In recent decades the question of the authority of the Canon has again been brought to the fore in New Testament theology. It is often said now that the authority of the Canon is to be accepted because and in so far as God speaks to us in the books of the Canon. But in this very criterion “in so far as” lies the difficulty of the problem and the danger of subjectivism. Some wish to return to the essential content of the Gospel as the “Canon in the Canon.” They search for an incontestable objective measure within Scripture. Others protest that this is a too static interpretation of the Canon. God speaks—so they say—now here, and then again there, in Scripture. It is the preaching, the kerygma, they say, in which Scripture again and again shows itself as Canon. This actualistic concept of the Canon is interpreted by others in a still more subjectivistic manner: Canon is only that which here and now (hic et nunc) signifies the Word of God for me. For one like Ernst Käsemann, for instance, the Canon, as it lies before us, is not the Word of God nor identical with the gospel, but it is God’s Word only in so far as it becomes gospel. The question, what then is the gospel, cannot be decided through exposition of Scripture, but only through the believer who “puts his ear to Scripture to listen” and is convinced by the Spirit (cf. Käsemann, Evangelische Theologie, 1951–52, p. 21).
It is clear that on this approach the Canon of the New Testament as a closed collection of 27 books becomes a very problematical matter. Can we still hold fast to the creed of the Reformation: We accept all these books as holy and canonical? What basis remains for the Church to believe that God not only wishes to use the books of the Bible as a medium in which he speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, but that he wishes also to bind the Church to the Canon of the New Testament? Can we continue to call upon the self-evidence of Scripture? Or are additional considerations to be gathered out of Scripture itself whereby the place and significance of the Canon of the New Testament come to stand more plainly before us in the plan of God’s salvation? In the measure in which we lay emphasis upon the objectivity of the Canon upon Scripture as absolute authority, this question will have our attention.
For years… [since becoming a Christian and joining a Baptist church] I had heard that infant baptism was a relic of the past, a holdover from the Roman Church, assumed by the Reformed churches as a matter of expediency, and resulting in what one noted author and pastor has described as an ‘incomplete Reformation.’ And I had simply bought into such a notion without any further investigation of my own. After all, it seemed to be a perfectly reasonable argument. I couldn’t find any place in Scripture where parents were commanded to baptized their children, nor could I locate a single explicit reference to the rite being administered to any child of tender age in the New Testament.
Nevertheless, as I continued to read the great writers of the past, men with names such as Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, Henry, Baxter, Owen, Edwards, Dabney, Hodge, and Warfield, I couldn’t help noticing that, although these men came from slightly different Reformed backgrounds (some were Presbyterian, some were Congregationalist, and a few were Anglican or Lutheran), they all agreed on this – that the practice of infant baptism was a scriptural one.
To be fair, there were some great writers of the Baptist persuasion from those centuries as well, men such as John Gill, John Bunyan, and Charles Spurgeon. But it struck me that there were far fewer of them. Of course, there have been times in the history of the church when only the brave few were engaged in fighting for the truth of a scriptural principle against the overwhelming tide of theological opinion.
But such did not seem to be the case here, for the men who had embraced infant baptism were all beholden to the truth of Scripture, and it didn’t seem fitting to attribute their belief in the practice to one of expediency. These men never determined anything on the basis of what was expedient. In many cases, they risked their very lives to stand on the principle of truth, and they were not men who were given to simply accepting received traditions of the past without requiring a full-fledged biblical basis for them.
An untold number of traditions, including that of baptismal regeneration, were abandoned by the Reformers of the sixteenth century for the lack of biblical basis, sometimes in the face of widespread popular sentiment in favor of them. To argue that these great men had somehow allowed an unscriptural practice to be retained in the church because they were too lazy or indifferent to the truth concerning it was nothing short of slander, especially when you consider that the Reformed and papal theologies of baptism bear no resemblance whatsoever to one another.
Roll Tide. (P.S. In other news, it appears Saban does NOT like the Gatorade bath)
Edwards: Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory