PT558

© Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938


Infant Baptism: A Duty of God’s People

Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

 

As Christians we all ought to be concerned to do all those things which God has commanded us and to avoid those things God has forbidden. This should be true in every endeavor of life (1 Cor. 10:31; Matt. 4:4). Thus, it obviously should be true in the formal worship of the Lord in the Church. Church practices must be defensible from the Bible, which is the Word of the Living God and the only rule God has given for faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Many who are not of the Reformed heritage allege it is improper to baptize infants. Some see infant baptism as a vestige of Roman Catholicism, expressive of an undue concern for historic tradition, rather than a concern for Biblical fidelity. A. H. Strong called it a “rag of Romanism.” Alexander Campbell deemed it as among “the relics of Popery.” John R. Rice wrote that “all modern denominations which use these customs got them from Roman Catholics.” Others, not so much opposed to the rite, consider it a mere dedicatory rite for the benefit of the parents and grandparents. This effectively regards it as no true baptism at all. Such positions are greatly misinformed.

Contrary to such views, Bible-believing Presbyterianism deems infant baptism a Christian duty firmly rooted in Scriptural precept and principle. In addition, we regard its neglect a serious failure of Christian duty before the Lord of the Covenant. Outlined below is a brief, non-technical and introductory demonstration of the biblical mandate obligating the baptism of the infants of believers.

Let us begin with some basics.

1. The Essential Unity of the Bible

Presbyterians are a “people of The Book.” Presbyterians firmly believe that both the Old and New Testaments are God-breathed and profitable to God’s people. Though there is obvious progress and development in Scripture, the Bible is, nevertheless, one Book.

We may demonstrate the unity of Scripture from a variety of angles. Let us simply note three of these. First, a unity of purpose overarches both testaments. The Bible displays the glory of the God (Deut. 5:24; Psa. 8:1; Rev. 4:11; Rom. 16:27) and the way of salvation to men (Isa. 12:1-3; 55:1-7; Eph. 1; Rom. 1:16). These twin themes (doxology and soteriology) are constant in both parts of the Bible: “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; and deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins, for Your name’s sake!” (Psa. 79:9). “After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!” (Rev. 19:1). 

Second, a unity of principle undergirds both testaments. The Law of God is God’s righteous pattern for man’s conduct (Exo. 20:1-17; Psa. 119; Matt. 5:17-19; Rom. 3:31; 1 Jn. 3:22). The Law of God is the foundational principle and source of biblical ethics in both testaments: “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth” (Psa. 119:142). “The law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Rom. 7:12).

Third, a unity of people connect both testaments. The New Testament church is a continuation and expansion of the Old Testament people of God. Since this concept has been so misunderstood since the mid-1800s (with the arising of dispensationalism) I will more fully rehearse its evidence: (1) Both peoples are called a “church,” or “congregation,” or “assembly.” These words in the original languages of Scripture are synonyms meaning “a called out gathering” (Exo. 12:6; Lev. 4:13; Jer. 26:17; Matt. 18:17; Eph. 5:23-33). The New Testament itself calls the Old Testament people a Achurch@ (Acts 7:38; Heb. 2:12) and our “fathers” (1 Cor. 10:1).

(2) The Old Testament people are set apart for the true gospel, just as are the New Testament people: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed’” (Gal. 3:8; cp. Rom. 1:1, 2). “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Heb. 4:2).

 

(3) The New Testament people are said to be grafted into and become one with the Old Testament people, just as a branch is grafted into a tree (Rom. 11:1-24) and a brick is placed into a building (Eph. 2:11-20). (4) The New Testament people are called by terms distinctly associated with the Old Testament people. Christians are called “the seed of Abraham” (Gal. 3:6-9, 29), “the circumcision” (Phil. 3:3), a “royal priesthood” (Rom. 15:16; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; cp. Exo. 19:6), a “temple” (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16: Eph. 2:19), and “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).

 

Biblical faith does not know of two holy books of divergent purposes, nor of two contrasting ethical principles, nor of two distinct peoples of God, any more that it knows of two True Gods. Furthermore, both testaments are the Word of God given to man (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). Being such, the principles and precepts contained in either testament can only be annulled or modified by God Himself (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Matt. 15:6; Rev. 22:18). Since God’s Word is perfect truth (John 17:17) “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Principles and precepts established in the Old Testament continue into the New Testament, unless God himself repeals them -- as he did in the case of the precepts commanding animal sacrifices (Heb. 9-10), circumcision (Acts 15:1-2, 7-10; 1 Cor. 7:19; Gal. 5:6), food laws (Acts 10:10-16; 1 Tim. 4:3), and other such ceremonial-typological laws.

