Sunday, February 15, 2015

Refuting a Case for Infant Baptism - Part II

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.  You can see my first post on his apology for infant baptism here.

As he continues his argument for infant baptism, Mr. Flynn looks at Galatians 3 (specifically verses 16, 27-29).  At around the 29 minute mark he says: "The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.  The Abrahamic Covenant, in some sense, has never been done away because it is called an everlasting covenant.  The Abrahamic, Noahic, and Davidic Covenants are everlasting.  In Heb. 8:9 the Mosaic Covenant is abrogated.  In the Old Testament the everlasting covenant was not done away with, just the administration of it."

In my first post, I showed that the New Testament links circumcision to the Mosaic Law in John 7:23 and Acts 15:5.  Since Mr. Flynn himself confirms that the Mosaic Covenant is abrogated in Heb. 8:9, circumcision as part of the Mosaic law is also abrogated.  In Acts 15 the Jerusalem council decided not to require new converts of Christianity to be circumcised because it was part of the law that they themselves could not keep.  Therefore, circumcision was done away with in the New Testament and should not be carried forward in infant baptism today.  I believe this is the crux of the argument against infant baptism which cannot be refuted with Scripture because there is no direct command to baptize infants (only those who believe) and there is no New Testament connection between circumcision and baptism; however, I will continue to address a few more comments made by Mr. Flynn.

In October of 2013, I posted an overview of Redemptive History here and started a series of posts regarding Baptist Covenant Theology here.  As a Reformed Baptist, I don't agree with Mr. Flynn's new alignment with Presbyterian Covenant Theology view, which holds to one covenant with two administrations; however, I'm not going to refute his position in this series since I have already written extensively on this subject.

I was surprised that Mr. Flynn makes a few disparaging remarks against Baptist Covenant Theology.  First, he says that the problem with the Baptists is that they work backwards from the New Testament to the Old Testament, but he believes that the correct approach is to start from the beginning like the Presbyterians.  Actually, the correct biblical approach is to view the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament because the Old Testament is about Jesus Christ and is given to believers as an example and shadow of things to come (1 Cor. 10:6; Col. 2:17; Heb. 4:11, 8:5, 10:1; and Jude 7); as a Reformed Baptist, this is how I read the Old Testament.  Those who work from the beginning without allowing the New Testament to interpret Old Testament types and shadows end up in Judaism, the Hebrew Roots Movement, or dare I say, Presbyterianism.  In addition, Mr. Flynn states that he finds Dispensationalism to be more consistent than Baptist Covenant Theology.  He acknowledges that this statement is inflammatory, but provides no proof on why he thinks it is true.  I have also studied Dispensationalism here, and you can see that consistency is not an accurate description of this view considering their dichotomous treatment of Jewish and Gentile believers.

Mr. Flynn continues his argument against Baptist Covenant Theology by stating that "the [Baptistic] ways of explaining it [the Abrahamic Covenant] is almost like there are two covenants: the physical covenant for land, seed, and promise and the other one [spiritual covenant] for salvation."  In his video Mr. Flynn did not seem to understand Baptist Covenant Theology, or at least he did not express himself well in this area.  Baptist Covenant Theology holds that there are two covenants: the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  The Abrahamic covenant is not seen as two separate covenants, but there are two aspects of this covenant: one temporal and one spiritual.  God promised Abraham land and descendants (Gen. 12:1-3, 17:4-8).  Physically, the nation of Israel is descended from Abraham, but spiritually he is the father of all believers (Rom. 4:16).  The Apostle Paul clearly makes the distinction between the physical and spiritual descendants of Abraham: "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.  For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed," (Rom. 9:6-8).  

Throughout his video, Mr. Flynn keeps stressing the everlasting nature of the Abrahamic Covenant found in Gen. 17:7, which is why he believes that the sign of the covenant in the Old Testament (circumcision) must translate into a sign of the covenant in the New Testament (infant baptism); one covenant, two administrations.  He appears not only to question the spiritual nature of the Abrahamic Covenant, but he also insists on the everlasting physical sign of it.  However, if the promise of physical descendants in the Abrahamic Covenant were still binding, then the nation of Israel should be an identifiable group of people with a lineage that can be traced back to Abraham and not just a political entity as it is today.  God gave Israel the Seed promised by sending forth His only begotten Son in the likeness of man to be a propitiation through faith in his blood (Rom. 3:25, Phil. 2:7).

Furthermore, God's land promise in the Abrahamic Covenant was temporally fulfilled in the Old Testament as clearly stated in Josh. 21:43-45, which says, "And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.  And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.  There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass."  Therefore, if the physical land promise of the Abrahamic Covenant were still binding, then the nation of Israel should be in possession of all the land in the Middle East as outlined in the book of Joshua.  God gave Israel the land He promised, but the spiritual promise of an everlasting land, the land of rest, the land of milk and honey is not here on earth; it is in heaven with Jesus Christ (John 14:2-4).  The Abrahamic Covenant is everlasting because it was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6, Rom. 16:26).

Now, let's look more closely at Gal. 3:16 which says, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."  The book of Galatians was given to help believers interpret Genesis 17.  In Galatians (as well as Genesis) the word 'seed' is singular.  The promise is not for 'seeds' plural.  Therefore, 'seed' is not alluding the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, nor Christian parents in the New Testament.  The Seed is Jesus Christ.  Again, we see that Christ took on Him the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:16).  He is the ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant because salvation is through Him alone.  The great promise given to Abraham in Gen. 12:1-3 was the preaching of the Gospel (Gal. 3:8), not circumcision.

Finally, in Galatians 4:22-26, we read of two covenants not through Abraham, but one through the bondmaid Hagar (the law, the Old Covenant) and the other through the freewoman Sarah (grace, the New Covenant).  You can see my post on Hagar and Sarah here.  The Apostle Paul is demonstrating that that which is born of the flesh (Hagar) is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit (Sarah) is spirit (John 3:6).  It's not about Abraham, or circumcision, or even baptism; it's about the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of Jesus Christ (John 16:13-14).

All types and shadows in the Old Testament ultimately point to Jesus Christ.  The Bible is about Him.  Those who are Christ's are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 4:29).  Ripping circumcision from the Old Testament and forceably grafting it into the New Testament as infant baptism moves the focus off of Jesus and onto man, or the infant in this case.

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

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"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God," (Rom. 2:28-29).