Baptism

Baptism strikes me as a good instance of how we all need to have a rich and deep theology.  To answer the question ‘Should I baptize my child?’ will require some pretty serious considerations of the nature of faith and salvation and church and covenant and OT/NT relations etc.  I hazard to suggest that those who say “You have your theology, I just have my bible” simply couldn’t come up with an argument for paedo or credo baptism without some kind of systematic considerations.

You might have guessed (being an Anglican and a covenant theologian) that I believe in baptizing infants in Christian households.  I digress into this issue here in a sermon on Genesis 17.  To put it briefly I believe that OT saints were to circumcize all in their households (on the 8th day) as an entrance into the covenant community.  They were meant to grow up from within that covenant community as full members.  But for that very reason they were urged to inwardly own the outward sign of their belonging and to have a circumcized heart (Deut 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4).  Without this they forgo all the benefits of the outward sign and will in the end be treated as not simply uncircumcised but as covenant-breakers – a fearful position to be in.  In this sense I believe in baptizing infants in Christian households.  I do think Col 2:11-12 makes the link between circumcision and baptism though not directly but through Christ.  I believe it is the NT sign of belonging to the covenant people.  In this sense it is appropriate to baptize youngsters, to proclaim the gospel promises over them, to treat them as full members of the church and to urge them as they grow up to own the meaning of their baptism inwardly (a baptism of the heart).  That kinda thing.

Anyway, there’s a guy in our congregation who wants to talk through who we should baptize.  Anyone got any suggestions for some good books we could look at?  (From any perspective) 

 

Posted on by Glen in baptism, covenant continuity, theological method

About Glen

I'm a preacher in Eastbourne, married to Emma.

13 Responses to Baptism

  1. Jacky

    i was wondering… what about paul still wishing to circumcise timothy?

  2. dev

    no idea about books

    what about Reeves sermon on sacraments on the all souls website?

  3. glenscriv

    Hi Jacky,
    Haven’t done much thinking about the Acts 16 thing. His mother was Jewish, his father greek, interestingly it was because the *Jews* knew his father was *greek* that Paul circumcized him. For the sake of mission Paul thought it best in this instance for a Jew to show his Jewish-ness in bringing other Jews to Christ. (1 Cor 9:20-22) Titus, a greek, was not circumcised – that would be wholly inappropriate (Gal 2:1-5).
    Remember that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything in itself (1 Cor 7:19; Gal 5:6; Gal 6:15) – but as a means of being justified by it / the law, then it means falling away from grace. Certainly it was not justification but mission that was driving Acts 16 and it was the circumcision of a Jew.

    Today I think there are circumstances where it might be ok for for a man to be circumcized. Say he’s from Jews for Jesus and for some reason he was not circumcised as a boy and he’s working in a Jewish population where his uncircumcised status is known. I wouldn’t kick up a huge fuss if he decided to be circumcized and testify to his Jewish neighbours that he preaches Jesus the Messiah to them as a fellow Jew and not as a strange Gentile message.

    Do you think?

  4. glenscriv

    Yes Dev – the Reeves talk is good.

    http://www.allsouls.org/ascm/allsouls/static/sermons/showsermon.flow?id=10876

    He makes that great point that the sacraments are not our ‘arrow up’ to God and the world. They’re His ‘arrow down’. His promise to us, not our promise to Him. In which case being baptised when I *can’t* respond is a wonderful enactment of the gospel!

  5. Steve

    Re. books, there’s a short book on paedobaptism (pub. by Christian Focus, I think) called ‘Salvation’s Sign and Seal’. It’s years since I read it so I can’t remember how good it was, but if you can track it down it might be worth checking out and possibly passing on??

  6. glenscriv

    Thanks Steve, I also have had recommended a short book by Michael Green. I’ll see if that’s any good too. Good lead, much obliged

  7. Dan Hames

    Good little read (and dead easy) is ‘Children of the Promise’ by Randy Booth. Slightly tacky in the way it’s written at times, but very good for an introduction I think.

  8. Dan Howard

    Hi Glen, I’ve just stumbled across your blog via a circuitous route. Thanks for posting your ideas & the links on GAFCON. Regarding baptism books, have you got ‘Paedofaith’ by Rich Lusk (Athanasius Press)? Not that I’ve read it cover to cover mind you… Grace and peace to you and Emma. Dan.

  9. Glen

    A very happy stumble. Good to hear from you Dan. I’ll add Paedofaith to the list. God bless.

  10. Emma Bail

    Very happy to found this post.Baptism is really an important step in the life of every follower.This shows the specific meaning and way to the life.It is the step where we can see our self as a brand new human being and person.This gives the strong feeling that we dedicate our self to the God and want to stay under His Blessings Forever.http://www.crosspointechurch.tv/baptism.html

    God Bless,
    Emma

  11. Dave Williams

    Glenn,

    Here I am writing from a believers’ baptism perspective.

    1. The book I got when I wanted to read the other side was Strawbridge, The Case for covenantal infant baptism

    2. If memory serves me correctly Martin Salter looked at the question of baptism for an MTH dissertation. May be worth contacting him

    Personal take – it comes down to where the continuity and discontinuity re covenants is. I believe the primary move made by Paul is to emphasise inner circumcision over external circumcision therefore, I don’t think that the circumcision link is the right one. I think that’s where we get muddled.

    I don’t think Colossians 2 is making the link, rather you have got two vivid and vital metaphors – one by way of contrast, not outer but inner circumcision, the one by way of likeness – baptism = burial and resurrection in Christ – there’s a death/new identity imagery.

    The question then is given the close link between the outward symbol and all it represents whether you baptise prior to belief in hope that the person will, or do you baptise (as close as possible to) with the inner belief to express what has happened.

    Finally, I think there’s an issue – more so when you push towards FV extreme where the verse about the promise to you and your children is cut off to make it a physical line of descent promise which looks less plausible when you get the full quote “and to all who are far off.” When we take rich descriptions of the power of the Gospel and try to codify them into legalistic defences of our specific practices then we run into all sorts of problems.

    Might get round to a fuller write up on faithroots.net sometime

  12. Josh Ward

    Raiding the Lost Ark by Jonty Rhodes has a good bit on baptism.

    Also Heidelberg Catechism: Kevin deYoung’s book in that?

  13. Dave Williams

    Oh yes – one or two articles here, not on the paedo-baptism v credo baptism question per-se but from a believers’ baptism perspective on how baptism and membership function https://faithroots.net/tag/baptism/

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