Baptise those Babies!

...and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. (Acts 16:33)

Sometimes I feel like more of an Anglican than the men in white robes (Anglican presbyters I mean, not the KKK). On more than one occasion I’ve heard ordained Anglicans murmer that believers baptism is more biblical than infant baptism, and I’ve even seen some Anglican churches “dedicating” rather than baptising infants.

The baptism debate - troubled waters within Christianity. Plenty of ink has already been spilled over the exegetical arguments, so I don’t plan to revisit those. Instead, I want to draw your attention to a couple of the theological implications of infant baptism, implications which are very practical.

First, infant baptism says that salvation is about what God has done, rather than what we have done. For those who insist on adult baptism, the key element seems to be the free will “decision” one has made to follow God. By contrast, infant baptism testifies clearly to God’s sovereign work in salvation and regeneration, and His faithfulness to His promises.

Second, infant baptism testifies that our children are real, genuine members of God’s kingdom. They are not little pagans that need converting - rather, we can bring them up as Christians, and safely presume that they are saved until (God forbid) they give clear evidence otherwise. Such a doctrine is enormously practical, and can give a great deal of comfort to anxious parents.

I really don’t believe that Anglican leaders have any liberty in this area, as infant baptism is plainly taught in Article 27. Beyond that, I happen to think the practice is perfectly scriptural.

I hope the trend towards “dedications” stops, and I hope that younger clergy will grasp and apply this important doctrine with conviction. Baptise those babies!

Craig Schwarze heads Sydneyanglicans.net's music review team and contributes regular thoughts on day-to-day Christianity. He is an everyday Christian who lives in Sydney's inner west. By day he works in the IT industry; by night his interests are music, theology, writing and mixed martial arts. Click here to read Craig's blog, his everyday blog.

Comments (176)

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  • Michael Jensen
    December 1, 09 - 1:15pm
    How many of those guys wear white robes though? ;-)

    I think you are right to raise this, Craig. A discussion of the theology of the sacraments is well overdue.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 1, 09 - 8:09pm
    @MJ - thanks mate, sacramentology is one of the ever-present elephants in the room for SydAng.

    @Mark - maybe so, though I've seen Christian couples get dedications as well in the Anglican church. This is possibly because a lot of reformed baptists in Sydney would rather attend an Anglican church than a non-reformed baptist. I totally respect their freedom of conscience on the issue, but I don't think that extends to accommodating our sacramentology around it.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 1, 09 - 8:11pm
    BTW all, I'm going to be "offline" for most of today and well into the evening, so I wont be able to respond to comments until then. Looking forward to seeing what everyone has to say...
  • Martin Paul Morgan
    December 1, 09 - 10:32pm
    Craig,
    Excellent to discuss this issue. My view is that many new Moore graduates are very very nervous about infant baptism. they are often using models from u.s. for much of their practical theology- and these guys are usually.... baptists. John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever. As a result infant baptism does not get a good working- however I would have thought that Moore could do that.. and probably does. I know quite a few ordained Anglicans who have not baptised their own infants whilst being an ordained Anglican. (For a multiplicity of reasons- some that resonate with me, others that don't).

    the misuse of infant baptism is a big issue also that there may be some kind of pendulum swing against. Dedications or thanksgivings can be appropriate sometimes- but for Christian families (or parents) infant baptism is one of the great Anglican practices that can be a part of our strength and ongoing growth.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 1, 09 - 10:46pm
    Hi everyone. And thanks, Craig, for the topic, and the two 'theological implications' as you so helpfully call them, of infant baptism.

    It might be worth pointing people to what the new bettergatherings website says about this matter.

    Where we are, we are very glad, by conviction, to baptise the infants of professing Christians. In the case of those not currently attending church, we insist that they do preparation to understand the promises they would be making, and generally we would not book in a date before the preparation is completed, and we check whether, having been educated, they are willing to profess faith and make the baptismal promises. We then take them at their word.

    We do not offer dedications, but we do offer a Thanksgiving service (developed from the one in AAPB) in two contexts

    (i) as an alternative for God-fearing parents (using the term loosely) who do not wish to make the baptismal promises or do the preparation;
    (ii) as an alternative for active congregation members, who very much wish to be part of our particular Anglican church, but by reasons of conscience do not wish to baptise their children as infants.

    We teach infant baptism (or better, 'Christian family baptism'), and think the arguments in favour are good, but do not insist on it, since the timing is a disputable matter.
  • Steve Carlisle
    December 1, 09 - 11:14pm
    Martin,

    I completely agree, the models from America are enticing, and on this issue not as helpful as they could be.

    Kevin DeYoung is also a part of that group, but a keen paedo-baptist, and he gets hammered about it by Dever on the 9Marks interview series, and he gives a good answer.

    Just someone to listen to who is American, but would see things the same way as us clergy, at least, should, see things
  • David Palmer
    December 2, 09 - 12:22am
    I don't want to sound like a broken record BUT Calvin in the Institutes is magnificent on infant baptism, so my suggestion to Moore College is let 'em lose on Calvin.

    I agree with Craig's referencing of Acts 16:33. Whilst no expert on Greek, my own translation written into my preaching NIV (which with all those perfidious Baptists involved in translation squibbed on the issue) is .... then he was baptised, he and all his own at once.. The gaoler brought ..... set a meal before them; he exalted with all his household because he had come to believe in God - can't say it more clearly than that.

    I'm always excited to baptise children (alas, more past tense for me now), however in the PC we can only do so on the parent's credible confession of faith as attested by Session.
  • Michael Jensen
    December 2, 09 - 12:29am
    The comments here are fascinating. You'll be unsurprised to learn, David, that Calvin gets quite a run at Moore.

    Traditionally, we Sydney Anglicans have developed our theology of the sacraments in response to others in our own denomination who have a very 'high' view of the sacraments. And so we have characteristically sought to downplay their significance for the church and for christian life. Rightly so, if you see what other Anglicans do! Rightly, we emphasis Word over sacrament, and we don't see the sacrament as a channel of grace in some mystical sense.

    But it would be a mistake to have no theology of the sacraments. It would be a mistake to over-react by denuding them of all significance at all. There are bible-believing Prots out there who have well-worked out sacramentologies. And if we haven't said what we do think about them, then we are going to be vulnerable to the various distortions that are out there. So, the heavy covenantal view of infant baptism, for example, is getting more of a run I see.
  • David Palmer
    December 2, 09 - 12:47am
    The comments here are fascinating. You'll be unsurprised to learn, David, that Calvin gets quite a run at Moore.

    As you say, unsurprised - maybe it is the heavy NA Baptist influence mentioned earlier. On that score we tend to plug into US Presbyterians, so frankly, being heavily covenantal, I don't hear any arguments against baptising infants, we only wish we had more infants to baptise. If you have some spare babies or wonder whether or not to baptise, let us know.
  • Jeremy Halcrow
    December 2, 09 - 1:42am
    My personal experience would suggest that this is neither a 'new' nor an 'US Baptist' nor 'Moore College' inspired trend amongst evangelical Anglicans.

    My own C of E parents decided not to baptise me in England 35+ years ago. They attended All Soul's Langham Place under John Stott.
  • David Palmer
    December 2, 09 - 2:11am
    OK, then its Michael's point about reacting to other forms of Anglicanism plus the thing about parents turning up on Sunday to have their child(ren) christened and then that was the last we saw of them. I certainly reacted negatively to this occuring as a young Christian, so much so I went along to the neighbouring Baptist Church one Sunday, thought how good was that as I walked out only to observe a couple walking away from that church having the most unholy ding dong row. That was the end of the Baptist Church for me.
  • Ian Packer
    December 2, 09 - 2:54am
    David, as a Baptist minister that last story horrifies me on a number of levels...
  • Geoff Chambers
    December 2, 09 - 3:20am
    I certainly reacted negatively to this occuring as a young Christian, so much so I went along to the neighbouring Baptist Church one Sunday, thought how good was that as I walked out only to observe a couple walking away from that church having the most unholy ding dong row. That was the end of the Baptist Church for me.


    Maybe they were non-Christians visiting?

    Or maybe they were just like me and my wife on a bad day, God forgive us.
  • David Palmer
    December 2, 09 - 3:42am
    Hi Ian,

    Please don't hold it against me! Yes, you are right about one of those levels - please don't repeat.

    They probably went home and had kisses and cuddles, not that I was to know!

    Or maybe they were just like me and my wife on a bad day, God forgive us.

    But I was but a youth and the fact that I still remember the event decadeslater contains a salutory lesson. Agree?
  • Mark Earngey
    December 2, 09 - 3:49am
    I really don’t believe that Anglican leaders have any liberty in this area, as infant baptism is plainly taught in Article 27


    Thanks for the good post Craig! That's a good point - the issue of integrity when signing up to a confessional statement. If we get hot under the collar at confessing Anglicans who twist the words of the 39 Articles to suit their liberal agendas, surely we've got to stand up with integrity for them with respect to paedobaptism!

    And on another note - I'd be very keen to hear people's experiences as to how often they've ever heard a sermon on Baptism? I think I've heard one or two extended spots prior to a baptism which detail things helpfully, but never have I heard any systematic teaching via the sermon on baptism!
  • David Clarke
    December 2, 09 - 4:34am
    And on another note - I'd be very keen to hear people's experiences as to how often they've ever heard a sermon on Baptism? I think I've heard one or two extended spots prior to a baptism which detail things helpfully, but never have I heard any systematic teaching via the sermon on baptism!


    It seemed like the obvious thing to preach on when I had my own children baptised, so I made sure it happened then!
  • Ian Packer
    December 2, 09 - 5:30am
    Absolved, David P... :-)
  • Shane Rogerson
    December 2, 09 - 11:13am
    glad you raised this Craig.
    with Steve C.
    Kevin De young has posted on this and gives an example of the sermon he preaches as a convinced and practicing paedo baptist in the young and reformed US crowd.

    seems to me that much pragmatism overrides confessional paedobaptism in Sydney-I have been in 4 anglican churches where baptising children of unbelievers was permitted for the sake of taking opportunity of getting them into a course.

    despite the fact that the baptism service itself incorporates belief, behavior and belonging - it would seem that many "robed ones" lack the courage of their confession to actually refuse unbelievers from a false profession, nor do they exercise discipline, nor follow up when the so called saints don't turn up post baptism.

    the great irony is that infant baptism has been so devalued that believers in some Anglican churches ( as mark noted confessionally paedo baptist) are opting for dedications whilst the pagans opt for baptism (because they know its the real deal and don't want half a sacrament ;) !! )

    it should also be noted that Glenn N Davies has wirtten on children and salvation here and else on the nurture of believers children and baptism in an article called " Our Children – Mission or Nurture?" ( a provocative title but i can't find the link
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 2, 09 - 11:40am
    Thanks for the great comments guys, glad to see that others feel as strongly about this as I do. I really believe this is a rich doctrine, and involves much blessing for us.

    As some others have noted, I believe the influence of the mega-star Reformed Baptists from the US has probably muddied the waters for some a bit. I understand the superficial appeal of credo-baptism-only, but I feel the arguments start to fall apart once you ask them about the state of their children.

    Some opt for the "age of accountability" and some pretty dubious exegesis. Others are more consistent, but their conclusions are frightful. I recall Tim Challies saying that he believed his 5yo son would go to hell if he were to die. And I remember John Piper saying that it was wrong to teach a 2yo to say "I love Jesus" because the child was a pagan, and would be committing the sin of hypocrisy. I mean, dear me!
  • Steve Freddo
    December 2, 09 - 11:55am
    Great post. Thanks.

    I am convicted of the need for Baptism (and Lors's Supper) to be preached on more. Or maybe we just need to more regularly reflect on the place/significance of Baptism and Lord's supper as we preach through ANY passage that expounds Jesus' death, resurrection and the benefits that flow from them.

    I'd guess that if many Anglican church-goers were asked to explain what Baptism is, a high percentage of us would speak about OUR promises with little or no mention of GOD's promises in the gospel - we don't seem to make the same mistake as regularly with Lord's Supper, I think (?).

    I minister in a part of Sydney in which other protestants will simply assume as a matter of course that Anglicans and Catholicism share the same theology of sacraments. Pragmatically it makes a lot of sense to simply ignore infant baptism... but we rob ourselves of a great way of declaring the gospel when we do.
  • Steve Freddo
    December 2, 09 - 12:00pm
    Also... a more regular appreciation of, and reflection upon "union with Christ" might help set the groundwork for a life lived rejoicing in our baptisms.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 2, 09 - 7:00pm
    Yeah, agree and agree. Regarding your second point, Con Campbell is currently writing a mega-book on "Union with Christ". I expect it will bring that doctrine to the front locally when it comes out...
  • Andrew Katay
    December 2, 09 - 9:02pm
    Joining this a little late, but a couple of thoughts.

