James White Baptism Debate

I’ll end the current SBF emphasis on baptism with a link to a debate between Reformed Baptist apologist James White and Dr. Gregg Strawbridge, the editor of The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism. One of the more interesting features of this debate concerns the idea of Christ as the Mediator for the New Covenant community. Dr. Strawbridge agrees to White’s assertion that Christ is the Mediator for all persons within the New Covenant community, which community, in Dr. Strawbridge’s view, includes baptized infants- some of whom will never come to faith in Christ. When asked what Christ mediates to those persons (supposed to be) in the New Covenant community who never believe in Him, Dr. Strawbridge responds with, “Wrath.”

Listen to the debate HERE.

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9 Comments on “James White Baptism Debate”


  1. “When asked what Christ mediates to those persons (supposed to be) in the New Covenant community who never believe in Him, Dr. Strawbridge responds with, ‘Wrath.’”

    What I wonder is if Dr. Strawbridge believes that Christ mediates to everyone in the New Covenant community “only” on the basis of His crosswork. If so, how could Christ mediate “wrath” on the basis of His crosswork?

    I might just have to listen to this one.

  2. Dan Church Says:

    White seems to really get at the point of difference with paedo-baptism/believer baptism in that it is essentially a different understanding of what the New Covenant is and is not comparitively speaking.

    Specifically, that Hebrews 7 and 8 make it clear that there is no wrath in the new covenant and no unbelievers in the N.T. – at any point and thus serving as perhaps the main difference between the Old and New covenant. Many Israelites were circumcised and are in Hell. No one today, who’s heart has been circumcised can go to Hell.

    I’ve perhaps over-simplified the other view so forgive me – its not intentional if I have but I do think that what I’ve stated above sincerely is the root of the issue.

  3. Dan Church Says:

    “Specifically, that Hebrews 7 and 8 make it clear that there is no wrath in the new covenant and no unbelievers in the N.T. ”

    I meant to put “…and there are no unbelivers in the New Covenant” (not N.T. – ha – I’m not some half-breed universalist)

  4. G Veld Says:

    Specifically, that Hebrews 7 and 8 make it clear that there is no wrath in the new covenant and no unbelievers in the N.T. – at any point and thus serving as perhaps the main difference between the Old and New covenant. Many Israelites were circumcised and are in Hell. No one today, who’s heart has been circumcised can go to Hell.

    I haven’t listened to the debate but I’ve listened to others and this point seems to come up as quoted above ‘no unbelievers in the N.C.’ I believe in infant baptism, but am studying the issue, and wonder how this works its self out in reality. If a believer is baptized, he is in the NC therefore everyone who makes a profession and is baptized will remain a believer and be saved? This doesn’t seem to be the case.

  5. Dan Church Says:

    If I’m not mistaken Heb 7 and 8 as well as in Col. 2:11-12 make it clear that those that are circumcised of Heart are truly in the New Covenant.

    Jer. 31:34 says that there will be no need for evangelizing WITHIN the New Covenant. In my understanding of infant baptism that would contradict that truth (or at least as I see the Scriptures teaching it) concerning no unbelievers in the New Covenant since not all babies who are baptized end up with a circumcision of heart.

    The thing with baptism is that the Scriptures also talk about false professions and thus “false baptisms”….I’m thinking I John in particular here.

    Basically I’m thinking that physical circumcision in the O. C. is not directly equated with baptism, but rather contrasted with the perfect work of Christ on the Cross and the regenerating/circumcising of the heart by the Holy Spirit by which no one in the New Covenant could go to Hell.

    I appreciate the response G. Veld as it helps me understand where my brothers and sisters in Christ are coming from…especially since I’m reformed and thus a good bulk of my theology comes from those historically with an agreement with paedo baptism.

    Thanks and God Bless.

  6. G Veld Says:

    Dan,

    Thanks so much for replying, I appreciate you taking the time to help me out.

    If I’m not mistaken Heb 7 and 8 as well as in Col. 2:11-12 make it clear that those that are circumcised of Heart are truly in the New Covenant.

    OK that makes sense. However, then why shouldn’t we baptize children as a sign that upon regeneration (circumcision of the heart) they will be part of the New Covenant?

    Jer. 31:34 says that there will be no need for evangelizing WITHIN the New Covenant. In my understanding of infant baptism that would contradict that truth (or at least as I see the Scriptures teaching it) concerning no unbelievers in the New Covenant since not all babies who are baptized end up with a circumcision of heart.

    See above if only those with circumcised hearts are in the NC then I agree there is no need for evangelism in the NC. However, if there is a “false baptism” a ‘backslider’ may indeed have the need to be evangelized to.

    I’m not sure if this is a true or accurate distinction but I believe that I train my children as disciples (like learning from a sermon) as opposed to evangelizing them. Romans 1 also teaches that all men ‘know God’.

    The thing with baptism is that the Scriptures also talk about false professions and thus “false baptisms”….I’m thinking I John in particular here.

    I guess my question would be what makes and infant false baptism and ‘worse’ than an adult false baptism. It seems that the argument might be that believers baptism is more accurate?

    Basically I’m thinking that physical circumcision in the O. C. is not directly equated with baptism, but rather contrasted with the perfect work of Christ on the Cross and the regenerating/circumcising of the heart by the Holy Spirit by which no one in the New Covenant could go to Hell.

    So you would see it as a contrast between physical/spiritual, ie old covenant law obedience vs. new covenant obedience transfered from Christ though spiritual regeneration. Therefore the physical children are not the same as in the OC?

    I probably shouldn’t be asking these questions right now since my daughter is scheduled to be baptized on the 13th! and it really is such a hard issue with excellent Biblical people on both sides.

    May God bless you as well.

  7. Andrew Says:

    Re: “I guess my question would be what makes and infant false baptism and ‘worse’ than an adult false baptism. It seems that the argument might be that believers baptism is more accurate?”

    -Yes. Baptism, as presented in the NT should be tied to personal faith in Christ, though there are certainly false professions. Under infant baptism, the connection to personal faith is broken and “false baptisms” (to borrow your term) are built into the system.

  8. Dan Church Says:

    “OK that makes sense. However, then why shouldn’t we baptize children as a sign that upon regeneration (circumcision of the heart) they will be part of the New Covenant?”

    That right there is part of the fundamental difference between the two views…baptism for believers or baptism for ‘potential’ believers…while in the Old Covenant it was commanded to give the ‘sign’ to each child as a sign of the ‘ethnic’ covenant – the New Covenant is spiritual (hence the circumcision of heart).

    “See above if only those with circumcised hearts are in the NC then I agree there is no need for evangelism in the NC. However, if there is a “false baptism” a ‘backslider’ may indeed have the need to be evangelized to.”

    Absolutely correct – however if it turns out the person falsely professed then it means he was never in the N.C. to begin with…and thus the evangelizing is being done to someone outside the N.C. – ie. – someone who has not put a sincere/true faith in Jesus by the regeneration of the heart.

    “I’m not sure if this is a true or accurate distinction but I believe that I train my children as disciples (like learning from a sermon) as opposed to evangelizing them. Romans 1 also teaches that all men ‘know God’.”

    I understand what you mean about the whole discipleship/evangelizing concept – but you would agree (I assume) that techically as long as a person hasn’t been regenerated they are being evangelized to and not discipled…I’m thinking of John 3 specifically and the need to be born again.

    “So you would see it as a contrast between physical/spiritual, ie old covenant law obedience vs. new covenant obedience transfered from Christ though spiritual regeneration. Therefore the physical children are not the same as in the OC?”

    Uhm – not sure I completely understand this comment (been a long week here – ha), but I’m thinking Romans 9:6 especially when talking about ‘physical Israel’ and who “really” is Israel and children of the Promise.

    Basically if I can be shown where the New Covenant applies to ‘potential’ believers (and thus possible sinners in Hell) in the Scriptures then I’m certainly open for re-considering my position, but it always seems to go back to the difference of understanding over what the N.C. is and who Christ mediates for based on His work on the Cross. Hope you have a good day in the Lord tomorrow “G. Veld”.

  9. Chris Boland Says:

    Greetings,

    One of the issues is what does God intend the visible New Covenant assembly to include?

    1. Professing believers with their wives/children and possibly servants?
    or
    2. Professing believers?

    N.T. evidence points toward the latter.

    Regards

    Chris


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