Tucked away in a footnote to Mark Dever’s chapter in the book, Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant, ed. Tom Schreiner and Shawn Wright, is an interesting footnote.
In the summer of 2001 pastors Mark Dever (SBC) and David Coffin (PCA) held a public conversation at Capitol Hill Baptist Church on baptism.
They came up with the following 17 statements that both could affirm
1. No one disagrees with professor baptism (except Quakers).
2. This is a subject of great import.
3. There are clear commands for and examples of professors’ baptism in the New Testament.
4. This fact is not evidentially determinate of the question (i.e., it does not preclude infant baptism).
5. God’s Word alone should settle the matter (but we do not mind using history as confirmation of a biblical pattern).
6. There are no commands for or clear examples of infant baptism in the New Testament.
DC: Uncertain about the word “examples.” What do you make of household baptism (Philippian jailer, Lydia, etc.)? These examples are problems only for baptistic Christians.
MD: There is not reason the first reader of the text should not refer to baptism of believers. For example, the word was preached to the Philippian jailer’s whole household.
7. Baptism was appointed by Christ to be of permanent value in the Christian church.
8. Baptism is a rite of initiation; the Lord’s Supper is a rite of continuance.
9. There is no articulation of a Reformed understanding of infant baptism before Zwingli.
DC: Someone in AD 250 would not have thought baptism to be salvific.
MD: Didache suggests that believer’s baptism was assumed in the early church.
10. Infant baptism is widely practiced by the late second second AD.
MD: By this point of time, church fathers assumed baptismal regeneration.
DC: Their words only mimic biblical language.
MD: Guidelines for believer’s baptism exist in second century AD.
DC: This is perfectly understandable in a missionary enterprise.
11. There are some who are baptized who are not in fact saved.
12. There are some who are not baptized who are in fact saved.
13. There is a regular temptation of the visible church to trust in the outward rather than the inward.
14. God can create faith in a child before that faith is evident.
15. The texts urging “believe and be baptized” or referring to “household” baptisms do not of themselves constitute conclusive evidence for either side.
16. The covenant made with Abraham is an administration of the covenant of grace. Nothing in this particular administration violates the general covenant.
17. Children of believers enjoy particular privileges and have special obligations.
MD: Do not treat your children as if you presume they are elect.
DC: Tell them that they are disciples in the school of Christ. By virtue of Christ’s command to the contrary, they will in some way be lacking if they have not been baptized.