Wednesday, October 1, 2014

1. There is never any explicit mention in the New Testament of babies (or even children) being baptized. There is lots of mention in the Old Testament of circumcision (the sign of membership in the Old Covenant) for children, but this is completely lacking when it comes to baptism in the New Testament.
2. In every verse we have about baptism, it seems that those being baptized, or having been baptized, understand themselves to be Christians—that is, they have repented of their sins and placed faith in Christ. We also see this truth in what baptism symbolizes—being united to Christ in his death and resurrection (Rom. 6). The outward symbol of beginning the Christian life should only be given to those who have actually begun the Christian life by repenting of their sins and believing on Jesus Christ for salvation. This makes good sense!

I. Gospels and Acts

a. The Bible ties baptism to conscious repentance.
i. John the Baptist’s command to be baptized is tied to his command to repent, so much so that his is called a “baptism of repentance” (Mk. 1:4, Lk. 3:3, Acts 13:24, 19:4). This requires conscious and cognitive ascent which a baby cannot produce.
ii. At the heals of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2, when the people ask what they should do to please God, he gives them the command to “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Once again, we see these two commands intimately related—repent and be baptized. An infant isn’t capable of this conscious repentance.
b. The Bible Ties Baptism to conscious faith.
i. Acts 8:12-13: “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news…they were baptized, both men and women.” (It’s also helpful to note that this would be a natural place to mention the baptism of children since Luke has already broken it down to “men and women”. If children were baptized here, Luke’s lack of mentioning it is odd.
ii. Acts 10:43-48: “…everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word…can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people?” Those who hear the Word and consciously believe it are given the Holy Spirit and it is these that are baptized.
iii. Also, Acts 16:31-34, 18:8, 19:4-5, 8:35-39,

II. Epistles

a. Rom. 6:3-4- Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Paul goes on to say that the one who has been baptized is now “set free from sin” (6:7)—a benefit only afforded to the one who is consciously placing faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:21-26, ch. 6).
b. Col. 2:12- “…having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Once again, Paul makes a direct connection between conscious faith and baptism. In his thinking, everyone who has been baptized is assumed to have been old enough to decide to believe the Gospel and follow Christ.
c. Gal. 3:27- “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Paul assumes that anyone who has been baptized has consciously “put on Christ” and is therefore in a self-conscious relationship with Him as Savior and Lord.
d. 1 Peter 3:21- Another example of conscious faith. The person spoken of in this passage is obviously a believer—someone who is trusting in Christ’s resurrection for his salvation.
e. Eph. 4:5- The rest of chapter 4 in Ephesians makes clear that those spoken of in this verse as being baptized are consciously trusting in Christ.
f. 1 Cor. 12:13- This verse (as do many of those in Acts cited above) links baptism with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit comes from union with Christ, which only comes through conscious faith in Him (Rom. 8:9-11) and isn’t dispensed to children through the faith of parents. In fact there is nothing in the New Testament that ties Gospel-belief of parents to their children. To receive the benefits of the Gospel requires each individual believing in that Gospel for himself (Rom. 10:14-17).

3. The New Testament gives no category for someone to have half the work of God begun in their lives without the second half also. It's a package deal. "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those hwom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified" (Rom. 8:29-30).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Abraham Kuyper on "Institutional Church" and Cultural Renewal

"The organic character of the Christian life must come to expression in the form of organized Christian communal activity in areas other than the institutional church (this is the Organic Church)…Christians who go out into their various vocations do so neither as direct emissaries of the institutional church nor as mere individual believers…Christian social, cultural, and political action does not flow directly from the structures and authorities of the church, but comes to expression organically in the various spheres of life as believers live out the faith and spirituality that develops and is nurtured in the church’s worship and discipline."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I've had questions about this issue for several years now. I remember driving to Philadelphia with my buddy Kevin and listening to a number of Tim Keller lectures about this particular topic--given at some Acts 29 function I think. I had never thought much about local churches having a responsibility to redeem culture. I had no opinion on the matter.

But what I found that day was if everything I knew about the Bible (what it says explicitly, implicitly, and the implications of both) could be compared to an airstrip, then Tim Keller's words (on this topic) had no place to land. What he said was winsome and clever, but, I don't think at least, scriptural.

Tim Keller certainly isn't the only purveyor of this idea (and far from the most radical!) and I'm not sure if he's the best conversation partner, so I'm really hoping that what I know 'broadly' of his thoughts on this issue can serve as a springboard for my brothers jumping in. I know that I won't be convinced until I have several questions addressed.

