Justin Taylor (Between Two Worlds) interviewed Dr. Tom Schreiner about baptism as his new book on the subject is about to be released. As a former Reformed Credo-Baptist turned paedobaptist, I certainly disagree with Dr. Schreiner on a few of the finer details of this discussion (note- this is not a conversation ).
But I take some exception with what he says here:
“You argue that Reformed evangelicals who baptize their babies are inconsistent–how so?
“We love fellow believers from Reformed churches with whom we share so many precious truths, especially in terms of the doctrines of grace. The Reformed are inconsistent, however, in that they require adults who are baptized to be believers, while they baptize infants who are unbelievers. Steve Wellum and Shawn Wright demonstrate that to do this they have to redefine what they previously said about the doctrine of baptism and use the theological (but, in the way they use it to support infant baptism, biblically unjustifiable) construct of the “covenant of grace” as proof of their position. “
If we are inconsistent in this matter, so is Genesis 17 & Romans 4. Both texts refer to the application of circumcision. In the case of Abraham is pointed to the faith he possessed. In the case of his children it pointed to the faith they were to possess. Converting male Gentiles prior to Jesus and the New Covenant were to be circucumcised, as were their infants in keeping with the covenant (as it is referred to in Genesis 17).
I suppose I would ask, what is the eternal covenant in Hebrews 13:20 referring to? I don’t think we’ve invented anything. Nor do I think we are any more ‘inconsistent’ than the Scriptures on this issue. I’m disappointed in how Dr. Schreiner chose to express this. No, I won’t be burning any of his books. I just disagree with his assessment of me and my brothers on this matter.
Where we disagree is on what we believe God has said about those who are to be baptized. He ties it to faith. We tie it to the covenant. In the Old Covenant the sign was circumcision. In the New Testament the sign is baptism. We say the application of the sign is the same (though now woman are to be baptized now). We are consistent with our understanding of the Scriptures. I suppose he is consistent with his understanding of the Scriptures. But it seems quite unfair to accuse us of inconsistency when the problem is we are inconsistent with HIS theology & practice, not in our theology & practice. Does that make sense?
He’s comparing one theology to another with the assumption that his is correct and the standard by which others are measured (judging us by his theology, not Scripture). The issue ought to be: whose theology & practice most closely resembles the Word. He doesn’t seem to be doing this in his claims concerning those he loves.
In speaking of Colossians he says: “Further, the NT does not draw a connection between physical circumcision and baptism, but spiritual circumcision and baptism (Col. 2:11-12). There is not complete continuity between the Sinai covenant and the new covenant.”
Isn’t physical circumcision a picture of spiritual circumcision? What the physical circumcision pointed to (the cutting of the heart) physical baptism now points to. So this argument would appear to fall apart in my estimation.
Reformed people do not say there is complete continuity between the covenants. We agree with him that there are areas of discontinuity. But he establishes a strawman to win his argument, which frankly seems quite unfair. You must argue against a position that is actually held, not a mythological position held by no one.
This does not prove that Dr. Schreiner is wrong in his theology- only that he has not argued his position well or fairly. I don’t want to be ‘guilty’ of the same lapse in logic/argumentation.
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