Much of me hesitates to even do this post. I do not wish to take part in logomachy, or disputes over mere words. To tell you the truth, I think that arguing over who is "Reformed" and who is not does nothing to help the advance toward unity of the faith. Therefore, my only point in doing this post is to simply get our paedobaptistic brothers and sisters to consider the validity of my points (or the non-validity).
The term "Reformed" is a loaded term. Just what does it mean? Baptists are not the first to be accused of not being truly "Reformed." Others who have been accused of not being "truly Reformed" include paedocommunionists, theonomists, and the like. However, Baptists are indeed part of the Reformation heritage, and most Reformed Baptists hold to covenant theology as well. So let us consider this.
AM I REFORMED?
Let us examine myself, to see whether I be part of the Reformed faith. (I know, this is rather goofy!) The following I believe and confess:
*I hold to covenant theology, with the covenants of redemption, works, and grace.
*I hold to the so-called "five points of Calvinism," or the doctrines of sovereign grace.
*I hold to the five "solas" (sola fide, solus Christus, sola Scriptura, sola gratia, and soli Deo gloria).
*I hang out in "Reformed" circles, use "Reformed" lingo, and I appreciate the use and legitimacy of confessions of faith.
More could be said about me being "truly Reformed," since I hold to the "Calvinist view" of the "Eucharist," or Lord's Table; since I prefer to use the term "sacrament" rather than "ordinance," and the list could go on.
I think that all of this is rather ridiculous and silly.
Why are we quibbling over who is "truly Reformed" and who is not? Since when did the label "Reformed" become important to the apostles?
So, it doesn't really bother me if my paedobaptistic brothers and sisters tell me, as I have so often heard, that "Reformed Baptist is an oxymoron!" I usually respond to that in one of two ways. I either say, "OK. That's fine." Or I have a little fun sometimes and take them to task.
When I take them to task, I try to do it respectfully and just for fun. So let the fun begin.
RESPONSES TO THE PAEDOBAPTIST "BAPTISTS CAN'T BE REFORMED" ARGUMENTS
"Baptists can't be Reformed!", cries the paedobaptist.
ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because they can't really hold to covenant theology without redefining it, since they cut the children out of the covenant.
RESPONSE: Paedobaptists "cut out" the unbelieving spouse, or other household members, of the covenant. They have a "dispensational hermeneutic" here.
ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because of the view they have of an independent church."
RESPONSE: The Savoy Declaration is the confession of the Congregationalist churches. These churches still practiced infant baptism, but believed in an independent and autonomous local church. Among them was none other than John Owen, perhaps the greatest theologian of the Puritans.
ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because they focus on the New Covenant not being like the Old Covenant."
RESPONSE: John Owen also believed that all of the Old Covenant had passed away. This is not something new, but this was a view which was held by some Puritans as well--even those who were paedobaptists, such as Owen.
ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because they don't see the sacraments as having saving efficacy."
RESPONSE: This may depend upon what kind of Reformed Baptist you encounter. But Keach's Catechism does use the language that the ordinances are "effectual unto salvation." Of course, not by any virtue in themselves, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. We do see God's ordinances as indispensable, and we especially think that those who neglect the Lord's Supper neglect their very own soul. It is indeed a means of grace.
ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because by cutting the children out of the covenant, they are being dispensational."
RESPONSE: Paedobaptists cut the other household members out of the covenant, so they are being dispensational.
ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because they have an aberrant view of covenant theology."
RESPONSE: This assertion has never been proven. Besides, there is no one strand of covenant theology. There are several strands, and Baptists are just another strand of it.
I would like to conclude with one other thing to consider.
INFANT BAPTISM UNDERMINES COVENANT THEOLOGY
I believe that only the Baptist view of the covenant even allows for covenant theology. When we consider the doctrine of covenant or federal or representative headship, namely, that Adam is the federal head of all unbelievers, and we are born and conceived with Adam as our federal head, we must ask our paedobaptist friends:
Who is the federal head of the "covenant child"?
I have seen paedobaptists admit that the "covenant child" still needs to be regenerated. (They must add a kind of confirmation before they are admitted to the Lord's Table, interestingly enough. William Einwechter calls infant baptism a half-sacrament, because baptism was designed to be the sacrament of faith.) However, I have never heard or read a paedobaptist admit that their "covenant child" was conceived under God's wrath. But how then would the analogy hold of them being called out of the Egypt of slavery to sin and into the promised land of faith? It would not hold.
So I believe that covenant theology is Scriptural. This is why I think that the ultimate danger of paedobaptism is that it undermines the fabric of the faith itself. Could this be why the New Perspective on Paul is becoming so popular in Reformed circles these days? I of course can't prove this, but I do think it is something to think about. Could infant baptism be the catalyst for all of this?
CONCLUSION: STRIVE TOWARD UNITY, DON'T QUIBBLE OVER WORDS
Again, I was reluctant to write this post. Since the term "Reformed" is such a loaded term anyways, I think we should be careful when and how we use it. To argue over who is "Reformed," I believe, is silly. It does nothing to help the advance of the faith. In the above post my point was not to argue that Baptists can be Reformed--because I don't care. My point was to give our paedobaptistic brothers and sisters something to consider. I believe it is uncharitable to fight over this.
Who cares who is Reformed or not? Let's dialogue about what the Bible says, and not about who is "Reformed" or not.
May God continue to be patient with us, and with our many shortcomings.