Sprinkling babies

Dan (my Presbyterian friend) and I have been recently discussing the issue of infant baptism and he has posted our arguments for and against it on his website. You can read them here:

Part 1 – Intro

Part 2 – Arguments for Infant Baptism

Part 3 – Arguments for Believer’s Baptism (or against Infant Baptism)

I’ll also let Mark Dever, a Baptist, weigh in on this discussion with his brief summary of five reasons against infant baptism:

1) Nobody disagrees with believer baptism. The debated point is infant baptism.
2) There are no clear examples in the New Testament of infant baptism.
3) There is no clear teaching on infant baptism in the New Testament.
4) The New Testament nowhere teaches a parallel of physical circumcision with physical baptism. In fact, Colossians 2 exactly parallels spiritual circumcision with physical baptism, that is, the circumcision of the heart with physical baptism. This would support the idea of baptizing only those who give evidence of being born again.
5) Historically, infant baptism is not in the New Testament, and it is not in the Didache, and early second-century manual of Christian worship. There is no certain record of it in the first century, or even in the second century. In the third century, there is certain record of infant baptism, but it is not the infant baptism which some of our Reformed Protestant friends teach. It is rather what the Roman Catholic church now teaches-that baptism actually effects our being born again, our regeneration, our salvation. The idea of infant baptism that some of our reformed Protestant friends teach, in fact, does not appear until after other Protestants in the 1520’s have re-introduced the practice of believer baptism. It is really Huldrich Zwingli who pioneers the idea of an infant baptism that is not salvific or regenerating.

(From A Display of God’s Glory 2nd ed., pg. 52)

3 thoughts on “Sprinkling babies

  1. dan March 24, 2006 / 7:58 am

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  2. dan March 24, 2006 / 8:23 am

    Geoff,1#, I agree2# and 3#, will not solve anything..this is what we are debating about.4# you and I discussed this already, so since your using Mark Dever, who usually right except on this topic…i quote his good friend, Ligon Duncan:“I think that many times, Reformed Baptists think that the Presbyterian argument from Colossians 2 verse 8-15 is that Paul is speaking of external water baptism and comparing it to external circumcision. And what they normally do is they say, “No, no, no you have missed Paul’s point. Paul is talking about spiritual circumcision being illustrated by water baptism. And you guys think that he is correlating physical circumcision with water baptism.” But the fact of the matter is, Paul is comparing spiritual circumcision and spiritual baptism. And the reason he can do that is because those two inner realities are correlated Old Covenant to New Covenant, and their external realities under both covenants also correlate. So Paul is speaking spiritually at that point consistently, but the external signs are outward signs of those inward spiritual realities. And that is clear, as we have said before in the Old Testament, even with circumcision. Moses could say in Deuteronomy 10, circumcise your hearts, not your foreskins. Moses knew that circumcision was more than a mere external reality. “5# This seems to be highly contested:See. http://www.issuesetc.org/resource/journals/kastens.htm


  3. Geoff March 24, 2006 / 8:54 am

    Hey Dan,I think Mark’s point in #2 and #3 is the word “clear”. You’re right though that this is a subjective word and can be debated.#4 “usually right except on this topic” =) The debate then is whether the baptism in vs. 12 is a physical or spiritual baptism.#5 I think the link proves what Mark was saying that only in the 3rd century are there clear examples of infant baptism. And look at those quotes, “Infants are to be baptized for the remission of sins.” “If you wish to be a Christian, do not believe, nor say, nor teach, that infants who die before baptism can obtain the remission of original sin.” Is this what you believe about infant baptism? Surely not! This is a Catholic view of infant baptism, not Reformed.


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