15 October 2014

very Catholic (in the pejorative sense)

by The Late Frank Turk

I'll bet you didn't know this, but there is more than one kind of infant baptism.  And I lay that wager out in the first sentence for one reason: I don't want you to waste your time on this post if the topic is not of interest to you.  The intramural debate inside Protestantism over what is and is not a baptism is really not of interest to a lot of people -- except those who, frankly, make it uninteresting for everyone else.

There are two kinds of credobaptism: the phony kind where people get dunked every time they develop a new pang of conscience (this version mistakes growth in maturity/sanctification for "true" experiences of the second birth, for which every credo-baptists is always tortured by paedos when this discussion is approached), and the historical kind in which baptism is given to the new believer upon his confession and initial repentance in order to take him or her out of the world and put them into Christ, and into the church.

Given that there are two kinds of credobaptism (one laughable; one serious, sober, and based on the historical practice of the church), it should be no surprise that there are two kinds of baby-splashing going on.  What is surprising, however, is that the difference is not the dividing line between the clownish and the serious: it is between how these christian people justify their practice.

For the run-of-the-mill Presbyterian and standard-issue Reformed type, the argument goes like this:

  1. The church of the Old Testament and the church of the New Testament are, in essence, the same church;
  2. God includes the children of believers as members of this church;
  3. In the Old Testament era, children of believers, because they were church members, were given the sign of circumcision;
  4. In the New Testament era, God has taken the sign of circumcision and changed it to baptism;
  5. Therefore, in the New Testament era, children of believers, because they are church members, are to be given the sign of baptism.

A more prosaic version of that can be found here, and it's less helpful but it is more serious about the family/household issue at stake {the core difference, of course, is that the first is OPC and the second in PC(USA)}.  I like the first version of the thing for one reason only: it puts all the cards on the table and avoids questions which neither side really is asking or ought to have to answer.  However, it makes my skin crawl because it seems to overlook a lot of the New Testament and a lot of the distinctions between Israel and the Church.  It is almost enough to make me reconsider Dispensationalism (as DJP and Phil would have me do), but not quite.

But there is a second version of the sprinkling of babies running around, and it's sort of the paleo-reformation view of the Lutherans.  Here's how the Missouri Synod of Lutherans put it (note: that links to a PDF):
Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The Bible tells us that such “faith comes by hearing” (Rom 10:17). Jesus Himself commands Baptism and tells us that Baptism is water used together with the Word of God (Matt 28:19-20). Because of this, we believe that Baptism is one of the miraculous means of grace (another is God’s Word as it is written or spoken), through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a person’s heart (see Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Gal 3:26-27; Rom 6:1-4; Col 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:13). Terms the Bible uses to talk about the beginning of faith include “conversion” and “regeneration.” Although we do not claim to understand fully how this happens, we believe that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant. We believe this because the Bible says that infants can believe (Matt 18:6) and that new birth (regeneration) happens in Baptism (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5-6). The infant’s faith cannot yet, of course, be verbally expressed or articulated by the child, yet it is real and present all the same (see e.g., Acts 2:38-39; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim 3:15). The faith of the infant, like the faith of adults, also needs to be fed and nurtured by God’s Word (Matt 28:18-20), or it will die.
For those interested, that summary looks a lot like Luther's own summary in the Smaller Catechism and the Larger Catechism.  I bring it up because a young fellow who doesn't want to baptize cats has dashed off a couple of pages on this subject from the Lutheran perspective, and this weekend he was very put out that I wouldn't engage his post via twitter.  I'm sure he's going to be much happier (?) seeing this post in response to him.

The first thing to note here, however, is that it's a mistake to confuse Presbyterian baptism for Lutheran baptism.  In Presbyterian baptism, the sign and seal of the sacrament brings the person out of the world and into the church -- and assumes (in a qualified way) that this person then has a right to the things the church participates in.  Faith may or may not come later.  The Lutheran, on the other hand, takes a much more mysterious path (which is why they have Chris Rosebrough on their side): they say that the right and proper interpretation of Scripture is that somehow Baptism plants the seeds of faith in a person, and then the church's job is to water and weed that baby faith so that it blossoms into the faith of an adult.  It's an odd way to apply Luke 8 (maybe they forgot that part), but to each his own.

