A More Detailed Response(1)
A String of Pearls Unstrung:
A Theological Journey Into Believers' Baptism,
by Fred A. Malone (Founders Press: Cape Coral, FL, 1998)
[Available online at http://www.founders.org/library/malone1/string.html]

Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D.
Pastor of All Saints' Presbyterian Church, Lancaster, PA www.allsaintspresbyterian.com 

[For the Greek Font Click Here]



In what follows, I will attempt to demonstrate in detail that Pastor Malone's understanding of the New Covenant recipients is mistaken (on our point of difference) and that the Bible does teach that the children of believers are to be considered as visible members of the New Covenant, just as in past administrations. Much of this material is in Covenantal Infant Baptism: An Outlined Defense and Infant Baptism: Does the Bible Teach It? This material is collated here as a convenience to the reader.

I. Meeting the "formal principle" - the biblical warrant for infant baptism

A major component of Malone's "clear precepts of confessors' baptism" (46) is his exegetical conclusions regarding the commission to baptize. He argues that the Commission requires that only individual disciples may be properly baptized according Matthew 28:19 (7). He claims that ". . .the Great Commission commands to 'make disciples of all the nations [individuals from all nations, not the national entities], baptizing them [those who were made disciples, my emphasis]. . ." (7). (Note that it is his original text in brackets [ ].) But is it true that the text exegetically-grammatically requires that only individual disciples are to be baptized? This is an overstatement of what is demonstrable from the passage -- The grammar of this command, honestly and objectively analyzed, does not require that only individuals who are self-conscious disciples be baptized. Such a conclusion (as Malone's) is not explicit in the text, but is an interpretation of the text based on certain other assumptions.

In the participial phrase beginning, "baptizontes autous" ("baptizing them")," the referent to the pronoun "them" (autos) grammatically cannot be "disciples" because "make disciples" is not a noun. It is a verb. Matheteusate is the 2nd person plural, aorist tense, active voice, imperative mood form of the verb, matheteuo ("you [should] disciple"). Malone is simply mistaken regarding the grammatical facts when he asserts, "'Them' refers only to those who become disciples."(2)

Also, it is going beyond the mere grammar of the text to assert that the Great Commission commands to make disciples "from all nations, not the national entities" (7). This is said as though the text read matheteusate ek panton ton ethnon ((maqhteu,sate evk pantwn twn e;qnwn) (make disciples from among [ek] all the nations with the genitive case(3)), when in fact it simply reads: matheteusate panta ta ethne (maqhteu,sate pa,nta ta. e;qnh) ("disciple [verb] all the nations"). "Nations" (ethne) is in the accusative case. Hence, "nations" is the direct object of the verb "disciple" (Disciple all nations!). There is simply no preposition to be rendered "from." This is why the ASV, NAS, NAB, RSV, NRSV, and NKJ all translate this text simply, "make disciples of all nations" and the KJV even more directly renders it, "teach all nations, baptizing them." It is beyond dispute that the grammatically precise rendering is simply "disciple the nations and baptize them (nations)." Again, the pronoun "them" (autos), grammatically refers to "nations" (ethne), not "disciples" since "make disciples" (matheteuo) is a verb. It might be noted that the verb, "disciple" (matheteuo, in the imperative form), is a transitive verb here since it has an object, "them." I am not overlooking the fact that the pronoun "them" (autos) is masculine in gender and "nations" is neuter. But the same use is found elsewhere and such a usage is called the ad sensum use (according to the general sense).(4) For example, Matthew 25:32, "all the nations (neut.) will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them (masc.) from one another."

Perhaps even more significant than the precise grammar is the biblio-theological development of the Great Commission. As I see it, this is fundamentally in conflict with Malone's individualistic interpretation. As I have argued, the grammar indicates that the objective of the Matthew 28:19-20 command is very simply to make all the nations disciples. This is accomplished, of course, through the gospel and its ordinances. It is possible to accomplish this grand command because the ascended Jesus has all authority and He is with us (cf Dan 7:14). The Commission is not kept when merely some "individuals from all nations" are individually made disciples. The church may not say that this job is done until the nations are disciples. It may be that only individuals from a nation will presently bow their knees to King Jesus; but that by no means is all that is intended by this command. Of course, one's eschatology will affect how effective the gospel will be.

The Great Commission is the almost predictable Messianic restatement of multitudes of Old Testament commissions and promises and prayers: "And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen 12:3). "Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Gen 28:14). "That all the ends of the earth may fear Him" (Psa 67:7); "All nations serve him" (Psa 72:11); "All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; And they shall glorify Thy name" (Psa 86:9); "Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples!" (Psa 117:1); "Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and virgins; Old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven" (Psa 148:11-13). "All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations will worship before Thee" (Psa 22:7). "Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths" (Zec 14:16). "Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE THEE, For Thy righteous acts have been revealed" (Rev 15:4). "Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength" (1Ch 16:28). "Then hear Thou from heaven, from Thy dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to Thee, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name, and fear Thee, as do Thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Thy name" (2Ch 6:33). "And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed" (Dan 7:14). -- And about 100 other passages which declare that all nations are to be (shall be!, I am postmillennial) disciple-worshipers.

Dr. Malone, I believe, is thus mistaken, not only grammatically and biblio-theologically, but in the way the original audience would have understood this, that is the hermenuetical horizon of the first hearers. The grammar of the Great Commission, coupled with the Jewish and Judaistic practices of proselytism is such that if the term "baptize" (baptizw) were replaced with "circumcise" (perite,mnw)--no first century Jewish Rabbi would have taken the intent in this command to exclude infant circumcision for the exclusive adult "disciple" circumcision. This point must be considered thoroughly. Was Christ announcing a wholly new type of proselytism which excluded children? Or, was He emphatic that He was the authoritative empowerer and sender to all ethnic peoples. The grammatically compelling choice is the latter. The language of the Great Commission understandably emphasizes first generation contact with the "families of the earth," as would be expected after a study of a Biblical theology of missions. But the Great Commission's purposes (or precise grammar) are not limited to self-conscious disciples. To divide parents from the little children for whom they are responsible is completely and totally foreign to the Biblical concepts of family, headship, covenant, and even salvation ("you will be saved, you and all your household," Acts 11:14, 16:31). The command is to disciple nations and discipled-nations include children. It follows strictly, does it not, that Christ's commission to baptize thus includes children?

This point may substantiated in other contexts too. For example, we are told in Acts 15:3 about the "the conversion of the Gentiles" (v 3) and that some of "the Pharisees who had believed" demanded that "it is necessary to circumcisethem" (v 5). It is certain that these Pharisees were not insisting on exclusive adult "believer circumcision" by demanding that those "converted" be circumcised (Dr. Malone does not give any consideration to this point on p. 47 where he discusses Acts 15). This is simply to note that the language and cultural framework of the Bible is often collective and specifically covenantally-collective (remember Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joshua, Rahab, and Achan, etc.).

In my understanding of the question, Pastor Malone does not evaluate properly the issue of silence on infant baptism. He does not recognize that, in this case--when deciding between covenantal infant baptism or baptizing the children of believers only after they grow up and profess their faith--both Baptists and paedobaptists should admit that there is no explicit Biblical material on this subject in either direction. From the Baptist point of view, we do not have an explicit case of the child of a believer growing up, professing faith, and being baptized. On the other hand, from the infant baptism point of view, we do not have an example of a Christian family who has a child born into the home which is then baptized as an infant. How should we then proceed to resolve the dispute with our baptistic brethren?

