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Infant Baptism

     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 with us.
     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.

  1. God works covenantally.
    1. 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.
  2. God's covenants have covenant signs.
    1. 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). 
    2. The covenant with Noah had the sign of the rainbow, (Gen. 9:9-17). 
    3. 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). 
    4. There are other covenants and covenant signs..
  3. The Abrahamic Covenant included infants and the sign of their entrance into that covenant was circumcision.
    1. The fact is that infant males were included in the Abrahamic covenant via the sign of circumcision.
    2. 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.
      1. "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 
  4. The Abrahamic Covenant is called the gospel in Gal. 3:8
    1. "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.”
  5. Therefore, the Abrahamic Covenant is still in effect.
    1. 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.
    2. 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. 
  6. Infants were included in the Abrahamic Covenant which is still in effect.  
    1. 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.
    2. Since the Abrahamic covenant is still in effect -- by being equated with the gospel - infants should still be included in that same covenant.
  7. Where is the biblical admonition to exclude infants from the same Abrahamic covenant that is still in effect?
    1. There is no command at all to exclude infants from the same covenant that is still in effect.
  8. Baptism is the New Testament covenant sign and is to be applied to infants.
    1. 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 circumcision.
    2. "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).
  9. Questions answered
    1. Then why are then no accounts of infants being baptized in the New Testament?
      1. Actually, there are.
        1. Acts 16:15, "and when she and her household had been baptized,"
        2. Acts 16:31, "he was baptized, he and all his household."
    2. The term household does not necessary mean infants are included.
      1. 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). 
      2. 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.
    3. Infants are not circumcised now. Why?
      1. 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
    4. In Acts we only see people get baptized who have first believed.
      1. 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.
      2. 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.
      3. 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,
    5. Doesn't this then mean that infants were saved if they are baptized?
      1. 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 salvation.
      2. 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, 1985.

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