Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 9, 1961
NUMBER 43, PAGE 6,14b

Beyond The Horizons

Wm. E Wallace, P O Box 407 Poteau, Ok

On Infant Baptism

"Certainly the New Testament provides no positive or explicit evidence for infant baptism."

After making the revealing statement, J. S. Whale, in his book Victor and Victim, outlines argumentation on behalf of infant baptism. It seems incredible that the millions of believers in Christ who accept and endorse infant baptism would do so in the face of the fact that the "New Testament provides no positive or explicit evidence for infant baptism."

It is assumed that "this argument from silence could mean either that infant baptism did not then exist, or that it was so common as to be taken for granted." Whale lists three approaches to the subject in an attempt to justify the practice of infant baptism, in spite of the silence of the scriptures. His arguments are as follows:

(1) The New Testament recognizes the ancient idea of the solidarity of the family, and conceives of the family as being of such cohesion as to involve children of the family in the acts of the parents. Christian parents would want "baptismal assurance" that their children were included with them in the kingdom of God. "It is precisely this organic unity which is presupposed by what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:14 about a mixed marriage: one Christian party therein makes the other (heathen) partner "holy"; and the children of the union are "holy" from infancy for the same reason."

(2) There is an analogy between circumcision and infant baptism. "Paul explicitly states and interprets it in Col. 2:11f....Thus the close analogy between Jewish circumcision and Christian baptism is more than an analogy; there is an unbroken connection between them." As the circumcision was based on the faith of Abraham, infant baptism is based on the faith of others.

(3) While baptism "began unquestionably with adults" it was logically extended to infants as their "birthright in the covenant of grace."

For Roman Catholics to accept the practice of infant baptism based on the supposed authority of the church is not at all surprising. But for Protestants, who supposedly accept the Bible as the sole guide, to accept the practice is indeed amazing.

In disregard of learned comments by such eminent scholars as Karl Barth, Protestantism follows a practice which has no Bible precedent or authority. Barth wrote:

"Neither by exegesis nor from the nature of the case can it be established that the baptized person can be merely a passive instrument. Rather, it may be shown, by exegesis and from the nature of the case, that in this action the baptized is an active partner, and that at whatever stage of life he may be, plainly no infant can be such a person." — The Teaching of The Church Regarding Baptism

Taking up, first of all, the argument from the solidarity f the family, we note that Ezekiel 18:1-20 teaches that guilt is to be considered individually within the family rather than collectively. So, whatever may be said for the idea of solidarity in the family, it cannot remove personal agency, responsibility and individuality. The teaching of the passage is that a good father does not pile up "merit" for his son, and that neither son nor father will be responsible or the other's iniquity. "God's verdict on earth is personal and strictly according to his acts."

In the New Testament the same truth of personal responsibility is taught in the following passages: "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth." (Romans 14:4) "For every man shall bear his own burden." (Galatians 6:5) "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:12) Whatever may be said for the idea of the solidarity of the family, what the parents may do for the child does not relieve that individual from personal responsibility as he or she reaches the age of responsibility. And, inasmuch as examples of infant baptism are not found in the Bible, the argument based on family solidarity is one based on erroneous or unwarranted inference.

1 Corinthians 7:14 must be interpreted in view of all that is taught on personal responsibility. The unbelieving partner in marriage is saved from sins only when he or she does what the gospel demands of all who would be saved. God is no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34-35) The non-responsible child is safe (Matthew 18:1-6), until the age of responsibility or accountability is reached at which time the individual becomes a subject to the gospel of Christ. Note that the gospel is God's power to save believers. (Romans 1:16)

The Circumcision Analogy

As for the supposed analogy between baptism and circumcision, the Bible makes no such analogy as the one offered by Whale. An individual became a child of God in the Jewish commonwealth by virtue of physical birth. Circumcision was performed after one was already within the fold by virtue of physical birth. In New Testament baptism a person becomes a child of God. (Gal. 3:26-27) He is born again (John 3:3-5), and in this new birth he becomes a child of God. In the Old Testament commonwealth an individual became a child of God by physical birth, before circumcision; in the New Testament set-up he becomes a child of God in the new birth.

While the idea if circumcision is applied to what takes place inwardly in baptism (Colossians 2:11-12), there is no analogy between the subject of baptism and the subject of Jewish circumcision. In Jewish circumcision a fragment of flesh is removed, from the infant; in Christian "circumcision" sin is removed from the believer — the obedient believer. One is administered by hand, the other represents the act of God's forgiveness. The circumcision of the Jewish infant was a literal fleshly act, the circumcision of the believer in Christ is a spiritual act of God's grace. Jewish circumcision did not remove sin, it did not introduce the individual into God's family. The spiritual circumcision of the Christian is the result of his being born again. Circumcision under the Jewish law was a literal, fleshly act. Circumcision in the case of the Christian is a word used symbolically and spiritually for the removing of sin from the inward man.

Baptism is for the believer, in order to obtain the remission of sins. Circumcision was for the infant who could not believe and had no sin.

Once the idea of inherited sin or total depravity is shown to be an untrue doctrine, the attempts to draw an analogy between Jewish circumcision and New Testament baptism appear naive. The doctrine of inborn sin is another one of those things for which the "New Testament provides no positive or explicit evidence." It is derived from erroneous inferences, and this false doctrine is the cause of erroneous inferences regarding the analogy between Jewish circumcision and baptism.

Jewish circumcision was based on the faith of parents but Bible baptism must be based on the faith of the one to be baptized. (Mark 16:16, Matthew 28:18-20, Galatians 3:26-27)

As to the third argument, or rather assertion, the New Testament shows of no extension of baptism to infants "as their birthright in the covenant of grace." Infants are not subject to the covenant of grace simply because of their sinlessness and lack of need for the covenant of grace, as infants whose spirits come from the sinless Father of all. Judgment and justice are based upon responsibility. For what responsibility can an infant be held accountable?

The denominational system built on the ideas of total depravity and infant baptism rests on foundations of human tradition and unwarranted inferences.

If non-Catholic believers in Christ would reject all for which the New Testament provides no positive or explicit evidence" they would be in better position to oppose the monstrous system of Roman Catholic tradition.

In the "Great Carrollton Debate," J. R. Graves poses the following dilemma for defenders of infant baptism:

Christian Baptism is either a parental or a personal duty. If it is a parental duty, it is not obligatory upon the child should the parents neglect it, and therefore to be baptized is not the duty of any living unbaptized adult on this earth — which is absurd. If it is a personal duty then, it is not the duty of any parent or priest to baptize an infant without its volition, choice — and it certainly cannot be obligatory upon any infant, which is destructive of the entire theory of Infant Baptism.