We are going to take up again the subject of infant baptism. The form this series will take, Lord willing, is as follows: We will present a detailed, multi-point defense of the practice of infant baptism. In this part of the presentation, we will appeal to the historical practice of the Christian Church in a very limited way. While I believe that this is a legitimate argument, I will attempt to limit this aspect and appeal much more to scriptural arguments. Then we will present and reply to eleven objections, which was all I could come up with from my research into the subject. Granted many of these objections are simply variations on the first one (that infant baptism isn’t taught in the New Testament). Finally, we will deduce a few practical ramifications from both the arguments in favor and the refutations of objections.
Lets us begin with the positive arguments.
1. All of God’s dealings with his people have always been covenant based in which the infant children of believers are included.
No one disputes that this was the case with Adam. Had Adam not sinned, his offspring would have automatically inherited his sinless nature. We know this to be true because Scripture explicitly teaches that all men sinned in the transgression of Adam. Since Adam stood as the federal head of all mankind, he acted for us all and we all acted in him. This is the nature of covenant in general and the Covenant of Works in particular.
The covenant God made with Noah after the flood, as far as this point goes, was of the exactly the same nature. God said, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your seed” (Gen. 9:9). The covenant God made with Abraham was equally comprehensive. God said to Abraham, “Behold, my covenant is with you and your seed after you” (Gen 17:9). The covenants of Sinai and Moab also included the children of the immediate participators. The language is clear in attaching to them as well as to their offspring the promises and the threats of those covenants respectively. Therefore, when Moses was about to leave the people he addressed them in the words of Deuteronomy 29:10 – 12, “standing before the Lord their God with their little ones, and their wives, to enter into covenant with the Lord their God.”
When we come to the New Testament administration of the covenant of grace we still find this same interesting feature, not only retained but more conspicuously displayed. On the day of Pentecost, Peter addresses the crowd with a promise strikingly reminiscent of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 17, when he says, “The promise is to you and your children, as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
This has been a most noticeable feature of God’s continuing covenant of grace with his people. Are we to assume then that the New Testament, or Christian covenant, which is the same in substance with what preceded it, and excels the Old Testament administration in all the benefits, privileges, and glory of its promises, lacks this notable feature? The idea is absurd.