"Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - Printable Version
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"Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - Darrell - 01-30-2011 09:39 AM
A while back I was sent a copy of "Why Baptize Babies: An Explanation of the Theology and Practice of the Reformed Churches" by Mark Horne. It's more of a pamphlet than a full-sized book but it does a pretty good job of explaining the reasoning behind the practice of infant Baptism in Protestant circles.
I'll give an outline of the main points and then in a separate post I'll share some thoughts I had about the content of the book.
The book opens by asserting that it will answer the question "How is it that Reformed Christians both believe the Bible and practice paedobaptism?"
The forward graciously acknowledges that Baptists have done much good and that even if there is a disagreement about mode and method of baptism that we remain brothers and sisters in Christ. This does engender a certain reciprocity of goodwill towards the remainder of the contents from readers like myself who have a Baptist background.
The main points then seem to be as follows:
1. Doctrine need not be directly and explicitly stated in Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity, for example is not. Although there are New Testament passages that directly command paedobaptism, a larger understanding of Scripture is needed (including both Testaments) to make a convincing case for its use.
2. Paedobaptism rests on an understanding of the Covenant
a. Children are born sinners not innocents. There is no "age of accountability"
b. The Covenant is one of Grace to Adam, Noah, Abraham, et. al. and their descendants.
3. Both Christian parents and their offspring are members of the covenant Gen 17:7; Psalms 103:17; Isa 59:21; Psalms 8:2; etc.
a. Children of the covenant are not the enemies of Christ but rather brothers and sisters in Christ.
b. Children in Israel participated in ceremonial law. Gen 17:9-14; Lev 10:14, etc.
c. The New Testament Covenant includes children as well. Luke 18:15-17; 1 Cor 12:13; Acts 2:39
4. As Children of the Covenant these children need no conversion experience. There is nothing for them to be converted from.
a. If a covenant child dies there is no doubt about that child's eternal condition.
b. parents can be confident about the spiritual condition of their Covenant children.
5. A Child's confession is orthodox.
a. Even children without an ability to accurately explain salvation still posses it.
b. Children or 3 or 4 can be as sincere in their confession as adults.
c. It is possible that a child might apostatize later in life.
6. We should instruct Children in their standing in Christ.
7. Not everyone who enters into the covenant obtains eternal life.
a. Some believe for a while then fall away. Luke 8:13; Matt 8:12; Matt 10:22
b. The new covenant is a conditional covenant. Covenant breakers fall under God's covenantal wrath.
8. The kingdom is spiritual but not immaterial. We communicate with God through words as well as physical symbols -- the Lord's Table and Baptism.
a. In the Old Testament access to the ceremonial table was achieved by rites of cleansing.
b. All the feasts of the mosaic law are fulfilled in the Lord's Table.
c. Baptism fulfills the rituals of cleansing
d. Baptism is not a symbol of a person's faith but rather a sign of God's sovereign act of bringing us into His church.
RE: "Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - Darrell - 01-30-2011 09:40 AM
The major sticking point for me is, of course, that I don't necessarily hold with Covenant theology. I am, however, willing to presuppose it to be true for the sake of the rest of this discussion.
The flaw that I see in this argument is a set of propositions that seem to go like this:
1. Children of the Covenant are part of the catholic Church and should be baptized as a sign of that fact.
2. Children of the Covenant are not guaranteed to be believers. However, they are not required nor expected to reach some individual decision of salvation. They are assumed to be saved until proven otherwise.
3. Given point 2, we are in essence joining to the church a host of "maybe Christians." People who we assume will be saved but very well may not be. In fact, some children of the Abrahamic covenant (who proudly claimed that heritage) were said by Christ to be "of your father the devil."
Given that reality of uncertainty, how then can we assume that covenant children are indeed saved -- to the point that we assume their salvation before they are able to speak or act of their own volition -- and baptize them declaring that God has joined them to His church?
It seems presumptuous to do so.
Another major point which seems not to be addressed at all, is the matter of developmental maturity. A child of three may confess that Jesus is Lord -- but will also confess that Santa Clause is real, and that animals can talk if prompted to do so by an adult.
The acceptance of a confession by children of an extremely young age should be treated with an understanding of its source.
