An Analysis of Reformed Paedobaptism

Tom Hicks offers a good summary analysis of reformed paedobaptism from a seventeenth century credobaptist position.

I dearly love Presbyterians. These brothers and sisters in Christ are co-laborers in the cause of the gospel. We owe them and their tribe very much for their vital contributions to Christian thought and life. Some of my heroes in the faith are Presbyterians. I have good Presbyterian friends and I value their friendships. I mean no offense to them in this post, but I do mean to outline what I regard to be the fatal errors in their doctrine of infant baptism (or paedobaptism) and respond to them.

22 thoughts on “An Analysis of Reformed Paedobaptism

  1. Some Presbyterians claim that ‘Reformed Baptists’ just ain’t.

    Over at Reformed Baptist Fellowship blog, Tom Chantry has written that charismatic Calvinists are not truly Reformed.

    Now, Tom Hicks lays the groundwork for “Why Presbyterians are Not Reformed!”

    (They DO seem slow to drop the semper!)


  2. Great Article! I do have to admit after only a cursory reading I have difficulty seeing a
    deal of difference between this and what New Covenant Theology teaches.

    And regarding “the gospel” being preached to OT beleivers, none of you guys can seriously believe the OT believers heard the same gospel we preach can you? I have no question they heard good news, even the good news of the coming Anointed One in typical and promisory form, but the idea they had the New Covenant gospel in its fullness preached to them is nonsense. John wrote, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth,[ i.e., reality as opposed to type, shadow and promise] came by Jesus Christ.]


    1. Hi Randy,

      Tom’s article is not a full-orbed treatment of the issue. To see how his view differs from NCT, see an article like this JOHN OWEN AND NEW COVENANT THEOLOGY:
      Owen on the Old and New Covenants and the Functions of the Decalogue in Redemptive History in Historical and Contemporary Perspective

      Yes, we have much greater clarity as to the fullness of the gospel. But as you said, they still heard the gospel and rejoiced in it (John 8:56; 1 Peter 1:10-12; Heb 11:13; etc). John Owen does a good job of explaining some of the differences between our experience and theirs in his commentary on Hebrews 8:6-13. I very highly recommend reading it.


  3. May I play?

    Of course, the would-be group of law-keepers of Romans 2:13 is a null set. No one is righteous enough (but Christ), for any transgression is a transgression of all the law.

    The law (if it could have given life) would need to be perfectly obeyed, as it was in the case of Christ Jesus. But due to our (man’s) sinfulness and hardness, we are merely wretched and in need of Another to save us!

    For the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. {Heb. 7:13, NKJV.}

    For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. {Rom. 8:3f.}


  4. Hughuenot,

    But that is precisely my point. Paul does not say the law cannot justify a person who keeps it nor does he say does not promise life to the law-keeper. That is exactly what it promises. ¨The man who does them, shall live by them.¨ It clearly ¨justified¨Jesus, and justifies us in union with him. His statement ¨THEREFORE, by the deeds of the Law, no human being will be justified in his sight, . . .¨ follows a long list of citations that show the unwillingness and inability of sinners to obey the Law. The point is not that the law does not promise life to those who obey it, but that none will be justified by it because all are disobedient.

    It is true that no sinner will ever be justified through keeping the Law. God never intend to save a single sinner through his personal obedience to the Law. It is also true that not a single sinner will ever be justified before his throne apart from a perfect satisfaction of the Law´s demands.


    1. Thanks, Randy. I think you’re right. I agree that,

      Paul does not say the law cannot justify a person who keeps it nor does he say [it] does not promise life to the law-keeper.

      But does Paul explicitly or implicitly say that the law CAN justify a person who keeps it, and/or that it DOES promise life to the law-keeper?

      Seems the NT testimony is fairly negative about the life-giving elements of the law. “We know that the law is good,” saith the apostle, but I don’t hear him claiming that it gives or could give life.


  5. Huguenot,

    I believe is it should be obvious to anyone that Paul is not setting forth God’s plan for the sinner’s justification in Romans 2. His topic is the standard of God’s judgment. Sinners [particularly Jewish sinners in this passage] are judged not based on their possession of or knowledge of God’s Law, covenant status, circumcision, etc. Instead, God’s judgment is righteous judgment. It is based on obedience to his righteous standard. He only declares righteous those who obey perfectly, continually, and inwardly. This is clearly not good news for sinners who approach him in their own persons. The Law is clearly not given to justify sinners based on their own obedience. Nevertheless, it is the standard they must meet if they are to be declared righteous before God. It is difficult to miss Paul’s clear statement, “. . . .the doers of the law will be justified.”

    I believe one of the reasons for the Mosaic Law was to provide the stage on which the drama of redemptive history would be acted out. How else can we define God’s righteousness, as far as his demands are concerned, apart from codified Law? Christ’s righteousness is defined by his relationship to that Law. The governing principle of the Law is, “Do this and live.” To me, that seems to imply a promise of life to all who obey the Law perfectly. As I wrote earlier, this is not good news for sinners. In reality, it is very bad news for sinners. The good news is that Jesus rendered, perfect, continual and inward obedience to the Law and, thus, merited for his people the righteous declaration the Law can only bestow on non sinners.

    It seems to me, passages like Lev. 18:5 “the person who does them shall live by them,” Romans 7:10 “The commandment that promised life. . . .” Rom 10:5 “if a person does them he shall live by them,” Gal. 3:12 “the one who does them shall live by them.”

    We live before God because, by faith, we are united to him who lives because he fulfilled the Law and keeps it full.


    1. Amen. While “it should be obvious to anyone that Paul is not setting forth God’s plan for the sinner’s justification in Romans 2,” it surely isn’t to many.

      We think of Roman Catholic religious system, and Federal Visionaries like Norman Shepherd.


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