants who are baptized will think they’re saved" - I think you're missing the concern over the de facto state of many Presbyterians, not the consistency of their doctrine. Of course, there's no inconsistency with Presbyterian theological understanding of baptism, but what's the actual impact on people's lives? Many think they're saved because they were sprinkled as babies - it's the (however, unintended) inevitable fruit of a bad doctrine. It's similar, for example, to our concerns over Roman Catholicism, which does believe salvation is by faith through grace - and recoils at any suggestion that teach it's "by works." But what's the practical effect of their sacramental understanding of salvation by grace? Roman Catholics think they're saved by their works.
Paedobaptism is undeniably is a later accretion to the church - no evidence of it's practice earlier than later 2nd or 3rd centuries (look at baptismal archaeology - they're pools for immersing adults!). Of course, it became enforced practice after Christianizing Rome, a century later. There is no exegetical argument for it, which is what Luther confronted during the Reformation when opponents argued that if he carried his argument against Roman tradition to it's logical conclusion, he'd have to throw-out infant baptism, too - which would've sent European society into chaos. So, he invented the "household" argument from Acts and infant baptism has been built on that house of cards in Reformed traditions, ever since. And when you push Presbyterian historians and theologians, eventually they will admit this, "it's tradition" and it's later appearance is a sign of the church "maturing." Now, I believe in doctrinal development, but the church got baptism wrong for it's first couple hundred years?! C'mon.
So, the real key to this debate is understanding that infant baptism can only be deduced from the Bible if you assume it to be the inevitable conclusion before you actually study the Bible - it's a tradition searching for a biblical text. Sadly, people still think they've discovered some and then de-form into Presbyterians. I, however, feel sure of better things in your case, brother (Heb 6:9) - and trust the "most biblical" award goes to 1689 LBC, 29. :)
Steve makes the following points:
  1. The Dispensational Argument is true.
  2. Paedo-baptism is a doctrine that bears bad fruit.
  3. There's no exegetical argument for Infant Baptism.
  4. The practice of the early church was credo-baptism.
  5. Paedo-baptism only makes sense if you accept it's foundational premises
Most of these however were directly addressed by specific articles, so I don't feel the need to go over them again. The only one that wasn't was point two, and I'm not sure how much bearing that has on this investigaiton in any case. I'll leave you to decide for yourself how valid these points of criticism are.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Credo-Baptism: Analysis of Covenant Discontinuity

There are two main arguments for the paedo-baptist position and both of them are built on the idea of a continuity between the Old and New Testaments. That means that if there is no covenant continuity then the paedos are doomed and credo-baptism is the necessary result. The premise proved to be well founded however, and as a consequence I am fairly convinced that Scripture make the case that the framework established in the Old carries through to the New. On the other hand there are three arguments for the credo-Baptist that require discontinuity, and if a discontinuity can be established then the paedo-baptist is done for. So can we make the case that the Apostles understood the New Covenant to be introducing a discontinuity in redemptive history that necessitates excluding infants in the New Covenant? Let's take the arguments made in the previous posts in turn.  

First, I’m quite certain that the Apostles were not dispensationalists, and that we can rule that out as a valid explanation for the discontinuity right now. Dispensationalism requires God to wipe out the rules in every age, but if you don’t assume this as a foundational premise and instead try to establish it through evidence you won’t be able to do it. Firstly because there's no verse that explicity says this, which is necssary to the literal interpretation of dispensationalist hermunitic, and second because there is no verse that requires it by good and necessary consequence. Thirdly Dispensationalism should be ruled out because I've not seen any pro-dispensationalist websites or articles don’t even attempt to prove the fundamental premise of discontinuity, as they just put it forward as self-evident, which tells me that it is hard to find if it even exists. Fourthly because Jesus indicates the opposite when He says He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. John affirms the need for obedience to the law in his epistle. Paul appeals to the law to make his case. Nowhere is the law abolished, but everywhere we see the law is “a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path.

