I’ve been thinking about baptism for the last little while. There’s no doubt that baptism is an important part of Christian life; that much cannot be debated. Unfortunately, just about every other thing about it IS. I grew up in a church where infants are baptised and never really questioned it. It was just what we did. It was all about raising children in the church family, I thought. As I got older and I started reading my Bible, I noticed fairly rapidly that (to quote Mark Driscoll) “There are as many infant baptisms in the Bible as there are unicorns”.
Conveniently, as I was thinking about this, I heard a number of sermons clarifying the church’s position on baptism. It was all about baptism being a continuation of the Abrahamic covenant, and of the sign of circumcision. I’ve heard this argument for infant baptism dozens of times now, but frankly, I just don’t see how it plays out. As far as I was aware, the Abrahamic covenant and the New covenant are not the same thing. The new has echoes of the old but is a covenant of faith and rebirth, not of lineage and physical grafting into the family of God by the symbol of circumcision. In other words, the covenant children of the Abrahamic covenant are his physical children, but the new covenant are Christ’s covenant children by faith.
Aside from all that, I simply don’t see any children being baptised anywhere in scripture. Paul talks about baptising the household of Stephanas (1 Cor. 1 v16, but later in the same letter states that the household of Stephanas were all converts and were engaged in Christian service (1 Cor 16 v 15), which is pretty difficult for a baby to achieve. Likewise, the Phillipian jailer. His family all believed and were baptised. Time and again we see “repent and be baptised” or “believe and be baptised” appearing in scripture, showing that one is a natural follow-on to the other.
I’m sorry, but I simply can’t see where the paedobaptists find their warrant to baptise infants, and that’s me speaking as someone who was indeed baptised as an infant. Does that mean I should be baptised again? I don’t think so, as regardless of the fact that I wasn’t aware of it, I have actually been through the physical process of baptism, as well as having undergone the essential heart-transformation that gives baptism its true meaning, even if they happened (as I would see it) in the wrong order.
I’m not stirring debate here, but I’d love to know where people stand on the issue and what their views are. If you think I’m wrong, fire at will! I’d love to hear your perspectives!
By the way, there ARE unicorns in the Bible, or at least there are if you’re reading the King James Version, but I still love Mark Driscoll’s quote.