Baptism: The Doctrine that Caused Tears (4)

Guest Post by Rev. Mr. Leon M. Brown. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, a graduate of Westminster Seminary California (MDiv, 2011; MA Historical Theology, 2012), Assistant Pastor of New City Fellowship (PCA) in Fredericksburg, VA, and is presently pursuing doctoral studies in OT and the Ancient Near East. Here is his YouTube channel and his Facebook page.

Baptism: The Doctrine That Caused Tears (Part 3)


Time and time again I heard that Reformed paedobaptists read “the New Testament…as though it were the Old and the Old as though it were the New.…”1 I believed this for a time. Virtually every time I insisted that they show me a command to baptize infants, they took me to Genesis 17:9–10:

And God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.’

“Great!” I thought, “but we are not discussing circumcision.” It was as if they were proving a directive for a new covenant sacrament utilizing an Old Testament command. While I knew better to associate everything under the umbrella of the Old Testament as the old covenant, I still was not satisfied with their answer.

What was I going to do? By this time, I believed the children of one or two believing parents were included in the covenant, but if I could not find a New Testament imperative to apply the sign of the covenant to children, it seemed, at the time, that any Old Testament directive was insufficient. Fred Malone, a former paedobaptist, in his book, The Baptism of Disciples Alone: A Covenant Argument for Credobaptism Verses Paedobaptism, emphasized this point and concluded that to baptize one’s infant(s), although no imperative exists in the New Testament, is a violation of the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW). I latched onto his conclusion.

“But what about the household baptisms?” I was asked. Like a standard polemicist, I used their own theologians against them. Pierre Marcel exclaimed, “We state here with all desirable precision that these passages [household baptisms] have never served and still do not serve, in good Reformed theology, as a basis or justification of infant baptism.”2 Looking back, I realize this was not the best course of action. I utilized the opposing views of Reformed paedobaptists to my advantage as if all Baptists agree. Nevertheless, the household baptisms did not, with certainty, demonstrate that children were present, and if they were, it seemed, lest Lydia and her household, that all who were baptized believed. In other words, all who received the sacrament professed faith. Knowing this, I was on the verge of discontinuing my study of baptism. Some 70 books and numerous articles read, papers in seminary written, along with hundreds of conversations later, I felt that I have given it due diligence, until I read something by both Baptists and paedobaptists theologians that made me think a bit differently.

Francis Turretin, in Institutes of Elenctic Theology (vol. 3), argued that the Great Commission was grounds for baptizing both adults and infants (Q. XX.III). I did not see how that was possible until I considered the Greek, but it was not as if only paedobaptists recognized the construction of the Greek grammar. Baptists fully acknowledged it, too. In Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, Andreas J. Kostenberger notes, “Jesus’ followers must ‘go’ in order to ‘make disciples.’ ‘All the nations’ includes Israel. The two present participles ‘baptizing’ (baptizontes) and ‘teaching’ (didaskontes) specify the manner in which disciples are to be made.”3 Daniel Wallace calls these participles a participle of “means,” which is similar to a participle of “manner” (See Greek Grammar, Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, 627–30). In other words, disciples are made by baptism and by teaching. Thus, the so-called Great Commission should be read, “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations, by means of baptizing them…by means of teaching them” (Matt. 28:19–20). This proper rendering of the Great Commission is consistent with the Reformed paedobaptist view. It is no wonder the apostle Paul addressed children and told them to be obedient in the Lord (Eph 6:1). They were disciples initiated into the covenant community by means of baptism and rendered as having the ability to receive God’s instruction and obey their parents. This was not some natural law command. They were to obey their parents in the Lord the same way their parents were to love each other in the Lord (Eph. 5:22, 25).4

The scales, as it were, began to fall. Embedded within the Great Commission itself was a command to baptize that included both adults and infants.5 Should I change my mind? What would I tell my wife? What would I tell my friends? What would I tell one of my Baptist professors who spent so much time with me? In which church would I now serve? I had two potential calls to Reformed Baptist congregations and they were zeroing in on calling a pastor. It was also the last semester of the initial portion of my seminary education. What would I do? I had some major decisions to make.

