Edited 3 May 2021: grammatical and consistency errors.
Edited 5 May 2021: name change to “Will” in first paragraph.
This post is personal, in that it is entirely about myself (Will Gunter, founder and curator of this site). However, it is also public, in that it communicates a few things that the few who read what I write need to know. I am on the settling-slope of a significant theological change, such that it would be dishonest if I continued writing without clarifying it. I’m not here to deceive anyone, or to subtly and secretly lead anyone into doctrines they presently reject.
So, without further ado: whereas I have before held to credobaptism and 1689 Federalism, I now am convinced of paedobaptism and what is commonly referred to as simply Covenant Theology. I still affirm “believer’s baptism,” but I now affirm infant baptism, too. I believe that children of believers in the New Covenant, like those of the Old Covenant, should receive the sign of the covenant.
In light of this change, everything I have written before this date should be taken with an extra pinch of salt. I will eventually get around to revising some articles (and noting those revisions in an honest way) as I deem appropriate.
Below, you will find a personal testimony of my transition to this frame of mind. This is not an argument for paedobaptism. It is simply an account of my change of mind, so as to dispel any concerns that I am jumping into something with my gut and not my brain.
How I Got Here
My becoming convinced of the merits of paedobaptism is expressed best by Liam Goligher in his own account: “For me the change was not a sudden shaft of light so much as an unsought capitulation to the accumulated weight of evidence garnered over many years of regular biblical ministry.”
My wife and I first began having conversations related to paedobaptism when we married several years ago. I immediately began a concentrated study of baptism. This study lasted the better part of a year. Consider this brief summation:
- In favor of credobaptism, I learned from the likes of (in no particular order) James White, John MacArthur, Tim Challies, Justin Taylor, Stephen Wellum, Fred Malone, Thomas Shreiner, Tom Hicks, Gavin Ortlund, Greg Welty, John Piper, Pascal Denault, Martin Lloyd-Jones, Richard Barcellos, Samuel Renihan, and more.
- In favor of paedobaptism, I learned from the likes of (in no particular order) Gregg Strawbridge, R.C. Sproul, VanDrunen, Douglas Wilson, Robert Strimple, R. Scott Clark, Keven DeYoung, Liam Goligher, Sinclair Ferguson, Bob McKelvey, Sean Michael Lucas, and more.
- Regarding historical theology, I studied the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, the Westminster Confession of Faith, many Puritans such as Owen and Bunyan, the writings of John Calvin, the ecumenical creeds, and much of the early church fathers, including the Didache, Augustine, the epistles of Clement, and Ignatius.
- Regarding passages of Scripture, it would be a fool’s errand for me to provide a sampling of what I studied. Key texts include, but are by no means limited to, Genesis 12, 15, 17, Jeremiah 31, Acts 2, 16, Romans 9-11, and the book of Hebrews. I utilized grammatical resources (e.g. Hebrew/Greek, grammars, lexicons) and commentary materials from a wide array of teachers.
I provide this information as a testimony of how serious I was about arriving at a correct, faithful, honest answer regarding baptism.
I began the study with no desire or inclination to profess paedobaptism. I have seen people “change their mind” about something Scripture teaches only because of certain positive or negative pressures in their life. That is an abhorrent practice. But the weight of evidence began to press down upon me, and I began to open to the idea of paedobaptism.
This alarmed me, because I had given much time to studying baptism before. This was not my first trip around the block. In several previous ventures, I had passed paedobaptism off as impossible. Now, in paedobaptism, I noticed that many undefined problems and concerns I had come to have with credobaptism fell into place. I had unknowingly wrestled with larger issues related to baptism for many years. The tide turned at some point, though I can’t recall where, and I was eventually led to a new conclusion.
When you line up all the dominoes, this has been a three year process.
 The only flaw in my survey of credobaptism might be that I did not read Jewett’s Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, which is widely considered (by both sides of the debate) to be the best argument for credobaptism. By the time I came around to this book, I had heard dozens of reviews of Jewett’s book, his argumentation, his propositions, and more, that I felt as though I had been exposed to the substance of the book. Given how many presentations of baptistic covenant theology I studied, I would be shocked to learn that Jewett presented something in his book that I did not find elsewhere.
