More Questions and Answers Concerning Baptism
by Paul Hazelden


    Background

      A few years ago, I posted an article about the Biblical basis of baptism on this site. This is part of the continuing discussion.

       

  1. The Email Message
    1. Paul, the baptism of infants is scriptural and is recorded in early church history. Baptists have a false view of the subjects, meaning and mode of christian baptism. Please read Iranaeus who was born before the apostle John died, Justin Martyr (ad100), Origen (ad185), Cyprian (ad253), Augustine (ad354), Calvin, Luther, Edwards, Owen, Warfield etc etc for the truth of the matter. You would do well to remember that the vast majority of baptists are Arminians who preach another gospel.

       

  2. My Reply
    1. I am never sure quite what to do with responses like this. I want to be as gentle and gracious as possible with the people who email me like this, while doing my best to reach an agreement about the truth of God's word with them.

      I think the best approach in this case is simply to respond to each of the statements given above.

      Paul, the baptism of infants is scriptural and is recorded in early church history.

      Two points here. I agree that infant baptism is recorded in early church history, although the early references are mainly ambiguous. But, as I have said on numerous occasions, I am simply not interested in establishing what I should believe on the basis of what the church has taught and done. The church can help me understand and apply scriptural truth, but if you can't show me it is there in the Bible, I feel no obligation to believe it. Especially if the Bible teaches me the precise opposite!

      And, of course, the statement that "the baptism of infants is scriptural" is completely unsupported. In the light of all I have read and written about the subject, I am not likely to change my interpretation of all the passages of scripture I have studied and discussed simply because someone emails me to say I am wrong. If you think I am mistaken, then show me from scripture! That is all I ask.

      Baptists have a false view of the subjects, meaning and mode of christian baptism.

      Again, a clear statement of someone's belief, but totally unsupported by scripture.

      Please read Iranaeus who was born before the apostle John died, Justin Martyr (ad100), Origen (ad185), Cyprian (ad253), Augustine (ad354), Calvin, Luther, Edwards, Owen, Warfield etc etc for the truth of the matter.

      Actually, would it surprise you to know that I have read them? Although - to be honest - for most of them, I have not read their entire works.

      The fact that someone lived a long time ago does not prove that what they say is true! Paul seemed to spend quite a lot of his time countering false doctrines in the early church. A lot of what the early Christians wrote was very poor theology according to today's standards.

      I would be interested to know if my correspondant believes everything that all those writers wrote? If you look at their theology, there is quite a lot of disagreement between them. In fact, it is possible (I have not checked this!) that the only thing they agree upon is the practice of infant baptism. But if I am not being called upon to believe everything these people say, why am I being told to believe what they tell me about the practice of infant baptism?

      I completely fail to understand the argument, if there is one here. You put together a list of famous people who agree about one point, and tell me I ought to believe what they say about this one point. I can put together a list of famous people who agree about believers' baptism - is that an argument for believing in believers' baptism? I don't think so.

      You would do well to remember that the vast majority of baptists are Arminians who preach another gospel.

      This is a familiar line of argument, but one that has no effect on me at all.

      Firstly: no, I can't remember this, as I don't know if it is true. I have not counted them. I didn't know that anybody had. In my personal experience, most people who believed in believers' baptism have been Calvinists. Maybe my experience has been atypical.

      Secondly: perhaps I have not made this point clearly enough, but I don't think you can determine what is true or false by taking a vote. How many people believe a certain doctrine may be of interest to a sociologist or a historian, but not to a theologian seeking to arrive at the truth.

      And thirdly: this argument is so full of holes, I am astonished anyone still uses it. You are saying (if we ignore the question of the number of people involved) that you don't like one thing a person believes, so something else they believe must of course be wrong. Since most of these people also believe that Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, will you conclude that this doctrine is also untrue? I suspect not.

       

  3. Finally
    1. Luther famously held to the Bible as the sole authority for what we should believe, and several of the other people quoted would agree with him on this point - as do I. I suspect that Luther would be horrified to be used in this way.

      Luther wrote a great deal. Much of what I have read, I agree with, and even when I do not entirely agree, I benefit from his writings. But I am convinced that he is confused about baptism, as he is about several other topics. And, most of the time, I think it is clear where he is confused (and, often, why), and I have already responded to these points in my previous writings about baptism.

      Since I have not read everything Martin Luther wrote, I cannot attempt a complete reply. And, to be honest, it would not be a high priority for me. But if anyone can send me a particular passage he wrote, which you think will demonstrate from scripture why my understanding of the Bible is wrong, and which answers the problems I have identified with the paedobaptist understanding, then please let me have it. I promise to reply! In fact, such a passage written by anybody would be most welcome.

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