Here is why I have considered, multiple times momentarily, becoming a Presbyterian:
- The continuity of Scripture- God had a covenant people in the OT. Everyone in that covenant people was commanded to give the covenant sign (circumcision) to their sons. God has a covenant people in the NT. Is there a connection between these two covenant people or not? Is the Church a completely new thing God just thought up after Israel fails over and over? Is the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31 something that God thought up during the lifetime of Jeremiah? If your answer is yes, no, and no, then I think you believe in a basic continuity between the OT and the NT. In that case, since the Old Covenant people gave the covenant sign to infants, the assumption should be that the New Covenant people will also give the covenant sign (baptism) to infants.
- The fact that God works through covenants- Presbyterians are most centrally linked with Covenant Theology. This is a discussion for another day, but every Christian will find him/herself along the spectrum of Covenant vs. Dispensational theology. Because the latter has morphed, some of the differences are not as definite anymore. Still, “covenant” is a category I did not ever think much about before reading and listening to Presbyterians. Now, I cannot not see it in the Bible.
- The meaning of the sacraments- Are baptism and the Lord’s Supper more about what Christians do or more about what God has done? Maybe it’s an unfair question, but they are gospel signs, and the gospel is most definitely about what God has done to save. If so, then it makes sense that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are like accepting God’s promises to save us. Circumcision seemed to be an acceptance by Abraham that God was going to save him and his offspring. If there is continuity between the Old and New Covenants, then baptism could easily be seen as the acceptance that God will save believers and their offspring.
- Problem passages for Baptists- Acts 2.39 says the promise of salvation is “for you and your children” (sounds similar to circumcision). Acts 16.13-15, Acts 16.33, and 1 Corinthians 1.16 all refer to whole households being baptized (if I see a basic continuity in Scripture, it follows that the households includes the baptism of infants, if there were indeed infants). 1 Corinthians 7 refers to the children of believers being sanctified (v14, fits really nicely to see baptized children as being holy/set apart from the world by parents, while pagan children are not). Ephesians 6.1 commands children to obey parents (no distinction is made between believing and unbelieving children; no distinction between children we see as part of the Church, and those we do not; perhaps it is because every child in the church is baptized, and therefore a part of the church automatically).
- History- Zwingli and Calvin, Owen and Baxter, Edwards and Whitfield, Ryle and Lloyd-Jones (yes, not sure any would technically be Presbyterians, but infant baptizers nonetheless). Westminster Confession of Faith. Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, Francis Schaefer. Today, R.C. Sproul, Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, Kevin DeYoung, Sinclair Ferguson, Michael Horton, John Frame. Westminster Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary. The list goes on and on.
- Practical reasons- it would be nice to not worry about whether someone needs to be re-“baptized” or not. It would be nice to not be blocked in automatically with many Baptists who are either Dispensational or Fundamentalist or Arminian or passionate about right-wing politics or against eldership or Cessationist or all of the above or some combination thereof (no disrespect, just not my cup of tea, and it seems to be a barrier in many conversations). It would be nice to not have my conscience pricked when someone baptized as an infant might partake of the Lord’s Supper at our church.
I hope that gives you a good idea of why I have wrestled. I will attempt to think honestly and biblically about each of these, and hopefully you will get a sense as to why I am much more convictionally Baptist now.