Why Do Many Evangelicals Find It Difficult To Accept Infant Baptism?

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During my past 9 years of pastoral ministry the discussion with Evangelicals that has resulted in the most confusion, tension, and conflict is most definitely the dialog over infant baptism. Otherwise stated, in my humble opinion there is nothing more offensive to our Evangelical brothers and sisters (those who believe that it is only proper to baptize those who are able to make a profession of faith) than the Lutheran view of infant baptism.

Now, for you lifelong Lutherans you may find this hard to believe, how a precious gift from God can cause such strain, but it is true that it does. My wife and I have unfortunately lost friendships over ‘the infant baptism’ talk. Furthermore, at one point in time I too was very indifferent towards the sacraments and rather antagonistic towards those that boldly cherished them. But you may ask, “Why the offense? What could possibly be so threatening about sprinkling water on a cute and helpless baby?”

In a previous article on Steadfast Lutherans titled, There Are Two Perspectives On Delayed And Legalistic Baptisms, I covered the basic confusion over the sacraments between many Lutherans and what I will call ‘Credobaptist’ Evangelicals.  I stated,

Which way is the arrow aimed when it comes to the sacraments? What? In other words, are the sacraments something that we do toward God as a way of showing our obedience OR are the sacraments the way that God shows His commitment to us and gives grace to us? Are the sacraments things that we observe in response to hearing the Gospel (i.e. fruits of faith) OR are the sacraments ways that God responds to our sinfulness with the Gospel; are they a result of His compassion and pursuit of sinners? Do the sacraments belong in our discussions on man’s obedience OR do the sacraments belong in the discussion of God’s justifying grace? Who does the verb in the sacraments?”

While these confusions are very prevalent in conversations with Credobaptist Evangelicals and may cause conversational tension, there is something that is not mentioned in the previous paragraph, something that is much more offensive and something that repeatedly upsets the theology of Credobaptist Evangelicals. That something is infant baptism itself; it is the ‘infant’ part that causes tension. I believe that the reason for strain is due to infant baptism being the quintessential picture of divine monergism. Monergism, as you know, is completely contrary to any and all free will theologies, thus the reason why infant baptism is so difficult for many Credobaptist Evangelicals to accept.

The most common criticism that I have heard against infant baptism is that it doesn’t allow for the baby to make a ‘decision’ for Christ or a ‘profession of faith.’ (At this point we could devote our time to show how the tenets of the Enlightenment have tainted this view of faith, but that can be saved for another time.) Many will protest that it is unjust to baptize a baby before the child can profess faith in Jesus and/or make a decision, therefore, one must wait until the baby reaches an older age.

So, why would it be unjust to baptize a baby before they are able to make their decision? Generally speaking, it is unjust in credobaptist theology because infant baptism infringes upon, violates, and overthrows the doctrine of free will; it takes the child’s ‘choice’ in salvation away. To say that an baby is saved in infant baptism when no choice/decision/profession has been made comes across as extremely scandalous for theologies that embrace the doctrine of free will and it is very offensive towards the old Adam.  The old Adam in all of us can’t stand monergism and he especially can’t stand the sacrament of infant baptism. The reason why, in infant baptism the old Adam has no room to play and exercise his supposed free will, but can only drown.

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Advertently or inadvertently to guard the doctrine of free will, many Evangelical denominations and many Evangelical movements will postpone baptism until the child is able to make a choice. However, this rationale creates additional problems. How should one handle original sin and consider children when they sin between conception and their decision of faith? To counteract children’s sinful nature from conception until the time they make a decision of faith, an age of accountability status is developed, thus granting the child a period of grace. The age of accountability status embraces that children below a specific age who perish are not held responsible for their sins because they were incapable of understanding wrong from right and were unable to comprehend Jesus’ death on the cross. Furthermore, some Revivalistic and Pietistic traditions can also fall prey to this ideology. They will rightly baptize the child in the name of our Triune God, gifting the child faith and grace, but the baptism is only viewed as a grace that extends until the child can make a decision for Christ at a later point. At that point of decision, the decision then takes the place of the child’s baptism as the location of assurance. Both the Pietist’s view and the Evangelical’s view are ways that attempt to: protect free will theology and avoid the divine monergistic qualities of baptismal regeneration.

So is infant baptism really that radical? One needs to keep in mind that infant baptism is not some rogue theology that is inconsistent with the rest of the scriptures. Take for example the miracles of Jesus. Individuals were not ‘mostly’ blind, but powerlessly blind from birth (e.g., Matthew 9). Individuals were not ‘kind of’ paralytic, but hopelessly and entirely paralyzed (e.g., Matthew 9). Individuals were not ‘partly’ leprous, but helplessly full of leprosy (e.g., Matthew 8). Individuals were not ‘almost’ dead, but dead-dead (e.g., John 11). These individuals are just like an infant, helpless. Yet in these miracles we see the power of the Word, a performative speech from Jesus, that speaks these miracles into existence. Jesus proclaims, “Let it be done to you! Stand up and walk! Be Cleansed! Come out!” The individuals, like an infant, contributed nothing to their healing. Just as the world was spoke into existence in Genesis, Christ spoke these healing miracles into existence. Furthermore, God’s word still speaks faith into existence today (e.g., Romans 10:17).  The Word is performative; the Word works faith and this is even true with infants.