    If you're interested, I preached a series on the sacraments couple of years ago, at the time when we were discussing as a church admitting children to the Lord's supper. The sermon texts are on my blog here:

    More directly, the issue that has been presented to me when I have tried to persuade believing parents to go with baptism rather than thanksgiving / dedication (along the lines Craig suggested in the original post), is not so much the principle but the wording of the service itself. In particular, the notion of making promises "on behalf of the child" strikes an odd note. Where is that in Scripture?

    Any thoughts?
  • David Clarke
    December 2, 09 - 9:15pm
    Andrew -I have also found that 'on behalf of the child' is the line of contention for many people.
  • David Palmer
    December 2, 09 - 9:42pm
    Also... a more regular appreciation of, and reflection upon "union with Christ" might help set the groundwork for a life lived rejoicing in our baptisms.

    Amen
  • David Palmer
    December 2, 09 - 9:45pm
    In particular, the notion of making promises "on behalf of the child" strikes an odd note. Where is that in Scripture?

    Any thoughts?


    Calvin might help you with this one: Institutes Book IV.xvi
  • Ron Bennett
    December 2, 09 - 9:51pm
    Hi Everyone,

    I would like to present some thoughts into this conversation as well please.

    I am interested if there is any other passages of scripture that speak along the same lines to what is written above? My wife and I did some talking and I probed and the only reference I found that were similar to Acts was Acts 2:36-41. Even this as I understand it reflects children as a generational concept.

    I understand that dedicating children is not scriptural but is it scriptural to claim they need to be baptised to be "real, genuine members of God’s kingdom"?

    In my limited knowledge - our children are not "little pagans that need converting". They are saved until they are old enough to start making conscious decisions for themselves. This is not a reason to baptise.

    I am a Christian at heart and I love the fact that when I go to an Anglican church (atleast the ones I have been to so far) I am given more than one verse to back up the sermon. I believe that you are baptised after you have made a conscious decision to follow Christ.

    The gift of salvation does come from God but not everyone will end up accepting it. Christian parents will not always have Christian children.

    Sorry if this is a little disjointed but I do want to have a complete understanding - not simply from one verse.

    regards.
  • David Palmer
    December 2, 09 - 10:08pm
    In a way I think this topic is one with all those other threads around the issue of worship we have had this past year.

    What are we doing on Sunday, the purpose of the gathering?

    tbc
  • David Palmer
    December 2, 09 - 10:09pm
    In one sense Sydney defines itself as the opposite of all those other dioceses, in another it is about evangelism, growth, what works. And so you have a model that draws largely from American evangelical big church with emphasis on preaching but also one that seeks to minimise the dissonance between church and the world of those you would like to join you in church.

    In the process the connection with your Anglican/Prayer Book roots is minimised, actually probably quite a few of you might be embarrassed by it.

    One of the casualties of this, and in this you are not helped by a lack of boundaries/clarity as to who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’, is your confusion over baptism, perhaps?

    It may go against the grain, but I think there is value in mining your roots, thinking afresh, we gather on Sundays for the worship of almighty God, letting that thought be uppermost, not the attractiveness (or otherwise) of what we do to ourselves and hoped for others, but to say we are here to worship God, and central to the worship of God is the hearing, preaching, responding to the Word of God. Furthermore, God draws near to us not only in the preaching of the Word, but in the sacraments of Baptism and Lord’s Supper regularly administered, God draws us into participation in (union with) Christ and the assurance that we and our children belong to him and he to us. When we are gripped in this way, (infant) baptism and Lord’s Supper are precious gifts from our loving heavenly Father.
  • Mark Short
    December 2, 09 - 10:14pm
    Hi Andrew,

    I guess Joshua 24:15 is one instance of a parent making a promise of their household, which would include children.

    Mark
  • Nick Brennan
    December 3, 09 - 12:07am
    First, infant baptism says that salvation is about what God has done, rather than what we have done. For those who insist on adult baptism, the key element seems to be the free will “decision” one has made to follow God. By contrast, infant baptism testifies clearly to God’s sovereign work in salvation and regeneration, and His faithfulness to His promises.

    Baptising an infant says nothing about what God has done or will do for that baby. Infant baptism on the basis that God has saved or will save the baby is either to presume on God's favour or is otherwise kind of arbitrary or generic. In fact, infant baptism services seem to me to be more about what the parents, god-parents and church will "do" in bringing up the children in the knowledge of God than anything about God's sovereignty.

    As for adult baptism seeming like a free will "decision", the baptisms in the NT (particularly Acts 2) seemed to involve a decision as such (repent and be baptised) did they not? In any case, you can't generalise about adult baptisees. Some will have free will theology which will shape their view of baptism, others will not.

    As for children not being "little pagans that need converting", you obviously haven't met my kids! That's precisely what they are, but that doesn't mean they can't be part of the church community.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 3, 09 - 1:21am
    Christian water baptism symbolises our being united with Christ and his death, and thus our passing, through judgment, into spiritual cleansing - the washing away of our sins. And the benefits symbolised by water baptism come by God’s grace, and are received through faith in Jesus. So to be baptised in water expresses our faith, but it symbolises what God does in uniting us with Christ and cleansing us of sin.


    A little later, here's what I said about children.
    In regards to the children of believers, my thought process, in brief, is as follows. 1 Corinthians 7:12-14, among other places, indicates that the children of believers are to be considered ‘holy’… [Read it.] Holy, in the sense of belonging to God, set apart for him.

    And we are told to bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord; to be believers from their youngest moments. And in Acts 2:39, Peter said the promise of forgiveness - which water baptism symbolises - is “to you and your children”. It’s not automatic. But the Bible reveals God’s frequent pattern is to save the children of believers. [continued...]
  • Sandy Grant
    December 3, 09 - 1:22am
    Continuing...
    Further, Acts records that entire households, like those of Lydia and the Philippian jailer in Acts 16, became Christian after hearing the gospel and were baptised. Now it doesn’t specify, but it’s likely some of these households included children and possibly even slaves. And those societies had a much more corporate and connected view of families than our Western individualism. So the default presumption was that if the head of a house converted, then the rest would follow, unless they chose to exclude themselves from that decision.

    So my conviction is that if you are raising your children to be ‘in Christ’; to be united with him, then it is perfectly legitimate to give them the symbol of the blessing of union with Christ, (and to do it when they begin with his people).

    That is, baptise them in water which symbolises the spiritual cleansing they need. And that is what you are expectantly praying for in the baptism service. You pray that they will never remember a day when they didn’t know the love of the Lord Jesus, albeit in a child-like way at first. And that is how you promise you will instruct and raise them to believe.


    Hope that's helpful Ron.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 3, 09 - 1:45am
    Sorry if this is a little disjointed but I do want to have a complete understanding - not simply from one verse.

    Thanks Ron. I think Sandy has answered this pretty well in his posts. I would also point to the Old Testament example of circumcision, which (like baptism) marked the person as a genuine member of God's community, and was also administered to infants.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 3, 09 - 1:49am
    Baptising an infant says nothing about what God has done or will do for that baby.

    From reading this comment thread, I'd say that many people disagree.

    In any case, you can't generalise about adult baptisees. Some will have free will theology which will shape their view of baptism, others will not.

    Reformed baptists are only a small minority of baptists.

    As for children not being "little pagans that need converting", you obviously haven't met my kids! That's precisely what they are...

    You believe your children are unbelievers, and under the wrath of God?
  • Ron Bennett
    December 3, 09 - 3:35am
    hey All,

    thanks for the input - one thing that i would like to highlight is "became Christian after hearing the gospel and were baptised" . Here you have commented yourself that they became believers - are you saying that they made a conscious decision? At what point are we reading to much into this passage? To assume slaves maybe but to assume babies?

    I also ask - do you believe that your children are under the wrath of God? How old are they may I ask?
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 3, 09 - 7:13am
    <i>I also ask - do you believe that your children are under the wrath of God?</i>

    No - I have had confidence since they were infants that they were under God's grace. Now that they are older (teenagers), they are showing clear signs of genuine faith.
  • Charlie J. Ray
    December 3, 09 - 12:17pm
    It seems to me that infant baptism is only valid if the parents do have actual faith. Living here in the USA I can tell you that baptist churches which practice baby dedications have just as many if not more "nominal" Christians who go through the "ritual" of baby dedications. Ritual is a part of all Evangelical churches. The question is really whose ritual are you going to follow and which is in line with Scripture and with the 39 Articles and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer?

    Having been a former Pentecostal I can tell you exactly at which part of the service there will be a tongues and interpretation and which part of the service the sermon will be delivered in the majority of the Pentecostal congregational services. The order of service is still a ritual.


    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie

    www.reasonablechristian.blogspot.com
  • Ali Sulian
    December 3, 09 - 9:44pm
    (which with all those perfidious Baptists involved in translation squibbed on the issue)


    ‘Perfidious’ – ‘deceitful’, ‘untrustworthy’, ‘treacherous’, ‘disloyal’, ‘faithless’ etc.
    Ouch! That’s pretty cold. From the sounds of this, Baptists are the spawn of Satan himself!
    Here’s one for you ‘pastoral carers’: I remember bringing up the topic of infant baptism with a former minister of ours. That my wife and I were considering not baptizing our infant children as a matter of conscience and choice. (After all, if we’re convicted by Scripture that it’s not the right thing to do, to go against our conscience would be to sin – as it would not be from ‘faith’ according to Romans 14:23). We didn’t want to divide on the issue, but were happy to co-exist along with others who had a different opinion. However, he really hit the fan and we were made to feel quite sub-Christian because of our decision and he had no intention of co-existing with people of a different persuasion. [continued...]
  • Ali Sulian
    December 3, 09 - 9:45pm
    [Continuing...]
    Now obviously there are issues and doctrines to fight for and hold on to (the exclusivity of Jesus for salvation, the authority of the Bible, sin and it’s necessary atonement etc), but there are good arguments on both sides for and against infant baptism. And if someone has a different conviction based on Scripture (and I know no one here, hopefully, would regard the 39 Articles or John Calvin’s Institutes as ‘infallible’) then to label him or her as ‘perfidious’ is going a bit far I think.
  • Dianne Howard
    December 3, 09 - 10:12pm
    The Dean has some thoughtful comments on infant baptism
  • David Palmer
    December 4, 09 - 12:15am
    Hi Ali,

    Freedom of conscience thought and religion is a precious human right (non derogable even in war according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), so stick by your conscience by all means. The only point I would make is that while Calvin is by no means infallible, yet the person who wants to reject infant baptism, the overwhelming practice of the church in all places over the past 2,000 years) should be prepared, as someone identifying with a denomination within the Reformed tradition broadly defined, to engage in his argument - I for one, according to my conscience don't believe Calvin's argument is an easy one to refute.
  • Kurt Peters
    December 4, 09 - 12:35am
    'By contrast, infant baptism testifies clearly to God’s sovereign work in salvation and regeneration, and His faithfulness to His promises.'

    I am not so sure it is that clear. I think if you looked at it from a outsiders point of view you would think more along the line of Roman Catholic baptismal regeneration.

    In the end baptism does not testify. The words alongside it explain the act. The question is what does scripture say baptism testifies.
  • Edward Fackerell
    December 4, 09 - 2:41am
    Craig,

    An even more important matter (at least as I see it) is how should parents instruct their children in the way of the Lord, to seek to fulfill the promises that they made, when their children were dedicated, or when they were baptised. My heart is full of joy that, though I came from a non-Christian background, my wife came from a family in which the Bible was read to children, and so we did this as soon as the oldest was able to talk (and even earlier for the others !). Today there are very helpful children's story bibles available e.g., The Big Picture Story Bible, which give a good overview of the drama of the story of redemption.

    However, and maybe this is a major problem in our typically 'busy' lives, one has to have all children together at the table, so that after the main meal, they can be quiet and listen to the reading. It is an awesome responsibility to do this ( I know I failed myself), but God was so gracious.

    Edward Fackerell

    .
  • Brett Bovey
    December 4, 09 - 2:42am
    thank you ali - much needed pause for reflection!
  • Ian Welch
    December 4, 09 - 3:13am
    I am supportive of tradition and evangelical values. Our church has practiced infant baptism for many centuries, before the Reformation and consistently since. It continued to do so through the evangelical revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries although some chose to leave over this and other issues.

    I know of nothing in Scripture that specifically rules out the practice of infant baptism but a lot that supports a covenantal relationship based on identification and not a specific profession of faith. I do notI want to get bogged down in 39 Articles references as the Word takes preeminence even over that great document. As an evangelical, I believe something to be unacceptable ONLY if contrary to Scripture.

    All that said, I am puzzled, profoundly, why so few link the exclusionist models of infant baptism advanced in some earlier posts with the massive decline in affiliation with the mainstream Christian churches. We have an identical decline consistent with exclusionist views on marriages.

