Debating Baptism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by ~JM~, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. ~JM~

    ~JM~
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    I was hoping you guys would have a look at this thread and let me know where you see the flaws in argument against believers baptism.

    Thanks,

    j
     
  2. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
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    Thats not a simple question to answer as it has to do with the whole system called Covenant Theology. One might challenge the system of Covenant theology to find the flaws, or one might argue within the confines of Covenant theology. Which approach you take will have a large impact on what sorts of flaws you will focus on.

    Any particular part of the argument that you wanted me to look at?
     
  3. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Only glancing quickly at that, it is not hard to refute.

    1. They make the mistake of including the NT church in the Abrahamic covenant, something completely unjustified.
    2. They make the mistake of equating OT circumcision with NT baptism, despite no supporting Scripture and obvious physical reasons.
    3. They ignore the fact that no non-believer is ever baptized in Scripture.
    4. They ignore the fact tat every instance of baptism in Scripture is after belief.

    Much more coudl be said, and has been said elsewhere. But this is pretty simple stuff.
     
  4. dwmoeller1

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    They don't do that. Instead, they see one covenant of grace at work throughout history. The Abrahamic covenant is one administration of this covenant, the New is another adminstration of the same covenant of grace. Its not as simple as 'including the NT church in the Abrahamic covenant'.

    In addition, the fact that the church is not included in the covenant is not 'completely unjustified. Paul makes clear that NT believers are grafted onto the same tree as Israel (of which Israelite non-believers are cut off of), and that the Abrahamic promises are applied, in some way at least, to NT believers.

    There may have been someone on there who did that, if so I didn't notice. However, typically the Covenant Theology system does not equate the two. Instead, they argue that circumcision was the sign of the Abrahamic covenant, and baptism is the sign of the New. Again, it would be a mistake to see their arguments as equating the two covenants in the sense you seem to mean.

    They don't ignore that fact, they simply don't find it relevant within their system...which it really isn't. All it means is that there is no explicit statement of infant baptism in NT Scripture. However, they note that the practice was well established in the early church as early as the 2 century. They might note that we 'ignore' this fact. :)

    Either way, the fact you mention, while true, is not an argument for or against paedobaptism.

    Actually, there are some examples in which baptism occurs without the belief of the receiver being explicitly stated. Thus, to say that every instance of baptism comes after belief is to beg the question. Some examples of household baptism simply aren't detailed enough to say that all were believers...nor that some were infants. The passages simply are too vague to make that claim one way or another. Thus, the argument for or against a certain type of baptism must be based on something other than specific Scriptural examples.


    Really, the covenantal argument for paedobaptism isn't as simple to refute as many credobaptists would like to assume. Easy refutations are usually the product of not really understanding the covenantal-paedobaptist position.
     
  5. DQuixote

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    The argument against Believer's baptism is flawed. It is scripturally unsound. Acts 2:38 is the worst of their multiple misinterpretations.
     
  6. dwmoeller1

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    "Unsound" is a logical term. Logic=intellect. How can you hypocritically use your intellect in such a manner when Scripture is spiritually discerned?
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    Technically, yes. But the fundamental issue of equating baptism and circumcision indicates that the Abrahamic covenant is in view. Furthermore, the covenant of grace, like infant baptism, lacks the support of Scripture. It is a construct placed on Scripture, rather than one derived from Scripture as they use it.

    Actually, I think you need to study some more on this. It may not be common to all, but it is common to a fairly large number of paedobaptists. And this goes back centuries, for instance, to John Smyth and his debates and writings on infant baptism.

    Here is a quote from an article at monergism.com: The production of authorities to prove the reliance of paedobaptists upon the Abrahamic covenant for the justification of infant baptism might be carried to an indefinite extent. All their writers, so far as I know, make this the main hinge of the whole argument. (http://www.gracesermons.com/robbeeee/circumcision.html)

    They certainly ignore the import of this. The fact that the initiatory rite commanded by Jesus is practiced often, but never on infants, is most instructive. The fact that some in the 2nd century practiced it (about which there is a lot of debate) is truly irrelevant, since the 2nd century church also included a vast number of heretics. The Scriptures are our authority. And so far, not one scriptural argument has been adduced for infant baptism.

