Paedobaptism’s Utter Failure to be Objective
My online acquaintance Alastair Roberts has written a piece on the “passivity” of the baptizand. I agree wholeheartedly with much of what he says. But like all paedobaptists, he sees only what supports his errant paradigm, and fails to comprehend the other half of the story.
Peter Leithart believes that baptism is the ground for Christian education. I agree with him. But when it comes to whose baptism, I think it can be demonstrated that he departs from the biblical pattern.
Ignorance of the Bible’s very consistent architecture has led to the assembly of many well-meaning but errant doctrinal constructs over the centuries. With reference to it, however, the conflicts are made plain. Our own towers to heaven, however historic they might be, and however cherished, must be torn down.
The Blindness of Paedosacramentalism
Leithart’s paper is not a New Covenant growth from glory to glory, but an Old Covenant journey from dust to dust.
“In the days when our courts are declaring that good is evil and evil is good, the recovery of baptism as a delegation of divine legal authority rather than a sign of ‘limited Covenantal obligation’ is crucial.”
Every biblical Covenant is a word from heaven designed to bring a response from the earth. When the laws in the Ark of the testimony were given to Israel, the response of a legal oath was required, intended to culminate in the legal witness of Israel to the nations. Thus, every biblical Covenant is also a process which leads to maturity, beginning with cultivation and ending in representation.
A child must be schooled before he can be employed. A man must be a disciple before he can be an apostle. Adam was to be qualified before he could represent God as a just and merciful judge on earth. But the difference between cultivation and representation is the difference between circumcision and baptism, and this facet of the biblical Covenants is something paedobaptists are unable to accept, at least in its full glory.
“Behold, The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
James Jordan has observed that Abraham’s “calling on the name of the Lord” was in fact evangelical proclamation of his faith. Abraham’s witness to the Canaanites was something for which they would be held accountable when Israel returned to claim the land. Chris Wooldridge sees this “vocal allegiance” as the key to understanding the meaning of the washing away of sins in the New Testament. Seen in the context of the last days of the Old Covenant, this was not baptismal regeneration but a public identification by the Jewish worshiper with the final sacrificial lamb (Leviticus 1:1-9).
There are no “Abrahamic” promises concerning offspring — or real estate — for New Covenant believers.
Like the dogma of evolution, the doctrine of paedobaptism is not supported by indisputable evidence. Rather, the data must be interpreted through the lens of a pre-existing framework. The paedobaptistic lens is, however, a biblical one, being Abrahamic, and it comes in extremely handy when used in the right way. It deals with the few texts which paedobaptists rely on for proof, showing that they are not establishing a revised Abrahamic tent, but bringing the old one to an end.
Gregg Strawbridge of paedobaptism.com gave me the floor in an interview this past weekend to explain myself when it comes to baptism. It was a lot of fun.