Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

8 Aug 2022

Helpful Thoughts on Infant Baptism

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I recently came across a few interesting thoughts about infant baptism. The first is an excellent rejoinder by Jeff Straub to arguments that Baptist churches should allow those baptized as infants into membership. Some highlights:

“The debate over baptism has raged in the church for millennia for many reasons. All sides argue passionately for their view being the correct view and are quick to show why everyone else’s view is the wrong view. For example, R. Scott Clark argued recently that “the biblical evidence for immersion is rather thin.” Clark here is driven by his Presbyterian presuppositions rather than the text of Scripture. If it is the case that biblical evidence for immersion is “thin,” then it is certainly the case that biblical evidence for paedobaptism is non-existent…”

“When Baptists have been challenged over the years that their obedience to Christ on the matter of strict adherence to credo-immersion was unloving, they met this objection with the obvious assertion that Christ gave us baptism and he was the one who decided what was to be practiced. When he gave the command to baptize (Mt 28:19), he had something in mind, he meant something substantive by that command. Nowhere did Christ say, “do something, anything—sprinkle, pour, believers, infants, you decide what you want to do—and call that baptism.” What right does any follower of Christ have to ignore, change, or set aside a clear biblical teaching?”

Additionally, here are some excerpts from a sermon in which Spurgeon addressed arguments that Jesus’ rebuke “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not” supports infant baptism.

“THIS TEXT HAS NOT THE SHADOW OF THE SHADE OF THE GHOST OF A CONNECTION WITH BAPTISM. There is no line of connection so substantial as a spider’s web between this incident and baptism, or at least my imagination is not vivid enough to conceive one….

Moreover, and here is an argument which seems to me to have great force in it, when Jesus Christ rebuked his disciples, then was the time if ever in his life, to have openly spoken concerning infant baptism, godfathers and godmothers, and the whole affair. If he wished to rebuke his disciples most effectually, how could he have done it better than by saying, “Wherefore keep ye these children back? I have ordained that they shall be baptized; I have expressly commanded that they shall be regenerated and made members of my body in baptism; how dare you then, in opposition to my will, keep them back?” But no, dear friends, our Saviour never said a word about “the laver of regeneration,” or, “the quickening dew,” when he rebuked them—not a single sentence. Had he done so, the season would have been most appropriate if it had been his intention to teach the practice; in the whole of his life, there is no period in which a discourse upon infant regeneration in baptism could have been more appropriate than on this occasion, and yet not a single sentence about it comes from the Saviour’s lips.”

Finally, a humorous anecdote about an encounter Spurgeon had:

It is said that Mr. Spurgeon was, on one occasion, invited to debate the issue of infant baptism. His opponent suggested that they each, in turn, quote a verse supporting their own position. To this, Mr. Spurgeon agreed. His opponent stood first and quoted Matthew 19:14 — “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for such is the kingdom of heaven.” When his opponent sat down, Mr. Spurgeon rose and quoted his first text — Job 1:1 — “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job.”

“Mr. Spurgeon,” his opponent said, “I fail to see what your verse has to do with infant baptism.” To which Mr. Spurgeon replied, “So, too, I fail to see what your verse has to do with infant baptism.”

3 Responses

  1. David Diez

    Matt Waymeyer, the Academic Dean of The Expositors Seminary, has written an excellent and exegetical critique of infant baptism published by Kress Biblical Resources.