Further, dispensationalism is not internally consistent as a system. It can’t account for times when the New Testament seems to pull a quote wildly out of context such as, “Out of Egypt I have called my Son.” For had Matthew been a dispensationalists he’d never have said this, knowing that there’s no sensible, literal meaning in the Old Testament on which to justify twisting the meaning of Hosea in that way. But Matthew did say that, and because the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, Matthew must be something much closer to a covenant theologian than dispensationalist. There are other problems too, like how there’s a literal thousand year period of imprisonment for with Satan (a spiritual being) who will be bound by physical chains and cast into a physical pit. Or Joshua 23:14 which says, “…ye know in all your hearts and souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof” because that takes away the need for the millennial kingdom to make up for the incomplete promises given to Abraham. 

And if that’s true then we can’t assume the Jews were an earthly people receiving earthly revelation from God and then disconnect their revelation from the spiritual to get the discontinuity we need. The Jews were a people to whom were entrusted the good news of Christ, and later, the person of Christ Himself, they were not merely a nation to whom God wanted to move into Caanan. Hebrews 12 indicates that the heroes of the faith looked forward to both the work of Christ and His heavenly kingdom, not a physical inheritance.

So then if we don’t have dispensationalist grounds for a discontinuity in redemptive history that justifies reshaping our understanding of covenant inclusion, can we get a discontinuity from the Particular Baptists and Jeremiah 31? Doesn’t the fact that this is a new covenant indicate a new essence rather than just a new form? 

Not really. The Scriptures are pretty clear that covenants were given to support and strengthen our understanding of Christ, and that they’re not identical to salvation—which means covenants are to salvation what the take-home box is to a pizza. It won’t work to say that the covenants in the Old Testament were simple promises that did nothing substantial, while the covenant in the New Testament is a glorious equivalent to salvation, because you can’t justly have multiple ontological definition of the word covenant and pick whichever one is most convenient. Stated differently, you can’t assume a discontinuity which requires two different definitions of covenant, and then use two different definitions of covenant to prove the discontinuity. Either the Old Testament has covenants or the New Testament does, but without continuity they can’t both have covenants in them.

What about the fact that the New Covenant is unbreakable according to Jeremiah 31? Doesn’t that indicate a massive shift has happened and that a huge change was introduced in redemptive history? To a limited extent, yes. But what’s more likely, that the New Covenant is unbreakable because from now on God only lets those who will persevere until the end into His church, or that His Son has become the second Adam, added to Himself a human nature, and stands as our perfect priest before His Father for all eternity? Which makes more sense as to why the New Covenant won’t be broken: God kicks out the immature, or God makes the covenant with Jesus? One is an extrapolation, the other is explicitly affirmed by the book of Hebrews. But even granting that the un-breakability of the New Covenant is not about Christ, and it is about us, there’s not enough strength in that to get to a massive discontinuity. Just because the Old Covenant said ‘if you obey then you will be blessed’ and the New Covenant said ‘I will bless you’ doesn’t mean you can conclude that the inclusion of infants into the covenant is finished.

The other unworkable thing about Jeremiah 31 providing the grounds for the discontinuity is that the New Testament doesn’t denote the word new in New Covenant with the radically, substantially, totally, never-before-seen-new indicator neos that the discontinuity requires. Instead Scripture indicates the New Covenant is new in the sense of being more glorious, more freeing, more inclusive, more clearly set forth, more full of good news, with the Greek word kainos. It’s the Kainos Covenant in 1 Cor 11:25, 2 Cor 3:6, Heb 8:8, 8:13, 9:15. It’s the Neos Covenant only in Heb 12:24 where the writer speaks of blood that actually absolves sins. So the New Covenant is substantially different in that the blood shed by the sacrifice works this time, otherwise, there’s the same concepts of signs, boundaries, seals, family headships, promises, meal, fellowship as before. The New Covenant is therefore a refresh of an existing thing, except for the blood of Christ—and that’s not enough to establish the discontinuity the credo-baptist requires.

