Saturday, December 08, 2007

Covenant Children Today

There is a new book out from Reformed Baptist Academic Press, and it looks like a solid addition to the defense of credobaptism, baptism of believers alone, from a Reformed persepctive. The title is Covenant Children Today, written by Alan Conner. I am not familiar with Alan, but he seems very well versed in the topic and quite serious about his scholarship and exegesis. He was recently interviewed on The Narrow Mind with Gene Cook Jr., and the interview itself was quite informative without even reading the book.

Sometimes we avoid talking about baptism because it is such a divider among Reformed folks. Better perhaps to focus on the Five Points and let everything else slide. But there of course are a few problems with that. First, the fact that our paedobaptist brethren assume that Reformed Baptists are not "TR", Truly Reformed. Secondly, the doctrine of whether to baptize infants or just believers impacts the very nature of the visible church body, and as such is too important to let slide. Certainly we should embrace (and attend!) events like Together for the Gospel, where we focus on the big issues of our faith and celebrate our common roots in Christ, but that doesn't mean we should ignore

There is a great deal of sentimentality among the normally sober minded Reformed regarding infant baptism, and why not? They are our children, little lives in our care and who wants to think of them being not part of the elect of God? It is easy to assume that babies of believers are automatically believers. It is also wrong. It is, like Pastor Gene says, so very obvious in Scripture that baptism is, under the New Covenant administration, an ordinance reserved, just like the Lord’s Supper, strictly for believers. Not for infants who quite frankly we have no idea based on their parentage if they are elect. Merely having elect parents is no guarantee of being elect, any more than being the child of non-elect parents precludes an possibility of being elect.

The issue of who is to be baptized in the church is one that is decided not by skills of debate (Gene Cook lost handily to Paul Manata and James White beat down Bill Shisko, so that was a draw) but rather on the plain teaching of the Word of God. That Word demonstrates openly that only those who are believers in Christ should enter the waters of baptism. We are not saved by baptism, so we ought to reserve that ordinance of the church for those who have expressed faith in Him.

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