Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Infant Baptism Through the Eyes of the Old Covenant

I was reading a debate thread online and the opening question was about why Catholics Baptize babies, even though babies cannot make a profession of faith. It was framed in terms of Baptism having a prerequisite of a profession of faith (no Scripture verse was provided that said a profession of faith is a prerequisite to Baptism...even though I know there ARE verses that show some people being Baptized after professing their faith). It went something like this: "How do infants know to ask God to be members of His Kingdom...?"

Paul, in his writings to Timothy, tells us that "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2Tim 3:16). He also tells us that "...the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities..." (Hb 10:1) and he makes an explicit connection for us between circumcision and Baptism in Col 2:11-12, "In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead."

So, I decided to reframe the topic and ask 3 questions. It went like this:


God said that entrance in to the Old Covenant was via circumcision. He also commanded that every infant be circumcised at 8 days old, after all the adult males were circumcized. He also said this applies not just to the Israelites, but to their servants/slaves, and their children as well(Gen 17:11-12). Then God said that if any one among them was NOT circumcized, he was to be cast out...he who has NOT been circumcized has broken the covenant (Gen 17:14).

So, my questions are:
1) How does a baby in those days know to ask God to be a member of His Kingdom...to enter into the covenant with God?
2) How come a baby, who was not able to request circumcision, was guilty of breaking the covenant due to a lck of circumcision?
3) [flip side of #2] How could a baby be brought into God's covenant through an act that the baby could not request, in a faith that the baby could not profess?

(Please support all assertions with Scriptural passages.)

Now, this isn't suppose to come off as some "ace in the hole" for Catholic theology. It turns out that no one answered any of the questions...except a few other Catholics who went on to further explain the Catholic position. But this IS a good example of how to reframe an argument. The original poster was right...babies do not, on their own initiative, make a verbal profession of faith to God and ask to be accepted into His Kingdom. But that's not really the issue here. The real question is, do they *need* to? Scripture doesn't say they do, and it even gives us very strong evidence that the parents can profess that faith on behalf of their children....in fact it requires such in the OT foreshadowing of the NT "good thing to come" (cf. Gn 17:11-12, 14, Hb 10:1, Col 2:11-12).  That's how it worked in the Old Covenant circumcision...and that's how it works with Infant Baptism...and it's in the Bible. 

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