J I Packer on infant baptism…
I’m continuing my reading of ‘The Renewed Pastor‘ a book of essays by the great and good of modern evangelicalism. This weeks chapter was the great Packer’s essay on infant baptism, originally published in the Churchman. This is probably the clearest explanation of the biblical grounding of paedobaptism which I have read and deserves to be studied by all Christians. For this blog a lengthy quotation will suffice (pgs 149-151):
… the ground of the practice [of paedobaptism] is the fact that from the moment of birth these children share their parents’ covenant status. The covenant sign, therefore, has the same significance when administered to them as it has for adult converts: it does not create, but it confirms and attests a status and relationship which is already theirs on other grounds… The necessity of the practice derives from the fact that when God announced the covenant of grace to Abraham He commanded that all his male descendants, as members of the covenant, should be marked with the covenant sign in infancy and thus be formally admitted to junior membership of the church… the New Testament teaches that the covenant sign has since been altered, the sphere of the covenant extended to cover the whole Gentile world and the blessings of the church on earth increased; but it nowhere suggests that God has changed the rule which He originally laid down concerning infant church membership… The proof-text for the baptism of Christians’ children is thus Genesis 17:10: ‘This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised.’ Since God spoke these words to Abraham, baptism has replaced circumcision as the covenant sign and the distinction between male and female has ceased to be relevant to the possession and sealing of covenant status, the command therefore to the Christian church now reads: ‘Every infant among you shall be baptised.’ Infant baptism is thus the will of God. It is not merely legitimate; it is obligatory. Christians’ children are to be enrolled as junior church members by means of the regular ceremony of admission. There is nothing in the Bible more certain than this.
If you’d like to read more then you can buy the the book here!