Jonathan Edwards on Infant Baptism

Wilbur_JE_bustJonathan Edwards is deeply loved today and widely admired by Evangelicals, and it may come as a surprise and shock to many, especially his Baptists fans to discover that he affirms Infant Baptism as the true and correct form of Christian Baptism! First, I will share a bit of background on Edwards and then a few quotations from his Miscellanies on Infant Baptism.

There has been a watershed of work due to the rediscovery and reawakening of Jonathan Edwards, who was a Puritan Congregational Reformed minister in the early 18th century. He is one of the greatest theologians in American history and in time will be considered among the great doctors of the Church. He was largely unknown and forgotten, and suffered with a horrible stigma as a fire and brimstone purtianical (tyrannical?) preacher due to his famous sermon that ignored the Great Awakening, titled: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God". However, there has been an Edwardsian Renaissance due to the infamous book infamous book "Jonathan Edwards" by Perry Miller, a Harvard University historian. Edwards became widely popular among Evangelicals through the preaching and myriad of writings by Baptist pastor John Piper such as, "God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World)". In last last decade that has been a watershed of work done on Edward's advanced ideas that had hitherto been buried in old notebooks in chicken-scratch writing, but is now freely available at the Yale Jonathan Edwards Center (and the following quotations are from that website).

The Miscellanies 911. BAPTISM OF INFANTS.

God, in his institutions in his church, has respect to the state of his church in its future ages, many times. Thus baptism is calculated for the state of the Christian church in the millennium, when parents will truly give up their children, and so fully, that they shall generally be accepted, and their children will be sanctified in their infancy. That is the proper, appointed season of the application of redemption, the elect season, wherein there will probably be an hundred times more of the application of redemption than in all preceding ages put together; and therefore, the ordinances and means of application are especially calculated for that season.

- Jonathan Edwards [1740], The "Miscellanies," 833-1152 (WJE Online Vol. 20) , Ed. Amy Plantinga Pauw


The Miscellanies 932. PROGRESS OF THE WORK OF REDEMPTION. (Add this to No. 911.)

The glorious times, the proper and appointed season of the APPLICATION of redemption. This is spoken of as the proper time of the first resurrection, Revelation 20:6, and also the proper time of the marriage of the Lamb, and the bringing guests to the marriage supper, Revelation 19:9.

- Jonathan Edwards [1740], The "Miscellanies," 833-1152 (WJE Online Vol. 20) , Ed. Amy Plantinga Pauw

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  1. I would love to believe that this quote demonstrates J.E’s. belief in infant baptism, but it is a very unclear statement; could it not equally be argued that this is only another expression of J.E.’s robust Postmillennialism and a reference to the mighty workings of God’s power at the height of the millennial eon when the full harvest of God’s redemptive purposes has come to pass and “all will know the Lord, from the LEAST to the greatest.”?

    • Jonathan Edwards affirmed infant baptism, it was part of the norm of Puritan congregationalism. They all operated under the Half-Way Covenant. Edwards initially affirmed the half way covenant but later criticized it for allowing communion to people who were not convinced believers. Edwards never challenged infant baptism afaik. Baptists as we know them today did not exist at Edwards time, so it’s anachronistic to think of him as a baptist. You can read Edwards’s ecclesiastical writings online:

      • I know this is an old thread, but I just noticed it. Wyatt said: Baptists as we know them today did not exist at Edwards time, so it’s anachronistic to think of him as a baptist.” Seeing how the LBCF 1644 and 1689 happened years before Edwards was born in 1703, this is an error. If he means no Baptist agrees with the LBCF 1689 today, he is also in error. It is true however that Edwards was a paedo-Baptist.

  2. Jonathan Edwards was a Reformed (Calvinist) theologian……He was not a Baptist….. Anyway, he influences still today all the Reformed Historical Confessions…..Calvinists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists…..Never forget that Baptists originated from Puritans, who were Calvinists.

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