As my fellow elder, David Hagopian, often says, "It just BOGGLES the mind!"
There is a Reformed website out there with some fairly prolific Reformed theologians contributing to it - and recently they were called-out by some Reformed Baptists on their understanding of infant baptism. An astute Baptist asked one of the website authors, "What benefits do wet babies have that dry babies don't have on a practical basis, at least in good churches?"
The answer was honest - and absolutely appalling. The Reformed author responded,
My answer is that there are probably none -- both hear the Word, receive prayer, grow up under the loving gaze of Christ's shepherds, etc. For this I am grateful, and I think it shows that the more theology we have in common (i.e. Reformed Baptists and Reformed Presbys), the less radical is the difference occasioned by our different baptismal views. We do think, however, that having been sacramentally entered into the covenant community is itself a great blessing. (Which seems to be the instinct behind Baptist dedications).
In other words, the only apparent difference between infant baptism and non-infant baptism is that of appearance. The sacraments are only outward "signs" and do not function as "seals" at all. It is all about our perceptions of who the covenant community includes, not about any spiritual reality at all. You know what, if that is the case then Reformed Baptists have won the debate - infant baptism should be dumped immediately. Game, set, match.
I just can't believe that prominent Reformed guys who are supposedly wed to the Westminster Standards capitulate to such reductionistic / memorialist theology. How can this be - unless... unless they are actually Baptists themselves!
I won't take the time to rehearse what the Bible says about baptism - or what our confessions affirm about the Biblical teaching. Suffice it to say that baptism is NOT merely portrayed as an external rite that brings you into the visible church. Okay - I'll quote the WCF a little in this regard... Chapter 28:1 says,
Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.
Did anyone catch the "not only" part? Is it just me? Do I need to be checked-out here? The Bible and our Reformed confessions DO NOT teach that baptism is a merely external rite that brings people into the visible church. That is the historical BAPTIST position, not the historical REFORMED position!
So the question remains - what are the "practical" benefits of infant baptism? The answer is that baptism mysteriously / "sacramentally" / yes, spiritually "seals" the covenant of grace to covenant children. I could go a bit farther in articulating this, but that should be enough to make my point - the "benefits" are in God's mysterious economy, not in my ability to rationally grasp all His ways.
My goodness, how much more will we allow rationalism to ravage our reading of Scripture and our wrestling with Reformed confessions? Baptists refuse to live in the mysterious / sacramental tensions that are held out in Scripture, and many Reformed types are falling in the ditch with them.
Folks, in the Bible and in our confessions, being "wet" and "dry" are not the same. Receiving the sign and seal is not the same as not receiving it... I am totally blown away that supposed defenders of the Reformed faith in America have adopted a fundamentally Baptistic way of thinking.
Don't get me wrong - I love my Baptist brothers. Love 'em. Want to give them hugs - but they are just wrong about this whole thing - and when they ask good questions, we ought to be prepared with good sacramental answers that bring us back to the mysteries of God's dealings with His people.