The Second London Confession On Baptism (Part II): The Proper Subjects of Christian Baptism -- By: Robert P. Martin

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 02:2 (Jul 2005)
Article: The Second London Confession On Baptism (Part II): The Proper Subjects of Christian Baptism
Author: Robert P. Martin


The Second London Confession On Baptism (Part II):
The Proper Subjects of Christian Baptism

Robert P. Martin

Robert P. Martin, Ph.D., is Pastor of Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church, Seattle, WA, and Editor of Reformed Baptist Theological Review.

Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance (2ndLCF 29.2).

We already have anticipated the doctrine of this paragraph in our treatment of paragraph one.1 There we saw that the significance of Christian baptism presupposes that the spiritual realities signified by the ordinance exist prior to the administration of the ordinance. Since this is the case, baptism cannot be a sign to any who have not experienced the spiritual realities which the ordinance signifies. Baptism is legitimate only for those who already have fellowship with Christ in his death and resurrection, who have been engrafted into him, whose sins have been remitted, and who personally have committed themselves to live and walk in newness of life.

The present paragraph (2nd LCF 29:2), which takes up the question of the proper subjects of Christian baptism, is perfectly consistent with what baptism signifies. “Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.”

Once again (as with the opening paragraph of this chapter of our Confession), we may understand our Confession’s doctrine best by comparing it with the doctrine found in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), for at this point our Confession’s statement consciously was crafted to deny what is claimed by the WCF. On the question of the proper subjects of baptism, the WCF says, “Not only those who do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized” (28.4). In what follows, first we will examine the exegetical basis of the WCF statement, and then consider the exegetical basis of our Confession’s statement.

Genesis 17:7, 9–10, The Abrahamic Covenant, and Paedobaptism

On what basis do our paedobaptist brethren rest their case for infant baptism? The answer is that the Scripture proof for infant baptism offered by the WCF contains several kinds of texts (as we will see); but cited first is Gen. 17:7, 9–10, which contains the command to Abraham to circumcise his children. This text is cited first not...

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