Many credo-baptists (CB) are familiar with the standard route of argument of the paedo-baptist (PB). Gen 17 to the relationship between baptism and circumcision in Colossians 2:11-12 then bam you’re in paedo-baptism land. Children receive the covenant sign because they are still in the covenant according to the PBs.
The question then becomes however for many CBs, “If we are in the ‘New Covenant’, are children part of the New Covenant or not?” There looks to be different promises in the New Covenant than those in the Old Covenant. The New Covenant looks to be distinct because it is made up of regenerate people where as the Old Covenant had both. Based on this understanding it makes it difficult to place children of believers in the covenant the way they were in the Old Covenant administration because all the members of the New Covenant are regenerate.
It seems as if this is the type of CB argument using covenant theology that isn’t addressed very often. With the Calvinistic Baptists, Reformed Baptists, Covenant Baptists (whichever name they choose) it is becoming more and more popular. It is an erasing of the visible and invisible distinction of the Church that can only be distinguished by a profession of faith.
However Gregg Strawbridge in The Case for Covenantal Baptism notes, that the CBs run into challenges when they come into warnings of apostasy (Heb 10:28-30). An epiphany he encountered when he entered into a discussion with Douglas Wilson. The passage reads:
Heb 10:28-30 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
The question then follows “Did the writer of Hebrews just say God will judge his people?” The answer is a sound “yes!”
Another observation is the word to describe those in this covenant. The word is ἡγιάσθη hegiasthe (aorist passive indicative 3S of ἁγιάζω hegiadzo). This is translated here in:ESV-sanctified – “and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified” NIV- sanctified – “who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him” KJV – sanctified – “and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing”
I think the point is understood. Those who apostatize were sanctified and were in the covenant.Here is what BDAG has for hegiadzo:
1. set aside someth. or make it suitable for ritual purposes 2. include a pers. in the inner circle of what is holy, in both cultic and moral associations of the word. This idea of sanctification is used in Hebrews 9 by the writer of Hebrews as vs.13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh.
Louw and Nida –
to cleanse from ritual contamination or impurity — ‘to cleanse, to purify, purification.’
These types of clear statements cannot be reconciled with a view that every member in the covenant is regenerate. Either they are not in the covenant and are sanctified which is not possible. Or they are in the covenant, they are sanctified but they aren’t regenerate. The premise here is that regeneration cannot be lost as Calvinist hold to in the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. The doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is seen quickly here:
John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Rom 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Therefore it can simply be stated that there is also continuity in the administration of the covenant. Another way to state this is “we initiate children into the New Covenant because they are in the New Covenant.” The CB is forced to give up their idea that the New Covenant is made up of regenerate only and recognize the Reformed categories of the visible and invisible distinction of the Church.
The Baptist lacks explicit warrant to exclude the infants of believers from the covenant, for there is no biblical command or example that demands their exclusion. (3) Their exclusion is inferred from what Baptists take to be the nature of the new covenant. Baptists often deny to paedobaptists the right to draw inferences that lead to infant baptism, yet their central theological objection to infant baptism-that the children of believers are not members of the new covenant-is an inference from their view of the new covenant.
Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism