For those of you who are regular readers, you'll notice that I've been doing some wrestling with the doctrine of the sacraments; particularly infant baptism. Having attended an independent brethren/evangelical/baptistic church since my youth, I'd always considered infant baptism a Roman Catholic heresy on which the Reformers didn't go far enough. That is until I read Robert Reymond's Systematic Theology on infant baptism and the unity of the covenant. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Calvin, et al, actually had sound exegetical and theological reasons for baptising babies. I couldn't escape the penetrating logic, the sound covenantal organising principle, the historical continuity, the warm pastoral implications and the (yes, believe me) exegetical integrity that characterised the Reformed approach to infant baptism.
Further, I was always concerned that the baptistic doctrine of believers' baptism had effectively 'unbaptized' all of the greats throughout Christian history. Origen, Irenaeus, Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Beza, Bucer, Owen, Perkins, Sibbes, Whitefield, Murray, Lloyd-Jones, Packer, Stott, etc. (The only positive to this is that it would unbaptize the Pope, but he's got bigger problems, like wearing a daft hat, worshipping a dead woman, gutting justification and blaspheming Christ.)
So I'm coming out of the closet (in a non-gay manner of course) as an infant-baptist. I could be wrong, but then again, so could millions in Christ's church. I'd rather stand in an unbroken line of church history than join in with a crazy anabaptistic innovation.
One of my main reasons for my discomfort with the baptistic position is that I believe baptists don't know what to do with their kids. Jesus said that we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yet baptists while affirming this, bar entrance to their children and tell them they must reach a nebulous "age of accountability" whenever the hump that is. "Heaven is only for grown ups who become like children, not for children who behave like children" is the reasoning.
So, as opposed to nurturing, baptists wait for their kids to go through some sort of conversion experience. They don't believe in liturgy, but they have a liturgy for their kids. That is, the liturgy of the summer camp. Only after their kids attend this, cry and chuck some twigs in a fire are they really converted. Then they're allowed to be baptized and received into fellowship. During the years in church leading up to that first camp, they hear wonderful testimonies of people being "born again" from scandalous pasts like prostitution, crime, drunkenness, etc. They think, "I've not had this conversion experience. Am I born again?" So to make sure, they go out and live it up for a while, get drunk, have sex, etc. After they "get saved" they've at least got a nice before and after picture.
Further, those children who are unfortunate enough to listen to these dramatic testimonies are only those who are old enough to sit in church. The "little ones" who are too young and disruptive are farmed off to creche or Sunday School. After all, you don't want them disturbing the speaker.
Baptists really have turned the kingdom on it's head. The root cause is the belief that conscious participation in the presence of God is necessary to receive entrance into the covenant community. One must be able to give a conversion testimony and an understanding of the gospel before admittance into the heavenly society.
I don't believe that this is a Scriptural position. If the apostolic-era gift of tongues should teach us anything, it's that a communion with God which bypasses the mind is at least possible. John the Baptist being filled with the Spirit from the womb, while not an example explicitly demanding infant-baptism, should at least give us pause to think that there can be more going on in the heart of a baby/child/infant than that which has passed directly through the conscious. I believe that the baptist position is rather akin to the disciples pre-Pentecost position on children when they told those bringing babies to Jesus to scram. Jesus disagreed profoundly of course. What was the point in bringing little children to Jesus? The point was so that he could place his hands on them and bless them, apart from their conscious participation in his blessing.
So when the church is gathered, with angels and the power of the Lord Jesus present (1 Cor. 5:4), should we be farming out the little ones to a room in the back? Isn't it possible that Christ's word preached will bless them without their conscious participation? Isn't it possible that the waters of baptism as they are poured over the wee one's head will convey God's promise to work savingly and sovereignly in the life of the helpless recipient?