As Lutherans we believe, teach, and confess that infant baptism does not work regeneration apart from faith (e.g., Mark 16:15-16, Romans 4:20-25).  With that said, we also believe, teach, and confess that faith is not a product of the man’s intellect, or a result of mankind’s will, or conjured up by a person’s arousing feelings. Faith is a gift, a gift worked by the Holy Spirit through the Word (e.g., Romans 10:17, Ephesians 2:8). Thus, Luther rightly taught that the Word is in and with the water making baptism’s efficacy entirely dependent on the Gospel promises, promises that are connected with the water (e.g. 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38). Otherwise stated, because the Gospel is attached to baptism, baptism is an effective means through which the Holy Spirit works faith and gives grace to infants, apart from any works of righteousness that they do or may do (e.g., Titus 3:5).

As we converse with our dear Evangelical brothers and sisters on this subject, may we not forget that there is a silver lining.  As we discuss infant baptism and its ramifications on free will theology may we boldly confess,

I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want ‘free-will’ to be given to me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavor after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities, and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground and hold fast my ‘free-will’; because, even were there no dangers, adversities, or devils, I should still be forced to labor with no guarantee of success, and to beat my fists at the air. If I lived and worked to all eternity, my conscience would never reach comfortable certainty as to how much it must do to satisfy God. Whatever work I had done, there would still be a nagging doubt as to whether it pleased God, or whether He required something more. The experience of all who seek righteousness by works proves that; and I learned it well enough myself over a period of many years, to my own great hurt. But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him.” (Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will)

So why do many Evangelicals find it difficult to accept infant baptism?  It is difficult for many to accept because it is bad news for the old Adam and presents a difficulty for decision/free will theology.  In infant baptism faith cannot be misconstrued into an act of the free will—faith does not make baptism but receives its. With infant baptism salvation is most clearly seen as a gift of God descending to a helpless baby, rather than the old Adam using baptism as a token of his obedience.  Alas, it is now very understandable why conversations on this subject will result in confusion, tension, and unfortunate conflict.

Regardless of the possible blowback due to our Lutheran baptismal theology, may we graciously esteem our most excellent Baptism as our daily attire in which we walk constantly, that we may always be found in the faith, for infant baptism is not only the quintessential picture of divine monergism, but is divine monergism—rich life-giving water with the Word that works faith, delivers forgiveness of sins, rescues us from the jaws of death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation making us God’s own apart from any and all man-made contributions. In a very literally sense, via infant baptism, we do not wash ourselves but are washed by God.  Praise be to God!  May we and our Evangelical friends grow ever more appreciative of this great gift.

PAX

 

About Pastor Matt Richard

Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard is the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church of Gwinner, ND. He was previously a Senior Pastor in Sidney, Montana, an Associate Pastor of Spiritual Care and Youth Ministries in Williston, North Dakota, and an Associate Pastor of Children and Youth in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

He received his undergraduate degree from Minot State University, ND and his M.Div. from Lutheran Brethren Seminary, MN. His doctor of ministry thesis, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, was on exploring the journey of American Evangelicals into Confessional Lutheran thought.

Pastor Richard is married to Serenity and they have two children. He enjoys fishing, pheasant hunting, watching movies, blogging, golfing, spending time with his family and a good book with a warm latte!

To check out more articles by Pastor Matt you can visit his personal blog at:
www.pastormattrichard.com.


Comments

Why Do Many Evangelicals Find It Difficult To Accept Infant Baptism? — 89 Comments

  1. @Rev, Joseph Marhefka #50

    There is no such thing as a Lutheran baby dedication. You must mean a Lutheran infant baptism. Your niece is going to become a Christian by the power of God’s Word.

    Sending a gift is fine. I would suggest ordering some Childrens’ Bible books from Concordia Publishing House, a Lutheran publishing company for when your niece is a little older: http://www.cph.org

    Otherwise, a gift card to Babys-R-Us will be welcome, also.

  2. @gary #1

    Thank you for your help. Maybe the one reason I became confused is because of the announcement card reading ” The family of Gabriella Rae invite you to join us as we dedicate our little one to the Lord.” 9:15 a. m., Oct 6,2013, Mt. Calvary Luthern Church, Johnstown, PA

    Guess I use the words baby and infant together at times. Being a Hospital Chaplain now dealing with those ” Young at Heart” can cause an oops of wording.

    Thanks for your information.

