Thursday, September 19, 2013

Infant Baptism, Objections Answered, 6

6. It is often objected that baptism can do infants no good.

“What good can a little sprinkling with water do a tiny, unconscious baby?” My chief response to this is: what good did circumcision do an 8-day-old Jewish baby? To even ask this question is to impugn the wisdom of God. It is for that reason a most impious objection. When the opponents of the apostle Paul asked the question, “What profit is there in circumcision?” he answered, “Much in every way” (Rom. 3:1-2). Baptism, like circumcision, is a sign of many important truths and a seal of many important covenant blessings. Can anyone possibly assert that there is no advantage in the practice of that which holds up to our view, in a significant way, several of those fundamental doctrines of the gospel which are of deep personal interest to us and our children? Can we not profit by attending on a sacrament which signifies to us our fallen, depraved nature, and the way God has appointed in his wisdom and love to recover us by the atoning blood and cleansing Spirit of Jesus Christ our Savior? In baptism, we are dedicating our children to God by a rite of His own institution.

It is for this reason that those who share our paedobaptist conviction have always asserted that those who refuse or neglect to baptize their children sin against Christ by disobeying his solemn command, and they sin against their children and themselves by depriving them of the great benefits of the covenant. They can pretend that this is a disputed point if they want to, but is this not an attempt to be wiser than God? Those may sound like rather harsh words, but let me hasten to say two things. The words of the Belgic Confession are much harsher as are Ursinus' words in the commentary on his own Heidelberg Catechism. Moreover, John MacArthur, in a sermon against infant baptism, used harsher words than I have when he call the practice of infant baptism "devilish." Whatever my personal views are on the doctrine of the Baptists and their erroneous view of the sacraments, you have never read the words "devilish" in any of my articles on the subject.

Back to the subject at hand. I don't pretend to be able to make a list which comprehensively includes anything or everything which may be of benefit to the infant who is presented for baptism. But I do know this, that Christ has appointed it as a sign of precious truths and the seal of His blessings to His covenant people and their infant offspring.

I am prepared to go even farther. This objection is founded on a mindset that is diametrically opposed to the spirit of the Gospel. It is equally opposed to the religious education of children, and if held consistently, would militate against all the instructions which the Word of God enjoins on parents. Indeed, we would have to assert that it is wrong to preoccupy the minds of our children with an abhorrence of lying, theft, murder, lust, drunkenness, and malice, lest we should fill their minds with prejudices that would be unfriendly to free inquiry later in life. Wouldn't it be deceiving our children into thinking that they belong to God when in fact they don't? Wouldn't it instilling in them a false sense of security that they belong to God if we train them in the faith before we have any indication of regeneration? But that is exactly what the Baptist position, if held consistently, entails.  Baptist churches, like Reformed paedobaptist ones, have programs for children. Which means that even while denying the sacrament of baptism to his covenant children, the Baptist views his children as being in the covenant. And the Baptist practice of baby  dedications is a tacit admission of the truth of what I have just asserted.

One of the great purposes for which the church was established was to watch over and train up its children in the knowledge and fear of God. Any system of religion that does not embrace children in its covenant engagements is gravely defective. (see Malachi 2:15)


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