The following is one of my many email letters written to a good friend named Tom from my home town of Stockton. We both attended the same junior college together and became friends. Over the years we challenged each others thinking on various Bible doctrines. Here is one on the controversial subject of baptism.
Friday October 13, 2000 11:38 PM
Sorry, I haven't had the time to respond to your questions regarding baptism. I've been very busy lately and wanted to address them in more than a few words.
Now, these are the typical questions that the Reformed Baptists think to shut up and seal in their favor the arguments against paedo-baptism.
First, I will ask you a question so that we may proceed to reason on solid and consistent grounds.
Perhaps you've spoken to Doug lately to one of your reformed and/or Arminian baptist friends.
As to why you are asking me these particular questions only you and God know but it would seem to me that you must have already come across the answers to these questions if you have been studying this matter out for no reasonable study would be without these inquiries.
My questions to you are:
First, Will nothing less than a clear and pronounced, "Thus saith the Lord" satisfy your quest for truth concerning the validity of infant baptism?
Secondly, will you admit that the church has, over the course of its history, accepted other evidence besides a clear and plain "Thus saith the Lord?" passage that is equally authoritative although perhaps not as compelling to substantiate its doctrinal beliefs? (and I'm not alluding to church tradition)
Thirdly, have you read William the Baptist yet or are you trying to circumvent your homework assignment I encouraged you to pursue?
Tom, there are no easy short cuts in coming to the truth.
I had to wrestle with these questions and now you want some easy
At one time in my life when I first heard that a friend of mine was studying this matter out (this was back around 1979) and I was attending a Reformed Baptist church, he said that the answer of whether infants should be baptized or not could be found in an understanding of the covenant. I sort of dismissed the idea of baptism being the N. T. equivalent of O. T. circumcision not knowing what he was talking about. Not entirely though. So I began to study and study and study,.
I simply believed like most baptists growing up in the church. They trust their pastor and Sunday school teachers but usually don't reach a complete epistemological self-consciousness, that is to say in Van Tillian terms, they know what they believe but don't know why they believe what they believe. They can't really defend everything they believe. No everybody can. Some can better than others but this should be the goal. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thess. 5:21
Well, I was troubled by this whole idea of infant baptism and in fact didn't really study the matter out until I heard Mr. Camping on Open Forum make a statement that I thought was totally off. I knew, having listened to Open Forum for several years beginning Dec 1976, that he knew the Bible well but on this doctrine I disagreed with him. Mr. Camping said that the children of Christian parents should be baptized if at least one of the parents (either mother or father) professed faith in Jesus Christ and he said the method of baptism didn't really matter. He also said immersion or pouring or sprinkling were all valid.
He's been right on most everything I've heard" I thought to myself, except this matter. He's wrong and has missed it. How did I know he was was wrong? Well, you see I was a baptist and I believed it and that settled it for me. Sound familiar?
So I started studying what the best theologians have had to say about this. I think my first choice might have been John Calvin. Next to the Bible that was a good place to begin since I saw nothing that even hinted at infant baptism in the Bible. "But maybe, I puzzled within myself, this is an obscure doctrine that merits further investigation and digging." Like a gold miner looking for buried treasure hidden beneath the surface of the earth so I would have to search beneath the surface of the scriptures to see once if there might be hidden truth not plainly revealed but rather concealed. So I read Calvin's treatment of the subject in his Institutes and found it very convincing.
He answered all the questions I put forth and then some. He reproved the Anabaptists in no uncertain terms.
Then I read William the Baptist by Pastor James Chaney. Again, a very convincing treatment of the subject and with prayer and continued Bible study comparing scripture with scripture I found what I believe to be the truth. I can't say everyone has gone to the trouble I have. But then again I'm certain others have gone to the trouble and still haven't reached the same conclusions I have which only goes to show that the answer to this doctrine is not an easy one to discover or there wouldn't be such wide disagreement among God's people. Although, historically, the puritans, pilgrims, Presbyterians, Methodists and Lutherans all believed in this doctrine as well as the Roman Catholics
except the latter taught it for erroneous reasons namely to expunge Adam's original sin.
Likewise the early church fathers taught this doctrine. Just like eschatology the pre, amil, or post are found in all denominations although most Calvinists are amillenial in their view of the nature of the kingdom and the return of Christ.
Well, write back with your answers and I'll proceed or at least attempt to give you my perspective. In the meantime I'll try to find some articles dealing with this subject that may be of help to you. Ultimately, however, you must search the scriptures and pray about this if you are really seeking the truth concerning infant baptism.
I can tell you this Tom. This matter is very important although not one of the essentials of salvation. Nevertheless, you have a quiver full of children that you must answer to God for in how you bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and how you view their relationship to God's covenant as it has been unfolded to us first in the Old Covenant and now in the New Covenant.
NOTE: There are to my knowledge only two types of theologies really. Dispensational theology which I repudiate and hope that you do as well and Covenant theology which administers the sacrament of baptism to believers AND their children. Reformed Baptists claim to believe in covenant theology but not in its entirety. They believe a sort of mongrel form because they don't fully teach what covenant theologians like Calvin, Luther and the Puritans taught.
The reasons why are for you to ponder and will be treated in another letter after you've answered my three questions. Fair enough? Okay, lets get to it.
In God's abounding grace,
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching.
See his videos on http://www.youtube.com Type LAStreetPreacher in the search bar. CONTACT at Carlton2061@gmail.
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