Editor’s note: All this week, Expository Thoughts will highlight Matt Waymeyer’s newly released book A Biblical Critique of Infant Baptism (The Woodlands, Tex: Kress Christian Publications, 2008) . The book is now available for purchase here and here.The following is part two of a two part interview conducted by Paul Lamey with Matt Waymeyer.]
PL: Are there one or two issues that seal the deal in such a way that makes it impossible for you to ever be a paedobaptist?
MW: In addition to what I see as an overall lack of biblical support for infant baptism, I would highlight specific points of discontinuity in redemptive history that undermine the paedobaptist argument. In particular, the newness of the New Covenant and the nature of the NT church refute this idea that the sign of the covenant should be applied to children of believers just as it was in OT Israel. Furthermore, the biblical teaching of baptism as the means by which an individual publicly professes his faith in Christ is also significant in my thinking. I believe that both of these present overwhelming obstacles for the paedobaptist position.
PL: Who would you say represents the opposing view (i.e., paedo) most effectively today?
MW: The two books I would recommend are Children of the Promise by Robert Booth and The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism edited by Gregg Strawbridge. Even though I believe that Booth misrepresents the Baptist position at times and therefore should be read with a bit of caution, his book is very clear, concise, and easy to read. I believe it was the first book I read on the subject, and I thought it was a very helpful introduction to a difficult issue. In addition to being just as good, the book edited by Strawbridge has the added advantage of exposing readers to a plethora of today’s leading paedobaptist voices-Bryan Chapell, Joel R. Beeke, Mark E. Ross, Richard L. Pratt, Cornelis Venema, Douglas Wilson, R.C. Sproul Jr., and Gregg Strawbridge, to name a few. For someone who is looking for a shorter treatment of the subject, I would recommend the booklets Why Do We Baptize Infants? by Bryan Chapell or What Christian Parents Should Know about Infant Baptism by John P. Sartelle.
PL: Can you give us an overview of how you approached the subject of infant baptism in the book? How is it organized?
MW: When I first started writing, my goal was to produce a short position paper of no more than eight pages. I had just come back from lunch with a close friend who was leaning toward infant baptism, and my thought was to tell him very simply in this paper why I rejected the view he was beginning to embrace. As a pastor, it is helpful to have these kinds of resources on hand, so I thought it might serve me for years to come. That afternoon I made a list of reasons why I personally came to reject paedobaptism, and eventually those six reasons became the six chapters of the book:
1. The Absence of a Direct Command
2. The Absence of a Biblical Example
3. The Absence of Compelling Evidence
4. The Breakdown of the Circumcision Argument
5. The Discontinuity of Redemptive History
6. The Significance of Biblical Baptism
In this way, the book is very much organized the way that I myself thought through the issue over the past decade or so. I tell people that my target audience in writing was the Matt Waymeyer of 13 years ago, back when I first started studying infant baptism. In other words, this is the book I wish I could have read at that time in my life.
PL: What did you find was the most difficult part of the process of writing this book?
MW: Probably the deadline pressure at the very end. Kress Christian Publications was very patient with me, but at some point you have to set a deadline and be firm about it. I always say that if you take your favorite activity in the whole world and put a stopwatch to it, some of the fun goes away. I feel that way about studying and preparing for sermons every week, and I definitely felt that way leading up to the final deadline for the book. My wife was a great encouragement to me during that time. She always seems to know just what to say to spur me on to be diligent and pursue excellence when my strength is failing and I’m looking for a shortcut.
PL: I know that you serve as a pastor, so how did you find time to write? Did it flow out of teaching you were doing in the church?
MW: No, I haven’t taught on infant baptism at our church because it hasn’t really been an issue among the people. I did most of my writing on Wednesday evenings while the kids were at AWANA and Julie was either helping out there or running errands for our family. At some point we sort of designated that as my time to study and write. I also worked on it here and there whenever I could find some time, often reading and editing in bed after Julie had fallen asleep. I hate to say it, but I also worked on it during vacations, but usually only after everyone else was asleep. For me, it is a very relaxing and energizing way to spend time, except when the sand begins to run low in the hourglass and the deadline draws near.
PL: I realize that the paedobaptist argument from church history is very compelling to many people. Does it bother you to hold a view of baptism which was rejected by so much of the church throughout the past 2,000 years?
MW: That’s a good question, especially because so many people find the argument from church history so compelling. I touch on this briefly in the book, but the conviction that drives me-and that should drive all of us as we study theological issues-is that Scripture alone is the ultimate authority on matters of doctrine and practice in the church. I agree that disregarding tradition and church history is arrogant and unwise, but ultimately you need to be committed to what you believe the Bible teaches, even if it contradicts years of ecclesiastical tradition.
Ironically, I think John Calvin said it best. At one point in his Institutes, Calvin is discussing his disagreement with Augustine, Chrysostom, and some other church fathers on a certain issue, and he exhorts his readers to not be troubled by the fact that his view does not conform to their view. “We ought not to so value their authority,” Calvin writes, “as to let it shake the certainty of Scripture.” In the end, even though I believe Calvin was dead wrong about baptism, he couldn’t have been more right about Scripture-we must never so value the authority of fallible theologians as to let it shake the certainty of the Word of God.