Monday, September 18, 2006

Infant Faith?

Imagine, the oft-obligatory 'interview'/'testimony' slot at an evangelistic event -

Interviewer: So, X, tell us, when did you first trust the Lord?
Interviewee: Well Y, I first trusted the Lord when I was a baby being breast-fed.
Interviewer: Yes, but when did you make a decision to ask Jesus to be your Lord and God?
Interviewee: Jesus has been my God since I was in the womb.
Interviewer: ....

This morning we looked at Psalm 71, which includes these verses;

71:5-6 For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you (ESV).

Which seems on one reading to suggest the possibility of infant faith. However, the NASB translates it as

For You are my hope; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth. By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother's womb; My praise is continually of You.

Which seems less clearly to suggest infant faith.

Then I looked at Psalm 22:9-10

Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God (ESV).

Seemingly far clearer on the whole infant salvation issue. This time the NASB is in agreement it seems

Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother's breasts. Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother's womb.

Taken together (if it is legitimate to read these two almost identical passages from separate Psalms in the light of one another) these verses create great problems for two groups of people

a. Arminians
b. Adult-only baptists

Is it just poetic hyperbole? Am I missing the wood for the trees? Or could it be that the Psalmists(s) meant what they said how they said it?


Jude said...

It is an interesting one definitely, but the psalmist could be referring to the sense of knowing God his whole life. For example, I am praying that the Lord has his hand on our child since the moment it has been conceived and that it knows the Lord every day of its life. I know my (our!) parents were praying similar things, so on hindsight over my life, I could make a similiar statement as the Psalmist has here. I'm not trying to say that this isn't a literal statement, it may well be! Definitely an interesting one.

Pete said...

I see how that's a relevant idea for the arminian bit (and let's face it, if Calvinism was founded on those texts alone I'd be more dubious about it). But not so much for the infant baptism issue. Because if the child 'knows the Lord every day of it's life' then we're back to infant salvation are we not? And if we trust the Lord for that (and if we think there are bible promises that give good foundation for that trust) then why not baptise? An interesting thought.

Als, it seems to be that there was an establishe drelationship (you have been my God) since the womb! I don't think it can be adequately explained by saying 'yes, well, in one sense God is everybody's God all of their lives whether they acknowledge it or not. The 'you are my God' language echoes the covenant promise - 'I will be their God and they will be my people' which we find all over the OT. Just thinking outloud here :)

Ros said...

I think you're quite right Pete. I only noticed these texts in the context of infant faith a few weeks ago and I think they're pretty conclusive. David clearly thinks his faith preceded his consciousness of it. So we have no reason not to baptise covenant children, nor indeed to exclude them from the covenant meal.