Historical Evidence and Exegesis

On the question of infant baptism, R.C. Sproul writes [Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1992), 228]:

…it would naturally be assumed in the early church that infants were to be given the sign of the covenant.

History bears witness to this assumption.  The first direct mention of infant baptism is around the middle of the second century A.D.  What is noteworthy about this reference is that it assumes infant baptism to be the universal practice of the church.  If infant baptism were not the practice of the first-century church, how and why did this departure from orthodoxy happen so fast and so pervasively?  Not only was the spread rapid and universal, the extant literature from that time does not reflect any controversy concerning the issue.

But Everett Ferguson claims [Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 856]:

There is general agreement that there is no firm evidence for infant baptism before the latter part of the second century.

Who to believe?

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