Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.


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Theological Term of the Week

As you probably know, I’m not a paedobaptist, but a credobaptist, so I’ve included one piece critical of paedobaptism in the links below. But to be fair, I’ve tried to make sure the pro-paedo pieces represent the best of the paedobaptist defenses.

The view that baptism is appropriately administered to “all infant children of believing parents”;1 also called covenant infant baptism.

  • Scripture used to support paedobaptism: 

    For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. (Romans 6:2-4 ESV)

  • From The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 28:  

    IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.


    VI. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.

  • From Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof:

    a. The Scriptural basis for infant baptism. It may be said at the outset that there is no explicit command in the Bible to baptize children, and that there is not a single instance in which we are plainly told that children were baptized. But this does not necessarily make infant baptism un-Biblical. The Scriptural ground for it is found in the following data:

    (1) The covenant made with Abraham was primarily a spiritual covenant, though it also had a national aspect, and of this spiritual covenant circumcision was a sign and seal. ….

    (2) This covenant is still in force and is essentially identical with the “new covenant” of the present dispensation. The unity and continuity of the covenant in both dispensations follows from the fact that the Mediator is the same, Acts 4:12; 10:43; 15:10,11; Gal. 3:16; I Tim. 2:5,6; I Pet. 1:9-12; the condition is the same, namely, faith, Gen. 15:6; (Rom. 4:3); Ps. 32:10; Heb. 2:4; Acts 10:43; Heb. 11; and the blessings are the same, namely, justification, Ps. 32:1,2,5; Isa. 1:18; Rom. 4:9; Gal. 3:6, regeneration, Deut. 30:6; Ps. 51:10, spiritual gifts, Joel 2:28,32; Acts 2:17-21; Isa. 40:31, and eternal life, Ex. 3:6; Heb. 4:9; 11:10. ….

    (3) By the appointment of God infants shared in the benefits of the covenant, and therefore received circumcision as a sign and seal. …

    (4) In the new dispensation baptism is by divine authority substituted for circumcision as the initiatory sign and seal of the covenant of grace. Scripture strongly insists on it that circumcision can no more serve as such, Acts 15:1,2; 21:21; Gal. 2:3-5; 5:2-6; 6:12,13,15. If baptism did not take its place, then the New Testament has no initiatory rite. But Christ clearly substituted it as such, Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16. It corresponds with circumcision in spiritual meaning. As circumcision referred to the cutting away of sin and to a change of heart, Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; 9:25,26; Ezek. 44:7,9, so baptism refers to the washing away of sin, Acts 2:38; I Pet. 3:21; Tit. 3:5, and to spiritual renewal, Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11,12. The last passage clearly links up circumcision with baptism, and teaches that the Christ-circumcision, that is, circumcision of the heart, signified by circumcision in the flesh, was accomplished by baptism, that is, by that which baptism signifies. Cf. also Gal. 3:27,29. But if children received the sign and seal of the covenant in the old dispensation, the presumption is that they surely have a right to receive it in the new, to which the pious of the Old Testament were taught to look forward as a much fuller and richer dispensation. Their exclusion from it would require a clear and unequivocal statement to that effect, but quite the contrary is found, Matt. 19:14; Acts 2:39; I Cor. 7:14.

Learn more:

  1. Jay Wetger: An Examination of the Rationale Behind Paedobaptism
  2. Robert Rayburn:The Presbyterian Doctrines of Covenant Children, Covenant Nurture and Covenant Succession
  3. Robert Reymond: Baptism
  4. Nathan Pitchford: Baptism - Categorized Scripture List (pdf)
  5. John Owen: Of Infant Baptism
  6. Greg Welty: A Critical Examination of Paedobaptism
  7. Joel Beeke: Why We Baptize Our Children (Video)

Related terms:

1From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Filed under Ecclesiology.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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Reader Comments (1)

I appreciate the fair treatment you gave this issue, Rebecca.

August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy

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