While Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians have much in common, one of the major theological issues that separates them is the subject of baptism. Should children of believers be baptized? Baptists (credo-baptism), of course, say “No.” Presbyterians (paedo-baptism), on the other hand, say “Yes.” In my own discussion with Presbyterians on this issue I have noticed that many are unaware of the Reformed Baptist argumentation (just as many Baptists are unaware of the Presbyterian argumentation). Contrary to the Dispensational Baptist argumentation, we Reformed (Covenantal) Baptists do not limit our argumentation to the New Testament, nor do we respond, like the Dispensationalists do, with a rigid discontinuity of Israel and the Church. In other words, we sympathize with the Presbyterians’ desire to look at the continuity of the Old and New Testaments (or Covenants) to gather understanding of this issue. While we agree with them on much of the continuity of the Testaments, we believe they fail to recognize very important discontinuities, and therefore they see a necessary progressive equality between circumcision of the Old Covenant and baptism of the New Covenant. My point here is not to go into the details and try to make a case for credo-baptism only, but to simply point you to a few resources that I have found very beneficial in my own studies. I do believe that if Presbyterians took it upon themselves to read these books many would be quite surprised at the biblical-theological argumentation and start to recognize that Baptists (at least Reformed Baptists) stand on their convictions with solid exegetical grounding against the paedo-baptist arguments. That being said, I make these resources available primarily for my fellow credo-baptist brothers.
I might add that I actually performed an in-depth study of the paedo-baptism arguments shortly before my son was born. I had never really considered their view from a biblical-theological perspective and decided to take it upon myself to find out. I wanted to be absolutely settled in my position when my son was born. During this time of study I actually came very close to becoming a Presbyterian and actually considered myself to be so for a short period of time. However, as I continued to study and think through some major points and terminology, I had to return to the credo-baptist position. I don’t say this as if it strengthens the credo-baptism perspective, for such testimonies exist on both sides. Rather, I simply make it known so that you, the reader, know that I have taken the time to study the paedo-baptist arguments. In other words, I am a credo-baptist by biblical-theological convictions, not simply by tradition or happenstance.
1. A Reformed Baptist Manifesto. (by Sam Waldron, with Richard Barcellos) This book focuses on the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) as the so-called Constitution of the Church. Chapter 4 is dedicated to a biblical critique of infant-baptism (paedo-baptism).
2. Covenant Children Today: Physical or Spiritual. (by Alan Conner) This book goes into more detail than the former, and provides a wonderful biblical and theological assessment of the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant and how that plays out in the area of baptism.
3. From Paedobaptism to Credobaptism: A Critique of the Westminster Standards on the Subjects of Baptism. (by Gary Crampton) “Following the Westminster Confession’s definition of baptism, Gary Crampton presents a compelling argument for credobaptism versus paedobaptism. He examines each phrase of this definition as the outline of his work, finding that neither Scripture, the Apostolic Fathers, the Church Fathers, nor many modern paedobaptists support the definition in favor of infant baptism. His work is thorough in its research, broad in its survey, forceful in its irenic argument, and very readable for all. It betrays Dr. Crampton’s own wrestling with the Scriptures, historical theology, and his own personal convictions as a former paedobaptist to become a convinced and biblical Baptist.” – Fred A. Malone