Thursday, September 06, 2007
Between Two Worlds: Interview with Steve Wellum on Baptism and the Covenants: "Why is this debate important for the church? The debate between Reformed paedobaptists and believer baptists is, thankfully, not a gospel debate. Between credo- and paedobaptists there is much that unites us, and we can be grateful for those agreements and our unity in Christ. However, given our different views of baptism, there are also profound differences that divide us, and it is not helpful to blur the differences merely for the sake of unity. Ultimately baptism is linked to the proclamation of the gospel itself as it proclaims the glories of our Lord Jesus Christ and the full realities of the gospel of sovereign grace. To get baptism wrong is not a benign issue. It not only misconstrues our Lord’s command and instruction to the church, it also leads to a misunderstanding of elements of the gospel, particularly to the beneficiaries of the new covenant and the nature of the church. It may even lead, if we are not careful, to a downplaying of the need to call our children to faith and repentance. Often Baptists are charged with not appreciating the place of their children in the covenant community. Not only does this charge miss the mark in fundamentally misunderstanding the structure and nature of the new covenant community, it also runs the danger of missing what is truly imperative—to call all people, including our children, to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only then that the promise of the new covenant age becomes ours—and not only to us, but to our children, and to all those who are far off. Baptism, as a new covenant sign, even though it does not bring us into a state of grace, has been ordained by our God as a proper means of grace that we ignore, distort, and downplay to the loss of our spiritual life and mission. Baptism is important. In many ways, how we view baptism is a test case of how one puts the entire Bible together. In that light, may both credo- and paedo Baptists continually go back to Scripture and examine which view is true to the whole Bible, for much is at stake in these debates and disagreements."