Monday, September 16, 2013

Infant Baptism, Objections Answered, 5

5. Infants are incapable of faith, repentance, or any other spiritual act requisite for the lawful reception of baptism.

The opponents of infant baptism never tire of reminding us that the order of words in the New Testament is “repent, and be baptized.” The waste no opportunity to remind us of Paul's words, “If you believe with all your heart, you may be baptized.” They revel in drawing our attention to the fact that infants are incapable of repenting and exercising faith, therefore they are not suitable candidates for baptism. 

The first remark I would make in answer this objection is that all of the New Testament admonitions to faith and repentance are addressed to adults. Whenever we, who adhere to the doctrine of infant baptism, address adults who have never been baptized we always address them in exactly the same way the apostles did.

The opponent of infant baptism is not likely to be convinced by this argument, so we must press on. He will waste no time in reminding us with us, often with a sneer and no small amount of ridicule, that infants are incapable of repentance and faith. It never ceases to amaze me how someone can make this charge while simultaneously maintaining that it was appropriate for 8-day-old infants to receive the synonymous sacrament of circumcision. The apostle Paul expressly calls circumcision a “seal of the righteousness of faith.” Those 8-day-old infants who rightly received the sign of circumcision were no more capable of faith and repentance than any infant child of believing parents who submit them for baptism. Indeed, every single solitary objection that can be made against the doctrine and practice of infant baptism, if the Baptists wish to remain logically consistent with their own system, should be made against infant circumcision. Are they prepared to charge God with foolishness and absurdity in commanding infants, who of course, could not exercise faith to be presented as fit recipients of the seal of the righteousness of faith?

The whole weight of this objection is founded on a neglecting of the main principle of the paedobaptist system. The objectors forget that in every case of infant baptism faith is required, and if the parents are sincere, faith is actually exercised. This is the same principle which was at work in the Old Testament administration of the covenant of grace. The pious Jewish believer, in the exercise of his faith in God's covenant promises, brought his 8-day-old infant to God to be circumcised as a sign of God's promise and sealing of it unto that child. When it is objected that we must act on a principle of presumption with regard to the faith of the parents, we reply that every minister acts on presumption even in the case of an adult who presents himself for baptism upon a credible profession of faith. We must take that person at his word. Ergo, we must presume that he is not lying when he makes his profession of faith. The hypocritical profession only harms the recipient; it does not impugn the sacrament.

Just as an aside, let me also say that the question of whether infants can have faith is a debated question. Scriptures such as Psalm 22:9-10; Psalm 71:6; Isa 44:2, 24; Jer. 1:5; Joel 2:16; Mat. 11:25; 18:3; 21:16; Luke 1:14, 41-45; Gal. 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:5 & 3:14-15, would seem to answer in the affirmative.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Visitor Counter

Flag Counter