Sent: Friday, July 23, 2004 4:25 PM
Subject: PEDOBAPTISM = APOSTASY [07/2304]

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.

Staunch 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 infant regeneration.

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, #18, #19.

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.

Since infants 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.

We 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.

These 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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