Friday, November 24, 2006

Household Baptisms in the New Testament

In support of an 'infant Baptist' position, texts such as Acts 10; 16:15, 33; and 1 Cor. 1:16 are appealed to. The argument basically runs like this:

- A head of a household professes faith,
- The whole household is therefore Baptised,
- Households normally contain infants,
- It is likely that these particular baptised households contain infants,
- Therefore non-professing infants in these households were baptised,
- Therefore, we likewise should baptise non-professing infants of households where the head has professed faith.

I have numerous difficulties with this logic, I shall explain just two here.

First, this argument rests on the premise that some who were baptised were non-professing. I believe the biblical texts tell a different story.
Acts 10-11 - Cornelius and his household are commanded to be Baptised (10:48), however the whole household was told to be saved before the baptism (cf. 11:14)
Acts 16:33 - The Philippian Jailer and all his family were baptised (v.33). However, the word of the Lord was spoken to all who were in his household (v.32) implying all were able to understand it, and further, all rejoiced that the jailer believed in God, implying again a faith in what was spoken to them (v.34) They must hear the word, then respond to it. - as Piper says, this is just as plausible as assuming infants.
1. Cor. 1:16 - The household of Stephanas was Baptised (v.16). However, this household was a household of believers (1. Cor. 16:15).
Acts 16:15 - Here is the only example of a household baptism with a profession of household faith. However, isn't it an exegetical fallacy to apply silence logic from this one verse onto the other three which would seem to contradict this? Is it not more consistent to interpret this in light of every other household Baptisms which wouldn't contradict 16:15?

Second, this argument rests on the premise that there were infants within the households. There is simply no evidence for such an assumption. Further, if we submit to the scriptures above which seem to support household faith, then in order to be consistent, it would seem that an infant Baptist has to insist on the faith of the infant.

Other than these assumptive passages, there is no mention of infant baptism in the Bible, period. Its just not there. What there is in evidence is a very elaborate systematic argument with no 'obvious' working out of such in the apostolic church.

I believe therefore that the household argument as outlined at the top of this post is not a strong argument for the case of infant baptism. It is an argument from silence, an argument open to exegetical issue, and an argument which ignores household faith

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Why don't we think much about Angels in our evangelical world? This is something I really want to spend some time with. They appear all through the Bible and reveal some of the most interesting Biblical Theology! I generally take there presence as continued, available, and very important to the life of the Christian, particularly to learn from in how to serve and worship God, and to amend context to warm and assure the hearts of believers in Jesus Christ.

Surely we can learn so much from these beings in the Bible. They were created, like us, to Gloryfy God through their love, worship, and service of Him. Is that not our delight also?

I hope next year, after my dissertation is over, to spend some time examining Angels place in the Bible, and subsequent place now in Church life, practice, and teaching. But any thoughts that anyone has would be very much appreciated?

The Unique and Joy-filled time in Salvation History that we are in!

So I have been very busy these past few weeks preparing a piece on John chapter 13 for class, and have spent some wonderful time in the farewell discourse following this (Chs. 14-17).

After spending sometime in John 16 (with wise direction of Dr. Andrew Sach), I have come to focus on the joy in being a Christian at this particular stage in Salvation History.

Jesus Christ has indeed died, and rose again, and further he has ascended to the Father to prepare a place for us. However, the awesomeness in doing this is, he has now sent his Spirit.

Jesus tells his disciples time after time throughout the farewell discourse, particularly in chapters 14 and 16, that is for the disciple inevitable -good- that Jesus leaves them. For if he does not leave, he cannot send his Spirit.

We see throughout the latter half of John (as it has also been expounded in the first half), that the Father gives ALL THINGS to Jesus, the Son (13:3), and the Son has revealed ALL THINGS to the Spirit (16:14), and the Spirit teaches ALL THINGS to the disciples (16:12-15).

What is the task of the disciples? Well, the Spirits Job is the convict the world (16:1-11), and this is through the disciples. And as Jesus prays for His disciples in Ch. 17, so he prays for all who believe (17:20ff.). The disciples, through their preached and written ministry and institution of the sacraments, and instruction in prayer and spiritual gifts reveal ALL THINGS to us now as followers.

We are now in a great place! Better even than the days when Jesus walked the earth. For now he is with us -by His Spirit- and teaches us the ways of all truth. When Jesus was on earth, the disciples only knew so much, and misunderstood so much more, but at the coming of the Spirit, they had been led into all truth. And so we learn the true ways of the Father through their teaching and example.

We now know the truth, the glory of the centrality of Jesus and his work, through the revelation of the spirit. If Jesus did not ascend to the Father, and did not then send the spirit, then where would we be? Praise God, that we are convicted and led into all truth by the Spirit through the Truth of the Word.