    We have lost several generations of people who would, under our older and more open practices, have willingly identified themselves with Christianity. I believe that we cut down the bridge behind them that they might have crossed in times of trouble to find Christ through an open and loving ministry.

    I am encouraged by Jesus' words that we should not deny children from his fellowship. I am not encouraged at all by those who claim to hold the keys to the kingdom.

    Ian Welch, Canberra
  • Ron Bennett
    December 4, 09 - 4:30am
    thanks for the information,

    My wife and I fully intend on raising our child (or children depending on what God blesses us with) with God at the centre.

    We will do everything we can to guide her towards a loving relationship with Christ and hopefully they will be able to speak to us about their walk with God.

    I must admit though that so far no one has been able to show me anything scriptural that says we must baptise our children for them to be part of the church community or Gods family.

    I do understand that dedications are not scriptural and will not be following that.

    If people wish to speak to me about this I am quite happy to give an email address to pass on numbers to chat by voice (if this is not allowed then I'll edit it once warned).

    God bless and thankyou for a very Spiritually informing topic.
  • Tim Grant
    December 4, 09 - 6:48am
    As a Baptist (paid up, proud and passionate) I feel I must way in on this discussion. Not to rehash old arguments but because I feel I’m being unfairly stereotyped.

    There is no reason why you cannot consider an infant elected by God, holy and even part of the family of God without holding to pedobaptism. That is why Baptists dedicate infants to the Lord and treat the children of Christians as part of the church (a la 1 Cor 7). I presume that during the 2 or 3 months between an infants birth and baptism most Anglicans do not consider the infant to be a “little pagan that needs converting” (nicely put Craig). It’s rather that we hold that Baptism is something that accompanies repentance and a public declaration of faith – something an infant is unable to do. And as for undermining grace, don’t Anglicans still baptize believers if they weren’t baptized as infants – does that undermine the grace of God and make Baptism out to be a free will decision? Infant Baptism is in just as much danger of this as well – it just becomes the free will decision of the parents rather than the individual.

    I do believe that there’s something in believers baptism that I think protects from Liberalism by demanding, at least, some type of conversion experience. I think that’s why the Baptists have been spared from the more extreme forms of Liberalism currently plaguing the other denominations.

    Thoughts?
  • Stuart Heath
    December 4, 09 - 8:39am
    Craig, you seem to be destroying a straw man. These are good pastoral problems to address, but they're not necessarily the pastoral problems of credo-baptists. Credo-baptism doesn't mean you've got a low view of God's sovereignty (witness Piper and Driscoll and Dever and Spurgeon variously cited in these comments).

    Nor does the refusal to baptize infants mean that one necessarily thinks that believers' children go to hell if they die before repenting.

    In fact, we could easily set up the corresponding straw man: infant baptism puts a premium on human activity, because it presumes that God's grace will follow our human act. It gives people confidence their children will go to heaven because of what we did to them, rather than what Jesus did for them. (And you can't say that's not a real concern, when the unbelievers come to church to 'have them done'.)

    The debate, rather, should be over the question of what baptism signifies. (Oh, and the viability of covenantal theology.) And at that point, we're going to need to get back to the Bible and do some exegesis.
  • Craig Schafer
    December 4, 09 - 8:58am
    the Baptists have been spared from the more extreme forms of Liberalism currently plaguing the other denominations.


    That's not the way my baptist mates tell it!

    Craig
    www.stmarks.com.au
  • David Palmer
    December 4, 09 - 9:30am
    Come to Victoria - generally Baptists are a disapointment. OK I know with exceptions, but that's what they are, exceptions.

    I reiterate what I've said before - read Calvin, interact with his arguments and see if you can still deny your children the sacrament of Baptism

    Paedo baptists of the reformed variety are paedo baptists by conviction, and we are definitely not apologetic about it.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 4, 09 - 1:36pm
    Thanks for all the great comments everyone. It's quite late, so just some brief comments in response -

    @Kurt - Nice to hear from you mate. I believe that baptism is a sign of the cleansing of sin, and our entry into God's community

    @Ed - Yes, instructing our children is also important. But that doesn't mean the sacraments are unimportant.

    @Ian - Well said

    @Ron - I thought Sandy presented a good case, but I guess we'll have to agree to disagree

    @Tim - Some people do consider their children "little pagans" - Ron used exactly those words, as has Piper. "It’s rather that we hold that Baptism is something that accompanies repentance and a public declaration of faith." Exactly - this is where we disagree. I believe baptism occurs at our entry into the community of faith, and is a sign of our cleansing from sin.

    @Stuart - From the above comments, you will see what I believe baptism signifies.

    @Craig - I agree, I think Baptists have had the same struggles with liberalism as other denominations

    @David - Agreed. Reformed baptists especially should take another look at Calvin.
  • Steve Freddo
    December 4, 09 - 2:23pm
    It is kinda a shame that a discussion about a reformed theology of sacraments doesn't seem to be able to take place on its own terms, without it having to be framed by how it grates with Baptist Sacramental theology.

    I don't think this discussion started out as a challenge to Baptists... but rather as a challenge to those who identify themselves as Reformed (Anglicans) to do so thoughtfully and consistently.

    God has blessed us in Sydney greatly through the teaching of many US Baptists. However I recently heard one of those esteemed preachers Stuart listed, declare on a public platform that he won't teach his children to pray "Dear Father" or "Our Father"... he only teaches them to address prayers to "God".

    It would be a shame IF our churches did end up adopting other sacramental theologies [heavy covenantal/credo], only or primarily because they heard nothing from us!

    Craig is right to ask those of us who put our hands as reformed and Anglican, if we are teaching what we believe about the sacraments with half as much conviction as our brothers in other denominations.


    So, dearest Baptists, thanks for your input...

    ...But to the point at hand, are any other Anglicans feeling convicted by Craig's original musings?
  • Blaise R Trouncer
    December 4, 09 - 10:26pm
    Hi all.
    I've switched views about 12 months ago.
    I'm a Calvinist and love and affirm biblical Covenantal theology. (Did the children who passed through the sea parted by Moses - presumably while in their mother arms - know what was happening? Similarly with the Passover - children were saved by the blood of the Lamb without even realizing it!)

    However, there are many, many points in Scripture from which to glorify God with Covenantal theology through preaching and bible study. We don't need to have infant baptism as a sort of flagship for it.

    The fact is that the institutionalized church is where the unconverted (but religious) consumer goes to get their sacraments of baptism and marriage. It seems that the older and more "institutionalized" the church is, the more this happens. New churches or independent churches (like Mars Hill / Driscoll's) are perceived by the religious consumer as NOT being the "real thing".
    The standard course of events which I've witnessed many times over the years is that of a family you've never seen before in church coming along for a few token visits before the marriage or baptism and then never returning after they've been "done". It's sad. Sure, we certainly should make the most of the opportunity (this is always the argument in favour of continuing the practice), but it reminds me of Paul writing "Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial." ..... CONTINUED BELOW
  • Blaise R Trouncer
    December 4, 09 - 10:47pm
    (CONTINUED FROM ABOVE)...
    I don't think it's loving or helpful to either the candidates or the congregation.

    Also, if the child is literally a baby, they are robbed of experiencing the sacrament for themselves. I have mild regrets (it's not a big deal) that we had our two girls baptised as infants b/c when one of our daughters was 7 y.o she expressed personal ownership of her faith and I wished she could experience baptism then. Now she will wait a few years for "confirmation".

    Mind you, in terms of "experiencing the symbolism of the sacrament" of baptism, we'd do well to be less British and use a little more water! It's hard to experience much of anything with the meager amount of water. We are far too polite and conservative!
    I would strongly affirm that babies of believers are "children of the Covenant", but I'd just like a better way to express it.
  • Craig Schafer
    December 4, 09 - 11:06pm
    Come to Victoria - generally Baptists are a disapointment. OK I know with exceptions, but that's what they are, exceptions.


    One of the exceptions being Mentone Baptist Church pastored by Murray Campbell (who allowed this Anglican to dedicate his first born, on the strict instructions that I was not to bring any water into the building!)

    Craig
    stmarks.com.au
  • David Palmer
    December 5, 09 - 1:51am
    One of the exceptions being Mentone Baptist Church pastored by Murray Campbell

    Agreed
  • Toby Israel
    December 7, 09 - 6:30am
    For those who insist on adult baptism, the key element seems to be the free will “decision” one has made to follow God.

    This is a silly argument. It is not too much of a stretch to suggest then that if I choose to baptise my child, the key element is my free will “decision” to have my children follow God. Baptism, then, is nullified in all forms as in every instance, it relies on somebody's free will decision.

    ...infant baptism testifies clearly to God’s sovereign work in salvation and regeneration, and His faithfulness to His promises.

    Does believer's baptism not testify to the same thing?

    ...infant baptism testifies that our children are real, genuine members of God’s kingdom. They are not little pagans that need converting - rather, we can bring them up as Christians, and safely presume that they are saved until (God forbid) they give clear evidence otherwise.

    Really? Just get them baptised, and they are Christians? Are they exempt from the whole confess your sins, repent and trust in Jesus thing? In the same way that circumcision did not make you a member of the covenant (but was a sign of the boy's parents' intent), so also is baptism powerless to make one a Christian. As difficult a concept it is to accept, only God knows for sure who is Elect and who is not. Dunking a child does not make us any more or less certain.

    Continued...
  • Toby Israel
    December 7, 09 - 6:37am
    I really don’t believe that Anglican leaders have any liberty in this area, as infant baptism is plainly taught in Article 27.

    Now, although I haven't undertaken any sort of formal theological training, I'm pretty sure I can read. My take on Article 27 is merely that infant baptism is not to be excluded from the Anglican church. I can't see how it could be interpreted to say that it is mandatory.

    I hope the trend towards “dedications” stops...

    As the Dean says in the video linked to above (#42) Dedication + Believer's Baptism is the same as Infant Baptsim + Confirmation. In both scenarios, there is a biblical symbol and a made-up one. Craig, do you hope that people will also stop Confirmation on the same grounds?

    It surprises me (although it shouldn't) just how worked up we get about matters on which the bible is not specific. Let's focus instead on the real issues - giving glory to God, spreading the message, and building up the flock.
  • Tomas Clarke
    December 7, 09 - 7:02am
    Hatch, match, and despatch...hard to think that will change in the centuries to come (if we have them). I think the Ethiopian eunuch was really celebrating his baptism and new birth and explanations of appropriation may not have satisfied him if he had been a baptised infant. He would have jumped at the opportunity to physically witness to creation what God did in him.
    What is important to you in this debate? Reformed understanding of sacraments? Baptism has exhausted the minds of theological legends in the past, I have picked one and moved on.
  • Ron Bennett
    December 7, 09 - 7:14am
    @Toby Israel,

    thankyou for putting into words what I obviously couldn't do as well as you did.

    You have explained everything that I was trying to say but with greater knowledge.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 7, 09 - 7:16am
    This is a silly argument. It is not too much of a stretch to suggest then that if I choose to baptise my child, the key element is my free will “decision”...

    I don't agree at all. My observation has been that credo-Baptism focuses on the "decision" aspect of baptism - and the comments on this thread (and on my blog) have backed that up.

    Regarding infant baptism, it's not about someone's "decision" to get the child baptised, rather it's a recognition that if the parents are part of the covenant community, then the child is also a member of the covenant community.

    Really? Just get them baptised, and they are Christians?

    I never said that, though credo-baptists keep misquoting me on this! As I said above, I believe the children of believers are members of the covenant community, and entitled to the presumption of salvation until (God forbid) they apostasize.

    My take on Article 27 is merely that infant baptism is not to be excluded from the Anglican church.

    I don't believe Article 27 is saying you can be a credo- or a padeo- within the Anglican church. To affirm the articles is to affirm that infant baptism is correct.

    Craig, do you hope that people will also stop Confirmation on the same grounds?

    On the same grounds as what? My objection to dedication is not that it is man-made, but that it is done in place of baptism.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 7, 09 - 7:18am
    Let's focus instead on the real issues - giving glory to God, spreading the message, and building up the flock.

    I've explained in the article and in the meta why I believe infant baptism is important - and practical as well. I believe it gives glory to God, spreads the message (through the explanation attached to the sacrament), and also serves to build up the flock. It is not unimportant.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 7, 09 - 7:19am
    What is important to you in this debate?

    Scriptural fidelity. The eternal fate of infants. And so on...
  • David Palmer
    December 7, 09 - 8:57am
    What is important to you in this debate?

    Scriptural fidelity. The eternal fate of infants. And so on...


    Precisely. The only thing I would add is confessional loyalty.

    For a number of yrs I lived in the UK, was in a church that practiced so called believers baptism. What I found fascinating was observing parents of young infants bringing forward their children for dedication as a kind of quasi or substitute baptism. It looked really naff to me - I kept muttering under my breath, “where's the water?”.