Having noted this we will now consider the particular Scripture principles forming the immediate bases of infant baptism. Let us begin in the Old Testament revelation.

2. The Principle of Family Solidarity

The Bible teaches that God establishes the family as a Creation ordinance of perpetual obligation (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:22-24; Matt. 19:4-6). That the family is of central importance in the Bible is evident upon the following considerations: (1) Numerous family genealogies are preserved in Scripture, thus demonstrating a concern for the preservation of family lineages (e.g., Gen. 5; 10; Num. 1). (2) Families were considered a high and holy heritage from the Lord (Psa. 127; 128; Isa. 8:18). (3) To be childless is lamentable (Gen. 25:41; 30:1; Exo. 23:26; Deut. 7:14; Psa. 113:9; Jer. 22:30). (4) Responsibilities before God center around family life (Deut. 6:4ff; Psa. 78:1-8; Prov. 13:22; 19:14). (5) Express moral obligations protecting the family are established in the Ten Commandments (Exo. 20:12, 14, 17).

Consequently, in the Old Testament God all-merciful specifically instituted his gracious covenant with family generations as beneficiaries of the covenant, rather than restricting the covenant to individuals. His mercies and blessings were particularly promised to the families of believers, as in the case of Noah (Gen. 9:9), Abraham (Gen. 17:2-7)) and others (Deut. 28:4; Psa. 103:17-18; 115:13,14). Also in keeping with this principle of family solidarity, his chastenings and curses ran in family generations (Exo. 20:5; Deut 5:9; Hos. 9:11-17).

In the Old Testament, then, godly families are obliged to recognize two important truths: First, when God’s grace claimed a person, God’s rule extended over all that that person possessed. For example, in the law of the tithe God claimed the first tenth of one’s production as a sign that he had a right to all of it (Deut. 14:22; Mal. 3:10). Second, when God’s grace claimed a person, that person’s household was set apart as holy unto the Lord. For example, the children of God’s people were forbidden to marry non-believers “for thou art an holy people” (Deut. 7:1-6). Truly God kept the family central in his gracious dealings with his covenant people in the Old Testament Revelation.

3. The Old Testament Sign of the Covenant

Indisputably, circumcision was the sign of God’s gracious covenant with his people in the Old Testament era (Gen. 17:10-14). Circumcision must be properly understood as a pre-condition to grasping the import of baptism, which as I will show, is the New Testament counterpart to Old Testament circumcision.

Unfortunately circumcision is too frequently deemed to be a purely national and racial sign of external, non-spiritual privileges in God’s Old Testament dealings with his people. Circumcision, however, was the sign of the covenant in its deepest spiritual meaning. Three fundamental concepts are tied up in the symbolism of circumcision.

First, circumcision was a sign of union and communion with God. At its institution with Abraham, God declares: “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. . . . And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token (sign) of the covenant betwixt me and you” (Gen. 17:7, 11). Note carefully that God calls himself personally Abraham’s God: “I will be a God unto thee.” God is not so united in covenant with unbelieving people. In Amos 3:2 he says: “thee and thee only have I known (intimately loved) of all the families of the earth.” In Psalm 147:19-20 we read: “He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and [as for his] judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.” The very heart of God’s gracious covenant was this concept of union and communion with God, which recurred over and again in the Old Testament: “I will be your God and you will be My people” (Gen. 17:7; Exo. 5:2; 6:7; 29:42, 45, 46; Lev. 11:45; 26:12,45; Deut. 4:20; Deut. 7:9; 29:14-15; 2 Sam. 7:24; Psa. 105:9; Isa. 43:6; Jer. 24:7; 31:33; 32:38; Eze. 11:20; 34:24; 36:28; 37:23; Hos. 1:10; Zech. 8:8; 13:9; 2 Cor. 6:18; Rev. 21:3, 7).

