PEDOBAPTISM OPENS THE CHURCH DOOR TO
UNREGENERATES AND LEADS TO ULTIMATE APOSTASY
The record of history is consistent from the earliest
introduction of the baptism of infants, and that record is that apostasy
ultimately follows the practice of pedobaptism. We are today especially
witnessing creeping apostasy in pedobaptist communions in Scotland, England, and
the United States.
It is difficult enough keeping the unregenerate off
the church roll without installing them as members under false pretenses in
their infancy. The most recent repetition of the link between infant baptism and
apostasy is seen in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
conservative Lutheran pastor and editor, Herman Otten, headlines his July
19, 2004 issue of Christian News magazine, "Our Beloved Synod Is
Dead." This headline is occasioned by the recent reelection of an LCMS
President who represents views and practices which conservatives such as Otten
view to be contrary to Christian orthodoxy. This recent event is but a
continuation of an apostasy which has been permeating LCMS for decades.
While we appreciate many views held by the conservative Lutherans, we
cannot but relate the ongoing apostasy to the fact that Lutherans have
consistently filled their churches with baptized infants and in due course of
time the result is inevitable.
Stories about the lack of Christian faith
and morality in other Pedobaptist denominations -- Roman Catholic, Episcopalian,
Presbyterian, Methodist, etc. -- have been in the news from time to time, and
this is no surprise to those who are aware of the record of past history
wherever pedobaptism prevails.
Nevertheless, in spite of what one might
think would be obvious to every mature Baptist, there are surprisingly a few who
do not appreciate my recent articles which have called attention to the theories
of pedobaptists about (1) the supposed regeneration of children in their infancy
and (2) infant church membership. Over the past few weeks, I have had a handful
of comments which indicate that there is a tolerant attitude which tends to
minimize the seriousness of pedobaptism, and even one or two suggestions that I
have not represented pedobaptists correctly.
But the fact is, you can
seldom find a major theology work by a pedobaptist of repute which does not
thrash the views of baptism, its mode and its subjects, as advocated by
Baptists. In addition, these theologians assert the ideas that the children
of believers inherit the spiritual blessings of the covenant made with Abraham,
and should therefore be baptized and received as members of the church.
The most notable of theologians from among the Presbyterians taught
The most prolific of them, to my knowledge,
on this subject appears to have been Dr. William G. T. Shedd (Volume 2,
pages 501, 508, 528, 575-577). Dr. Shedd affirmed that "the infant of the
believer receives the Holy Spirit as a regenerating Spirit, by virtue of
the covenant between God and his people," and staunchly asserted that "a
baptized child, in adult years, may renounce his baptism and church membership,
become an infidel, and join the synagogue of Satan; but until he does
this, he must be regarded as a member of the church of Christ" (Vol. 2,
pages 576, 577).
A. A. Hodge teaches the regeneration of infants
of believers in his Outlines of Theology, pages 622, #30; 624, #32; and
pages 463, 464. Hodge quotes John Calvin, whom Hodge evidently
understood as holding the same view (Institutes, Book 4, chapter xvi,
para. # 20). Also see Calvin in the same chapter, page 541, #17, #18, page 542,
Charles Hodge has less to say about infant
regeneration, but nevertheless teaches the same theory in Systematic
Theology, Volume 3, page 590.
Louis Berkhof, whom we have
cited several times recently, affirms the same regeneration of infants idea in
his Systematic Theology, pages 471, 472, 640-642.
are not in a state of mental maturity so as to be able to rationally understand
the Word, the pedobaptists developed the theory of regeneration without the
necessary instrumentality of the Word, and Shedd is perhaps the most
prolific spokesman for that view -- at least among those whom I have read. We
have before cited Berkhof, promoted by the Banner of
Truth, as a prominent advocate of the same theory.
are of the opinion on the theory, held by some modern non-pedobaptist
Calvinists, which alleges that the New Birth is a direct operation of the Spirit
before faith has its roots in the pedobaptist theory in regard to the
regeneration of infants without the instrumentality of the Word. In fact,
it appears to me that this theory may have been adopted by some as a result of
reading the pedobaptist theologians who hold it. It is certainly not taught in
our Baptist Confessions of Faith.
I personally am of the opinion
that the pedobaptist view on infant regeneration set the stage for the
subsequent lack of evangelism and the other theological departures
by the Presbyterian ministry as a whole from conservative Christianity. Wherever
infant regeneration has been practiced, and the churches thereby filled with
unregenerates from infancy, ultimate apostasy has developed.
Pedobaptist theologians distinctly separated regeneration from the necessary
instrumentality of means, such as the Word, which was a logical and
necessary corollary to their affirming the regeneration of infants who were not
capable of receiving the Word. Consequently, Shedd described regeneration by the
word "physical" and as being a direct operation of the Spirit
apart from "any instrument or means whatever" (Volume 2, page 500).
This view on infant regeneration as a "covenant" benefit, I think, is
the basis for the separation of the use of the Word as a necessary
instrumentality in the regeneration of adults. The "pre-faith new birth" theory
-- apart from necessary instrumentality of the Word -- is strenuously affirmed
by Shedd, and is also elaborately set forth by Berkhof.
This position is
admitted by both Shedd and Berkhof to be a different view on regeneration
than taught in former years by the Puritans and as set forth in the Westminster
Confession (Shedd, Vol. 2, page 402; Berkhof, pages 470, 476). It certainly
conflicts with our Baptist Confessions, all of which affirm the necessary use of
the Word as an instrumentality in the Holy Spirit's bringing forth faith and the
New Birth. -- Bob L. Ross
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