    I also observed young people being baptised at 15, 16 years on profession of faith and 5 years later living as unbelievers. Explain that.

    The problem with so called believers baptism is that it is about me and my profession of faith, whereas infant baptism is about fidelity to a covenant relationship on the one hand and on the other hand, it is all about what God does. Time enough later on for the baptised person to stand up in church, make profession of faith and be admitted to the Lord's Table (= communicant membership of the church)

    Think about it..
  • Ron Bennett
    December 7, 09 - 10:48am
    I also observed young people being baptised at 15, 16 years on profession of faith and 5 years later living as unbelievers. Explain that.

    No difference to a minister who cheats on his wife or someone else whom is living in sin. You can be a believer and make mistakes.

    And please don't give attitude like "Think about it" - I think this conversation has been inspiring in so many ways and to use a tone like that it degenerating.
  • Andrew White
    December 7, 09 - 1:36pm
    The curve ball in this discussion is whether the children of believers need (water) baptism at all. In the NT, baptism is usually associated with entering the kingdom of God. If we assume that the children of believers have already "entered" the kingdom by virtue of their parents' faith, then is the symbol of (water) baptism meaningful in that context?
  • Nick Brennan
    December 7, 09 - 2:10pm
    Sandy,

    You mentioned two verses that are frequently abused by paedobaptists (I'm not suggesting you have abused them).

    The problem that I see with 1 Cor 7:14 being used to support infant baptism is that the verse also says that unbelieving spouses are made "holy" because of believing spouses. Are unbelieving spouses saved? And/or should we baptise unbelieving spouses? I also don't believe this verse can be used to justify the belief that children of believers are necessarily saved.

    Also Acts 2:39 is often mangled to fit the paedobaptist argument. Clearly Peter is saying that the promise is for all people, Jew and Gentile. "You" (the Jews, see v5), "your children" (future generations of Jews), "all who are far off" (Gentiles). Yet it is so often used as a justification for infant baptism, which I think is incorrect.

    Reformed baptists are only a small minority of baptists.

    Craig, that still only justifies criticism of unreformed baptists, not adult baptism! ;-)

    You believe your children are unbelievers, and under the wrath of God?

    My reading of Scripture does not lead me to hold the view of "innocent until proven guilty" (for want of a better term). If my kids were to die young (God forbid) I would certainly like to think they would be part of the elect, but I don't believe I am entitled to presume that is the case.
  • Nick Brennan
    December 7, 09 - 2:19pm
    And I'm uncomfortable with arguments that directly or indirectly infer there is some kind of "age of accountability".

    I have no beef with paedobaptists, I just think you're incorrect ;-) I've spent most of my life in Anglican churches (currently a Presbyterian church) and it's not something that I would break fellowship over.

    In my opinion, adult baptism is most appropriate. Just because it involves a profession of faith doesn't mean that it's about "what I've done". An appropriate adult baptism is one that acknowledges what God has done and is in response to that (repent and be baptised etc).
  • David Palmer
    December 7, 09 - 7:04pm
    And please don't give attitude like "Think about it" - ... to use a tone like that it degenerating.

    My apologies for giving offence, but I am arguing that a) a Baptist position is not as strong as Baptists think, b) conversely, infant baptism is a practice those of us committed to it, believe to be Biblically warranted as well as the near universal practice of the church the past 2,000 yrs and then c) lurking in the background is the highly questionable and certainly offensive Baptist practice of rebaptising those formerly baptised in their infancy. That, not to put too fine a point on it, is degenerating.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 7, 09 - 7:37pm
    Yes, I often find that credo-baptists approach this debate as if paedo-baptists just haven't really thought about this very much, and aren't really that committed to our position. Part of what I want to encourage Anglican leaders to do is to *own* this doctrine...
  • Murray Campbell
    December 7, 09 - 10:11pm
    Hi every one,

    someone told me Mentone had been mentioned in this discussion so i had to have a read. I thought I won't throw in my worth but then David, you did just write:
    My apologies for giving offence, but I am arguing that a) a Baptist position is not as strong as Baptists think, b) conversely, infant baptism is a practice those of us committed to it, believe to be Biblically warranted as well as the near universal practice of the church the past 2,000 yrs and then c) lurking in the background is the highly questionable and certainly offensive Baptist practice of rebaptising those formerly baptised in their infancy. That, not to put too fine a point on it, is degenerating.


    1. The Baptist position really is very persuasive.
    2. agreed, but the bigger question is not church tradition but Scripture of course. If we wish to argue from church history then credo-baptists have more than just a miniature of of backers
    3. I don't believe it is degenerating, especially given we don't believe infant baptism is baptism. I've baptised believers who were given a drought sized sprinkling as babies because they believed what was done to them is not baptism according to Scripture. Those occasions have been times for rejoicing. If someone's conscience is telling then that their baby sprinkling is in line with Scripture we don't baptise them as adults because we don't want to cause any to sin.

    cont...
  • Murray Campbell
    December 7, 09 - 10:13pm
    Our position at Mentone is, believers baptism has Scriptural warrant and that is what we teach and practice. However it is not a core Gospel issue and so we accept into membership believers who were sprinkled as babies, so long as their conscience is clear and they accept what we teach and practice.
  • Murray Campbell
    December 7, 09 - 10:18pm
    p.s. I'm grateful O ye half Reformed dudes that you have given up drowning we fully Reformed Churchmen. Much obliged... although I do remember being threatened once or twice with it at college. Mark Thompson comes to mind...hmmm
  • Steven Grose
    December 7, 09 - 10:47pm
    Dear me Gent's (and ladies) such a lot of fuss over so little water ... and so few texts justifying infant baptism... ha and nice response from the Man from Mentone... the tremendous blessing of the Sydney Anglicans has been that you are "reformed and yet always reforming". You are always bringing "every thought captive" to God's Word.
    I have found immense help from:
    Infant Baptism & the Covenant of Grace by Paul K. Jewett, Eerdman's, 1977. and
    Children of Abraham by David Kingdon, 1975.
    But let me move from humerous to sober (a strange thing for me perhaps).
    My Baptist perspective of child salvation does not limit salvation to only those infants baptised in a church (evangelical or whatever), but accepts that all children dieing in infancy are elect. I guess you guys have to say some pretty sad things at some of the funerals for "non churched babies".
    Could you give an example of some of the things you say?
    Whose fault?
    Blessings,
    Be always reformed and always reforming.. you have many baptist brethren always praying for this... and many Sydney Anglican clergy I am sure.
    Steve
  • Steven Grose
    December 7, 09 - 10:50pm
    oh.. for a fuller reformed baptist perspective may I commend
    http://www.eng.auburn.edu/~sjreeves/personal/baptism_faq.html
  • David Palmer
    December 7, 09 - 10:59pm
    OK, this thread appears to have been taken over by Baptists, who are entitled to their views.

    As a Calvinist and Presbyterian (really the same thing) who treats the Bible very seriously I've said more than enough!
  • Toby Israel
    December 7, 09 - 11:02pm
    In response to Craig (#63):
    I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on what a decision is.
    Further you said,
    ...infant baptism testifies that our children are real, genuine members of God’s kingdom.

    To which I responded (somewhat facetiously),
    Really? Just get them baptised, and they are Christians?

    You then went on to say,
    I never said that, though credo-baptists keep misquoting me on this!

    If being a "real, genuine members of God’s kingdom" does not mean that they are christian, I can't imagine what it does mean. How else can one be a member of God's kingdom other than through God's election? I don't think water sprinkling does it.
    Or is your arguement that as they are already christians by virtue of their parents' faith, they too are christians, and so we should baptise them? If so, I have two problems with this. 1: The Bible (as far as I know, and I'm willing to be corrected) is silent on the status of children of christians - it just doesn't talk about it. 2: We cannot presume anybody is saved, let alone children. It is truly only between the individual and God.
    I don't believe Article 27 is saying you can be a credo- or a padeo- within the Anglican church. To affirm the articles is to affirm that infant baptism is correct.

    I'd love to see some biblical evidence to support this position (I'm not saying it doesn't exist, just that I'd like to see it).

    Cont...
  • Toby Israel
    December 7, 09 - 11:18pm
    Further...
    My objection to dedication is not that it is man-made, but that it is done in place of baptism.

    In my experience (my two oldest were dedicated, and my third will be too), dedication is not done in place of baptism. My children are still free to be baptised - I haven't taken that from them at all. My hope is that they will be baptised when the time is right for them to make the most of this important symbol of one's faith.
    The last comment in my post at #60,
    Let's focus instead on the real issues - giving glory to God, spreading the message, and building up the flock.

    was perhaps a little flimsy and unhelpful. While I believe these are important notions, they must be translated into practical actions. Certainly, baptism is important for giving glory to God, spreading the message and building up the flock. I cannot accept that this can be true for children of believers only in the case of infant baptism.
    What is important to you in this debate?
    Scriptural fidelity. The eternal fate of infants.

    I fail to see how adherence to infant baptism equates to scriptural fidelity. I really would like to see an unequivocal biblical reference to support this notion. I don't believe Acts 16:33 is enough to hang our hats on, and to say that by not not choosing to baptise infants we are somehow sinning.
    And as for the eternal fate on infants, well, I think I've made my position fairly clear on that.
  • Martin Paul Morgan
    December 7, 09 - 11:19pm
    This discussion is an interesting microcosm of the last few hundred years of church discussion. There is "one body and one Spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:4-5). Obviously the one baptism here is not referring to the stylistics of water baptism- but what it points to, the Christian's being baptised into Christ.

    The amount, the time, the method, the stylistics and the age of a person being water-baptised is all open to much discussion because the scriptures do not spell these things out. What they do is emphasise that water baptism points to our repentance and incorporation into Christ. Craig's original post was I thought high-lightimg the great opportunity in Anglican practice of water baptising infants in a way which testifies to this truth.
  • Murray Campbell
    December 7, 09 - 11:20pm
    OK, this thread appears to have been taken over by Baptists, who are entitled to their views.

    David: it's all part of our plan to take over the world.

    As a Calvinist and Presbyterian (really the same thing)
    - I'll let that one slide on by.

    i should add, David & I worked together on an issue a few years back in Vic. It was great fun and he's a great brother in Christ
  • Toby Israel
    December 7, 09 - 11:27pm
    Oh, and David (#78), while I was baptised as an infant in a Presbyterian church, and for the last couple of months have been going to a Baptist church, the rest (indeed the vast majority) of my christian life has been in Anglican churches. Does that make me Anglican? Are my views Baptist? Could it be said that my views are rooted in Presbyterianism? To quote a preacher I was listening to the other night, "I'm not a Calvinist, but I do like his teachings. I'm a christian."
  • Nick Brennan
    December 7, 09 - 11:49pm
    What they do is emphasise that water baptism points to our repentance and incorporation into Christ. Craig's original post was I thought high-lightimg the great opportunity in Anglican practice of water baptising infants in a way which testifies to this truth.

    How does infant baptism point to repentance?
  • Michael Canaris
    December 7, 09 - 11:49pm
    Thomas Rogers (Catholic Doctrine of the Church of England, pp. 278-281) treats concisely of sundry objections and adversaries to the proposition: "Infants and young children, by the word of God, are to be baptized", albeit his characterisations therein of Papists and Lutherans doesn't strike me as properly representative of their considered positions.
  • Ian Tyrrell
    December 8, 09 - 12:19am
    We had a vote to change our church (Springwood Baptist)'s constitution to allow people to become members who have not been baptised by immersion.

    The biggest objections seemed to be because people thought it was condoning infant baptism. Of course it wasn't, we were just saying that for us to re-baptise someone who was baptised as a child and believes it to be their real, actual baptism, or to prevent them (who may be teaching sunday school, leading worship, or even PREACHING) from voting on whether we use chairs or pews (and of course minor matters like who the senior pastor is etc) because they won't be re-baptised is silly.

    Vote passed - you don't have to have been baptised as an adult by full immersion now to be a member of our church. But it's still recommended :)

    I heard or read something the other day that I thought was quite insightful - if God had put in the Bible that all children under (say) 13 were automatically saved if they died, some over-zealous Christians would probably systematically murder every child they could in order to assure them of salvation. It pains me to agree that it would probably occur.

    note - I was baptised as an adult by full immersion in an Anglican church, my kids haven't been baptised (yet). Hopefully they will when they are older)
  • Ian Tyrrell
    December 8, 09 - 12:23am
    So - our church is now like Murray's in that we don't practice infant baptism, but if people have been baptised as an infant and don't see it as true, Biblical baptism, they are free to be baptised (for reals).

