Seven Biblical Principles for Infant Baptism

I like the podcast from Reconstruction Radio, read by Nathan Conkey; but if you want the book for free, you can freely download the book Seven Biblical Principles That Call For Infant Baptism by Philip Kayser.

What pleases me most about infant baptism? Not only are entire families brought into the New Covenant whole – as clearly shown in Acts 16:34, but the sign of the covenant now includes both men and women, boys and girls. Not just one sex, as was the case with circumcision.

From the book:

Principle #3 –Faith and repentance have the same importance now that they had with Abraham and the sign of circumcision.

Faith and repentance are necessary before an adult can be baptized together with his children because he and his children are outside the covenant. The verses that prove this principle are the very verses that Baptists use to try to disprove infant baptism. The verses which are said to mandate “believers baptism” only, are Acts 2:38; 8:37; Mark 16:16.7Acts 2:38 says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Baptists say, repentance is a clear prerequisite to baptism here. An infant cannot repent, therefore an infant cannot be baptized. Now that sounds plausible on the surface, but in a moment we will see that there is a glaring logical fallacy in applying the responsibilities of adults to infants. Before we show that fallacy, let me quote the other two Baptist proof-texts. In Acts 8:37 in response to the Eunuch’s request to be baptized Peter says, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” Again they say, belief is a prerequisite to baptism, and if you do not believe with all your heart, then you may not be baptized. One last text is Mark 16:16 which says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be damned.” Again belief comes before baptism here. “He who believes and is baptized.” An infant is incapable of belief, therefore an infant cannot be baptized.

Now my reply is that we believe exactly what those passages say. Before an adult can be baptized (and in every passage he is clearly talking to adults about adults) he must show evidence of belief and repentance. That’s clear. That’s something we insist on. But notice that the texts say nothing about infants. In fact if the logic of the argument is pressed, you will see that it falls to the ground on those very texts themselves. Take the last passage for instance. It says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” The logic is, belief must precede baptism, but since it cannot in an infant, an infant cannot be baptized. But if the logic holds for the first half of the sentence, it should hold for the last half. The second half says, “but he who does not believe will be damned.” An infant cannot believe therefore an infant is damned. Is that what it’s saying? Well, if you read “infant” into the passage in the first half, you have to read it into the second half. Obviously that logic is incorrect since Scripture speaks of at least five infants being saved before or shortly after birth (Psalm 22:9-10; 2 Sam. 12:15-23; 1 Kings 14:13; Jer. 1:4; Luke 1:41,44). The simple truth is that infants were not in view in the command to believe before being baptized, or the verse would prove that infants can’t be saved. And the same logic holds true for many subjects in Scripture. For instance, Paul makes an absolute command in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Does that mean that since an infant cannot work, therefore an infant should not eat? No. There is the recognition that Paul is dealing with adults when he says that. You cannot reason from speeches to adults as to what can happen to infants. There has to be a specific prohibition of the sign of the covenant to children, and that is nowhere to be found in the New Testament.

By the way, I might point out that the Old Testament clearly taught the same principle for circumcision. Before an adult could get circumcised together with his children, he had to repent and believe (Rom. 4:10-12; 2:25-29; Ex. 12:48; Josh. 5). Israel later apostatized and failed to maintain that distinction8, but that distinction was God’s plan. Joshua 5 is an excellent example of that principle being carried out. The Jews who died in the wilderness in unrepentant rebellion were not allowed to circumcise their children. Moses did not allow it because they were an unbelieving generation (vv. 5-6 – notice the “For” at the beginning of verse 6; cf. Heb. 3:16-4:3). Thus they were treated as no better than Egyptians (v. 9). It was not until after evidence of true faith in God (Josh 1-4 contrasted with Hebrews 3:16-19) that they were circumcised. But their households were then circumcised right along with them. And that’s what we find in the New Testament. Adults are admonished to believe, and then baptism is applied to the whole household. (See principles 6-8)

None of us were alive at the time of Adam, but we were all poisoned with sin — the desire to do evil, as defined by God (and not the Ruling Class) — because we are all descended form him in the flesh.

In the same way, when we are adopted into God’s family (as signified by demonstrated faith in Christ, in baptism, and the Lord’s Supper), we are cleansed of our sin, by the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus Christ.

Adam as our covenant head brought us all death and the curse hell, even as babies: for Adam chose to follow the serpent’s word, not God’s word. Thus, he bent the knee to Satan as his head, his source of truth, and not God.

Even before we knew right from wrong, Adam condemned us to eternal death.

Christ as our covenant head brings us all life and the blessing of heaven, even as babies. Even before we knew right from wrong.

We are not saved by our own actions, but by the hand of God. Without His hand, we would certainly choose to be apart from God, forever.

But with Christ, we are saved, and brought into His house. We and our whole household.


For a bit more on Nathan Conkey, you may check out his personal podcast,

From Biblical Religion to Worship-Hobby, The Transformation of the Protestant Churches in N. Ireland as seen through their attitudes to education, and the way forward

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