A Question for My Fellow Credobaptists
1. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
2. John Calvin (like most professing Christians for most of history) was not baptised as a believer, but as an infant.
3. John Calvin (like most professing Christians for most of history) was buried with Christ in baptism into death.
4. If John Calvin (like most professing Christians for most of history) was to join my church, it would be right to require him to be baptised as a believer.
Admittedly, John Calvin is dead, and even if he was alive, he probably wouldn’t want to join my church. People with theologically rigorous and strongly held paedobaptist views join credobaptist churches relatively rarely, I imagine; much more common is the person who was christened as a baby, and brought up paedobaptist, but doesn’t hold particularly clear convictions, and is therefore open to persuasion. Nevertheless, this does happen sometimes, for all sorts of reasons—especially in North America—and even if it didn’t, it would still be a hypothetical worth exploring, because it raises one question particularly sharply. Do we actually believe that infant “baptism” isn’t baptism, because we are mainly dealing with people who are not especially persuaded on the matter? Or do we say that, but find ourselves backpedalling rapidly when faced with a convinced paedobaptist?
Put differently, when Karl Barth said that infant baptism was “improper but not invalid”, was he right? Or is infant baptism actually invalid, from a credobaptist perspective? Answers on a postcard.