Deciding to baptize rather than dedicate our children

Levi's Baptism is coming up later this month, September 22nd at 11am, and we are excited to share it with our friends and family far and wide, but we also wanted to discuss our decision to baptize rather than dedicate Levi since we had the option at Park Street Church to do either, so Adam drafted this explanation for all interested. 

Why we have changed our view on Baptism?

For many of our friends it may come as a surprise that we have chosen to baptize our son, Levi.  One of the reasons we felt God moving us from Atlantic Shores was due to the fact that some of Adam’s theological views were shifting.  Now, one comment on theology and then we’ll get into baptism.  For many it’s difficult to understand how someone could hold a different theological view from himself or herself.  However, there are many different understandings within conservative Christianity.  To have a different understanding of theological topic does not make one liberal.  To call anyone liberal who does not agree with you on topics such as creation, baptism, spiritual gifts, drinking, eschatology is fundamentalism and not evangelicalism.  We still hold to the deity, life, death, bodily resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ.  We still believe in the infallible and inerrant Word of God.  All of these are conservative doctrines within Christianity.  A person who is liberal in their theology does not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture or the Deity of Christ, even if you are a democrat that doesn’t make you liberal in your theology. 
We’ve broken down the argument into 5 sections.  Each is used to build the case for infant baptism, but first let’s look at what paedobaptism (infant baptism) and believer baptism have in common.  Christians in both camps believe that baptism is symbol.  In no way does baptism bring regeneration/salvation.  One can only be saved through faith (Eph 2:8-9).  No amount of works or religious practices can constitute salvation it only comes by grace through faith.  We also both believe that people should be baptized.  Jesus was baptized and commanded his disciples to baptize others.  We both believe baptism to be ordained by Jesus.  One more note on infant baptism:  we still believe that adults should be baptized if they were not baptized as a child and come to faith.  It’s not the only way to be baptized, but is preferred for families of the New Covenant.  
Water in Scripture
Baptism is not the first time we see water referred or used as a symbol in scripture.  Throughout scripture we see water used not only as a sign of cleansing but judgment.   God used water to judge the sinfulness of the world in the days of Noah.  He used water to destroy the Egyptians pursuing the Israelites.  The priest in Num 5 were instructed to pour water on those caught in sin as a sign of judgment.  God told Isaiah that the Israelites would have to walk through mighty waters because of their sin.  These are a few examples of the water as a sign of judgment.  In the New Testament, Rev 12, water is also used as a sign of judgment.
We see many examples of water as cleansing.  Moses is sparred by the waters of the Nile.  Aaron and Moses were to wash with water before entering the Tent of Meeting.  To make the Levites pure for their temple duties Moses was told to sprinkle them with water.  Most compelling, in Ezekiel 36: 24-38, is a prophecy of the New Covenant.  To initiate the covenant God said that he would sprinkle water in them, that he would give them a new heart, and put his spirit within them.  Even in the Old Testament we see the sprinkling of water a sign of the new covenant.   Then in the New Testament Jesus offers life giving water on many occasions.
As shown above, water in scripture is not only a sign of cleansing but also judgment.  In baptism we see both of these symbols.  Romans 6:24, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death (ultimate consequence of sin) in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead.we too may live a new life.”  Paedobaptism most clearly reflects the judgment we find ourselves under.  The waters sprinkled/poured on an infant’s head represents and acknowledges God’s judgment on them with the hope that they “may” as said in Romans  live or come to a new life in Christ.   The water represents God’s judgment with the hope that they will one day come to know the life giving water of Christ.
Baptism as a covenant sign 
We could write and there are entire books dealing that discuss baptism as a covenant sign. Instead we will keep it as brief as possible, however, it is the most important argument for paedobaptism.  Every covenant established by God and a person/people in the bible is always followed by a sign or symbol of the covenant.  Most relevant to our conversation is the sign of circumcision given to Abraham (Gen 17).  It was though Abraham that all people would be blessed, this covenant promise still exist today (Gal 3:7-9).  There is no way to be a child of God unless one has faith.  This was true in the Old Testament has well.  Over and over again we are reminded that God’s people are a people of faith, not works.  Therefore, just because one was born an Israelite did not make them an automatic inheritor of the promises given to Abraham.  To inherit the promises of God one had to believe on their own in the promises of God.
So then why the sign of circumcision?  “The removal of the foreskin from the male reproductive organ both signified the removal of spiritual uncleanness from God’s people of faith, and communicated that God’s provision for blessing was being passed to all the children of Abraham from generation to generation (cf. Genesis 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4; Colossian 2:13).  Circumcision marked God’s people as being separated and consecrated unto him and, consequently, as being in union with him and with each other in covenant family and community relationships (Exodus 12:48; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; 9:26).  The rite of circumcision necessarily involved the shedding of blood, and was one of numerous Old Testament signs that prefigured what would be required of Christ in order for our sins to be removed (cf. Hebrews 9:22).” Bryan Chapell
Even in the Old Testament when the head of household converted to Judaism the whole household received the covenant sign. (Gen 17:2)  Circumcision was not only given as a sign but a seal of the covenant. (Romans 4)  Because it is a seal it was passed on to children.  A seal is the visible pledge of an author, in this case God, that he would uphold his promises to the child if the conditions of the covenant were met.  All the recipient need do is place his trust in one who wrote the covenant letter.   The passing of the seal is important which is why God told Abraham to circumcise his household.  “God did not require that covenant parents wait until a child could express faith before commanding them to administer the covenant sign and seal of circumcision.” –Chapell.  The circumcision of the child also displayed the parents faith in God’s covenant promises to their children.
In the New Testament we are told that baptism replaces the covenant sign of circumcision.  No longer do we need of sign that sheds blood because the blood of Christ once and for all removes our sin.  Colossians 2: 11-12, “In Him (Christ), you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism…”  Paul makes it pretty clear that baptism now takes the place of circumcision as a sign his new covenant through Christ.  Jesus himself says the Kingdom belongs to Children.  Luke 18, “15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Jesus himself gives a kingdom blessing to babies before a profession of faith.
Thus Peter declared, "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children" (Acts 2:38–39)
Examples of baptism in the NT
There are seven examples of baptisms by name in the New Testament.   One of the common arguments against infant baptism is that there are no examples of it in the Bible.  However, there is also no clear example of someone who is born, grown to an age of understanding, received salvation, and then baptized.  Every written case of baptism we see in the New Testament is adults because Christianity was in its infant stage.  There were no Christian families to pass on the sign of the New Covenant prior to Acts.  When Jesus gives the great commission of Matthew 28, “to go and make disciples, baptizing them…” it was the only option for baptizing because no disciples other than a few existed.
There are three examples of people being baptized and not their families: 1). Simon the Sorcerer – Acts 8;  2). Eunuch –Acts 8; 3).  Saul/Paul – Acts 9.  While we do know a little about the second two we don’t know much about Simon the Sorcerer.  We have no mention of a family.  It’s pretty safe to say that the Eunuch didn’t have a wife or children.  I shouldn’t need to explain how we know that, and Paul was more than likely widowed and the scriptures never mention him having children.
It’s reasonable to assume that in the first three examples their households were not baptized because they had no families.
Then we have instances of household baptism: 1.)  Cornelius – Acts 10;  2).  Lydia – Acts 163). The Jailer – Acts 16; 4).  Stephanas - 1Cor 1.  
“The apostolic Church baptized whole "households" (Acts 16:33; 1 Cor. 1:16), a term encompassing children and infants as well as servants. While these texts do not specifically mention—nor exclude—infants, the very use of the term "households" indicates an understanding of the family as a unit. Even one believing parent in a household makes the children and even the unbelieving spouse "holy" (1 Cor. 7:14). 
Does this mean unbelieving spouses should be baptized? Of course not. The kingdom of God is not theirs; they cannot be "brought to Christ" in their unbelief. But infants have no such impediment. The kingdom is theirs, Jesus says, and they should be brought to him; and this means baptism. “
Out of seven cases mentioned of individuals being baptized four of them included the family, 2 had no family, and we don’t know about the one.
Early Church
For the sake of making this post not too long we’re not going mention a few church fathers who agreed with infant baptism.  But it is notable that a vast majority of the early Church baptized infants.  Even in scripture we see many controversies about circumcision and dietary laws, but there is no controversy over baptism.  One would think that if it were a problem to baptize infants in the name of the New Covenant (Christ) that it would have been an additional chapter in Galatians as Gentiles were being included in this new covenant community.
Some notable church Fathers who believed in infant baptism: Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Origen, Cyprian of Carthage, Gregory, John Chrysostom, and most notable Augustine
Mode of baptism
It is commonly argued that by the Baptist church that the Greek word for baptism means, “to immerse” and it does in some contexts.  However, it also means to baptize.  We don’t have an equivalent English word for the Greek word.  If we both agree that baptism is a symbol then is seems silly to argue that the only proper way to administer baptism is through immersion because that is what the bible teaches.  If we were to follow that logic then the only way we should take of the Lord’s table is with wine because that is how it was done by Jesus and Paul.  It is the symbol of the water that is important not how much water is used.  

3 Augustine in consider one of the greatest theologians in Church history.  Martin Luther said that all theology is footnote to Augustine. 

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