  3. @Rev, Joseph Marhefka #2

    You are welcome!

    The wording in the baptism invitation is a little odd. It sounds more Presbyterian than Lutheran. In a Lutheran baptism, GOD dedicates himself to us (by saving us), not the other way around.

    God bless you, Pastor!

  4. This article could be alternatively titled, “Why Credobaptism Suggests Self-Proclaimed Monergists are Really Crypto-Free-Willers” or “How Monergists Who Hold to Credobaptism Undermine and Degrade Monergism.” Well done and insightful article!

  5. Baptism shows the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The infant, not being of age to make the choice to follow the Lord, is thus receiving by his parents a form of damnation, a watery version of what I call Molochism.

    When the Ethiopian eunuch spoke with Philip, seeing water, asking what hindered him to be baptized, Philip replied, “If thou believest, thou may.” The Ethiopian eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” then he was baptized. Thus, we have an ensample of how we should handle the issue of baptism: It is to be done willingly, by the person receiving the baptism, after having been saved. No other way is permitted in the scriptures. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of the Lord Jesus and his death and resurrection, for then the enemies of the Lord shall have cause to say that salvation only comes by force, not by choice.

  6. @Marshall Ramsey II #5
    Mr. Ramsey,
    I will put this as simply as I can. Baptism is God’s work, not man’s. God, the Holy Spirit creates faith in the infant because we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ. If you want to learn more about what Lutherans believe about infant baptism read Luther’s Small Catechism which is replete with Biblical references on baptism. Some Biblical examples are Matt.28:19 ‘all nations’ includes infants and Acts 2:38, 39 – ‘every one of you’ includes infants.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  7. Marshall,

    Can you show me where in the Bible the age of accountability is taught?

    I have never see it anywhere in the Bible. Instead the Bible says the exact opposite. In John 3 Nicodemus came to Jesus thinking that he was ready to make a decision for Christ and instead Jesus rebuked him saying that he must be born again. Nicodemus righlty exclaimed in horror – but I cannot be born again. Jesus said, essentially, you are right, this is of the Holy Spirit.

    And of course just two chapters earlier we read that salvation is not of the flesh or the will or of the will of a man (that would be your false beleiver’s baptism) but is of the will of God. God gives birth to us. We are dead in sin and are not able to give birth to ourselves. Of course, no one can ever give birth to himself either physically or spiritually.

    The Old Testatment tells us that salvation comes by circimcision on the eighth day of life. There is not age of accountability or decision of a believer.

    And there is Jesus telling the disciples in Matthew 28 to batpize all nations. He does not say baptize all nations but only those of the age of accountability.

    Then there is Peter in Acts chapter 2 saying that baptism forgives sins and that the promise is for you and for your children. Then there is Peter in his first letter saying these crucial four words “baptism now saves you.”

    I could go on and on. Let me conclude by telling you that your believer baptism and your age of accountability false theology is a product of the age of the enlightement when mankind somehow discovered after 5,000 years of existence its freedom. The age of the Enlightenment brought us many good things such as capitalism and democracy but its teaching on the freedom of man does not translate into Biblical theology. The Bible teaches that we are spiritually dead and so we need someone from the outside to save us and that someone is God the Holy Spirit who in the Old Testament did it through infants circumcised and in the New Covenant does it through the free gift of baptism. As Paul teaches in Titus 1, the waters of baptism with the word of God regenerate us. Baptism now saves us.

    Epilogue – Just so you know, the Bible also teaches that teh faith that Holy Spirit gives needs to be fed and nourished by hearing the Word and receiving the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communionfor the forgiveness of sins. The faith born in an infant will slowly die if it is not nourished which is why we have parents and sponors promise to get the word of God into the childs life as he grows. So, no, we do not think baptism is some sort of magic bullet. It is what the Bible says it is, a saving power of God that creates faith in those who recieve it.

    Again, would love to have you show me where in the Bible the age of accountability is taught.

  8. @gary #3
    You are welcome!
    The wording in the baptism invitation is a little odd. It sounds more Presbyterian than Lutheran. In a Lutheran baptism, GOD dedicates himself to us (by saving us), not the other way around.
    God bless you, Pastor!

    There are churches in Pennsylvania that were built long ago to accommodate two congregations, Lutheran and Reformed. As time went on, John Lutheran married Susie Reformed, and the doctrine became as mixed as the marriages. Add to it that the denominations are in pulpit and altar fellowship, which means that the congregation may call either a “lutheran” (elca) or reformed pastor.
    So just about anything may come out of Pennsylvania (and some other places).

  9. @Pastor Tim Rossow #7
    The age of the Enlightenment brought us many good things such as capitalism and democracy

    A thousand years before the 18th century “age of enlightenment” Viking sailors were electing their leaders (and demoting them when their leadership failed). Danes who settled permanently in England had a great deal of influence on the development of English democracy, going back to the Magna Carta at least, perhaps further. E.G.:

    http://www.aren.org/prison/documents/Asatru/democracy.pdf

    [Google Vikings or Norsemen and democracy for a number of articles along this line.]