The Baptist proceeds on the assumption that the child of a believer is to be subject to the same rule as an adult convert from paganism. So they will point to the Biblical examples and commands directed to new convert adults. On the other hand, the covenantal infant baptism position maintains that the children of believers are to come under the household rule, like in the previous administrations of the covenant (i.e., circumcision).  It is crucial to realize that when the Baptist settles the case by appealing to the examples of adult converts, in doing so, they are denying that the children of believers in the Old Testament and the children of believers in the New Testament occupy the same place. They are denying that the children of believers are covenantally set apart in the visible people of God. They are denying that the responsibilities of Christian parents to "teach them diligently" (Deu 6:4) and "to keep the way of the LORD" (Gen 18:19) are their covenantal responsibilities.

Malone also seeks to use the Acts 15 passage to support his conclusion. On p. 47, He says, "If baptism is the direct counterpart of circumcision, then why did the council [Acts 15] not simply say, 'You and your children have been circumcised in the baptism of Christ and need not physical circumcision'? Here the argument of silence speaks against baptism as the direct counterpart of circumcision and in favor of salvation by grace or regeneration as its direct counterpart and abrogation (15:11)." This objection has become fairly popular and I believe that, while it might be convincing to many, it fails to appreciate the contextual understanding of the original audience and the recipients of the gospel in the first century. Again, Malone's polemic does not adequately consider the hermenuetical horizon of the first hearers.

The Jews (at first) and the Judaizers insisted on Gentile circumcision. This circumcision was not merely of the adults. The Jerusalem council did not convene because Pharisees (Acts 15:3ff) were insisting on exclusive adult "believer circumcision" of those "converted." Rather, they presumed that circumcision as given in the Old Testament as the covenant sign (Gen 17) was not ritually replaceable. It was to them, therefore, salvifically necessary. "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved" (Acts 15:1). (Again, it is important to remember that this "custom of Moses" was not exclusive adult circumcision.) The answer that came to this Judaizing requirement was that the Gentiles who were converted had received, not merely a symbol and sign of cleansing, but the reality behind circumcision (and baptism), so Peter said, "And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith" (vv 8-9). That baptism signified the Holy Spirit's work is clear from Cornelius' household who was baptized in Acts 10:48. This the very case in point that Peter is making. Peter had said in verse 10:47, "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" That circumcision signified the work of the Spirit is explicit in Stephen's sermon application (and at least 20 other passages): "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did" (Acts 7:51).(5) Now back in Acts 15, these converted Gentiles who were to be circumcised (not just adults, if any male children were among them), were not in need of flesh circumcision because their hearts were cleansed by faith (signified in baptism) (Acts 15:3, 9). This is Paul's ubiquitous polemic, the Gentiles have the reality of circumcision, why the Christ-rejecting Jews have only fleshly circumcision. Hence, it appears that baptism and circumcision represent the same spiritual reality.

Upon further consideration, then, the apostles, especially Peter in Acts 15, actually did teach that these converts were not in need of circumcision precisely because they were truly baptized. The reason why he did not put it in the words of Malone did -- "You all know that baptism has replaced circumcision as the sign of the covenant"(6) -- is because to simply assert this would have been begging the question. For this was the very dispute they were having.(7) Very specifically, the great "dispute" was whether the baptized (in water and Spirit) Gentiles needed to be circumcised. The Judaizers did not see that "circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit" (Rom 2:29) and that the reality symbolized is more important than the external sign (Gal 5:6, 5:16, 1Co 7:19). The Judaizers had no objection to Gentiles' baptism (and that of even households as in the case of Cornelius), but to their mere baptism. They wanted them to be cleansed and cut. The apostles, after some consternation, and a rather vivid object lesson,(8) argued that the converted Gentiles were not in need of flesh circumcision because they already had what circumcision signified. Baptism is the equivalent ritual of circumcision since it represents the work of the Spirit. But, it is not an exact replacement of circumcision for the Jew, because it was permissible for Jews to be both circumcised (as infants) and baptized. It was wholly unnecessary, as well as a challenge to the heart of the Great Commission gospel, for baptized Gentiles to be required to be circumcised. Why? Because what circumcision did for the Jew (prior to the new covenant), baptism now does for all nations.

Which silence is loudest? Given the clearly stated objections of the Judaizers, and what we know of their frame of mind, if the situation had really been (as the Baptist argues) that in the new covenant there was no covenant sign of inclusion for children whatsoever, it is very remarkable that the Judaizers did not protest even more! In fact, it is not only remarkable, it has become, to me, incredible (unbelievable). If they protested against Gentiles (adults and children) not having to be circumcised, how much more would they have protested that their own children were no longer considered in covenant relationship with God! Imagine the shock of Crispus the synagogue leader who believes (on Friday, let's say) that his children are in covenant with God, then on the Sabbath after Paul preaches, he finds that in the fulfillment of the covenant promises of all the ages, to all the patriarchs, in the Davidic Messiah, the seed of the woman, the glory of His people Israel, after thousands of years of inclusion-- now his children have no covenant status! If the proselyte baptism of households was common, it was not objectionable that the children in the household be baptized and made "clean."(9) But that such children were not to be also circumcised (along with their adult household heads) was very objectionable to the Judiaizers.

To add, imagine the overwhelming status of inferiority that Gentiles would have felt if the Jews' children were considered members of the Christian synagogue and part of the "household of God," while Gentile children had neither sign nor status. It should be admitted that both arguments (Malones and mine) and my argument are from silence.(10) The reader must weigh which argument is most convincing based on the mind-set of the original audience. I believe that I have provided a compelling response to the Baptist argument from silence, but I have heard no Baptist provide any, let alone a compelling response to the louder silence.

Malone, on the matter of "good and necessary inference," describes the argument for covenantal infant baptism as pearls strung on the necklace of good and necessary inference. In the book, he addresses each "pearl." Now, I agree with this metaphor. Indeed, it is a beautiful metaphor. This metaphor could likewise be applied to many precious truths of the Christian faith: the Trinity, Christology, the dual nature of Christ -- almost any systematic theological conclusion is a string of pearls. In the case of baptism, the premises of infant baptism are, I believe, taught in the Bible and the coherence of these premises is a logically valid argument. What is necessary to refute the argument is (a) the demonstration that the crucial premises in the argument are false (the pearls), or (b) that the argument is logically invalid, that is, the form of the argument is not a reliable way of reasoning (the string has a knot, if you will). Dr. Malone seeks to demonstrate that each pearl is really a sham pearl (a). If he has done this, then he has refuted paedobaptism, so stated. What I am concerned about at the moment, however, is his attack on the string. He attacks the principle of necessary inference. An attack on the principles of logical validity is, however, self-refuting since an argument against logic is an argument which purports to be logical. A self-refuting belief cannot be true.