And using that explanation, of course that's why they don't want to baptize cats: cats can never have saving faith.  We can't use the Word for something the Word cannot be used for.

Anyway, here's why I bring up the Official Lutheran teaching: our friends the Lutherans often don't really want to refer to it.  They are very Catholic (in the pejorative sense) in this, because they like to invent stuff like this:
One of the most fundamental points of Christian doctrine is that Christ is “Born of the Virgin Mary”. Let’s not pass over the significance of this. This means that, in Christ, birth and infancy have been made holy. Christ did not only live as the perfect man, but as the perfect infant. Infants cannot be morally neutral creatures because Christ cannot be morally neutral! Infants cannot be incapable of faith because that would mean Christ was faithless! 
And then say that they're just reciting the Catechism.  Well: the catechism doesn't attempt to delve into the mystery of Christ's faith: it says that the water under the authority of the Word of God does what God says it does.  That's why it's a "sacrament" in the Lutheran view of it: God has made it Holy (and: efficacious).  The far more interesting thing Luther said about Baptism is this:
Further, we say that we are not so much concerned to know whether the person baptized believes or not; for on that account Baptism does not become invalid; but everything depends upon the Word and command of God. This now is perhaps somewhat acute, but it rests entirely upon what I have said, that Baptism is nothing else than water and the Word of God in and with each other, that is, when the Word is added to the water, Baptism is valid, even though faith be wanting. For my faith does not make Baptism, but receives it. Now, Baptism does not become invalid even though it be wrongly received or employed; since it is not bound (as stated) to our faith, but to the Word.
It's the implication here which Luther is very clear about and the classic Lutheran is often not so hot for: that it doesn't really matter who we baptize or who is doing the baptism as long as we use the water and the Word of God.  The most federally-headed Presbyterian would be having a bout with the sweats at this point, the the right-minded Lutheran should not be batting an eye.

What he should not be saying, though, is something as far-fetched as this:
To start off, I’d like to make the point that Lutherans do not practice Infant Baptism. We also do not practice African or Irish Baptism. Nor do we practice Elderly Baptism, Female Baptism, or Male Baptism or Euro-Goth-Punk-Geman-Gay-Yoddler Baptism. We have Christian Baptism. That’s it. The question “do you believe in Infant Baptism?” is as silly as asking “do you believe in Middle-Aged Baptism?” As St. Paul emphatically proclaims, “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism”. When in doubt, side with St. Paul. It’s a good strategy.
In the first place, neither the modern Lutheran authorities nor Luther are afraid to say plainly they practice "infant baptism" -- because that is what they actually do.  But what is rather blustery here is the way this fellow wants to say that only Lutherans are practicing baptism into Christ -- as if every paedo and credo is not actually doing that.  But worse for this view of it is that Philip Melanchthon was not quite as Lutheran as Luther in talking about what Baptism is for and how it works.  According to Robert Kolb:


The idea that the sacrament is a "sign and seal" sound suspiciously Presbyterian, and really comes back to the question of whether Lutherans are the only ones committing to "Christian baptism."

For those who have not died from boredom reading this post this far, the actual point here is simple: in the debate between paedobaptists and credobaptists, the issue is not whether one or the other intends to bring people into the church of Christ through baptism: it is whether or not one can receive a sacrament without faith and the activity still be called the sacrament. The Lutherans say yes, unequivocally; the Presbyterians and Reformed say Yes, in a qualified manner; the Credobaptists (who are frequently and uncharitably called "anabaptists") simply say no, no, not ever and not even.  The whole point of the New Covenant is that it is by grace through faith, which is what sets it apart from the Old Covenant and its works -- and in that way, anyone by grace through faith can receive the New Covenant, which is what makes it better.

Comments are open.  Mind the gap.


Jonathan and Dawn Clark said...

I did not die of boredom.

I appreciate this series (with the Ref21 posts). I'd simply like to ask you to point me to something good to read on the covenant, and specifically the difference between the New and Old Covenants, according to the best of both arguments please (I'm picking up on your final sentence).

Perhaps you could help me (as a Brit, where I think the distinction between the baptist world and the Presbyterian world are rather less pronounced than it seems to be on your side of the pond, unless I'm just naively unaware) to understand why there seems to be so little out there which is not dispensationalist but is credobaptist? (The Reformed Baptist position, I suppose?)

