I have written a few things about the Sacrement of Baptism latley. Below is a bit more!
The unity of the covenant and the unity of the testaments are central to the discussion of baptism. One’s view of the relationship between them will inevitably determine one’s ecclesiology and finally ones views on baptism. In similar fashion ones doctrine of baptism is steered by ones doctrine of the covenant.
In my last post I spoke to the issue of discontinuity and its roots in Marcionism and modernism. My hope is now to exhort those that hold to a more holistic view of the covenant (and of Scripture) to apply covenantal thinking consistently; particularly in the area of baptism and now to the present issue of Roman Catholic Baptism.
The question is then are we to view Roman Catholics as members of the New Covenant by virtue of their baptism? Before I begin this discourse let me reiterate that which I have stated already two or three times, for it does bear repeating. I find much that is extremely problematic and even horrendous in Roman Catholic Theology and yet I have cause to wonder; can extreme doctrinal error annul the God given sign of the covenant? That is in effect very near the heart of the issue; can theological error override the sign of the covenant? But the issue goes even deeper. At bedrock the question is this: is baptism and act of human ingenuity or is it a sovereign act of God? I will be arguing for the later.
I would not want to argue this point from any place but scripture for indeed, as I have already said, the present confusion on the subject is a direct result of modernistic inroads into our thinking. Issues of covenant and covenant fidelity must be determined not by church history but by redemptive history. Indeed redemptive history has a lot to say on this very subject. I am thinking then of those St. Paul called Israel after the flesh.
Think of the nation of Israel, the church in the Old Covenant, and ask yourself these four questions:
(1.) What was the general state of the nation of Israel spiritually? (2.) What was the state of the nation of Israel theologically? (3.) Was there ever a time in the whole history of the Old Covenant people of God when they were not considered as His Covenant people? (4.) How did one become objectively joined to the covenant?
Let me give you my answers to these questions:
(1.) Generally speaking the nation of Israel were a people whose hearts were hard; they were indifferent to their God and they were indifferent to the covenant. (2.) Theologically the nation of Israel ranged from simple idolatry (worshiping YHWH as an effigy i.e. a golden calf) to out right syncretism; sacrificing their children to Baal and then coming into the temple to offer worship to YHWH. (3.) Israel has always been the covenant people of God. (4.) Circumcision.
And so let me ask a final follow-up question: What has replaced circumcision as the sign of the covenant? Answer: according to St. Paul its baptism.