    Isn’t the silence of Scripture in the matter of infant baptism most troublesome for infant baptism? Would we really believe that God commanded the church to do something, yet provided no inspired teaching from the apostles, and no inspired record of it ever being practiced? I think that is very troubling for their position.

    What do you have in mind?

    No, not really. Given the teaching that baptism is for believers, and is never said or seen to be for anyone else, and given the fact that these households were baptized, indicates that there were no infants.

    The examples are a part of inspired Scripture, given for authority and profitability. Given the teaching of believers baptism (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 2:38ff.; Rom 6:4; etc), combined with the pattern of Scripture (total lack of any reference to infant baptism that does not assume its conclusion), we have a solid argument for believer’s baptism.

     
    #7 Pastor Larry, Mar 9, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2007
  8. dwmoeller1

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    I agree that it is a construct placed on Scripture. The same is true with the Dispensational view. However, it is well constructed and considerably more complicated to refute than your initial post seemed to indicate. Its no more simple to refute than Dispensational theology is even though both are constructs placed on Scripture.

    I think either you are misconstuing their arguments or else I am misunderstanding what you mean by 'equating'. The simple fact that all paedo's hold that girl children are to be baptized where as they were not to be circumcised would be a clear refutation (in my mind) that they *equate* the two practices. However, if be 'equate' you mean that they hold that both are signs of the covenant, then I agree that they do equate the two in the sense. However, the continuity of practice is not based on that equating of the signs, but upon the 'equating' (in a round about way) of the covenants.

    Now, yes, I am sure that *some* might equate the two, but I don't find this to be the typical argument. I shall do some searching with that in mind however.

    That they rely on the Abrahamic covenant to make their case is without dispute. This isn't the same as the equating of circumcision and baptism. The draw close parallels between the two, but they don't make an actual equation (again, they allow for female children to be baptized with ruins any equation of circumcision and baptism).

    Since doctrine is not to be derived from examples, but from teaching, I find no significant problem with them 'ignoring the import'. Arguments from example are essentially negative arguments and thus ultimatly weak ones. Sure, the examples should be considered, but if a reasonable explanation can be given as to why the situation was exceptional (which they can...whether or not you and I may disagree with it, it is still a reasonable explanation), then one should be careful in insisting on what is the proper 'import' of the examples.

    It is troublesome...but not nearly as much as you seem to make out. For one, IF the CT construct is accurate, THEN infant baptism would be the expected norm for the covenant and therefore failure to mention it is not all that significant. If covenants were understood by the NT church in the way that the CTs see them then a specific command would *not* be expected as it would extend naturally from the principles of covenants.

    It should also be noted that the fact that the NT church *very* quickly took up the nearly universal practice of paedobaptism would seem to indicate that the CTs assumptions are, at the least, highly reasonable. One really does need to address why paedobaptism so quickly became the common practice of the early church if the CTs arguments are so readily discarded.

    So, to insist that its exclusion is very 'troublesome' begs the question. Do I agree with their explanation? No, but to insist that it is troublesome without first showing the CT system is clearly unScriptural is fallacious. In short, the silence of Scripture on the matter can just as easily be used to argue *for* paedobaptism as against it - it all depends on one's initial assumptions.

    Here are couple examples:
    1co 1:16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

    Ac 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.


    Notice that Paul says he baptized the household without exclusion (or inclusion for that matter). Thus, to argue that all examples in Scripture show no infants are baptized clearly begs the question. These examples make no mention one way or the other while they leave open the logical possibility that either might be the case.

    Now yes, *some* examples would logically preclude that the household baptized included infants (ie. Acts 16:33,34 indicates that all his household not only was baptized but also believed and rejoiced, thus logically excluding infants) but several examples are simply too non-specific to support the claim of *all*.

    Your reasoning is circular. Let me demonstrate:
    1. No example in Scripture is of infants being baptized.
    2. We know this because Scripture teaches only baptism of believers.
    3. One of the reasons we know Scripture teaches this is because there are no examples of infants being baptized in Scripture.

    It is true that total lack of reference does not assume it inclusion. Its also equally true that total lack of reference does not assume it exclusion either. Total lack of reference simply can't be made to argue for or against exclusion/inclusion. It is valid to argue that they don't/do include/exclude infants based on other principles, but this does NOT mean that the examples *show* that no infants are included/excluded.

