Thank you to all who have been praying for us and concerned with our theological wrestling matches lately. Our study on baptism has led us to an even deeper study, going as deep as the New Covenant itself.
Below is a copy of an e-mail I sent to a brother recently which helps explain what is going on right now. I would appreciate interaction with this in the comments section, or over the phone or in person.
______________, that is basically how we were wrestling with it. Over the years I have come from being so dogmatically against it (even critiquing it on Gene Cook's radio show three years ago), to admitting that I don't have much left to refute it.
However, recently this study has led me even into a deeper study of the New Covenant itself. I am beginning to doubt even traditional covenant theology. I have thought that, perhaps paedobaptism is kind of like a "magic trick," in that, everything looks good on the surface, and it appears to have a strong case, but when the deeper questions are probed, the case does not appear as strong. Some of the questions include the following:
*Since female infants obviously did not receive the sign of the covenant in the OT, why do we assume that female infants should receive baptism?
*Baptism in the NT seems to be actually about union with Christ (Romans 6, 1 Co 12, Gal 3),
rather than about being brought into a covenant which has both blessings and curses. Furthermore, it speaks of those having received it as having "died unto sin," and having received the Spirit, and having been clothed with Christ. For that reason, there seems to be less of a connection between baptism and circumcision.
*Even if we do take the household principle, could it not be argued that this was common thinking because that was the way the culture of the day thought? Indeed, non-Jewish cultures, as Kline points out, had that principle as well, so it seems to have been merely a cultural thing. Perhaps this is why the Philippian jailer is told that he and his household will be saved, which would explain why we don't speak that way today. In fact, Jim was mentioning to me that in Leonard Verduin's book, he argues that this was tied to a view of the unity of the state and religion. America is the first country in all of history to finally separate church and state.
*How far do we go with the "unity of the covenant of grace" idea? How was the Noahic covenant part of the administration of it? Are we saying then that animals can be in the covenant of grace, since the Noahic covenant was made with all of creation?
*What about the covenant of works? It seems that Adam was created in perfect harmony with God. How do we know that if he would have obeyed, that he would have been "confirmed" in righteousness? How do we know, in fact, that it was even a probationary period to begin with? It seems that God would have just left the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there.
It seems to me that the glory and power of the New Covenant is much grander than traditional covenantal theology makes it out to be, with it flat-line carryover between the Old and New Covenants. This study has led me even deeper into a study of the New Covenant itself, and not just baptism.
Anyways, that's where I am right now. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts so we can sharpen one another as we both continue our pilgrimage here.