    I wrote about this in college (i.e., before google) for a Norwegian history professor who was an Anglophile. (Having told him something he hadn’t considered, (and emphasized the Dane, when I was in a distinct minority) he didn’t exactly thank me.) 🙂

    P.S. I am not so sure that “capitalism” is an unalloyed “good thing” or that it didn’t go back further, too, but economics is not my hobby. 😉

  10. Helen,

    I could have been more clear. I was generalizing. A more nuanced way of saying would be that the humanism of the Enlightenment allowed democracy and capitalism to flourish like never before.

    Concerning capitalism, I am happy with whatever economic milieu God places me because my life is in Christ but given a choice of feudalism, communism, socialism or capitalism, I would choose capitalism hands down.

  11. @Pastor Tim Rossow #8

    The age of accountability is taught in Luke, chapter 2, when the Lord Jesus went into the temple at the age of 12. When Mary and Joseph looked for him after the feast of Passover, and they rebuked him for making them worry, he answered them by saying “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” This indicated that he was spiritually to stand on his own before God, thus the age where he was accountable for his own actions had been reached.

    Concerning salvation, truly it is not of the will of the flesh, but the will of God, as you have spoken. But you must remember that salvation is a choice. Remember the Ethiopian eunuch, how that he believed after hearing the word of God from Philip. He, being flesh, made a conscious choice to forsake the desires and the will of his flesh and chose to believe on the Lord Jesus.

    You said that salvation comes by circumcision on the eighth day. You by your own words have invalidated the cross of Christ and called God a liar. If salvation came by circumcision, then salvation would be of works, and thus of the law, and the scriptures plainly state that “by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

    When Peter said that we should be baptized in the name of Jesus he wasn’t talking about being baptized should be salvation, for that would be salvation by works, and you call the Holy Ghost a liar.

    As far as Jesus saying that we should baptize all nations, not just those of the age of accountability, what you are speaking of is forced conversion, which the Lord never permitted, for then you give the lies of the enemy of our souls credibility, saying Jesus will throw us into Hell if we don’t worship him. The scriptures plainly state that we, as fallen beings, are already going to Hell, but Jesus died to save us from our sins.

  12. Marshall,

    1. Your beliefs did not exist in the Early Church.
    2. Nothing even similar to your beliefs existed in the first approximately 800-1000 years of Christianity.
    3. No, the “Catholics” did not conspire to destroy all evidence of early Baptistic believers.
    4. There is zero evidence of this alleged “Great Catholic Baptistic-document Burning”.
    5. Not only is there zero evidence of your beliefs in the former Roman Empire which later was under the control of the “Catholics”. There is zero evidence in lands outside of Roman and Catholic control. Zero evidence in Ethiopia. Zero evidence in Persia. Zero evidence in India. There is zero evidence on PLANET EARTH that any Christian in the Early Church believed your beliefs.
    6. Your doctrine is a sixteenth/seventeenth century invention of western Europeans.
    7. The voice you hear in your “heart” that tells you that you are right…MAY be the Holy Spirit, but it also could be a demon, or Satan himself, or most likely…just YOU.
    8. Your Baptistic ancestors could get away with their ignorant, uneducated doctrines but in this modern age of the Information Age and the internet, you are without excuse.
    9. You are using the same argument that is used by the Mormon and JW cults: God has decided to reveal the truth only to us…every one else has been blinded by Satan.
    10. You are inches away from belonging to a cult. (Baptistic) Evangelicals have de-emphasized Baptism to the point it is barely an ordinance…it is an option, to be done when it fits your schedule, if at all.

  13. Marshall Ramsey II :
    The age of accountability is taught in Luke, chapter 2, when the Lord Jesus went into the temple at the age of 12. When Mary and Joseph looked for him after the feast of Passover, and they rebuked him for making them worry, he answered them by saying “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” This indicated that he was spiritually to stand on his own before God, thus the age where he was accountable for his own actions had been reached.

    If that is really the case, why doesn’t Holy Scripture say something to that effect somewhere?

    Marshall Ramsey II :
    Concerning salvation, truly it is not of the will of the flesh, but the will of God, as you have spoken. But you must remember that salvation is a choice.

    So which one of these two mutually exclusive possibilities is it? The will of God or the choice/will of the flesh?

    Marshall Ramsey II :
    He, being flesh, made a conscious choice to forsake the desires and the will of his flesh and chose to believe on the Lord Jesus.
    Well, if that is the case, that is what his own will and decision to come to the faith, as opposed to everybody else Holy Scripture talks about, who have come to the faith, and have done so by God’s will and decision – why doesn’t Holy Scripture say anything to that effect?