Second, circumcision was a sign of the removal of defilement. That is, it represents cleansing from sin. This is confirmed by God’s repeatedly calling upon his people to “circumcise their hearts” (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Isa. 52:1; Jer. 4:4; 6:10; 9:25-26; Eze. 44:7-9). Clearly then, the outward, physical cutting away of the filthy foreskin from the organ of generation of life was symbolic of the inward, spiritual removal of defilement from the center of one’s life, from the heart. Those with “uncircumcised hearts,” therefore, were deserving of God’s judgment (Lev. 26:41). Of such people God commanded: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your hearts” (Deut. 10:16).

Third, circumcision was the seal of the righteousness of faith. The New Testament apostle to the gentiles Paul clearly teaches this truth in Romans 4:11: “And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had . . . .” Circumcision was vitally related to faith. As an external sign it pictured and sealed internal faith, as the Bible clearly says.

At this point we must recall that circumcision -- which represented union with God, cleansing from sin, and faith -- was expressly commanded by God to be applied to infants: “And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations . . . .” Note well that the sing of God’s deeply spiritual covenant was to be applied to infants! The family was clearly included in the outworking of God’s grace to his people in the Old Testament .

4. New Testament Covenantal Responsibility

As previously noted, given the inspired nature of Scripture any principle God ordains in his word continues until he himself (speaking through one of his inspired prophets or apostles) annuls or modifies it. As we enter the New Testament revelation, two things stand out regarding the principle of family solidarity and the inclusion of infants in the covenant community. First, we find no command anywhere in the New Testament, whether logically implied or by expressly stated, repealing this vital, centuries old, God-ordained practice. Second, ample, clear evidences demand the principle’s continuation in this area.

Before actually defending the above two observations, let us consider some of the implications inherent in the assumption that family generations are excluded from the covenant community of the New Testament era. If families are no longer a part of the covenant community nor partakers and beneficiaries of God’s covenant, we must ask why. Would this imply that the New Covenant (instituted by Christ in Luke 22:20) is less generous than the Old Covenant, thereby accounting for the exclusion of the family unit? Or perhaps the New Covenant is lesser in efficacious power, thus explaining its being ineffectual where there is no personal, self-conscious faith? Are infants of believers today more depraved than they were in the Old Covenant era? Is the family of lesser significance now than then?

The answer to each of these questions must be a resounding, “No!” The New Testament clearly continues the principle of family solidarity and infant inclusion in the covenant community. Consider the following evidences:

First, Christ himself treats little children and infants in a way demonstrating God’s covenantal concern for them. In this regard the following passages should be read and compared: Matthew 18:1-6; 19:13-14; Mark 9:36-37; Luke 18:15-17. Let us make a few significant observations on this matter.

(1) The little children are brought to him by others: “then there were brought unto him little children” (Matt. 19:13; cp. Mark 10:13). They do not come on their own spiritual initiative. In fact, some of these children are too young even to walk: “and they brought unto him also infants” (Luke 18:15).

 

(2) When Christ says, “Of such is the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:14), he is speaking about the realm of covenantal blessings in terms of New Covenant terminology. John 3:3 and 1 Corinthians 6:10, for example, clearly employ “kingdom of God” in this sense. Jesus is not merely saying: “Grown people ought to have simple faith like that which is illustrated in these.”  We may say this on the basis of the following evidence:

 

(a) Some of these are infants incapable of demonstrating self-conscious faith (Luke 18:15).  Jesus is angered that the disciples keep these children and infants themselves away. He wants these little ones themselves presented to him: “And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:15-17).

 

(b) The account in Matthew does not even mention childlike faith at all: “Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence” (Matt. 19:13-15).

 

(3) Jesus actually performs a significant, spiritual act upon these children and calls down divine, spiritual blessings upon them: “Then there were brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them and pray . . . . And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence” (Matt. 19:13, 15). The laying on of hands is a deeply significant religious action appearing in several connections in the New Testament: the ordaining of deacons to office (Acts 6:6), the conferring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17), the setting apart of men for missionary activity (Acts 13:3), and the imparting of spiritual gifts (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6). It is no mere cute ceremony.