As a credo-baptist I'm trying to be fair and impartial here, but this isn't encouraging. If you don't assume covenant continuity but demand the proof for it the paedo-baptist has a ready answer, but if you don't assume a discontinuity and demand the proof for it the credo-baptist has no answer. At least, I have been quite unable to think up or uncover an answer in my readings. So I'm going to stop this and move on to examining the historical data.

Next: which side the historic record favors

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Paedo-Baptism: Analysis of Covenant Continuity

In a previous post I examined how well the credo and paedo systems fit the framework given by Scripture, and from that tried to decide which one of them matched the New Testament evidence better. The plan wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped it would be, so now I’m going to look at the differences that separate the two systems and see which is the more Biblical. Is there more evidence for the discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments as the credo-baptist says, or is there more evidence for the continuity as the paedo-baptists asserts? 

To find out I'm going to use the question, "Did the Apostles believe the appearance of the New Covenant created a discontinuity in the given framework of redemption?" as the basis for my investigation. Or stated differently, I'm going to answer the question, "How would the Apostles have understand the promise of Jeremiah 31? Would they see it as requiring the exclusion of their children from the covenant or not?"

In light of how the New Covenant promises to include eunuchs and Gentiles (who were formerly excluded from the covenant community), and in light of how God made it clear to the Jews that covenants are the framework for salvation, the Apostles probably would not have assumed children were automatically removed from the New Covenant. The inclusiveness of the covenant of grace has always expanded with time (the covenant sign is washing which can be applied to infant boys and girls), making it unlikely that anyone would have assumed the New Covenant disallows infants. 

More importantly, Scripture indicates that the Apostles saw themselves as building on what had already come before, not as doing something completely novel. In Acts 2:16 Peter says that his hearers were living through the days spoken of by the prophet Joel, who prophesied that the familiar event of God's spirit being poured out would now be done to many people, not merely a few people. He then transitions into a sermon about how Jesus’ resurrection was foretold by David, and how His coming fulfills the promise God made to Abraham. Knowing his hearers were Jews who gave the covenant signs to their infants, would Peter have made the promise in Acts 2:39 without further qualification or clarification? If so, that's a good way to ensure the gospel would be immediately distorted, not communicated effectively.

Next Peter tells the crowd that Jesus is The Prophet foretold by Moses (Acts 3:22) whom they were obligated to listen to. Again he stresses the promises of God made to Abraham, "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed" (Acts 3:25). Peter then quotes the Psalms to the rulers that Jesus is God of salvation (Acts 4:11) and basis his appeal on the fact that they were the children of the promise. This shows that Peter saw the New Covenant as an extension of the previous covenants, not as something completely unique. 

In speaking of the inclusion of the Gentiles into an all Jewish church, James the brother of Jesus quotes the Scriptures (Acts 15) saying, “After this I will return and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up that the reside of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” In saying this he points out that the Gentiles were being effectively engrafted into the vine of Israel. This is the opposite of a discontinuity. If the credo-baptists were right then James wouldn't have used the word rebuild because that would indicate a refreshing of the existing structure, but would have instead used a word to imply a new construction was happening. Or not quoted the Scriptures at all. But given his response its quite reasonable to conclude the first century Jews saw themselves as the children and inheretiors of the previous promises.  

In addition to Peter and James, Paul also indicates that the inclusion of the Gentiles were not a unique parenthetical in redemptive history. In Romans 11 he compares the Gentiles to branches being grafted into an existing tree, and doesn’t compare the inclusion of the Gentiles to how scaffolding is pulled down once a building is complete. Scaffolding would be much more natural to the credo-paradigm, but the tree which implies continuity of being between the Old and New Testament is foreign to it. 

In Romans 15 Paul quotes the Old Testament to show that the Gentiles were always going to be invited to join Israel. He compares them to visitors adding their number to an assembly already in progress: “Rejoice ye Gentiles with His people” and “Praise the Lord all ye Gentiles, and laud Him all ye people” and “There shall be a root of Jesse and He shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles trust” and “For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles and sing unto thy name.” And in Gal 6:16 he calls the church “the Israel of God.” These statements presuppose a continuity since the Gentiles are joining the established pattern, not founding a new one.

