Baptism and the Covenants

About a month ago, I posted about the new book by Tom Shreiner and Shawn Wright on Believer's Baptism. Sunday evening, I read Dr. Wellum's chapter called 'Baptism and the Relationship Between the Covenants.' This is arguably the most important chapter in the book, as it gets at the heart of the baptism debate between Presbyterians and Baptists. It is simply excellent! It made me proud to be a Baptist. You couldn't ask for a more convincing and clear evaluation of the issue. Paedobaptists (those who hold to infant baptism) obviously do not baptize infants because it is in the New Testament. It's not there. They justify the practice by appealing to the continuity between the old and new covenants, rooted in their over-arching covenant of grace (relating circumcision in the old to baptism in the new). This is the heart of their system of theology known as Covenant Theology. I appreciate Covenant Theologians in many ways, and many of my theological heroes hold to covenant theology, even Spurgeon (although I personally think it is inconsistent to be a Baptist & a Covenant Theologian). Furthermore, it needs to be heralded that not all Baptists are dispensational, contrary to popular opinion. Anyway, Wellum begins by outlining and unpacking the covenantal argument for infant baptism, and then critiques it. He deals with the nature of the covenantal signs, the nature of the church, and the new covenant. He is very fair in the first section of the chapter, and crystal clear in the second section. I think that only Baptists can do justice to the newness of the new covenant, and the redemptive blessing that it brings. Covenant theologians say the the new covenant is really just a new administration of the same covenant of grace. If you are a Baptist, but are not sure why, please buy this book and pay particular attention to Wellum's chapter. There is more to the doctrine than the phrases 'went down into the water' or brought up out of the water.' His chapter is 64 pages, but if this is not enough, also see John Reisinger's Abraham's Four Seeds, Wells and Zaspel's New Covenant Theology for a Baptistic new covenant perspective.