 

Second, Peter expressly structures the New Testament’s first post-Pentecost sermon in terms of the covenant and the principle of family solidarity. Following upon the Pentecostal miracle Peter ends his sermon, urging: ARepent and be baptised everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ . . . for the promise is unto you and to your children@ (Acts 2:38, 39). Given the Jewish audience (Acts 2:14, 22, 36) steeped in 1500 years of Old Testament covenantal thought patterns (cp. Stephen’s rehearsal of Jewish history in Acts 7) the promise is quite naturally structured. Peter expressly includes children in the promises of God here in this first New Covenant sermon. Were Peter concerned to get his hearers to understand that the old principles were radically changed (by omitting the family unit), he certainly would not have phrased this particular exhortation and promise in this manner -- especially in the context of urging faith in Christ, repentance from sin, and baptism. The principle of family solidarity is clearly operating in this evangelistic context.

Third, children in the New Testament churches are addressed as “saints” (“saint” in Greek means “one set apart” and is used of Christians). The salutations of the letters to Ephesus and Colassae show they are written expressly to the “saints” (Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:2). Yet in both letters, words of instruction are specifically addressed to “children” in those churches. For example, Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.” Colossians follows suit (Col. 3:20, 21). Thus, in speaking to different groups of “saints” no differentiation is made between children and adults in terms of their status in the church, or between believing and unbelieving children. The children of the saints are included in the covenant community, just as are wives (Eph. 5:22) and husbands (5:25).

Fourth, Paul teaches the child having only one believing parent is, nevertheless, “set apart” (i.e., is distinguished) from the children of an unbelieving family. First Corinthians 7:14 reads: “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 they are holy.” We should note that the children of believing parents are considered both “sanctified” and clean in contrast to the children of unbelievers, who are unsanctified and “unclean” in regard to God’s gracious dealings with his people. Paul is working here from the Old Testament principle of family solidarity. He refers to this principle under different symbols in Romans 11:16, where he states: “If the first piece of dough be holy, the lump is also holy; if the root be holy, the branches are holy.”

Fifth, household baptisms episodes are frequent enough in the New Testament to suggest the continuance of the principle including infants with believing parents in the covenant. Of the twelve baptism episodes recorded in the New Testament, three are whole-house baptisms (Acts 16:14; 16:33-34; 1 Cor. 1:16). If the New Testament actually presented a strictly individualistic emphasis in terms of the faith, one should wonder why only Lydia believes, while her entire household is baptized: “And a certain woman named Lydia . . . , which worshiped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened . . . . And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us . . .” (Acts 16:14,15). It is certainly easy enough for Luke to specify that all in the family believe, for he does this in Acts 18:8: “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house . . . .”

We should note in this regard that many versions mistranslate Acts 16:34. For instance, the King James version reads: “And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” The New American Standard version has the correct rendering of this verse in a marginal reference at verse 34: “rejoiced greatly with his whole household, having believed in God.” The participle phrase “having believed in God” is in the singular form. Thus, it refers only to the jailer: the jailer believes in God; his household rejoices. Yet the whole household is baptized: “And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:33). Note, too, that Paul indiscriminately presents the promise in terms expressing the principle of family solidarity: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31; cp. also Acts 11:14).

These five considerations concerning the New Testament record indicate the continuing principles of family solidarity before God and the inclusion of infants of believers in the covenant. What then would preclude infants receiving the sign of the covenant promise -- baptism?

5. The Sign of the New Covenant

In the New Testament we discover an express word from God repealing the rite of circumcision as the sign of the covenant (Gal. 3:1ff; 5:2ff; Acts 15:1-6, 24). As a blood-letting ceremony it is not compatible with the final phase of redemption, which has its final blood-letting in Christ=s death once-for-all (Heb. 9:12-14, 25-26; 10:10). Thus, God replaces a bloody rite with a bloodless covenant sign: baptism. That baptism takes over for circumcision as the sign of the covenant is clear from several considerations.

First, in Colossians 2:11, 12 Paul specifically relates the two rites, showing that baptism supersedes circumcision: “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.” The participle phrase in verse 12 (“having been buried with him in baptism”) is dependent upon and explanatory of the main verb in verse 11 (“ye are circumcised”). How then are we circumcised? By our baptism!

Second, both rites serve as initiatory introductions into the covenant community (i.e. the Church). In Genesis 17:9-14 (discussed earlier) circumcision is the initiation rite into the covenant community. The uncircumcised man is excluded from the covenant community (v. 14). In Acts 2:41 baptism becomes an initiatory rite: “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

Third, both rites are signs and seals of God’s gracious covenant love to his people. Compare Genesis 17:9-14 (on circumcision) with Galatians 3:27-29: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.”

