Monday, September 30, 2013

Infant Baptism, Objections Answered, 9

9. This objection goes back to the point made in the previous one. It is argued that if we hold to infant membership in baptism that we must also allow that all children, regardless of age, who feel disposed to do so, may come to the Lord’s Table without inquiry or permission from anyone.

This is not as formidable an objection as it is made to appear. For even those who reject our principle of identity with regard to circumcision and baptism, do affirm the identity of the Passover and the Lord’s Supper. This is the key to answering this objection.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let us make an important observation. Every child is a citizen of the country in which he or she was born. Citizenship is plenary. There is no such thing as halfway citizenship. Nonetheless, he or she does not have free access to all the rights and privileges of citizenship until he or she attains a certain age. One cannot get a driver’s license before his 16th birthday, and even then he must have completed Driver’s Ed. One cannot even vote until he is 18. Generally speaking, no one finds anything objectionable in this scheme.

Now to return to my previous comments about the identity of the Passover and the Lord’s Supper: Every child of Jewish parents, though full church members by virtue of their birth and recognized as such by virtue of their circumcision, were still not allowed to partake of the Passover until they came to a certain age. This age was not specifically stipulated. Calvin notes that “the Passover, which has now been succeeded by the sacred supper, did not admit guests of all descriptions promiscuously; but was rightly eaten only by those who were of sufficient age to be able to inquire into its signification.” This is why the law did not stipulate a particular age. What was important was that the child had attained a level of intellectual acumen sufficient for understanding the significance of the Passover. The parents knew that the child was ready when the child began to ask the right questions. When a Christian child, one that has been baptized, begins to ask the right questions about the significance of the Lord’s Supper, and has the necessary intellectual capacity to understand the answers, then that child is ready to partake of the sacrament.

This objection then, has no force. Better yet, what it alleges and then deprecates, doesn’t even exist. It is not part of the paedobaptist system. Our system has advantages with regard to this matter that no one else has. We solemnly bind the church and the parents to faithfully train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord while simultaneously recognizing that the church possesses and must exercise the power of guarding her communion table from anyone who approaches it profanely, even her own children.

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