Assumptions bother me. When I say something and someone assumes that I meant something else, I become frustrated, sometimes angry. This also applies to media sources when they interpret others with, I think this is what he means or What he really meant was . . .
I’m even more bothered when someone says, It seems to me . . . or I think this says . . . regarding the Bible. I know — I have done it myself, partly to keep the conversation open or to encourage others to speak about their understanding, yet this practice can lead to some very strained interpretations of what God says, and poor understandings of how to live the Christian life.
Today’s devotional reading from, Donald Fortner’s “Grace for Today” is about infant baptism. That tradition seems foreign to me, but seems foreign is not the right way to approach the Bible. The death of Christ for my sin seems unreal at times too.
A couple years ago, I received a Master’s degree from a seminary whose denominational beliefs include infant baptism. Only a few of the professors mentioned or defended it. Today seemed a good day to go beyond what ‘seems’ right and see what the Bible says.
It didn’t take long to find support for Fortner’s statements. The New Testament is clear that those baptized must have saving faith in Christ Jesus. This is a first step in obedience and a public declaration of faith that depicts that they have died with Christ and risen again to new life in Him.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:3–14)
Some denominations practice infant baptism because they believe this is how someone is saved, but this is not taught in the Bible.
Others do not believe in baptismal regeneration yet focus on God’s covenants thinking that a child is brought into the covenant family by baptism, applying this only to infants with at least one believing parent. They teach baptism is the anti-type of circumcision, and since circumcision was practiced on infants, therefore, baptism should be practiced upon infants. However, if this is true, then only male infants should be baptized, because only male infants were circumcised. Further, the anti-type of circumcision is never said to be baptism. Rather, it is the circumcision of the heart. Also, the Bible does not mention a “covenant of grace” assumed by these denominations.
Some use baptism as a requirement of church membership. A baptized infant may or may not believe when older, but remain members resulting in churches that include unregenerate, unbelieving people. This is a serious problem.
As I read statements on both sides of the issue, I noticed that those who are for infant baptism use the words: seems like, appears, makes sense, and other assumption terminology.
Far be it from me to assume reasons behind such thinking except that I know how much I would love to have an iron-clad, visible ritual that would guarantee my children belong to God. My church practices child dedication, but there is no biblical example or guarantee with that either. Parents are to prayerfully trust and obey God, relying on His wisdom, grace, mercy and power to do with our children as pleases Him.
All that said, how can this theology study be a devotional? Only this: God speaks to me about being careful with making assumptions myself, and about accepting whatever my church, or any church, says is true; it may not be. I need to check it carefully using the Word of God.
“And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures . . . (only to be chased out of town to Berea where he did the same thing) . . . Now these Jews (in Berea) were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:2 &11)
Jesus, so many times You make it clear that I’m not to assume, suppose, or try to figure out for myself what You teach or want from me. I must use the Bible to teach, but also check all teaching that I receive against Your Word. I know that applications may differ, but what You say and what You mean must first be thoroughly explored. Forgive my laziness; I too often jump to conclusions because I assume that I know what You mean.