Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

December 12, 2005

I lied, a little. I have the time now to write mor…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 6:34 am

I lied,
a little. I have the time now to write more. But not much tonight. I want to tackle infant baptism again. The reason is that I have some grandchildren (half of them, to be exact) who haven’t been given the sign of the covenant, and I need to know if I should be bothered by it.

This verse bothers me: Genesis 17:14 “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.” You can go read the whole Gen 17 passage at length.

I have had two discussions on this topic with guys neither of whom believe that infant baptism is a scriptural practice. Neither discussion went well. It turns out that I am really lousy at theological ping-pong.

It’s way too late to get into it but brace yourself for the questions and issues.



  1. Just a thought…Fortunately, I don’t think our salvation is dependent upon baptism. The thief on the cross wasn’t baptized before he died but ended up in paradise anyway. Although I don’t think infant baptism is supported in scriptures, I don’t think it a problem if it’s done.

    Comment by out of thin air — December 12, 2005 @ 4:44 pm

  2. Thanks for the reminder about the thief on the cross. That event, however, transpired prior to the inauguration of the New Testament era. Therefore, he would have been under the OT economy. We don’t know whether or not he was circumcised. I suspect that he was however.

    It turns out that to do any analysis, a thorough understanding of OT circumcision is required.

    The whole task is to see if your statement, “I don’t think infant baptism is supported in scriptures” is actually correct. It is going to take me a lot of work. Mainly because I owe it to my own kids so that they can make a better informed decision. I am hoping for a little assistance here on this blog as I toss out ideas. One thing I am learning is not to expect to change anybody. Rather, what is more important is to force those in disagreement to formulate cogent arguments regarding their position. That way we all benefit.

    I think that one reason God has made it (many of His teachings) difficult is to force us into scripture, the effect of which is to make us see the glory and sovereignty of Christ more clearly. I hope that may occur.

    Comment by Bruce S — December 12, 2005 @ 5:55 pm

  3. At my church in CH, they baptize infants by immersion. 🙂

    Comment by LN — December 12, 2005 @ 8:47 pm

  4. Thank heaven for water-proof diapers.

    All we need is a ‘baptism-by-pouring’ reader to check in and we’ll be all set.

    Comment by Bruce S — December 12, 2005 @ 11:07 pm

  5. John the Baptist was baptizing before the new era. Jesus was baptized prior to the new era. So when does the concept of baptizing become relevant?

    Comment by out of thin air — December 12, 2005 @ 11:48 pm

  6. Right. I believe that John’s baptism was a ceremonial washing symbolizing repentance. It was what was done in Israel for many many years.

    Jesus’ baptism is a different animal, even though in Acts there is the ‘repent and be baptized’ command. Part of the whole discussion/analysis will undoubtedly uncover all of this.

    Trust me on the idea that I am in no way authoritative here. I need to move from spouting to digging. We’ll see where I end up. Hopefully I won’t run out of gas because this will be a lot of work.

    Comment by Bruce S — December 13, 2005 @ 12:06 am

  7. I am getting gunshy or maybe my memory is shot. Read Acts 19 and see it spelled out.

    Comment by Bruce S — December 13, 2005 @ 12:20 am

  8. Oh no – no waterproof diapers. They take the wriggling naked baby and do two dips and a dunk. (they usually scream bloody murder afterwards) Then they wrap the kid up in a towel, and the whole congregation sings a taize (? I think) song “There is one hope, one faith, one baptism, one God who is Father of all” over and over while they parade the baby around through the congregation, to meet their new family of faith. I’ve seen two baptisms here now and it’s very moving.

    Comment by LN — December 13, 2005 @ 3:05 am

  9. It’s funny that you have chosen this topic after your long hiatus. I’ve been reading about baptism in Calvin’s Institutes. He refers to the verse you quoted in this context:

    “Yet Scripture opens to us a still surer knowledge of the truth. Indeed, it is most evident that the covenant which the Lord once made with Abraham [Gen 17:14] is no less in force today for Christians than it was of old for the Jewish people, and that this word relates no less to Christians than it then related to the Jews.”

