I would be remiss if I did not draw forth a number of important practical inferences or ramifications from all that we have previously said.
1. The error of our Baptist friends rejecting the church membership and baptism of infants is a serious error. It is not merely a mistake about some disputed point of speculative theology. It is an error that contravenes the spirit of the whole Bible. All of God’s covenants have within them this fundamental feature of the inclusion of the infant children of the believers. This is the very first point we labored to establish when we presented the defenses for our position.
This may appear to some to be a rather uncharitable thing to say. But what is the alternative? Is it any more charitable to leave error unchecked, unchallenged or unquestioned? Do I love my brothers more by ignoring their false beliefs, especially when it comes to the eternal truth of God’s Word?
2. The baptism of our children is intensely meaningful and involves us (the parents and the congregation) in an obligation of the utmost seriousness. We are not claiming that baptism is identical with regeneration, nor are we espousing the “magical” view of Rome with regard to the sacrament of baptism, as if we believed it had an inherent power in itself to effect that which it signifies. As strongly as we may assert that depriving our children of baptism is a sin against God and against them, it is equally sinful to deprive them of catechesis. We can all appreciate the notion that it is irresponsible to hire a man to do a complex, detailed job, and to require proficient performance from him without ever having trained him. This, I feel, is an apt analogy to what is done to countless “church kids.” How much effort is exerted in both infant baptizing churches and non-infant baptizing churches toward the doctrinal training of our children? I do not dispute or deny the existence of multitudinous Sunday school programs or summer Daily Vacation Bible School programs. But anyone who has even casually perused much of that material will know that it largely consists of practical moral lessons completely divorced from the theological basis which gives meaning to the practical application. This is nothing else but Law in place of the Gospel. If all we do in the training of our children is to provide them with a long list of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, reinforced with Bible stories about lions, floods, and tumbling walls, we are merely preparing the next generation for disillusionment with the faith. Nothing is more deadly than legalism with regard to our children. By the time they reach high school or college they will strike out on their own and turn their backs on Christianity. And yet, it will not be Christianity that they have turned their backs on, but rather the misrepresentation of it that consisted merely in do’s and don’ts.