The additional reason this makes the point for continuity is because Peter, James, and Paul spoke before there was a New Testament; to their hearers the Old Testament was the whole of the Scriptures. Therefore any idea of pitting the New against the Old would have been foreign to the Apostles. That means the Old Testament is itself living and active—and it can't be an old irrelevancy that gets supplanted by the new revelation. Besides, even after it comes along the New Testament merely quotes the Old Testament. So any permaent authority the New has must be borrowed from the Old. Thus, the concepts in the book of Romans, Galatians, or Acts show that the worship of the church was a continuation of the worship started during the Old Testament times. And if that's true then children were in the New Covenant just as much as the Old.

What about the evidence that Baptism was only for priests, and that continuity requires it to continue to only be given to adult priests and withheld from infants? There’s a lot of problems with that. In no particular order:
  • The evidence that Jesus was baptized as a priest for service isn't great, and it's this more than any other on which the argument depends. It’s far more likely the event was to conclude John’s purpose in pointing to Christ, or to fulfill our righteousness, than it was to make Him a priest.
  • There’s no collaborating evidence apart from an inference that baptism makes us priests, or that the people going out to John the Baptist were becoming priestly servants to God.
  • Paedo-baptists make circumcision the sign of the righteousness of Christ that comes faith that comes through the gospel in the Old Testament because that’s what Paul says in Romans and Galatiansso baptism must be the sign of the Covenant of Grace itself.
  • Infants were among the children of Israel baptized in the Red Sea. So there is biblical precedence for baptizing infants. Stated another way, baptism can't just be to make priests clean.
  • Levitical priests had to be older than 30 years old to be baptized, as did Jesus, so shouldn’t we wait until age 30 to be baptized?
Ultimately then this argument doesn't work to exclude infants. After everything is presented the paedo-baptist simply shrugs and says, “We agree that baptism is a big and important concept that runs all the way through the Bible.” The argument looks good on paper but once you dig in a little further it collapses and all you’re left with the observation that in the New Covenant God weaves together washing and cleansing into making His sign that much more meaningful.

Looking back, I don’t see any reason to re-structure the concept of covenant which would remove infants from it, and every reason to continue using the framework established by the Old Testament. And that would mean that the paedo-baptists are right and that infants ought to be baptized.

Next: The Evidence of Covenant Discontinunity

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Credo vs Paedo Baptism: Answers to Shared Problems

To the credo, baptism is a physical vow, done by a believer, following their verbal profession of faith, in accordance with the example of the New Testament. To the paedo, baptism is the sign of the New Covenant. 

Which is correct?

To find out, I intend to examine the logical consequences of both views and see which one more closely lines up with Scripture. I expect this to be difficult, since both views seem very reasonable and there’s no direct statement for either position in the Scripture. John never said, “The ontology of Baptism is X, therefore only baptize group Y.” And Luke never said anything like, “Although Timothy had grown up in a believing household, Paul waited to baptize him until his profession of faith was made credible by his good works.”

So I’m validating the two worldviews through circumstantial evidence, like a police investigator taking fingerprints at a crime scene. Individually each a piece of evidence may not be very compelling, but taken together I hope they’ll present a strong case that one view is right and the other is wrong.

Point 1 – Acts indicates belief before baptism

Issue: Acts indicates that those who professed faith were subsequently baptized.
Credo response: This fits our model exactly.
Paedo response: We also believe that an adult convert must profess faith before being baptized, but we also believe that baptism is a household/headship affair. At Pentecost there men who made the pilgrimage across the world to be at Jerusalem in accordance with the command of Deut 16:16 while their families stayed behind. The record of Acts then is not of atomized individuals professing faith, but of men, family heads, being baptized.
Verdict: Tie. Both sides make a compelling case here.