    If they see their sprinkling as a baby to be legit, then they are welcome to be members. What matters is their profession of faith, and evidence of repentance - as far as membership goes anyway.
  • Mark Earngey
    December 8, 09 - 12:35am
    @Ian Tyrrell, can I ask a quick one - if your church doesn't view infant baptism as legitimate, can I assume you view those baptised as infants as unbaptised? If so, would not affirming the infant-baptised in positions of leadership endorse disobedience to the Lord's command to be baptised?
  • Ian Tyrrell
    December 8, 09 - 12:48am
    @Mark - I think the dispute arose because many people DON'T see it as legitimate, and therefore those people shouldn't be eligible for membership (and the question was raised to those people, that why should these people be allowed to do anything else either).

    I have friends (at this church) with pretty much every view on baptism. One was baptised as a child and then confirmed, and in doing so he said that he was claiming that baptism done of his behalf as his own - and to be baptised again would be against his conscience. Another was baptised as a baby in the Catholic church, but doesn't see that as being 'real', as it was only a family tradition, he actually thinks that the baptism required by Christ is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that occurs at conversion, and so he doesn't need to be baptised in water. Yet another thinks that an infant baptism doesn't count, and so was baptised again. And some (like me) weren't baptised as an infant and decided to be baptised as adults.

    My personal view is this: I don't really care which option you take, as long as you pick one and can justify it Biblically. It's not a salvation issue. We are called to be baptised, and there is not much further instruction given. I can see merit in all the claims listed above.

    On the other hand - if you refuse to be baptised (or believe that your infant baptism doesn't count and won't be baptised as an adult), then that is disobedience.
  • Mark Earngey
    December 8, 09 - 1:06am
    @Ian, thanks for the post mate. And I reckon that's great that your church is caring for people's consciences so much. Really great.

    I think my post was trying to get, not so much at the conscience issue, but more at the leadership level. It just seems like an inconsistent position to affirm both believer's baptism and infant baptism at the church leadership level.

    I've been trying to mull over this for a little while now, so thanks for your thoughts - they've helped mine! :)
  • Steven Grose
    December 8, 09 - 1:06am
    So if a church doesn't hold to the marks of the church (Word, ordinances and church discipline) is it still a church?
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 8, 09 - 1:26am
    I don't think water sprinkling does it.

    I don't think so either - and I never said it. Please don't put words in my mouth - you are doing a good job of demolishing a straw man, but nothing more.

    We cannot presume anybody is saved, let alone children.

    I don't believe you can really live this out in practice. For example, I'm sure you presume your pastor is a Christian.

    I'd love to see some biblical evidence to support this position

    Infant baptism? Sandy made a case before, quoting various scriptures. If you want more, it's not hard to find essays devoted to this topic online. You can also have a look at Calvin's writing on the subject, which David has referred to a few times.

    I fail to see how adherence to infant baptism equates to scriptural fidelity.

    See above. I accept that you don't find the arguments convincing, but I do. Absolutely convincing.

    dedication is not done in place of baptism.

    I should have been clearer. In place of *infant baptism* I meant.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 8, 09 - 1:26am
    (Word, ordinances and church discipline)

    Ordinance or sacrament? That's the question...
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 8, 09 - 1:30am
    My Baptist perspective of child salvation does not limit salvation to only those infants baptised in a church (evangelical or whatever), but accepts that all children dieing in infancy are elect.

    What scripture do you base that on? Remember that previously you complained that paedo-baptists base their opinion on "so few" scriptures.

    Regardless, I never said anything about the fate of infants in unbelieving families - I was merely affirming the salvation of those infants within believing families.
  • Andrew White
    December 8, 09 - 1:48am
    Having failed to sidetrack the discussion, I'll try again.

    The discussion you're having above isn't really about baptism, although it might look like it. Rather, I see a clash of two more fundamental issues:

    (1) How are children of believers part of the family of believers? And the impact of an individualist vs collectivist mindset on this.

    (2) The necessity of the sacraments in the Church. Both sides seem to be assuming that not only are the sacraments necessary for good order, but that the mode of those sacraments is fundamental to their validity. Yet those modes are poles apart.

    It might be worth chasing back these assumptions to find commonality (or interesting differences) before getting too frustrated that the outworking of hidden but different assumptions produce different results.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 8, 09 - 1:50am
    Perhaps you should write an article and submit it to the "Insight" link Andrew.
  • Andrew White
    December 8, 09 - 2:21am
    Perhaps. Though my thoughts on the subject are pretty ad-hoc.

    For individualist vs collectivist, it's worth starting with Phillip's short video, above. Moving from that, if baptism is seen as marking the entry of a person into the kingdom, then an individualist view would (I expect) emphasise the "point of conversion" or "declaration of faith" of the individual and thus favour adult baptism. A collectivist view will put more emphasis on community and thus see a child as being born directly into the family of believers without an individual declaration. Or that's my take; others might be able to argue differently - the process of argument can be more informative than the conclusion.

    As for modes of the sacrament, "full immersion" is certainly more representative of NT practice of baptism (synonyms "washing", "dunking", "bathing") than flicking water. But then most churches I've been in (including Ang, Baptist, Presbyterian, Uniting, and independent) practice a very stylised version of the Lord's Supper. So it's somewhat inconsistent to insist on authentic form in baptism and yet not hold the "other sacrament" up to the same standard.
  • Andrew White
    December 8, 09 - 2:37am
    I realise that doesn't say much about where I'm personally coming from. Personally, I feel that the link between the symbol and the reality needs to be strong - tangible, tasteable. I dislike liturgy or sacrament for it's own sake. But I freely used large slabs of the "white prayerbook" prayers and liturgy when I compered our church meeting last Sunday.

    I haven't figured out where I stand on adult vs child baptism - our kids haven't been baptised, yet my wife and I teach them to embrace the gospel and rely on Jesus as saviour to whatever extent they are able. But I am continually irritated by our "Lord's Supper" where we individually sip from a cup and eat a shred of bread when the NT context is clearly a celebratory meal for the church community.
  • linda clark
    December 8, 09 - 2:57am
    Re: "And on another note - I'd be very keen to hear people's experiences as to how often they've ever heard a sermon on Baptism?"

    I've been in a Sydney Anglican church for ten years and cannot remember hearing a sermon on baptism. I have also been to a few infant baptisms (all where the parents are Christian) and have still not yet heard baptism explained FROM THE BIBLE as a part of the service. (Also, the parents could never tell me why they were baptising their babies except that "That's what you do in an Anglican Chuch).
    As well as this, I have been asking my "Anglican" husband for ten years to explain to me why Anglicans baptise infants rather than believers, and the best he's come up with is basically, "It's an Old Tesament covenant thing but I can't it explain it."
  • Tom Magill
    December 8, 09 - 3:24am
    Excellent discussion - well worth the reading time!

    Although my boss (and Rector) is firmly committed to covenant theology and the baptism of infants, my wife and I decided to hold a Thanksgiving for our daughter for (somewhat) pragmatic reasons. My wife was baptised as an infant by unbelieving parents for whom it was 'the done thing' and then, when she was converted as an adult, deeply regretted that she was unable to partake in the sacrament of baptism. Being Confirmed with a bunch of spotty teenagers (apologies to any reading) during the Bishop's once-a-year visit just doesn't hold the same punch, in her view.

    Or mine, really. Explaining every year why we baptise people one week and then the Bishop confirms them the next is really a chore I could do without!

    On the less pragmatic side, my investigation of the topic doesn't convince me that infant baptism is either commanded by or prohibited in Scripture and therefore I don't feel compelled to either baptise babies or condemn those who do. There are meritorious arguments on both sides of the debate and persons of greater intellect than mine on each side reasoning those arguments.

    Nick Brennan's comment is wroth repeating:
    In my opinion, adult baptism is most appropriate. Just because it involves a profession of faith doesn't mean that it's about "what I've done". An appropriate adult baptism is one that acknowledges what God has done and is in response to that (repent and be baptised etc).
  • Tom Magill
    December 8, 09 - 3:24am
    I've been in a Sydney Anglican church for ten years and cannot remember hearing a sermon on baptism.

    @Linda: I preached one just last year :)
  • linda clark
    December 8, 09 - 3:48am
    Re: "I preached one just last year":
    It's truly a shame I wasn't there.

    Also, can anyone tell me if any of the suggested reading about infant baptism is easy enough for a "normal" person -(ie not a Theological student etc)- to read? I am open to the idea of infant baptism, I am just waiting for a clear explanation of why so many Christians believe it is the way to go.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 4:17am
    Nick you wrote of me:
    You mentioned two verses that are frequently abused by paedobaptists (I'm not suggesting you have abused them).

    The problem that I see with 1 Cor 7:14 being used to support infant baptism is that the verse also says that unbelieving spouses are made "holy" because of believing spouses. Are unbelieving spouses saved? And/or should we baptise unbelieving spouses? I also don't believe this verse can be used to justify the belief that children of believers are necessarily saved.

    You are quite right that in this context ‘holy’ does not equal ‘saved’. You may recall that I defined the sense of it here as
    Holy, in the sense of belonging to God, set apart for him
    Paul seems to be using the holiness / clean / unclean categories of the Old Testament (e.g. Leviticus), where in certain circumstances, holiness or uncleanness could be transferred as it were from one person or object to another.

    Here he is trying to answer the question as to the status of the children of a mixed marriage, one a believer, the other not. Clearly the presumption in this passage is that with two believing parents the child will be counted as holy (not equal to ‘saved’, but ‘set apart’ for God as a part of his holy people).

    But what of the mixed marriage? Is it the status of the believing or the unbelieving parent determinative of the child’s status as being counted as belonging to or being outside of God’s holy people?

    Continued below...
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 4:18am
    He says in 1 Cor 7:14
    For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. {NIV}


    Clearly the child is to be treated as belonging to God and his holy people, and for this reason, for the sake of the child, even the unbelieving parent in this context is counted as sanctified or holy (but as already agreed, not equal to saved, as v16 makes clear).

    My conclusion: we do not presume that children of believers are automatically saved. But we are to treat them as holy, that is as belonging to God, and a part of his holy people (Ex 19:6; 1 Pet 2:9).

    To use an IT analogy, the default setting the children of believers come with is clearly ‘in’ rather than ‘out’, belonging to God.

    And of course, as they grow they must exercise repentance and faith in response to God and his Word, as they are able to do so.

    And of course, neither this ‘default setting’ nor ‘Christian family baptism with water’ guarantees they will do so. But if they are to be treated as holy from the start, why not give them the sign of beginning and belonging to God, which baptism signifies?

    I agree this is not a knock down argument. But I think it is at least suggestive.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 4:29am
    By the way, as Glenn Davies often pointed out at College, the NT often describes the visible church (which NT authors knew included some who were not necessarily regenerate) as a whole as in the terminology of holiness and salvation.

    So for example, Paul does not say "To the saints in Corinth, plus those who are faking it, plus those who are self-deceived". He just says to the saints in Corinth, and then as his letter goes on warns those who might be faking it or self deceived etc, not to presume on God or his gospel.

    If we believe it is possible that the young children of believers might be regenerate (i.e. before they can exercise faith), it is quite legitimate to speak of them in terms of the privileges of belonging to God, without being presumptuous about their individual election.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 4:31am
    Nick you also commented on the use of Acts 2
    Also Acts 2:39 is often mangled to fit the paedobaptist argument. Clearly Peter is saying that the promise is for all people, Jew and Gentile. "You" (the Jews, see v5), "your children" (future generations of Jews), "all who are far off" (Gentiles). Yet it is so often used as a justification for infant baptism, which I think is incorrect.

    I do not think paedo-baptists generally quote this text alone, as a proff text for infant baptism, but more as a part of a pattern for how God treats the children of believers. But yes this text is ambiguous. It could mean Jewish children, when they grow up, or it could mean your children now. Hard to prove decisively one way or another.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 4:41am
    Nick, you wrote[And I'm uncomfortable with arguments that directly or indirectly infer there is some kind of "age of accountability".

    I suspect this is a side track from the main issues. But while the Scripture does not use the phrase "age of accountability" and I think we are all born in sin, being born in Adam, and inevitably live that out for ourselves, making sinful choices, nevertheless, there are a few parts of Scripture which imply differing accountability at younger ages.

    For example, twenty years of age (the age for military service then) was the cut off for Israel's responsibility for refusing the advice of the two spies, Joshua and Caleb...

    Num 14:29 ~ In this desert your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. {NIV}

    By contrast, a couple of texts which speak of an age before which children do not know right from wrong, although they do not define the age.
    Deut. 1:39 ~ And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad—they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it.
    Isa 7:16 ~ But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. {NIV}
  • Dianne Howard
    December 8, 09 - 4:43am
    Hi Linda

    You may find the short video I mentioned earlier to be helpful on infant baptism.

    A short written article by the Dean titled The Water of Death you may also find helpful.
    An interesting quote from that article:
    Christian disagreements about baptism, are usually about the symbol of baptism rather than the reality it symbolises. Questions of how much water, at what age and who does the baptizing generally miss the point. Water is the great symbol of cleansing and life though death. It is the great symbol of the gospel.

    cheers Di
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 4:47am
    You may notice that I personally have not especially majored on covenant theology, or the analogy from circumcision and baptism, although it has more weight for others. Also you may notice in my original comments, that I respect the consciences of Christians in our congregations who do not wish to baptise their children as infants, as we offer them a Thanksgiving Service.

    Likewise, I love the approach of those Baptist churches like Murray's in Mentone and Ian's in Springwood, and I would add Wollongong Baptist up the road from me, which permits into membership those believers who were baptised as infants and by conviction believe that to be legitimate.

    I agree it is fair for such Baptist churches to ask such members not to undermine their Church's convictions on the matter thought, and also not necessarily in all cases to allow paedo-baptist members into leadership positions.

    Likewise, I think it odd that someone who does not believe paedo-baptism (or as I prefer Christian family baptism) is legitimate should seek an official leadership position in an Anglican Church.
  • Toby Israel
    December 8, 09 - 4:48am
    Sandy (#103-4), you had me at "hello". Almost. I found your comments very helpful, but your conclusion,
    But if they are to be treated as holy from the start, why not give them the sign of beginning and belonging to God, which baptism signifies?

    troubles me. I need something a little more concrete than, "why not..." to endorse infant baptism as scripturally mandated.

    Coming back to Andrews comments (#95), I can see that there is a different perspective on society today compared to 1st century AD, vis a vis the individual vs the collective. Perhaps that's the angle I'm coming from. I do feel though, that if that is the case, we should be careful about saying that we need to adopt a collectivist mindset. The bible was written for all times - I don't think that means we need to change our way of life back to that of Jesus' time for it to be applicable. The question is, how do we apply a text, written 2000 years ago in a collectivist society, to that of today's individualist society?
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 4:56am
    I also love the argument (from memory) of Vern Poythress who says credo-baptists should consider baptising their children as soon as they express faith, at 4 or 5, or sometimes even as young as 2 or 3. Because unless you want to make a big thing out of some age of accountability, what is needed (on a credo-baptist understanding) should be an informed expression of faith, rather than a 'credible' profession of faith.

    If a five year old has been faithfully taught the gospel of Jesus and says they trust Jesus and wish to follow him, why is that less credible than the profession of a 15 year old or a 35 year old? People who first professed faith at each of those ages may fall away, so the age itself is no guarantee of 'credibility of profession'.

    And there appears to be no probabtionary period in the Bible before baptism. Express repentance and faith? Then get baptised now, like the Ethopian eunuch or Simon Magus. (See Acts 8:9-24 esp. vv12-13, and note that Peter and John do not criticise Philip's baptism policy for a lack of adequate preparation to check the genuineness of people's profession, nor do they suggest a delay to weed out false professors like Simon!)

    You see I don't want to make a big thing out of the age of accountability, though I noted the slivers of evidence above, because the Bible also gives evidence that children can respond with faith. E.g. The command directly to children in Eph 6:1 presumes they can respond in faith and obedience.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 5:02am
    Likewise, Matthew 18:6 is suggestive of this in speaking of
    one of these little ones who believe in me


    In context of vv1-5, the little ones who believe could include the little children themselves who are humble and receive the kingdom (see also Matt 19:13-15). But possibly the "little ones who believe" only refers to adults who believe. However I think it perverse to insist Matt 18:6 can only refer to adults, given Jesus's warm commendation of children just earlier and later welcome of them in chapter 19.
  • Andrew White
    December 8, 09 - 5:06am
    Comment: without taking away from Toby's comments, it's probably safer to talk about "more collectivist than now" or "more individualist than then". They're trends, not binary categories. Modern western society might be considered strongly individualist; it doesn't follow that ancient Judaeo-Greek was strongly collectivistic just because they're less individualist than us. :)
  • Murray Campbell
    December 8, 09 - 5:07am
    thank u Sandy for your comments.

    I'm not opposed to baptising children. I think why we often hold off is because we want to ensure that they are not simply holding onto their parents faith but that they are owning the Gospel for themselves.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 5:14am
    Just for completeness, Toby Israel, you wrote
    Or is your arguement that as they are already christians by virtue of their parents' faith, they too are christians, and so we should baptise them? If so, I have two problems with this. 1: The Bible (as far as I know, and I'm willing to be corrected) is silent on the status of children of christians - it just doesn't talk about it. 2: We cannot presume anybody is saved, let alone children. It is truly only between the individual and God.

    I think my earlier comments help addressed these concerns. We do not presume on anyone else, but we may assume they are part of God's people on the basis of their belonging to his visible church, and when they are able to do so, expressing repentance and faith.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 5:16am
    Toby, I have just found some previous comments of mine utilising material from Wayne Grudem on the topic of the status of the children of believers...

    Actually, I’d really like to point you to a very helpful book called Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. It’s a chunky dictionary-sized volume that presents Christian teaching in a very clear, courteous and Bible based way. He also tries to present alternative Christian views as fairly as he can, and mostly manages a good job of this, while weighing up arguments for an against.

    To make it easy on myself I could just reprint what he has to say on the topic under the heading “Are Infants Guilty Before They Commit Actual Sins?” (pp 499-501 1994 ed.). However this would be breaking copyright, so I will give the gist of his argument, with a few quotes and some extra comments of my own.

    Grudem notes that the Bible’s teaching about original sin, or as he prefers it, “inherited guilt”, indicates that even before birth, children have a guilty standing before God. This “sinful nature” not only gives them a tendency to sin, but also means that God views them as “sinners”. This teaching can be found especially in Romans 5:12-21.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 5:17am
    This idea of inherited guilt involves a more corporate view of humanity than we Western individualists are used to. However it is one that can be illustrated in some small sense by the increasing realisation of many Australians of our need to say ‘sorry’ to the indigenous inhabitants of our land for their treatment in the past. So, even though we did not personally dispossess any indigenous Australians of their land, because this happened more than a hundred years before our birth, we are still the beneficiaries of their dispossession (e.g. grant of allegedly empty crown lands to churches). And their present day descendants are often still suffering because of this past. And so though we are not personally responsible for it, yet in some sense we acknowledge a corporate involvement in the sins of our ancestors, which we want to apologise for and repudiate.

    The analogy is not perfect. But it gives a small parallel to the biblical idea of inherited guilt. You can see the idea that we are born sinful as part of the human race, for example, in Psalm 51:5: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (NIV) Likewise, Psalm 58:3 indicates that a child’s sinful nature manifests itself very early in life - “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.” (NIV)
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 5:17am
    Of course, no parent is a perfect model of goodness to their children. Speaking personally, I frequently model impatience or self-centredness, despite better intentions. However every parent would know that children do not need to be taught selfishness. They are intrinsically self-centred. And they work out how to lie without being taught and so on. The much-vaunted ‘innocence of children’ is an inaccurate concept.

    So from a biblical point of view, can such infants be saved before they are old enough to understand and believe the gospel. Well if so, only on the basis of Christ’s redeeming work, and not on the basis of their own righteousness or innocence.

    There are one or two hints that Good can bring regeneration to a child before the age of conscious thought. So for example, Luke 1:15 reports the angel saying of John the Baptist, “…he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (ESV). Likewise King David said, “…you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (Psalm 22:9-10, NIV).

    We are normally saved by faith in God’s Word (Romans 10:9). But here it seems God can save infants in an unusual way, bringing regeneration before they can understand and believe the gospel. However, all such children who grow to adulthood will undoubtedly go on to believe.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 5:19am
    We should also note the frequent pattern of Scripture to bless the children of believers, such that we may say God often works through families. So for example, the entire households of Lydia (Acts 16:15), the Philippian gaoler (Acts 16:33) & Stephanas (1 Cor 1:16) were baptised, and this may have included children.

    Lastly I went to 1 Corinthians 7, but I won't repeat the arguments here.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 5:28am
    Toby, thanks for interacting... You wrote
    Sandy (#103-4), you had me at "hello". Almost. I found your comments very helpful, but your conclusion,
    But if they are to be treated as holy from the start, why not give them the sign of beginning and belonging to God, which baptism signifies?


    troubles me. I need something a little more concrete than, "why not..." to endorse infant baptism as scripturally mandated.


    I have not argued that infant baptism is scripturally mandated but scripturally permissible.

    And my argument was more than an argument from 1 Cor 7.

    It consists of three parts.

    1. How do we think of the children of believers? I argue we may think of them as belonging to the people of God from the time of their birth.

    2. What does baptism signify? In comment 33 above, I suggested Christian water baptism symbolises our being united with Christ and his death (and thus our passing, through judgment, into spiritual cleansing - the washing away of our sins).

    When seen in Acts with first generation believers, water baptism may be expressing repentance. But it does not symbolise repentance. It symbolises what God does in uniting us with Christ and cleansing us of sin.

    3. What do we do with second generation believers, who grow up in the church, believing? Our problem is that the NT does not describe what happens with them re. baptism...
    But I just references three situations where whole households were baptised.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 8, 09 - 5:31am
    So I really better get back to doing some other local and perhaps more important work that trying to mount an argument for the baptism of the children of believers.

    But in conclusion, is it scripturally demanded? No. But is it consistent with Scripture. I believe there is a pretty good case. But because I do not think we can make a decisive argument one way or the other, I am glad to respect the consciences of those who think differently in my congregation and love the Baptists who do likewise with paedo-baptists.

    Over and out. (Unless something more really, really grabs me. But hey, we've got St Michael's 150th anniversary on this weekend.
  • Steven Grose
    December 8, 09 - 5:43am
    Sandy, granted (pun) that all that may be so about infant regeneration, that still does not make a case for infant baptism. Let me ask again:
    Are those unbaptised babies lost of they die in infancy?
    Thanks,
    Steve
  • Steven Grose
    December 8, 09 - 5:45am
    ooops you snuck that (121,122) in while I was typing :)
  • Dianne Howard
    December 8, 09 - 6:02am
  • Nick Brennan
    December 8, 09 - 8:41am
    Sandy,

    Thanks for your insightful comments, they were very helpful :-) A lot of food for thought.

    Just re Acts 2:39, my point about Peter's reference to children was that he (in my view anyway) is not literally speaking of children as such, rather he is saying, "The promise is not just for you people here and now. It is for people throughout the rest of history (your children) and for people right across the world (all who are far off)."
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 8, 09 - 11:27am
    Sandy, many thanks for your excellent comments. I was drowning a bit (haha) in the arguments of the credo-baptists. You presented a really well argued case...
  • Stuart Heath
    December 8, 09 - 11:50am
    I think this 'collective vs individual' thing might be a bit of a red herring. Both baptism and the Lord's meal are expressions of us being individuals-in-community.

    As Tom Wright has drawn to my attention, 'the forgiveness of sins' and 'belonging to God's people' often go together in the NT. So baptism is a sign of repentance and a change of allegiance (<i>pace</i> Sandy), as well as the cleansing from sin which comes with baptism in the Holy Spirit. But it is ALSO something which is done to you by the church — a sign of acceptance into the community of God's people.

    Likewise the Lord's meal (the table-fellowship one, not the magical version) is for the remembrance of Jesus' blood of the new covenant (with its forgiveness of sins). And it is ALSO a sign of unity among God's people as we who would otherwise be enemies share table-fellowship in Christ (hence 1 Cor 11:18-22).

    While I agree it would be great to get these symbols right, there's also plenty of work to do on the reality.
  • David Blowes
    December 9, 09 - 4:20am
    @Sandy #120, point 1.

    Sandy, could you possibly expound on what you mean by "belonging to the people of God"?

    I'm of baptist ancestry, but now trying to work out my position on infant baptism as I head off to Moore. Need to work it out in my deciding whether to apply for anglican candidacy!

    I've done a bunch of reading over the last few months (this guy has a very strong argument: http://www.wscal.edu/clark/dejbaptism.php), however I still feel confused!

    My current confusion isn't so much about baptism, but about the status of infants.

    Here's my confusion:

    1) Children of believers "belong to the people of God" - I take it to mean they are saved - they are Jesus' - they have the holy spirit - etc,etc.

    2) Salvation is God's work. He draws to himself his own. Hence, it is impossible for one of God's to NOT be saved. (Perseverance of the Saints)

    3) Some children of Christians fall away.

    If 1) and 2) are true... how can 3) happen?

    @Craig - Thanks for the article :-) I'm working hard to think through this, as I feel that if I do apply to be an Anglican Minister, I need to not just "put up" with Anglicanism, but embrace it and propone it. Baptise those babies indeed!
  • Sandy Grant
    December 9, 09 - 9:42am
    David, I suspect all pastors whether credo- or paedo- will be encouraged by the diligent way you're trying to work this out with integrity.

    You wrote
    Sandy #120, point 1. {...} could you possibly expound on what you mean by "belonging to the people of God"?

    I'd point you to my post #105.

    To explain further, we can speak of
    * the visible church (which is mixed, and may include the unregenerate but professing believers, alongside regenerate believers) and
    * the invisible church (being pure - only the truly regenerate and elect and gathered around Christ spiritually by faith).

    When we look at others, we can only observe membership of the former, e.g. noting people's profession of faith and attendance at church etc. Only God can surely know whose name is written in the book of life and his decrees are not made known to us.

    Thus Paul explains that not all outwardly Jewish people are true or spiritual Jews. (Read Rom 2:28-29 and ROm 9:6-7). Even the OT knew that the true circumcision that mattered was of the heart (Deut 30:6). Yet the Bible could speak of the people of Israel as a whole as being holy and blessed and even chosen (Ex 19:5-6), though some were not individually saved - think of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. However this was not obvious at first, and sometimes never becomes obvious. So they were legitimately treated as Israelites and spoken of as 'belonging to God's people' (like the visible church).
  • Sandy Grant
    December 9, 09 - 9:52am
    And as I said in #105, Paul could write to NT churches and call them holy, chosen, loved by God etc.; though also making clear later that some members might not be truly regenerate (1 Cor 11:18, Acts 20:30).

    In such cases he is speaking covenantally, of the visible church, rather than decretally (i.e. claiming knowledge of the individual decrees of God about the elect) of the invisible church.

    Applying this to your syllogism...
    1) Children of believers "belong to the people of God" - I take it to mean they are saved - they are Jesus' - they have the holy spirit - etc,etc.

    2) Salvation is God's work. He draws to himself his own. Hence, it is impossible for one of God's to NOT be saved. (Perseverance of the Saints)

    3) Some children of Christians fall away.

    If 1) and 2) are true... how can 3) happen?


    I think where you went wrong is step 1. I never said "Belonging to the people of God" = "saved, they are Jesus', and have the Holy Spirit" etc.

    Rather the children of believers have the privileges of belonging to the visible church (hearing God's word, experiencing loving fellowship, etc) and may well be regenerate (in the invisible church) but also may not be. And knowledge of the latter is not infallibly given to us.

    But 1 Cor 7:14 etc means we treat them as belonging to God's people until we get evidence otherwise. But since we continue as we start, with Christ as Lord, it is still the gospel that we share with our kids to shape them.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 9, 09 - 11:37am
    Hi David, great questions and I'm glad to see you treating this issue so seriously. Sandy has already answered better than I can. The only thing that I would add is that regarding point #3, you have the same issue when someone becomes a Christian as an adult, then later falls away.
  • Steven Grose
    December 9, 09 - 9:32pm
    But brethren,
    1. Are those unbaptised babies lost of they die in infancy?
    2. Are you then making some case for baptismal regeneration? In what manner are infants through infant baptism which is "not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed, Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God"?
  • Sandy Grant
    December 9, 09 - 10:27pm
    1. Are those unbaptised babies lost of they die in infancy?

    I suspect no one has answered your question so far, because no one has been even close to suggesting that whether or not a baby is baptised is determinative of whether they are lost or saved.

    2. Are you then making some case for baptismal regeneration?
    Once again, no one here has been making that case, and those who do so, generally come from a perspective other than reformed evangelicalism.

    You are right that not all evangelical Anglicans are entirely at ease with the the prayer book phrasing, which can be read, or rather I think mis-read as baptismal regeneration.

    I suspect we would note that this is speaking of baptism as a sign, not an infallible proof, let alone cause of regeneration. It also refers to 'right reception', which may well include a forward look to the faith that they must express themselves in due course. But even if not, it speaks about being grafted into the Church - certainly that's true in regards to the visible church. And it is all finally set in the context of a 'prayer unto God'. That is we are praying for the child; that God would work in him or her by his Holy Spirit, such that the child might never remember a day when he or she did not know the love of the Lord Jesus and so on.
  • David Blowes
    December 9, 09 - 10:49pm
    Thanks Sandy!

    I had seen that post (#105), and was thinking through the implications of that idea (which is a good one!).

    It leaves me with the question, what is baptism a symbol of? Is it a symbol of regeneration (new birth, salvation, etc), or a symbol of belonging to the covenant church? In my thinking it is a symbol of regeneration, applied to those who confess the faith. Even though the person who gets baptised may or may not be regenerate, however it is still the regeneration that we are symbolizing, not the outward appearance of belonging to the church.

    With this in mind, it seems to me that applying baptism to infants because they are a part of the visible church (through God's covenant with the parents) is to use baptism as a symbol of belonging to the visible church, rather than as a symbol of regeneration...

    Thoughts?

    ps. thank you for your time and thoughts, it's helpful to have people to bounce off... Reading something static only gets me so far :D
  • Sandy Grant
    December 9, 09 - 11:05pm
    I have argued previously here that
    Christian water baptism symbolises our being united with Christ and his death, and thus our passing, through judgment, into spiritual cleansing - the washing away of our sins.

    And the benefits symbolised by water baptism come by God’s grace, and are received through faith in Jesus. So to be baptised in water expresses our faith, but it symbolises what God does in uniting us with Christ and cleansing us of sin.


    The fundamental baptism we need is not water baptism of whatever sort or at whatever age. It is Eph 4:5’s “one baptism”, which I take to be baptism into Christ.

    The common theological phrase for this is union with Christ - which comes at the start of my definition.

    You see union with Christ expressed in terms of baptism in various places. Galatians 3:27 says that all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Here, as the previous verse suggests, the context seems to make baptism a metaphor for union with Christ, through faith in him.

    Other parts of the NT extend the metaphor of union with Christ specifically into union with Christ’s death. So Romans 6:3-4 say,
    Or don't you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? …We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
  • Sandy Grant
    December 9, 09 - 11:08pm
    Likewise Colossians 2:12 says Christians were
    buried with [Christ] in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

    That is, through believing with Jesus we are united with him in his death. In particular our old sinful nature died with Jesus when he bore our sins on the cross, and we rose to new spiritual life when he rose from the dead.

    I think this is also equivalent or inextricably related to baptism by or with the Spirit in 1 Cor 12:13, It also uses baptism in a metaphorical way, in the context of all Christians being baptsied by one Spirit into one body, namely Christ’s. That is, united with Christ. This time, the baptism reference picks up the baptism with the Holy Spirit which John the Baptist predicted Jesus would bring.

    I think water baptism fundamentally symbolises this spiritual union with Christ, especially in his death.

    (However you will note the slightly different metaphorical use in 1 Peter 3:21 to the baptism which saves you. It’s not a literal water baptism, since it’s “not the removal of dirt from the body - but the pledge”, or perhaps better, “appeal to God for a good [i.e. clean, i.e. forgiven] conscience.” Of course, cleaning and forgiveness are key benefits of being united to Christ.)

    I must go.
  • Steven Grose
    December 9, 09 - 11:11pm
    Well bro, that all being so, why not dispense with baby baptisms and just go with that which is self evident?
  • Sandy Grant
    December 9, 09 - 11:33pm
    Steve, brother, it may be self evident and obvious to your great mind and your crystal clarity of vision, but I have spent hours over several days, trying to carefully explain a particular case, and respond in detail to particular queries.

    If you think a couple of brief rhetorical questions are sufficient to prove your case, without any argument or detailed explanation, you are welcome to it.
  • Steven Grose
    December 9, 09 - 11:36pm
    Brother Sandy, with grace and prayer, I thought your case was well said, and demonstrated my case admirably.
  • Michael Canaris
    December 9, 09 - 11:38pm
    Well bro, that all being so, why not dispense with baby baptisms and just go with that which is self evident?
    Apart from anything else, it seems 'self-evident' that doing so could potentially jeopardise the visible standing of various persons and as such appears impolitic.
  • Andrew White
    December 9, 09 - 11:53pm
    Steven, whatever position you take there are some difficult questions to answer (most have already been raised in one form or another).

    If you consider baptism to coincide with a personal and individual conversion decision, do you then claim that the children of believers are outside the kingdom of God? And why not baptise children once they are willing to make a personal statement of faith? (example: I understood the gospel and consciously accepted it at 6 - on what grounds would someone deny me baptism until I was an adult?). Does it follow that no child can be truly saved until they are of an age to be baptised?

    But my personal query (for enlightenment, not argument) is to the padeo-baptist position. Is there any scriptural imperative to baptise the children of believers at all? All NT recorded water baptisms are connected with either repentance prior to the coming of the kingdom (John) or when people come into the kingdom. Yet if we assume that children of believers are already "in" in some sense, why baptise? Or does baptism symbolise something quite independent of becoming Christian? Can we then be meaningfully water-baptised more than once?
  • Steven Grose
    December 10, 09 - 12:06am
    I agree with you Andrew, when a person of any age by God's grace trusts Christ as Saviour and is baptised by the Spirit into the body of Christ (1Cor 12:13) then water baptism is a fitting outward symbol of that inward reality (Romans 6:1-11, Col 2:12,13). And I certainly would agree that it takes "special pleading" to draw infant baptism out of the waters of Acts 16:31, the gaoler quite likely being an older soldier.
    Hence, personal faith seems to be the prerequisite for baptism. This would seem to save us from the baptismal regeneration pool of St Peters basillica, and bring us to the believer's baptism practised by so many Sydney Anglican Clergy. :) Just take the step of endorsing John Woodhouse's 2003 statements on the autonomy of the local church and... hey, Presto! I can become a Sydney Anglican!
  • Steven Grose
    December 10, 09 - 12:11am
    Oh Andrew, I forgot to answer that query... Are unsaved children of believers outside the Kingdom? I agree with Children of Abraham by David Kingdon, 1975. that there is a tendency for God to elect to salvation down family lines, although this is never assured (Romans 9). Hence we may expect children of believers to become believers, but never presume that this is so. Hence the reason for NOT baptising babies, as it presumes upon the grace of God, and erroneously gives the unregenerate a false hope.
  • Andrew White
    December 10, 09 - 12:38am
    Uh, what are you agreeing with? The only relevant claim I can see is that if 'personal faith' is the prerequisite for baptism, then we should be as willing to baptise a six year old than an adult, if they are willing to accept the gospel.

    That said, I'm not convinced that children of believers are outside the covenant, nor that "believers" is the best way of describing the people of God in the context of this discussion. Saying that baptism is for "believers" (and cannot be imputed) already assumes the conclusion that a child is not saved until they have chosen for themself to believe. Yet Paul is on record that sanctification can be imputed from the Christian parent to their (presumably under-age) children; whether salvation is also imputable isn't stated, but perhaps our terminology shouldn't presume an answer.
  • Steven Grose
    December 10, 09 - 12:54am
    Yes Andrew, that is why Baptists never call baptism "adult" baptism, but rather "believer's" baptism. It appears to me that "believer" was a normal nomenclature for Christians in the 1st Century (Acts 16:1 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2Cor 6:15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?). Hence the legitimacy of restricting membership of the church to the believing community. As I suggested much earlier, I think that all infants dieing in infancy are elect and not just those who are baptised in someone's church. I gather you are suggesting that non covenental infants dieing in infancy are lost. But Surely the Judge of all the earth shall do right (Gen 18:25)? One must ask whether Paul's statement in 1 Cor 7:14 (14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the Christian husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.) is more a statement of privelege of instruction rather than a statement of a state of grace.
    Blessings,
    Steve
  • Andrew White
    December 10, 09 - 1:00am
    So Baptists would willingly baptise a 6 year old believer (for example)?
  • Toby Israel
    December 10, 09 - 1:01am
    Sandy (#115, and elsewhere) - I still fail to see how one can be part of God's people, but not necessarily be saved. I think you'r saying (correct me if I'm wrong) that being part of God's people simply means to be a member of a church. Is this right? Are you then saying that as they go to church, they should be baptised?

    (I have to admit, I'm not quite sure what you took us down the path of inherited guilt. I don't know that any of us have a problem with that concept.)

    Sandy (#120) - sorry, you are right. You had not argued that infant baptism is scripturally mandated. I read that into your words, as this is they key issue with whcih I am struggling. I am yet to see how it is mandated. As far as I can see, in this forum it has been argued as permissable (and I'm not sure yet if I have a problem with that or not), but not mandatory.

    If, as I've surmised, being part of God's people simply means going to a church, then I don't disagree that children of believers are part of God's people. Does this mean that they should be baptised? It comes down to your second question - of what is baptism a symbol? Again, I'm willing to be corrected, but my knowledge of (water) baptism in the bible is that it occurs when people repent and turn to Christ.

    It seems to me, as you argued, Sandy, that it is not scripturally mandated, but it is permissable, and indeed, "I do not think we can make a decisive argument one way or the other."
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 10, 09 - 1:08am
    1. Are those unbaptised babies lost of they die in infancy?

    I don't claim to know the fate of all babies. Baptism is the mark of their membership of the covenant community. The better question is - what happens to those babies who die outside of God's covenant community? I don't know the answer to that. Many seem to believe in universal infant salvation. I've not been convinced by that, but I would be pleased if it were so.

    2. Are you then making some case for baptismal regeneration?

    If you mean some sort of Catholic automatic forgiveness of original sin through baptism, then certainly not. But baptism is a sign of regeneration.
  • Steven Grose
    December 10, 09 - 1:11am
    Yes, if we are assured that the child is truly owning their faith. The youngest I have baptised is 10 years old.. and she gave good evidence of a personal faith and has continued in that faith. I have friends who were baptised at the age of 7 who recognised later that their faith was not an assured faith in Christ, but rather was a works oriented faith. They were rebaptised upon conversion at the age of 40 and 60 (although two were the wives of well known U.S.pastors, and the other a wife of a deacon.
    The problem with quizzing children of that age is discerning whether theirs is an assured faith (assurance based upon the finished work of Christ) or a works faith ("I prayed the prayer!").
    By the same token, having been on the ordination counsel of the Baptist union many years ago for period of 9 years, and interviewing more than 200 ministerial candidates, some pastors may have trouble with this very issue, let alone children!
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 10, 09 - 1:13am
    Well bro, that all being so, why not dispense with baby baptisms and just go with that which is self evident?

    This thread, as well as hundreds of years of discussion, show that the issue is not "self evident". Everyone needs to understand that intelligent, thoughtful, scriptural people have come to opposite conclusions on this issue, and we need to respect that.
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 10, 09 - 1:16am
    Hence the legitimacy of restricting membership of the church to the believing community. As I suggested much earlier, I think that all infants dieing in infancy are elect and not just those who are baptised in someone's church.

    So they are "elect" - but not members of the Church? How can you deny church membership to those who you believe are elect?
  • Steven Grose
    December 10, 09 - 1:22am
    umm because we only know that they are elect after they die in infancy :)
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 10, 09 - 1:24am
    Well, then it would be more consistent for you to grant them membership, until they are old enough to accept or reject their faith for themselves...

    Hmmm...
  • Steven Grose
    December 10, 09 - 1:26am
    wait.. which ones? the ones that are going to die in infancy? I am not sure the Lord has given me that list... did He give it to you by mistake?
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 10, 09 - 1:33am
    haha...

    I doubt we are going to come an agreement here - we have different understandings of baptism, different understandings of the church, and different understandings of the covenant. So our disagreement is not surprising, really.

    When I put this post up, Al told me to prepare for a flood of comments. I didn't really think that would happen, but clearly people still feel quite passionately about the issue. Good. I just wish there were more young Anglican leaders "owning" this doctrine with conviction.
  • Steven Grose
    December 10, 09 - 1:41am
    Well Bro Craig, imagine the unity in the church if you come up here to Newcastle and let me fix you up right :) Blessings,
    Steve
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 10, 09 - 1:42am
    Haha...more than one baptist has made the attempt... ;-)
  • Dianne Howard
    December 10, 09 - 2:03am
    For some there is a strong conviction that the Bible is unclear on this matter and therefore not an issue to divide over or insist on.

    It becomes an issue for contention when beliefs held on the issue are such that they distort the gospel.

    Di
  • Joshua Bovis
    December 10, 09 - 3:22am
    When I put this post up, Al told me to prepare for a flood of comments. I didn't really think that would happen, but clearly people still feel quite passionately about the issue. Good. I just wish there were more young Anglican leaders "owning" this doctrine with conviction.


    Craig, do you think it is possible that one of the reasons why there are younger priests who are not "owning" this doctrine with conviction is because they actually don't agree with it, but rather put up with it?

    The reason I raise this possibility is that perhaps these clergy in question have more of a problem working for a denomination that has congregation
    governance. Perhaps they faced one of two options:
    1. Go baptist - practice believer baptism but put up with congregational church government.
    2. Go Anglican - practice Anglican polity and put up with Infant Baptism.

    Perhaps their logic is of such that asks the question, "which [perceived] negative thing can I put up with the best?" and the decide that the 2nd option of going Anglican is better for them.

    The end result for those who take the latter option is that they become Baplican clergy - who agree with Anglican polity and governance, agree with the three fold order of Bishop, Priest, Deacon but disagree with infant baptism. this could be a possible explanation for what you are highlighting.
  • Mark Earngey
    December 10, 09 - 3:56am
    Joshua, as a young minister-in-training I'd probably have to agree with you. Although I wonder the disagreement stems from a lack of understanding?

    Anecdotally , I've found amongst my peers that the systematic understanding of the sacraments is weak (myself included!) and interest in them is low (myself excluded!).

    Also, anecdotally, I've found that the general ecclesiological understanding of my peers has tended towards a 'simply gathered around the Word' theology where the sacraments have all but disappeared!
  • Joshua Bovis
    December 10, 09 - 4:31am
    Perhaps this is what happens when all vestiges of Anglicanism are stripped away, when the APBA is ditched, when contextualisation is taken too far, when liturgy is given the flick - we end up with the rather bizzare phenomenon where we have Anglican churches that are no different from Presbyterian or baptist churches except when it comes to polity. And the result is generic evangelicalism... where any distinctives pertaining to one's denomination (be it sacramental, ecclesial) are glossed over.
    Don't get me wrong Mark, I think Reformed-Evangelicalism transcends Anglicanism (as it does all other denominations) but not at the expense of what defines, distinguishes Anglicanism from other denominations.

    I've found that the general ecclesiological understanding of my peers has tended towards a 'simply gathered around the Word' theology where the sacraments have all but disappeared!

    Perhaps this 'sacramental paucity' is indicative of this generic evangelicalism and could be a factor in the laity having very little understanding of Anglican distinctives (the sacraments, the creeds, the liturgy, the 39 articles, the prayer book, even church membershp). This suggests to me at least that this generic evangelicalism should be discussed further and renewed understanding of the sacraments and how they nourish us spiritually. After all the sacraments are commands of Jesus not suggestions.

    Will stop now.
    blessings
    Joshua
  • Ian Tyrrell
    December 10, 09 - 4:36am
    Why isn't foot-washing a sacrament?
    Jesus commanded that too.

    (I'm being serious here - I read it this morning in John's gospel and wondered why we don't baptise, take communion, and wash feet).
  • Sheldon Ryan
    December 10, 09 - 4:53am
    I thought the same thing about evangelism since he commands us to do that as well.
  • Andrew White
    December 10, 09 - 5:34am
    After all the sacraments are commands of Jesus not suggestions.
    At the risk of going off topic, I'm not convinced that Jesus -> sacraments is a simple line.

    Matthew records Jesus as commanding the apostles to "make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt 28:19). There's a parallel passage in the disputed ending of Mark 16:16. Everywhere else in the gospels, a distinction is drawn between water baptism (usually of John) and Jesus baptism/s (judgement for Him, Spirit for believers). Peter is the first to express the response to the gospel post-Jesus as "repent and be baptised" (Acts 2:38), which Acts mostly follows. Paul in 1 Cor 1:17 makes the interesting distinction that "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel". - notable in Paul's dealings with the Corinthians is how few he personally baptised.

    Interestingly, Jesus isn't recorded as water-baptise anyone either, though presumably most of the disciples had undergone John's baptism (cf Acts 1:22).

    As for the Lord's Supper, none of the gospels record Jesus as instituting an ongoing practice. Those words are in 1 Cor 11, when Paul critiques the practices of the Corinthians as they eat together (or fail to).

    ...
  • Andrew White
    December 10, 09 - 5:46am
    ...

    Now, clearly the early church practised baptism as part of conversion, and seems to have practised some form of "Lord's Supper" too (if anyone has any references as to how this was done 1-3 C AD I'd love to see them).

    But while water baptism is both emphasised and de-emphasised, it is never formally described ("do it like this"). And the only formal description we have for the Lord's Supper are the gospel accounts of Jesus redefining the passover, which seems (to me) structurally quite different to what Paul is addressing in Corinth.

    So I'd urge caution and wisdom when arguing that Jesus "instituted the sacraments" to the same level of structure and detail that God instituted the various Mosaic rituals. I certainly see value in the symbols, but suspect that the scriptures give far more leeway in their mode of practice than the modern church does when debating them.
  • Phil Markham
    December 10, 09 - 6:52am
    I echo Mark's comments at #160. The sacraments are not on the radar of the young Anglican leaders I know.

    Also I'd like to raise a related point. Having been part of a young adult service at an Sydney Anglican church for about 10 years, I cannot remember anyone I know getting baptised as an adult. Even though we saw people come to Christ as adults (including me!) baptising them was not something that was suggested. Seeing as paedo-baptist theology (as outlined in Calvin's Institutes for example) also affirms the baptism of an adult who comes to Christ, why are we not baptising adults? Unless my anecdotal experience is not illustrative of the SydAngChurch as a whole, my take is that this is a blind spot. Interested to hear people's thoughts on this...
  • Tomas Clarke
    December 10, 09 - 6:54am
    Well said Andrew, and Craig in 150. Nothing like a nutshell to put a subject in. I am finding the debate interesting with tangents to boot, someone might use the discussion as part of a thesis, but not in a sermon. I haven't seen an infant baptism for years, is it still an issue to take photos at these sacramental events?
  • Steven Grose
    December 10, 09 - 7:02am
    Umm the Didache
    "Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism. And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.
    Chapter 9. The Eucharist. Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup: We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever..
    And concerning the broken bread: We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever..
    But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs."
  • Steven Grose
    December 10, 09 - 7:04am
    I guess the several baptistries unearthed around the Temple mount, Qumran and even on Masada would give some idea of how baptisms were conducted. .. they all had steps in them :)
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 10, 09 - 7:34am
    Craig, do you think it is possible that one of the reasons why there are younger priests who are not "owning" this doctrine with conviction is because they actually don't agree with it, but rather put up with it?

    I strongly suspect that is the case. Part of what I wanted to do was to challenge our young leaders to think seriously about the doctrine, and (hopefully) to embrace it.
  • Donovan Simmons
    December 11, 09 - 2:36am
    Hi David Blowes, I found Kevin De Young's argument for infant baptism really helpful. Great that he makes it clear that water baptism doesn't regenerate and that the child isn't necessarily regenerate ... but then I had questions about what it means that they are part of the covenant community.

    But thank you Sandy Grant for taking the time to write so many very helpful comments!

    I've found Strawbridge and his links really good too:
    http://www.paedobaptism.com/
    eg. http://www.paedobaptism.com/baptisminthebible.pdf
    and
    http://paedobaptism.com/chapell.htm

    I reckon there'd be a lot of helpful stuff here too:
    http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Baptism/Covenant-Paedobaptism/

    These look good for an overview of different views:
    Baptism: 3 Views
    Understanding Four Views On Baptism
  • Donovan Simmons
    December 11, 09 - 2:52am
    It's interesting to think about what all Christians would agree on. Here's Mark Dever (baptist) and David Coffin (presbyterian) having a go:
    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2007/08/agreements-on-baptism.php

    We can't know who God has elected, but it's God's clear revealed will (and it's hopefully every Christian's desire) that we raise children in our churches to know God and the scriptures from their infancy so that they can't think of a moment when they didn't know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

    As I heard Kevin DeYoung say in a sermon, we want them to have 'boring' testimonies! (of course no testimony is truly boring given the greatest miracle is regeneration!)
  • Andrew White
    December 11, 09 - 3:28am
    From seeing all the above, it strikes me that "infant" baptism would be better described as "covenantal" baptism.
  • Suzanne Weinberger
    December 11, 09 - 9:13am
    A bit off the direct topic but I have actually met or heard of people becoming Christians through the preparation courses offered by Anglican churches for people wanting to have their babies baptised, so despite whether I am for it or not, God is obviously using it!
  • Tim Mitchell
    December 13, 09 - 2:41pm
    Suzanne, I have heard of someone becoming a Christian while high on marijuana. God is obviously using it, and maybe the use of drugs in evangelism should be encouraged? ;)

    Just making the point that positive results don't necessarily make somehthing the right thing to do. Anyway, I'm still undecided as to where I stand on infant baptism.
  • Suzanne Weinberger
    December 14, 09 - 10:00am
    Tim,
    I didn't intend to say that positive results make something the right thing to do. I think I was just just voicing an inner desperation after reading and trying to make head or tails of over 173 comments on the topic! Aside from that (that means not you anymore Tinm!)I ask that people define terms a bit more eg.paedo-baptism, am I supposed to know what this means? And all this stuff I read about Calvin on different posts here (not just this article), must I be well-read in this area to call myself a Christian? Do I have to have studied theology to participate? Or even to just understand?
  • Craig Schwarze
    December 14, 09 - 10:05am
    Hi Suzanne, you are welcome to participate, whatever your level of study is.

    "paedo-baptist" means one who believes in the baptism of infants. And knowledge of Calvin is not mandatory here, though he is often very helpful.