    Marshall Ramsey II :
    When Peter said that we should be baptized in the name of Jesus he wasn’t talking about being baptized should be salvation, for that would be salvation by works, and you call the Holy Ghost a liar.

    And I guess it would follow that when Peter writes: “Baptism now saves you” he does not mean that Baptism now saves – just as he, when he said ” be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”, that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins.

    Marshall Ramsey II :
    The scriptures plainly state that we, as fallen beings, are already going to Hell, but Jesus died to save us from our sins.

    But you have just stated that one is calling the Holy Ghost a liar if one says that we are saved by works – and, by doing so with specific reference to God’s work in Baptism, you have made clear that that includes the works of God. I don’t follow.
    So again, which one is it? Are we saved by the will and works of God or by the choice and decision of the flesh?

  14. Marshall,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I appreciate it.

    You say that the story of Jesus in the temple proves the age of accountability. You are wrong. First of all, Jesus is the son of God. What can his spiritual life say about ours? He is perfect and we are born in sin. Also, the story at the temple teaches that Jesus is the Son of God and the messiah. It does not say, does not even come close to saying that mankind is born neutral and at a certain age must make a decision for Christ.

    Cocnerning salvation being a choice you site the Ethiopian eunuch. What you are not getting is that the Gospel has already converted the eunich by the time he asks to be baptized. As we read in Romans 10:17, faith comes from hearing the word of Christ. Nowhere in the Bible does it teach anything about the need to make a decision for Christ. Besides, the question is not whether or not it is a choice but where the spiritual power to have faith comes from. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that faith is a gift. It is not our own doing.

    Concerning your response about circumcision, you are right. There is no salvation without faith. You mistakingly think that faith is our decision. Faith is not a decision. it is the gift of God. My point was that just as faith comes through baptism, so to it was present at circumcision because there is no salvation apart from faith and salvation comes through circumcision and through baptism therefore they bring faith.

    Concerning Acts 2, Peter clearly says repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. You deny that baptism can forgive sins but that is a clear teaching of Scripture.

    Your comments on Matthew 28 are unintelligible. I cannot respond.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I encourage you to set all your presuppositions aside and read the Bible and ask these questions: 1) are we dead in our sins and unable to make a decision for Christ, 2) how does God bring the forgiveness of sins to us, 3) does the Bible talk about a decision for Christ or God giving us rebirth himself apart from our will.

  15. Marshall Ramsey II :@Pastor Tim Rossow #8
    The age of accountability is taught in Luke, chapter 2, when the Lord Jesus went into the temple at the age of 12. When Mary and Joseph looked for him after the feast of Passover, and they rebuked him for making them worry, he answered them by saying “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” This indicated that he was spiritually to stand on his own before God, thus the age where he was accountable for his own actions had been reached.

    This is one of the most appalling examples of eisegesis that I’ve seen.

  16. @Gary #13
    9. You are using the same argument that is used by the Mormon and JW cults: God has decided to reveal the truth only to us…every one else has been blinded by Satan.

    Careful, Gary, Lutherans sometimes get tarred with that brush, too. 😉

    @Nicholas #16
    This is one of the most appalling examples of eisegesis that I’ve seen.

    But what does your comment add to Marshall’s enlightenment?

  17. @Nicholas #17

    Nicholas, could you explain to me what exegesis is? Whatever information I have gotten I have gotten straight from God. I ask God to give me wisdom as to where things are in the scriptures, if they are there. Every church I’ve ever went to did not so much as bring up these subjects, nor the history of the churches.

  18. @helen #17

    Yes, some extremist Lutherans may be guilty of that, but the LCMS has never said that “We are the only true Christians. Everyone else is going to hell.”

    Ask a fundamentalist Baptist if he thinks a Lutheran is a real Christian.

  19. @Marshall Ramsey II #18

    Marshall,

    Did you grow up alone on a deserted island with a Bible? If you had, you would not have read Acts 2:38 in which God says, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins” and come away believing that the “Catholics” had mistranslated that passage. That it really should say, “Repent and be baptized BECAUSE OF the forgiveness of sins.”

    Someone told you that. Someone taught you “the correct” interpretation of the Bible. God did NOT reveal this interpretation to you in your heart. YOUR “church fathers” taught you THEIR interpretation of the Bible.

    Since I grew up fundamentalist Baptist believing as you do, I can guess your next response: “God tells me in my heart that WE are right.”

    How do you know for sure that the voice you are listening to in your heart is God? It certainly could be God, but it could be a demon, or Satan himself, or more probably…YOU.

    The writings of the early Christians are not on the same level of authority as Scripture. Scripture is the FINAL authority. When one early “Church Father” denied the Godship of Christ, the rest of Christianity branded him as a heretic because his views contradicted Scripture. The Early Church Fathers are NOT infallible. But they are an excellent resource (authority) from which to understand how the Christians of the first three centuries understood the meaning of Scripture. Some of these men were disciples of the Apostles themselves, such as Polycarp.