Point 2 – Households were baptized

Issue: The New Testament records five places where the word household is explicitly used when speaking of Baptism (Acts 10:47-48, 16:15; 16:30-31; 18:8; 1 Cor 10:16-18). For example, in the city of Philippi the jailer believed, then his house was baptized.
Credo: Based on the earlier evidence in Acts, it must be the case that the people in the house first heard the good news from Paul and then believed and were baptized. Nowhere in those verses are children mentioned, so assuming there were infants in the jailor’s household is an argument from silence.
Paedo: All baptisms are really “household” baptisms. The very existence of the word house in the text is evidence that the paedo model is correct—no debate on whether there were children in any particular house is needed. The man is the head of the house (Eph 5:23), the man believed, therefore the house was baptized. In the same way covenants are always headship affairs, so Scripture presents baptism as a headship affair.
Verdict: Paedo. If you adopt the household model as the paradigm then the earlier baptisms in Acts make sense, but if you adopt the individualistic model then the household baptisms don’t really follow. Reducing household to all the individuals living under a roof as the credo wants to do doesn’t give a solid basis for explaining why Scripture should so consistently insist that entire households were baptized in my estimation.

The other thing the paedos have going for them is that in Abrahams day the command to circumcise all the males resulted in a large number adults and an unrecorded-but-presumably-small-number-of infants being circumcised (Gen 17:23). After that, the majority of recipients of the covenant sign were infants. At Pentecost the initialization of the sign in like manner may have resulted in a large number of adults receiving the sign (Acts 2:41), and later the majority of recipients being infants. 

Point 3 – Peter said the promise was to their children

Issue: In Acts 2:39 Peter said that the promise was “to you and your children, and all who are far off.”
Credo: Peter should be understood as speaking of three distinct groups, “you [the hearers], your children [those who will one day be old enough to accept], and those who are far off [gentiles who’ll come to faith in Christ much later].
Paedo: Peter should be understood as speaking to two groups, (you and your children) and all who are far off [gentiles]. In grouping “you and your children” together Peter is communicating that Jesus is fulfilling of the promises God made to Abraham.
Verdict: Tie. I can see this both ways.

Point 4 – Children are in the Church

Issue: Acts 21:5 says the children (who were disciples) knelt down and prayed for Paul (and he doesn’t rebuke or correct them for doing this). Then in Eph 6:1-3 and Col 3:20 Paul commands the children who heard his words to obey their parents—meaning they were members of the church with duties and obligations. Is there a difference in the eyes of God between a child who grows up under believing parents and one who doesn’t? Should the children of believers be taught to sing “Jesus loves me”?
Credo: the children should be taught to pray and sing.
Paedo: Greg Welty, a credo-baptist, says, “Parents can have confidence that God hears the prayers of their children to the extent they have confidence that their children have renewed hearts.” If the Baptist paradigm is right then the most logical position is to keep the children from singing Jesus loves me until they make a mature, credible profession of faith and demonstrate they are inside the covenant of salvation. Failure to do this means we’ve sinned by teaching them to presume on the goodness of God or hardened them in their impenitency, since only believers are entitled to the blessings of the church. But this is exactly the opposite of what the New Testament says, and therefore indicates the credo-baptism model is wrong.
Verdict: Paedo wins a small victory. If the credo model is correct then Paul should have instructed the parents to make sure their children obey them, but the text indicates that the children are already part of the church and must act like it. Further, Paul praises Timothy for knowing the Scriptures since infancy (2 Tim 3:14-17), but how would this have happened under a consistent credo paradigm? Credo parents may catechize their children but there’s no mechanism or rational to do so if the church is no larger than the mature professors of faith.

Point 5 – Children in Covenant

Issue: 1 Cor 7:14 says the children of believing parents are holy.
Credo: Holy here means more nearly what we would think of as legitimate. Further, if the children in covenant are holy and should be baptized then the unbelieving adult spouse should also be baptized, but this is an absurd conclusionwhich leads us to realize that the premise is false.
Paedo: Holy can't be equivalent to legitimate because the children of a married couple are always legitimate. Instead, Paul’s use of the word holy is invoking covenant language imported from the Old Testament. In the same way that Peter declared Cornelius was not to be called unclean or outside the covenant (Acts 10:28) so too is the child of the believer not unclean, but holy. This is clear evidence that familial solidarity established in the Old Testament remains true in the New Testament, since the mere presence of believing parents sanctifies the child and makes them holy.
Verdict: Tie/Paedo by a hair. The unbelieving spouse is becoming holy, but the children are already holy, which indicates that they already belong to God.

