Monthly Archives: November 2017

Infant Baptism

In the introduction of To A Thousand Generations, Douglas Wilson is blunt about what he’s trying to do. “I must confess on the outset that this short book seeks to persuade others.” Throughout the introduction as well, Wilson discusses what kinds of arguments he will not use, and the kinds of arguments he will use, and who his intended audience is. This is always important to note because it will generally have influence upon the type of arguments he is defending against.

One such argument is that of nominalism. I have not heard it used, but most certainly understand it being used since the common experience of many evangelicals is that the people they know who baptize their infants are Roman Catholics. And the vast majority of Roman Catholics they know are nominal Catholics. At least that I know.

So Wilson seeks to address those who are serious about their faith, who believe in believers baptism, and who want to guard against nominalism. I would like to do all three, though I don’t think baptizing infants is something that leads to nominalism. However, this still makes it a book aimed towards me, albeit it not generally who Wilson may have in mind.

Wilson is also careful to distinguish himself from those who baptize their infants for reasons other than the ones he does. In Roman Catholicism the belief is that baptism regenerates the infant. However, many do not baptize their infants within Roman Catholicism because of that reason since they don’t know that doctrine at all. But Wilson wants to distinguish himself from any form of what he’d call unbiblical infant baptism.

Then Wilson makes a strong statement on page nine: “in arguing for biblical infant baptism, it is not sufficient for us to say that infant baptism is merely consistent with the Scriptures, or thatĀ a biblical case can be made for it. In order for us to be satisfied that we are being biblical Christians, we must be content with nothing less than a clear biblical case requiring infant baptism. In a doctrinal matter of this importance, the standards of evidence are high.”

I would agree and echo this statement. And the reason I would echo this is because generally what we practice is usually an outworking of our theology. Which is why this debate is debated, because it generally involves much more than just applying water to someone.

Right after this statement the debate begins and Doug is already trying to persuade you. Here is what I’m talking about.

“Historically, the debate between baptists and covenantal paedobaptists has revolved around the two initiatory rites of circumcision and baptism, and has concerned how much continuity or discontinuity there is between the Levitical administration of the law and the New Covenant.”

This is at the very heart of the debate, however, I’d like to demonstrate how he is already arguing based off of certain assumptions. This is a short work and that means skipping over clarity in many parts, but when he says “two initiatory rites of circumcision and baptism” I would like to know what he means by initiatory rites. Circumcision didn’t bring you into the Mosaic covenant, the covenant God made with the Israelites at Mt. Sinai. Circumcision was a sign, and if you weren’t circumcised you’d be cut off from the people, but also if you didn’t do a host of other things you’d be cut off from the people. Like working on the Sabbath or dishonoring your parents. So I’d have to understand how he defines initiatory and rites. If he means that generally they were among the first acts of obedience among those to whom these were given, then I would generally agree.

Wilson also rightly points out that both sides agree there is discontinuity among the Old Covenant (Mosaic) and the New Covenant. However, he then concludes that the debate is reduced to how much discontinuity there is and continues on because there is no explicit example of the baptism of an infant in the New Testament.

I agree with him in part. I don’t think it’s simply the amount of discontinuity between the testaments or covenants. I believe it comes down the nature of the covenants. The discontinuity is the fruit of the nature of the two covenants. But the fact he conceded that there is no explicit example of a baptism of an infant in the New Testament makes his case much more difficult to surmount. To concede here means that he is going to have to argue in a different fashion, which generally means taking Old Testament types and shadows and positing them into the New Testament. And as I’ve already pointed out, it seems there are assumptions being made that I believe where the debate truly lays, and I believe Wilson also agrees where the debate lays. It lays with the nature of the covenants.

Wilson also points out that we need to start the debate with the understanding that Gods commands to parents are the same, and his promises to parents are the same from the Old Testament to the New. I haven’t studied this subject enough but I have to generally agree. I have read his book, Standing on the PromisesĀ and found much of it helpful and useful. It may be good for me to go over that book again, but for now I’d endorse the book and agree with much of what he said. However, I don’t think that since the commands and promises may remain the same in general to parents under both Covenants, this means therefore baptize your infants. I don’t believe Wilson believes this either, since he points out that regardless whether you baptize your infants or not, we must understand what God wants us to do as parents. Which I say amen. It is far better to know what God requires us as parents to do for our children rather than spend most of our time studying if one of those things is or isn’t baptism.

