Doug Wilson Claims Church in Disarray because of Non-Paedobaptist – Fred Malone Responds

Fred Malone responds to the writing and charge of Doug Wilson (this comes from his review of the book The Case For Covenantal Infant Baptism):

case covenantal infant baptismDouglas Wilson says that the church today is in disarray because Baptists do not let their children be baptized and Presbyterians do not admit their children to the Lord’s Supper (300). Such thinking, he claims, ignores the way that the Scripture deals with children of believers “as a class” (287). Wilson calls for a theology of children in Scripture beyond the usual texts regarding baptism. He reminds the reader that God’s intention has always been to raise up a godly seed of faithful parents (Mal. 2:15; 289).

Building on the immutability of God, he postulates that God’s promises do not change (290). Then Wilson surveys several OT texts to show that God has promises to the faithful concerning their seed from generation to generation, even in the New Covenant prophecies (Deut. 5:9–10, 7:9; Ezek. 37:24–27; Isa. 65:22–23; Psa. 103:17–18; Jer. 32:38–40). He sees the same promise in many NT texts (Eph. 6:1–4; 1 Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:37–39; Lk. 18:15–16). These passages, which demonstrate of children that “of such is the kingdom of God,” are confirmed in the household baptisms of Acts (290–298). If we do not return to a theology of children, and instead continue to treat them like unbelievers, they will conclude that they are unbelievers. Instead, parents should accept God’s promises by faith and disciple their children by baptizing and teaching them (Matt. 28:18–20), treating them as believers until they prove otherwise. A theology of children, which recognizes God’s blessing from generation to generation, will strengthen the church and the family (298–301).

Contra 14. Wilson’s claim that the church today is in disarray because Baptists do not baptize their children and Presbyterians do not admit their infant baptized children to the Lord’s Supper is both overstated and astounding. Is the church in disarray because Christians do not think of their children covenantally? Can the disarray of the church today not be charged more convincingly to liberalism, postmodernism, Arminianism, justification by works, easy believism, antinomianism, or other high-profile errors? Wilson sounds like a sacramentalist.

…Wilson’s statements seem to charge that these two groups do not take seriously God’s promises to believers concerning their children. Again, he is wrong. There are many Baptists and Presbyterians who believe that God has promised to save “from among” their children from generation to generation (Deut. 30:6), and so exercise faith in God’s promises in prayer without succumbing either to Wilson’s paedobaptist or his paedocommunion positions. He almost seems to believe that if we will just treat our children as believers, baptizing them, teaching them as Christians, and serving them the Lord’s Supper, that God will have to treat them as Christians by covenant and the children will consider themselves believers. Here Wilson reinterprets the Great Commission to mean “make disciples by baptizing and teaching,” rather than the widely agreed understanding, “make disciples, then baptize and teach them.” And what if the children who are told that they are Christians really are not? What if we have given them false assurance of salvation, though unregenerate all their lives? What if they have never repented and submitted to Christ in saving faith while maintaining an upright life and church membership? Suppose they die in this state, having never been challenged to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith? Wilson’s horror is that if we treat our children as unbelievers, they might conclude that they are unbelievers, even though they really may be. My horror is that infant baptism’s privileges so replace the gospel call to repentance and faith that children may live and die with a false assurance of salvation without ever having been challenged with the gospel. Why cannot God extend His promises to parents by preaching the gospel to their unregenerate children, sovereignly saving whom He will from generation to generation, instead of withholding calls to repentance and faith? Wilson’s views undermine the evangelism of children and the doctrine of Christian assurance. Upon these errors, the church will surely end up in disarray.

Vol. 2: The Reformed Baptist Theological Review Volume 2. 2005 (1) (155–157). Owensboro, KY: Reformed Baptist Theological Review.

[source: Reformed For His Glory]

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