Point 6 – The Warning Passages

Issue: The New Testament warns the reader to guard their salvation; see Mark 13:13; James 5:11; 2 Cor 13:5; 1 Tim 1:18-20, Hebrews 2:1-4; 3:7-19; 6:4-8; 10:26-3; 12:25. But we also know from other passages (like 1 John 2:19; Rom 8:29-30, John 6:38-40; Phil 1:4-6, etc) that it’s impossible for a true believer to lose their salvation. So how do we reconcile these two things?
Credo: The warning passages are admonitions designed to keep the believer on track. Just as a mother warns her children not to jump into a blazing furnace, and the warning functions as the means to avoid death, so too do these warnings provide the means to our perseverance.
Paedo: These are actual warning passages for events that could really occur, given to keep us on track. Those who fall away were inside the covenant but outside salvation, so it makes sense to speak of them as moving away from salvation. This is the only way to reconcile the fact that some men lose their salvation (1 Tim 1:18-20) but to all of them God will still say “depart from Me, for I never knew you.”
Verdict: Tie. Both seem to be pretty good to me. I think the edge goes to the paedo, but both are solid answers.

Point 7 – Passive/Active Participation in Baptism

Issue: 1 Peter 3:21 says baptism now saves you, but 1 Cor 1:14 indicates baptism is not the primary idea in salvation. Further, Peter seems to indicate Baptism is something you submit to passively (Acts 2:38) rather than something you engage in. How do we reconcile this?
Credo: Baptism saves us by being an appeal to a good conscience, but it is not the driving force in salvation (that’s faith). 1 Peter 3:21 indicates that baptism is fundamentally an appeal to God for a clean conscience, which is exactly what we say baptism is.
Paedo: Baptism is spoken of in the passive sense by Peter in Acts because it’s the sign that belongs to the church to put on its people, not a sign people proclaim to the church. It’s spoken of as being equal to salvation by Peter in 1 Peter because without God’s promise and righteousness we cannot be saved. At the same time it’s spoken of as unequal to the blood of Christ sacrificed on our behalf because it is unequal in that respect.
Verdict: This is another close one that seems to fall in favor of the paedo. 

Point 8 – Baptism Means ‘Immersion’

Issue: If Baptism is identical to immersion then how were the Israelites baptized into Moses when they crossed the Red Sea (1 Cor 10:2)? And how was Jesus referring to crucifixion when He used the word baptism (Matt 20:23)?
Credo: Baptism still means ‘to dip’. Jesus was plunged or dropped into suffering, and likewise the children of Israel were immersed into Moses.
Paedo: Baptism more nearly means ‘to wash; to pour,’ as much as ‘to dip’. Hebrews 9:10 speaks of various baptisms, with the reference in Numbers 19:17-18 being sprinkling. Further, the LXX translates “affrighted” in Isaiah 21:4 as “baptize”, which is what Jesus was quoting from in Matt 20:23.
Verdict: Tie. In fairness, I’m more interested in who is a candidate for baptism more than what is the proper mode of baptism.

