A Paradigm Shift in Defense of Covenantal Baptism
Recently I have been asked as a Reformed Anti-Paedobaptist why I don’t think we should use Jeremiah 31 (the New Covenant) defensively for Covenantal Baptism and offensively, against Infant Baptism.
Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband to them, says Yahweh. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Yahweh; for they shall all know me, from their least to their greatest, says Yahweh: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
When studying Covenant Theology and Baptism the first thing I wanted to do was survey what we agreed with and distinguish straw men from actually points of disagreements. Then, I sought to discern the root of our dispute.
Points of Agreement In Practice:
- We both baptise adults upon a profession of their faith.
- We both baptise our children.
Points of Disagreement In Practice:
- Credobaptists require a confession of faith from their children before they baptise them.
- Paedobaptists do not require a confession of faith from their children before they baptise them.
- The Christological Hermeneutic
- An Eternal Decree
- The Covenant of Works (aka The First Covenant, The Covenant of Life)
- The Covenant of Grace (aka The Second Covenant, the New Covenant)
- Finally, we both agree that the New Covenant is not like the Old Covenant (Jeremiah 31). The Types have given way to the Antitype, the Promises have their fulfillment in Christ, the Shadows have given way to the Reality.
- We both agree on the Continuity of the Covenant of Grace, that the Church has existed since the first man was created in God’s image and that since the Fall salvation was by Grace Alone through Faith Alone in Christ Alone.
- I believe Credobaptists responding to Paedobaptists with Jeremiah 31 do so to stress the Discontinuity between the Covenants at the cost of losing their Continuity. This is fine for Dispensational or New Covenant Theology (NCT), but not for Covenantal Baptists.
- I believe Covenantal Credobaptists responding to Paedobaptists with Jeremiah 31 (for whatever reason) do so to stress the discontinuity of types and shadows between the covenants. I believe we have missed a step. I believe we need to find out what continuity Paedobaptists think they’re keeping and why.
The Root of Paedobaptism
I believe the root of paedobaptism is the Abrahamic Covenant. All proof texts for paedobaptism lead back to the Abrahamic Covenant. All arguments for paedobaptism originate here. Yet I have not been able to find anyone who can tell me why Abraham is the pattern, it’s an unquestioned assumpion.
If the response is, “Abraham is the Patten/Prototype.”, that contradicts the clear teaching of scripture that Adam and Eve in Eden are the Pattern/Prototype and is plainly contrary to Reformed Biblical Theology/Historia Salutis/Redemptive History. We need to be shown Why and How Abraham is the Pattern/Prototype.