Malone's entire discussion comes in response to John Murray's comments, "One of the most persuasive objections and one which closes the argument for a great many people is that there is no express command to baptize infants and no record in the New Testament of a clear case of infant baptism . . . The evidence for infant baptism falls into the category of good and necessary inference, and it is therefore quite indefensible to demand that the evidence required must be in the category of express command or explicit instance."(11) Unfortunately, Malone confuses the authority of logical necessity from the teaching of Scripture with other distinct and separate questions of hermeneutics. He says of logical inference, "This is the principle of hermeneutics called 'good and necessary inference.'"(12) In Murray's citation, it is clear that he has in mind, not hermeneutics, but the implicit authority of Scripture. He says, "What by good and necessary inference can be deduced from Scripture is of authority in the church of God as well as what is expressly set down in Scripture. In other words, the assumption upon which this objection rests is a false assumption and one which cannot be adopted as the norm in determining what Christian doctrine or Christian institution is."(13) Malone binds it to the questions of continuity and discontinuity.(14) There is a clear, distinct separation between such questions of hermeneutics and the application and necessity of logic inference. One can be thoroughly convinced of radical dispensationalism "hermeneutically" and at the same time demand the logical consistency of "good and necessary consequence"(15) -- yet be convinced that the earthly/heavenly inferences are "necessary." On the other hand, one can be fully theonomic in the issues of theological continuity between the testaments and likewise uphold "good and necessary consequence."(16) In the context of addressing necessary inference, Malone argues that dispensationalists, theonomists, Seventh Day Adventists, and covenantal paedobaptists all have the same hermeneutic, that the Old Testament interprets the New Testament.(17) It is unfortunate that he does not provide a more analytical critique of the principles used by each of these positions. It is quite insufficient to refer to their common hermeneutical principle as merely "deduction by good and necessary consequence" from the Old Testament. It really is not "good and necessary consequence" which is at issue in theonomy, dispensationalism, or Adventism. Dispensationalists are concerned with express statements of Old Testament prophecy/promise (not deductions per se), and the New Testament interpretation of them. The hermeneutical question relevant to them is whether the New Testament actually applies certain Old Testament promises to the present era and teaches that some Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in the present dispensation. It is "express" statements about the Old Testament Law, in light of no later abrogation that make for the theonomic thesis, combined with the fact that the moral law is the basis of the civil (or case) laws and there are allusions to such continuities in the NT (e.g., Rom 1:32, "worthy of death"). The hermeneutical issue relevant for theonomists is whether the civil laws are inextricably bound to the nation Israel in the land and whether the New Testament expressly teaches that they are fulfilled and abrogated. The Adventists really are not concerned with "deductions" at all, preferring rather to emphasize the express statements of the moral law and the impossibility of ceremonial aspects of the 4th commandment (sabbath). As it turns out, what these groups have in common is that some aspects of their beliefs and practices originate in the Old Testament. The fact is, however, that many of our beliefs as evangelicals (regardless of the present question) have Old Testament roots.(18)

Dr. Malone thus pits "good and necessary consequence" out of chapter 1:6 of the Confession against the regulative principle of worship of chapter 21, without any recognition that necessary inference is from the very first chapter of the Confession (1:6).(19) Did the quite erudite Westminster divines place two rather fundamental, but contradictory, principles in their Confession? There is no formal contradiction between the words "the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will [and He may not be worshiped in] any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture" (21:1). And "the whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture" (1:6). It is apparent that these two principles are not contradictory because (a) the "revealed will of God" includes not only express statements, but necessary inferences (WCF 1:6!); (b) that which is prescribed by Scripture includes those things necessarily implied by the Word; and (c) one can hardly develop an application or theology of "regulative worship" without permitting necessary inferences. For example, the use of a piano in worship under the new covenant is an inference, the practice of taking up an offering (as worship) is an inference, the use of any liturgy (free, fixed, historic, or whatever) is an inference, etc.

Thus, a necessary consequence of a biblically true statement is a necessary inference and as such has to be binding or else a contradiction is at hand. Once one accepts a real contradiction somewhere in one's thinking, then why not resolve every problem with a contradiction? Why not say both views on baptism are right, they contradict each other and they are true!-- this is nonsense in the most hallowed use of the word. Hence, Murray could not be on on firmer ground, both epistemologically and theologically in answering his objection by pointing out the insufficiency of the requirement of explicit warrant.

But perhaps there is more NT warrant for infant baptism than Malone is willing to recognize. The warrant for a belief from Scripture must take into consideration the both the stated intentions of the biblical writers and the understanding and antecedent views of the original audience. How did they use this word? Is answered by the statements and comparison of what other expectations the audience would have had given previous and known usage. It may be true that there is no express statement about "infant baptism," but this objection cannot be raised about "household baptism." When the familiar response comes, that every individual in those households must have professed faith, the real trouble is why the term "household" (oikos) shows up in the baptism examples at all!(20) If baptism is only for individual believers, why would Luke and Paul present a pattern which could so easily mislead readers to think that baptism was for families? Remember, the original audience was Jews, proselytes, and God-fearing Gentiles whose ideas about households, covenants, signs, and family unity come from the Old Testament and Judaism. What teaching in the New Testament would correct their "faulty" (?) belief that baptism would be for households, as in all the previous administrations of covenant signs and pledges (sacrifices, meals, circumcision, and Passover)? Surely, the examples of household baptism would not correct them! It is true that there is no explicit statement about infant baptism, but there is even less about infant exclusion. And if the overwhelming and prevailing belief system of the original audience expected the inclusion of their children, the burden of proof rests with those who deny that believer's children are to be included.

It is disappointing that Malone does not grapple with the antecedent understanding of the audience of the NT when he addresses the pattern of household baptisms. More to the point, he does not recognize it as a pattern and compare the simple facts of who were baptized with the expectation of the audience from OT revelation.(21) These are the facts about those baptized following the Great Commission: of the nine narrative passages on baptism, four are household baptisms, four other cases consisted of only adult men (Pentecost, eunuch, Paul, twelve disciples of John), and the other case is of "men and women" in Samaria. Considering the nine individuals named in the baptism narratives--five had their households baptized (Cornelius, the Jailor, Lydia, Crispus, Stephanas), one likely did not have a family (Sorcerers are not generally considered family men), two had no households (eunuch, Paul), and then there's Gaius (listed with Crispus in 1Co 1:14; Crispus undoubtably had his household baptized, but it is not listed in 1Co 1:14; hence, could Gaius, if he had a household not have also had his household baptized if he had one?).

It is not an overstatement to say upon closer scrutiny that in each baptismal narrative every person who had a household in the baptism account had it baptized! And in almost every non-household baptism case, we can reasonably infer that the recipients did not have households or the households were not present (in the case of 3000 men of Pentecost, the Eunuch, Paul, and the 12 men Disciples of John). The exceptional narrative turns out to be the Samaritans. The "men and women" and perhaps Simon the Sorcerer, if one wants to press the issue. I think it is reasonable to conclude that Simon was an atypical case and was not a likely head of household. Still, I suppose that some Baptists are happy to make the "both men and women" of Samaria and the unbeliever Simon the rule rather than the exception to the pattern of the household reception of the sacraments -but I am not.  Luke's point in the emphatic statement, "both men and women" statement (Acts 8:12) is clear when one considers carefully the phrase used (andres te kai gunaikes). It is employed to emphasize both "male and female" and does not have in view adult vs children (5:14, 8:3, 8:12, 9:2, 22:4). If it is the case, as I have argued elsewhere, that the Samaritans are the first case where the biblical text teach that women are being baptized, then it is understandable that Luke makes this point. One thing is clear, this is the very first text which says that women are baptized. If only male disciples are representative in the baptism of John and Jesus' disciples, and there were only men at the Pentecost baptism (3000 men), Luke's emphasis on male and female is very significant. Moreover, the case of the Samaritans functions in Acts to focus on the fact that Samaritans can receive the Spirit and are not "second class." Recall that the apostles went to lay hands on them to receive the gift of the Spirit, following their belief and baptism. So, suffice it to say, this is not a good narrative upon which to build the doctrine of exclusive believer baptism.

When it comes to the household cases, Malone's arguments amount to saying, predictably, that each member of the household believed. Hence each household, far from fitting the millenia old pattern, are merely a convenient collection of individual "disciples." Perhaps we should consider the text more closely. The only passages which have both "household" and "believe" are the Jailer passage (16:31-34) and the Corinthian passage with Crispus (18:8). This is a good place where the Baptist Thesis or Covenantal Thesis can be tested. Do the exegetical nuances of these texts indicate each individual member of the household believed, supporting the Baptist Thesis (hereafter BT), or does it indicate that the collective household followed, in submission to the belief of the head of household (Covenantal Thesis, hereafter CT)? The Covenantal Thesis would involve such things as: minor children and subordinate adults (spouse, older children, etc) acquiescing to the faith of the head, being in agreement with faith commitment and not acting in insubordination; whereas, tiny children would passively follow the head of household, i.e., be continually brought into subjection to this faith which pervades the household (Gen 18:19). Just as in our common use of language, "my family and I worshiped the Lord together;" "my family and I sang hymns;" "my family and I are committed to the Reformed faith;" -- in these cases my family follows me and participates in as much as the capacity of member permits. Little children, like Julie Grace Strawbridge (21 months) are completely passive in some household activities, but more active in singing and worship. Joshua said "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." We know what he meant, even if he had infants: namely, each household member would participate in as much as their constitution permits. The most information Luke provides about the household, faith, and baptism is in the Jailer narrative. So let us test the BT and the CT with the grammatical details of this passage.

Please note carefully the Greek text of 16:31, in answer to the question "what must I do to be saved"? Paul commands, in the singular "pisteuson" (an imperative aorist, 2nd person singular) "you (Jailor) believe" and "you (Jailor) will be saved, you and your household" (kai ho oikos sou). The construction here is apparently more supportive of the covenantal-household solidarity position, at least on the surface of the text. Now let us see if the CT continues to be supported, or if the BT is right and, in the words of Malone, this passage points "to conscious belief and regeneration before baptism"(32). After we are told, in a similar pattern of 16:31 ("you and all your household"), "he was baptized, he and all his household" (literally he and "all his"--oikos is not in this text, though it is implied)-- in 16:34, the critical section, please observe the Greek carefully: "rejoiced" is singular, egalliasato (an indicative aorist, middle voice, 3rd person, singular), rightly translated, "He rejoiced." "Having believed" is pepisteukos which also specifies its referent as the Jailer since it is again a masculine singular participle. This could literally be translated "had believed" (perfect tense)--except that makes it sound like a verb rather than a participle, so "having believed [before]" is the best we can do to approximate the sense.

Now this is the crucial issue for the BT and CT: had Luke wished to emphasize that every individual member of the household believed, he could have used the plural of the very same word/partciple, just as he did in Acts 15:5, "But certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed (pepisteukotes, plural). The nuance of Luke is very apparent, then, just as it is in 16:31, the Jailer does the action, the household is brought along in an accompanying action. Certainly is false to say that Luke's emphasis was not that each member of the household believed; again this is parallel to 16:31. Luke is saying he (the Jailer) "rejoices greatly" and he (the Jailer) "had believed" (perfect tense).

What about the household? Please observe that "with all his household" translates only one word, panoikei, an adverb and used only here in the NT. Since it is placed after "rejoiced" (eggaliasato) and before "having [had] believed" (pepisteukos)-- it most likely modifies the action of the verb which is first in the order of possible modifiers. Morever, since egalliasato is the action verb and pepisteukos is a particle (perfect tense at that), it seems even more unlikely that the adverb would modify the particle. Hence, the RSV says, "he rejoiced with all his household." The NRS says, "his entire household rejoiced." The ASV says, he "rejoiced greatly, with all his house." Malone admits that "The emphasis seems to be that the household rejoiced with him because he had found faith" (31). But then argues "we still have a problem of infants rejoicing" (31). Contrary to Malone, in the Bible, little children, even infants can praise God, according to Jesus, "'Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself'" (Mt 21:16; Ps 8:2). It might even be true that they can praise Him with dancing: "the baby [John the Presbyterian] leaped in my womb for joy" (Joh 1:44, 1:15). (!!!)

Malone says, "it is true that infants can detect and participate in joy in a household. But can infants rejoice because they realize their father has found faith in God?" (31). On the contrary the text does not say why the household rejoiced in any explicit grammatical way. It does not say, "he and his household rejoiced because [hina] he had believed" and it is invalid therefore to make this "the emphasis" (31). If there is an emphasis, it is that the Jailor believed and rejoiced (singular). His household participated to their capacity with him, surely. Remember that Luke's point in verse 16:34 is that of table celebration: "And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly..." I believe, putting all biases aside, from this passage alone, the nuances of the Greek text more clearly support the CT than the BT thesis.

Malone reasons in a question-begging manner when he says, "Because they all heard the gospel, were baptized, and rejoiced, it is a legitimate conclusion that they all believed" (31). The conclusion that every individual household member believed is not born of what the text tells us in its grammatical particulars (I believe that I have demonstrated that this was not Luke's point). To conclude that they must have believed if they heard, were baptized, and rejoiced, is precisely the point of dispute. Even the statements about their hearing of the gospel (Acts 16:32) reveal the very same emphasis on the head of household; namely, the emphatic position of "him" -- 16:32 literally translated, says "and they spoke TO HIM the Word of the Lord together with (sun) all those in his house." To infer from this that every listener must have been an older child or adult is just as invalid of a conclusion as to assume that last Sunday only adults and older children were in every congregation where the gospel was preached. Luke speaks in 16:32, again, in the covenantally collective way that he does in the other verses.

We have a similar situation with the other text which links the household and faith: "And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household." Again the text does not say, Crispus' and (kai) his household believed (plural verb)--something Luke surely would have said if he was seeking to correct the household-covenantal solidarity concept in his First Century readers. Instead, "believed" is episteusen, an indicative, aorist, active, 3rd person, singular. The way the household is brought in is with the preposition "sun" used with datives of "holos" (all) "ho oikos" (the household) (su.n o[lw| tw/| oi;kw| auvtou/().

So once again, in the two texts where household belief are mentioned, the exegetical nuances are perfectly consistent with the CT and, as I understand it, the Old Testament uses of signs of covenant administered to the household. I repeat: the test case to see if the BT is right or the CT is right is the nuance of the text (remembering the antecedent mind-set from biblical revelation, from culture, and from Judaistic practice). Are the verbs of "believing" plural, emphatic of the fact that every individualacted? Does the Greek text say that the household head "and" (kai) the household believed (plural verb)? The answer to both questions is factually, No.

II. Meeting the "material principle" - The continuity of the new covenant

It seems to be the alleged inconsistency with passover/communion that initially troubled Malone (10). He writes, "Assuming that household children in the Old Covenant administration were allowed to participate in the Passover feast as soon as they were able to consume the elements, and assuming that household children in the New Covenant administration are not allowed to participate until professing faith and self-examination are evidenced, What has changed in the application of the covenant family concept..." (12). He goes on to, in effect, answer his own objection however: "While I recognize disagreement concerning the conclusion that the Old Covenant children participated in the Passover by covenant position, there remained in my mind a growing desire to reexamine the biblical basis for infant baptism" (12, emphasis mine). If there is no discontinuity in participation in Passover/communion, this is no compelling argument. His point is much more persuasive if you say, as Berkhof did, that there is discontinuity between passover and communion participants (cited on 11). But the careful answer of Murray which points out the conditions of intelligibility on the part of the recipients of Passover undercuts this rather routine objection to infant baptism.