Point 9 – Jesus Baptized His Disciples

Issue: Why did Jesus baptize his disciples in John 3:22 and not sooner? Or later? Why do the disciples turn around and immediately baptize the crowds that came to them (John 3:26, 4:2) rather than wait until their lives bore fruit to God?
Credo: The disciples were not baptized until John 3 because they didn't have enough information to make their faith valid until that point. They then turned around and baptized the crowd on profession of faith because Jesus instructed them to do so.
Paedo: if the credos are right then the disciples themselves should have been baptized sooner, since Nathan was a genuine professing believer since John 1:49-50. He wasn’t baptized because baptism pictures the objective work of Christ, and that wasn’t revealed until chapter 3. As soon as the discourse with Nicodemus reveals Jesus to be the center of the Old Testament, the one who’d be lifted up to give healing and salvation to those who looked on in faith, He takes His disciples to the river and baptizes them.
Verdict: Paedo wins a small victory, by a narrow margin. The credo might instead say Jesus was giving a baptism for ministry readiness (like how Levites were commissioned at age 30), or His was a baptism of repentance. Sure it’s a little strange to say that the Lords baptism was the same as Johns, or that baptism is a sign of commission, but it works after a fashion. Nonetheless, the paedo understanding is a slightly better fit.

Let’s step back and weigh how each side has done so far. The credo answers have been good, and there’s nothing to indicate any kind of systemic failure in them, while the paedo answers have also been good and have consistently provided a valid working framework for understanding the Scriptures. My hope in doing this was that one side would prove to be a clear winner, but so far it’s not panned out that way.

While the paedo system is fitting the data slightly better, there’s really nothing to cause me to give up being a credo-baptist, even though the ontological argument for paedo baptism is still bothering me (as it was the thing that drove me to do this work in the first place). But we’re not done yet. Let’s now turn to what seems to be the foundational issue: the presence or absence of a discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments.

The Historic Case For Paedo-Baptism from Various Sources

In the previous post I made the case that there was no coming back from the Synod of Carthage for the credo-baptist advocate, since the evidence against it is simply insurmountable. And yet, if that wasn't enough, there's further evidence that infant baptism was indeed the Apostolic practice.

Hyppolytus, writing in 215AD said, "First you should baptize the little ones...for those who cannot speak, their parents should speak."

Origen, who wrote about 248AD said, "In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants." (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3, and another in Leviticus 14). He also said, "The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit" (Commentaries on Romans 5:9) 

Chrysostom who lived from 349-407, said, "Our circumcision, I mean the grace of baptism, gives cure without pain and procures to us a thousand benefits, and fills us with the grace of the Spirit; and has no determinate time, as that had; but one that is in the very beginning of his age, or one that is in the middle of it, or one that is in his old age, may receive this circumcision made without hands; in which there is no trouble to be undergone but to throw off the load of sins, and to receive pardon for all past offenses.” (Homily 40 in Genesis)

Augustine, in debating with Pelagius, pointed out that a denial of original sin meant a denial of infant baptism, since what other sin is being remitted in the infant? Here Augustine cleverly attempts to skewer Pelagius on denying the well-accepted doctrine infant baptism and make him look bad. But Pelagius answers, "Men slander me as if I denied the sacrament of baptism to infants. I never heard of any, not even the most impious heretic who denied baptism to infants."

For both of them not to have even heard of anyone who disagreed with paedo-baptism is telling. Not as telling as the council of Carthage mind you, but telling. And when you put these quotes together with the others (even those I haven't selected) it becomes pretty clear that there was no dispute in this matter, and that the early church baptized infants because they got the doctrine from the Apostles.  

So now, having gathered up the evidence, it’s time for me to ascend the podium and hand out the awards.

Next: Evaluating the Debate

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Paedo-Baptism: The Mono-Covenantal Argument

The previous post made the case that because infants were given signs in every covenant, infants should be given the covenant sign of Christ’s righteousness of baptism today. Covenant signs by their nature are objective revelations of Christ, not subjective pronouncements made by the individual. That argument parallels the Inductive Argument for credo-baptism because it looks at the data and draws a conclusion from it, except that it takes a wider view and makes the opposite conclusion.

The Mono-Covenantal argument for paedo-baptism posits that the sign of the Covenant of Grace was given as circumcision to infants, and that since circumcision is replaced by baptism we should give baptism to infants. This is by far the most common argument for paedo-baptism out there, and it parallels the credo-baptist Dispensationalist Argument in seeking to put together a wider understanding of redemptive history.

