Thursday, February 5, 2015

Refuting a Case for Infant Baptism - Part I

In his video "From Credobaptist to Paedobaptist: A Case for Infant Baptism" dated January 24, 2015, Paul Flynn of Megiddo Radio announced that he was leaving Arann Reformed Baptist Church to attend Loughbrickland Reformed Presbyterian Church.  I was greatly saddened by this announcement.  It's difficult to find Reformed Baptist resources in general, and almost impossible to find Reformed Baptist resources that use the King James Bible in particular.  I still consider Paul Flynn a brother in Christ, but since his views of Covenant theology no longer align with Reformed Baptist beliefs, I can not use his videos and podcasts for serious study.  Of course, all things should be filtered through the Word of God, but there are ministries that I trust for sound, biblical teaching which is where I spend the majority of my time.  Unfortunately, Megiddo Radio is not one of those ministries anymore.  I had noticed Mr. Flynn's use of Presbyterian terminology in a previous video--his comments now make more sense.

Mr. Flynn starts out his apology for infant baptism by stating that there is one church and two Israels (Rom. 9:6).  One is the visible Israel made up of professing believers and the other is the Israel of God, the truly regenerate Israel.  The visible church is the outward form and the invisible church is God's elect.  He states that we don't know--in any church--who is regenerate.  We [the church] baptize adults based upon a profession of faith, but we don't know [if they are truly regenerate].  The same goes for infant baptism.  He reminds us that God can regenerate whomever He wants to; the issue of infant baptism is not regeneration or unregeneration, but how the Bible treats children of believers.  Mr. Flynn continues with his argument that children of believers are set apart, holy to the Lord; which does not mean that they are regenerate.  At the 25-minute mark of his video, he states what he considers to be the biblical position of infant baptism: "You don't presume regeneration and you don't presume unregeneration; but what you do do is treat them the way the Bible says."

First, Mr. Flynn states that adults are baptized upon their profession of faith, but we don't really know if they are regenerated.  This is true.  No one can see the heart of someone else, so only God truly knows if a person is regenerate or not.  However, just because false professors are baptized does not mean that Christians should baptize their infants.  In the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13), the Bible tells us that people who receive the Word of God among stony places and thorns will endure for awhile, but eventually they will be offended or become unfruitful.  In Hebrews 6 we also see people who were once enlightened fall away never to be renewed again.  These people are false professors who were never regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit because the Apostle John tells us "[t]hey went out from us, but they were not of us," (1 John 2:19).  From the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith: "Temporary believers and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God and in a state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish," (Chap. 18, para. 1).  Therefore, the New Testament depicts false professors in the church and warns us of false teachers as well (Jude 4), but it does not command or illustrate infant baptism.

An explicit argument for believer's baptism is that the New Testament shows baptism following a profession of faith:
  • "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," (Acts 2:38).
  • "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women," (Acts 8:12).
  • "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him," (Acts 8:36-38).
His video was very long at one hour and 46 minutes.  I thought Mr. Flynn made the household baptism argument, but I don't have it marked in my notes, so I'm not sure if he did or not.  Nevertheless, some paedobapsits will say that even though believers are baptized in the New Testament (as seen above), households are also noted as being baptized which does not explicitly exclude infants (for example, with the conversion of Lydia in Acts 16).  Again, this is true.  But the context of Lydia's conversion (along with the other households) is that the individual believed and was baptized.  Others in the household were baptized, implying that they believed.  The fact that infants could have been baptized is an argument from silence.  I think a stronger argument from silence is Acts 15 and the Jerusalem council.  At that time, Judaizers were insisting that Gentile believers be circumcised; however, the council and the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28) determined that circumcision was not required of the new converts.  Luke, the author of the book of Acts, was not inspired by the Holy Spirit to link Old Testament circumcision with New Testament baptism, but circumcision was linked to the Mosaic Law in John 7:23 and Acts 15:5.  The connection between circumcision and the Mosaic Law explains why circumcision was not required of new converts because this law was fulfilled by Jesus Christ (Matt. 5:17).  This is also why infant baptism today is not a biblical concept.

Secondly, Mr. Flynn's statement that "infant baptism does not presume regeneration or unregeneration" is certainly not the biblical position because it denies the doctrine of the total depravity of man.  The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, which Mr. Flynn agrees with except for the doctrines on baptism and church government, states "They [our first parents] being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free," (Chap. 6, para. 3).  The biblical position is that unregeneration is presumed:   "There is none righteous, no, not one," (Rom. 3:10); "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," (Rom. 3:23).  Everyone born of natural generation has an inherent sin nature; and therefore, he is born in an unregenerated state.

In contrast, regeneration of an infant can never be presumed.  Believers are saved by grace through faith; it is a gift of God lest any may should boast (Eph. 2:8-9).  "Although the gospel be the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and is, as such, abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who are dead in trespasses may be born again, quickened or regenerated, there is moreover necessary an effectual insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul, for the producing in them a new spiritual life; without which no other means will effect their conversion unto God," (LBCF, Chap. 20, para. 4).

Finally, Mr. Flynn says that children are holy to the Lord.  He later cites 1 Cor. 7:14 written by the Apostle Paul (so I'm presuming he's referring to that verse here as well): "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now they are holy."  I completely agree with the Apostle Peter when he says that Paul's writings are difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16).  This verse is definitely one of those writings.  However, based on the whole counsel of God, we know that it does not say that a believing spouse saves the non-believing spouse, nor can the believing spouse save his children.  The believing spouse can be used as an instrument of God, but it is not a guarantee that the spouse will be converted.  This verse does not imply that marrying an unbeliever is a valid method for evangelism.  Otherwise, Paul would not have written 2 Cor. 6:14 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"  In addition, Paul was writing to the saints in the Corinthian church.  Therefore, the married believers he is addressing are probably new converts, so it is highly unlikely that the children mentioned were baptized as infants, yet Paul still describes them as holy and clean.  Just as an unbelieving spouse is not baptized because of the believing spouse, the unbelieving children are also not baptized because of the believing parent.  Baptism is based solely upon an individual's profession of faith, not their relationship to another believer.

Being part of a Christian home is a blessing from God.  Believing Christians should bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).  We should teach the Word of God to them (Deut. 6:7).  We are to love, exhort, comfort, and charge our children (Titus 2:4, 1 Thess. 2:11).  But there is no biblical command (Old Testament or New Testament) to baptize infants.  Reformed Baptists evangelize their children because we want to see them saved.  However, it's important to remember that the internal call of God cannot be forced by any work of man because the process of regeneration is the role of the Holy Spirit alone.  "Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ," (LBCF Chap. 10, para. 1).

"[W]hosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved," (Acts 2:21).  Once salvation has been wrought by God, then the individual can participate in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:26-29).

I'll continue my look at Mr. Flynn's infant baptism apology in my next post on this series.

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"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him," (Rom. 10:9-12).