Part 5


1. Paul K. Jewett, Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), 8.

2. Pierre-Charles Marcel, The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism, trans. Philip Hughes (Exeter: A. Wheaton and Co., Ltd., 1959), 196.

3. Andreas J. Kostenberger, “Baptism in the Gospels,” in Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ (B & H Academic: Nashville, 2006), 23.

4. In this series, I have not discussed the efficacy of baptism. Please see WCF 28.

5. This paradigm is also consistent with the Abrahamic covenant.


  1. I guess there were no comments because the nay-sayers have nothing to say to that! Good job and thanks Leon

    • Junior,

      Thanks for reading. Let me encourage you, however, not to fan the partisan flames. Though we should be excited that folk are embracing the whole Reformed faith, we love our Baptist brothers and sisters and want then to embrace covenant theology and not to be put off by our ungraciousness.

      I don’t say this as one without sin. Mea culpa!

  2. Moreover, were “by” admissible before the participles “baptizing” and “teaching,” infants would be excluded as incapable of being taught; or if admitted because in them it is the first part of discipling, it must be continued, if baptizing and teaching are contemporaneous with discipling and the fulfilling of it, until the baptizing and teaching have unitedly accomplished the discipling. If the baptizing commenced as soon as convenient after birth, its continuance would be, as we maintain, until Christ should be in them “the hope of glory,” until they became believers in Christ, or made a credible profession of this faith. Any rule that would unite the participle “baptizing” to the verb disciple, and make it the accomplishment of discipling and a contemporaneous act, would also unite the participle “teaching.”

    Nor is there a noted Paedobaptist commentator, or controversialist, whom we remember, who does not interpret baptism into the name of Father, Son, and Spirit, baptism into Christ, or into Moses, as involving a profession and consecration; which interpretation necessarily excludes infants. Dr. Martensen says that “baptism, as a human ceremony, is an act of confession, by which a person is admitted into Christ’s church;” that “the sacraments, as acts of the church, are chiefly to be viewed as acts of profession (notoe professionis), visible, sensible acts, by participating in which, each person indeed confesses his Lord and the church.” Mr. Watson says: “That Christ is formed in us (Gal. iv. 19); that our nature is changed; that we are made holy and heavenly; this is to be baptized into Jesus. Rom. vi. 3.” He further speaks of an “oath of allegiance” which we make to God in baptism. Yet it is also said by him on Christ’s commission, “The Greek is, ‘Make disciples of all nations.’ If it be asked, how should we make them disciples? it follows, ‘Baptizing them and teaching them.’ In a heathen nation, first teach, and then baptize them; but in a Christian church, first baptize, and then teach them” (p. 380). Not only has Christ given no intimation of two ways of discipling, not only do the inspired writings contain no record of apostolic discipling in two ways, but the very records of discipling and baptizing the heathen, as at Philippi and Corinth, are the records from which our opponents advocate their first baptizing and then teaching.

    We admit that in accordance with human phraseology, the word “disciples” is used in Scripture in application not only to those who were really, but also to those who were professedly disciples. Yet assuredly the Saviour did not wish his apostles, nor does he wish us, to make hypocrites; although not having access to the heart, we may sometimes baptize the unworthy, as Philip baptized Simon. This inevitable fallibility we deem no more condemnable in ourselves than in the evangelist. From this necessary weakness of humanity, we may not only sometimes receive the unworthy to baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but may also induct such into the highest office in the church of Christ. We are not justified for this reason in altering the import of a disciple of Christ, solemnly and explicitly given by the Saviour himself.

    The tendency of paedobaptism, as we could clearly show, is to pervert the import of a disciple of Christ, by teaching that an unconscious babe, that a child who can answer certain questions, yea, that a man or woman known to be ungodly, may, by baptism, become a disciple of Christ! Thus while certain conformists, maintaining justification by faith, are inconsistently teaching that baptism regenerates and converts into a child of God, certain nonconformists, maintaining the divine truth of salvation by grace through faith, teach that baptism disciples to Christ! A correct interpretation of discipling excludes infants from the commission.

    According to this natural import of Christ’s words, namely, that we are to disciple to him, to baptize into the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to teach obedience in all things to Christ’s commands, we further conceive the apostles must have understood Christ, on account of the baptism they had already witnessed and practised. They knew not, so far as we are aware, any other baptism than John’s, and that of Jesus through themselves. Were we to bind with the Bible all the Rabbinical lumber and all the condemned (or approved) Jewish traditions that the world contains, we should, while dishonouring the sufficiency of inspired writ, be in the same destitution of evidence that the apostles knew of any other baptisms than those recorded in the oracles of God. John “baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him who should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus, (Acts xix. 4.) They “were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark i. 5.) It was a baptism “into repentance,” as this was the state professed by them while confessing their sins and being baptized.

    Until our Lord’s commission, the Scriptures speak of no baptism from heaven in addition to John’s, except that of Christ by means of his disciples. Concerning this the inspired record is, first, that “He baptized” (John iii. 22), and secondly, that “He made and baptized more disciples than John, though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples.” (John iv. 1, 2.) He baptized disciples. He made AND baptized them. The instruction from this baptism can only be in favour of first making disciples, and then baptizing them. The whole of divine revelation respecting every baptism from heaven which the apostles had previously witnessed or practised, confirms our belief that they would certainly understand Christ’s words according to their natural import already indicated.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement/gentle rebuke Dr.Clark, my coffee sometimes gets the better of me. I was trained up in a “us vs them” baptist church and still have a tendency to launch unprevoked attacks.

  4. All,

    Thank you for the comments. Betty, the one who posted information from Spurgeon, posted on my Facebook page as well. If you’d like to respond to her, great! But I am responding on my Facebook page. 🙂


  5. Thanks to Messrs Clark and Brown for these posts. They are encouraging. The treatment of Jer 31 in context is vital, and your treatment of this and the great commission are most helpful.

    From another former Reformed Baptist, now Presbyterian Pastor

  6. I’m hoping you’ll get to this in a future post, as I’m struggling with paedobaptism, having come from a dispy background, but now embracing reformed/covenant theology. This article has been helpful, in addition to the book by Daniel Hyde “Jesus loves the little children”. What concerns me, especially in light of federal vision and new perspective on Paul error, is that I dont see in this article, nor in the HC or Canons of Dort, or BC, the fact that children may not come to faith in Jesus. There is no guarantee they will come to faith, but the confessions and Hyde’s book seem to imply that they will likely come to faith. I’m trying to understand what is significant about a believer’s children being holy or set apart, as opposed to an unbeliever’s children. Certainly an un believer’s child can be called to faith by God. Is it just that believer’s children have an advantage in a family of at least one believer, in that he/she will receive instruction in God’s ways, including the Gospel, while an unbeliever’s kids may not have ready access? Doesn’t seem enough to justify the language Paul uses. I appreciate your response.


    • Hi Jeff,

      I get this question frequently. For the confessional Reformed view it’s not about outcome as much as about process. We don’t baptize either because we presume that the child is regenerate nor do we presume that baptism produces regeneration. The great problem with the FV is that they confuse the decree with the covenant so that every baptized person is necessarily, temporarily united to Christ. That’s not how we understand Scripture at all! We understand that baptism is a sign/seal of what God promises to his elect. He administers that promise through the visible church, through believing parents and their children.

      We hope they will come to faith. We expect that they will come to faith but we recognize that whether they come to faith is not up to us. It’s up the the sovereign, free decree of God. We baptize in hope but without presuming that we can make God do what we want. Baptism isn’t magic. It’s a divinely instituted sign/seal of what God does for his elect after he brings them to faith.

      There’s more on baptism that speaks to these questions:

      A Contemporary Reformed Defense of Infant Baptism

      Baptism and the Benefits of Christ (this might help re baptism regeneration and related questions)

      Here’s a popular pamphlet that deals with these issues.

    • Hi Jeff,

      I’m just reading this. Unfortunately, I only have one more article to write in this series. R. Scott Clark has been gracious to allow me to write this series. I put the limit on the series and would like to stick to it.

