Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Bad arguments for infant communion

Recommended at David Field's blog as a "fine thing", we are given the following from here as a "nicely phrased argument ... for paedo-communion":
I believe in paedobaptism and paedocommunion. But just for a moment, let's consider the alternative. If [those who reject paedobaptism and paedocommunio] ... are right, then carefully consider what was being anticipated and celebrated by God's people in the OT. How would they praise God during the Feast of Pentecost? . . .

"Thank You, Lord, for blessing me and my family with this great feast in Your Presence! Thank You for redeeming all of us from slavery in Egypt. And thank You for the great day that is coming, when Your Spirit will fill all of us, Your people, except for our little children. I thank You, God, that the day is coming when this feast of Pentecost is fullfilled, and our little children will no longer be permitted to feast before you as they do today! Praise the Lord!"

Or, alternatively, consider how real Jewish fathers must have praised God in Acts 2, after the Holy Spirit filled His Church:

"Thank You, Lord Jesus, for fulfilling the OT Feast of Pentecost on this glorious day today! For many years my family and I have celebrated the Feast of Pentecost in Your Presence, rejoicing before You, in eager anticipation of today. Thank You, Lord, that my little children will no longer be permitted to feast in Your Presence, now that the fulfillment of Pentecost has finally arrived. Thank You, Lord!

In the debates over infant baptism and infant communion, this argument is normally called the "argument from expanded privileges". Its form is something like this:
  1. The privileges enjoyed by any individual under the New Covenant cannot be less than those under the Old, because the New is more glorious.
  2. Person X enjoyed privilege Y under the Old Covenant.
  3. Therefore they must enjoy it under the New also.
When our children are involved, this argument can be worded quite emotively. The above "nice phrased argument" is an example of such. The upshot is that Baptists are baddies because they're mean to children who treat them worse than even infants under the Old dispensation were treated.

With many paedo-baptists, Baptists can use argumentation like the above as a point in their favour. Most Reformed paedo-baptists historically haven't accepted the doctrine of paedo-communion. As such, when an argument with the same form as the above is used in favour of infant baptism, the Baptist can simply re-work it to show that it just as much support paedo-communion, and if it's not necessarily valid in the one case then it's not in the other either. Obviously this doesn't work as any kind of argument with those who do accept paedo-communion!

To be continued...

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