Monday, January 15, 2007

Tom Schreiner on Baptism

JT interviews Tom Schreiner


  1. The Reformed are inconsistent, however, in that they require adults who are baptized to be believers, while they baptize infants who are unbelievers.

    There is nothing inconsistent about giving the covenant sign to professed believers and their children. Furthermore, when baptizing children we are not saying they are unbelievers or believers. We are saying they are rightful covenant members and to be treated as such. But even the baptist model still baptizes “unbelievers”, because not everyone you baptize is a believer.

    I will list several negative consequences briefly. (1) Unregenerate people become members of the church, which violates the New Testament’s teaching that the church is to be made up of regenerate church members.

    Ummm, I guess all Baptists are regenerate, right? If not, then Baptists also have “unregenerate people become members of the church”. Furthermore, in a sense it is true that all members of the church are regenerate, but that is the invisible Chruch. On the other hand there is a sense in which members of the church are unregenerate and that is the visible church.

    (2) Church discipline becomes a problem, for how can a church discipline anyone when it has many unbelieving members?

    I don’t follow this argument at all. If they are members of the visible church then they maybe discipline. How would Baptists discipline unbelieving members. The problem here is that Baptist assumes every infant is unbelieving and every professing adult is a true believer. Scripture refutes both of those axioms.

    (3) The Reformed face a problem with the Lord’s Supper. Either they forbid the Lord’s Supper from those who are baptized (a foreign idea in the NT), or they allow infants to partake of the Lord’s Supper. In this latter case, some are taking of the Supper unworthily since they are unbelievers.

    I know Dr Schriener is summarizing here, but of course we would deny that every member of the covenant automatically is entitled to every sacrament of the covenant. This was true under the Old Covenant also. Infants did not eat roasted lamb, eat bitter herbs, and drink wine. Some meals were only eaten by Elders(i.e. Exodus 24).

    (4) The meaning of baptism differs from what we read in the NT, for in the NT those who are baptized enjoy the gift of the Spirit, have died and risen with Christ, and are clothed with Christ. None of these truths, however, are true of infants.

    This is a false statement and one wonders how Dr Schriener knows this is not true of infants and is he implying this is always true for adults?

  2. I can understand how Arminian/ Free Will Baptists would insist on "you have to be a believer already, and to have previously professed faith, to deserve baptism" (although I'm still not sure what they make of "Suffer the little children to come to me"). But I find it very hard to see how Reformed Baptists fit it into their theology. Having said that, both Jacobus Albus and Steve haYesh manage to hold to both eternal election and order-of-time credobaptism, so I suppose it's a difficulty more of logic than of practice.

    I would give more weight to the credo listing of "bad consequences" of the paedo stance if the credos took "believer's/ adult baptism" seriously: you'd have to be 24 or 25 (ie, fully mature). I don't see emotional 15-year-olds "making a decision for Christ" to please their parents or their church camp counsellor as that much more reliable an indicium of being truly saved than is having Christian parents who want their baby christened.