Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Rebuttal Part II: A False Dichotomy and a Shaky Premise

          The false dichotomy is the most prevalent kind displayed in persuasive writing. Chapter 2 of the Blue Book expounds on a great example: Covenantalists believe in a hermeneutic that leads to continuity within Scripture while Baptists support discontinuity. The false dichotomy then rests on a cracked foundation: the idea that covenants between a superior and an inferior are always conditional.

          “The question of how we should interpret the Bible is at the very heart of the baptism debate—indeed it is the foundational issue.” BB at 15. Justus is spot on with this assessment. Interpretational methods will lead to particular conclusions, or at least to a particular range of conclusions. We may be interested, then, to see how the paedobaptist chooses to interpret Scripture. Here, Justus is quite helpful, as he gives us the “Reformed or Covenantal Method.” BB at 16. This method “sees a basic continuity between the Old and New Testaments, with the New flowing out of the Old and building on its foundation.” BB at 16-17. One could hardly argue with such a method of interpreting Scripture. Though we will soon learn that when it comes to baptism what the paedobaptist means by this hermeneutic is that there is a basic continuity with the way by which God chooses who His people will be—the children of His people are His people—and how they should be marked. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Rebuttal: Part I

     I’m a Baptist of a Reformed bent. I love high-church services, but there’s something about the dunking of converts in vats of water which apparently renders such practitioners incapable of practicing high-church. I prefer Bach to praise choruses; were I a paedobaptist I would find myself much more comfortable on Sunday mornings. Alas, I am not, though I long to be. I’m not alone—many Reformed Baptists feel a little out of place and, having already been properly baptized, make the plunge to a Presbyterian or Episcopalian church of their liking, particularly if their children are grown. My child’s about two, which means this isn’t an option for me.

          Nevertheless, the desire to be convinced of the merit of the paedobaptist view lingers in my mind and heart. So it was with great anticipation I cracked open a book about a credo-baptist’s journey to being a paedobaptist. The book was given to me by its author, who is a good and kind man. His thinking on the issue of baptism, however, is illogical, incomplete, and tinctured by haughtiness, which is to say that it is typical of a paedobaptist’s arguments about baptism. But I write this, my response, not as an attack on the author’s intelligence—his name will not be mentioned, nor will the title of his book. Instead, as I note that his book is typical of the arguments I’ve heard from credo-turned-paedo-baptists, I take it upon myself to rebut the ideas contained therein. You’ll read quotes from the book as I use them to display the thinking, and wrong-headedness of its underlying logic. As I said, I’ll not use the name of the book, but in the spirit of Lewis I shall call it the Blue Book, and I’ll refer to its author as Justus. It is only right that I not refer to the author by name, not only because of my desire not to embarrass him, but because the thinking reflected in the book is not really his own. Justus didn’t lock himself in a room with a lamp and a Bible until he came away with a “proper” understanding of baptism. He adopted the thinking of others, and is now in the Blue Book trying to hook new converts to an idea he finds intellectually appealing.