Thursday, January 22, 2004

Argument for Infant Baptism from a Socio-Political Perspective (from Rabbi Saul's Blog)

The practice of infant baptism rules out the possibility of the Church becoming a mere voluntary society. Voluntary societies are not 'public' to the degree that the Church should be.

The State is not a voluntary society and, when the Church becomes a voluntary society it loses the power to truly challenge the rulers of this world. A kingdom or nation does not begin with the voluntary membership of its citizens. This would compromise the possibility of its being a true society. It begins with the reality of a public authority and not with the autonomous choice of the individual agent.

If God is not permitted to put His name on us in baptism until we decide that we want to let Him do so, we have made the authority of God bow to the claims of human autonomy. This lies at the root of a lot of Baptist problems: the desire to say 'I am what I say I am, not what God says I am'. Baptism does not indelibly mark you out because it is founded upon your own decision. If you ever move away from that decision any meaning the baptism had is seen to be annulled.

If the sole valid basis for receiving baptism is an autonomous decision on my part then even the Church, in the final analysis, has to admit that her authority comes from below and not from above. It becomes a human construct, rather than the new nation under Christ.

It is very important to come to grips with the fact that Jesus is Lord. These reflections appear to me to be a valuable application of that Lordship, in terms of the biblical revelation concerning the character of the Church.

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