Baptism of infants by pouring/sprinkling

tagaytayinfantbaptismLast Friday, I met a pastor who was visiting from the southern Philippine city of Cagayan de Oro. He was the very first pastor who was indoctrinated by the Pentecostal-Charismatic G12 Movement in Colombia, S.A. and afterward introduced it to the Philippines. However, in the last few years, he learned about the Reformed faith through self-study, rejected Pentecostalism and the G12 Movement, and is now continuing in his journey to the Reformation.

So until almost midnight, he, another couple and I had a long “White Horse Inn” discussion at Chow King (a Filipino-Chinese restaurant chain) in Santa Mesa, Manila, more than an hour commute from our home in Antipolo, Rizal. Guess what consumed most of our discussion? Infant baptism.

A few of the most important points about this issue are in these two previous articles (with excerpts) I wrote here:

“Donatist, Anabaptist, and Presbyterian Confusion”

But surely, don’t we have the best example of infant dedication in Jesus, when Mary brought him to the Temple when he was 41 days old (Luke 2:22-24)? No, this was no infant dedication! In the first place, Mary went to the Temple for her ceremonial purification rites following her son’s birth (Exod. 13:2, 12; Lev. 12:3-7). Secondly, Mary was fulfilling God’s command to all Jewish parents to make an offering for all firstborn sons in remembrance of the redemption from death of Israel’s firstborn sons through the blood of the Passover lamb (Exod. 12:11-14, 13:11-15), a foreshadow of what Jesus became to all believers (1 Cor. 5:7).

“What 1 Corinthians 10:2 Means”

These two Old Testament “baptisms” [1 Cor 10:1-2; 1 Pet 3:19-21] are but a couple of illustrations of baptism by sprinkling or pouring, not immersion. The Israelites were rained on or sprinkled during their Red Sea crossing, while the Egyptians were “immersed” in the sea. Noah and his family were rained on during the days of the great flood, while the rest of the unbelieving world perished by “immersion” in the flood.

Hopefully, you who are not Reformed and not paedobaptists will come to a better understanding why we do what we do in this sacrament after reading these two articles.

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8 thoughts on “Baptism of infants by pouring/sprinkling”

  1. Is it possible to put too much emphasis on the sacraments and miss the point? To begin to see the methods that God uses to point us to Jesus as the means of  our salvation?
    I ask this because I have been reading Earl D. Shetler (formerly a Reformed Baptist pastor) and his book The NOW Jesus (www.NowJesus.org) and He is challenging my entire view of evangelism and salvation. Specifically how we tend to put more emphasis on the means of our salvation and not on the One who saves.
    It is somewhat confusing to me but I am wondering if maybe I have it a bit backwards.

    1. Hi Ian. Yes, there’s real danger in an overemphasis on the sacraments, as we have seen in the Roman church and in the Federal Vision churches in their marriage of salvation and sacraments.

      And yet, evangelicalism today has swung to the other extreme: of basically stripping off the meaning and significance of the sacraments. In the early church, the church had a balance between the means of grace: preaching of the Word, sacraments (visible Word) and prayer (application of the Word). And this balance was recovered by the Reformers.

  2. Pastor,

    Some of the other wonderful truths I learned from being convinced of the Reformed doctrine of infant baptism are:

    1. Seeing the sacraments as means of grace and therefore important to the Christian life. My former Pentecostal affiliation did not see the sacraments in this way. Baptism is hardly seen as necessary for church membership, and the Lord’s Supper is given to anyone who attends the worship service indiscriminately.

    2. The Reformed view of Christian parenting and covenant children. The paedobaptist theology of children both emphasizes the responsibility of the individual to repent and believe the gospel, and the truth that God runs his grace in the line of families and generations.

    3. The Reformed doctrine of the church. I believe that the Reformed Faith can establish continuity with the church of the apostolic period precisely because we can establish continuity with Abraham. On this point, groups like Roman Catholicism (which claim to be the true church) fails. I find it really funny when Roman Catholics use the relationship between circumcision and baptism to defend their understanding of infant baptism when this very relationship refutes their understanding of justification and baptism.

    And, thanks for those two articles. God is indeed a God to believers and their seed, and their seed’s seed (Gen. 17:7; Isa. 59:20-21; Acts 2:38-39, 16:31)!

    1. Thanks, Albert. The Reformers saw that the means of grace, instruments that God uses to bestow grace on his people, are the preaching of the gospel, the administration of sacraments, and prayer. In the early church, the worship service had two main parts exactly coincident with the means of grace: the service of the Word, then the service of the Lord’s Supper. Prayer was a main element in both portions of the service.

      Today, these two parts of the worship service have been supplanted by man-made “creativity”: songs, skits, puppet shows, talk shows, etc. There is very little preaching, and the Lord’s Supper is very rare, and almost always an unbiblical “open” communion.

      Plus, in evangelicalism, the sacrament of baptism has become a sort of testimony time, what the person has done–his freewill decision–for his salvation.

  3. Will try to listen to your sermon sometime. I hope this helps your congregation too. Anyone can post a comment or question.

  4. While reading this, I wear a big smile on my face for 4 reasons. (1) I’m always excited and still amazed at God’s mercy, that after almost 2 decades of being a Pentecostal (a.ka. full-gospel charismatic ) myself, I came to know paedobaptism, and by His grace, I embraced it. (2) I could imagine a White Horse Inn version here in the Philippines. I wonder we could start that kind and publish the video to the internet. (3) I know those kids in the photo, I can’t forget that awesome day! (4) I won’t return the book Children of the Promise yet to you, I’ll read it again! 🙂
     
    Thanks for the two articles above, as well.

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