Paedocommunion #2

I Corinthians 11:27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and [f]blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks [g]in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the [h]Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many [i]sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

Last time we gathered for the Eucharist we considered the subject of whether or not children should be taking of the Lord’s Table. We dealt then specifically with the issue of whether of whether or not wee children can come to the table and “do this in remembrance of me.”

We saw then that this requirement to “do this in remembrance of me,” was not a barrier for children because remembrance there is not primarily about our subjective remembrance but rather it is primarily a requirement “To do this in observance of me,” or if you prefer, “Do this unto my remembrance.”

We spent 30 minutes examining that theme and if you do not recall the work accomplished there I would encourage you to go to sermon audio and consider anew all that was said there.

This week we continue to look at the issue of children coming to the table. We begin by noting again that this is a volatile issue that can easily get various shorts into sundry knickers as being worn by people on both sides of the debate. As we noted last week the majority report historically among the Reformed and Presbyterian has been that children are banned from the table.

This is for several reasons. As we noted already one reason for that is because children are not able to take the table in remembrance of Christ.

This morning we look at a second reason why Presbyterian children are not typically allowed to come to the table. And that second reason is found in the passage this morning. That second reason given why the children cannot come to the table is because children are not able to do what the text requires here. Children cannot, so the argument goes, examine themselves.

Simply put, the argument goes like this;

1. There’s a command for partakers to self-examine (1 Corinthians 11:28). Infants can’t self-examine, therefore infants can’t partake. A version of this same word δοκιμαζέτω – δοκιμάζετε – appears in 2 Corinthians 13:5, in which we’re told to examine ourselves to see if we’re in the faith. This self-examination is beyond an infant. It is also beyond a toddler and beyond a young child also.

This is clear enough. We must ask ourselves if this is a defeater for the position of paedo-communion? Does this argument shut down allowing children to come to the Lord’s table?

Before we get to the details of this passage though, let us consider the theological implication of what is happening if we are going to make this passage mean that only those who can preform some form of introspective act are allowed to come to the table.

So, first we turn to the Theological implications of requiring the ability of introspection before coming to the table;

From a Theological point, if we follow the logic of the classical Presbyterian view, one would wind up with a works salvation. This is because in the traditional Reformed view a communicant coming to the table must demonstrate an intellectual understanding of the Gospel in order to earn the right to come to the Table; they have to examine/prove themselves worthy to take Communion.

This morphs the sacrament from being about God doing the doing in giving grace in the sacrament to being about our effectuating the work by our introspective examination. Just as with baptism, the Eucharist is not about our promises to God, but His promises to us. The Eucharist is a token of God’s Covenant faithfulness, just like the rainbow with Noah and the blood on the doorposts at the first Passover; in both cases God said, “When I see… I will remember my Covenant”.

At the Last Supper Jesus said, literally, “Do this in My remembrance”. The English translations obfuscate the Covenantal language that Christ uses but the literal puts the emphasis on His remembrance, just like with the rainbow and the blood on the doorpost. Neither sacraments are about our efforts, they are tokens of God’s faithfulness to us in remembering His Covenant. To require a litmus test on a Covenant child is to turn the whole grace-based intent of the Eucharist on its ear.

In the OT, a circumcised child of Israel was considered a member of Israel until such a time when they turned away from the promises of the Covenant. In the common Presbyterian view, a child of believers first has to start as one who is excommunicated and then must prove their worth before they are accepted. The beginning presupposition here is that baptized children are outside the covenant and so can’t come to the table until they achieve a certain level of intellectual and cognitive ability. To the contrary our presupposition is that because of God’s faithfulness and promises in Baptism we presuppose that our children that God has given us are Christian until such a time, God forbid, they abandon the covenant and the God of the covenant.

I cannot see how the beginning presupposition that our children are strangers to the covenant is consistent with God’s promises and certainly not consistent with Covenant Theology. Covenant Theology begins with God’s declaration of “who we are and then follows with the imperative of who therefore we should be.” In other words it is the idea that “You are a child of the Covenant, therefore live like one,” This follows the model of the preamble of the Ten Commandments establishes the relationship between God and His people first and then comes the commands. In the classical view that blocks children from coming to the table, this order is turned the other way around.

Secondly, we now turn to the textual considerations here in I Corinthians 11

“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”

George Knight III consistent with many other commentaries claims: that “the only guidance that we can ascertain is the meaning of the verb ‘examine,’ and Knight’s interpretation of this verb is that “Every person individually is to look into his own being to determine if he or she is taking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner.”

This is the common understanding among the Reformed. It is the understanding of the Westminster Larger Catechism. It is the understanding of John Calvin

“A self-examination, therefore ought to come first, and it is vain to expect this of infants… Why should we offer poison instead of life giving food to our tender children? (Inst. 4.16.30)

But is this kind of examining the kind of examining that the inspired Apostle is calling for here? We think not. Let us consider why this is a misunderstanding.

The Greek verb in this text (dokimazeto) means to “prove, approve, or test.” We find this translation in the English Revised Version;

“But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup.”

Elsewhere in St. Paul’s usage of this verb it does not mean to the work of introspection that requires a kind of a self-reflecting glance (see I Cor. 3:13, II Cor. 13:5). Instead the Greek word “prove” carries the meaning of “proving,” or “approving,” such as is found in;

1 Cor. 3:13: ‘The work of each one will become manifest, for the day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test (“dokimasei”) each one’s work, [to prove] what kind it is.

Here Paul uses the verb as the culmination of a series of expressions denoting public and objective revelation. And if one is to consider the verb as used in the wider Greek usage in the wider Greek world one would find that it was always used with this kind of objective aspect.

What we are suggesting here is that the Greek word for “examine/prove” is not based in subjective reflection but in based in objective evaluation.

So, if “prove” here has an objective quality and is not a subjective inward look what is the objective quality that St. Paul is looking for from the Corinthians before they come to the table?

Well, in the immediate context of this section of Scripture (I Cor 10-12) the way that someone is to prove themselves is related to their behavior at the table of the Lord with respect to the unity of the body of Christ. A man proves himself by an eating that does not divide the body of Christ, and not by a subjective analysis completed by a introspective cognitive look.

As we see in the context of chapter 10-12 the Corinthians are having a problem. The problem was their table manners during the Lord’s Supper. This behavior contradicted the unity of one another in Christ.

20 Therefore when you come together it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, 21 for when you eat, each one takes his own supper first; and one goes hungry while another gets drunk.

This kind of behavior is why Paul can write earlier;

17 Now in giving this next instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together [m]as a church, I hear that [n]divisions exist among you …

So, when the Holy Spirit calls them to “prove themselves,” in vs. 28 he is calling them to prove that they are not behaving like this in connection with the Lord’s Table. It is an call to an objective assessment.

Luther agrees w/ us here;

“When in 1 Corinthians (11:28) Paul said that a man should examine himself, he spoke only of adults because he was speaking about those who were quarreling among themselves. However, he doesn’t here forbid that the sacrament of the altar should be given even to children.

Works, vol. 54, p. 58

The test in view in 1 Cor. 11 is whether one is living in love and unity with one’s fellow believers. This would be, again, objectively knowable and so could be examined/proved and would seem to involve no introspection — in short, a requirement that babies do not even have the ability to break yet.

And if children cannot be guilty of this kind of behavior of dividing the boy that some in Corinth were guilty of they therefore cannot have the requirement put to them to prove themselves and therefore the requirement to “prove oneself’ does not forbid children coming from the table.

So, to recap here

In Corinth the congregation were demonstrating a behavior at the table which belied the unity of the church. At the one place where there was to be unity there was instead division. They therefore were eating unworthily. When Paul calls them to “prove themselves” he was calling for them to partake of the Lord’s Table properly. “Let a man prove himself” refers to his manner of participation at the Table, or more broadly, to his relationship with the local body of Christ.

It is not subjective contemplation that is required here, but an objective demonstration of one’s behavior with respect to the body is demanded. This is not to say that there is no need of self-reflection when coming to the table, it is to say that what is required in this text is not self-reflection.

And so since this text is not calling for introspection and is calling for covenantal unity when coming to the table therefore this text is not prohibiting the least of these from coming to the table.

So, I Cor. 11 has nothing to do with Children taking or not taking communion anymore than the requirement to repent and believe has anything to do with covenant children before they are baptized. In point of fact I Cor. 11 ironically enough supports paedocommunion since what happens when we forbid the children to come to the table is to divide the body and create factions between the adults in the covenant and the children in the covenant — the very thing that the Corinthians were doing and the very thing I Cor. 11 warns against.

Now add to what we have said in point I on the theological considerations and point II on the text itself lets us add a little thirdly, some historical consideration.

During the Reformation there were some who called for paedo-communion. For example a little known second generation Reformer with a great name “Wolfgang Musculus” wrote in a theological work;

(1) Those who possess the thing signified also have a right to the sign

(2) Children who can receive the grace of regeneration (as is evident from Baptism) can also be nurtured in their spiritual lives without their knowledge.

(3) Christ is the Savior of the whole church, including the children, and feeds and refreshes all of its members.

(4) The demand for self-examination (I Cor. 11:26-29) is not intended by the apostle as a universal requirement.

W. Musculus — Loci Communes

Second Generation Reformer

Luther considered communing children to be not necessary but also not sin. He offered here;

“[They] pretend that children, not as yet having reason, ought not to receive [the sacrament]. I answer: That reason in no way contributes to faith. Nay, in that children are destitute of reason, they are all the more fit and proper recipients of [the sacrament]. For reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but – more frequently than not – struggles against the Divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”

Martin Luther

Going behind the Reformation we find the Apostolic Constitution written not by the Apostles circa 380 AD. In this early church liturgy document we read that the children are included in the faithful that remain and take communion after the readings. Others who are not initiated (baptized) are excluded and excused from the communion. A door-wathcher keeps non-initiated out.

“As to the children that stand [the infant children do not stand, but are among the initiated who are prepared for communion], let their fathers and mothers take them to themselves …. After this, let all rise up with one consent, and, looking towards the east, after the catechumens and the penitents are gone out, pray to God eastward, …. Then let the sacrifice follow, all the people standing, and praying silently; and, when the oblation hath been made, let every rank by itself partake of the Lord’s body and precious blood, in order, and approach with reverence and holy fear, as to the body of their King. Let the women approach with their heads covered, as is becoming the order of women. Moreover, let the door be watched, lest there come in any unbeliever, or one not yet initiated. P 65

Let no one eat of them that is not initiated; but those only who have been baptized into the death of the Lord [all that are baptized, to include infants and children] p.145

[nowhere are baptized children excluded from any part of the Lord’s Day communion.]

Rushdoony pipes in here;

“The children of the covenant, i.e., circumcised male children and daughters of the covenant, partook of it [the Passover]…In the early church, children partook of the sacrament [the Lord’s Supper], according to all the records. The evidence of St. Paul indicates that entire families attended and participated: it was the evening meal (I Cor. 11). Joseph Bingham’s Antiquities of the Christian Church cites the evidence of a long-standing practice of participation by children and infants. This practice was clearly a carry-over from the passover of Israel, and there is no Scriptural evidence for a departure from it…Arguments against this inclusion of children are more rationalistic and Pelagian than Biblical.”~~R.J. Rushdoony, IBL, p. 46

There is one more thing I want to add here in conclusion.

If we dare not bring our children to the table for fear of the danger that the table is to them since they can’t understand it then why would we bring them to the Word preached? I mean is the table more dangerous than the Word preached? We talk about Word and sacrament being means of grace. If we dare not bring our children to one of the means of grace (the Table) why should we run them the danger of bringing them to a different means of grace that similarly they cannot understand?

As a friend as put it;

“Reformed people, in my opinion, have a ludicrously cautionary view of communion and act as though they’re handling plutonium and are about to drink hemlock if they don’t get in the right frame of mind. ”

I agree with this. The implication of this is that the Reformed believe the table is more sacred … more holy than the preaching of God’s Word. If communion is so dangerous to children we shouldn’t allow them to come to the table for fear of dishonoring God and endangering them, then we shouldn’t let those same children to come under the preaching of the Word. There is a reason why we conjoin “Word and Sacrament.”

We bring our children to Baptism as a means of grace.
We bring our children to the Word Preached as a means of grace

But then we say that the 3rd means of grace, the table, is a means of grace they cannot have because they have to bring their ability to introspect before they can have the table.

But I didn’t attend one of them elite Reformed Seminaries so I’m sure I am missing something.

Anyway, I want us to continue to esteem the table and to come to it with reverence and awe but lets be consistent.

The two sacraments are linked at the hip: the sign that brands the covenant people, and the victory meal of the covenant people. If children should be allowed to either (and they should), they should be allowed to both. The Reformed church today admits children to the church, then starves them for several years until they can adequately verbalize a profession of faith.

This ought not to be.

Paedocommunion #1

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, [d]“Take, eat; this is My body which is [e]broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

Examine Yourself

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and [f]blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks [g]in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the [h]Lord’s body.

We are beginning to probe the issue of paedo-communion here. Years ago I preached a series on this but we return to it because this is largely a different church from when I first covered this issue and secondly because I want younger parents with younger children to hear the case for bringing our children to the table.

With that said, I think we will take this piece by piece when coming together monthly for communion. So, it will be up to you to try and keep this pieced together in your mind, though I will give overviews with each sermon.

As we come to this passage in I Cor. we start here because many in the Reformed world contend that this passage authoritatively destroys any notion of weaned children coming to the Lord’s supper because, so the reasoning goes, a toddler cannot engage in “remembrance” and neither can a toddler “examine” themselves. The requirement in the passage is that the taking of the table is done in remembrance of Christ and that before the table is taken those who partake will have examined themselves. This the opponents of paedo-communion insist is not possible for children to do.

We should offer here, before we demonstrate how this is a improper understanding of the text, that this kind of reasoning is the same kind of reasoning that Baptists use to say children should not be Baptized. The Baptist says, “A baby/toddler is not self conscious enough to repent and have faith, therefore a baby/toddler must not be baptized until they are old enough to have this level of self-consciousness.” The point I’m making here is that those among the Reformed who insist that a child should not be given the Eucharist until the age of discretion are reasoning the same way as the Baptist who insists that a child should not be given Baptism until the age of accountability. I, personally, find it very strange that putatively Reformed people argue the same way Baptists do, and I think that is not without significance.

Before we take up the issue of examination and remembrance let us briefly consider a passage in I Cor. 10 that points us in a particular direction on the issue of paedo-communion. Here we may find a case wherein infant communion is supported in the New Testament. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:1-4:

“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were baptized into Moses.  3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. ”

Here we find Paul using Israel’s experience in the OT in passing through the Red Sea as a warning to the NT Church. There is a continuity that St. Paul is giving between Old and New Testaments and in doing so he is connecting the dots between the reality of OT Israel and the NT Church and in the doing of so St. Paul sets forth the experience of Israel in their passing through the Red Sea as both a Baptism and a meal. Now, of course there were infants and toddlers that were with the adults who crossed through the Red Sea and those infants and toddler ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink that all Israel partook of and as Paul says that Rock that those Hebrew infant and children drank was Christ. Now if the OT Hebrews infants and toddlers drank Christ why should NT infant and toddlers likewise not be communed at the Lord’s Table?

We see that Paul assumes the continuity of God’s dealing with children in the Old and New Testaments. They are always treated as members of the covenant community and as members of the covenant community they are not only identified as God’s people through the ratification ceremony that is Baptism but they are also nourished and refreshed with eternal life that is found in Christ as He is received in the Eucharist.

As we reflect on this, must we not conclude that children need God’s pledge and communion as much as adults? Don’t children as they grow need that objective promise of God? We have no idea when faith may be born in a child’s heart, but whenever it is, it needs to be stimulated, strengthened, and assured by the pledge made to him or her in Baptism and confirmed in the Table.

Again, if the children of the Hebrew children in the OT ate and drank Christ then why should the children of God’s people in the NT not be fed with the food and drink of eternal life? (974)

Anyway, Augustine agrees that the children should come to the table;

“Those who say that infancy has nothing in it for Jesus to save, are denying that Christ is Jesus for all believing infants. Those, I repeat, who say that infancy has nothing in it for Jesus to save, are saying nothing else than that for believing infants, infants that is who have been baptized in Christ, Christ the Lord is not Jesus. After all, what is Jesus? Jesus means Savior. Jesus is the Savior. Those whom he doesn’t save, having nothing to save in them, well for them he isn’t Jesus. Well now, if you can tolerate the idea that Christ is not Jesus for some persons who have been baptized, then I’m not sure your faith can be recognized as according with the sound rule. Yes, they’re infants, but they are his members. They’re infants, but they receive his sacraments. They are infants, but they share in his table, in order to have life in themselves.”

St. Augustine, Sermon 174, 7

Anyway, having said that we return to the issue of a weaned child entering into examination and remembrance.

We would first note that there are matters of interpretation here that need to be cleaned up in order to understand that the requirements of examination and remembrance are not defeaters for the position of paedo-communion. We come with certain assumptions about the language that need to be challenged. Likewise we tend to fail to read this NT passage in light of continuity with the OT that we find St. Paul presupposing in I. Cor. 10.

We are told in this passage to “Do this in Remembrance of me,” and being moderns we read this as “Do this while remembering me,” when it is doubtful that is really what the thrust of the meaning is. To read this to mean “Do this while remembering me” posits the efficacy of the table upon our subjective ability to do the doing. If we can’t subjectively remember then the table has no efficacy. But is that what the Holy Spirit is teaching here?

I would say no for the following reasons.

1.) The translation of the Greek here is dubious. Literally it reads, “Do this unto my Remembrance.” This preposition in (eis) generally has a directional or purposive function, so that, in varying contexts, it can be rendered with “into,” “unto,” or “as” (such as: “it was reckoned to him as righteousness” ).

This language is used in the decalogue when we are told to “Remember the Sabbath to keep it Holy.” The idea here is obviously not that we are to subjectively recall this or that about the sabbath. The idea in “Remembering the Sabbath,” is better formulated by saying “Observe the sabbath to keep it Holy.” In the same way I would submit that when the Corinthians are called to “To do this in remembrance of me” are being told “To do this in observance of me,” or if you prefer, “Do this unto my remembrance.”

This way of reading the text is supported by other examples in the OT. We find in the Greek Septuagint of Lev. 24:7 that the frankincense is placed “upon the bread for a memorial to the Lord.” Here it is the same prepositional phrase that St. Paul uses in I Cor. 11. Instead of “in” we get “upon” here. It goes without saying that the text in Lev. does not mean that the frankincense or the Priest enters into a subjective remembrance of the Lord. Instead, it is the act by itself which constitutes the remembrance. Just so with the Eucharist, the center is not a subjective remembrance but rather the center is the observance of the act itself which is constituting the remembrance.

Besides, we have to be careful here. If we camp to much on the subjective remembrance being the center pivot of the Eucharist then we are in danger of suggesting that the effectiveness of the Sacrament lies in our ability to recall and by doing that it is hard for me to see how we have not horizontalized and Anabaptistified the sacrament wherein the sacraments are about our doing. The Reformed understanding has always been that the Sacraments are Gods and that God is doing all the doing in the Sacraments. If and when we completely subjectivize the table as a Sacrament so that its efficacy is bound to our ability to remember then it strikes me that we should forbid our gaffers and gammers who no longer have the ability to remember due to dementia or the onset of Alzheimer disease from coming to the table?

Pushed too hard we might find ourselves saying as I read last week from the fingertips of a Baptist;

“Point being is Baptism & Lord’s supper are for Professing Christian adults & not Children & severely handicapped.”

Edward Budny

Consistent Baptist

Communion is not the response of the converted man to the call of God. It is the sign and seal of the covenant. It is God who is the agent who does the acting in communion and not any human person. As God is sovereign He is free to act in Communion to convey grace upon infants as well as adults. As God never repudiated being a God who works inter-generationally, through His promises as symbolized by the sign and seal of the covenant in Communion, God has sovereignty designated that all the children of His people be brought to the Grace offered in Holy Communion.

Respectfully, given the I Cor. 10 passage I have to say that whoever repudiates paedocommunion cuts Jesus loose from the OT and introduces an unwarranted division between the community of Christ and God’s people of the covenant. By abandoning the unity of Scripture, the door is opened to subjectivism. But the repudiation of the sign of the covenant for children also cuts deeply into the fabric of practical Christian living. It affects the relationship between parents and children forcing parents to treat God’s covenant seed as strangers to the covenant, and between teacher and student forcing teachers of Catechism to treat their covenant children students as dead in their sins and trespasses. It touches the working of the Holy Spirit, by whom the name of the Lord is transmitted from generation to generation.

So, turning again to the idea of the macro-context that informs I Cor. 11 on the issue of “remembrance” we would note that we are saying is typical of OT sacraments. Numbers 10:10 teaches that;

10 … you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be a memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God.”

Here the feasts and sacrifices were to be a memorial for Israel before God.

Likewise Ex. 12:14 teaches in reference to the passover (which was the sacrament that the Eucharist replaced);

14 ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.

The connection here is that the remembrance that we read of in I Cor. 11 is not that something that jumps out of Zeus’ head brand new. The remembrance called for in I Cor. 11 is consistent w/ how remembrance/memorial worked in the OT for the whole people of God — babies, toddlers, strong men and women and gaffers and gammers and when you combine this with the express statement of I Cor. 10 that they all drank Christ we can only conclude that the emphasis in I Cor. 11 is not primarily a call for subjective remembrance as if the God cannot convey grace without our remembering and because of that our children are not to be barred from the table. Remembrance, whatever more precise meaning we put upon it, is not an exclusionary requirement for covenant children to come.

Now in future weeks we will consider the call for self-examination and ask ourselves if that requirement is a defeater for paedo-communion. We will also consider the connection between pass-over and the Lord’s Supper. We will spend some time considering Church history on the matter.

We should say that here that we are in the minority on this subject in today’s Reformed Church. We should say that there are many who disagree us who are smarter than I am. Calvin for example while admitting that this had been the practice of the early Church wanted nothing to do with paedo-communion. I hate disagreeing with Calvin, but I do on this score.

All that being said let us rejoice that Christ has invited us to His table to do this in observance of Him.

Sermon on Infant Baptism

5Gen. 17:7, And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

Acts 2:39, For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

6/ 1 Cor. 7:14, For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

Joel 2:16, Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

7Matt. 19:14, But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

8Luke 1:14–15, And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at His birth. For He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from His mother’s womb.

Ps. 22:10, I was cast upon thee from the womb: Thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

Acts 2:39, For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

9Acts 10:47, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

1 Cor. 12:13, For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

1 Cor. 7:14, For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

10 Gen. 17:14, And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.

11 Col. 2:11–13, In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.

LD #27 – HC Question 74:

Are infants also to be baptized?

Answer: Yes, for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant5 and church of God;6 and since redemption from sin7 by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them8 no less than to the adult; they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the Christian church, and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers9 as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision,10 instead of which baptism is instituted in the new covenant.11

Inasmuch as we have much to consider this morning, I will not be able to deal with this Q & A exhaustively. If you want the whole consideration I encourage you to visit Iron Ink where this is laid out in its entirety in different posts.

