Moving from believer’s to infant baptism: a common theme

Rather mirroring the first article to which I am going to link, and despite sounding like the start of a support group introduction, I feel it important to open with a caveat. Though I am a credo-baptist, I have many friends who are paedobaptist and I respect them a lot. I have learnt a great deal from many Reformed Presbyterian paedobaptists, whose books and articles I read, enjoy and agree with so much.

Beyond all that, it is worth mentioning I do not believe our view on baptism (whichever side of the divide we fall) should be a cause of division. Though I lead a credo-baptist church which only practices believers baptism by immersion (we are not dual practice), we will accept convinced paedobaptists to membership if they can theologically defend their position (see here for why). However, so long as (on either view) it is understood that baptism does not confer spiritual life – again, regardless of which side we fall – an errant view of baptism will not fundamentally alter our union with Christ and thus nor should it with his church.

With all those caveats out of the way, let me briefly point you to this defence of paedobaptism by Kevin DeYoung. I don’t want to focus on his article so much. Rather, I want to consider the three articles to which he links. They are three different individuals who changed their view from credo-baptism to paedobaptism. The three articles are:

  1. How I Changed My Mind About Paedobaptism – Liam Goligher
  2. Why I Changed My Mind About Baptizing [sic] Infants – Sean Michael Lucas
  3. Infant Baptism: How My Mind Has ChangedDennis E. Johnson
Two things struck me that were common to each of these accounts: (1) In each case, an incredibly weak view of believer’s baptism was advanced during their upbringing; (2) in each case, it was interaction with paedobaptist books and writers that led to the change.

It is not difficult to see how a poorly articulated, badly taught view of believer’s baptism could be so readily overturned when met with well written cogent books advancing the opposite case. Not to compare the two for one minute (honestly!) but it is often a similar story when it comes to folk joining cults and sects. Poorly advanced theology – or no real theology at all – drags people off into the worst of error because a more articulate advocate advances a view that sounds credibly biblical.

And yet… isn’t it interesting that in story after story of those who “convert” to paedobaptism, a direct and plain reading of scripture itself is rarely the cause of change. The story usually begins “I was reading Francis Shaeffer when…” or “I attended Presbyterian Seminary X and was taught…”. Rarely does the story go “I was simply reading the Bible when…”

Interesting that.