Parallels between Circumcision and Baptism, Part Four

In this post I want to further my thesis that, in spite of some differences, there are substantial parallels between circumcision and baptism. In particular I want to draw attention to the similar relationship of sacrament to family in both old and new covenants.

Ordinarily Reformed theologians begin in this connection with the Abrahamic covenant as that covenant was inaugurated in Genesis 15 and 17. We could, however, go further back into history, to the Adamic covenant which, interestingly and significantly, included Eve and the children. The obligations of the Adamic covenant to subdue the earth, for instance, and have dominion over it, were binding not just upon Adam, but upon his family. The same applied to the promises and threats of the Adamic covenant. Already here, at the outset of human history, we see a principle that will characterize God's modus operandi in all succeeding covenants: when God claims a household head, he claims a family.

Adam of course miserably botched the terms of this covenant, disregarded the command of God and listened to the voice of the serpent and thereby plunged himself and his family into human misery and just condemnation. In response to this tragic fall of Adam's, God responded with extraordinary compassion and initiated with Adam a new covenant commonly called the covenant of grace. What is instructive for us, in this connection, is that God, in establishing enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, once again claimed Adam's children (Gen.3:15).

I fully understand that Satan gets his seed by stealing them from the woman. This, however, does not diminish the point that the children of the woman were included in the covenant of grace and commissioned, by implication, to engage the seed of the serpent in spiritual warfare (Gen.4:25). Moreover, the blessings of the covenant of grace, among which we would include covering (garments) at the expense of blood sacrifice, were presumably available for the children.

In summary: already in the prelapsarian (before-fall) and initial postlapsarian (after-fall) covenants one of the characteristic principles of God's covenant-making is apparent---namely, when God claims a household head, he claims a family.

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