Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Book Review: Matt Waymeyer's A Biblical Critique of Infant Baptism

Matt Waymeyer has constructed a tour de force in the debate between paedobaptists (those who hold to infant baptism) and credobaptists (those who hold to believer baptism). Careful argumentation, careful exegesis, and excellent documentation define his contribution to the debate. If it were possible to characterize the sum of his arguments in a single sentence, it might be this one, which appears in the book’s final paragraph: “In the end, it appears that the paedobaptist interpretation of these various passages assumes the view that it must first demonstrate.” [130-131]

Waymeyer is irenic in his polemic, which is refreshing. He considers his debate opponents to be valued members of God’s family and treats them that way. This is in sharp contrast to how some others have carried on the debate. I love Calvin’s Institutes, but Calvin’s treatment of this issue is far more heavily weighted with invective and insult than any genuine attempt at exegesis. Waymeyer does not fall into that trap.

The first chapter explores the absence in the New Testament of any command to baptize infants, a remarkable observation when you consider the importance paedobaptists attach to the rite. The second chapter details the fact that, contrary to claim, there simply is no clear example in the NT of infants being baptized.

Waymeyer marches through Acts 2:39, 1 Corinthians 7:14, Mark 10:13-16, and Ephesians 6:1 in chapter 3, demonstrating that these texts do not support the paedobaptist position. Heavily footnoted, the chapter interacts with the writings and interpretations of both sides.

Paedobaptists claim that baptism is the new circumcision and demonstrates the continuity between the old and new covenants. This replacement is the keystone of the paedobaptist argument. Waymeyer deals with this in chapter 4. His careful consideration of Genesis 17:10-14, Romans 4:11-12, Colossians 2:11-12, and Acts 15:1-29 yields solid exegetical reasons as to why the paedobaptist position is extremely unlikely if not impossible to maintain. He concludes, “Not only does no single passage of Scripture teach this kind of replacement, but an overall comparison of the two rites yields a degree of discontinuity that completely undermines the case for infant baptism.” [71-72]

Chapter 5 (“The Discontinuity of Redemptive History”) explores the divide between the two positions in theological terms, the paedobaptists seeing significant continuity and their opponents seeing a significant discontinuity between the New and Old Testaments. Waymeyer examines the newness of the New Covenant and the nature of the New Testament Church, as contrasted with OT Israel.

Finally, the author wraps up his argument by taking a close look at the rite of baptism itself. In particular, Waymeyer investigates Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:38, 1 Corinthians 1:13-15, and 1 Peter 3:21. He concludes, “The notions associated with the ordinance of baptism—such as repentance, faith, discipleship, and calling on the Lord for salvation—are of such a nature that they involve conscious intelligent understanding, and for this reason, infants should not be baptized.” [109]
Waymeyer offers an appendix (“The Newness of the New Covenant Revisited”) which deals with substantial points, such as the meaning of the “knowledge of God” in Jeremiah 31:34, “covenant breakers” in the church, Hebrews 10:26-31, etc. This appendix is, like the rest of the book, well worth the time.

A short read (131 pages), Biblical Critique nonetheless contains a comprehensive look at the debate between the two opposing sides. Waymeyer has compiled the best arguments of each respective position and dealt with them in an exegetically detailed and theologically responsible way. No matter which side of the debate the reader finds himself on, Biblical Critique is an important contribution to the ongoing discussion. Five stars, highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Oil Change

“I wouldn’t publish that story, if I were you,” my wife said, raising her eyebrows. It’s a look she reserves for when I’m about to do something really dumb.
“I don’t know why not. After all, it’s true.”
“Yes, but people might think you’re stu—.” She caught herself and didn’t finish. Somehow I knew the missing word wasn’t ‘stupendous.’
“Ah, c’mon, babe. They already know I’m not a car guy. My Dakota, er, Ranger proves that.”
I decided to publish anyway, which I reckon I don’t need to tell you since you’re reading it at the moment.
So the Dak—, um, Ranger needed an oil change. Actually it needed it about four months ago so I figured I’d better get right to it, rather than putting it off. I do like to be timely about these things.
I drove it over to the oil change place, and found that I was the only customer—a bit of luck I would later be quite thankful for. So they guided me right into the service bay and began their interrogation.
“So how are your wipers, sir?”
“Wipers are fine, don’t bother with ‘em.”
“And how about your transmission fluid?”
“Fluid’s fine, leave it alone.”
“We’re running a special on flushing your radia—”
“NO thank you! Just want the oil changed.”
“Your cabin air filter is looking a little dingy.”
“Oil. Change. Just change the oil,” I said, feeling a little snippy. “I don’t want anything else.”
“I understand that, sir, but we just want to make sure that you’re aware of all our services. Would you like your lawn mowed?”
I just glared at him and didn’t answer.
He looked at me and rolled his eyes. “Got it. Oil change.”
He shoved a little box in my face. “Keys. Put ‘em in there.”
What? Do they think I’m stupid? Do they think I’d really start the truck when their head is under the hood? Anyway, I frowned at him and dropped my keys in the little box.
“Pop the hood, please, sir.”
I reached down and pulled the release. Nothing happened. I groaned. I seemed to remember that this had happened before and I’d had a dickens of a time releasing the hood. I yanked the release again. Nothing. Again, harder. Nothing.
So I reached way under the dash, curled my fingers around the cable trying to exert more force on it than the lever did.
After being so grouchy about the oil change I felt a little sheepish. I poked my head out the window. “I’ve had trouble with this before. Could you bang on the hood?” So while they waled away at my hood I grabbed the lever and pulled again and again.
Finally I got out of the truck, stood on the front bumper, put my full weight on the hood, and sort of bounced on it. The mechanics all kind of backed away from me at that point.
Oh, well. We all jointly decided that the oil change would have to wait for another day. They gave me my keys back, and started motioning for me to drive away. I think they really wanted me to leave. I started the truck, reached for the emergency brake release and—oops. No wonder the hood didn’t pop up.
Feeling really stupid, I turned off the truck, reached for the hood release lever, and the hood popped up as nice as you please.
I didn’t bother to explain. It was at this time I was very thankful there were no other customers in the store. Wouldn’t want anyone to know about this anyway. I’d never live it down.
When I was finally driving away, it occurred to me: the hood release problem I thought I remembered? It never happens on the truck. It happens on my Ford Vue.