I recently discussed paedocommunion with R. J. Rushdoony, who is perhaps the father of modern paedocommunion (which he sees as the historic practice of the church). He explained that the historic practice of paedo-communion required the intelligibility of the child recipient, as evaluated by the father (or household head). His exact words were "sometimes a child of four or five is able, and sometimes they may need to be six or seven." The Princeton Theologian B. B. Warfield said, "The ordinances of the Church belong to the members of it; but each in its own appointed time. The initiatory ordinance belongs to the members on becoming members, other ordinances become their right as the appointed seasons for enjoying them roll around."(22) It is ironic that Baptists (but not the supercalafragilistic Reformed Baptists, mind you)(23) routinely baptize children of four to seven years of age and then admit them to the Table.

So here we have the agreement of Warfield, Murray, Rushdoony, and nearly every Baptist church that I know of (!). Children of a very early age may be candidates for communion (and baptism in the case of Baptists). I believe that Malone misses an important point of Murray too when Murray indicates that, given what is at stake, if such an inconsistency is present there is more than one direction one can move to resolve it.(24) In other words, would it not do more harm, given the whole counsel of God on the inclusion of children in the promises, to exclude them from baptism than to include them in the Table? In this way, Malone does not seem to appreciate the contextual argument regarding 1 Corinthians 11 of the paedo-communionists such as Steve Wilkins. Wilkins argues that the passage does not address the status of children, but is aimed at correcting the adult misuses of the Supper (in the tape series, Unto You and Your Children)(25) It is difficult to press the intention of Paul beyond this, exegetically.

The children of believers are surely promised to be part of the covenant generally and the New Covenant specifically. When God revealed the covenant to Abraham He said in Genesis 17:7, "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you." Lest someone say--"But that was the Old Testament"--Paul interprets this in the New Testament when he teaches that the promise was made "certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, 'a father of many nations have I made you')" (Rom 4:16-17). The New Covenant certainly includes promises that God will "circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants" (Deu 30:6); that "the offspring of Israel also shall [not] cease from being a nation before Me forever" (Jer 31:36-37); that the covenant is "for the good of their children after them" (Jer 32:39); that He will not "reject the descendants of Jacob" (Jer 32:26); that "their children will see it and be glad, their heart will rejoice in the LORD . . . they with their children will live and come back (Zech 10:6-9); that His Spirit shall not depart "from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring" (Isa 59:21); that "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal 4:6); that His mercy continues to be "upon generation after generation toward those who fear him" (Luk 2:50)--because "the promise is for you and your children" (Acts 2:39)

Malone can dismiss the epistolary inclusion of children if he will (40), but the rather direct and unqualified assertions of the apostle are obvious: the children of believers are addressed as part of the church. Paul begins his letter to the Colossians, "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae" (v 2). Later he addresses "wives" (3:18), "husbands" (3:19), "children" (3:20), "fathers" (3:21), "slaves" (3:22), and "masters" (4:1). In the same way he addresses "the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph 1:1). In chapter five he addresses "wives" (5:22), "husbands" (5:25), "children" (6:1), "fathers" (6:4), "slaves" (6:5), and "masters" (6:9). It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Paul addressed the children of believers as part of "the saints and faithful brethren" (Col 1:2). To provide the ad hoc response that it is (a) "perfectly plausible that he was talking to professing children who were real members of the New Covenant church" (40) or that (b) "Paul was addressing the children" that are "not yet personally 'in' the New Covenant church" (40) cancels-out the force of either position (a) or (b). The paedobaptist would say Paul addresses both groups, because both groups (regenerate children and unregenerate children) are in the visible church to whom he is writing! To contend that Paul could only address one of these groups, is inconsistent with the way he addresses adults, recognizing that their may be regenerate and unregenerate (2Co 13:5) and the general theological realities of the visible/invisible church. It is here that the entire Baptist conception is out of sorts with the fact that "the kingdom of heaven may be compared to. . . tares also among the wheat" (Mat 13:24-25). The "kingdom" includes wheat and tares; the "disciples" include Judas and John; the "believers" include Simon and Cornelius; the "fellow workers" include Demas and Epaphras...

Contrary to Malone, the status of children in the visible administration of the new covenant is further confirmed in 1 Corinthians where Paul teaches that the child of even one believer is not "unclean," but "holy" (1Co 7:14). When this Greek term for "holy" (hagios) is used of people, it is almost always translated "saint."(26) Malone's position on this is really just the argument of "legitimate" marriage and "legitimate" children. This position ultimately fails to be convincing since two unbelievers can have both a "legitimate" marriage and "legitimate" children. Paul's statement, however, is that "otherwise" (if one of the parents was not a believer), "your children would be unclean" (1Co 7:14). as though the Jews saw Gentile children from a "legitimate" marriage as being "holy."

It is certainly true that the glorious promises of the new covenant are fulfilled in regenerate saints who have the law written on their heart and who have their sins forgiven, the elect of God in the new covenant dispensation. The point of dispute is the theological conclusion namely that every person who is "in the covenant" is regenerate. This implies, as Dr. Malone and I have discussed in several personal conversations, that no one can break the new covenant and that there are no stipulations for judgment in the new covenant. It is important to note here that the conclusion, "all that are in the new covenant are regenerate" is, in fact, a theological conclusion, and not an express statement of Scripture. To Malone and others who hold this theological deduction, such a position may be a necessary conclusion, a fully warranted conclusion, an exegetically derived conclusion -- but it is not an exegetical statement of the text of Scripture. It is not an express declaration of Scripture. I say this because in recent discussions, often times the difference between a declaration of the text of Scripture has sometimes been confused with the theological conclusions of the fruit an exegetical process. It is strikingly evident that Hebrews 10:29-30 were not considered is such a conclusion. Because, if Malone is correct, there should be no references to the new covenant which imply that a covenant member, explicitly set apart in the covenant, can break the covenant and in the final analysis fail to be regenerate. But this is exactly what we have in Hebrews 10:28-30. "Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, 'VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.' And again, 'THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.'" Notice in context that only a few verses prior to this passage, in 10:16-17, Jer 31:33-34 is quoted.