While I'm on it, could you suggest anything good to read on the Colossians 2 passage which seems uncritically to be used to assume that baptism is the New Covenant equivalent to Old Covenant circumcision?

DJP said...

"It is almost enough to make me reconsider Dispensationalism (as DJP and Phil would have me do), but not quite."

Ahh, "almost persuaded." Snif.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Another difference between Presbyterians and Lutherans is that the Lutherans believe and teach in baptismal regeneration whereas Presbyterians do not.

Frank Turk said...


it's completely on-topic to try to persuade me.

Frank Turk said...

TUaD -

Too bad you didn't read the Luther quotes. It's covered.

Frank Turk said...

Jonathan -- if you are in the UK, can you order everything Amazon.com offers? I'm asking so that I don;t offer you any resources you can't actually get.

Frank Turk said...

Just for those who need a link for one book which, in my opinion, covers most of the bases adequately, Believer's baptism, edited by Schreiner and Wright, is a good collection of essays on the major subjects involved. It's not encyclopedic, but it is also not dispensational, so I would own its arguments as representative of how I would reason through this issue.

J♥Yce Burrows said...

56.4 of the Presbyterian Church of America's Book of church order.



Frank Turk said...

What is your question, Joyce? As I said, Melanchthon sounds awfully Presbyterian to me.

Kerry James Allen said...

And if we might inject a few good thoughts from Spurgeon into the mix, and that immersed him into one of his bigger battles you have...

"Baptismal regeneration"

"Children brought to Christ, and not to the font"

J♥Yce Burrows said...

The part where baptism of Presbyterian infants itself IS regeneration, etc. from their book of order and how that is different from Lutherans. Reads similar to me...or what am I missing that you are saying concerning their being different? Will admit ~ am multi-tasking online and off at the moment and might have flown past something. Will slow down in a bit and reread.

Frank Turk said...

Joyce --

It's easy to make that mistake, which is why I wanted you to clarify your question. Note that 56.4 is pretty clear to say "signifies" whereas the most usual Lutheran will say, as Luther did, that baptism is the means of grace where God creates faith. The Presbyterian is always clear to add 56.4.j, which always reads to me as a theologically-astute way of saying, "no, not really" when it comes to the questions of faith and salvation in regards to baptism.

Presbyterians do not believe there is baptismal regeneration. That's why we have to allow there are at least two different kinds of infant baptism. What's really funny, btw, is that we will get both Presbys and Luthernas coming here in a while saying, "no - it's One Baptism. We can prove it because we accept the other guy's sprinkling!"

This is true enough - but they accept it to mean what they would mean by it, not by what the other guy meant by it. That's also why they accept Roman Catholic baptisms at face value -- and why they accuse the rest of us of being "anabaptists." Because we say that the thing has to mean what it meant when it was administered, and what they meant to administer is not a biblical baptism at all, we are the ones profaning the holy things of God.

Oh, it's quite a steeple chase. But: the sacraments, like everything in the Christian life, is not merely by grace, but by grace through faith. Because Lutherans would never evangelize with a fire hose, we know they see the point we are making -- they just can't admit it means something down to the believer's infant's faith.

J♥Yce Burrows said...

Am back and have reread plus read further through 57 in the order. Appreciate your clarification comments. So all the infants with time toward understanding the gospel when it can't be determined as to when they actually did, then again participate in a visible baptism because the initial wasn't really, really? No ~ that would mean they jumped ship to be free/sovereign grace Baptists. Steeplechase. Smoke. Mirrors. abound. So many Presbyterians I've discussed doctrine with can't even explain what they believe concerning infant baptism. Understandable from their own order.

Am so glad you are back, Frank ~ you(and Dan, as did/does Phil) cause me to not just take human words as the final word but to weigh them and mine deep for truth in God's Word(whole: no disparagement, no embellishment). Having the order of Lutheran service/hymnal AND infant baptism service booklet(both mine from childhood...indeed that baptismal ceremony says as you have here) ~ am exceedingly grateful to be continually "righted".

God bless you all ~

JG said...

I did not die of boredom and appreciate the fleshing out.

A lot of this is new group to me, having grown up credo. I see many liturgical friends emphasize "faith not works" in discussions...followed quickly by "participating in the sacraments gives you grace." This helped me reconcile the two points, at least from their perspective.

So, thanks.

Jim Pemberton said...