Fourth, both rites represent the same deeply spiritual truths. Remember: circumcision signifies union with God, cleansing from sin, and faith (see Point 3). Baptism, too, symbolizes these three truths:        

(1) The baptismal formula clearly expresses union and communion with God. In Matthew 28:19 we read: “Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Paul reflects on the significance of this baptismal union in several places: Romans 6:3: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

 

(2) Baptism also portrays cleansing from sin: Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 22:16: “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins.” First Peter 3:21: “There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

 

(3) Baptism also reflects faith: Mark 16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Acts 8:12: “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” Acts 8:36‑38: “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.” Acts 18:8: “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.”

 

These four perspectives on baptism demonstrate conclusively that an intended, purposeful, and divinely ordained relationship exists between baptism and circumcision. Given the extensive arguments rehearsed above, on what grounds may we exclude infants from Christian baptism? Infants of the New Covenant era have as much right to the sign of the covenant as infants in the Old Covenant era.

6. Objections to Infant Baptism

Before concluding the argument for infant baptism, it might serve well to consider just briefly a few objections against it. Several common arguments are frequently urged against the practice.

First, “Nowhere in the New Testament do we read a clear, express command to baptize infants.”

This is certainly true. But as shown previously this is unnecessary in light of the unity of God’s Word between the Old and New Testaments. Express commands are not the only valid ones; good and necessary inferences are authoritative, as well. For instance, where does the New Testament explicitly allow women to partake of the Lord’s Supper? After all, at the original institution of the Supper, no women are present. Nowhere in the New Testament do we actually see women partaking of the sacrament. If one cites the Old Testament to show women were included in the Old Testament ritual meals, the reformed point is confirmed. Regarding covenantal inclusion, we should let 1500 years of covenant history in the Old Testament to receive its just weight in this regard.

Second, “Circumcision was for males only; why do reformed Christians baptize infant females?”

Though often employed against infant baptism, this argument fails of its point. Clearly, Lydia is baptized in the New Testament (Acts 16:15). In addition, by good and necessary inference we include females in the administration of the sign of the covenant. The New Covenant records an expansion of covenantal privilege: “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 neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:27-28). Opposition to infant baptism requires a restriction of privilege.

Third, “What of the many infants of covenant children who grow up to be renegades and non-believers?”

Covenant rebellion is an unfortunate situation. It is not, however, solely a problem for those who baptize infants. What of the many adults who are baptized and turn out to be disgraces to the Church? Is not Simon baptized, although we soon learn he has no part in the faith (Acts 8:13, 21)? The same situation prevails in the Old Testament with circumcision (e.g., David=s son Absalom). Abuse of privilege does not annul a command of God, rather it intensifies accountability.

Fourth, “Infants cannot understand the meaning of baptism.”

 

The same protest could be urged against circumcision, which, nevertheless, was applied to infants. The same protest, as a matter of fact, could be lodged against Christ himself for laying his hands on the infants brought to him. Cannot God bless even those who do not understand?

7. Summary and Conclusion The case for infant baptism has been developed upon the following lines of consideration:

First, both testaments of the Bible are equally authoritative as revelation from God to his people. The two testaments are vitally inter-related. The New Testament is a continuation and expansion of the Old Testament.

Second, God establishes the family as the arena of his grace and mercy and he reveals the principle of family solidarity. For centuries of covenantal history the seed of believers was included in God’s gracious covenant and in the covenant community. They even receive the sign of the covenant, just as the adult does.

Third, the New Testament abrogates the divinely instituted principle of family solidarity. Neither does it urge us to exclude infants from the covenant community. Nor does it instruct the early Christian community (composed largely of covenant-oriented Jews) to withhold the sign of the covenant from their children.

Fourth, the New Testament treats children as members of the covenant community, frames sermons in terms of the family solidarity principle, and records actions expressive of the covenant principle (i.e., household baptisms).

Fifth, baptism takes over the function of circumcision in the New Covenant era. Since circumcision (which pictured the same truths as baptism) was applied to infants, why should not baptism?

Often the Reformed Christian is put on the defensive regarding the issue of infant baptism. He is challenged to demonstrate the propriety of baptizing infants. This is unfortunate. Actually we should be challenging those who neglect baptizing their infants to give just, Scripturally-verifiable cause for excluding the infants of believers from the Church and baptism.