The Synod of Carthage on Infant Baptism

Synod of Carthage (1 May 418):

“Anyone who denies that newborn infants are to be baptized or who says that they are baptized for the remission of sins but do not bear anything of original sin from Adam which is expiated by the washing of regeneration, so that as a consequence the form of baptism ‘for the remission of sins’ is understood to be not true but false in their case-let him be anathema.”

Baptism, Salvation

Writing on the Wrightsaid e-mail list, James Jordan addresses several topics and interacts with Wright a bit:

1. “Baptism saves.” But when someone affirms or denies this, it matters what he thinks “salvation” is, and whether a person can lose it. Consider the OT usage. The word yasha, found in the name Joshua and Jesus, does not imply a change of heart, but a transfer of a person from an old world into a new world. That’s just what Joshua did. I myself would say that baptism transfers a child — any child baptized — out of the old world of Egypt into the new world of the New Creation. Whether he will grow up and remain there is another question. But whether he does or not, he has objectively been given this gift from God, sovereignly bestowed on him by God via the church and because of who his parents are. If he grows up and rebels, that is also in the sovereign plan of God.

2. I would view baptism as God’s sovereign gift and call, which calls for us to respond in faith. And that faith is not a one-time acceptance, but is daily. Other Presbyterians seem to think that baptism is a sign of a person’s own personal faith, and is given to infants as a kind of exception. Well, these aren’t the same theologies of infant baptism. I imagine Wright thinks more along the former lines than the latter.

3. Can a person lose this salvation? Clearly, yes, in the sovereign plan of God. The parables of the sower and of the unrighteous steward who had his debts forgiven and then put back on him, make this clear. So does the book of Hebrews. But it’s all predestined. Continue reading “Baptism, Salvation”

Calvary Chapel Weirdness

A few weeks ago I listened in to the Calvary Chapel Network on the radio as I was driving around. Despite disagreeing with them on many things, I usually enjoy listening to them practice verse by verse exposition of the Bible. But on this day I heard a couple of weird things that tell me that maybe it’s been a long time since I paid attention to their preachers and what they think.

First, I heard a guy saying that being vegetarian would be the best diet for us. The context was talking about God’s law and how God wants the best for us. Somehow, and I’m not sure how, he reasoned that vegetarianism would be the highest form of diet for a Christian. I think he was basing this on Adam’s diet before the Fall or something. He wasn’t saying that you have to be vegetarian, but that it would be the best possible state if you could handle it. I found this bizarre and assumed the guy was in California somewhere.

Next, I heard another preacher say that he believes that when Jesus breathed on the Apostles and said, “receive the Holy Spirit” they were born again. I find that to be wrong for a couple reasons:
[1] The Bible does not teach this.
[2] Entrance into the covenant people of God (Israel) was via circumcision. Of course I wouldn’t expect a Calvary Chapel guy to really agree with this, because they don’t baptize infants and have no good framework with which to understand circumcision.

This got me to thinking about circumcision and “getting in” to the Old Testament Church. Why would Jesus tell Nicodemus that he must be born again if he was already in the covenant by circumcision? Someone helpfully pointed out to me that “…Jesus is not talking about individual regeneration in John 3. Rather, he is talking about the need for a new Israel, a new humanity. Nicodemus needs to follow Jesus into the new world through death and resurrection. Being baptized will unite him with the disciples of Jesus, with those who are following Jesus into a new world.”

See this post for more on the topic.