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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Refutation of a Pedobaptist

I am going to take the arguments of a pedobaptist that posted on my daughter’s blog and examine their merits. He is very articulate and at times even persuasive. Nevertheless I believe that his apologetics lack consistency and instead of assuming the burden of showing infant baptism in the New Testament he attempt to shift the burden of proof to those whose position is a negative. I understand why he would attempt this maneuver, for his position lacks merit in the pages of the New Testament. The arguments of the pedobaptist are in bold type.

Jesus told us to baptize "all nations." From Genesis to Revelation the concept of "nation" includes everyone from the least to the greatest. And yet your denomination says that in this case "all nations" does not include infants. If that is true, the burden of proof belongs to you. Are we to baptize all nations against their will? There have certainly been religious organizations that have believed this to be the case and it led to some of the worst tyranny the world has ever seen. The kingdom of heaven belongs to infants and toddlers. (Matt. 19:14; Lk. 18:16)

You understanding of these verses is dictated by your tradition and not the context. Luke 18:17 says, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” When Jesus says, “of such is the kingdom of God” he is saying that people must become as a child to receive the kingdom of God. This verse also tells us that he is speaking of children who are old enough to receive.

Also, there is nothing in this passage about babies being baptized. You have to assume that is happening.

Jesus commanded the church to baptize and teach.

Actually what Jesus commanded is as follows, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. . . .” Your partial quote would have people believe that baptism precedes teaching when such is not the case. They were to be taught (made disciples) then baptized, then taught to observe. Again this all takes for granted that we are dealing with people who have sufficient intellectual development to be taught so that they can become a disciple. Such is not the case with babies.

The church teaches that infant baptism was delivered to us by the apostles.

With this argument you start in the wrong place. We do not start with the church and go the New Testament. We start with the New Testament and go to the church. The church is not the authority the Scripture is.

If it is true, then you need to demonstrate how the apostolic practice of infant baptism is inconsistent with the apostolic teaching of scripture.

I will feel obliged to do this when you can show just one conclusive, open and shut case, where the Apostles baptized a baby.

If it is false, then some person or group of people with tremendous power and influence within the church, prior to Emperor Constantine, sinned against the Holy Spirit by profering a plainly obvious lie about apostolic doctrine and practice -- they called a spade a diamond -- and virtually every Christian on earth bought into it. In other words you wind up embracing a conspiracy theory.

I would not so much call it conspiracy as apostasy. Your statement would lead people to believe that if our position is true that someone somewhere called an ecumenical council and declared the baptizing of babies legitimate and it was that way from then on. This is not our position. We believe that there were subtle changes in the doctrine of baptism over several centuries that culminated in pedobaptism. People were not fed a lie; they were led over centuries to accept changes from the New Testament practice.

The burden of proof still belongs to the challenger -- the Baptists.

Your putting us in the position of challenger and thus assuming the burden of proof does not make it so. You are asking us to prove something that from our perspective did not happen. Its absence is the proof. It is you who are arguing for a positive; they baptized babies in the New Testament. The burden of proof is on you to prove it did happen. Surely if it did there would be some clear, decisive evidence to that end.

If someone says, "The Gibson family had their picture taken yesterday," (assuming that the person addressing you thinks you know the Gibsons but you really don't) do you imagine a husband and wife alone with each other, or do you imagine at least one or two children with them? You imagine children because even though "family" technically applies to a husband and wife, "families" usually have children.

This example does not help your argument. The whole analogy is premised upon what we imagine and assume. This is exactly what pedobaptist do when they claim that babies were baptized in the New Testament. They imagine and assume it. They must for it does not say it.

The same sort of thing is true for the Greek word translated "household" in the New Testament. The default setting is to assume the presence of children under that rubric.

Here again you are assuming. This is exactly what we argue about your position. It is a position that is built on assumption. Assumptions prove nothing.

Baptists must force upon the text the unnatural assumption that there were no children in the baptized households,

We do not say there were no children in these households. What we say is that every one that was baptized in these households were believing, and babies cannot believe. Thus “if” there were babies present they were not baptized. For we both know the New Testament teaches believer’s baptism for there are several examples to support this claim.

or the even more unnatural assumption that children in those households were excluded from baptism. If children were present but excluded, there would have to be an indication making that explicit,

You keeping using the term children as though we contend there were not children present. We do not know if there were children present, no one does. But our disagreement is not about whether children can be baptized on the basis of their faith and repentance but whether babies can be baptized who have no capacity for either faith or repentance.

just as one would have to say "The Gibson household, except for baby Grace, had their picture taken yesterday." Otherwise you would naturally assume that any and all babies were included in the photograph.

We are talking about eternal salvation not having one’s picture taken. Assuming, and notice we are still assuming, all babies are included in a picture is one thing, assuming babies are baptized is another thing altogether.

It simply isn't enough to read the Bible, fail to find any example of infant baptism, presume that infants were always excluded from baptism, and then challenge those who cannot make the leap of faith joining you in your presumption to prove that it is wrong.

Would you have us believe it is simply enough to read the Bible, fail to find any example of a baby being baptized, yet presume that they were baptized and then challenge those who cannot make the leap of faith and join you in your presumption to prove they were not baptized.

That is shirking the burden of proof that naturally belongs to the Plaintiff -- Baptists in this case.

Someone is shirking the burden of proof but I would respectfully submit that it is not the Baptists, but the pedobaptist. We contend for a negative, babies were not baptized in the New Testament. How do you provide evidence for something that did not happen? Now if I contend for a positive like, believers were baptized in the New Testament, then I am claming something did happen and I would have the burden of proof to show that it did. And if necessary I will be glad to carry the burden of proof for that positive assertion, because it is a light burden in deed. But it is you who are arguing for a positive; babies were baptized in the New Testament. Now you must prove it, the burden rests with you. Assumptions are not proof. Imagining is not proof. I believe you will find your burden of proof heavy to carry, in fact too heavy to carry any distance at all.
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