I suppose since children are baptized long before they can talk -- making the baptism not dependent on their confession -- the point is really moot in this discussion anyway.
RE: "Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - Tony Mel - 01-30-2011 02:54 PM
I wrote a little bit about the topic on my website.
RE: "Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - chris1000bc - 02-05-2011 08:48 AM
I read a similar pamphlet entitled "Why Do We Baptize Infants" (from the Basics of the Reformed Faith Series) by Bryan Chapell. Like you say, not holding to covenant theology makes it difficult to agree with the author, but at least you can see how it would work if you did agree.
RE: "Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - exIFB - 02-06-2011 03:06 PM
Except the SIGN of the covenant is the CUP, not baptism. A Covenant is inititated through blood, and the cup represents that.
RE: "Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - Tony Mel - 02-06-2011 06:16 PM
(02-06-2011 03:06 PM)exIFB Wrote: Except the SIGN of the covenant is the CUP, not baptism. A Covenant is inititated through blood, and the cup represents that.
Where would you base this statement? Romans 4:11 indicates that circumcision was the sign of the Abrahamic covenant, and Colossians 2:11-12 provides a parallel between circumcision and baptism.
RE: "Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - exIFB - 02-06-2011 06:28 PM
How did women in the OT enter the covenant? I've heard the circumcision argument from presbyterians before, but it doesn't stack up.
Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament (covenant) in my blood, which is shed for you.
RE: "Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - Darrell - 02-06-2011 06:41 PM
Quote:Many churches presumptuously accept people on "profession of faith", "transfer of letter", et.al. People are said to "receive Christ into their heart" and they are presumed to be telling the truth.
I suppose the difference to me is that you can observe the life of an adult, you can ask them to give a reason of the hope that lies in them, you can know their conversation and their manner of life.
You can't know any of those things about a baby because their decisions and actions lie in the future not the present or past.
We certainly cannot know for sure the content of any man's heart. If we've learned anything from fundamentalism it's that mankind is very good at covering up their corruption. Yet, if I were giving odds, I suppose I'd say we have a better shot at knowing whether a professing adult is saved than guessing at whether a baby might be saved at some point in the future.
I guess how you see it all depends on where you're standing.
RE: "Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - sparkysugarsdad - 02-06-2011 08:26 PM
I'm in the Methodist/Episcopalian line. We baptize infants as a sign they belong to God. According to wiki:
"Methodists contend that infant baptism has spiritual value for the infant. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, held that baptism is a means of grace, but it was symbolic. They view Baptism and the water as symbolic and does not regenerate you nor does it cleanse you from you sin.
Wesley's own views of infant baptism shifted over time as he put more and more emphasis on salvation by faith and new birth by faith alone. This has helped to fuel much debate within Methodism over just what infant baptism does, though almost all are agreed it should be continued. Wesley and the Methodists would agree with the Reformed or Presbyterian folks about Infant Baptism. It is symbolic.
Infant baptism is particularly illustrative of the Methodist doctrine of prevenient grace. The principle is that The Fall of Man ruined the human soul to such an extent that nobody wants a relationship with God. In order for humans to even want to be able to choose God must empower their will (so that they may choose Christ) which he does by means of prevenient grace. Thus God takes the very first step in salvation, preceding any human effort or decision. Methodists justify infant baptism by this principle of prevenient grace, often arguing that infant baptism is God's promise or declaration to the infant that calls that infant to (eventually) believe in God's promises (God's Word) for salvation. When the individual believes in Jesus they will profess their faith before the church, often using a ritual called confirmation in which the Holy Spirit is invoked with the laying on of hands. Methodists also use infant baptism symbolically, as an illustration of God approaching the helpless. They see the ceremony additionally as a celebration of God's prevenient grace."
Since I'm more Episcopalian, I do see baptism as saving act, but only if the person, claims the vows his parents and sponsors made for them at baptism. The Scriptures we use to support infant baptism are Matthew 28:19, Mark 10:13-15, 16:16, John 3:3-7, and Acts 2:38-39. So, that's my, non-covenant theology take on infant baptism.
RE: "Why Baptize Babies" by Mark Horne - Darrell - 02-06-2011 11:12 PM
Quote:Someone who claims to love the Lord and refuses to be baptized is a matter of grave concern, imho.
We can definitely agree there.