Wilson also rightly points out that our doctrine of baptism should come from our doctrine of the covenants. Many Christians do simple just read the New Testament, find any reference to baptism, and then make conclusions from there. Though I believe that these Christians would come to the conclusions that the New Testament would want one to come to about if baptism is for believers or for both believers and infants of believers, the richness of the Old Testament and all it has to offer the Christian is important and should not be ignored because it too is the word of God.

Many Christians today don’t even think that God works in history through covenants he makes with people or peoples. They have a shallow view of how God works, and that it is somewhat arbitrary and God just picks a time and works that way until he chooses to work differently. However, when we read the Bible, we see God moves in history by making covenants with people that lead to the birth of the messiah.

God makes a covenant with Adam. That covenant gets broken, and then he lays curses upon Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. Among these curses is the promise of a Messiah. One who will crush the head of the Serpent. Then God makes a covenant with Noah and the earth, that he will never flood the earth again. This he does because Noah was righteous, but also because the head of the serpent still hadn’t been crushed, the messiah still hadn’t come.

Then God makes a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then Moses, and then David. All this leads to the New Covenant. Each covenant building up to and pointing to the messiah.

All this to say, most Christians see the Old Testament as dimly as many of the people within the Old Testament saw. Yet Christians know the messiah. So why is this? I believe it’s because we haven’t, as Wilson points out, studied the host of other issues: Covenant, circumcision, Jews, Gentiles, generations, promises, parents, and a host of other issues (11).

Wilson also in this chapter points out that there is also something that prevents many evangelical Christians from even wanting to listen to fellow Christians who do baptize their infants. The reason is it smells too much like Roman Catholicism. And since Roman Catholicism is a false gospel, they believe anyone else practicing what Roman Catholics practice must be wrong as well.

But even that line of thinking is faulty because Roman Catholics practice hospitality, kindness, gratitude, and generosity. So just because a Roman Catholic may practice it doesn’t mean it’s wrong on bad. So we must allow others to speak for themselves and not assume just because X reminds you of Y that therefore X is Y. You thinking its the same doesn’t make it the same.

In summary, I find the introduction good and demonstrating who Wilson is talking to. I will not be satisfied if he or any other paedobaptist can make a biblical case for infant baptism. I will be satisfied with no less than it being a requirement from God. We must as parents obey God in all things, and therefore ought to obey all God’s command for us as parents. We can’t let prejudice keep us from studying these issues. We must not fear hearing arguments from another perspective, but be mature in our thinking. And this issue is much bigger than baptism, since baptism has to do with Gods New Covenant, and we need to know what covenants are and what this means for us.

In the next blog on Infant Baptism, I’ll be diving into chapter one.

The most important job

There is something about our day and age that permeates our culture. There is an aroma of our society that wafts itself everywhere in the US. This aroma has also infected much of the church of Jesus Christ. This aroma has seeped into our clothes, our homes, our hair, our minds, our hearts, and into our bedrooms.

This aroma I’m talking about is the fact that children are seen more as a curse, a burden, a difficult task that prevents us from doing what we really want to do. Children are not viewed highly at all, even among most Christians.

This post will be short because not much needs to be said, but Christians need to realize that child rearing is probably one of the most important tasks we can do. Theologically, we believe children have eternal souls. This means that every child has a soul and will be in heaven or hell. Talk about high stakes. Talk about a weighty calling. Talk about a task that has more impact that many other tasks you do. Some people think housewives are the supportive role, when truly men are supporting wives in caring for children at an early age, protecting them, until the men then step in and take on the rest of the training and sharpening of these arrows.

God gives us a task that has eternal significance.

