Remedial Covenant Theology

On May 21st, 2017 my son will be received into the life of the Christian church through baptism. Ordinary water representing something truly remarkable, the sign and seal of entry into the Covenant and God’s promise to us as well as our children.

While I have a working grasp of the theology of paedobaptism, I have to admit it’s shaky, or at least not as strong as I’d like it to be. After all, just up until recently the two sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were almost interchangeable in intent and purpose in my mind. I’ve since learned better, but being so wrong for so long shows me that it’s definitely time to brush up on the fundamentals. After all, paedobaptism isn’t an end in and of itself, it’s simply an important part in the working of Covenant Theology, a Reformed distinctive. It’s not just about practicing paedobaptism, it’s about doing it within context of the correct framework, in a way that separates us from the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, or even our good friends the Lutherans.

So what better time to deep dive into this than the weeks leading up to my own child’s baptism? I apologize if this topic is off-putting at all to some, but thankfully I know for a fact that no one reads this blog and the entire exercise is purely for my own benefit.

To guide my study through this, as the video above suggests, I’ll be using R Scott Clark’s primer on Infant Baptism and Covenant theology. Specifically I’ll be focusing on his podcast series ‘I Will Be a God to You and to Your Children‘. Why R Scott Clark when there are so many other books and resources I could use? Well, the Heidelblog is free and readily accessible, and in my opinion a rich resource for researching traditional Reformed theology (and piety and practice as I’m sure RSC would be quick to point out). Dr. Clark has the ability, especially on his podcast, to explain what can be complicated and confusing concepts in a clear and concise way. RSC is also an ordained minister within my own church’s federation, as well as a professor of Church History at Westminster Seminary California (where my church seems to source the majority of our summer interns). So not only does he know his stuff, but it’s the stuff my own church confesses and would approve of.

Weirdly and lastly though, it’s because I disagree with him on some important matters. Dr. Clark holds to Exclusive Psalmody and acapella worship (I’m still wrestling with the issues of images of the Trinity, specifically the Son, and the 2nd Commandment). I don’t, and I used to think those were crazy positions that only backwards loonies would hold to. But Dr. Clark is able to argue his case in a compelling and intelligent way that impresses me a great deal.

I always respect someone who can take what I thought was an easily settled, black and white issue and make me step back and think ‘Dang, those are some good arguments’.

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