Posted by David Gadbois
I’ve commented before that Federal Vision theology is a very baby-centered theology. While the standing of our covenant children is a legitimate pastoral issue, I don’t think it makes for a sound animating force behind a theological system, rather than the biblical themes and exegetical issues that drive traditional systematic theology. Pastor Tod Bordow made an excellent comment in the combox this week, and his points bears discussion:
Putting aside the fact that not all believers are baptized, and not all baptized are believers, if you look for a credible profession before baptizing, aren’t you assuming a man is justified apart from the sacrament? How could you possibly look for a credible profession before baptism if you did not assume that man wasn’t already justified and Spirit-filled? And if you believe he was already justified and Spirit-filled , and thus a proper receipient of the sign, how can the sign convey justification and the Spirit?
Pastor Bordow has hit on a point that I’ve brought up many, many times throughout this controversy. FV seems to have to marginalize adult baptisms, because it doesn’t fit nicely into what they view as the “norm” for baptismal efficacy. Various manifestations of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration (and, yes, I realize there is no uniform definition of this doctrine) seem to depend on making infant baptisms paradigmatic.But I am simply quite unwilling to consider infant baptisms to be “normal” while adult baptisms are not. Further, I am unwilling to believe that infant baptisms have an additional efficacy that adult baptisms do not. This simply cannot be supported by Scripture anywhere. Scripture never even directly talks about infant baptism, much less illuminates the nature of its efficacy on infants.
This all ties in to my comments from my previous post on baptism. In Romans 4, we see that Abraham, an adult who was circumcised after his conversion, is the one Paul views as paradigmatic of the Covenant of Grace. While the sign and seal of this Covenant was applied to his infant children, it was nonetheless a “sign and seal” of his righteousness which he had by faith. Circumcision could not have had a causal relation (instrumental or otherwise) to his conversion, regeneration, or justification whatsoever. And I would assert that the same is true of baptism, our sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace and the righteousness of Christ that we lay hold of by faith.