The objection that Brother Fred raised with me to Hebrews 10:29 is that since it is a disputed passage. It is an unsafe procedure to use a disputed text to establish a matter (like, there are unregenerate new covenant members).(27) A simple, but probably unpersuasive response might be, "OK, I'll use Hebrews 6:4-8." "For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame. 7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned." An objection would likely follow: "But Hebrews 6:4-8 is a disputed passage and it is an unsafe procedure to use a disputed text to establish a matter (like, there are unregenerate new covenant members). So I could say, "OK, I'll use John 15:2-6." "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away...6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." An objection would likely follow: "But that point in John 15:2-6 is a disputed passage and it is an unsafe procedure to use a disputed text to establish a matter (like, there are unregenerate new covenant members). So I could say, "OK, I'll use Galatians 5:4." "You have been severed from Christ (katargeo apo), you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (see Luk 13:7). Of course, after a while, it becomes apparent that the objector has a position on the covenant, a priori, that no biblical text may revise. Hence it follows that such a position is not a fully biblical position since it does not take into consideration all that the Bible has to teach on the subject. In effect the objector is requiring an unbearable burden of proof on the one who holds that there can be apostasy from the new covenant. The objector is really saying, "You have to prove apostasy from the new covenant without depending on a disputed passage, and by the way all the apostasy passages are disputed." So one is left with the insurmountable task of proving new covenant apostasy without being able to use any passage which speaks of apostasy. More than that, the objector does not permit the use of the Old Testament texts which teach covenant apostasy because allegedly "that's the difference between the previous covenant and the new covenant." So one is not permitted to appeal to the Old Testament nor the New Testament apostasy passages in order to prove covenant apostasy. Of course, the precise dispute on such apostasy passages is not the question of covenant membership anyway--the issue relevant to the present study--but rather, the question of perseverance of the saints and the Calvinistic/Arminian debate. It seems to me that accepting a view of the new covenant which permits unregenerate membership (whether from a baptistic or paedobaptistic perspective) actually alleviates a great deal of Calvinistic stress. One can then see the legal, external, and obligatory connection to the new covenant, yet not have to maintain that such apostates are regenerate and afterward lose their salvation.

Malone says of Jeremiah's prophecy. "In verses 27-30, God declares that after the prophesied captivity each man will bear the responsibility for his own spiritual condition before God in a new way. Continuing this change of emphasis to individual responsibility in verses 31-34, God defines a new basis for covenant membership and blessing in the New Covenant which is different from the basis for membership and blessing in the Old Covenant" (17). Then after a discussion of the salvific blessings of the new covenant he says, "Therefore, based on Jeremiah 31:31-34 and its description of regeneration in the New Covenant participants, and in light of Christ's definition of the entrance requirements to the kingdom (Jn. 3:5, 6) and church (Mt. 16:16-18), I cannot say that children of believers are 'in' the New Covenant or church or kingdom or 'God's people' until they show, by outward confession, evidence of regeneration" (19). On the "change of emphasis to individual responsibility," (a) it is very unclear how verses 27-28 intend this: "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast. 28 'And it will come about that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy, and to bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,' declares the LORD." (b) Alleging that this change is a dispensational difference between testaments ignores both the full contextual discussion of post-exilic Israel in Jeremiah and the more extended discussion of the "sour grapes" saying in Ezekiel. Ezekiel 18, the precise parallel and extended discussion on this principle, makes it clear that in the Old Testament this proverb was disallowed. We are not awaiting a dispensational change in the NT. The proverb indicated a false understanding of even the Old Testament standard of individual retribution and responsibility. (1) The foundational truth is that "all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die" (Eze 18:4). This is the justification for rejecting the "sour grapes" analogy. Surely this truth is not relegated to the New Testament exclusively. (2) In the continued exposition of the principle in Ezekiel 18, Old Testament cleanness illustrates righteousness: "But if a man is righteous, and practices justice and righteousness . . . does not approach a woman during her menstrual period. . ." (18:6). (3) In the exposition, a substantial justification for the appropriate principle of individual retribution is found in verse 23. God asks rhetorically, "Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked?" He concludes the entire discussion by declaring, "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,' declares the Lord GOD. 'Therefore, repent and live' (v 32). The truth that "all souls are Mine" and God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked is the foundation of the proper Old Testament and New Testament principle of individual retribution and responsibility.

That Jeremiah defines a "new basis for covenant membership" in 31:31-34, according to Malone, is dubious since in the continued discussion of the covenant promises only one verse following this alleged new basis he states repeatedly, "'If this fixed order departs From before Me,' declares the LORD, 'Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever' 31:37 Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done," declares the LORD." (31:36 and 37).

In the historical context, Jeremiah consoles Israel that after the judgment of Babylon, his people will be brought back to the land (30:3) and experience blessings (31:23). The people are to be encouraged in the unfailing promise, that though they have played the harlot (3:1), the Covenant Lord still promises that the "offspring of Israel" will not be utterly cast off (31:36-37): "'At that time,' declares the LORD, 'I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.'" (31:1). God will make, literally "cut" (karath), a new covenant. Perhaps this vivid word-picture prefigures the eternal blood of the covenant (Heb 13:20). Christ institutes the Lord's Supper, referring to this covenant in the words of the LXX, kainos diatheke ("new covenant"): "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood" (Luk 22:20). Apostolic instruction on the Supper also includes this term (1Co 11:25). Jeremiah uses the term "covenant" (berit) to refer to "the words of this covenant" (11:2) and the judgments of treaty violation, "I brought on them all the words of this covenant" (11:8). Hence, Jeremiah uses "covenant" to mean a treaty with stipulations for blessings and cursings. The apostolic use of the covenant confirms that judgments are associated with it: "For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly" (1Co 11:29; cf Heb 10:29-30). In chapter 31, he focuses on the consolation and thus only on the blessing stipulations. The "new covenant" will be different than the covenant administration of the wilderness generation who broke the covenant. It is evident here that Jeremiah uses prophetic language which is general and hyperbolic, since Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb, etc. did not break the covenant. The contrast is clear, however, generally the wilderness generation broke the covenant. And very literally, the covenant words were broken on the tablets of stone (Exo 32:19). The contrast is full of biblical imagery; the words of this covenant will be written on the heart. The law will not be on stones which Moses can break, it will be on the hearts of the people, which God can turn from stone to flesh (Eze 11:19, 36:26). It will be important not to absolutize this contrast, since the law is written on the heart and in the heart before the New Covenant (Deu 30:14, Rom 2:14-15) and it is propositionally written as "Law" after the New Covenant (Rom 13:9). The language of the prophet simply implies a spirituality in the essence of this promise, which is consonant with the manifest role of the Holy Spirit in the Church (post-Pentecost). Moreover, this seems to be how the apostle Paul understood it (2Co 3:2-18). Jeremiah has many strong allusions or even citations of Deuteronomy, and especially the terms for heart (leb and lebab). Moses even said the word of the law is "in your mouth and in your heart" (Deu 30:14; e.g., 30:1, 2, 6, 10, 14, 17, 32:46). "And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. 6 "Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live" (Deu 30:5-6). Parallel to this, Jeremiah calls Israel to "Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart" (4:4). This strain of Old Testament thought is evident throughout the apostolic defense of Gentiles having the reality which is signified by circumcision (Acts 15:6, Col 2:11, Rom 2:29, Phi 3:2). Jeremiah's content of the promise is the same. God condescends to be a God to His people. "I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (31:33). "My people" is defined in the context as all "the families of Israel" "they shall be My people" (31:1); "Thy people, the remnant of Israel . . . the woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; a great company, they shall return here (31:7-8); "My people shall be satisfied with My goodness" . . ."Rachel" is comforted because "your children shall return to their own territory" (31:14-17). The central covenant is promise is the very same as was given to Abraham and Moses, to be "God to you and your descendants" (Gen 17:7, Exo 29:45, Deu 7:9, Deu 29:13, 30:6, 1Ch 16:15, Psa 103:17, 105:8). In the days preceding the destruction of Jerusalem those who handled the law "did not know Me" (2:7-8). But now, "they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them." This phrase "least to the greatest" is found two other times in Jeremiah. In 6:13, "For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely." And in 8:8-10, in a precise parallel, he accuses "the lying pen of the scribes" and "wise men" who "have rejected the word of the LORD" "because from the least even to the greatest everyone is greedy for gain; from the prophet even to the priest everyone practices deceit." It would appear, then, that the use of this phrase has special reference to those who "teach" and it seems to signify the breadth and depth of religious leadership, "prophet even to the priest." This section parallels the earlier promise, that after returning to the land and to the Lord, "Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. 16 And it shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land," declares the LORD, "they shall say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' And it shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again" (3:15-16). Therefore, the knowledge of the Lord will be present in the leadership and the people and there is a strong implication that the Mosaic forms of mediation (the ark in the holy of holies) will be superseded. Perhaps there is also allusion to the blessings of the universal knowledge of God, "they shall all know Me" (31:34), similar to the prophetic refrain, "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD" (Isa 11:9, Hab 2:14, 2Co 4:6). Such an interpretation (focused on the OT forms of mediation being removed in the era of the universal knowledge of God) seems to be confirmed by what follows, "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (31:34). From the Old Testament perspective this statement must have been striking. Every sacrifice and the spilling of blood was an occasion to remember sin. Now, sin will not be remembered. This implies that the mediation of repetitious animal sacrifices which reminded of the sin and the need for forgiveness will be superceded.

