Thursday, August 22, 2013

Infant Baptism Defended, Argument 8

8. It is inconceivable that the sign and privileges of infant church membership, to which all the first Christians had been so long accustomed, could have been withdrawn without wounding the hearts of parents, and producing in them feelings of revolt against the new administration of the covenant of grace.

Do we find any hint of this anywhere in the New Testament? No, we do not. Only on the principle of infant church-membership does this entire silence present no difficulty. How else is it to be explained? When we see 3,000 Jewish converts to Christianity (who were steeped in the practice of infant church-membership) on the day of Pentecost, all submit themselves to the covenant seal of baptism, during which Peter repeats the covenant promise of God to Abraham from Genesis 17, we should expect an uproar if they had all been told that their children were no longer included in the covenant. This is especially clear considering the fact that Peter recites the words of Genesis 17, “to you and your children.”

Because those early Christians understood the identity of the church under this new administration of the covenant of grace, they needed no new warrant for the inclusion of their children in the covenant family. Since the privilege had not been revoked, it would be understood as being still in force. A new enactment to establish this privilege would be superfluous, considering the fact that the New Testament expands the privileges rather than restricts them. 

Imagine for a moment how “evangelism” in the Old Testament worked. The would-be convert, after having been taught in the principles of the faith, would be circumcised. But not just him -. Every male member of his household: sons, servants and servants' sons were all circumcised on the strength of the head of the household's faith. This being the case, if things were to be substantially different in the New Testament, it is absolutely imperative that it be explained, because no one would have expected it.

Those who reject infant baptism are under the necessity of supposing that the first Christians, who were all Jews, and had always considered their offspring as included in the covenant of God, were given to understand that when the New Testament Church was set up, these covenant privileges and promises would no longer be enjoyed by their children, and that their children were no more connected with the Church than the children of the surrounding pagan nations. These first Christians would've had to understand this, while at the same time, believing that the New Testament in every way enlarged and broadened every privilege and promise of the Old Testament administration. Those who reject infant baptism are under the necessity of believing that those early Christians, when the New Testament Church was organized, were greeted with an announcement to this effect, and that they accepted it without the slightest feeling of surprise or word of murmur. Further, they have to assume that such a retrograde change took place within the covenant people of God with so little interest that it was never so much as hinted at in any of the epistles to the churches. There is only one explanation for the silence on this subject, - and that is the continuation of the covenant privileges of infant church-membership. The affirmation of infant baptism is not based on an argument from silence. Rather, the denial of infant baptism is based on an argument from silence.

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