Notice to a Community

If the inclusion of children within the covenant had represented a departure from Old Testament practice, then we might have expected some indication in the New Testament that this change was to be made. For example, when the dietary restrictions are lifted, this is noted (Mark 7:19; Acts 10:9-16). Or, when circumcision and complete adherence to the Mosaic law are rejected, this is noted (Acts 15). Luke, it might be said, notes a departure from the Old Testament practice of only males receiving the covenant sign by pointing out that both men and women were being baptized (Acts 8:12).  – Mark E. Ross[1]

I find in this quote one of the weightiest arguments for covenantal infant baptism in the hearing of people with a Torah-positive persuasion.

Which is ironic, because we disagree with much of what is said above, but our disagreement is made upon the same logic with which we agree: if there is to be a departure from Old Testament practice, then we ought to expect a specific and convincing indication in the New Testament that this change is to be made.

Mark 7:19 and Acts 10:9-16 do not provide a specific and convincing case for change to the food laws, we correctly argue. Acts 15 does not argue for a rejection of Mosaic law (except when viewed as a means of justification), we accurately opine. Therefore, having accepted the validity of this argument, that a clear and convincing change for discontinuity between the expected orthopraxy of the testaments must be found in the New Testament for a change to be considered scripturally valid, how much more should we be the ones to argue that since no clear, convincing, specific change in relation to the inclusion of children in the covenant community is made in the New Testament, we must expect that God will continue to include the children of covenant participants in that covenant community!

Lest I be misunderstood, let me hasten to again quote approvingly from this same article:

“Baptism does not signify and seal that a given individual has certainly been forgiven of sins and accounted righteous in the eyes of God. It signifies and seals that those who believe will be washed from their sins and accounted righteous before God.” [2]

Torah-positive Community, you have been put on notice: it is time to get consistent in our beliefs. Let us abandon the remaining detritus of our former perspective of discontinuity, and embrace a fully coherent conviction of continuity in the progressive revelation of God’s covenantal economy of salvation.


[1] Mark E. Ross, “Baptism and Circumcision as Signs and Seals” in The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism, ed. Gregg Strawbridge. P&R Publishing: Phillipsburg, NJ, 2003.Kindle Locations 1221-1225.

[2] Ibid, (Kindle Locations 1042-1043).

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