    Point is, your doctrines cannot be found ANYWHERE in the early Church. So either God is a liar, he did not preserve his Church, or you Baptists/evangelicals have invented new doctrine. And new doctrine is always false doctrine.

  20. exegesis

    a critical interpretation or explication, especially of biblical and other religious texts. — exegetic, exegetical, adj.

  21. Definition of EISEGESIS

    : the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one’s own ideas — compare exegesis

  22. @Marshall Ramsey II #11
    Remember the Ethiopian eunuch, how that he believed after hearing the word of God from Philip. He, being flesh, made a conscious choice to forsake the desires and the will of his flesh and chose to believe on the Lord Jesus.

    But before this, God sent Philip to the Ethiopian, who had already provided himself (while in Jerusalem, we suppose; he may have been a proselyte in the Jewish faith) with a text which he did not understand. God chose the Ethiopian, the Holy Spirit created faith in his heart and he was baptized.
    The Ethiopian might have refused to believe what Philip said, even as you are refusing to believe the Scripture you are being quoted here, but he could not of his own volition come to faith w/o the Word.

  23. @helen #24

    Rev 22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

    Mt 8:34 “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

    You speak the truth in part, Helen. It is God who calls us, it is God who gives us to the Lord Jesus, it is God who gives us each a measure of faith. In all of this you have spoken truly. However, what you have not spoken truly in is that in no wise does the LORD God ever force salvation on us. We must choose to accept the free gift of salvation that the Lord Jesus provides. Otherwise, we reject it by default. Baptism is not the point at which faith is imparted to a person. Baptism is something that is done with the faith that is already present in the believer.

  24. @gary #21

    Gary, you say the voice I heard “certainly could be God.” If the voice that I heard is God, why then do you not believe me? Why do you speak with the tongue of the devil and cast double-mindedness my way?

    Have you yourself read of the works of the early church fathers? You say that the early church fathers are not infallible. Does that mean that you think Martin Luther is?

    In a way, I did grow up on a deserted island with nothing but the scriptures. That island is called the churches in America. This island resides in the ocean of this world, corrupting themselves, whoring themselves out for a little bit more money in the offering plate.

    I have family that took me to church when I was a boy. When I became a man and started reading the scriptures for myself, I began to surpass them in wisdom and in faith concerning the things of the LORD. Now, they cannot bear to hear me speak because the Holy Ghost is upon me that strongly. This is not to say that they are not saved, but that the words I speak are like fire to them, and they be as stubble.

    You speak of eisegesis, perhaps you should hunt down all the Bible translators and tell them to quit printing so many versions of the scriptures that are designed to fit their own eisegesis, that is, they make the scriptures say what they want it to say.

    Truly, however, you are pricked in your heart at my words, knowing that I am speaking the truth. I nowhere made any mention of them of the Catholics. Oh, and by the way, that being baptized for the forgiveness of sins the Lutheran church so tightly clings to, that falls under what John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:8: “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” Baptism is a fruit of faith in Jesus Christ.

    Here ye the words of the Lord, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” The Lord Jesus testifies that baptism is not essential for salvation, neither can it save. He testifies that baptism is a fruit, something that is born of faith, not the imparting of it. If baptism is what is needed for faith and salvation, what then about the thief which died on the cross with the Lord? Think you that he was had faith in the Lord imparted through baptism? Perhaps you say that he was baptized through Moses when the Israelites crossed the Red sea? I tell you the truth, baptism means nothing in the day that a man sins, for “the soul that sinneth, it SHALL die” (Ezekiel 18:4).

  25. @Pastor Tim Rossow #16

    Truly the Lord was without sin. Otherwise, he could not pay the price of ours. What should be remembered is that Jesus did this to give us an example of what we should do. He was even baptized, though he had no need of it. Baptism, as I have said in a previous post, is a result of faith in Jesus Christ, fruits meet for repentance. Even though the Lord had not sin, he still showed us what we should do.

    I would respectfully disagree with you, however, in the notion that I have presuppositions regarding these matters. There is no man who has taught me in any of these these of which I speak, only the Lord. The churches I attended have failed in their jobs miserably.

  26. @Marshall Ramsey II #25

    You have “your” Bible verses. We have “ours”. The debate over the interpretation of Scripture will never end.

    Bottom line: you have been brainwashed, as I was as a fundamentalist Baptist, to ignore the glaring fact that your beliefs did not exist in the Church of the Apostles. It is an invention of sixteenth century western Europeans. God does not speak to Christians today in their hearts. The days of personal revelations are over. Joseph Smith listened to a voice, but it wasn’t God’s. I suggest you are making the same mistake.

    Your beliefs are invented, false doctrine.

  27. Marshall Ramsey II :@Pastor Tim Rossow #16
    I would respectfully disagree with you, however, in the notion that I have presuppositions regarding these matters. There is no man who has taught me in any of these these of which I speak, only the Lord.

