Occasionally Christians will discuss baptism and
confidently proclaim that infant baptism isn't a biblically valid
concept. This may or may not be the case, but what concerns me most
about the topic is not so much whether a person believes or disbelieves
in infant baptism. The concern is that those who condemn it often do
so in such a way as to show little grace and in their condemnation they
inadvertently aid in bringing division in the body of Christ by encouraging
a subliminal or even deliberate negative reaction against infant baptism and
those Christians who hold to it.
Those who say that they know infant baptism is not true because it
is not recorded in the Bible, have made a potentially fundamental error in biblical examination.
The doctrine of the Trinity, as an example, is not explicitly laid out in
the Scriptures, yet Christians believe in it. Why? because it is
systematically arrived at. Now, let's look at the possibility of
infant baptism. But first understand that I am not trying to convince
anyone in this paper that infant
baptism is a biblical truth. What I'm trying to do is convince you, if you
don't believe in it, that there is a sound reason for accepting infant
baptism (not for salvation but as a covenant sign). I am concerned
more with a person understanding the argument, and if they disagree, fine.
But, they should outright reject it without first hearing a defense of it.
This is important because it helps bring unity in the body of Christ when we
see that others we disagree with have rational reasons for their beliefs.
Furthermore, this opens us up to the possibility of being wrong ourselves on
a position and encourages us to be more gracious with those who disagree
I have produced an outline laying out an argument for
infant baptism. If you want to understand the argument quickly, than
just read the points in bold.
God works covenantally.
A covenant is a pact or agreement
between two or more parties. God undoubtedly works
covenantal. A quick computer Bible search in the NASB shows
that there are 300 verses that have the word covenant in them.
By contrast, dispensation(al, ism, s) occurs a total of one
time in Zech. 7:9. obviously, God works covenantally.
God's covenants have covenant signs.
- The covenant with Adam had the
covenant sign of the tree.: "And the LORD God commanded the
man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not
eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of
it you will surely die,’" (Gen. 2:16-17).
- The covenant with Noah had the
sign of the rainbow, (Gen. 9:9-17).
- The Covenant with Abraham had the
sign of circumcision: "And I will bless those who bless you,
and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of
the earth shall be blessed,” (Gen. 12:7).
- There are other covenants and
The Abrahamic Covenant included infants and the sign
of their entrance into that covenant was circumcision.
- The fact is that infant males
were included in the Abrahamic covenant via the sign of circumcision.
- Females were included in the covenant via federal headship,
the doctrine that the male head of the family represents his
descendents. Heb. 7:7-10 is a good example of this.
- "The federal headship view
considers Adam, the first man, as the representative of the human race
that generated from him. As the representative of all humans, Adam’s act
of sin was considered by God to be the act of all people and his penalty
of death was judicially made the penalty of everybody."1
The Abrahamic Covenant is called the gospel in Gal. 3:8
- "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify
the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham,
saying, “All the nations shall be blessed in you.”
Therefore, the Abrahamic Covenant is still in effect.
- Since the covenant is that in Abraham all the nations shall be
blessed and that is called the gospel by Paul, then the Abrahamic
covenant is still in effect.
- To say the Abrahamic covenant is not in effect now, is to contradict
what Paul said when he called it the gospel. Remember, God's
covenant promise was to bless all nations in Abraham. This is a
reference to the coming Messiah in whom we have redemption.
Infants were included in the Abrahamic Covenant
which is still in effect.
- Whether or not infants understood what was occurring in their
participation of the covenant sign is immaterial since it was God who
ordered that the infants be included in the Abrahamic covenant.
- Since the Abrahamic covenant is still in effect -- by being equated
with the gospel - infants should still be included in that same
Where is the biblical admonition to
exclude infants from the same Abrahamic covenant that is still in
- There is no command at all to
exclude infants from the same covenant that is still in effect.
- Baptism is the New Testament
covenant sign and is to be applied to infants.
- Since the normal biblical
pattern is to include infants in the Abrahamic covenant, doesn't it make
sense to continue to include them in that same covenant? Yes. The
new covenant sign is now baptism which is why Paul equates baptism and
- "and in Him you were also
circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of
the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12
having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up
with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the
dead," (Col. 2:11-12).
- Questions answered
- Then why are then no accounts
of infants being baptized in the New Testament?
- Actually, there are.
- Acts 16:15, "and when she and her
household had been baptized,"
- Acts 16:31, "he was baptized, he
and all his household."
- The term household does not
necessary mean infants are included.
- If this is so, do you think
that in all the households that were being baptized in Israel that none
of them had infants? (Remember, covenant Jews were commanded to
have children - see Gen. 2-3).
- What is the natural thinking
of a Jew regarding infants and God's covenant? The natural
thinking is that they were included in God's covenant system.
Would you have us now believe that the Jew who became a Christian would
then say something to the effect of, "Now that the promised Messiah has
come and God's covenant of promise in Abraham has been realized, I now
understand that I am to exclude my infants from God's covenant
work and promise." Of course not. This is why it says in
Acts 2:38-39, "And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you
be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your
sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39
“For the promise is for you and your children..." Notice that
Peter includes children in that fulfilled promise of God...and baptism
is part of the subject.
Where is the command in scripture to exclude infants
from the very same covenant that is still in effect; namely, the
Abrahamic Covenant which is called the gospel by Paul in Gal. 3:8?
If you cannot find a command to restrict them, then don't do it.
- Infants are not circumcised now. Why?
- Because the covenant sign is now
baptism, Col. 2:11-12. "and in Him you were also circumcised with a
circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh
by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him
in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in
the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." Since the blood
of Christ was shed, the blood-sign-of-circumcision has been fulfilled in
the Federal Head known as Christ. This means that Christ
represented us on the cross. Covenant blood-shed is no longer
necessary. Now, the covenant sign is baptism which is why Paul
equates the two in Col. 2:11-12
- In Acts we only see people
get baptized who have first believed.
- This is true only if you
assume that of all the households in Israel that were baptized, none
included infants. This is an assumption that is without substance
especially since we know that good Jews were to obey God's command to
multiply and replenish the earth.
- Also, remember that the
context in Acts is mass conversions and of course you'd see the great
majority of accounts of baptism after belief. But this does not
mean that God's covenant system of including infants is negated.
- Finally, many epistles were
written to correct error. Why do none of the epistles include a
restriction of infants being included in God's covenant via baptism?
Why? Because theologically, infants were included in the covenant
of God and since the Abrahamic covenant is equated with the gospel,
- Doesn't this then mean that
infants were saved if they are baptized?
- No. Infants in the
Abrahamic covenant in Old Testament times were not guaranteed salvation
anymore than infants baptized into the same covenant today are promised
- It is the error of the Roman
Catholic church and some cults that teaches that baptism saves.
The primary reason
for writing this article is not convince anyone that covenant infant baptism
is biblical. The primary reason I wrote it is to try and convince people to
be more gracious in their opposition to this doctrine. It is perfectly fair
for someone to examine the argument and not accept it. But it would be
better if once the argument is rejected, that the person who does so sees
that there is a reason that people have for believing this teaching and that
when disagreeing with the position, that graciousness and humility would be
combined with a disagreement of it.
Finally, I would suggest anyone who disagrees with the
argument to provide an answer as to why we should now exclude infants from
the same Abrahamic covenant, that is still in effect per Gal. 3:8.
Remember, God commanded that infants be included in this covenant. What
justifies anyone from changing God's command on this?
1. Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge
Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983,
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Copyright by Matthew J. Slick, B.A., M. Div., 1998-2006
I welcome your comments via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org