It might be more accurate to say that this is the opposite of dispensationalism however, because where dispensationalism sees a series of divisions the Mono-Covenantal argument sees a unity. And for good reason too—the saints in the Old Testament were saved exactly like we are: Christ's blood covers their sins, His righteousness is imputed to them, and they stand on works not their own. There is, as the Scriptures say, one dispensation for the fullness of time, and through it God is gathering all things under Christ (Eph 1:10). There is one people, one body, one Spirit, one cornerstone (Eph 2:14-20, 4:4-6). There is one singular plan that was put into motion by God from eternity past for the saving of souls regardless of gender, ethnicity, or ability, and that plan is Christ.

The strength of the Mono-Covenantal Argument rests on the premise that the New Testament is the outworking of the covenant with Abraham, not the giving of the law at Sinai. Abraham came first in redemptive history (which means both that he has the preeminence and that the subsequent covenant of Sinai cannot disannul God’s promise to him Gal 3:17). The law did not reduce or supplant the Abrahamic covenant, it added to it by showing men they’re trapped in sin and need the promised savior (Gal 3:22). Those who attempt to twist the law into making themselves righteous have forfeited the grace of Christ, which was the promise of Abraham (Gal 5:4). Therefore the sign of circumcision which was given after Abraham received the good news of Christ was pointing to this singular plan of salvation by Grace. In the form of a syllogism the argument goes like this:

P1: God required believers to give the sign of the Covenant of Grace to their infants (Gen 17:10).
P2: Baptism is the sign of the Covenant of Grace for believers today (Col 2:11-12).
C: God requires believers to baptize their children.

Premise one needs the least defense since Genesis 17 explicitly states that circumcision is to be given to infants of believers. The Old Testament is also explicit that circumcision was not merely a physical marker, but was designed to point to a greater spiritual reality since it was required for fellowship with God (Jer 4:4), symbolized regeneration (Deut 10:16), was to be followed by inward circumcision, and indicated to the Jews that they had to be circumcised in heart (Jer 9:25). It was the sign of Christ’s righteousness and work (Rom 4:11), and was appropriately bloody, for it pointed to a messiah who would pour out His blood to save us from our sins.

Premise two is more likely to be disputed by a credo-baptist, and in two ways.
The first line of attack is to say that it’s actually the Holy Spirit who’s the sign of the New Covenant, and not a physical element like water. In this view baptism isn’t a sacrament that points to the larger reality but an act of obedience that is required for holiness. But that’s the argument from the Churches of Christ—not the Baptist—and it’s not in scope here. So while it is true that the Holy Spirit seals us and marks us as His until the day of redemption, it is not the case that this cancels out the command Jesus gave us in the great commission to baptize as we make disciples.

The second line of attack says that baptism isn’t equivalent to circumcision, and that infants therefore shouldn’t be baptized. But baptism is the sign of the righteousness and the work of Christ, and it points to the one who washes away our sins, just as circumcision points to the one who was cut off for us. They’re doing the same thing, indicating the same status; as the Scripture says, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith” (Col 2:11-12a).

Abraham received the same gospel of Christ we do (Gal 3:8), and was commanded to apply the sign of it to infants. Since it's the same covenant (or plan), the same God, the same function of the sign, the same requirements for administering them (the only difference is that one sign was bloody and pointed forward, while the other a cleansing and pointed back) it stands to reason that we are to imitate Abraham and signify our covenant children's unique relationship to God.

To put this a bit more succinctly: the sign of Christ in the Old Testament is circumcision; the sign of Christ in the New is baptism. If God wanted us to apply the sign of salvation by grace to infants in the Old Testament, and we are still today under grace today, then it stands to reason that we should be applying the sign of salvation by grace to infants today.

Having made the case that both we and Abraham were under the covenant of grace, and that we are saved by grace, and that we are therefore under the same rules about who should be receiving the sign of grace, let’s move on to seeing any potential middle ground between the paedo and credo-baptist views.

Next: Credo & Paedo Baptism: a Common Middle Ground?

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The Heretical Religion of Wokeism

"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served tha...