    The man who denies having any traditions or presuppositions is blind to them.

    Marshall Ramsey II :@Pastor Tim Rossow #16
    The churches I attended have failed in their jobs miserably.

    True. Those churches taught you the unbiblical notion of an “age of accountability” and the view of Baptism as a symbolic public testimony. They taught you the restorationist “me and my Bible under a tree” ideology which has made you twice as much a son of hell as they were (Matthew 23:15). Just like the Mormons, you’ll consider any rebuke offered by us as a “strengthening of your testimony” in your own error.

    And no, Marshall, you have heard no words from God.

  28. Pastor Tinglund on another thread gives an excellent explanation of how God ‘speaks to Christian hearts’ today:

    “I do believe that very often preconceived notions can stand in the way of understanding something, even when the point should be absolutely clear, cognitively speaking. This can happen due to stubbornness or stupidity, or because it never occurs to a person that there could be more to this than what I already know, and the way I am used to think about things, or because it is so difficult to lay preconceived notions aside.

    And sometimes it will have to be the task of the Holy Spirit to open the minds of the stubborn by breaking down ungodly arrogance and setting in its stead faith and submission to God, and willingness to not only read and listen, but also pay attention and think about things.

    And sometimes it will be the task of the Holy Spirit to remind a Christian of the tremendous greatness of the glory and goodness of God in Christ, so that, in light of this, things actually make sense in a way they would not due to human nature.

    I think we have a good example of something similar to this in the Book of Acts, and how it seems to come to a surprise to the Apostles that Gentiles are to be included in the true Israel of God, and the Holy Spirit had to make that clear to them – even though Holy Scripture, cognitively speaking, had made that clear all along.”

  29. @John Rixe #32

    I agree with your statement, but must point out: we know that the personal revelations mentioned in Acts were from God because Scripture says so.

    How do we know that Joseph Smith’s personal revelation was from God? We can’t. We have to take Smith’s word for it to believe it.

    The same with Marshall. He may believe that it is God talking to him in his heart, but what proof does he have? None. So for us to believe that God tells Marshall the true interpretation of Scripture in his heart, we must rely on nothing but Marshall’s word. And what does Marshall rely on for his belief that God talks to him in his heart? His feelings! The Baptist/evangelical interpretation of Scripture is based on feelings, and nothing more.

    Sorry, not good enough for me.

  30. @Marshall Ramsey II #31

    I’m quite aware of my traditions and presuppositions. Like Gary, I was also once a Baptist who just assumed that there was such a thing as an “age of accountability”, that baptism was just symbolic, and that we “make a decision to follow Jesus.” My view of infant baptism was similar to the blasphemous claims that you have presented here.

    It took a long period of Scriptural and theological evaluation before I became a Lutheran. And it was a process of serious study, not direct enlightenment from the Holy Spirit (which He does not promise).

    You, however, have failed to seriously interact with the article and the relevant Scriptures. There is no separation between salvation and Holy Baptism in Acts 2:38 or 1 Peter 3:21-22.

    Your last comment shows that you have no intention for serious interaction here, which I already knew to be the case given that you claim direct revelation, refuse correction from the Scriptures, and refuse to acknowledge your own presuppositions

  31. @Andy #85
    Dear Andy,
    I myself think infant Baptism, Baptism itself, all tied into the Grace of God is one of the most important doctrines, dogma of the Church.
    I of late mention it a bunch, and promote a wonderful Dr. Art Just (Fort Wayne) led series from Lutheran Visuals, we are in the middle of it now.

  32. As an Anglican, I agree with much you say on infant baptism. However, I am taken back with the notion that monorgism is the reason for infant baptism. The Roman Catholics, E.O., Methodists, and many Anglicans are not exactly monogists yet are firmly committed to infant baptism and yet reformed Baptist who are hardcore monogist oppose it. The debates about freewill very rarely have to do with children, we chose for them until they choose for themselves in most aspects of life. I agree that faith is a gift of God but it is not exclusive of one’s will and some degree of cognitive understanding. The bible defines faith as “the substance of things hope for and evidence of things not seen” Heb.11:1. Clearly this infers or at least assumes a consensual and cognitive aspect connected with faith. I agree because of original sin that man is disabled in his will. But I also believe that through the prevenient grace of God is enables man to believe, and that such grace is given to all men. As an evangelical Anglican I believe that in Baptism an infant has salvation because of the faith of the parent working on the child’s behalf. A time will come when the child will have own his/her baptism by his/her own faith. Yes that involves a “decision”. Granted, faith itself is not a decision, but it is not exclusive of a decision. I don’t trust in Christ unless I choose to trust in Christ, the spirit does not force me to trust in him. The biblical truth that Christ held man accountable for their unbelief infers that man is responsible (response-Able) to believe or not to believe, clearly inferring a choice. Such choice is not Natural ability (original sin), itself a gift of God, that comes from his grace.