But what was it, specifically, that changed my mind? “The Bible” may be perceived as a dodge, as if I didn’t submit myself to Scripture when I affirmed credobaptism. I never thought of my systematic theology as artificially bound together. But over time, I increasingly noticed dissonance in the doctrinal orchestra I had arranged from Scripture. I could not hear it all the time, but every now and then, with a tilt of the head or a bend at the waist, the conflicting overtones would make themselves known. Here are a few of the questions I struggled with as a Baptist:
- How can one truly partake of the New Covenant and Christ, yet fall away (John 15:1-6; Romans 11:17-22; 1 Corinthians 10:1-12; Hebrews 6:4-5; 10:26-29; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; 4:1)?
- How is the Old Covenant strictly a covenant of works if it was full of grace?
- What accounts for credobaptism’s scarce representation in church history and paedobaptism’s presence throughout?
- Why does the New Testament continue the paradigm of “God’s generational mercies” (“You and your children” [Acts 2:39], “You and your household” [Acts 11:14; 16:31], cf. Matthew 19:14; Luke 2:48; Acts 3:25; 13:32)?
- Why are there household baptisms in the New Testament on account of the familial head’s faith (Acts 16:15, 32-33; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:16)?
- If my children are born pagans, then why does God want me to treat them as Christians (i.e. bring them to church, teach them to pray, etc.), and why does God give them covenantal promises (Matthew 19:14; Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20; 2 Timothy 3:14-15)?
- Why would God’s familial and generational blessings drastically diminish in the New Covenant, if the New Covenant is more glorious than the Old (2 Corinthians 3:7-18)?
- Why is there no outcry, debate, or other discussion, in the New Testament over the covenantal exclusion of children of believers?
- Why in the New Testament are children of believing Jews considered members of the New Covenant (Acts 21:17-26)?
From these and other questions, I arrived at various conclusions. Here are nine theses which I see contributing to a paedobaptist paradigm of Scripture:
- Household covenantal inclusion is an overarching paradigm untampered with in the New Testament.
- Paedobaptism is the overwhelmingly attested practice in church history.
- Members of the New Covenant can apostatize.
- The Old and New Covenants organically deal with the same family of God.
- The Old Covenant was a covenant of grace.
- The New Testament explicitly records household baptisms.
- The distinction between the Old and New Covenants is never between material and immaterial.
- The point of contention in the New Testament is what sign suffices for covenant inclusion, not who may receive that sign.
- Parents under the Old and New Covenants are under equivalent commands and promises regarding their children.
I could say more, but this will suffice to demonstrate what doctrinal/Scriptural convictions I have transitioned into that conflict with credobaptism. Again, my purpose is not to convince you of my position, but to simply account for it.
Reformed and Always Reforming
In one sense, this change is an expression of my allegiance to the Protestant Reformation. It is my drawing nearer to the Reformers, who were paedobaptists and covenantal in a way even many American paedobaptists are not so today. In another sense, this change is an expression that I believe everything in my life is subject to the Word of God. There are no sacred cows, even in my theology. So, I am Reformed, but I want to be always reforming.
But I do recognize the danger of open-mindedness, so much so that our brains fall out. I cannot reach a point where I am shifting theological paradigms every three years. I see this danger, and I respond by pointing out that this is the only true change of mind I have had regarding major points of doctrine. I did not transition to Calvinism from Arminianism; I became a Calvinist from a neutral position of having no studied opinion. I did not become a post-millennialist from pre-millennialism; I became a post-millennialist from a position of having no studied opinion (in case you missed it). My transition to paedobaptism from credobaptism is the first change I have ever had where years of personal study and reflection were overturned by what I began to perceive as stronger, more Biblical arguments.
Thus, I reject any notion that this change, while significant, is an example of me having my mind too open and loose. I would like to think that those who know me will recognize that, if anything, I have a tendency to be too hard-headed about doctrine. Well, let the people of God rejoice, for I have softened.