Back When I Was a Baptist

Back when I was a baptist, one of the strongest grievances I felt toward infant baptism (on a merely personal level) was that it seemed weak. It seemed to be that paedobaptists were simply grabbing at something that wasn’t there. Moreover I felt as though they were sentimentalizing something (baptism) that I thought was suppose to be a strong sign of someone’s faith. Not only were all of these feelings immature they were also misguided. At its core infant baptism is one of the strongest professions of the Christian faith known in history if understood correctly.In the days when I believed infant baptism to be a show of weakness I did not understand what exactly was being done when the sign of baptism was administered to an infant. I believed that at best baptism was a hopeful sign that a believer could one day look back on and be confused about. How misinformed I was!

Infant baptism is not so much about the infant being baptized (though it is) as it is about the world the baby is being baptized into.

When Jesus died on the cross 2000 years ago he reversed the curse that began in Adam (in fact Jesus initiated the reversal process in principle that is being carried out in history & in practice by his body, the church).

When Adam sinned the world was cursed. This is reflected in the fact that clean animals in the Mosaic law are those animals that have the least contact with the ground. Moreover, when Moses entered the presence of God he was commanded to take of his sandals which had come into contact with the cursed ground.

Again, as we see in the story of Cain and Able, the cursed ground demanded blood for the injustice of Cain toward his brother able. Much of the Old Covenant Levitical system is a shadow of how the demand of blood will be met. This is why there is so much blood in the Old Testament, beginning with circumcision. The people of God were the people who recognized that the ground was cursed and that blood was required of them if they were to be accepted before God. Circumcision was a declaration over the child of the world he was entering into. The world of the Old Covenant was a world in which blood was required of that child. When a child was circumcised on the eighth day there was blood. Furthermore, the sign of circumcision would be upon that child for his entire life as a sign and seal to him that there is blood required of him in this world for his sin.

As Jesus initiated the New Covenant in His body & His blood. He is saying that the world which once demanded blood no longer does because of Him. The blood of Christ has satisfied the demanding and curse laden ground which required it. Now, once and for all, humanity is freed from the blood guilt that was required of them. Christ has atoned!

Baptism is a sign of the work that Christ has done in bringing about the New Covenant in His body and blood. When we baptize infants we are not making a statement about the spiritual status of their soul. We are proclaiming that the world into which this baby is entering is a world in which the curse has been lifted. Instead of requiring blood from this child the (new) world is now inviting this child to take part in the restoring work of Christ. This is impossible without faith which in turn is impossible without the Spirit which is why the water of infant baptism comes from above like the spirit.

Now that I have a better understanding of infant baptism I no longer see it as something weak. In fact, I now see it as one of the most powerful and profound acts of defiance the church can act out against the dwindling powers of Satan and the world he once ruled.

When a Christian grows up into their baptism (as the adage goes) he will be able to thank God for granting him the faith which accords to the world in which he was baptized into.

Food for thought.

Michael

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