Not only that, but according to 1 Timothy 3, a man ought not to be a pastor or elder in a church if his household is in order. His wife and children, the way his home is run, is the very degree certificate of whether he ought to join in this task or not. It’s his resume. He who is faithful in a little will be faithful in much. And so we see, that if a man is faithful in raising children and ordering his home well, which is not a small task at all, then he can be a candidate for a task that is similar to raising a household but on a bigger scale.

Raising children and being a good husband is not something to look down upon. Nor is it something to make silly comments about. I will not sniff at a woman who is raising children. I will not sniff at men and women who actually care for the raising of their children, and are diligent to follow God’s ways.

This tremendous task is fraught with difficulty because of our own sin and the sin of those around us. It’s difficult because our society hates child rearing, as evidenced by the slaughter of thousands of children everyday in the womb.

Everyone may be in different circumstances, and so some women may not be able to have children, but I will not downplay how great the task of having children and raising them is to make some women feel better about their circumstances. We all must raise ourselves up to God as living sacrifices, being grateful for our circumstances, and not be envious of those who have what we believe we cannot have.

Raise those eternal souls. Know you won’t do it perfectly, yet God has given the task to us. Raise yourselves up to God in so doing this task. Offer it up to God, and seek to do his will.

Aroma of the Home

As I’ve been thinking about the issues of paedobaptism and children, I have been thinking about households and raising children. It’s a difficult task but also a joyful one. It’s one that stretches you, grows you, and causes you to do things you otherwise may never do. Being a parent is challenging and fun.

Today, many people around my age typically don’t see child rearing as a good thing. In fact, most people I talk to seem to gripe and moan about it more than anything. With no outside pressure, they make fun of their children, degrade them, or talk about how awful the whole thing was.

Granted, most of it probably was, but I believe that it comes down to what your household aroma is.

The aroma of the home is the atmosphere that permeates the home. Is it one of joy, life, fellowship, adventure, exploring, learning, and feasting? Or is it one of silence, anger, bitterness, independence, dis-fellowship, malice, strife, frustration, and gloom?

As a Christian, my goal is to make my household one of joyful fellowship, with God and man. This is my aim in being the head of the household. For my wife and my son to be loved, protected, and in right relation with God and man. I want flourishing in my home. A home of joy. A home of gladness. A home of inquiry and play. A home of talk and mirth. A home where bees come to soak in nectar, only to take it with themselves back to their own homes.

We are a long ways off. But, by God’s grace, we will get there.

Cerebral blindness

Something that has become obvious to me, though it be silly that it has become obvious now, is that when we study doctrine we aren’t studying something, Truly we are studying someone’s thoughts. We are studying the thoughts of God.

I think I always readily write that I want to obey God and know the truth, and that I want to be Biblical and follow God’s word. However, these phrases have been hiding a truth in plain sight. Or maybe to put it another way is that these phrases haven’t hit me in certain ways they ought to be taken.

That truth that is hiding is that as we study the Bible, we are studying God’s thoughts. We are studying His work and character. Which means also, when we pray to know the truth and live it out, we aren’t just asking for something, but we are asking for God to teach us His thoughts, for these truly are His thoughts. We want to see and understand them accurately.

Perhaps what I have written here is still hiding this glorious truth in plain sight to others, but I’m astounded and humbled that I can know what God desires. I’m breathless as the thought that God would actually share His thoughts with me. I’m humbled by the fact that God actually has opinions on every matter.

I know by writing God having “opinions” may throw people off because what God says must be obeyed and His thoughts are truth, fact, and solid. This is true and I agree, and I’m not trying to take away any of that. However, sometimes using words don’t light up certain angles that we may be missing. Whenever I talk about truth, sometimes I’m talking about God as though He is something to be studied and not loved. In the same way, sometimes when I talk about God’s word needing to be obeyed, I am talking about God as though he didn’t send his son on this earth and create everything. When I say opinion I am merely using a human word to get my human mind and heart to realize and wake-up to the fact that God is more than something in my thoughts, or principles, or beliefs or faith. God is a being who has opinions. His happen to be always true and always right and always wise and always good. He has an opinion on your daily activities, routine, money spending, etc.

And either you’ll obey His opinions or you won’t.