Saturday, April 24, 2010

Best of the week entry 2

The next entry is a pretty scholarly work by Martin Salter, writing for the journal Themlios. Encumbered with the lengthy title Does Baptism Replace Circumcision? An Examination of the Relationship between Circumcision and Baptism in Colossians 2:11–12, Mr. Salter puts together an excellent examination of this pivotal passage:

The thesis is that the paedobaptist understanding of Col 2:11–12 is illegitimate. First, we shall see that the verses are primarily polemical and thus require caution in drawing firm conclusions regarding sacramentology. Second, I will argue that there is a disjunction for Paul between physical and spiritual circumcision, and it is the latter to which Col 2:11 refers. Third, I shall demonstrate that ‘circumcision’ and baptism do not signify precisely the same realities in these verses. This issue is important and relevant for church practice. If baptism replaces circumcision and signifies the same realities, then as a covenant sign it ought to be administered to infants of covenant members. If, however, we can demonstrate that such a link does not exist, it calls into question practices based upon such a connection, to the extent that they rely on Col 2:11–12.

Simply a great and deeply academic study of the issue of infant baptism vis a vis Colossians 2: 11-12.

Frankly I have not seen this passage used all that much in defense of the paedo position. It strikes me as just the opposite; Paul is speaking of the contrast between circumcision done with hands and the circumcision of the heart. I don’t even see this passage speaking of water baptism at all but rather the act of regeneration. The very next passage speaks of those who were dead being made alive again, a reference that can only be speaking of regeneration: And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses (Col 2:13) . The only way I see it being applied to infant baptism is if you just assume that any time the word “baptism” appears in the New Testament it automatically is speaking of infant baptism.

Good stuff. Mr. Slater is a student at Oak Hill Theological College in London which means he is a pretty smart cookie. It is kind of heady but still accessible to someone without a doctoral degree and it demonstrates the kind of scholarly work that we still need in the church. Scholarly study has its place for certain but that place is not at the top of a hierarchy but in the role of serving the church. As I tweeted earlier yesterday, there is no place for ivory towers in a faith where God washed the feet of His disciples.

Bookmark and Share

No comments: