Here's a response I want to make to an article at FIDE-O. Since the guys there are apt to determine which comments are worthwhile and which are not, and because of the insufferable blind spots that naturally come from being American Dispensational Baptists, I'll post it here instead.
It took me a while, but I think Baptizing kids is biblical. I'll be presenting some pretty dense arguments that have been shrunk down, which means that there will be a lot of assumptions.
First, we need to remember that God's people have always been on earth. The church started when Adam and Eve were around. Before Christ, though, God's people were pretty much confined to the political and cultural entity known as Israel. God's people since the fall have all had their sins forgiven through Christ, with the only difference being that those before Christ placed their faith in God's promises, while those after Christ placed their faith in Christ's death and resurrection. In other words, "Christians" existed long before Christ in a theological sense (they were God's people and placed their trust in God's promises), but obviously not in a literalistic sense (calling them "Christians" would be anachronistic).
The problem with Israel was that while those who were "true followers" or "true believers" or "Christians who didn't know it" could only be found within the political and cultural entity of the nation of Israel, there were many examples of Israelites who were not true believers. Korah, for example, was obviously an Israelite (he was a Levite) but his actions in opposing Moses earned him instant supernatural burial. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the history of Israel and (later) Judah know that there were many Israelites who were not true followers of God.
So we have the "visible" people of God obviously being the nation of Israel, and within that visible people of God is the invisible people of God - the "true believers" if you will.
After Christ came, a new visible people of God was instituted and the old one dispensed with. All true believers within the old people of God recognised Jesus as Messiah and became Christians. What is the visible people of God after Christ? It is the Church.
And just like Israel, the "true believers" exist within the church, while the church itself has many unbelievers present.
The Old Testament people of God had two important ceremonies that helped define them as a people. The first was circumcision, whereby a male child soon after birth was circumcised on the eighth day. This was a once-off ceremony that occurred early on in the life of the person, who had Israelites as parents. The second ceremony was the passover festival. Celebrated regularly, the festival involved the ingesting of food that helped represent God's act of salvation by rescuing them from captivity in Israel.
It is obvious that the Passover festival is mirrored in the celebration of the Lord's Supper in the New Testament people of God. The church, meeting together in the name of Christ, ingests food that helps remind them of how Christ's death on the cross saved them from their slavery to sin.
In the same way, Circumcision is mirrored in baptism. Circumcision and baptism are explicitly linked in Colossians 2.11-12. Like Circumcision, baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime event that occurs in the life of the Christian.
But remember that, just as circumcision and the passover were external signs for the Old Testament people of God, so are Baptism and the Lord's Supper today - they are the signs of the external people of God.
In practice this means that the children of believers should be baptised since they are already part of God's external people of God. If a person is an unbaptised unbeliever who is then converted, then they should be baptised. But if a person has been baptised as a child, and who then comes to faith later in life, then their baptism is perfectly valid (this is my own personal experience - I was baptised as a baby but became a Christian when I was 13).
The big argument that Baptists promote is the idea that, in the New Testament, only believers are baptised. When Baptism and Circumcision are understood side by side, though, it means that, in addition to "believer's baptism", the baptism of the children of believers is perfectly biblical.
The fact that the children may end up rejecting Christ is no evidence at all that pedo-baptism is wrong. After all, Korah and his followers ended up rejecting God's servant, Moses, and were sent directly to the grave for their actions - and these people were circumcised as children.
So while the NT describes only the baptism of believers, it does not prescribe the baptism of believers only.
From the Theosalient Department
© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
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