So often people think of the sacrament of circumcision as a physical sign while baptism is a sign of Spiritual renewal. So, these signs might point to Christ, but they have radically different intentions. When we survey scripture we find that this is not necessarily a true distinction with circumcision being physical while baptism is spiritual. In fact, Moses teaches that one being uncircumcised is stating that one is not walking in power of the Lord. So, can we really say that circumcision is not a spiritual sign?
Many times people will say that the sacraments are a sign of our faith. We might not think that it is important to see that sacrament is a sign of God’s faithfulness verses the sign being a sign of my faith. Ultimately we need to look discussion in light of the covenant of grace. Did Abraham receive the sign because of his faith or because of the Lord’s faithfulness? In other words does the sign point to Abraham’s faith or does it point to the promises of God and His faithfulness? What does Paul say in Romans 4:11 regarding the sign that was given to Abraham?
So often I hear that the sacrament of baptism is administered only after someone makes a profession of faith while circumcision is something that is applied to children in the Old Testament. The reason that is given is that the Old Testament was a physical promise tied to a land while the New Testament is about the Spirit working in the lives of God’s people. The appeal is by looking to the book of Acts where we see someone profess their faith and then they receive baptism. If this case is so cut and dry then why is Christ circumcised and baptized? How can these signs encourage a church that is flat scared of what will happen tomorrow?
We continue to consider the themes of the catechism and the issue of baptism. In many ways it is tempting to say that circumcision is associated with the Old Testament and baptism is associated with the New Testament. This could mean that the application of these signs are radically different. What can we see in Scripture that shows us that these signs might have more continuity than discontinuity? Ultimately, what should these signs be communicating to us that can be missed in the context of our discussion on infant baptism?
Normally when we think about the sign of circumcision being instituted we think of Moses. We are also quick to think of this sign as being something that is tied to the flesh with a land promise with very little Spiritual significance. The sign of Baptism on the other hand we may think has great significance in terms of Spiritual blessings. Is this fair? Is this what Paul, Moses, and Abraham would have us take away from this sign?