A.H. Strong and B.B. Warfield on Infant Baptism

In working on this week’s Family Worship Guide, I was looking through some old material I put together for a series of lessons on salvation in the Old Testament and came across the following interaction between the Baptist A.H. Strong and the Presbyterian B.B. Warfield on the subject of infant baptism.

In his Systematic Theology, Strong asserts,

(a) Infant baptism is without warrant, either express or implied, in the Scripture.
(b) Infant baptism is expressly contradicted [by Scripture].[1]

To which, B.B. Warfield replied,

 In this sense of the words, we may admit his first declaration—that there is no express command that infants should be baptized; and with it also the second—that there is in Scripture no clear example of the baptism of infants, that is, if we understand by this that there is no express record, reciting in so many words, that infants were baptized.[2]

I am just wondering: when your opponent’s first two arguments against you are that there is no Scriptural warrant for your practice and you proceed to agree with him, are you really sure you want to proceed with arguing for that practice? I don’t know. Was there a moment when Dr. Warfield paused and really contemplated the force of Dr. Strong’s arguments and the implications of his own admission to the veracity of those arguments? I mean, if I was in a discussion with someone and they said, “The Bible says nothing to support your position and in fact speaks against it.” I would hope that I would not reply with, “Yeah, but…”

[1] A.H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1979), 951-952.

[2] B.B. Warfield, Studies in Theology “The Polemics of Infant Baptism” (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003), 395.

4 thoughts on “A.H. Strong and B.B. Warfield on Infant Baptism

  1. Warfield was simply acknowledging that the practice of Paedobaptism does not meet the criteria which Credobaptists (in this case, Strong) have set up as their standard of validation. Nevertheless, we must go on to ask ourselves whether or not this criteria is biblically necessary- which you have failed to even address in this article. I would challenge you to examine your presuppositions, and test them for consistency before you move on to defend your position. It may turn out that your conclusion on one matter contradicts your conclusion on another matter – even when using the exact same hermeneutical principal – Matthew 7:2.

    • Also – Warfield was most likely NOT admitting to Strong’s argument in Premise (B). He was simply admitting to the first and second arguments in Premise (A); having to do with that which is expressly commanded, and that which is implied from an explicitly recorded event.

  2. Let us use Warfield’s words, and apply it to the doctrine of the Trinity (the words in brackets added for argument’s sake), then you will understand what Warfield is aiming at:

    “In this sense of the words, we may admit his first declaration—that there is (no express word ‘Trinity’ in the Bible); and with it also the second—that there is in Scripture no … example of (God being called ‘Truine’), that is, if we understand by this that there is no express record, reciting in so many words, that (the Scripture teaches the doctrine of the ‘Trinity’).”

    Therefore, the exact words of this essential doctrine of true Christianity is not there, but the whole of Scripture teach the substance of the Trinity.

    Therefore, truly reformed confesses, in following the truth of Scripture, WCF 1.6:

    “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.”

  3. “God established his Church in the days of Abraham and put children into it. They must remain there until He puts them out. He has nowhere put them out. They are still then members of His church and as such entitled to its ordinances. Baptism is one of those ordinances.” – BB Warfield

    I would like to here the express command (or deduction) from the whole of Scripture, especially the NT, where God has put children out of the church and baptism? Thanks.

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