Over at BHT, John H ponies up this thought about Dr. Piper's sermon on baptism:
However, while for you that is a link setting out an argument which supports the intellectual and theological position you hold concerning the subject of baptism, for me it’s a link telling me why I’m not actually baptised (and why I shouldn’t listen to Jesus when he tells me I am). So you’ll appreciate I’m not rushing to print it out and read it carefully over a coffee. (jn)Snark aside there at the end, the underlined part is where John goes south. John -- where exactly does "Jesus" say your sprinkling as an infant equals baptism? Name one infant in the NT who was "baptized" by drizzling his forehead with water.
Seriously: before anyone goes ballistic over me calling John "not christian", or that I have labelled his view of this rite "heresy", all I am saying is that what John says he got doesn't look anything like what was presented in the NT as baptism -- not in sequence, not in call, not in process, and not in purpose.
One of the things, historically, that the average baptist preacher has done in this matter is bury his head in the sand and not review what the presbyterian or the lutheran means by baptizing an infant. My opinion is that historically, even the most erudite presbyterians and lutherans are guilty of the same sin but to a lesser degree when dealing with the credobaptist case for what baptism is.
So go get your coffee and a print-out of Dr. Piper's sermon, and read it again -- and then formulate something a little more compelling than "Jesus told me" when in fact Jesus doesn't tell you: you tell you. What Jesus says about this doesn't really enter into it.
Seriously: from a Lutheran point of view, making the validity of baptism dependent on whether there was enough faith and enough water present at the ceremony completely negates the purpose of baptism, which is to assure us that – whatever our own doubts and uncertainties may be about the strength and quality of our faith – we belong to Christ by his own word and according to his own promises.That, of course, is ludicrous. The question is not whether there was enough "faith" present -- because even a lutheran would confess that an agnostic hobo can't sprinkle the guy in the next trash can who has never heard the Gospel with water from a public fountain and that be called a valid baptism.
And this is the classic paedo dodge: the atomization of faith in order to say that the credo makes baptism about faith rather than about Christ. The problem is that the credo -- the confessional credo -- says everything the paedo would say about baptism except when it comes to the transferrability of the faith of one's parents. Doug Wilson says that one baptizes rather than circumcises in order to prove the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant because it is at least as inclusive; The WHI guys say that we baptize infants on the promise of faith, overlooking that their foundational passage there in Acts 2 doesn't just say "and your children", but also "for all who are far off" -- and none of them would baptize every person they see on the street on the promise that those who are called will then come.
What the NT demonstrates for us is that faith precedes baptism in order that our baptism can testify to our faith. Faith causes obedience, and baptism is the first act one can make in obedience to God's call to repent and turn away from our old life of sin and rebellion.
Not just the promises which are made generally in the Bible and in preaching: for us, what happens in baptism is that Jesus (through his minister) declares those promises to us personally, as individuals: “I baptize you…”.That's your spin on it. That's not what the Bible says happens.
Never mind the issue of whether (and/or which) infants should be baptised. This is the real difference: does our faith assure us that our baptism was real, or does our baptism assure us that our faith is real?And that, John, is the phony dichotomy that all paedos retreat to in the end. Our faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen; our baptism is evidence of our faith. It can be both: it can be that our faith causes our baptism, and our baptism improves out faith.
In fact, I would argue, it must be both.
UPDATED: John H. has declined to engage this post as he has better things to do. Like Ministry, I am sure.