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On the Baptism of Infant Females and the Mode of Baptism

On the Baptism of Infant Females and the Mode of Baptism

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Published by Herm Zandman
This article addresses the thorny issue of infant baptism and adult baptism. Genuine Christians have over the ages wrestled with this issue. This document provides an apologetic treatise explaining why infant baptism is Biblical. Furthermore, an explanation is furnished as to how females were included in the seal of God's covenant in the Old Testament and how the paradigm has shifted in the New Testament. Finally, the issue of baptism by sprinkling or by immersion is being addressed.
This article addresses the thorny issue of infant baptism and adult baptism. Genuine Christians have over the ages wrestled with this issue. This document provides an apologetic treatise explaining why infant baptism is Biblical. Furthermore, an explanation is furnished as to how females were included in the seal of God's covenant in the Old Testament and how the paradigm has shifted in the New Testament. Finally, the issue of baptism by sprinkling or by immersion is being addressed.

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Published by: Herm Zandman on Sep 10, 2012
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On the baptism of infant females and the mode of baptismIntroductionIf you’ve ever had to defend infant baptism, you likely had someone say to you, “Just showme the verse in the Bible where God commands us to baptize infants.” Well, there is noverse in the Bible which says, “Baptize babies.” So, the underlying yet overarchingimplication is that paedobaptism must be wrong. However, this show-me-the-verse shoe pinches just as much on the other foot. For some two millennia, ever since the days of Abraham, the Lord made it abundantly clear that children were included in his covenant(Gen 17:7). Therefore, the challenge could also be launched: “just show me the verse in theBible where God commands us to stop including infants in his covenant.” Well,there is no verse in the Bible which says that either (Van Vliet, J., 2011, p.130,Una Sancta,Armadale, Australia).
 
The question of baptism has puzzled serious Bible believers on various levels, i.e.
Should infants be baptized, given that the New Testament
appears
exclusively tolink baptism with faith expressed and repentance sought?
As circumcision of boys was the covenant mark in the Old Testament, shouldwomen (girls) now receive the mark of baptism?
Should baptism be done via immersion or sprinkling?These are serious questions and earnest Bible believers have arrived at answers on oppositesides of the ledger regarding these.In what follows an attempt is made to shed some light on Scriptural teachings regardingthis important sacrament. The author will firstly address the question of infant baptism andstrive to arrive at a reasoned, Scriptural conclusion that infant baptism, along with adult baptism, is Biblical. Secondly, the question of baptizing females will be answeredconclusively and an attempt will be made at explaining the paradigm shift from the OldTestament to the New Testament dispensation with regard to this phenomenon. Finally,some thought will be given to the mode of baptism where the matter regarding immersionand sprinkling will be weighed up.IShould infants be baptized?In the theocracy of Israel boys were to receive the sign and seal of God’s Covenant withHis people through the act of circumcision. Whenever a son is circumcised, the incident istheologically linked to two significant events in Scripture.The first is the
blood 
covenant that God made with Abram (Gen. 15:1f.). The shedding of  blood signifies the forgiveness of sins, i.e. (re-)acceptance with God (Hebrews 9:22). After making His covenant with Abram (“he who is high is father”) God changes his name toAbraham (“father of a multitude”) and makes circumcision the
 sign
of that covenant (Gen.17:1-14). Any male who isn’t circumcised will be cut off from his people.1
 