  33. I found this article very helpful. I’m trying to understand the Lutheran view on infant baptism. I have a friend who is a Lutheran Pastor and have not yet had the time to discuss it with him. I’m a follower of Christ who chooses not to claim allegiance to any denomination. I am an active member of a non-denominational church. If you had to label them, you could say they are an Evangelical Reformed Bible Church. I guess? I can tell you that our issues with infant baptism have nothing to do with free will. We believe that we have no power to choose or save ourselves. We know that our ability to believe, repent and be baptized is a gift from God. I know that experientially and biblically. I was 25 When that happened to me. I received the Holy Spirit (as I was baptized) and the Bible became a living book, instantly. I was set free from many sins. They all lost there attraction. I had been baptized as an infant at a Catholic Church. My parents were not believers. They were just members. There had been no heart transformation. My three other brothers were also baptized and confirmed. Our hearts were far from God even after being confirmed. They are still lost. I think my issue relates to our complete inability to save ourselves, but our ability to “get” our children saved by an act of baptism.

    “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭1:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    With older children and adults we believe they can’t do anything to save themselves. “Grace alone, faith alone…”. But children can be saved by an act
    If their parents. And God will impart saving faith through that? I sort of get what you say about this, but I don’t see it in scripture. This is such an important issue. It confuses me that the Bible doesn’t clearly and explicitly address it. I mean, who wouldn’t want the guarantee of salvation for their precious children? And if it’s a sure fire solution, why isn’t it advocated in the Bible?

    I’ve seen plenty of baptized infants (and later confirmed) grow up to be very ungodly people with no interest in following the Lord. They still don’t. Regardless, I appreciate your article’s clarity about your beliefs. I see why infant baptism is attractive to you.

    I was wondering if you’ve read RC Sproul’s belief about infant baptism. He has a very intelligent pro-predo view.

    I’m typing this on my cell phone so please excuse any
    Typos. Take care and God bless.

  34. The Devil is in the details and infant Baptisms have always been around in Ancient Europe after Constantine United the Holy Roman Empire—but even before Constantine in Jesus days. Mixed marriages are another Satanic hidden ideology by this powerful but small elite in government that pushes these things. And what I mean is the examples of a Lutheran marrying a Jew or Muslim. Or a Lutheran marrying a non believer or A Baptist. You will have a troubled married in those cases! Maybe even divorce! My Ancestors were all German and nearly all of them married another German who was Lutheran. I’m not joking. I have the genealogy tree. And for the few who did not they made the spouse agree to join the LCMS or WELS. In America, since shortly after the income tax and Disgusting Federal Reserve Bank act of 1913, along with the First World War ….One third of all Americans were German. Many were Lutherans or Roman Catholic and these two huge groups stayed together. Since that time the Evil 2 percent started pushing and got many bad bills passed in Congress along with the immigration of more Jews and Gypsies and other undesirables such as Asians who were into Buddha or Other silly but powerful cults who came here. The 1924 Coolidge Immigration act forbid most of these people I mentioned. But then the Devil never stops and along came FDR and all these bad laws and big banks and war–which was preplanned not by Germany but by the Communists in Russia and in the big Banks. Well we all know how that went as Germany was destroyed and Europe became the EU and paganism and Judaism prevailed—and then finally America falls into the same trap of deception and LBJ gets his 1965 immigration and civil rights act passed and now we’ve got Muslims and more Jews and every kind of migrant from every kind of Country in this nation and most of them were never Christian nor will they ever be Christian. That was the plan–destroy the heart of Christianity which was Germany and then later…America. Today we can’t hardly keep our own Lutheran flock believing correctly. If I remember history correctly the Anabaptists of Europe were shunned by the Lutherans and RCC. Luther had no use for them. They never had big leaders but just kind of interpreted scripture themselves. Baptists to this day tend to do that—such as the new 1000 year reign or the Rapture or the 7 year tribulation. These people are all over the place. And of course they believe Israel and the Jews are Gods Chosen which has unfortunately played right into the hands of the Jews. The elect or chosen are the Christians! I believe it’s best to stay with your own kind in marriage meaning your Christian belief and your families and your other issues in common. It worked pretty well for my many Relatives. Very few divorces! So I see it as both a spiritual brainwashing and a deliberate political evil trying hard to destroy the true Church by implication that opposites attract??? Aye? We have all heard that right? And do we not hear that interracial marriage is good? It’s hard enough trying to be a good Christian Lutheran family with out all these other terrible bad laws and obstacles put in place by our government and by many of these radical TV churches, which really are not True churches at all but heretics. Jesus spoke of many false prophets to come as the end times approach. Thus we must be vigilant and cling tight to our faith! Our media and our government and many in America believe these crazy heretics on TV. So I put a lot of the blame there also.

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