Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sproul on Paedobaptism

Here's a part of R. C. Sprouls message at Christ Fellowship church...

"I think it's a sin (you can quote me) not to baptize your children. God was going to kill Moses for not circumcising his son. It was a very serious matter to administer the sign of the covenant to believers and to their infants and nowhere in Biblical content is that principle of corporate solidarity ever, ever abrogated and, so I think we are making a huge mistake when we exclude the children of believers from the sing of the covenant. Alright, and so I think it's a serious matter. Because I want to make sure, with the administration of the sacraments, that we're doing what is pleasing to God, so I think its pleasing to God to baptize infants of believers. My friends in the Baptist community believe its displeasing to God to do that. Both sides want to do what is pleasing to God, and what I do believe is that I don't think that we should break fellowship over that issue. Because there's not an explicit teaching in the New Testament that says you must baptize the children of believers, nor is there an explicit prohibition. In the NT it stays that you may not baptize the children of believers, so you have to rest your case on inferences drawn from narratives and from other texts of the Bible, and any time a doctrine is left to the development by inferences you're open to all kinds of mistakes. So it any kind of doctrine should provoke patience and tolerations with other its something like that."

I didn't have a transcript so I just jotted down a few pages of his comments and transcribed them here.  And while I do greatly respect Dr. Sproul for all his teaching and ministry, I think he's completely wrong on labeling willing paedobaptism as a sin.  With no clear commandment given anywhere in Scripture to baptize infants, and instead drawing on (fairly weak) inferences from Scripture, how could failure to follow the ordinance of baptism by sprinkling unrepentant babies be considered "sin"?  I really wish that, since this Q&A session took place at a Baptist church, at least someone there had taken issue with this.  Well, considering his age and his health, its enough of a blessing that he still travels and shares from his collective learning, and I still marvel when I read his works online or in Tabletalk.

When discussing baptism with my Dad I like the argument (among many, many other arguments) of the "desert island exegete" - a non-believer who, sitting on the beach one day, finds a Bible that washes on the shore in his own language.  Picking it up, he reads it and, finishing the Gospel of John is convicted of his sins and of his need for a savior and repents and believes.  Sharing his faith with others, they soon start a small Acts-style worship service together.  Now strictly from the Bible alone, would those islanders really conceive of the practice of baptism as being rightly administered by sprinkling water on the bald head of an angry, unrepentant baby, who's parent's may or may not even be genuine believers?  I find that really doubtful.  And while the analogy might be a little bit of a stretch, it's not beyond the realm of possibility:  I've heard the Gideons speak when they visit the church, and they will talk about being at rope's end, ready to end their life in a hotel room when they discover a Gideon's Bible and, upon reading it, are convicted by the Holy Spirit and repent and believe.  So anything is possible.

Anyhow, below are links to both parts of Sproul's Q&A.  Really great material.  The baptism discussion takes place in the second part.

1 comment:

  1. Very well presented! It should be noted that there is a very big difference between what is pleasing unto our Heavenly Father and what is required. Infant baptism, along with many of the other sacraments that are observed, falls into the category of what is pleasing unto Him if it is done as a dedication, be assured. I was not sprinkled, but soon after my birth, my parents asked several ministers from the area to come and pray over me while I was in my crib at home, which has been revealed to be was well pleasing in our Heavenly Father's sight.