Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Debate on Infant Baptism Part 1

At John MacArthur’s Shepard Conference, Nathan Busenitz categorizes 3 level of doctrine:

• Level 1: Doctrines necessary to recognize someone as a Christian, and in particular doctrines regarding the gospel and the person and nature of Christ. We cannot have unity with anyone who does not share these beliefs.
• Level 2: Doctrines important for the formation and operation of a church or seminary. There are issues which must be confirmed to be on staff or to be member in a church. These would include, for example, infant or adult baptism, the charismatic gifts, etc. These do not forbid us from having a person teaching or preaching on occasion.
• Level 3: Doctrines that we can disagree on but still have unity within a particular church. This could include dispensationalist eschatology, and so on. These are not issues that are unimportant, but are issues that do not mean a person cannot join a particular staff or church.*

* Take from Tim Challies’ blog at 001693.php.

Because the practice of infant baptism is a level 2 type of doctrine and therefore vital for the operations of the church, it’s important to see if the practice is biblically valid. In the coming days, I will post my reasons why I believe the church should practice infant baptism, and then I will post Geoff's, my good friend, case against infant baptism. But before doing so, I want to list some points of agreement involving the issue of infant baptism.

Points of Agreement:

1. Both believe that baptism does not provide or merit salvation for individuals. Salvation is found only by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

2. Both believe that there are both continuity and discontinuity between Abraham's covenant and the New Covenant of Christ

3. Both agree that God works through families in both covenants

4. Both agree that there is a difference between the visible and invisible church

5. Both agree that there is no explicit passage affirming or denying infant baptism.

6. Both agree that baptism symbolizes at least regeneration and membership to the visible church

7. Both believe that they have different presumptions that affect the way they interpret some passages.

8. Both believe that the practical problems of infant baptism and adult baptism does not validate or deny its practice, but both practices must be determined by the Bible.

Disclaimer: In our sections, we have presented "offensive" arguments for each of our perspective. We have tried to stay away from any "defensive" arguments against the other person's view, of which we think there are significant amounts. But that is a discussion for another place, another time.

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