Monday, January 28, 2013

You Have to Say More

Plero: You’re a paedobaptist, right?

Agno: That’s correct.

P: So you believe in infant baptism?

A: Yes.

P: Why?

A: Why not?

P: Uh, because the Bible says nothing about baptizing babies. Where do you find that in Scripture?

A: That’s a fair question, and I’ll answer it in due time; but do you mind if I ask you a question first?

P: If you must.

A: Ok. Here’s my question: Do you believe that women should be allowed to partake of the Lord’s Supper?

P: Um, yes. Of course.

A: Ok, good. But let me urge you to abide by your own standard, the one you just held me to in regard to infant baptism. Believe it or not, there isn’t one verse in the Bible that commands us to give communion to women, nor is there a single description of a woman partaking. In other words, we don’t find a verse that says, “Thou shalt give communion to women,” nor do we see any verse that says something like, “And then the women partook of communion.” So is it fair to say that the Bible does not allow women to partake of communion?

P: I see what you’re doing, but it’s not going to work. Scripture might not expressly command us to give communion to women, but we know that Christian women are valid participants based on who they are in Christ.

A: Care to elaborate?

P: Sure. It’s simple. Everyone who is a member of the body of Christ has access to the Lord’s table. Christian women are part of the body of Christ, and so they can legitimately partake of communion as well.

A: Exactly! And that’s precisely the way I argue for infant baptism.

P: Wait, what? I’m not following.

A: Notice, you’ve just admitted that an express biblical command is not needed in order for us to legitimately give communion to women. So why are you requiring that I give you an express biblical command to baptize infants?

P: Ok, fine. But I gave you a theological rationale for why women can legitimately partake of communion.

A: Exactly! And that’s what you should be doing. In terms of female communion, you offered a rationale based on the status of Christian women in the body of Christ. In terms of infant baptism, I can offer a rationale based on the covenant status of infants born to Christian parents.

P: Well, let’s hear it then.

A: Gladly. Covenant members receive the sign of the covenant (Gen. 17). The sign of the new covenant is baptism (Col. 2:11-12). The children of Christian parents are included as members of the new covenant (Matt. 19:13-14; Acts 2:38-39; 1 Cor. 7:14). Therefore, the children of Christian parents should receive baptism.

P: Woa, slow down. I don’t know if I accept all of those premises, or your use of those texts.

A: Fair enough. We can address them again some other time. My only point here is this: Not every aspect of Christian doctrine and practice is spelled out explicitly in Scripture. Sometimes we have to argue from good and necessary inference, just like you did in your argument for the inclusion of women at the Lord’s table. In our debate over baptism, it doesn’t do much good for you to simply state that the Bible doesn’t explicitly mention the baptism of infants, as if that settles the issue. You have to say more.

P: We’ll talk again soon.

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