Moreover, consider what the infallible interpreter teaches about this passage. In Hebrews 8:6-12, the writer cites Jeremiah 31:31-34 to prove that a better covenant administration was promised than the Mosaic, with its temporary ministry of animal sacrifices and Levitical priesthood (8:1-13). The writer explains that since "He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete" (8:13). This point is very relevant to his audience of Jewish Christians who are being tempted to return to the shadows. In Hebrews 10:16-17, the writer cites Jeremiah 31:33-34 again and even provides his very intention in quoting this prophecy, because "the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us. . ."(v 15). The preceding argument in Hebrews is confirmed by Jeremiah. Namely, Jeremiah teaches that the "first order" of shadow-like sacrifices, which were intended as temporary, have been replaced by the second (final) order of the "once for all sacrifice" (v 10). It is a contrast of the singular, unrepeatable, sufficient sacrifice of Jesus with the "shadow the good things to come" (10:1) in the Old Testament repeatable sacrifices. In the shadow sacrifices "there is a reminder of sins year by year" (10:3) but now "their sins" will not require an annual day of atonement, rather, "their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (v 17). Whereas the Old Testament sacrifices were a mediated means of receiving forgiveness which required repetition -- now the covenant people of God have direct and unmitigated access to forgiveness. The one sacrifice accomplished the job: "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (v 14). Hence, to return to the shadows and the things imposed "until a time of reformation" (9:11) is to forsake the final sacrifice and no longer have "a sacrifice for sins" remaining (10:26). It is to trample under foot, not the servant of the house (Moses) and the sprinkled shadow-blood of bulls and goats (9:13), but the very Son of God and His precious, once-for-all-shed blood which both sanctifies eternally (10:10) and consecrates the visible people of God (10:29-30). In light of the above, it is untenable to maintain the writer of Hebrews or any New Testament writer was actually interpreting Jeremiah to mean that only regenerate individuals are covenanted with. As has been adequately demonstrated, this was not Hebrews' purpose in the text cited and is inconsistent with the entire theme and refrain of the book. It might be expected that if the stipulations, structure, and recipients of the New Covenant are so radically different than older administrations of the covenant (as to have no cursings and include only regenerate people), why does the New Testament,(28) and especially Hebrews draw so many strict parallelisms to the Old Testament people and New Covenant people of God?-- Especially in its calls for perseverance -- allegedly the very area of difference.(29)

Dr. Malone avoids the force of the "the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" passages in his discussion on pp. 33-35. The single most important exegetical detail, namely who is the "of such" -- does it include the children or not? -- is altogether overlooked. Thankfully, Paul K. Jewett (Baptist) deals fairly with the "such" in this passage. He writes, "The Greek (toioutwn) by no means implies the exclusion, but rather the inclusion, of the ones mentioned. When the Jews cried out against Paul (Acts 22:22), 'Away with such a one (toiouton)!' they could hardly have meant, Away with someone like this man Paul. Rather, they meant, Away with Paul and everyone of his kind! By the same rule, when Jesus bade little children to come to him, 'for such is the kingdom of heaven,' he most likely meant, 'The kingdom belongs to these children and all others who are like them in that they have a childlike faith.' The truth that the kingdom belongs to the childlike should not prejudice the affirmation that it also belongs to children."(30) Dr. Malone asks a few rhetorical questions regarding covenant theology. He means them rhetorically to demonstrate that only his Baptistic point of view consistently relates the testaments with the covenants. On the contrary, perhaps there is a valid answer which manifests an invalid rhetoric.

He writes, "First, if Christians-Jewish or Gentile-are the 'seed' of Abraham, should we both claim physical Canaan as our rightful territory and 'everlasting' possession as well?" (16). The answer is "yes"-in the sense that it was intended in the fullest teaching of Scripture. We have two passages which teach us this: Romans 4:13, "For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith." Abraham was to inherit "the land" as a pledge of the fuller reality, "the world." Perhaps Paul hints at this in Ephesians 6:3, where the fifth commandment now promises that "you may live long on the earth" rather than "in the land" (Exo 20:12). Since Christ now reigns in the interadvental kingdom, His people are to dwell and have dominion in the "land," the world (Mat 28:19-20). Hebrews 11:10 points us to the consummate fulfillment of the land promise, too, "For he [Abraham] was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God." We might put it this way: there is a three-fold sequence. The typological, the symbolical, and the consummational. The "land promise" was typological of the world, it is presently symbolical of new Jerusalem, and it is prophetic of the new earth. This pattern holds on a number of biblical concepts. It is seen in "Israel" which was typologically of the church (God's people in every nation, including ethnic Israel). Paul says, "thus all Israel [which I take to be both ethnic and typological Israel] will be saved," Rom 11:26. Israel is now symbolic of the gathered people of God in the heavenly city (Heb 12:22), and is prophetic of all who will be saved at the end of the age. The same pattern is approximated in the sacraments. It is seen in communion, which was typologically Christ ("Christ is our passover" 1Co 5:7). The Lord's Supper is now symbolically (spiritually) Christ ("Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing [koinonia] in the blood of Christ?"). And in the Lord's Supper we prophetically proclaim our eternal communion with the Lamb.

Another question: "Second, if circumcision is a 'forever' sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, then why do the New Covenant 'seed' of Abraham not continue circumcision as a religious act?" The answer is "we do and should," it is called "the circumcision of Christ" and its outward ritual is the cleansing of flesh with water (baptism), as the bloody cutting of the flesh befitted only the antecedent age of sacrifice.

"And, third, should Christians baptize not only infants but also all males bought or born into their home?" The answer is "yes" again-but only if they are truly household members, with which a "paternal" relationship exists to the Christian head of household. Is that not precisely what Abraham was told in Genesis 17? The trouble is, however, in modern America, we simply do not have a correspondence to master/slave relationships. The typical maid (e.g., Alice on the "Brady Bunch") is not like Eliezer, Abraham's son-like servant (Gen 15:2). Abraham was ready to Eliezer the heir of his great wealth, though he had already made him the heir of his greater wealth (his faith).
 

The most fundamental response then is: (a) Malone is exegetically wrong on the warrant for exclusive professors' baptism. (Mat 28:19, Jer 31:31ff). He has not shown his view grammatically from Matthew 28:19 and he has not shown his view contextually from Jeremiah 31:31ff (remember the verses defining "My people," which come before and after Jer 31:31-34). (b) It is a hermeneutical flaw of no small proportion that he grounds the positive case for exclusive confessors' baptism on texts which do not address the exclusion of infants.

Malone argues that since only regenerate individuals are in the kingdom, church, and covenant - the infant children of believers cannot be assumed to be in the kingdom, church and covenant (this is an inference). Then he takes the texts which, prima facia, refer to children as part of the kingdom, church, and covenant and provides an alternate (or several alternate) interpretations. So, he treats the texts which do address the status of children in a purely ad hoc manner, i.e., the paedobaptist is grasping for proof-text-pearls. So long as he can provide a crack in the door of these passages, the Baptist is by no means forced to stay in the house of paedobaptism.

But, with all the exegetical clout Dr. Malone seeks to wield, and with all the infractions of hermeneutical procedure he so quickly accuses paedobaptists of, he cannot find one text which addresses children in the NT and then show that the exegetical point is that such little ones are now excluded from the visible church, or covenant, or kingdom. But should we not build our view on the status of children in the new age from texts which actually address the status of children? It is a matter of significant theological incoherence that while Dr. Malone denies paedobaptism the right of using good and necessary inferences, His position must be inferred from what He believes to be the nature of the New Covenant. Hence, the fatal reductio ad absurdum of Malone's view is that he denies the validity of making implications for infant baptism, while at the same time he can only infer the exclusion of infants. His case is a string of inference, too. However, it is not "good" or "necessary."

Conclusion
I believe that the Reformed paedobaptists can argue that children are included from the explicit inclusion of children in the covenant (Deu 30:6, Jer 31:36-37), church (Eph 6:1-4, 1Co 7:14), and kingdom (Mat 19:14, Mar 10:14, Luk 18:16). And we can argue from truly necessary inferences -- drawing upon the continuity of the church and covenant and even the examples of baptism. The string of twine that Dr. Malone described may be a more apt description of the string of his inferences, the frayed and broken string of the Baptist view. Such a view has a visible and invisible covenant community (the church), but a covenant membership of only regenerate individuals. It has a kingdom rule of Christ over wheat and tares, but only wheat are addressed in the covenant stipulations. It has an ecclesiology which admits visible and invisible membership, but a (covenant) theology which admits only regenerate membership. So, I bid my dear Baptist brethren to return to the opulent jewelry of God's great kingdom, and his marvelous tokens of the covenant of grace. The string that I perceive still has a golden luster in the light of the full revelation of God's precious Word.



1. This review is a compilation of the material from my Covenantal Infant Baptism and the Infant Baptism Booklet, with a few new exegetical points from Acts. I will also respond to Dr. Malone's expanded teaching in the Biblical Covenants tape series, available from Audubon Press.

2. As Dr. Fred Malone argues on p. 42.

3. For example this is the grammatical case in Rev 5:9, "a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation."

4. See D.A. Carson's Commentary on Matthew in the Expositor's Bible Commentary (Zondervan), where he supports the grammatical points which I have made above.

5. The apostle's understood the signification of circumcision from the Old Testament: Lev 26:41, Jer 9:26, Eze 44:7, Eze 44:9, Deu 10:16, Deu, 30:6, Jer 4:4; and Paul (who held the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen) leaned this too, as is evident in virtually all of his epistles, Rom. 2:29, Rom 4:11, 1Co 7:19, Gal 5:6, 6:15, Eph 2:11-12, Phi 3:3, Col 2:11-12, 3:11.

6. Let me add a very pedantic note: if someone requires the very word "replace," this is unreasonable since the word is not even found in the New Testament (NAS) and not present at all in the KJV.

7. In 15:2, "great dissension and debate" (literally "not small") (genome,nhj ou=n sta,sewj kai. suzhth,sewj ouvk ovli,ghj) and 15:7 "much debate" (pollh/j sunzhth,sewj).

8. Peter's vision when God commanded him to eat crawdads.

9. Even Jewett admits that "the majority of scholars suppose a pre-Christian origin of the practice" of household proselyte baptism (p. 64).

10. This whole line of argument, which I have embellished, is from Doug Wilson's excellent book, To a Thousand Generations.

11. P. 13 in Malone, originally, p. 69 in Murray's, Christian Baptism (P & R, 1980).

12. String of Pearls Unstrung (Founder's Press, 1998), p. 13.

13. Murray, p. 69. These are the verbatim terms of Westminster Confession 1:6.

14. This point is also made on some lectures on "Biblical Covenants," 6 & 7, available from Audubon Press, P.O. 8055, Laurel,MS 39441.

15. For example, Dr. Norman Geisler, a dispensationalist who is fully committed to logic (Come Let Us Reason, Baker).

16. For example, Dr. Greg Bahnsen, the man who wrote the book on theonomy, and as an OPC pastor subscribed to the Westminster Confession and was known as very competent logician (cf. the Logic tape series through Copi's standard collegiate text on logic, from Covenant Media, Texarkana, AR).

17. Cf. The "Biblical Covenants" tapes, no. 1 and the final tape.

18. I believe it is a simple denial of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture to demand that only a repetition of an Old Testament command in the New Testament makes it authoritative "for us."

19. This is stated in a very unqualified way on the final tape of the "Biblical Covenants" lectures and more qualified on p. 45.

20. Oikos is used of Noah's family (Gen 7:19), of Abrahamic covenant and those to be circumcised and taught(Gen 17:13, 18:19), regarding the families in Passover (12:27), and David's descendants in the Davidic covenant (2Ch 21:7).

21. I refer the reader to my "Infant Baptism: Does the Bible Teach It?" for an exhaustive list of the examples of Baptism following the Great Commission.

22. The Polemics of Infant Baptism in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. IX (Baker, 1991 [1927]), p. 408.

23. The non-SBC Reformed Baptists as a whole are very consistent with their principles in forbidding children to come into Christ's kingdom.

24. Christian Baptism (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1980), p. 73-76.

25. Covenant Media Fellowship, 4425 Jefferson Ave., Suite #108, Texarkana, AR 71854, 800/553-3938.

26. See Rom 1:7, 8:27, 12:13, 15:31, 1Co 1:2, 6:1, 6:2, 14:33, 16:1, 16:15, Eph 1:1, Col. 1:2, etc.

27. This objection has come from several sources, but articulately expressed by Fred Malone in a personal conversation; see also his expanded treatment of baptism in a forthcoming book.

28. For similar thoughts in other writers see Rom15:4-5, 1Co 10:1-11, Jam 5:10-11, Jude 1:5.

29. Please know that I believe in the perseverance of those who are regenerate, in both testaments. However, every visible covenant member may not persevere, in both testaments also.

30. Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace (Eerdmans, 1978), p. 60.

31. This assertion is supported in scrupulous detail in the two other works on baptism http://www.olsusa.com/reformation/baptism.htm

32. Please observe that Malone offers mutually exclusive interpretations of some texts (39-40). E.g., on Eph 6:1-4, he says Paul (a) could have been addressing only the children who are regenerate members or (b) he could have been addressing the children who are unregenerate non-covenant members. He must say it is either (a) or (b) because if he admits that it is both, he is saying the same thing as the paedobaptist view: namely, the children of believers are visible church members, including both regenerate and unregenerate. I think that it is Malone who is "grasping for straws" (40).

33. A necessary inference is a logically valid argument from true premises, such as: 1. the children of believers are covenant members; 2. the covenant members are to receive the entrance sign of the covenant; therefore (this follows absolutely from the premises) the children of believers are to receive the entrance sign of the covenant.