Well-done representing everyone's beliefs, Frank. I was baptized in an Anabaptist tradition before my dad remarried a Lutheran and we all joined her church. My younger brother was not saved yet and wouldn't be until he was an adult. Nevertheless, they sprinkled water on his head and called it a baptism. If that was the cause of him later having faith, I daresay it took long enough. Odd how I received faith BEFORE I was baptized. How did that happen?

All this to point out that Lutherans in general are riddled with questions as to how it works. Were they to ask their pastor, who has been trained in these sorts of things, before he explains it preemptively, the answer is inevitably, "It's a mystery." So the practical reason why most Lutherans go along with paedobaptism is because that's what they've always done and no one understand it anyway.

By the way, I'm Baptist now, although my oldest son is dating a Presbyterian. (Where did I go wrong?) She's actually a pretty good pick, I think.

Frank Turk said...

Oh Jim --

Now that you're said it, it also ought to be said that this is also Calvin's #1 excuse for paedobaptism: "that's how we have always done it."

I just want anyone reading this who is really puzzled over the issues involved here to discover the reason a paedobaptist synonym for "baptizing" is "christening," and when that actually came into the socio-political-theological vocabulary of the church.

J♥Yce Burrows said...

Have you specific suggestions for reading online concerning baptism/christening other than generally using Google, Frank?

Clint said...

Interesting new angles for me have come up with the topic of infant baptism since I've been studying Messianic Judaism and related Old Covenant/New Covenant issues. Credobaptism seems to me to have more points in its favor if one considers Matthew 16:19 and 23:1-3. Elsewhere too in the NT, Gentiles don't seem to have been vested with the authority to make tradition. Of course, what Judeans at the time were doing with following the Torah involved ritual immersion.

However, from Acts 21:21, I don't think Paul had issues with Jewish customs (particularly halakhahic rulings, which are part of what I think Jesus is saying to follow in Matt. 23:1-3). Therefore, there's no problem with traditions in of themselves, but we do know Gentiles weren't given the baton so to speak to make authoritative rulings. Therefore, there can be an innocence in infant baptism, but there can also be issues of implying the incorrect idea that the "church" has replaced Israel in it too.

Garrett said...

I've often wished that someone would convince me that paedobaptism is correct so as to move away from bad worship music, but they (paedobaptists) don't stand much of a chance. :-P

Jonathan and Dawn Clark said...

Frank, I'm not in the UK, but I have ways and means of getting hold of stuff from the US so feel free to mention whatever. Thanks!

Frank Turk said...

Jonathan - I'd start with the Schreiner book listed above to start. When you have digested that, I think that re-reading Calvin on Baptism will put you off infant baptism in a permanent way. When he is good, he is very good. When he is bad? Pheh.

Frank Turk said...


I don't see how that advances anything but confusion. What point are you trying to make?

Stephen said...

I'm sure Schreiner does a great job with the text in the Baptism book, but my brief take on Colossians 2: of course there's a comparative link between circumcision and baptism, but as a good credo I think there's a sharper distinction between the two testaments than what a paedo believes. Specifically, Colossians 2 is calling out the spiritual (notice the emphatic use of "made without hands") effects of Christ's gospel and Paul uses at least 4 metaphors: the cross cuts off our flesh, it raises us out of the grave, cancels our legal debt, and defeats our opposing army. Spiritual metaphors, not ecclesiological instructions for how physical baptism has the same use as OT circumcision.

Rob said...

I apprecaited this post, but I would offer a correction: I've noticed that there are more than two kinds of credobaptism (one laughable; one serious, sober) I've noticed there's also a third category, and I found this a troubling practice with some Baptist churches I was previously a part of, and that's "functional paedobaptism", where very young kids in the 4-5 year old range take the plunge. Perhaps at that young age they have a deep grasp of their sin nature and understand fully the washing and regeneration though Christ but I'm not so sure, as I've see kids hop into the baptismal pool laughing, take the plunge, Grandpa and Grandma take their pictures, and then they take a seat and play games on their iPad during the sermon. In regards to this, I have a hard time distinguishing functionally between this practice and our infant-sprinkling Paedo friends.

Paul Nevergall said...

Jonathan and Dawn Clark -

In addition to Frank's recommendation, below are a few resources I found helpful.

