What if we ask the question of the benefit to the Eucharist this way: not what good a sacrament is for the individual, but what good it is for the WHOLE body in worship.
We do baptize people who have no concept of what is happening – and that serves in great part to teach the congregation about both themselves and that young member. I would say that part of the BODY issue about sacraments is that it is WE who celebrate sacraments together, not I who celebrate the sacrament alone. So when a child in my church communes, (young or younger), we may ask what the benefit is to the child, but I think we shouldn’t forget that its benefit might in part be that benefit to all the other eyes that watch and to the hands that administer.
The gospel, in that context is telling ME that the covenant blesses when SOMEONE ELSE partakes.
An ingredient that ought to be thrown into anyone’s stew if they are cooking up a theology about faith in children is this:
Infants are called to keep the law; infants can break the law.
Cursory examples are:
Gen 17 – Circumcision
Positive: Infants required to recieve circumcision;
Negative: he who did not receive circumcision is considered “cut off from his people”
Jdg 13 – Nazarite Vow
Positive: Samson required to be a Nazarite “from the womb”;
Negative: Samson must not drink alcohol – so his MOTHER could not drink it while he was in the womb, because it would cause HIM to break the command.
Ability to break the law does not necessarily imply ability to keep the law.
Ability to keep the law externally does not imply internal regeneration.
However, Keep Reading>
I thought about entitling this post: “Are we agnostic toward the meaning of baptism?” But I didn’t want to open with a negative name, when there was something positive to promote.
Inspired some by Doug Wilson’s first paper in Auburn Avenue Theology – Pros and Cons: Debating the Federal Vision…
A test of how we do think/ought to think of Baptized church members
Which would I say of my pastor?
1) Belief: I presume he is a true Christian,
2) Skepticism: I presume he is baptized but apostate,
3) Agnosticism: I constantly hold him in uncertainty, maybe, maybe not.
Only #1 is fit for a church member.
If I think someone shows reason (unrepentant sin – hard heartedness) to be excommunicated, then we MUST remove them, other wise, we must keep building them up as body members. We must believe that a church member is a believer, or we must remove him.
Our children are Baptized and not-Excommunicated. So they must fall in Category 1.
The problem comes in where we think we are allowed to baptize people whose salvation we question. A simple survey of NT baptism verses shuts this down as an option [Maybe I’ll write a whole post on this soon].
e.g.: Gal 3.26-29:
26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The only consistent logical answers are A) to be a believer’s baptist – NO baptism until you confess with your mouth, but that excludes thousands of years of covenantal history, 2) be a paedobaptist and accept paedofaith.