The Positive Case for Infant Baptism, Part One

To establish any theological position one must take the whole of Scripture into purview, not just the New Testament. Once this is done, I think it can easily be established that children of believers are included in covenant with God and ought to receive its sign. After this is established I will argue that the covenant sign in the new dispensation (or covenant) is baptism

To substantiate the claim that children of believers are included in covenant with God and ought to receive the sign, we can appeal to:

1. Genesis 17:7, where God says, "And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you."
Note: The Abrahamic covenant is some sense the normative covenant for all believers. Paul says (Gal.3:17), "And this I say, that the [Mosaic] law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the [Abrahamic] covenant that confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect." Earlier Paul says (Gal.3:9) that "those who are of faith are sons of Abraham." If the Abrahamic covenant is normative for believers today, then our children would be included in covenant just as his were (see also Romans 4).

2. Genesis 17:10-11, where God says, "This is my covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you."
Note: Here male children receive the covenant sign. Females were excluded in the old covenant from participation in the sign just as they were not required to attend the sacrificial feasts. There’s a broadening of privilege in the new covenant, such that women are entitled to things today they weren’t before.

3. Romans 4:11, where Pauls says, "And he [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe."
Note: Circumcision was a seal of the righteousness of faith. It was not something merely ethnic and outward; it was given to people who believed and to their children.

4. 1 Corinthians 7:14, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy."
Note: The sanctification of the unbelieving spouse is purposive. The unbelieving spouse, in other words, is sanctified in such a way that his unbelief does not jeopardise the holiness of his children. You can imagine that this was a troublesome issue for Christian parents married to unbelievers: "Are my children still considered covenant children if my spouse is an unbeliever?" Paul says, "Yes." The unbelieving spouse sanctified to such an extent that his rejection of God does not threaten the covenant status of your child. Thus the children of at least one believer are considered holy, set apart by covenant, whereas children of unbelievers are unclean.

5. Mark 10:13-15. Jesus receives infant children and blesses them, saying, "for of such is the kingdom of God."
Note: Baptists are fond of saying that the kingdom is for those of age and maturity who can repent and believe and not for children. Jesus here says the exact opposite. The kingdom of God is for children: they don’t need to become like us; we all need to become like them. The entrance of children into the kingdom is the norm (cf. Matt.18:3). I think we can safely assume that Jesus is talking here about covenant children. He would not bless non-covenant children or else he would contradict Paul who calls them unclean.

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