I’ve long desired to write about this subject matter. Mostly because I’ve been wrestling with this issue for several years now and I’ve finally come to an understanding of what I believe the Bible says about this and how we are to follow what God has said about this matter. Among those of us who are reformed in our faith there is much debate about this issue. Sadly there are some who are uncharitable about it. I believe that we should be charitable with those who believe differently than us unless of course they are teaching heresy and things clearly against Scripture. Then we should definitely speak out against such teaching.
The issue I am talking about is baptism. Baptism has long been an issue of discussion and debate among believing Christians and especially among the reformed camp; specifically those who are Baptists (credobaptists) and those who are Presbyterian (paedobaptists).
So this will be a multi post issue. I simply cannot cover all I want to discuss in just one post. I want to start talking about where I’ve come from and where I am now and will be for the future.
I was raised in a Southern Baptist church. And not a reformed Southern Baptist church. I was raised in an Arminian leaning, very dispensational time and by a father who is Arminian and very dispensational. So I grew up like almost all Baptists in the south. I’ve talked about my salvation in a former post and so won’t belabor that.
Being raised Baptist, I didn’t even know about any other forms or modes of baptism. Like literally did not know that other forms of baptism existed. All that changed when I actually came to Christ at 34 years of age. I was so hungry for the Word and learning that I just smashed all the reading I could. I read the Bible incessantly and studied it intensely. I didn’t just read the Bible devotionally, I studied it. I wanted to know theology, even though I didn’t really know what that word meant initially.
I also read church history and studied the opinions and writings of the church fathers as well as reading up on what other faiths believed and taught. I wanted to know my enemy. And make no mistake, friends; non-biblical Christianity is not Christianity and is the enemy of the Church. I studied Catholic doctrine (I lived in a heavily Catholic area at the time) also. All that to say, I studied and read as thoroughly as I knew how.
We moved to North Carolina in 2012 for me to attend seminary. Not being reformed at the time, I still didn’t know there was a debate about baptism going on. Then I started hanging out with seminary students and pastors and the subject began to come up regularly. So I started reading and studying again. People would ask me my stance on baptism and I’d chant, “Believers only baby.”
Mostly cause I was at a Baptist seminary and was raised that way.
But as I said I began to study and read to determine for myself what the Bible said about baptism so that I could have some sort of actual biblical position on it, rather than regurgitating what I’d always heard. I remember the first time I came to the texts in Acts telling about Gentiles coming to Christ and their “households” being baptized. I was like, ‘wait, what?!’ No one had every told me that text was in the Bible. I gotta be honest with you. When I read that, I was already pretty convinced. Never once did I ever think that household didn’t actually mean household. It boggles my mind that my Baptist friends, with a straight face, can say, “Yeah but that doesn’t mean children.” Um, okay…
Then I looked at the Greek in that text. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that household meant exactly what I thought it meant. It means household, as in everyone living in the household (maybe even slaves) of the new convert. I was like, ‘Hmm, nobody told me about people’s kids being baptized. What does that mean?’ So I started studying covenant theology like a madman.
I studied and prayed and studied and prayed. My wife probably got sick of me talking about it all the time. I struggled and wrestled with baptism for like three years. Like a legit three years. I just couldn’t let go of how I was raised and what I’d always been taught.
And then one day, it happened. It finally clicked for me when I read several texts in relation to the “old covenant” and its fulfillment. Then I read several texts relating to the covenant made with Abraham and I just sat there and said, “Well, there it is.”
From that moment on, I knew I had to stop pretending like I was a Baptist. Cause I just didn’t see it anymore; the whole “believers only baby” chant. It was abundantly clear to me in the Scriptures that God’s promises to His covenant people have always included their children. It also became abundantly clear that receiving the sign of the covenant did not mean that person was “saved”. (Truth be told, I think most Protestants’ view of baptism is closer to the Catholic view of baptism than a truly Protestant view.) In fact, not even Abraham was saved by the sign. He was saved by his faith. The sign was merely God’s stamp, if you will, claiming Abraham and his seed as His covenant people.
In that moment, I crossed over into happy paedobaptist land. And I have so much more peace now about the issue of baptism.
There will be much to follow about the issue of baptism but that’s it for now. I know all my Baptist family is shocked and appalled right now but I must stand on what I see plainly in Scripture.
I am a paedobaptist.