    Of course, this came after he had just demonstrated that baptism being the sign of the new covenant “has taken the place of circumcision to fulfill the same office among us.” So, you should probably be bothered.

    Calvin also disagrees with your comments about John’s baptism being different than new covenant baptism.

    Comment by mike s. — December 13, 2005 @ 3:41 am

  10. LN – I was angling for some clarification on their outfits for the dunking. Now I know.

    Mike – Calvin disagrees about John vs. New Covenant baptism? Inspite of Acts 19?

    Comment by Bruce S — December 13, 2005 @ 4:49 am

  11. I’m not worried; I believe you can be saved without being baptized, or having been “improperly” baptized.

    Westminster allows for two sacraments: baptism & lord’s supper. Do you have to have taken communion at least once to enter heaven?

    Comment by son1 — December 13, 2005 @ 3:57 pm

  12. I’m with son # 1. It’s not going through the ceremony, wonderful though that is, that saves a person. Baptism, whether infant or adult, coventantal or believer’s, is a sign or symbol of a reality, not the reality. The reality is the relationship we have with God. Do your children who have not had their infants baptised teach your grandchildren any less about God and help them into a loving relationship with him any less? (Even if the answer to that is yes, which I doubt, is that fact then related to not experiencing infant baptism?) Nontheless, the sign and seal, the ceremony is important. We did not have our kidlets baptised, but I refused to go through what I consider a substitute ceremony, that of dedicating them. Let’s not confuse the issue. It was going to be the real thing or not at all.

    Comment by Sister — December 13, 2005 @ 5:32 pm

  13. Calvin interprets the Acts 19 passage as the baptism of the Holy Spirit and not water baptism.

    Comment by mike s — December 14, 2005 @ 1:40 am

  14. Surely you must be joking Mr. Calvin. Do you buy that interpretation Mr. S.?

    Comment by Bruce S — December 14, 2005 @ 2:55 am

  15. I must say after reading Calvin and listening to Viggiano provide a concurring opinion on the matter that I am currently on the fence. I will refrain from a dogmatic position until time is available for further review and anaysis.

    Comment by mike s. — December 14, 2005 @ 3:06 am

  16. P.S. As in “the real thing” I don’t mean the real relationship but the “real sign or seal” not the substitute one. Sorry that my wording was vague. I’d have marked it had I found it on a student paper!

    Comment by Sister — December 14, 2005 @ 3:36 am

  17. I don’t know where to start except to say that we have 4 flavors of answers here. One Reformed guy who says you should be concerned, one Reformed guy who says don’t worry about it, one Reformed girl who is apparently a practicing baptist and a baptist who doesn’t allow a connection between the Gen. 17 passage and NT baptism at all. Then we have God almighty who sees the sign as so important that if you fail to give it to your child, his soul will be “cut off”. Didn’t Ab. take that literally?? What are we to do, those of us Reformed types. (I realize that Baptists don’t deal with it at all. But shouldn’t they? What do they claim is the sign of the Abrahamic covenant that they are commanded to give to their children if it is no longer circumcision? )

    On what grounds are we allowed to dismiss a literal reading?

    This is the sign we are talking about here not the thing signified by it.

    I think that below the surface, a real secondary (but no less important) topic is how you see and read scripture esp. as regarding the relationship of the covenants before and after the Christ event.

    I will jump out of the comment section and ask another question that will force some Reformed types to think hard about this.

    Comment by Bruce S — December 14, 2005 @ 4:25 am

  18. And I forgot we have a Baptist (possibly now Reformed??) who is moved by witnessing the Sacrament of Baptism as adminstered to infants.

    Comment by Bruce S — December 14, 2005 @ 4:33 am

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