      Also, this series was only supposed to be a snapshot of how my position changed. There is much more I could say. Either way, I’m glad you’re wrestling with it! It took me a while. 🙂

      I have a book that I’ll have to recommend once I get to church (it’s on my shelf). It talks about the efficacy of baptism. It was helpful. I, like RSC, do not believe baptism ‘is magic.’ I do believe that baptism is a means of grace whereby God sovereignly operates through his sacrament. That said, I believe God can bless and curse through baptism. (Please see Meredith Kline’s “By Oath Consigned.”). This was huge for me because I realized that whomever receives baptism will either receive the benefits expressed therein by faith in Christ or they will receive judgment.

      That does not directly answer your question, I know.

      I do not believe all children of 1 or 2 believing parents are guaranteed to come to faith. God has elected those whom he will save. I know plenty of Presbyterian and Reformed families whose children are unbelievers. It’s unfortunate! But unless they repent and turn to Christ, their baptism will render a curse upon them. But again, everyone’s baptism signifies blessing or curses. I do not differentiate between a confessor’s baptism and an infant baptism.

      I’ll get that book to you. Dr. Fesko, of Westminster Seminary California, recommended it to me. And perhaps we can talk about the benefits of why we baptize our children. (I hope to baptize mine early next year). 🙂 I have several baptistic friends, dear brothers, who ask that same question. “What are the benefits?” It is a bit pragmatic, but it is a question worth answering.


  7. Although it’s only a small section on the efficacy of baptism, the book to which I referred is:

    A Body of Divinity: Being the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion by James Ussher.

  8. Thanks to both of you for all this information. I’ll pour through it and shoot some questions back to you. LMB, you said “I do not believe all children of 1 or 2 believing parents are guaranteed to come to faith. God has elected those whom he will save.” I agree with that whole heartedly – there are clear scriptures to back that up.

    RSC, I agree with your statement “We hope they will come to faith.”, but not the following “we expect they will…” though you do qualify it, and the rest of the paragraph is solid. Its that “expectation” language I wish reformed authors would stay away from as it’s not helpful with the FV and Roman Catholic teaching we’re facing today. I hope my kids will come to faith, and will baptize and teach them with that hope (once I figure this out a bit more so I believe it myself). I’ll study the links you listed carefully. Thank you again.

    • Hi Jeff,

      I just sent the last article to RSC. Although it does not address the issues you’ve raised, I hope it will be an encouragement!

      I agree with Scott! I, likewise, “expect” my children to come to faith. The language of expectation should not terrify you.

      If you don’t mind, I am going to bow out of this conversation because I have to get the house clean before my wife returns. 🙂

      I’m sure Scott will provide some more avenues of consideration.


    • Jeff,

      On expecting, of course we depend on the divine decree but we do have a promise from God:

      “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” (Gen 17:7)

      This isn’t a theory. It’s a promise. We have to keep the promises together with what Scripture tells us about God’s freedom in election (Rom 9). We don’t know, however, what God has decreed from all eternity but we do know what he’s promised.

      I don’t see the connection between baptizing covenant children, to whom God has made promises in his Word. Remember, King David was confident that his son was with the Lord.

      2 Sam 12:16-23: David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

      The Synod of Dort interpreted this passage thus:

      1.17 Since we are to judge of the will of God from His Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are comprehended, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their infancy.

      It doesn’t mean that all baptized infants are saved. It doesn’t mean that baptism automatically confers new life or election or justification. That’s the federal vision error (though they make all those things temporary and conditional works or cooperation with grace) but it does mean that there are promises attached to baptism to believing parents. Believing parents should trust that their children belong to the Lord. They should pray for them, catechize them, attend to the means of grace and trust them to the care of the Lord, to the promises of God. There’s a distinction between expectation and presumption. I’m opposed to the latter.

      Take a look at the materials I linked on relating baptism to election.