As we consider this Catechism question we want to note upfront that what we will be doing this morning is providing a cumulative argument in answering the question; “Should Infants be baptized.” We are going to present a series of arguments affirming that infants should be baptized and in the doing of that we will be appealing to many of the Scriptures that the Catechizers offered as support for this answer.

As we start out here we first note that in what must be considered the old and worse covenant when compared to the new and better covenant God’s grace included the children, but now, per Baptist thinking, in the new and better covenant God’s grace excludes the children and we likewise, if we are to be Biblical must also forbid the little children from coming unto Christ because allegedly they would never comprise the Kingdom of God.

Quite to the contrary what we instead see in the NT is that God’s grace expands, as compared to the OT, in its largess so as to include the Nations, so as to now place the sign of the covenant on both males and females, and so as to promise that it shall conquer the globe. Yet, Baptists would have us believe, by their conviction and doctrine that the one place where God’s grace contracts in the NT is with His and our covenant children. In the NT, unlike the OT, God’s grace is constrained so as to leave out those who were once included.

Next, as to this question of whether or not infants should be baptized we consider;

Gal. 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

And what was that promise? Gen. 17:7-8

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee…

Are we to believe that now that we have been graciously brought into the covenant as Abraham’s seed that the great covenant promise given to Abraham and his seed is no longer operative for us and our seed? If Abraham’s seed was part of the covenant promise then why should it be the case that our seed today, as children of Abraham ourselves, should not be given the sign of the covenant?

When we consider this question of whether our infants should be baptized we note that we believe that in coming to the Baptismal Font we are coming to the place where we find Christ and the promises of God. As the Catechism teaches (HC Q. 66)The Baptismal Font bespeaks of the granting to God’s people free remission of sin and life eternal for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the cross. At the Baptismal Font we find Christ and all His promises. At the Baptismal font Christ greets and receives us and our children.

And so, following the NT example we bring our children here to Christ and His promises just as in the 1st century they brought their children to be blessed by Christ. And Just as the Lord received children as belonging to the covenant community then as recorded in Mt. 19:14 and as heard in His declarative statement “Let the little children come unto me,” so we believe and know that Christ says to His people today the same and so we bring our children, knowing that Christ is pleased.

And we do so despite the ringing in our ears of Baptists today, like the disciples in Jesus’ day to forbid the children from coming to Christ we continue to bring our children to our and their sovereign Liege-Lord Jesus Christ. And, frankly, we are just as irritated with the Baptists today as Jesus was with His disciples then for their seeking to block the way of the covenant seed coming to Jesus.

Now, the typical Baptist will object here;

Children were and are brought to Christ- not to the Baptismal font.

And to that, as Biblical Christians we respond by noting that “We are presented today with Christ only in Word and Sacrament. There alone we meet and find Christ. If our children are to be received by Christ they can only come unto Him by coming to via Word & Sacrament.”

Next we consider I Cor. 7. When we come to I Cor. 7 we find the Holy Spirit talking about the children of believers and there the Apostle crafts an argument wherein it is assumed that the seed of any one believer are holy — just as they had always been considered through revelational history. The context finds St. Paul talking about marriages between Christians and non-Christians and there the Spirit of God calls such marriages “Holy,” on the premise that if one of the parties to the marriage are part of the covenant than the marriage and the children from the marriage are considered by God as Holy — that is set apart. Now if the Apostle designates such children are considered as set apart and so Holy should they not be given the sign of the covenant that marks out all God’s people as Holy and set apart? If the premise in I Cor. 7 is that children are Holy are they not part of the covenant community and if part of the covenant community should they not be given the sign of the covenant?

Also, when it comes to infant Baptism the book of Acts yields five cases of household Baptisms. Remember, in household Baptisms if the head of the household is Baptized then all in the household are baptized. This was the pattern in the OT and nothing in the NT seems to overturn that. Now, we gladly concede that in none of these household baptisms is it explicitly said that infants/children were baptized. However, we can say upon the household principle that if infants/children were in those households then they were certainly baptized. Now add to this that in Ephesians we find this household language;

Eph. 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,

This is important in this discussion when we remember that God’s household throughout history had always included infants/children. That being so there is no reason to think that God’s household when we come to the NT is bereft of infants/children.

