This paedo wonders about Peter and the Jewish convert

This paedo wonders about Peter and the Jewish convert

March 21, 2009 @

Dr. Clark has written a follow-up post on this subject: “Do Presbyterians Confess that Refusing to Baptize Infants is Sin?”

earlychurchbaptismReacting to a post by Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., Dr. Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary says that he is not offended by Dever’s assertion that the presbyterians’ practice of infant baptism is “a sinful (though sincere) error.”

Dr. Clark believes that the Westminster Confession of Faith 28:5 was referring to Baptists when it says,  “Although it be a great sin to contemn [despise] or neglect this ordinance…” Thus, paedobaptists also say that credobaptists sin (greatly, according to WCF) when they refuse to have their infant children baptized. It goes both ways.

In Dr. Clark’s post, you can also read a hypothetical conversation about circumcision between Abraham and a Gentile convert. In addition, I would postulate the following conversation between the apostle Peter and a Jewish convert, and its resulting epilogue, after his Pentecost preaching (portions adopted from Dr. Clark’s post):

Jewish convert: God has pricked my heart and I’m convinced that Jesus is the Messiah. I now believe that my good works avail nothing, and he died on the cross for my sins. I now repent of my sins and self-righeousness, and as a sign of this repentance, would you baptize me?

Peter: Yahweh bless you my son. He has given you the grace of trusting in Yahweh and in his promised Savior. I too believed that I was righteous because of my good works before God gave me faith in the coming Messiah and the sign and seal of his promise, the sign and seal of the covenant of grace. When Yahweh revealed himself to Abraham, he instituted the sign of circumcision to be applied to believers and to their children that they are now part of God’s covenant community. But in the new covenant that Jesus instituted, the bloody sign of circumcision has been replaced by an unbloody sign of water baptism. As a mercy, I will baptize you with the rest of your 3,000 brethren. Are you willing to wait?

Jewish Convert: Praise Yahweh for this blessing. When I get home, I’m going to tell my family about Jesus so they too would repent and believe and receive water baptism as a sign that they are now part of God’s new covenant community. Can I bring them back to you so they will also be baptized as you commanded?

Peter: Please bring only your wife and your teenage children.

Jewish Convert: I don’t understand. Aren’t you going to baptize all our children?

Peter: No, our Lord commanded us not to baptize infants and little children because only those who believe and repent of their sin should be baptized.

Jewish Convert: But… but… all my children were given the sign of circumcision because they belonged to Yahweh’s old covenant people. Why are they now being excluded in the new covenant? Didn’t you just preach that Yahweh started pouring out his Spirit on all flesh today, and that this promise is for me and for my children and even for Gentiles who are far off?

Peter: Sorry, but our Lord strongly forbade us from baptizing infants.

Jewish Convert: You mean to say that you’re willing to baptize Gentile people, but not our covenant children?

Peter: Yes. All who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of their sin receive eternal life and the sign of water baptism. Infants cannot profess faith and repentance. Sorry.

Jewish Convert: But our children received the sign of circumcision when they were only eight days old. They didn’t have to profess faith and repentance to be circumcised!

Peter: Sorry, I can’t do anything for your babies.

And the Jewish convert and all the other Jews started a riot in all Jerusalem. And word spread throughout Judea and the whole world that Peter and the other disciples of Jesus were teaching that their infant children were excluded from God’s covenant people. And the 3,000 Jewish converts renounced their faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

At least, paedobaptists like me do not claim that baptizing adult believers is a sin, because we also baptize all converts who have never been baptized. And we also recognize the validity of the baptism of those who have been baptized by Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, i.e., other evangelicals. On these two points, credobaptists would again say paedobaptists are sinning.

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