Thursday, September 18, 2008

Baptism part 2

So, if, as Paul clearly teaches in Colossians 2, that we are circumcised thru being baptized, what do we know about circumcision. We need to go to Genesis 17 where God establishes His covenant through Abraham. God says He will make a covenant with Abraham and with His descendents after him, to be Abraham's God and the God of his offspring as well. Then God says that Abraham's part of the covenant is to believe God's promise and be circumcised AND to circumcise his male children 8 days old as well. Now, what is really amazing about this is that Paul, looking back to Gen 17 in Romans 4:11, says that circumcision was the sign and seal of the righteousness that comes by faith! One of the points the Baptistic tradition makes is that baptism is an outward sign of an inward faith...that is CLOSE to what I would say...but to put it a little differently, baptism is a sign of the gift of righteousness that is given to those who don't hope in their own righteousness but receive an alien righteousness from Christ that is by faith. What's interesting about all this is that God says this sign of the righteousness that comes by faith is to be applied to 8 day old male infants who couldn't possibly have the faith that brings them the alien righteousness that comes by faith!! And when we DO come to the New Testament, we need to realize that the early church was Jewish and came to the New Testament with a Jewish understanding flowing from the Old Testament Scriptures. So, in Acts 2:38-39, after his Pentecost sermon, Peter, when asked by the crowd what they should do, said "Repent and be baptized." And THEN he adds, "For the promise is for you AND YOUR CHILDREN..." There is only one way the listeners, which were ENTIRELY Jewish (Acts 2:5), would hear Peter's words. They'd say, "Well, yeah. That's how it has ALWAYS been! The covenant promises have ALWAYS been for us and for our children! God had always promised to be a God to us and to our children. And God has always given the sign of the righteousness that is by faith to not only believing adults, but to the children of believers as well. So, far, then, we have learned that circumcision and baptism are related to each other in the closest possible way...and that they both pointed to the same thing...the righteousness that comes by faith. And now we've learned that the SUBJECTS of circumcision were both believing made adults and the male children of believing parents. Now, in light of all this, the burden of proof concerning the baptism of children is not even on Presbyterians! The burden of proof is on the baptistic tradition that says, after over 2000 years of Old Testament church history, the children of believers are no longer included in the covenant community or heirs to the covenant promises. The problem for them is such proof does not exist and evidence that the continuity with the Old Testament doctrine of circumcision continues through baptism. If 1st century Jewish parents were to believe that only believers were to receive the sign and seal of the righteousness that comes by faith, there would have to be CLEAR EVIDENCE of that...and there is none. Just because the New Testament records baptisms of people who seem to be adults and come to faith and then get baptized, it doesn't mean children are NOT to be baptized. That is simply an argument from silence and is no argument at all. Let this percolate a bit, and I'll write some more later.

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