Skip to main content

Vedder on Infant Baptism

No, not Eddie Vedder, Henry Clay Vedder (1853-1935) whose book is currently providing me with some light and entertaining reading.  His arrogance and bombast is really quite charming as long as you remember he is writing over a century ago. He proceeds with the assurance of someone who is preaching to the choir and sometimes makes some painfully half baked remarks.  Sometimes, however, he gets it spot on:

No scholar pretends that the baptism of infants is taught in the Scriptures; they are absolutely silent on the subject; yet from this silence certain inferences have been made.  It is sometimes assumed that a continuity of life unites the Old Dispensation and the New.  As children were by birth heirs of the promises through Abraham, so they are assumed to be by birth heirs of promise through Christ.  In this view the New Dispensation is organically one with the Old; baptism merely replaces circumcision, the church replaces the synagogue and temple, the ministry replaces the priesthood, while the spirit of all continues unchanged.  It appears to Baptists, on the other hand, to be clearly taught in Scripture that the New Dispensation, though a fulfilling and completion of the Old, is radically different from it.  Under the Old Dispensation a child was an heir of promise according to the flesh, but under the New Dispensation natural birth does not make him a member of the kingdom of God; he must be born from above, born of the Spirit.  The church has for its foundation principle a personal relation of each soul to Christ, and not a bond of blood; a child might be born a Jew, but he must be born again to be a Christian.  (Short History, 26)

Just when infant baptism began is uncertain; scholars have disputed long over the question without arriving at any decisive proof . . . It is tolerably certain, however, that by the time of Tertullian the practice was common, though by no means universal.  We know, for example, that Augustine, though the son of the godly Monica, was not baptised in infancy, but on personal profession of faith at age thirty-three.  Gregory of Nazianzum and Chrysostom are two others.  Similar cases were frequent without a doubt, though from this time on they became more rare, untill after the sixth century the practice of infant baptism was universal, or nearly so.  Nothing in the history of the church did so much as this departure from apostolic precedent to prepare  the way for the papacy.  It introduced into the church a multitude whose hearts were unchanged by the Spirit of God, who were worldy in aims and in life, and who sought for the worldy advancement of the church that thus their own power and importance might be magnified.  This consumation was doubtless aided and hastened by the rapid contemporary growth of the church in numbers and its increase in worldly prosperity. (Short History, 50)

There now, wasn't that fun?  :-)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Addictive Power of End Times Speculation

The mighty Rhett Snell has picked up his blog again (I wonder how long he'll last this time), check out his theory on why people get so into annoyingly unbiblical end times nonsense.

I think that where codes-and-calendars end times theology is dangerous, is that it can give a sense of false growth. We read a theory online, or hear it from some bible teacher, and we come to think that we have mastered an area of our faith. A bit like levelling up in a computer game, or Popeye after he’s eaten some spinach. At worst, we begin to believe that we’ve taken a step that other Christians have not; that we’ve entered an elite class of Christianity.

The false link between suicide and mental illness

One characteristic of human society is the tendency to keep doing something over and over again despite it not working. One example would be our approach to incarcerating criminals to punish them instead of rehabilitating them, compounding their trauma and making it harder for them to live productive law-abiding lives when they get out. But this is the "common-sense" approach, the intuitive human response to the failings of others, punish them and they wont dare do it again. It has never worked, ever, but let's keep doing it. Secular society is screwed because it cannot comprehend that its vision is blurred by sin and therefore knee-jerk, common sense solutions are usually destructive and counter-productive.

So it is with our response to suicide. To kill yourself must be the response of the weak minded and sick - so the thinking goes - so to combat rising suicide we treat individuals medically. Yet suicide is a perfectly rational response to a world as broken as ours and…

Wars and Rumours of Wars

I write in the morning after the USA 2016 Elections, which featured the historic election of Donald Trump. Apart from my personal interested as a resident of planet Earth at this time, it is interesting to note some of the apocalyptic language emerging in discussions of what this means. Even archaeologists are turning to the medium of prophecy. Hear the word of Tobias Stone,
So I feel it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover and move on.  Stone suggests that future historians will be able to draw clear lines from Brexit to Trump to the 3rd World War, or something equally bad. Mind you, just because historians can draw those lines doesn't mean they are here.

Then there is the word of Thom Hartman who is more interested in the domestic fallout than the fallout shelter. 
The last …