I have learned a lot from my Paedobaptist (Infant Baptizing) friends. Even though I ultimately disagree with their practice, I think they bring a paradigm to the table which challenges a number of unhealthy American evangelical assumptions.
Here are three things I believe we can learn from the Paedobaptist:
1) There are ultimately only two covenants.
I find many Christians assume people fall into one of three categories: 1) a handful of extreme followers of Jesus, 2) a handful of lawless unregenerate, and 3) the majority of “normal” people who are not too evil but not necessarily too religious.
But the Scripture rejects the third category. People are either a part of the kingdom of light or a part of the kingdom of dark. Jesus or Satan. Good or evil. The Scripture doesn’t leave space for an in between or “pending” kingdom. You are either in Christ or out of Christ.
The question Paedobaptists pose is, which covenant kingdom are Christian babies? Are they a part of the Christian community of Jesus or unregenerate community of Satan? And, if Christian babies are part of the Christian community, then why deny them the sign of entrance to the kingdom of Jesus, namely, baptism?
2) Everyone has a personal relationship with Jesus.
It’s very common to hear evangelical preachers teach that people enter into a personal relationship with Jesus once they “accept him into their heart.” So they wait for their children to grow old enough to say a prayer and accept Jesus into their heart, and thus enter into a “personal relationship” with Jesus before the children can be baptized.
Paedobaptists are troubled that nowhere in Scripture is mentioned such a prayer, and they further point out that all persons, whether of the “age of accountability” or not, have a personal relationship with Jesus; either people are related to God in righteousness in Christ, or they are outside of Christ in a relationship of wrath. Either way, every person has a deeply intimate relationship with Jesus, either of unity or of rebellion.
If Christian infants have a personal relationship of grace with Jesus by being a part of the covenant community, then why not give them baptism to symbolize what is true about them?
3) We must be humble to consider our paradigms and assumptions when proof-texting doctrines and practices.
Evangelicals are quick to look for proof texts to assert practices. Where are the verses about baptizing babies, and where are the verses about age of accountability? etc?
But Paedobaptists are wise to point out the human tendency to read the Bible with assumptions and paradigms which shape the way we interpret and practice Scripture. I appreciate this challenge: to be honest about our paradigms and let our assumptions be challenged, and to search the whole of Scripture to inform our practices and doctrines, and not merely proof text.
This all being said, I would like to outline a couple points where I believe Paedobaptists have missed the mark, and ultimately why I disagree with the practice of infant baptism:
A person enters the kingdom of God through repentance just as much as baptism. Just as each Christian child ought to grow up and come to terms with his or her own sin and repent, so each Christian child ought to grow up and come to terms with the obedience of baptism.
The call to baptism is a call to personal repentance. Unfortunately, personal repentance is not a thing a community of faith can do to a baby.
For this reason I believe baptism – like repentance – is a part of every Christian kid’s personal growth and maturity. Christian children should grow up in the faith and come to terms with their sin and respond to the Word of Jesus and repent and be baptized
2. Something actually did change when Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant.