...cause quite a stir in this blog. Mine was an honest innocent question...I was just asking why is it that Calvinists who believe in baptismal regeneration can quote Calvin on their side, and at the same time Calvinists who reject it, can also quote Calvin on their side too?! It seems to me that Calvin and Melanchton (who were friends) tended to revise some thoughts they had and they kept on re-writing, this does not seem to happen with Luther at least in vital issues like Word and Sacrament. What I mean is that no baptismal regeneration denier can quote Luther on his side. It will never happen.
At any rate, it appears that Calvin believed that baptism conveyed regeneration...to the elect only. That means, some babies and adults are just getting wet. The reasoning seems to be that since the Jewish nation got circumcised and yet not all who were circumcised believed in the Messiah then that meant ( for the church father - Calvin), it is happening only to the elect.
Putting aside the other issues that go with regeneration, let me go back on that reasoning. The question I would have asked next is this - the fact that someone got circumcised during OT times and yet did not believe, did that mean that nothing was given? OK, now look at these baptized folks living like the devil and even denying Christ, so does it prove that they have never been regenerated at their baptism?
I know, it is funny for me to argue this way since I was a credo-bapti-costal.
There is some connection being made by Calvin on a regenerated man and his faith i.e. the regenerate will never abandon faith. This needs some further quizzing. If the baptized individual denies faith does that mean nothing was given to him? Anyway, the more pressing idea is on the elect. In other words, baptismal promises of God are only to the elect as far as this idea of Calvin goes. Since we do not know who are the elect, we may baptize everyone anyway and yet not hold on to the promise of God attached to it. Of course, we will never know who the elect are, besides baptism is effective only for them. So what to do? Believe and not believe baptism does something.
To say that God only regenerates the elect in baptism is to make a tautological statement. In my view it fails to add meaning to the pool of data. From my training, tautologies are helpful only if they add or advance information to the existing knowledge we have. You can forever repeat true statements and yet not terminate your reasoning process with new knowledge. I can prove this; say you have A-->B, B-->C and we want to prove A-->C. You can start by assuming A. Yet you can keep on asserting A-->A again and again, a tautology, you can do this infinitely without terminating the proof. The step is still valid but does not help. See what I mean?
I hope my Calvinistic brothers/sisters see that with those caveats or qualifications on baptism the practice itself looses its sense of meaning, at least that is true in the Reformed camp, of all varieties too. I think this accounts for why there are heated exchanges from within Calvinism in various sectors, between non-regenerative and regenerative, between paedo and credo baptizers etc. This type of squabble does not happen amongst Concordians (I mean at least in this area of baptism). I am a bit sad though, I wish Calvin did not have to modify or re-qualify his statements. There would have been a lot less people becoming upset at each other.