Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Paedobaptism is based on the idea of Covenantal understanding of our faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that unless one thinks in terms of covenant the sacrifice of Christ makes no sense. Of course, people believe the essential facts of the Gospel, that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave, but without understanding the Biblical use of the covenant, how it is that Adam is our head or that Christ is our new head makes no sense. It becomes one big umbrella understanding called Covenant Theology.
So we baptize our babies because we are members of the covenant community and because they are also members of the covenant community. It is very similar to circumcision in the Old Testament. You can read about this some more in Pastor Wilson's book To A Thousand Generations.
In the same way that babies are members of the covenant community for purposes of baptism they are also members of the community for purposes of the Lord's Supper. We do not force babies to take the Lord's Supper (jamming bread down their mouths), we wait until the child understands that something is happening here (at church) that is different than the normal snack. We want them to understand that what is happening at the Table is for them and it is different from what they do at home. So, the parents teach their children about the elements of the worship service at home, they teach them about the Christian faith during the week, and then on Sunday morning the children participate in the whole service at the level they have attained.
With this understanding in mind, children do not begin eating at the Lord's Supper until they are close to a year old. We leave when they begin to the fathers to decide. The Elders oversee the process, but the fathers let us know when they think their kids are old enough.
Your point about serving the Lord's Supper to unbelievers is a good one. When my daughter was about 18 months old, I was still a baptist, I was praying for her one night. I asked God to save her at an early age so that she wouldn't have to get into some nasty sins and live a life of debauchery. After I was finished, she looked up at me and said, "Papa? Do you not think I'm a Christian?" It really shook me up. I had been treating her like she was a Christian. She prayed with us. She confessed her sins. She asked for forgiveness from God and us when she sinned. She knew all about Jesus and what he had done for her. The only thing missing was a big testimony of how God came to a terrible sinner and in her sinful agony had saved her. But in every other way, she had been brought up in the faith. She believed what we believed. She had the same faith we had, maybe even a greater faith because her's was much more childlike.
Now she's 16 and has never known a time in her life when she hasn't known the Lord. She's never spent more than an hour or two in sin. Her sin has never been huge. She is a sweet wonderful young lady. She even likes me and likes to be with her parents. There is no lasting rebellion in her. She is a joy to be with.
It is true we don't want the children of parents who aren't raising their kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But if the children have faith because their parents have faith, then they are Christians and holy to the Lord and should not be kept from the water, bread, or wine.
So, that's our story. If you have more questions feel free to ask them. I'm happy to help.