Thursday, January 15, 2015

Oikos [Household] Baptism

At each step in the developing revelation, God promises, “I shall be your God, and you shall be my people.” This theme resounds over and over until it reaches its climax in the person of Jesus Christ--”God with us” (Matt. 1:23). 
The contintinunity of God’s redemptive plan, from one administration of the covenant of grace to the next, is the predominant theme of the whole Bible. This is covenant theology. Any failure to grasp and appreciate the essential unity of God’s purpose leads to confusion and misunderstanding. God’s redemptive plan is both comprehensive--embracing every area of life--and unified in purpose. 
~Robert Booth, Children of the Promise, 45

The dispensational and baptistic view that God has turned his attention primarily to individual believers does not do justice to the scriptures. It fails to appreciate the spiritual and inward focus of the older covenants, as well as the external and corporate redemptive concerns of the new covenant. Individualistic thinking has clouded the ability of many Christians to think covenantally and corporately. Christians living in the twentieth-century America have been especially steeped in the idea of the rugged individual. Such a fucus, coupled with the deemphasis on the corporate elements of human life would have been foreign to the people of the Old and New Testaments. The new testament must be read against the backdrop of the Old Testament customs familiar to first century Palestinians. We may not read our individualistic American culture back into the first century. 

Commenting on the individualistic assumptions of Baptists, Vern S. Poythress writes, Jews of Jesus’ time, like some tribal societies today, had a high level of conviction of the cohesiveness of societal units like family, tribe, and becomes sociologically more intelligible if people operated in terms of family solidarity. 

If, as Baptists declare, baptism is for believers only, then rebaptisms would be routein whenever there is any question of genuineness of the origional profession. 
~Robert Booth, Children of the Promise, 90

Any attempt to deprive infants of the right of membership, is a virtual attempt to set aside the laws of God. 
~Robert Booth, Children of the Promise, 91

The New Testament church is a continuation of the Old Testament church. 
~Robert Booth, Children of the Promise, 80

There is but one church--one people of God--extending form the beginning to the end of time. Its members consist of believers and their households...If the Church is one under both despensations; if infants were members under the theocracy, then they are members of the church now, unless the contrary can be proved. 
Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:555  

There is no doubt if there be but one God, there is but one Church; if there be but one Christ, there is but one church, if there be but one cross, there is but one church; if there be but one Holy Ghost, there is but one Church. This is absolutely settled--there can be but one Church. 
A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology (1890 reprint, Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1990), 174

BBWarfield explained, Baptism, as circumcision, is a gift of God to His people, not of His people to God. 
The parallels between circumcision and baptism are undeniable. If the meaning of both signs are essentially the same, and God commanded infants to be circumcised under the old covenant, then it follows that, unless God expressly forbids infant inclusion in the new covenant, infants should be baptized...The old covenanat administrations are but the bud, and the new covenant administration is the full flowering of God’s promise. If infants were included when the promise was first made to Abraham, how can we believe, without an express command, that they are to be excluded when the promise has come to fruition? 
Murray, Christian Baptism, 52-3

May we justly conclude that the new covenant is less generous than the old, especially when we consider that baptism signifies the same covenant blessings as circumcision? 


Calvin said...

Acts 8:37 would contradict this. Baptism is available "if you believe with all your heart". This criteria would be very difficult for an infant to achieve.

Esther said...

The scripture also states, "If any would not work, neither should he eat." We must not indiscriminately force an application to infants that was spoken to men of a mature age.

Lanita said...

What we have come to understand about infant baptism is that it is a sign of the new covenant, like circumcision was for the old covenant. Only children of members (in our church) are baptized, showing that they are part of the covenant family, but obviously no guarantee that they are saved. Just like in the old covenant all the males were circumcised but not all were followers of God when they grew into adulthood.

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