      On the FV, this blog has been on the forefront of opposing the FV since it began (under another name) back in 2006 and I’ve been opposing it in print and from the pulpit and online since 2000-01. See Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry. See also the article to which Linked on “Baptism and the Benefits of Christ,” which was addressed to the FV controversy. See also the FV resources on the HB and on

  9. “There’s a distinction between expectation and presumption. I’m opposed to the latter.”

    I don’t see the distinction in these two words – so I need help there.

    I was reading the canons of dort quote you listed, comparing it to the WCF version, which I think is more defensible from scripture, as they use “elect” in front of infants who will be saved. It appears to me the WCF version proves God can generate faith in infants to trust Him, but avoids the implication that all infants of believers are saved (nothing is mentioned about baptism in the CD or WCF article in question).

    You do have a very strong point with David’s assumption that he would see his child in heaven. I can’t reconcile that one with election. That passage is strong support for how article 17 is understood. How can David assume it? You keep pointing to the promise from Gen 17, but its not necessarily for every one of my kids, right? Otherwise Esau would not have been ‘hated’ by God. How am I to understand that promise as anything more than its application to the elect?

    Scott, I appreciate your patience and time answering these questions you have settled for yourself and have seen numerous times from others. I need to do some more reading, studying and praying and realize this will not happen quicky, as Leon discovered.

    I hear you on FV – I attended a CREC church with some friends as I was exploring covenant theology and quickly discovered the errors, especially the redefining of terms like justification by faith alone. I then tried a PCA church where the pastor swam the tiber soon after prosecuting a federal visionist. I’m finding it hard to connect with a good church to get some answers, so sites like yours are very valuable while I search.

  10. Dear Baptist/evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ,

    I ask you to consider these points:

    1. When God said that he would preserve his Word, what did he mean? Did he mean that he would preserve the original papyrus and parchment upon which his Word was written? If so, then his Word has disappeared as none of the original manuscripts remain.

    Did he mean that he would preserve his word in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek only? He would not preserve his Word when it was translated into all the other languages of the world?

    Or did God mean that he would preserve his Word…the message/the words…the Gospel: the free gift of salvation, and the true doctrines of the Christian Faith? Would God allow his Word/his message to mankind to be so polluted by translation errors that no translation, into any other language from the three original languages, continues to convey his true words?

    2. There is NO translation of the Bible, from the original ancient languages, into ANY language, ANYWHERE on earth, that translates the Bible as the Baptists/evangelicals believe it should be translated.

    No Bible translation on earth translates Acts 2:38 as, “Repent and believe in Jesus Christ every one of you and you will receive the Holy Ghost. Then be baptized as a public profession of your faith.”

    Why would God allow EVERY English translation of the Bible throughout history to be mistranslated or use such confusing language as to suggest that God forgives sins in Baptism? And not only all English translations, ALL translations of the Bible have retained these “mistranslations or confusing wording”.

    Do you honestly believe that God would allow his Word to be so polluted with translation errors that EVERY Bible in the world, if read in its simple, plain interpretation, would tell the people of the world that God forgives sins in water baptism??

    3. Why is there not one single piece of evidence from the early Christians that indicates that ANYONE in the 800-1,000 years after Christ believed that: Water baptism is ONLY a public profession of faith/act of obedience; sins are NOT forgiven in water baptism? Yes, you will find statements by these early Christians that salvation is by faith, but do Baptists and evangelicals really understand how a sinner obtains saving faith? THAT IS THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, MY FRIENDS! Does the sinner produce faith by his own free will or does God provide faith and belief as a gift, and if God does provide faith and belief as a free gift, with no strings attached, WHEN exactly does God give it?

    4. Is it possible that: Baptist-like believers, at some point near or after 1,000 AD, were reading the Bible and came across verses that read “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” and “Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved” and established their doctrine of Salvation/Justification first, based on these and similar verses alone, and then, looked at the issue of water baptism, and since the idea that God forgives sins in water baptism didn’t seem to fit with the verses just mentioned, these early Baptists re-interpreted these verses to fit with their already established doctrine, instead of believing the “baptism verses” literally?

    Is it possible that BOTH groups of verses are literally correct?? If we believe God’s Word literally, he says that he saves/forgives sins when sinners believe/call AND when they are baptized? Why not believe that God can give the free gift of salvation in both situations: when a sinner hears the Gospel and believes and when a sinner is baptized?

    Should we re-interpret God’s plain, simple words just because they don’t seem to make sense to us?

    God bless you and keep you!

  11. Oh, and the reason why the New Testament sign had to be unbloody is because Golgotha (No Bible should have the word “Calvary” in it, unless there is a language in which that exact word is the translation of “skull”) is not the first time Christ’s blood was shed for us. Christ did nothing to deserve having His blood shed at circumcision and, therefore, His circumcision must be as substitutionary as anything else He suffered.

  12. I am curious though as to how those in sincerity who believe that this view of the great commission has baptism as a means of making disciples can be reconciled with what Jesus insisted was necessary of disciples:
    That they be must be willing to take up the cross and to deny self, count their lives and their relationships as of nought compared to following Jesus (Luke 14), that they must hold to Jesus’ commands and obey them (John 8:31). It would seem rather strange if Jesus laboured the labour or cost of being a disciple to adults and then gave a blank cheque to all and sundry to have their children become disciples effortlessly.

    In Acts 8 when in the western text Philip tells the Ethiopian eunach he needs to believe with all his heart in order to be baptised this would seem to me to be entirely consistent with discipleship in the gospels and acts.

    The silence of the scriptures really is quite deafening regarding infants and baptism and joining the church. In Acts 8 had the covenantal view of baptism been understood and practiced we would surely read of the Samaritans that they were baptised “both men and women” .. AND THEIR HOUSEHOLDS … but we do not. Similarly in Acts 5 when we are told that believers were increasingly added to the church multitudes of both men and women … that would have been a logical point to have included reference to households.

    Of all 5 instances of the word household being used in (Acts: 10/11, 16, 18, 1 Cor.1 & 16) relation to baptism only 1 … that of Lydia … allows for the possibility of infants being referred to (that possibility only exists if you already assume that it was possible theologically!). Looking at the passage and the non-reference to Lydia as a widow when Luke and Acts have some 13 or so references elsewhere … along with no reference to a husband or children … and her status as a wealthy business woman and therefore probably mature … the reference to household logically would refer to servants … adults.

    I would love a reply to this. If there is not only a fulsome and plentiful and clear teaching of Jesus to baptise ONLY adult disciples who are believers and have faith then the church is disobeying the command of Jesus by not baptising disciples for the most part but instead dripping water on passive children with no notion of what is going on and claiming they are baptised.



  13. Well I’ve looked Scott and apart from a brief reference to the Didache that caught my attention I’ve found nothing apart from the reference in the main post about Leon’s discovery. That was interesting and caused me to mail a very paedo sympathetich greek scholar and bible translator for his insight which I would trust and value as I would respect his sincerity.

    His comments received today about Matthew 28:19 were: #

    I fully agree that, according to this verse, “disciples are made by baptism and by teaching.” But the Greek participles (“baptizing” and “teaching”) are present participles. So the passage is not saying that the baptism and teaching take place before disciples are made, rather that they are part of the ongoing process. So this argument gives no real support for infant baptism, I would think. For a better argument, one might point out that the object of “make disciples” is nations, not individuals, and to baptize a nation you need to baptize everyone including the children. On the other hand, there is a clear parallel between “baptizing” and “teaching”, and you can’t teach infants. On balance I would say that this passage is neutral on the issue

    This issue is eating me up. I feel like a complete hypocrite at the moment. I’ve become convinced that adult baptism was the clear and obvious norm in the gospels, acts and first two centuries. Yet I’m in a church which splashs passive infants with water and I am one of those that do that spashing ….. & I have a duty of care to preach and teach the truth.

    I want to be balanced. If there are open doors to allow reasonable divergence of view and interpretations on things which I’ve missed then I need to find it or them.

    As things stand the barriers to easy discipleship and following Jesus are a huge argument which I’ve not found addressed. Take up the cross, deny self, count all lost next to me – Luke 14, remain in me and obey and hold fast to my commandes (john 8).



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