Thursday, March 09, 2006

Debate on Infant Baptism Part 2

Case for Infant Baptism

1. Throughout the Old Testament (OT), God made covenants (agreements) with families, as shown in the covenant with Abraham. (Genesis 17:9)
2. In the OT, every member, including infants received the covenant sign of membership (circumcision) (Genesis 17:10)
3. In the New Covenant of Christ (Luke 22:20), it appears that God continues to make this covenant with believers and their families.
4. Therefore every member should receive the New Covenant sign of baptism; include infants (Col. 2:12-13, Romans 4).

Arguments for Infant Baptism

1. In the OT, God's covenant with Abraham in which the New Covenant was build on and fulfilled (Gal. 3:16-17), includes promises made not only to Abraham but his descendants, including infants. In following the pattern of the covenant with Abraham, the New Covenant promises appears to be extended directly to believer's children in Acts 2:39

2. Throughout the OT, God's covenant always has a corporate aspect to it. (Covenant with Adam (1 Co. 15:22), Covenant with Noah (Gen. 9:15), Covenant with Abraham (Gen 17:9), Mosaic Covenant (Deu. 7:9) and Davidic Covenant (Psalm 89:3). (3)

3. Throughout the gospels, Jesus blesses children, embraces them, and states that they belong to the kingdom of God. (Matt 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; and Luke 18:15-17)

4. In 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul declares that believer's children are considered "holy", or set a part, even though only one parent is a believer.

5. In the 1st Century, I believe that the people, especially the Jewish people, would have been shocked to hear that when the head of the household came to faith in Christ and enter into the New Covenant, that the rest of the household was excluded. (5)

6. Throughout the N.T., there are passages stating that "households" were baptized, which give reasonable evidence that infants were baptized (Acts 11:14, 16:15, 33, 18:8, and 1 Corinthians1:16).

Personal Obstacles for Embracing Believer's Baptism

My largest obstacle in embracing infant baptism, is the argument that the New Covenant includes only regenerated people (true believers) (which Jeremiah 31 seem to indicate), therefore it would be inappropriate to baptized infants, who are not necessary regenerated. My answers to this argument are:

1. Jeremiah 31 deals with a future state of the New Covenant therefore it doesn't indicate that there can only be true believers in the covenant in the present. (4)

2. The apostate passages (John 15, Heb. 6, 10::29-30) appears to indicate that there are unbelievers in the New Covenant

3. In OT, believer's infant received the sign of the covenant even though they were not all regenerate (Rom. 4, Genesis 17:9)

Resources for Infant Baptism:

(1) John Murray’s book “Christian Baptism”

(2) Gregg Strawbridge’s article, “Covenantal Infant Baptism: An Outlined Defense” See:

(3) R. Scott Clark’s article, “A Contemporary Reformed Defense of Infant Baptism” See:

(4) Dr. Richard Pratt’s article, “Jeremiah 31: Infant Baptism in the New Covenant” See: TH.h.Pratt.New.Covenant.Baptism.html

(5) Vern Poythress’s article, “Linking Small Children with Infants in the Theology of Baptizing” See: 1997Linking.htm

1 comment:

R. Scott Clark said...

Thanks for this.

My site has moved to

The baptism essay is at:



R. Scott Clark, D.Phil
Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology
Westminster Seminary California