The second event is the Passover: the firstborn son is saved from God’s
wrath
in Egypt bythe
blood 
of the Passover lamb. God’s
 firstborn
Son Israel (Ex. 4:22) is spared from death,while the
wrath
of God destroys all of Pharaoh’s
 firstborn
sons (all the firstborn sons of hiskingdom, including pharaoh’s own firstborn; Ex. 12:1f.).
God then interweaves therequirement of circumcision
for any
Gentile
who wants to keep Passover (i.e. to become part of God’s redeemed people Israel; Ex. 12:43-49).However, says Dr. Van Vliet (p.130,Una Sancta, Armadale, Australia), there is a Bible passage which is often overlooked regarding the question of paedobaptism: 1 Corinthians10:2. In this passage the apostle Paul teaches us about the baptism into… no, not Christ, but Moses! But, you say, baptism is a new covenant sacrament, and Moses is the mediator of the old covenant. Indeed, but the new sacrament was already
 foreshadowed 
in the olddispensation, at the Red Sea. “They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in thesea.” A cloud contains water. According to Exodus 14:19, the special glory cloud of theLord, which to that point had gone in front of the people, moved and stood behind the people, separating the Egyptians from the Israelites. Thus God’s holy people and their enemies were distinguished by a wall of water, and “throughout the night the cloud broughtdarkness to the one side and light to the other side” (Exod 14:20). And if that was notdramatic enough, next the Lord miraculously used the water of the Red Sea to both save his people and defeat their enemies (Exod 14:22, 28). These waters of separation and salvationwere the baptism into Moses. Who, then, was baptized into Moses?
 All 
of God’s peoplewere baptized into Moses, male and female, older and younger, including the little infants, being carried in the arms of eager parents who were hurrying to safety on the oppositeshore of the Sea. Therefore, since the babies were baptized into Moses, surely they shouldalso be baptized into Christ, for Moses was faithful as a
 servant 
, but Christ is faithful as
Son
(Heb 4:5-6). Dr Van Vliet strenuously continues to argue that the issue is not of minor importance; after all, the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are invoked,making the theology on this issue prominent in significance. This author would add that themanner in which some one understands baptism correctly or not reflects the measure of correctness in understanding what the Covenant is all about.A telling event regarding the saving blood of the Passover lamb is recorded in Exodus 4. Itwas the wrath of God that had threatened Moses with death (Ex. 4:24) and it was the bloodof the circumcision that spared him. The
blood 
of the
circumcision
and the
wrath
of Godtie the incident of Moses into the Passover. The failure of Moses to circumcise his son wasa matter of life and death. The question then remains why God would require Moses’ life,and not that of his uncircumcised son.The contentiousness basically rests in the fact that Moses fails to keep the Passover as hewas commanded to do. Circumcision (blood covenant), Passover (blood redemption-salvation of the firstborn; the essence of a family or nation), and the averting of God’swrath are all theologically interrelated. Numbers 9:13 informs us that the Hebrew whodoesn’t keep the Passover is
cut off 
from his people which makes Passover andcircumcision interrelated at that point, also. This was Moses’ shortcoming at the time, ashortcoming hastily rectified by his wife’s action. The act of cutting, by the way, is2
 
symbolic of ‘cutting a covenant.’ In the act of cutting the covenant with the God of Israel isrenewed, remembered, re-enacted (see also Genesis 15:8-18, where God establishes Hiscovenant with Abram). This covenant is with the believer 
and his seed after him
(Genesis17:7). This means that Abram’s children were also included in the Covenant with God, i.e.they are set apart as God’s special people.Does this mean that those children, by virtue of their inclusion were automatically saved?Biblical history tells us otherwise (Jacob I loved, Esau I hated – Romans 9:13). What itdoes mean is that all the
 privileges of Covenant membership
are theirs; it means that thesame promises given to the children of believers in the Old Testament are owned by thechildren of believers in the New Testament (“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises
made
unto the fathers” -Romans 15:8).If circumcision is so important in the days of Abraham, Moses and King David - and it
is
-why does God in the New Covenant nullify circumcision in Jesus? Scripture teaches us thatcircumcision is nullified because both the sacrifice and the sign have changed. Covenantsare made through the shedding of blood. Yahweh links the act of a bloody circumcision tothe blood sacrifices of the animals of the covenant that He makes with Abram (Gen. 15:1f.) by making circumcision the sign of that covenant. The eight day old Hebrew infant,
unbeknown to him
, but chosen by God, is brought into the covenant of Abram by theshedding of its own blood in the act of circumcision. This links the infant back to theanimals sacrificed when God made His covenant with Abram. Before any covenantmember comes to
 Messiah
, also unbeknown to him, he is chosen by God. Jesus says: “Youdid not choose Me,
but I chose you
and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit,and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He maygive you (John 15:16).” “And He says, ‘Therefore I have said to you that
no one can cometo Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father 
” (John 6:65).The covenant of circumcision includes redemption (salvation) from Egyptian slavery andentry into the Promised Land (Gen. 15:12-14; Ex. 6:1-8). It is the prototype of God’s NewCovenant with Israel, the Church (Jer. 31:31-34), in which His Son’s sacrifice as the Lambof God brings about Israel’s redemption from Satan and entry into the eternal Kingdom of Messiah. The
 sign
of the New Covenant is not physical circumcision, but water baptism inthe name of Messiah Jesus. (Water in the Bible is synonymous with giving of life and with purification and therefore, those chosen are baptized
into
Jesus, into His Body the Church.)With the shedding of the sacrificial blood of Jesus, both circumcised Jew anduncircumcised Gentile are engrafted in the
 New
Covenant. It is
this
blood that God requiresfor keeping Passover in the Kingdom of His Son, and it is
this
blood that will avert God’swrath on Judgment Day, not the blood of physical circumcision, nor the blood of Abram’ssacrifice (as these were types of what would be fulfilled in the antitype Jesus Christ). AJew who is only physically circumcised cannot enter into Messiah’s Kingdom, nor  participate in His Passover on the basis of such circumcision. Circumcision of the
heart 
iscrucial, or, in the words of Jesus, a person needs to be born again (John 3:3). Just ascircumcision linked the ancient Israeli infant to the sacrifices of the covenant of Abram, sowater baptism links it to the blood of Messiah’s sacrifice. The Old Testament type finds its3

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