Heidelcast Series: I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children

The question of baptism, who should be baptized and why, is not just a question about the sacraments. It is a question that is integrally connected to the way we read the Scriptures (hermeneutics), the way we understand redemptive history, the way we understand the biblical covenants, the Christian life, and the church. The Reformed churches have a distinct approach to each of these related questions so that our approach to baptism is the result of a web of biblical doctrines that must be held together. At the same time, many evangelicals have never heard a biblical case for infant baptism. In this series we will walk through the biblical and confessional teaching about God’s covenant with Abraham and what it means for how we read Scripture, how we understand the Old Testament, the old covenant (they are distinct), how we relate the old to the new, and what that means for our view of the church and for the practice of baptism.

Here is the complete Heidelcast series on covenant theology and infant baptism.

  1. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (1)
  2. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (2)
  3. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (3)
  4. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (4)
  5. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (5)
  6. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (6)
  7. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (7)
  8. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (8)
  9. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (9)
  10. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (10)
  11. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (11)
  12. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (12)
  13. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (13)
  14. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (14)
  15. I Will Be A God To You And To Your Children (15)

More Resources

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. Thank you very much for this Dr Clark. I’m writing to ask: my dad is doing a part-time seminary course headed by Drs Barcellos and Waldron. He’s staunchly baptistic, and is aware of my transitioning to Presbyterianism. The main argument he makes against peadobaptists is the regulative principle. I’ve explained the Presbyterian view of the continuity of the covenants as laid out in your curriculum and elsewhere, but he says it’ll take more than a few articles to change his mind and has pointed out the intelligence of the early Baptists (Splisbury, etc) saying they would have taken most peadobaptist arguments into account. Please do you have advice for how I can discuss this in a respectful yet exegetical manner?

    • Toulwan,

      We baptize infants of believers because God has commanded it and the RPW is that we do in worship only what God has commanded. The regulative principle requires us to initiate our covenant children. Every command to baptize is a command to initiate believers and their children. God said, “I will be a God to you and to your children.” The command to initiate children into the covenant community has not been revoked.


      We baptize infants because for the same reason we baptize unbaptized converts: “the promise is to you and to your children and to those who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

      The Baptist application of the RPW contra infant initiation assumes what has to be proven, namely, that God has revoked the Abrahamic promise. Evidently, the Apostolic church (Acts 16) did not get the memo because they practiced Abrahamic baptism.

      We should be respectful of our parents according to the 5th commandment but we must follow the Word of God as it shapes our conscience.

    • Who is initiating the discussion? Is it your father, or you? If he’s raising the subject, then offer your convictions when called, and offer responses to his challenges. If you have answers, and they are delivered in a tone and language that shows honor, appealing to the other’s reason, that’s a good discussion.

      If you are raising the subject, unless your father is evidently just as into the conversation as you are, I would be careful about poking the bear. Why are you raising the subject? Do you want to “change his mind?” That’s not in your power, and often efforts we make to shake up someone’s foundations don’t end up helping them.

      Baptism only seems superficial, like a ground cover plant showing above ground; it has roots that go deep, subterranean connections that are unknown and web-like. So when someone is “pulled up by his baptism,” it is a religious trauma.

      The proper subjects, even the mode of baptism, are properly the conclusion of a theology of baptism, and at the next level sacramental theology. Once you understand what baptism means, and how it is connected to the whole Bible’s teaching on the subject, practical baptism of adults and their infants simply looks (to us) like what we find in the historical instances of baptism recorded in Scripture.

      Don’t be a missionary to the Baptists. Your father sounds like a believer. Any moves he makes are not likely to result because of your direct influence.

    • Thank you both for your responses. Yes my dad starts the conversations. He is a sound believer, and a role model to me in many ways. I usually keep quiet on the subject out of respect, but I am hoping to formulate sound responses. I will take your advice on not being a missionary to the Baptists. The best I can really do is pray.

    • As Bruce points out, baptism really is a reflection of how we understand Scriptures, through the covenants. 1689 Federalism Baptists, especially see the division of grace and law as a division between the old covenant, which they see as a covenant of law, which means everything up to the death and resurrection of Christ, and the new covenant, which is the covenant of grace, everything after that. They do not see the Abrahamic covenant as the new covenant, and the covenant of grace, but rather connect it to the Mosaic covenant, because circumcision was given as a command, so they see it as law that obligated Israel to obey the law for a temporal blessings and tenure in the land. As a consequence of this hermeneutic, they see the Scripture divided into periods of law and gospel, and the people of God divided into the earthly people of the old covenant of works, and the Spiritual people of the new covenant of grace. Therefore any practice which they connect with their understanding of the old covenant, including the Abrahamic covenant, such as infant initiation, they reject as not applying to the new covenant. Even though infant initiation has never been revoked, they see the new covenant as completely different, so all the old covenant, with which they include the Abrahamic covenant, no longer applies to the new covenant. Perhaps you could point out how this divides the Scriptures and God’s people into two completely different categories, so how is of true then, that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and always? Is God inconsistent? Does God have two completely different ways of dealing with people? So when he initiates the discussion, ask hard questions that require him to provide answers, so he will need to examine his convictions. Let the Holy Spirit convict him, that is not your place.

Comments are closed.