Paedo Inconsistencies

David Burchard Doctrine, Local Church Leave a Comment

While the baptism debate is not on the front burner for me at the moment, the differences between paedobaptists and credobaptists matter. Every once in a while, a Baptist brother mentions he is considering becoming paedobaptist. As it stands currently, common paedobaptist practice seems to help me in that conversation. “Mainstream” paedobaptist communities withhold two things that seem to undermine their position.

Paedobaptists believe that the children of believers are holy, consecrated unto God. I say yes and amen. The issue is what does that mean. Both they and I will make this assertion about the children of believers from 1 Corinthians 7. The children are consecrated. So, should we baptize them, apart from a confession of faith? The passage also says that the unbelieving spouse of a believer is consecrated. Should an unbelieving wife of a newly-converted husband be baptized? Even tougher, should the unbelieving husband of a newly-converted wife be baptized. I know of no paedobaptist church that baptizes unbelieving husbands. But doesn’t 1 Corinthians 7 make the same assertion about children as it does about spouses? It makes a household assertion. How does it not fundamentally undermine the argument that a child should be baptized because it is consecrated to not also say the same of the adult?

Paedobaptists believe that the children of believers are covenant children. I also believe this. But what does that belief mean we must do with baptism? Do we baptize confessors, regardless of age? Or do we baptize confessors and their children? Paedobaptists obviously assert the latter. If a covenant child, the child must receive the sign of entrance into the covenant. This makes a lot of sense on its face. Yet most paedobaptist communities withhold the Lord’s Supper from these very children until they become confessors. This is in spite of the fact that all those who were circumcised in the Old Testament were welcome to enjoy the Passover meal. This is in spite of the fact that the wine of the Lord’s Supper is called the new covenant in Christ’s blood. How does the withholding of communion not fundamentally deny the idea that status as a covenant child must be recognized by baptism?

Until mainstream paedobaptist practice unites baptism and communion, no longer holds them apart, are they not just making it easy on us baptists? Whenever an opponent in a debate has what appear to be glaring inconsistencies, I don’t feel so agitated as to need to change my mind.

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