A paedobaptist perspective:

Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism by JV Fesko

Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology Explored by Michael G. Brown and Zach Keele

A baptist perspective:

The Baptism of Disciples Alone: A Covenantal Argument for Credobaptism Verses Paedobaptism by Fred Malone

Frank Turk said...

Paul --

Thanks for those. I thought Fred Malone's book was excellent, and I am ashamed I couldn't remember the title sitting here at work.

Frank Turk said...

Rob --

I deny baptizing a 4 year old who makes a credible profession of faith is functional paedobaptism.

I affirm that many non-confessional churches baptize little kids for no good reason but for many bad ones -- not the least of which is social acceptance.

And Joyce - I am looking for the best answers to your question. hang in there.

Frank Turk said...

Regarding the distinctions between the covenants, the one which I think the decent and earnest paedobaptist fails to account for is that the Old Covenant never saved anyone and the New Covenant saves all who come into it.

Oh wait - they don't mean the Law of Moses: they mean the covenant with Abraham. Or do they? We'll let them figure that out and get back to us.

Andy Dollahite said...


1) Out of curiosity, what is a "credible" profession?

2) Isn't your statement at 7:38 part of the debate - namely, who's in the NC? Does the baptism of a credible professor do anything to them (i.e. obligate them to the terms of the New Covenant)? In your view, apostates were never in the NC, but why are they worse off than their never-baptized pagan neighbor (Heb. 10-26-31)? Why is Pauling warning NC believers in 1 Cor 10 that some Israelites were "baptized" and drank of Christ, yet were damned?

Isn't the presby just recognizing, as the NT did, that God didn't stop incorporating households into His covenants (1 Cor. 1:16, Acts 16:11, 32-34) through the sign and seal of righteousness by faith (Rom 4:11)? We are told nothing specific about the individual faith of each person in the households of Stephanas, Lydia, or the Philippian jailer, but they all clearly got wet. Why?

Shine on, brother!

Clint said...

I'll restate some things in a more chronological way. Earlier numbers are more germane to the topic and where the comments went before my first comment. Basically, I'm saying that studying the Jewish roots of Christianity bring more light to the issues involved, and especially in favor of credobaptism over paedobaptism.

1. Ritual Immersion was already going in Judaism. John and Jesus instituted another proscribed immersion, so to speak. Synagogues outside Israel didn't require anything like infant baptism for God fearing Gentiles (non-proselytes) that attached themselves to the community. Nor did Jesus or John institute this either.

2. However, it is understandable at some point that Gentiles who chose to follow Jesus along with the people of God (what we call the church today) would want a similar rite to what the Jews had in circumcision. Furthermore, the metaphors can make sense.

3. However, with paedobaptism, there can be the issue of implying that Gentiles believers have replaced Israel as a body. This is especially so if the same churches don't encourage believing Jewish families to circumcise their male children on the 8th day. Of course, it also happens that most (all?) Reformed paedobaptists are replacement theologians when it comes to Israel and the Church.

I brought up Matthew 16:19 and 23:1-3 to further support the point that we can't say that Gentile believers had the right to institute paedobaptism just because they are believers. Of course, the Matthew passages connect to Romans 9-11 and believing Gentiles relationship to believing and unbelieving Jews. However, Acts 21 can also suggest that following "customs" passed down isn't necessarily wrong, but as I have said in the beginning of #3 here, this is fraught with difficulty.

Carl C. said...

I really appreciate this, especially summary statements of paedobaptist arguments -- I easily get confused & stuck in the details. Only a few months ago I was ignorant to how they defended their position, as well as how far-reaching the implications of credo/paedo are. So I have been encouraged and benefited from your writing on this here and at Ref21.

Carl C. said...

Frank said:
> in the debate between paedobaptists and credobaptists, the issue is not whether one or the other intends to bring people into the church of Christ through baptism: it is whether or not one can receive a sacrament without faith and the activity still be called the sacrament. Lutherans say yes, unequivocally; the Presbyterians and Reformed say Yes, in a qualified manner; the Credobaptists (who are frequently and uncharitably called "anabaptists") simply say no, no, not ever and not even.

