I came to reformed theology in 2010 by increments and like most, with much wrestling. Primarily my struggles concerned soteriology and what is commonly called the “The 5 points of Calvinism.” I had not given much thought to the sacraments. I first attended a paedo-baptist church in Los Angeles and during this time I had my first child with my wife. However, at this church there was never any pressure of baptizing my child. Going forward to 2013, I moved to Sacramento, CA and began attending a Presbyterian church affiliated with CREC. At this church I began to experience pressure to baptize my now three children. Upon hearing some extremely convincing arguments for paedo-batpism, I was still reluctant because certain assumptions were not biblical to me. For example, the leadership at the church believes God has promised salvation to the children of Christian parents, which is similar to the teachings of Rich Lusk.
Even though these assumptions bothered me, it still seemed as though the history of the church and the Scriptures spoke more clearly with approval concerning the baptism of children. I received literature from the church leadership and after reading the material (a book named The Covenant Baptism of Infants by Jim West) I was almost completely convinced that I should be baptizing my children based upon my faith just as Abraham’s seed was circumcised based upon his (you would later shatter that thinking in chapters 15-16!). I was also convinced that “the promise is to you and your children and all who are afar off” meant that my children should be baptized. However, my conscience kept telling me that I should move slow and seek a baptist perspective on the issue before making hasty decisions on such important issues. That lead to a search of a book by a baptist who addresses the issue of baptism through the covenants. In my eyes, the argument for this issue lay within a proper understanding of the covenants and not solely within the “dry” or “wet” verses in Scripture.
I had been listening to Voddie Baucham since 2010 and I knew he was a Baptist so I decided to see what he had to say about the issue. Even though I didn’t find a sermon or book from him concerning this issue, I did find out from the GFB church calendar that the men at Grace Family Baptist were meeting and discussing a book called “The Fatal Flaw …”. I performed a Google search about the book and read a brief introductory summary about it and I knew this was the book I had been searching for.
About halfway through the book I was convinced that my new leanings were wrong. After chapters 8 & 9, the Scriptures spoke clearly and I knew that baptizing my children would be a mistake. Your book also helped me to understand the error of Federal Vision. The church we attend has strong Federal Vision leanings. For me, Federal Vision is hard to pin down at times but your book made it clear what the basic errors of their theology were. You addressed this well on pages 112-119.
You nailed it well when you wrote “What makes a person a real Jew and among the the true people of God is not physical birth, the principle of federal headship, being a part of the physical nation of Israel, or being under the Mosaic Covenant but grace and grace alone (pg.80).” This was so impacting for me because our Pastor has bluntly told me that he assumes his children are regenerate until otherwise proven because they are born into a Christian family and these words from your book made it more evident that such thinking is wrong. What also sealed the deal for me was the fact that the Mosaic covenant is not a covenant of grace. Also, covenantal faithfulness is a covenant of works and not one of grace in its truest sense. A person does not have dual citizenship, a person is either under the law or under grace. The Scripture speaks loudly that all men are born under the law and sin. To assume that one is naturally born under grace and not sin became absurd the more I read and meditated on it.
Finally in chapters 15-16, you laid out a perfect explanation of why we should not view infant circumcision and baptism the same as paedo-baptists often times do. I thought the two were identical but as you stated on page 188, “Abraham’s circumcision has more in common with believers baptism than with infant circumcision”.
The book, in my opinion can eloquently be summed up the following: “Therefore, it is not by the blood of Abraham but the blood of Christ that new covenant participants enter into a relationship with God (pg 201)”. There are many other points you made that I could recall but I wanted to at least provide you with a few examples on how your book prevented me from baptizing my children AND helped me avoid Federal Vision thinking. Your writing is clear, easy to follow, and full of verifiable footnotes which hold the integrity of your research should it ever be in doubt.
Thank you for your years of labor Pastor Johnson. I would recommend this book to anyone (paedo or credo baptist) that seeks to understand baptism from an intelligently spoken and carefully articulated credo-baptist covenantal approach. I absolutely love the fact that there is a contemporary published work demonstrating covenantal theology from a Baptist perspective. Thanks to you and the men who have assisted you with this work.
Well that was long but I hope you can glean something from this long email as a testimonial.
May His grace continue to abound in you