The Reformed Churches Confess Infant Baptism

In light of this evidence, it is hard to see how insisting on infant baptism is anything but consistent with the covenant theology and confession of the Reformed Churches

In the Reformation, the Reformed Churches appealed to the unrevoked divine promises to Abraham, “I will be a God to you and to your children, which the Apostle Peter reiterated in Acts 2:39 and thus confessed infant baptism as essential to the Reformed faith and practice. In contrast, as Denault observes, the Baptists wanted to know who were the regenerate and to restrict the visible church to them. The two traditions read Jeremiah 31:31–34 quite differently.

 

Some years back I published a book review in the pages of Modern Reformationmagazine. Some responded with a letter to the editor complaining that I had distinguished between the Reformed churches and the Baptist churches. My revised response is below.

§

Evidently the earliest Baptists did not call themselves “Reformed.” They knew better. According to Crawford Gribben, Baptists were designating themselves as Baptists in 1653. Keach used it of Baptists in 1697. A Quaker observer distinguished between “General” and “Particular” Baptists in 1672 (so Gribben). These designations pre-dated the nomenclature, “Reformed Baptist” by 400 years. I cannot find the expression “Reformed Baptist” in the 17th century. If it was used it was not by the Reformed theologians and churches. As the Baptist writer Pascal Denault has observed, the Reformed tended to class the Particular Baptists with the Anabaptists, Socinians, and other heretical groups. The Reformed churches never accepted the Baptist Churches as Reformed. There were seated at the Westminster Assembly Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and Anglicans but no Baptists. Polity is one thing, covenant theology and sacramental practice are something else.

This is in part, as Denault argues, because the Reformed and the Baptists have significantly different covenant theologies with some Baptists denying that the covenant of grace even existed in history prior to the ratification of the new covenant. The Reformed regularly distinguished between the substance of the covenant of grace (e.g., Olevianus, 1585) and its various administrations and between external membership in the visible covenant community and an internal, spiritual apprehension of Christ and his benefits by grace alone, through faith alone.

In the Reformation, the Reformed Churches appealed to the unrevoked divine promises to Abraham, “I will be a God to you and to your children, which the Apostle Peter reiterated in Acts 2:39 and thus confessed infant baptism as essential to the Reformed faith and practice. In contrast, as Denault observes, the Baptists wanted to know who were the regenerate and to restrict the visible church to them. The two traditions read Jeremiah 31:31–34 quite differently.

Read More

×

Aquila Report iOS and Android smart-phone apps are available Download Now