Thursday, October 3, 2013

Infant Baptism, Objections Answered, 10

10. Yet another objection raised by those who reject infant baptism is that those of us who practice it are not consistent with ourselves in that we do not treat our children as if they were members of the church. They point out that despite all our claims for the validity of infant church membership, we seldom see churches treating their baptized children as church members, that is, instructing and discipling them in the same way that is done for adult members.

We cannot deny that many churches do act inconsistently in this matter. But we must hasten to point out that logical inconsistency in a person's practice says nothing about the logical consistency of the system he professes to believe. Indeed, the same thing can be said of Baptists. If they were consistent with their own system, they would not teach their children to pray, they would not teach their children to read the Bible, nor would they teach their children to do anything consistent with what could be called a Christian lifestyle. It is not an indictment against the doctrine of infant church membership when a church is profligate in her duties.

This neglect has a long history. The very beginning of the book of Judges informs us that the generation under consideration in the following narrative had not been taught by their parents. Scripture not only informs us that this generation did not know God, but it further points out that they were unaware of the rich spiritual history of their nation. This means they had not been taught the principles of life in the covenant. In 17th century England, it appears that the same was the case. Thomas Manton, in his preface to the Westminster Standards, pointed out that in what was considered a Christian nation there was a perpetual complaint about “bad children.” Manton put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the parents. In fact, the Westminster Standards were written to address this very issue. Through the means of the Shorter and Larger Catechisms parents could train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. God has always enjoined upon parents the duty of catechizing their children. This idea comes up 3 or 4 times in the book of Deuteronomy. If we are consistent with our belief in the doctrine of infant church membership, and we demonstrate this belief by the logically consistent practice of infant baptism, then we are wholly without excuse and infinitely culpable when we do not disciple our children after we have acknowledged their church membership by administering covenant baptism.


  1. Your response to the cavil is correct: the Reformed baptize our children because they ARE members of the visible church. The Westminster Confession XXV:2 says, "The visible church ... consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, and of their children." The fact that so many paedobaptists are lackadaisical about the obligation that this puts on us is because of so much arminianism that has seeped into our churches. God will certainly not hold guiltless those parents, elders, and congregations, who treat our covenantal responsibilities with such contempt.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Chris. Your insights are always welcome.


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