As one with credobaptist conviction, I agree with the emphasized statement in itself: having true faith is the issue with regards to baptism. However, in light of the assertions following it, wouldn't it be more precise to qualify it, something like "whether or not one can receive a sacrament without a personal profession of faith"? I'm truly not trying to be picky, but to understand better the positions of paedobaptists. It seems at least Lutherans believe that in some sense faith is created/planted/present in the individual when the baptism takes place, though the fulness (and profession?) only comes later. So as it stands, most Lutherans would answer "No, they don't receive baptism without faith", though perhaps Luther would be more nuanced. Again, I don't believe this to be What's Really Happening when they sprinkle a baby, but I want to be fair to how they would answer this question.

More than likely I have missed something, and look forward to clarification and/or correction.

Frank Turk said...

Before I lay into this comment, let me say that I am a fan of Andy Dollahite in spite of his Presbyterian blinders.

| 1) Out of curiosity, what is a "credible"
| profession?

What a Presbyterian uses to baptize an adult.

| 2) Isn't your statement at 7:38 part of the
| debate - namely, who's in the NC?

That’s how a good Presbyterian wants to frame it up, but the fact is this: the number of Presbyterians who really believe in paedofaith is a nul set. And the number of (orthodox) Presbyertians who believe the New Covenant is established by grace through faith is 100%. So the problem is really inside the inconsistency of Presbyterian confessionalism and not in Baptist objections to baptizing prior to faith.

| Does the
| baptism of a credible professor do anything
| to them (i.e. obligate them to the terms of
| the New Covenant)?

The LBCF speaks to that as you know, and I would go so far as to say that I would also agree with the WCF about what baptism does – and even when it does it. The problem is that Baptism is not using the TARDIS to be a means of God’s grace. God’s grace is given, through faith; in faith, we are able to do things pleasing to God; therefore sacraments are necessarily by grace through faith; therefore, baptism must follow faith, not precede it.

| In your view,
| apostates were never in the NC, but why
| are they worse off than their never-
| baptized pagan neighbor (Heb. 10-26-31)?

I love this question because it imagines that baptism is the problem for the apostate. Baptism is not the problem: disobedience is. Think about this: the standard-issue unbeliever has the problem of disobedience to God but the measuring stick for him is only the general revelation described in Rom 1-2. The unbeliever who has stepped into the church is now judged not by the general revelation which left him without an excuse, but the special revelation of God’s word as manifest in the church.

The person in Heb 10 has rejected not only the gen Rev of creation but the Son of God explicitly. He’s worse off than those merely in sin-natural disobedience.

| Why is Pauling warning NC believers in 1
| Cor 10 that some Israelites were "baptized"
| and drank of Christ, yet were damned?

I’m not sure I like your exegesis, but see above. The argument in Heb 10 applies here as well.

| Isn't the presby just recognizing, as the NT
| did, that God didn't stop incorporating
| households into His covenants (1 Cor. 1:16,
| Acts 16:11, 32-34) through the sign and
| seal of righteousness by faith (Rom 4:11)?

That’s what he says he’s doing. Whether that’s actually what the NT reports, and whether that was what God intended, is exposed by the history of paedobaptism.

| We are told nothing specific about the
| individual faith of each person in the
| households of Stephanas, Lydia, or the
| Philippian jailer, but they all clearly got wet.
| Why?

Well, you’re assuming they got wet without knowing why, and you are assuming that they all had infants getting wet. The text doesn’t say that. It’s rather empty of those assertions. Arguing from silence is always unconvincing to me.

Thanks for asking.

J♥Yce Burrows said...

Hanging in there, Frank; thanks!

Came across Hollman's Book of Biblical Charts many years ago and noted denominational comparisons(baptism, Lord's Supper, etc.); remember back then being amazed at so many "takes" and wanting to understand better, though I had seen credobaptism in studying God's Word and had obeyed. Wanted to know the Lutheran perspective, too...because where I belonged until married was a very small, old, originally German congregation with revived, retired pastors then ~ no questions, no answers, simply jump through the hoops.

God is still answering my understanding desire ... discussions have been so helpful ~ here, reformation21, etc.

Frank Turk said...

Carl --

I liked the way you asked the question, but let's be clear. For the Lutheran, Baptism -causes- faith. Water plus the word does what (they say) God says it does. For the Presbyterian, there is no causal relationship of baptism toward faith, but all the substantive effects of baptism are only caused when faith is present. That is: we baptize a child to bring it into the visible church, but that's such a puny aspect of the New Covenant that they can be inside the church but not be saved.

Does that help clarify?