    What one is determines about the example which are totally nonspecific is based on what one believes about the *teachings* on baptism. To claim that the totally nonspecific examples demonstrate infant inclusion/exclusion is circular reasoning.

    Now, understand that I agree with you that Scripture teaches credobaptism only, and therefore it is logical to conclude that the examples in Scripture don't include infants. However, it is fallacious to argue that the examples demonstrate what you first had to assume.

    Hmmm...ok, I think I am up to the challenge of playing the "devil's advocate" on this topic. Give me a bit to refresh my memory and I will give it a go.

    Oh btw, can you let me know if you are working from dispensational assumptions - that will change the nature of my approach considerably.
     
  9. Pastor Larry

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    They say that circumcision is the sign of the covenant in the OT and baptism is the sign of the covenant in the NT. Or differently, what circumicision is in the OT is what baptism is in the NT. The baptism of female children that you mention is prima facie evidence of the fallacy of their position, BTW.

    I completely disagree. Doctrine is derived from God’s word, whether it be by example or “teaching.” It is a different kind of approach to be sure.

    But Baptism never had to do with the covenants, and the NT gives no evidence of seeing the covenants as the CTs see them. I think you are giving way too much credit here.

    I don’t think the NT church did, and I think there is large amount of evidence against it. Furthermore, the NT church very quickly took up some forms of gnosticism, or protognosticism. Does that mean that gnosticism is highly reasonable? Hardly, so while bemoaning those who argue from example above, you now turn around and argue from example here.

    The fact that they were baptized means that belief was there. If Scripture teaches that baptism is the public profession of faith after salvation, why would you assume from silence that these households included infants? Many households don’t include infants. In fact, most probably do not.

    I think you have twisted my argument. My argument has premises: 1) Scripture teaches baptism of believers. 2) Baptism of non-believers is never seen in Scripture. Conclusion: Both the didactic and narrative passages on baptism confirm that infant baptism is unbiblical.

    The other side of the question is this: If infant baptism is correct, then why does Scripture have not one word in favor of it?

    It does when Scripture gives other clear teaching on the matter.

    I didn’t make any assumptions. I operated from explicit teaching that baptism is immersion upon profession of faith. Nothing else is true Christian baptism. The examples support that.

    Yes, I am a dispensationalist, but not by assumption so much as by the nature of language and communication.
     
  10. ~JM~

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    Good stuff, thanks.
     
  11. DQuixote

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    Scriptural Truth is spiritually revealed. It is not the object of, or cannot be discerned through, human intellect. Scripture is foolishness to human intellect. To teach that circumcision is the OT counterpart of NT water baptism is in error. Ridding oneself of the flesh (the sin nature) in circumcision (identifying oneself with God as chosen), occurs in the NT at the moment one receives Jesus as Savior / the infilling of the Holy Spirit, not as the result of water baptism.

    The Truth is that spritually, water baptism as a requirement for salvation is in error. Spiritually, one realizes that. One cannot hold a spiritually-revealed view of water baptism as a requirement. One would be listening to human intellect, not the Holy Spirit. Spiritually, it is impossible to hold that untrue viewpoint of water baptism. God is not a deceiver. In ALL our ways we are to acknowledge Him. God, who imparted righteousness to us, is not going to follow up by imparting error. Error means that we simply get in the way.

    The simple truth is that denominations are the result of human intellectual analysis of scripture, rather than spiritual discernment. One clear example of that is the argument that we are a "covenant people." The OT covenant was with Jews, and the New Covenant will be with Jews after the Trib. Ephesians 2:12 is one reference. We aren't brought near by a "new covenant", we are brought near by the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, aka the finished work of the Cross, Romans 8:14-17. By grace through faith He receives us, and Jewish converts, not by covenants. His glorious promise, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved", is appropriated by grace through faith.

    It is impossible for those who are authentically born again to disagree when the Holy Spirit is The Revelator. If one claims the authentic born again status and continues to speak error, then one is FILTERING what the Holy Spirit is saying, or never believed in the first place; the Holy Spirit Truths are being processed by the natural man, the intellect, the sin nature, that part of us that is continually at war with Truth.