That being said, the next several posts will be questions and concerns (in no particular order) I have about the Bible's teaching on the local church's responsibility to redeem (not just citizens, but) city structures, (not just business men, but) businesses, (not just people, but) culture.


It's true that Paul focussed on cities for his missionary work, but aren't cities in the NT only valued so far as they contain lots of people who apart from Christ are destined for hell and that they are strategic places for getting the truth circulated to other individual people who apart from Christ are destined for hell?

Thursday, January 8, 2009


The enlightenment insistence on the autonomy of human reason was perhaps before all else, a revolt against all 'authorities'. The postmodern recognition that reason has its limits has not brought that revolt to an end. Instead it has given it a different dress, the inviolability of personal perspective: no-one has the right to say I am wrong. (Mark Thompson, A Clear and Present Word, 134)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


When Kevin and I started looking towards the possibility of linking arms with Grace Harbor Community Church in Providence, RI we planned a final trip to meet with their elders. They sent us a handful of questions to be answered and sent back to them before we arrived--mostly about the role of the local church, elders, etc. I'm posting some of my answers since these are such central and important questions and deserve sharpening from any brothers or sisters reading this blog. For conscience sake I didn't use any resources (save the Bible) when answering, so surely, there is lots of room for improvement both in addition and clarity.

What is your understanding of the identity, focus, and purpose of the church?

I’m baptistic in my ecclesiology because I believe only Christians are to be baptized into the church. And so I believe the identity of the church is a local group of Christians, uniting together as the body of Christ on earth, being equipped and cared for through the office of deacon and spiritually shepherded, taught, prayed for, and led by elders, assembling together for the preaching of and submission to God’s Word in everything and the observance of the two ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, caring for one another’s souls and bodies and evangelizing to an unbelieving world for the ultimate purpose of glorifying our triune God.

The purpose and focus of the church is to be the attractive bride of Christ that God through Christ’s person and work purchased Her out of the world to be and is to reflect the heart and will of God as expressed clearly to us in the Bible and the New Testament epistles in particular.

Friday, December 26, 2008


For some fun reading before next semester I picked up Michael Horton's Covenant and Eschatology: The Divine Drama. His basic thesis is that the content of the Bible should determine the method for doing theology, rather than developing a prolegomenon before coming to the text.

Some notable quotes so far:

Furthermore, the covenant itself is stable, though hardly static; historical, though not historicist. The vertical "intrusions" keep redemptive history from being "one damned thing after another," while the horizontal stride keeps eschatology from being subsumed into some ahistorical event. The "new thing" is a true novum, yet not "wholly other." The new creation is both new and creation--that is, both that which transcends creation and that which renews and therefore has some considerable continuity with it.

Peter Berger as quoted by Horton says,

"In a culture where religion is functional both socially and psychologically, Chrsitian preaching itself ought to call men to a confrontation with the God who stands against the needs of society and against the aspirations of the human heart." We need to recover that sense so pervasive in other periods; namely, that even Christians do not know what they really need or even want--and that attending to their immediate felt needs may muffle the only proclmation that can a ctually satisfy real needs. Berger judges that "the more general personal consequence of the abandonment of theological criteria for the Christian life is the cult of experience...Emotional pragmatism now takes the place of the noest confrontation with the Christian message.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


"When the time had fully come, that is to say, at God's appointed time--when the Jewish diaspora had spread throughout the Roman Empire and the Old Testament had been translated into Greek, opening the eyes of the Greek world to its theological power and beauty, when the pax Romana extended over most of the known world with great roads and the Greek language linking the empire of the Caesars and making travel and commerce possible on a scale formerly impossible, when Greek philosophical thought had atrophied into skepticism, offering no hope in human wisdom to improve the ancient world (1 Cor. 1:19-21), when the so-called civilized world as a result had sunk so low morally (Rom. 1:21-32) that even pagans were crying out for relief from the rampant immorality all around them--in keeping with the Old Testament 'promises, prophecies, sacrifices...and other types of ordinances..., all foresignifying Christ to come' (Westminster Confession of Faith, VII/v), 'God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law' (Gal. 4:4) as the Messiah and Mediator of the covenant of grace."

A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 545

Ps. This book is, in my humble opinion, the best Systematic Theology around. He's a presbyterian cat, so the chapters on baptism and church polity are off, but it is pretty helpful to see such a level-headed and clear cat propose such flat arguments for paedo-baptism and presbyterian church polity. Reading those chapters has made me feel even better about being baptist.

It's going for $23 (includes shipping) on abebooks right now if anyone wants to snag it.