Now, add to all this the reality that the NT records that many of the Jews were outraged that the Gentiles were coming in but not one peep in the NT from the Jews that their children were now excluded from the covenant and it is past difficult to put off the conclusion that infants/children of God’s people were then and should now be baptized.

When it comes to this issue of infant-Baptism we have St. Peter’s own words

“The promise is to you and your children and for all who are afar off.” (Acts 2:39).

Now, we gladly concede that can be heard through Baptist ears in such a way that does not compel infant Baptism. The Baptist will tend to hear these words as meaning;

“The promise is to you (if you believe), to your children (if they believe), and to many who are afar off (if they believe).”

But a reading of the passage in light of previous revelation drives us to another conclusion. If we hear these words from Peter via the echo of revelational history and covenantal moorings we hear them in light of God’s speaking to Abraham once upon a time;

“It is to you and your children, and also to the nations that the blessing will come” (cf. Gen. 22:17-18).

Is not what Peter is saying in his Pentecost sermon that what was once promised to Father-Abraham in what is now called the “Abrahamic promise” that the promise remains to you and your children — but now the day has finally dawned where that promise goes out to the nations — the afar off ones — as well?”

I submit that is truer to the harmony of Scripture than the spin the Baptists want to put upon it.

Let us sign off by reveling and relishing in the grace and favor of God and His Christ who by His Spirit is so kind and generous to us that he includes in the covenant of grace the second highest of all our loves – our love for our children.

Four Simple Arguments Why Baptists Are Wrong About Baptism

1.) Following the conviction that there is no such thing as neutrality  we Biblical Christians understand that if we do not baptize our children we are then presuming either they are not sinners and so have no need of the sign and seal of the washing of regeneration or we are presuming that our babies do indeed belong to their Father the devil and so are counted seed for Lucifer. Holding to neither of these presumptions, we presume, following Scripture, a charity regarding our children’s covenant identity and so following Scripture we baptize our children as God’s children.

2.) Infant Baptism is consistent with the proclamation that salvation is by faith alone through grace alone. The paedo-Baptists are consistent here. The Creedo-Baptists are not. The creedo-baptist by demanding an ability of a covenant child to confess Christ before he or she can be baptized is denying faith alone through grace alone because whatever the confessing creedo-Baptist person is bringing to Baptism that the covenant infant paedo-Baptist cannot bring (because they are an infant) is the something that is being added to so that faith alone through grace alone is being denied. As such there is a synergistic something in Creedo-Baptist beliefs. Creedo-Baptists are latent Arminians. This is a consequence of jamming together Ana-Baptist ecclesiology with Reformed soteriology.

3.) Scripture records the outrage of the Jews over the Gentiles being let into the Covenant community minus all the cultural accouterments of being Jewish. Yet, we are to believe that the Jews said nothing about their children being excluded from the covenant community in the new and better covenant where, per the Creedo-Baptists, the children were, for the first time ever, forbidden the sign and seal of covenant membership. Jews were outraged by Gentiles coming in but silent about their children being cast out.

4.) We would expect that with the collection of a first generation Church the demand would be placed upon adults to “repent and be baptized.” However, Acts 2 makes it clear, as heard through the ears of a covenantal non-Anabaptist people, that the promises were to “you and to your children.” So, yes, the New Testament record, in gathering a first generation Church would emphasize the necessity for adults to “repent and be baptized” but that does not negate that those same adults, as well as the subsequent generations would have understood that their children as belonging to them belonged to God and so should receive the sign and seal of the covenant.

Reformed Baptist Ironies (or) Things we’d Like Reformed Baptists to Think About

There is an inescapable irony to tell people that grace is irresistible and unconditional only to tell people that infants can’t be baptized because they aren’t old enough to meet the condition of showing that irresistible grace wasn’t resisted.