    John 17:20-23 sort of sums it all up.

    :jesus: :godisgood:
     
    #11 DQuixote, Mar 11, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2007
  12. dwmoeller1

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    Yes, they say such. However, since they see the Abrahamic and New as having different administrations, baptism and circumcision are not equated in the way you seem to think. Instead, they are parallel - they both hold the same relative position in the different administrations.

    Example can confirm, explain or exemplify doctrine, but it cannot be used to establish doctrine. Why? Because examples are subject to various interpretations. The example has to first be subjected to clear precept in order to be interpreted correctly. Thus, the forms of doctrine have to first established before examples come into play.

    What about Col 2:11,12?

    Does that make their argument? No, but it does make it much more difficult to shunt it aside so easily. After all, Paul makes an explicit parallel between circumcision and baptism - in fact, he seems to equate the two at least on a spiritual level.

    As to the first part, please direct me to some source and I will be glad to study it. All the arguments against I have seen so far have been highly suspect if not downright fallacious.

    As to the second, that is all very true. What is also true is that those false doctrines were fought against from the beginning by the leaders of the church and eventually declared as heresy. So, yes, if it were simply a matter of the early church accepting false teachings and then doing nothing about them, then you would have a point - the fact that paedobaptism would suggest nothing. However, if paedo was accepted AND it remain accepted, then this suggests that the CTs argument for its non-mention in Scripture is at least reasonable. That is not to say that this fact argues for it being correct (I stand by my statement that arguing from example is fallacious), but simply reasonable, that is, worth considering further and not to be dismissed offhand.

    Although, come to think of it, I should clarify further. When I say that arguing from example is fallacious, I refer to deductive arguments. If one is making an inductive argument, then using examples is not only acceptable but usually necessary. Inductive logic however, does result in conclusive conclusion - merely reasonable ones.

    Scripture, however, does not teach clearly that baptism is a public profession of faith after salvation. In fact, it sometimes states that baptism is a necessary precondition for salvation. If the Bible's teachings on baptism were as clear up and explicit as you seem to think, then there wouldn't really be much of a debate. The teachings on baptism though are often convoluted and seemingly contradictory at several points. Discerning the truth of the matter is not a simple task done by simply giving the plain meaning of certain verses. For every verse that seems to show it is a symbol, there is another verse which seems to indicate that its necessary for salvation.

    Secondly, you make my point about using the examples of baptism perfectly. You did not use the examples themselves to conclude that infants are never baptized in Scripture. Instead, you used the already established doctrine you believed to determine that the examples could not include infants. Do you see the difference? You argue above from precept to example, not from example to precept.

    Thirdly, I do NOT presume from silence that infants are included. Neither do reasoned paedobaptists (some do, but the ones who really study it realize the fallacy of that position). It would be equally fallacious to argue from silence that infants are included. Above, you do not do this. Previously your formulation made it seem that you were. The simple fact, is that Scripture is silent in those cases and one cannot presume either way. What one believes is about the possible inclusion/exclusion of infants has solely to do with what one believes about infant baptism elsewhere in Scripture. These examples cannot be used to further your argument even as support because they are silent. To use them to establish a particular doctrine of baptism results in begging the question, and to use them to support your argument requires arguing from silence. One simply has to leave them out of consideration until one already has established the doctrine one way or the other.

    It is possible that I have misconstrued your argument. Thanks for the clarification. I will go back and see if I have been misreading you all along.

    The other side of this is if infant baptism unScriptural, then why does Scripture not have one word against it? Same answer to both - its an argument from silence. If the CT view is Scriptural, then one would not expect any particular mention of infant baptism (it would flow naturally). If the CT view is incorrect, then again, one would expect no particular mention against infant baptism as it would require a set of assumptions foreign to what Paul/Peter/Christ taught. Hence, the inherent fallaciousness of arguments from silence.

    Heh...not even Scriptures teaching on baptism is all that clear. One simply has to make certain assumptions about other doctrines which are more clear and interpret the unclear ones concerning baptism in light of those. So sure, IF baptism were a 'clear' teaching, then I would agree that a mention of practices concerning infants might be expected one way or the other. Its not a 'clear' teaching however.

    Where is this explicitly taught?
     

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