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The following articles on Infant Baptism, written by those who believe in it, were sent to me by Email by someone who did not give a return address. I have given them in full below. The words in CAPITAL LETTERS are comments made by someone at my request who does not think Infant Baptism is Scriptural although he does not question the genuine sincere faith of many who believe in it. The capital letters are not meant to be shouting or to be forceful, they merely distinguish his words.
The hope is that this will enable the reader to see both sides of the argument, without hostility, and come to their own opinion. We do not believe that the question, however important, is crucial to being a Christian.
Infant Baptism by Jordan Bajis
"Should I be baptized again?” Many renewed Orthodox Christians have asked themselves and others whether they should be baptized as adults. I readily understand why this question is asked, for I myself must admit that I did not always feel comfortable about the Orthodox Church baptizing infants. I asked myself several other questions as well: "How can an infant 'believe and be baptized'?" "Where in Scripture does it show an infant being baptized?" "Is not the baptizing of infants the reason why the contemporary Orthodox Church has a need for renewal and re-evangelization?"
These questions were so significant to me that I refused to actively support or encourage the practice of infant baptism until I was able to get some satisfactory answers. On one occasion I even rejected the honor of being the best man at a close friend's wedding unless he was willing to absolve me of the accompanying responsibility of being the baptismal sponsor for his first child. Only after he agreed to my request did I consent to become his best man.
Knowing that as a committed Christian I could not refrain indefinitely from making a decision on this matter, I embarked on an intensive study of Scripture and early Christian history. I resolved that I would not finish my study until I had settled the issue in my mind and in my heart. Surprisingly, the area was much more complex than I first envisioned it to be. I must admit at the outset it looked as though the argument for infant baptism was about as valid as the theory that the earth was cigar-shaped. However, I uncovered many facts that are usually unknown to the common layman and which I think will prove helpful for those who are now in a doctrinal dilemma similar to the one I was in previously. I can now say, after having looked into the arguments of some of the most respected scholars on this subject, that there is a very strong case for the baptism of infants of Christian parents.
Before I begin to share some of the things I discovered, I think it is important to note that, although I have dedicated months to the thorough study of this subject, I do not pretend to be a theologian, professor of Church history, or Greek scholar. I am not an expert on the subject; I am a student of the subject. It is also important to note, however, that the evidences and arguments I produce here are, in the main, not my own but rather a synthesis of research and conclusions distilled from several noteworthy scholars. It is not my purpose to be overly technical, to illustrate the minute peculiarity of each counter-argument's counter-argument, or to take the reader back to study the original documents in order to discuss grammatical controversies surrounding the texts. It is not that I consider these types of investigations unimportant, but I simply restrained myself from doing this because I do not think it is very profitable for the average layman. The scholars are much better qualified than I to define and explain these more exacting details, in any case.
Given this preface, let me get to the point of the article. How is it that I can now recognize infant baptism as a valid practice whereas before I was highly distrustful of it? I will record a number of reasons for this below in as straightforward and direct a way as I know. Some facts will require a bit of explanation, but many will consist of only a sentence or two. At the close of the list, I will offer some concluding thoughts and insights about infant baptism. I have categorized the evidence supporting the practice of infant baptism into three main sections: Scripture, History, and the Fathers of the Early Church. I recognize that each argument may not be able to stand on its own, but taken together they present a conclusive picture.
1 ) Peter's Sermon-The first time the Gospel was ever proclaimed was on the day of Pentecost by the Apostle Peter. In his Spirit-inspired sermon he made it clear that the blessing and promise of salvation was not just for adults, but for children as well. "And Peter said to them, 'Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself " (Acts 2:38,39).
It is also interesting to note that this quote from Peter's Pentecostal sermon does not merely state "... the promise is for you and children," but "for you and your children," which makes it clear that the children mentioned here were young enough to still be considered under the protection and authority of their parents. This is underscored when one understands that it was common for women and men to marry at the very young ages of twelve and thirteen, respectively. From this it becomes reasonable to assume that these children to whom Peter refers were young juveniles or, at the very least, in their preadolescence.
BUT CONSIDER THE FACT THAT THIS ALL INCLUSIVE STATEMENT (WHICH WAS NOT STATED WITH A BACKGROUND OF REFORMED THEOLOGY) FINISHES WITH ‘AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD SHALL CALL TO HIMSELF’. THIS EXCLUDES INFANTS, WHO CANNOT MAKE SUCH A RESPONSE, FOR HIS HEARERS WOULD UNDOUBTEDLY UNDERSTAND IT TO REFER TO THEIR SPECIFIC RESPONSE TO THE MESSAGE OF THE APOSTLES THROUGH GOD’S CALL, ESPECIALLY AS IT IS LINKED WITH REPENTANCE. FURTHERMORE PETER’S POINT IS THAT THE GOSPEL HAD REFERENCE TO ALL, TO THE PRESENT GENERATION, TO THE FUTURE GENERATION, AND TO PEOPLES FAR AND WIDE. IT IS TO MISUSE HIS WORDS TO SUGGEST THAT THEY MEAN ‘FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN AS THEY ARE AT THIS PRESENT TIME’. IT MEANS ‘FOR YOUR CHILDREN WHENEVER GOD WILL CALL THEM’. SO THIS PASSAGE CANNOT BE SEEN AS SUPPORTING INFANT BAPTISM.
2) The Baptism of Households-Although this is only indirect Scriptural evidence, the fact that the Bible mentions that entire "households" were baptized does make it seem probable that children and infants were included. "Now I did baptize the household of Stephanas . . . " (I Corinthians 1:16) (An angel spoke to Cornelius saying) "Send to Joppa, and have Simon, who is called Peter, brought here; and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, and all your household " (Later, when Peter arrived at (Cornelius' household) "... he ordered them to be baptized."(Acts 11:13b, 14; Acts 10:48a) "And when she (Lydia of Thyatira) and her household had been baptized . . . " (Acts 16:15a) "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household . . . and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. " (Acts 16:31, 33b) We know that the Greek word oikos, translated "house" or "household," has traditionally included infants and children in its meaning for several reasons. There is no evidence of this word being used either in secular Greek, Biblical Greek,or in the writing of Hellenistic Judaism in a way which would restrict its meaning only to adults. The Old Testament parallel for "house" carries the sense of the entire family. The Greek translation of the original Hebrew manuscripts (completed in 250 B.C.) uses this word when translating the Hebrew word meaning the complete family (men, women, children, infants). Similarly, we know that the phrase "he and his house" refers to the total family; the Old Testament use of this phrase clearly demonstrates this by specifically mentioning the presence of children and infants at times.
THE USE OF THE TERM ‘HOUSEHOLD’ IS TOTALLY NEUTRAL. HOW WIDE ITS SIGNIFICANCE WAS AT ANY TIME DEPENDED SOLELY ON THE INTENTION OF THE SPEAKER. IF I SAY ‘YOUR FAMILY ARE ALL DRUNKARDS’ IT WOULD BE FOLLY TO SUGGEST THAT I WAS INCLUDING THE INFANTS, EVEN THOUGH IT MIGHT BE POTENTIALLY TRUE. NOR DO I EXPECT TO HAVE TO SAY ‘EXCEPT FOR THE INFANTS’. THUS IT IS THE CONTEXT THAT MUST DETERMINE HOW WIDELY WE TAKE ITS MEANING. IN THE CONTEXTS ABOVE THERE ARE, IN THE LIGHT OF NO INFORMATION ABOUT INFANT BAPTISM ELSEWHERE, PERFECTLY GOOD GROUNDS FOR UNDERSTANDING IT TO REFER TO ‘ADULTS’ OF THE HOUSEHOLD, THOSE ABLE TO MAKE A RESPONSE. INDEED IN ACTS 16.34 IT IS ‘ALL THE HOUSE’ WHO HAVE ‘BELIEVED’ IN GOD WHO ARE BAPTISED. THIS THUS EXCLUDES INFANTS. IN ACTS 10.47-48 IT IS THOSE WHO HAVE SPOKEN IN TONGUES AND THUS MANIFESTED THE SPIRIT WHO ARE TO BE BAPTISED. IN ACTS 16.15 AND 1 CORINTHIANS 1.16 IT IS NEUTRAL, WITH THE PROBABILITY (IN THE LIGHT OF OTHER SCRIPTURES) BEING THAT IT REFERS TO THE ADULTS OF THE HOUSEHOLD WHO COULD PERSONALLY RESPOND.
3) No Baptism of Older Children of Christian Parents Recorded-If the baptism of infants was not acceptable during New Testament times, then when does Scripture mention the alternative-the baptism of the children of Christian parents once they have matured out of infancy? The Bible never gives one example of the baptism of a Christian child as an adult. It is important that Scripture also does not speak of an "age of accountability or reason" (which many pinpoint at 13 years) when a child's capacity to believe the Gospel is developed enough so that he can receive baptism. Neither does the Bible state that every child is in a "suspended state of salvation" until they have reached this age, which one would have to believe if he held to the "age of accountability" theory.
THE NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS DID NOT STATE AN AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY BECAUSE NO SUCH AGE WAS RECOGNISED. THE POINT WAS THAT WHEN A GENUINE RESPONSE OF FAITH WAS DISCERNED ACCOMPANIED BY A DESIRE TO RESPOND TO CHRIST IN BAPTISM, DEMONSTRATING THE PRESENCE OF THE GRACIOUS WORKING OF GOD, A PERSON WOULD THEN BE BAPTISED AT ANY AGE.
IT IS NOTEWORTHY THAT PAUL RECOGNISES THAT INFANTS ARE BROUGHT WITHIN THE SPHERE OF GOD’S CONCERN FROM BIRTH BUT DOES NOT LINK IT WITH BAPTISM. IT IS THE BIRTH INTO A FAMILY WHERE THE PRESENCE OF ONE CHRISTIAN ‘SANCTIFIES’ BOTH THE MARRIAGE AND THE UNBELIEVING PARTNER THAT RESULTS IN THE CHILDREN BEING ‘CLEAN’. IT IS THE PRESENCE AND PARTICIPATION OF THE CHRISTIAN THAT SANCTIFIES, NOT BAPTISM (1 CORINTHIANS 7.12-14). IF PAUL HAD GIVEN INFANT BAPTISM THE SACERDOTAL EMPHASIS THAT CAME IN LATER CENTURIES HE WOULD SURELY HAVE MENTIONED IT HERE!
4) The Saving Power of Christ's Presence in Holy Baptism-Although an opponent of infant baptism, Dr. Jewett, in his book Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, makes a very logical conclusion about baptism if it is understood to be a release of supernatural power; " one believes that baptism washes away the guilt of eternal sin, so that any one departing this life without it is in danger of eternal damnation, he will have good reason to conclude that infants should be baptized. In fact, the question of infant baptism can hardly be raised without such a sacramental theology, since an affirmative answer is a foregone conclusion."
Certainly if there were a taint of sin upon each who is born in this world, there would be a need for every person to be cleansed from this impurity before leaving the temporal life. The Bible's "sacramental theology" states that there is such a need since ". . . through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men." (Romans 5:12) For this reason ". . . there are none righteous, not even one" (i.e. not infants). (Romans 3:10) How are these young ones saved from the sin they have received from Adam's race?
THIS IS RAISING QUESTIONS WE CANNOT ANSWER, FOR QUITE FRANKLY IT IS TALKING ABOUT THINGS WE CANNOT FULLY UNDERSTAND WHICH ARE FOR THAT REASON HOTLY DISPUTED. THAT THERE IS ‘ORIGINAL SIN’ IS SCRIPTURAL. WHAT IT SIGNIFIES HOWEVER IS ANOTHER MATTER. WHAT, FOR EXAMPLE, DOES THE ‘TAINT OF SIN’ MEAN? SURELY NOT THE TAINT OF PERSONAL GUILT (ALTHOUGH SOME SACERDOTALISTS TAKE IT THAT WAY). AN INFANT CANNOT BE MORALLY GUILTY.
ARE WE REALLY GOING TO SUGGEST THAT BAPTISM REMOVES THIS TAINT? THAT IS NOWHERE SUGGESTED IN SCRIPTURE. THE WHOLE POINT IS THAT THAT ‘TAINT OF SIN’ CONTINUES THROUGH LIFE WHICH IS WHY ALL PEOPLE MUST DIE (UNTIL THE RAPTURE). TO TEACH THAT BAPTISM REMOVES THE TAINT OF SIN IS TO MAKE BAPTISM A PRIMITIVE CONCEPTION WHEREAS SCRIPTURE RAISES IT ABOVE THE FORMER THINGS WHICH HAVE PASSED AWAY.
THE FACT IS THAT THE EMPHASIS IN BAPTISM IS NOT ON CLEANSING (THAT IS A LATER MISINTERPRETATION) IT IS ON HAVING PARTICIPATED IN THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, OF HAVING RECEIVED SPIRITUAL LIFE. IN FACT THE BAPTISED INFANT WILL OFTEN DIE AS AN INFANT. THUS IT HAS SUFFERED THE PUNISHMENT FOR THE ‘SIN IT RECEIVED FROM ADAM’S RACE’ EVEN THOUGH IT HAD BEEN BAPTISED.
They are saved through the regenerative power of baptism and the faith of the Church (i.e. the Christian faithful): "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration baptism) and renewing by the Holy Spirit." Titus 3:5) "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. "(Acts 2:38)
THE ‘REGENERATIVE POWER OF BAPTISM’ IS MAN’S INVENTION NOT A BIBLICAL CONCEPT. BAPTISM IS NOT THE MEANS OF REGENERATION. OTHERWISE HOW WOULD MANY CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN BAPTISED BE REGENERATE, AS THEY ARE? IT IS GOD WHO REGENERATES AND HE IS NOT LIMITED BY MEN’S SACERDOTAL ACTS. THE ‘WASHING OF REGENERATION’ HAS NO DIRECT CONNECTION WITH BAPTISM, IT SYMBOLISES THE HEAVENLY RAINS THAT RENEW THE EARTH. IF WE CONNECT IT WITH BAPTISM IT MUST BE BAPTISM AS SYMBOLISING THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND ACTS 2.38 ACTUALLY DEMANDS REPENTANCE BEFORE BAPTISM. "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.' " (John 3:5) ". AGAIN THE THOUGHT BEHIND THIS PASSAGE IS OF THE REGENERATIVE POWER OF WATER AS SEEN IN LIFE SPRINGING UP AFTER RAIN. AGAIN THIS DOES NOT MEAN BAPTISM, ALTHOUGH BAPTISM ILLUSTRATES IT. JESUS SEEMS ONLY TO HAVE ENCOURAGED BAPTISM (PRIOR TO HIS DEATH) WHILE HE WAS ENGAGING IN A SUPPORTIVE MINISTRY TO JOHN THE BAPTISER. IT WAS NOT PART OF HIS OWN MINISTRY. JOHN’S BAPTISM POINTED AHEAD TO THE COMING OF THE SPIRIT-FILLED ONE, THE ‘BAPTISER IN THE HOLY SPIRIT’. ONCE HIS MINISTRY HAD BEGUN IN ITS OWN RIGHT BAPTISM APPEARS TO HAVE CEASED. ONLY WHEN ‘THE BAPTISER IN THE HOLY SPIRIT’ HAD GONE WAS THE SYMBOL REINTRODUCED AS AN EARTHLY TESTIMONY TO THE PRESENCE AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
. . when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water, and corresponding to that, baptism now saves you. " (I Peter 3:20,21)
AS A MATTER OF FACT THE EIGHT DID NOT INCLUDE INFANTS. BUT THE ILLUSTRATION IS GENERAL. WHAT PETER MEANS CAN ONLY BE GATHERED ELSEWHERE.
Baptism is not just a symbolic testimony of what God has done in the heart of an adult believer, but is in itself a dynamic means of actually effecting the power of the Gospel (the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) in a life (Romans 6:4).
NEVER. BAPTISM IS NEVER DEPICTED IN THE SCRIPTURES AS A DYNAMIC MEANS OF ACTUALLY EFFECTING THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL. PAUL MAKES QUITE CLEAR THE SECONDARY SIGNIFICANCE OF BAPTISM IN THIS MATTER IN THE ACTUAL CONTEXT WHERE HE REVEALS THAT IT IS THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS WHICH IS THE DYNAMIC MEANS OF ACTUALLY EFFECTING THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL (1 CORINTHIANS 1.17), WITH BAPTISM FOLLOWING.
Christian baptism is the means whereby we encounter and identify with Jesus Christ Himself. This is one of the reasons why Paul explains baptism as the manner in which we genuinely "put on" or"clothe" ourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:27). This is not just a metaphor, the Lord actually transforms a person through his baptism.
WE ENCOUNTER AND IDENTIFY WITH JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF BY RESPONSIVE FAITH, WITH OR WITHOUT BAPTISM. THAT ONE WHO HAS BECOME A CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE BAPTISED IS MADE CLEAR. BUT IT IS AS AN OUTWARD SYMBOL TO THE WORLD AND A PERSONAL DECLARATION OF FAITH IN CHRIST, AND IS, AS WAS JOHN’S BAPTISM, AN ACTED OUT PROPHECY DECLARING THAT THE PERSON HAS, OR SEEKS TO, RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT. TO SAY THAT THE LORD ACTUALLY TRANSFORMS A PERSON THROUGH BAPTISM IS PURE SACERDOTALISM AND CONTRARY TO THE CENTRAL MESSAGE OF JESUS, ALTHOUGH THE EXPERIENCE MAY WORK IN A TRANSFORMING WAY ON SOMEONE RATIONALLY CONSCIOUS OF THE EXPERIENCE WHO HAS HAD SOME INSTRUCTION.
5) The Old Testament Symbols of Salvation and Baptism Include Infants-
a) Circumcision, the sign of God's covenant between the people of Abraham and Himself, was performed on every male child who was eight days old(Genesis 17:12). Many see a direct parallel between circumcision and Christian baptism in Scriptural passages such as Colossians 2:11,12: "And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism . . . " If baptism is the "New Testament circumcision" there can definitely be no objection to "sealing" the infant of a consecrated Christian family in Christ's New Covenant.
CIRCUMCISION IS OF COURSE ONLY USED AS AN ILLUSTRATION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND REFERS TO CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART, SOMETHING ONLY SPOKEN OF AS HAPPENING TO ‘ADULTS’ (I.E. RESPONSIVE PEOPLE) IN THE OLD TESTAMENT (DEUTERONOMY 30.6; JEREMIAH 4.4). IT IS THE SEEING OF BAPTISM AS REPLACING PHYSICAL CIRCUMCISION, ONE RITUAL REPLACED BY ANOTHER, THAT TOTALLY MISREPRESENTS BAPTISM. THE POINT OF COLOSSIANS 2.11-12 IS THAT THOSE WHO HAVE OPENLY RESPONDED TO CHRIST AND HAVE THUS BEEN BAPTISED HAVE UNDERGONE THE TRUE CIRCUMCISION, THE CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART BY SPIRITUAL RENEWAL AND TRANSFORMATION.
NOTE PAUL’S ARGUMENT ABOUT ABRAHAM IN ROMANS 4.9-12 WHERE HE STRESSES THAT HE WAS DECLARED RIGHTEOUS BEFORE HE WAS CIRCUMCISED, CIRCUMCISION BEING THE SEAL OF WHAT HE ALREADY HAD.
b) Moses' leading his people through the Red Sea is seen as an Old Testament foreshadowing of Christian baptism. The following New Testament passage clearly points to this: "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ." (I Corinthians 10:1-4). Christ." (I Corinthians 10:1-4)
It is worthwhile to note that "all were baptized" through Moses' leadership in crossing over the Red Sea. He did not leave the infants or children on the shores of Egypt to become prey to the angry armies of Pharaoh because they were not old enough to believe in the promise of the Old Covenant. Rather, entrusted to the arms of their parents' faith, they were carried through the "baptism of Moses."
ONE REALLY CANNOT ARGUE FROM A GENERAL ILLUSTRATION TO A PARTICULAR APPLICATION. (IF WE REALLY WISH TO BE PARTICULAR PAUL ONLY REFERRED TO ‘OUR FATHERS’ THUS EXCLUDING WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN HIS ILLUSTRATION).
c) The saving of Noah's entire family by the ark can also be seen as a prefigurement of a baptism which includes infants. All that needs to be said, as in the case of Moses' passing through the Red Sea, is that the entire family was on board the ark. Why should we leave infants out of the ark of baptism?
SPECIFICALLY ONLY EIGHT PERSONS WERE ON THE ARK. HARDLY THE ENTIRE FAMILY UNLESS NOAH WAS REMARKABLY UNPRODUCTIVE, UNLIKE HIS ANCESTORS.
6) Secular Philosophy Redefines "Faith" and "Person hood"- Larry Christenson, in his pamphlet What About Baptism', quotes Edmund Schlink (author of The Doctrine of Baptism) as stating that the rejection of infant baptism was based on the secular philosophy of the sixteenth century which assured man's individuality, and was not the result of a new Scriptural inquiry. " 'Belief was seen in rationalistic and volitional terms, as an act of the mind and the will. 'Because an infant cannot think or decide, it cannot have faith, and therefore should not be baptized.' To this day that is the only argument raised against the validity of infant baptism. One tosses off the sentence as though it were self-evident truth: 'A child can't believe.' But that 'truth,' upon examination, is neither self-evident, nor is it Biblical."
IT IS A METHOD OF FALSE ARGUMENT TO TRY TO LINK WHAT WE ARE ARGUING AGAINST TO SOME SPECIFIC PHILOSOPHY SO THAT WE CAN KNOCK IT DOWN. EQUALLY WE COULD LINK INFANT BAPTISM TO THE CLEAR LACK OF SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT EVINCED BY POST-APOSTOLIC AUTHORS. BUT BAPTISM MUST SOLELY BE INTERPRETED IN TERMS OF SCRIPTURAL TEACHING NOT OF SOME SUPPOSED CONNECTION WITH THIS OR THAT MOVEMENT WHICH IS TOTALLY CONJECTURAL AND UNDEMONSTRABLE. BUT THE SUGGESTION THAT A BABE IN ARMS CAN ‘BELIEVE’ IS DISTORTING WORDS. IT BELIEVES ONLY IN ITS MOTHER.
As Christenson goes on to say, faith is not merely a product of reason but relation. It is a relationship of love and trust, a relationship which is not limited to the mind. Some Scriptures which support the possibility of an "infant faith" are these: "Yet Thou are He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother's breast." (Psalm 22:9) "And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea." (Mark 9:42) "For behold, when the sound of your greeting (Theotokos) reached my ears (Elizabeth), the baby (John the Baptist) leaped in my womb for joy." (Luke 1:44)
SHOULD WE APPLY THESE TO INFANCY WE WILL BE PRODUCING A KIND OF FAITH WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH NEW TESTAMENT FAITH. BUT THE PSALMS ARE POETRY. WE MUST INTERPRET THEM AS SUCH. AND ANYWAY THE PSALMIST IS MERELY SAYING THAT IT WAS HIS MOTHER WHO TAUGHT HIM TO TRUST IN GOD.
THE LITTLE ONES WHO STUMBLE ARE THOSE OF AN AGE TO BE ABLE TO STUMBLE NOT BABES IN ARMS. THE BABE JUMPING IN THE WOMB WAS A MOTHER’S INTERPRETATION OF A PHYSICAL OCCURRENCE NOT A DOCTRINAL STATEMENT. IF INFANT BAPTISM RESTS ON SUCH VERSES, WOE TO INFANT BAPTISM.
IT IS ACTUALLY IRRELEVANT TO THE QUESTION OF THE INTERPRETATION OF NEW TESTAMENT BAPTISM WHAT LATER CHURCH HISTORY REVEALS. I WOULD NOT WANT TO JUDGE PAUL’S THEOLOGY BY ITS MISUNDERSTANDING AMONG THE EARLY FATHERS, OR THE LATER FATHERS.
THE SECOND CENTURY CHURCH, AND THE LATER CHURCH, REVEALED QUITE CLEARLY THAT THEY STRUGGLED IN THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, LIMITED BY THEIR RESTRICTED SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING. IT IS REMARKABLE HOW QUICKLY PAUL’S DOCTRINES BECAME TOTALLY MISUNDERSTOOD AND MISINTERPRETED, EVEN BY CLEMENT OF ROME AND IGNATIUS, TWO POST-APOSTOLIC ‘STARS’. THEY JUST DID NOT UNDERSTAND HIM OR RIGHTLY UNDERSTAND HIS MESSAGE. GODLY MEN THEY WERE BUT THEY HAD STRANGE IDEAS AND A TOTAL LACK OF APPRECIATION OF WHAT WAS CENTRAL TO PAUL.
THUS THE CHURCH BECAME SACERDOTALLY INCLINED, INFLUENCED BY ITS SURROUNDINGS, REPLACING MUCH OF THE WORD OF TRUTH WITH RITUAL. ON THE WHOLE THE EARLY FATHERS DID NOT INTERPRET SCRIPTURE SPECIFICALLY. THEY GAVE THEIR OWN IDEAS, PARTLY IT IS TRUE FASHIONED BY SCRIPTURE, BUT NOT IN ANY CAREFULLY CONSTRUCTED FASHION, AND THREW IN AN OCCASIONAL QUOTE TO CONNECT THEM WITH THE SCRIPTURES.
1) Polycarp stated his martyrdom (167/8A.D.) that he had been in the "service of Christ" for eighty-six years. Other recorded dates from Polycarp's life make it likely that eighty-six years was his age from birth. Jaochim Jeremias, in The Origins of Infant Baptism, concludes the following from these facts: "This shows at any rate that his parents were already Christians, or at least were converted quite soon after his birth. If his parents were pagans at his birth, he would have been baptized with the 'house' at their conversion (AN ASSUMPTION). But even if his parents were Christians, the words 'service of Christ for eighty-six years' supports a baptism soon after his birth rather than one as a child of 'mature years' . . . for which there is no evidence at all."
NOR IS THERE ANY EVIDENCE THAT IT RELATES TO HIS INFANCY. WE JUST DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH FACTS TO BE CERTAIN.
Jeremias supposes something similar for Polycrates of Ephesus. (NOTE THE ‘SUPPOSES’). In 190/91, when writing to Rome concerning the dispute over Easter, Polycrates states that he is "sixty five years in the Lord." Since this reference to his age is made "because of his concern for his long unimpeachable Christian standing," Jeremias postulates that his baptism "took place soon after birth, rather than that there was an age limit for baptism."
(AS HE SAYS HE ‘POSTULATES’ - IT IS A MERE SPECULATIVE INTERPRETATION).
Justin Martyr gives still another testimony to the practice of infant baptism by stating that many old men and women of sixty and seventy years of age had been disciples of Christ from childhood.
EVEN IF WE EQUATE ‘BEING DISCIPLES’ WITH BAPTISM IT ONLY PROVES WHAT IT SAYS. THAT THEY HAD BEEN DISCIPLES FROM CHILDHOOD. THERE ARE NO SCRIPTURAL GROUNDS FOR REFUSING BAPTISM TO RESPONSIVE CHILDREN AND IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE THAT THEY BAPTISED CHILDREN WHO SHOWED A GENUINE FAITH BUT THAT IS DIFFERENT FROM INFANT BAPTISM.
2) No incident is recorded in the earliest of Christian history which gives evidence that baptism was forbidden to any person on the basis of an age limit, or that the right of a Christian parent to have his children baptized had ever been challenged or renounced.
AS WE HAVE SO LITTLE KNOWLEDGE OF EARLY CHRISTIAN HISTORY THIS IS HARDLY SURPRISING. WE ALSO HAVE NO EVIDENCE FOR INFANT BAPTISM AS HAPPENING. IF IT DID NOT WE WOULD NOT EXPECT IT TO BE FORBIDDEN. INDEED WE CANNOT BE SURE FROM SUCH EARLY HISTORY WHICH NEW TESTAMENT BOOKS WERE ACCEPTED AS ‘INSPIRED’ AND HOW THEY WERE VIEWED, AND THAT IS A FAR MORE IMPORTANT QUESTION. CORRECT EXEGESIS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS SADLY LACKING ALTOGETHER AND THERE WERE ONLY VAGUE INDIRECT REFERENCES. IF WE JUDGE MOST DOCTRINES ON THIS BASIS WE WILL BE LEFT WITH VERY LITTLE.
3) Although several examples exist from the third century of the children of Christians being baptized as infants, in all of the literature and collections of inscriptions from that century there is not a single example of Christian parents delaying the baptism of their children.
THE ‘EXAMPLES’ RELATE TO NORTH AFRICA AND ASSUME SOME DISAGREEMENT. IF YOU READ THE THIRD CENTURY LITERATURE YOU WILL NOT BE SURPRISED THAT NO EXAMPLES ARE GIVEN. WHY SHOULD THEY BE? THE LITERATURE WAS CONCERNED WITH OTHER MATTERS AND WAS HARDLY HIGHLY SCRIPTURAL. THE FEW THIRD CENTURY WRITERS OF WHOM WE HAVE ANY RECORD WERE NOT MODELS OF BIBLE EXPOSITION AND SCRIPTURAL TRUTH. IN FACT THEY WERE OFTEN WAY OFF. BUT SOME OF THEIR STATEMENTS ABOUT BAPTISM DO REVEAL THAT THERE WERE CERTAINLY MANY WHO DID NOT PRACTISE INFANT BAPTISM, OTHERWISE WHY ARGUE FOR IT?
4) Neither the Ebionites, Novatians, Arians, Donatists, Montanists, nor any other early heresy refuted infant baptism; many were even noted as practicing it.
THIS IS HARDLY GOOD EVIDENCE OF CORRECT PRACTISE. HERETICAL SECTS WITH STRANGE IDEAS! BUT I WOULD BE INTERESTED TO SEE THE SO-CALLED EVIDENCE ARGUED, EVEN THOUGH IT IS REALLY IRRELEVANT. AGAIN IT IS LATE EVIDENCE. BUT THE WHOLE POINT ABOUT SUCH SECTS WAS THAT THEY HAD DEVIATED FROM CHRISTIAN TRUTH EVEN MORE THAN THE ORTHODOX. WE COULD ARGUE THAT IT WAS FROM THESE STRANGE SECTS THAT THE IDEAS FILTERED INTO THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH BECAUSE OF THEIR POPULARITY (IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM).
5) A significant parallel exists between Jewish proselyte baptism (when pagans were converted to Judaism) and early Christian baptism. The contacts between early Christian baptism and proselyte baptism, with the similarities in terminology, interpretation, symbolism, and the rite itself, are especially notable. What is of greatest interest, however, is that the baptism of the early Church followed that of proselyte baptism, in which children and infants were baptized with the convert's family. This is especially significant when one realizes that the very early Church was made up primarily of converted Jews.
‘SIGNIFICANT’ IS VERY MUCH OVERSTATING THE CASE AND EXAGGERATING THE SO-CALLED EVIDENCE. IT IS VERY DOUBTFUL WHETHER THERE WAS ANY SIMILARITY BETWEEN THE JEWISH PROSELYTE WASHING AND EARLY CHRISTIAN BAPTISM. THE JEWISH WASHING WAS A RITUAL DEPICTING BEING ‘MADE CLEAN’ FROM THE RITUAL UNCLEANNESS OF THE GENTILE WORLD. ANY SEEMING SIMILARITIES, WHICH WERE IN FACT ONLY FROM RARE RABBINIC PARABOLIC STATEMENTS WHICH COULD MEAN ANYTHING, COULD BE DEPICTED AS THE ‘BORROWING’ OF IDEAS. BUT THEY WERE ANYWAY MINOR.
6) There is no evidence that anyone being against infant baptism in the early Church on the grounds that you must first "believe" and be baptized. Tertulian (160 230 A.D.), was the only one who questioned infant baptism. The bulk of his objection, however, was due to his heresy that sin after baptism was almost unforgivable.
THERE IS NO REASON TO THINK THAT THEY SAW THE TIMING OF BAPTISM AS SOMETHING TO BE ARGUED ABOUT. NO ONE ARGUED FOR IT EITHER. IT COULD EQUALLY BE ARGUED THAT THEY NEVER MENTIONED BAPTISM BECAUSE ALL ACCEPTED IT AS ONLY OCCURRING IN POSITIVE BELIEVERS.
7) Cyprian, a leading bishop of North Africa, convened a synod of sixty-six bishops at Carthage to discuss whether or not they felt that infant baptism should be delayed until the eighth day after birth instead of the usual second or third day. Their unanimous decision upheld the universally accepted practice which they had always followed.
CYPRIAN MAY SEEM TO BE CLOSE TO THE APOSTOLIC AGE BUT HE WAS ACTUALLY TWO HUNDRED YEARS LATER AND NOT A MODEL OF SCRIPTURE EXPOSITION. 200 YEARS IS A LONG TIME IN THEOLOGY, ESPECIALLY WHEN LIBRARIES WERE RARE. AND THUS HE MERELY SHOWS WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN NORTH AFRICA AT THE TIME. BUT BY THIS TIME SACERDOTALISM (HELPED ON LATER BY ALL THE PAGAN PRIESTS BECOMING CHRISTIAN PRIESTS AT THE INSTIGATION OF CONSTANTINE) WAS TAKING OVER AND THE WRITINGS WE HAVE PRESERVED WERE GENERALLY SACERDOTAL, THE LATER CHURCH MADE SURE OF THAT.
EARLY CHURCH FATHERS
1) A very early Christian teacher, Irenaeus (120-202 A.D.), wrote the following: " He came to save all through Himself-all I say, who through Him are reborn in God-infants, and children, and youth, and old men. Therefore He passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age, and at the same time becoming for them an example of piety, of righteousness, and of submission; a young man for youths, becoming an example for youths and sanctifying them for the Lord."
Here we read that Jesus Christ came that all might be reborn in God. "How can an infant be reborn if he cannot believe?" a person may ask. I ask in return, "How can an infant be reborn if his Christian parents have refrained from baptizing him?" Is a child who has not reached the "age of accountability/ reason" not reborn until he reaches the age of thirteen when he then needs to be reborn?
TO EQUATE BEING REBORN DIRECTLY WITH BAPTISM IS TO MAKE AN INVALID AND DOUBTFUL ASSUMPTION. IT IS TO ASSUME WHAT IT IS TRYING TO PROVE. WHAT IRENAEUS WAS PROBABLY SAYING ABOUT INFANTS WAS THAT THEY WERE SAFE IN GOD, NOT HAVING REACHED THE AGE OF ACTUAL SIN.
2) Origen's (185-254 A.D.) view of baptism is direct and transparent: "For what is sin? Could a child who has only just been born commit a sin? And yet he has sin for which it is commanded to offer a sacrifice, as Job 14:4ff and Psalm 51:5-7 show. For this reason the Church received from the Apostles the tradition to administer baptism to the children also. For the men to whom the secrets of divine mysteries had been entrusted knew that in everyone there were genuine sinful defilements, which had to be washed away with water and the Spirit."
WHILE WE AGREE THAT THIS IS EVIDENCE OF INFANT BAPTISM IN THE NORTH AFRICAN CHURCH IN THE THIRD CENTURY AD, THE QUOTATIONS DO NOT SUPPORT HIS CASE. BUT THAT IS ANOTHER MATTER.
In his Homily on Luke he again states his beliefs on infant baptism: 'Infants are baptized for the remission of sins. What sins? Whenever have they sinned? In fact, of course, never. And yet: 'No one is free from defilement.' (Job 14:4) But defilement is only put away by the mystery of baptism. That is the reason why infants too are baptized. "
I HOPE THOSE WHO CITE ORIGEN (A NORTH AFRICAN) ALSO CITE HIS OTHER TEACHING. HE WAS SO EXTREME THAT EVEN THE LATER ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH BRANDED HIM A HERETIC. WHILE HAVING A BRILLIANT MIND AND BEING AN EXCELLENT SCHOLAR GENERALLY, HE HAD VERY STRANGE NON-CHRISTIAN IDEAS. AND YET HE WAS HIGHLY RESPECTED IN THE CHURCH AND EXTREMELY POPULAR, SO FAR HAD THE NORTH AFRICAN CHURCH BECOME UNAWARE OF BASIC SPIRITUAL TRUTH. BUT ALL THIS REALLY SHOWS IS THAT INFANT BAPTISM WAS PRACTISED IN NORTH AFRICA TWO HUNDRED YEARS AFTER THE TIME OF CHRIST WHEN THERE WAS MUCH HERETICAL TEACHING ABOUT. SACERDOTALISM, AND THESE MEN WERE SACERDOTALISTS, WOULD ALWAYS LEAD ON TO INFANT BAPTISM.
3) Hippolytus' (170-236 A.D.) perception of infant baptism is clear and straightforward as well: "And first baptize the little ones; and if they can speak for themselves, they shall do so; if not, their parents or other relatives shall speak for them.
SO SOME WERE BAPTISED AS INFANTS AND OTHERS NOT. THIS MERELY DEMONSTRATES THAT THE CHURCH AT THE BEGINNING OF THE THIRD CENTURY AND WERE NOT CERTAIN ON THE MATTER, PRETTY LIKE TODAY, BECAUSE SOME WERE SACERDOTALISTS AND OTHERS WERE NOT. IT WAS A SAD DAY FOR THE CHURCH WHEN SACERDOTALISM BECAME PARAMOUNT.
4) There is not one Church Father who denies or even questions the validity of infant baptism. It was in no locality and at no time viewed as something that was created after New Testament times.
BUT THE CHURCH FATHERS DID NOT HAVE THE HISTORICAL NOUS TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN NEW TESTAMENT TIMES. THE SECOND CENTURY SAW CHRISTIAN CHURCH BEHAVIOUR DEVELOP IN ALL KINDS OF DIRECTIONS, SOME GOOD SOME BAD. THERE WERE WIDESPREAD DIFFERENCES OF INTERPRETATION AND MANY DIFFERENT CUSTOMS IN DIFFERENT CHURCHES ARISING FROM THE VIEWS OF STRONG MINDED MEN. ALL CLAIMED TO SPEAK AS THE APOSTLES. BIBLE EXEGESIS WAS NOT A FORTE OF SECOND CENTURY TEACHERS, APART POSSIBLY TO SOME EXTENT FROM IRENAEUS. AND TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT WAS TAUGHT IN THE FIRST CENTURY ad WAS VERY LIMITED. ANYWAY IF INFANT BAPTISM DID NOT OCCUR, WHICH IS QUITE POSSIBLE, IT WOULD NOT BE ARGUED AGAINST. THUS THIS SILENCE CAN BE SEEN AS AN ARGUMENT AGAINST INFANT BAPTISM BEING EARLY.
SOME FINAL COMMENTS AND CONCLUSIONS:
The evidences I have so far presented I believe merit attention by themselves. I would like, however, to make a number of random yet significant comments and observations about the area of infant baptism before I close this article.
Many times the debate regarding infant baptism is a defensive one; those who propose that adult baptism is the only valid form challenge those who practice infant baptism to prove that it is an acceptable practice. What if those who exclusively favor adult baptism were interrogated? What answers would they give to questions which up until now have been virtually unaddressed?
A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF DEFENSIVENESS WAS NECESSARILY SO BECAUSE UNDER ROMAN CATHOLIC DOGMA INFANT BAPTISM HAD TAKEN OVER AND WAS WIDELY PRESENTED AS THE REQUIRED APPROACH. WHEN CONFRONTING A DOGMA ONE HAS TO BUILD UP A DEFENCE WHEN CHALLENGED.
Questions such as these:
If infant baptism is a later invention, when did it begin and who began it? Where did it originate?
IT BEGAN IN LATER 2ND CENTURY AD OR EARLY 3RD CENTURY AD AS MEN’S GRASP OF SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE WEAKENED AND THEY BEGAN TO BE MORE RELIANT ON CEREMONY THAN ON SCRIPTURE, A PROCESS SPEEDED UP EVEN MORE BY THE CONVERSION OF CONSTANTINE. BUT THE CHURCH HAD ALREADY BEEN MOVING THAT WAY FOR A LONG TIME. WE CAN QUITE UNDERSTAND THAT DISTRAUGHT PARENTS OF A DEAD CHILD WHO WERE RELIGIOUSLY NAIVE MIGHT PUT PRESSURE ON A GOOD HEARTED PASTOR WHO SAW NO HARM IN IT AS A GESTURE, A GESTURE WHICH THEN BECAME THE POPULAR NORM AS MORE AND MORE REQUIRED IT. HOW OFTEN THIS HAS OCCURRED EVEN IN THE PRESENT DAY.
Why are there no protests against the validity of infant baptism from anyone in the early Church?
BECAUSE WE HAVE LITTLE RECORD OF WHAT THE EARLY SECOND CENTURY CHURCH THOUGHT. NOR HAVE WE ANY GROUNDS FOR THINKING THAT BAPTISM WAS SEEN AS A DEBATING GROUND. LIKE PAUL THEY MAY WELL HAVE SEEN IT AS SECONDARY TO THE WORD OF TRUTH (1 CORINTHIANS 1.17). THEY MAY ALSO NOT EVEN HAVE CONCEIVED AT THIS STAGE THAT INFANT BAPTISM WAS EVEN A POSSIBILITY TO BE CONSIDERED.
Where is anything found in Scripture that expressly forbids the baptism of infants or children?
IF NO INFANTS WERE BAPTISED IT WAS NOT NEEDED. AND NO INFANTS WERE NECESSARILY BAPTISED. IF BAPTISM OF THOSE WHO HAD A LIVING FAITH WAS THE ACCEPTED NORM THE SUBJECT WOULD NOT HAVE ARISEN.
How is it that God established a covenantal, corporate relationship with the tribes of Israel in the Old Testament, but you interpret the New Testament as abolishing the faith of an entire household with the father at its head in favor of a solely individualistic faith?
BUT IN EZEKIEL GOD DOES STRESS THAT TRUE RELIGION IS TOTALLY INDIVIDUALISTIC (SEE CHAPTER 18). THE OLD COVENANT WAS A FAILING ONE AND THUS HAD TO BE REPLACED WITH ONE THAT RESULTED IN CHANGED HEARTS IN A REMNANT. WE CANNOT REALLY COMPARE THE TWO. TO SPEAK OF AN ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD INCLUDING BABIES AS HAVING ‘FAITH’ IS TO MISUSE THE IDEA OF FAITH. THE WHOLE INTENT OF FAITH IN THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS TO INDICATE BELIEVING RESPONSE.
Where does Scripture prescribe any age for baptism?
NOWHERE. NOR SHOULD WE. ALL WE SHOULD DEMAND IS A TRUE SCRIPTURAL RESPONSE BY THE PERSON BEING BAPTISED.
Even if there were a special age when someone's faith reached "maturity," how could one discern that? Doesn't faith always mature? When is faith mature enough for baptism and when is it not? Who can judge?
IN THE END THE CHURCH HAS TO DECIDE AS IT PRAYERFULLY DISCUSSES THE MATTER WITH THE ONE SEEKING BAPTISM AND IS AWARE OF THEIR MANNER OF LIFE.
Where in Scripture does it say that children are free from the effects of the Fall simply because they are not old enough to believe? (Even creation is under the curse of mankind's fall-Romans 8:19-21).
NO ONE IS FREE FROM THE EFFECTS OF THE FALL FOR ALL DIE. BUT THIS DOES NOT DESCRIBE THEIR POSITION JUDICIALLY IN GOD’S EYES. IF WE ARE HONEST WE KNOW THAT THE SCRIPTURE NOWHERE DEALS WITH THE QUESTION OF WHAT HAPPENS WITH REGARD TO CHILDREN WHO DIE BEFORE THE AGE OF MORAL DISCERNMENT. BUT IT IS CERTAINLY NOWHERE INDICATED THAT IT IS AFFECTED BY BAPTISM.
What about the many Biblical meanings and early Christian understandings of baptism other than the one defining it as a visible sign of inward repentance, meanings such as the sacrament of regeneration (Titus 3:5),
BUT PAUL IN TITUS SAYS NOTHING ABOUT A SACRAMENT, HE IS SPEAKING OF AN EXPERIENCE, THE EXPERIENCE OF NEW BIRTH DEPICTED IN TERMS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ACTING AS SPIRITUAL RAIN PRODUCING FRUITFULNESS.
a grafting into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13)
BUT THIS IS NOT GRAFTING INTO THE CHURCH IT IS GRAFTING INTO CHRIST WHICH REQUIRES FAITH,
a passage from the reign of Satan into Christ's authority (Romans 6:17)
WHICH IS ACCOMPLISHED BY BELIEVING THE GOSPEL,
the expression of the manifestation of God (Luke 3:21,22),
SURELY A UNIQUE CASE!!
an admission into God's covenant (Colossians 2:11)
NO MENTION OF COVENANT. IT IS SPEAKING OF A RADICAL INWARD CHANGE,
the Lord's act of adoption and our putting on of Christ (Galatians 3:26,27)
AS A RESULT OF BELIEVING?
Why should these things be taken away from the small child of a Christian family?
GOD’S ATTITUDE AND RESPONSE TO INDIVIDUALS IS NOT DETERMINED BY BAPTISM AS 1 CORINTHIANS 1.17 MAKES CRYSTAL CLEAR. PAUL DID SEE GOD’S ATTITUDE TOWARDS BABES AS AFFECTED BY WHETHER THERE WAS A CHRISTIAN IN THE HOME (1 CORINTHIANS 7.14), BUT THAT IS A DIFFERENT MATTER. THUS GOD’S BENEFITS TO THE INFANT IN A ‘CHRISTIAN HOME’ BEGIN BEFORE ANY BAPTISMAL RITE. THEY ARE ‘SANCTIFIED’ (WHATEVER THAT MEANS) FROM BIRTH. SO FROM THAT POINT OF VIEW BAPTISM IS UNNECESSARY.
BUT IN INTERPRETING REFERENCES TO ‘BAPTISM’ WE MUST ALSO RECOGNISE THAT SCRIPTURE DIFFERENTIATES BAPTISM (DRENCHING) IN WATER FROM BAPTISM (DRENCHING) IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, BECAUSE WHILE JOHN WAS BAPTISING THE GREAT EXPECTED WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS STILL FUTURE AND BAPTISM WAS POINTING TO IT. TO SUGGEST THAT SOMEHOW BY BEING BAPTISED IN WATER A PERSON AUTOMATICALLY ENJOYS ALL THE BENEFITS ABOVE IS SO UNLIKELY THAT IT CAN HARDLY BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY EXCEPT BY EXTREME SACERDOTALISTS. IT WAS ONLY WATER BAPTISM AS CONNECTED WITH RESPONSIVE FAITH (THE ONLY BAPTISM ACKNOWLEDGED BY THE NEW TESTAMENT) THAT WAS IN MIND (WHERE IT WAS IN MIND - AND WE MUST NOT ASSUME IT JUST BECAUSE WATER IS MENTIONED).
If it was the norm to baptize children at a later age, why is there no evidence in Scripture or early Church history of instruction given to parents on how to help their adolescent children prepare for baptism?
IT WAS MAINLY THE CHURCH THAT WOULD PREPARE PEOPLE FOR BAPTISM AND INSTRUCTION WAS GIVEN TO THEM TO TEACH THEIR MEMBERS, INCLUDING THE CHILDREN, BECAUSE TO HAVE RESPONSIVE FAITH THEY MUST HAVE HAD INSTRUCTION. WHY IS THERE NO EVIDENCE OF INSTRUCTION GIVEN TO NEWLY CONVERTED EX-PAGAN PARENTS HOW TO INSTRUCT THEIR CHILDREN? WHY IS THERE NO INSTRUCTION CONCERNING CONFIRMATION? WE COULD GO ON ENDLESSLY. BUT WE MUST NOT READ OUR OWN TECHNIQUES INTO THE EARLY CHURCH. THEY DID NOT HAVE OUR SLICK METHODS. WHAT HOWEVER THE OLD TESTAMENT HAD MADE CLEAR WAS THAT CHILDREN HAD TO BE INSTRUCTED.
If it is granted that baptism is for the remission of sins, why would the Church ever want to give baptism to infants if there were nothing in the infants which needed remission? Would not the grace of baptism, in this context, seem superfluous?
STRANGE INDEED. WHY DID THEY? THE ANSWER IS THAT STRANGE IDEAS AND DOCTRINES GREW UP WHICH WERE NOT TRULY SCRIPTURAL. ALL KINDS OF STRANGE IDEAS BECAME CONNECTED WITH BAPTISM AS WE SEE LATER ON.
In essence, laying aside all the polemics and prejudices and academic intricacies, what Scriptural principle is being violated if a child is baptized and matures in his faith?
PROBABLY NONE AS LONG AS SOME MYSTERIOUS EXERCISE OF GOD’S POWER IS NOT ASSUMED WHICH SOMEHOW CHANGES THE CHILD (BUT NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE ANY OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE AFTERWARDS). BUT IT HAS CEASED TO BE SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM. IT HAS BECOME A DEDICATION CEREMONY.
There is a good reason why these questions are hard to answer for those who exclusively advocate adult baptism: infant baptism is not an innovation, it is the practice of the Early Church.
I DO NOT FIND THEM HARD TO ANSWER. BUT WHERE DOES IT SAY SO? THE FACT IS THAT IT IS THE PRACTISE OF THE LATER CHURCH.
Over and over again I am told that is incorrect to allow infants to be baptized because the Scriptural order is to first believe, and then to be baptized (Mark 16:16). The error in this thinking is not that it is incorrect to have an adult believe before he is baptized, but that one cannot apply a command intended for adults to infants.
THEN IF THE COMMAND WAS IN RESPECT OF ADULTS WHY BAPTISE BABES? ANSWER. BECAUSE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BAPTISM BECAME MISINTERPRETED.
The Bible was not written to infants and is therefore not going to direct them to do anything. They are under the care of their parents who can hear, understand, and believe. Additionally, there is an important distinction to be made between baptizing an infant and an adult believer-one has the need to repent, the other does not.
BUT BAPTISM WAS SPECIFICALLY A BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE. THUS INFANT BAPTISM IS NOT SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM.
It is also important to recognize that the New Testament records the beginnings of the Christian people. This accounts for it reading like a missionary diary in a number of places. I am certain that were I to begin an apostolic work in a totally heathen country, and to write to the people there or to record my progress in preaching the Gospel to them, I would not mention infant baptism even once.
OF COURSE HE WOULD. THEY WOULD HAVE INFANT CHILDREN WOULD THEY NOT? BESIDES THE NEW TESTAMENT CONTAINS MUCH WHICH WAS WRITTEN WHEN CHURCHES HAD GROWN TO MATURITY (OR OTHERWISE). PAUL GIVES TIMOTHY AND TITUS DETAILED INSTRUCTION ABOUT CHURCH AFFAIRS AND CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT AND GROWTH. BUT NOTHING ABOUT INFANT BAPTISM.
Some may ask why Sts. John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nanziansus, Basil the Great, and Jerome were all baptized as adults, even though they had at least one Christian parent. The earliest evidence that Christian parents refrained from having their child baptized immediately after birth is in the middle of the fourth century (Gregory was the first example of this in 360 A.D.).
BUT OUR EVIDENCE FOR THESE PERIODS IS LIMITED.
None of these men postponed their baptism because of faith, however. Surely Gregory and John Chrysostom at 30, Jerome at 20, and Basil at 27 (at which ages they were baptized) had reached the "age of reason" and individual faith long before then. They postponed their baptisms on the false premise that they could better assure themselves a place in heaven if they minimized the times they sinned after baptism. None of these men ever challenged the validity of infant baptism. WELL, THEY DID QUESTION THE VALIDITY OF INFANT BAPTISM BY THEIR OWN ACTIONS. THEY OBVIOUSLY DID NOT SEE IT AS NECESSARY TO BEING A CHRISTIAN. AND THEY WERE GREAT BISHOPS. THEY HELD THE TOTALLY FALSE VIEW THAT HAD GROWN UP THAT SOMEHOW BAPTISM MYSTICALLY CLEANSED PEOPLE FROM SIN. BUT THEY CLEARLY DID NOT SEE INFANT BAPTISM AS ESSENTIAL FOR FAITH OTHERWISE THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN BAPTISED EARLIER. IF THESE GREAT MEN HAD WRONG IDEAS ABOUT BAPTISM (WHICH HAD PARTLY GROWN UP DURING THE PERSECUTIONS) WHAT HOPE WAS THERE FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE CHURCH? WE WOULD BE WISE NOT TO ACCEPT ANY OF THE TEACHINGS ABOUT BAPTISM OF THAT AGE AS BEING SCRIPTURAL!
Baptism in and of itself, of course, is not enough. It must be accompanied by genuine faith. No parents should be allowed to baptize their infant if they themselves have not made an expressed commitment to serve Jesus Christ and raise their child in accordance with God's Word. As adults, we are called to accept the challenge of our baptism and live dedicated lives for Christ. If we do any less, we have rejected Christ and the gift of salvation He has made available to us since our birth.
NOW WHERE IS THIS TAUGHT IN SCRIPTURE? SURELY IF BAPTISM IS EFFECTIVE IN ITSELF WE SHOULD SECRETLY BAPTISE AS MANY AS POSSIBLE. AND IF IT IS DEPENDENT ON THE PARENT’S FAITH, WHERE IS THIS TAUGHT IN SCRIPTURE? THE TRUTH IS THAT ONCE WE LAY TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON INFANT BAPTISM WE FALL INTO ALL KINDS OF FALSE DOCTRINE AND TWISTING OF TRUTH AS HISTORY DEMONSTRATES
Going full circle, I now end this article with the question with which I began it: "Should I be baptized again?" Given that our infant baptism is valid, the Scriptural answer to that question is clear" "There is . . . one Lord, one faith, ONE baptism." (Ephesians 4:4,5) If you have been baptized once, there is no need to be baptized again. Let us then determine to bear witness to the truth of our baptism by living for Him who died and rose for us.
I ADMIRE THE PRINCIPLE. AS LIKE PAUL I CONSIDER BAPTISM AS OF SECONDARY IMPORTANCE (I AM NOT A QUAKER BUT I ACCEPT THAT THEIR NOT BEING PHYSICALLY BAPTISED HAS NOT AFFECTED THEM SPIRITUALLY), FOR WHAT MATTERS IS THE FAITH THAT IT REPRESENTS IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, I DO NOT WISH TO ARGUE ABOUT WHETHER HAVING BEEN BAPTISED A PERSON CAN SATISFACTORILY REAFFIRM IT IN ANOTHER WAY. THAT IS A MATTER BETWEEN A MAN AND GOD. BUT I WOULD CERTAINLY SEE FAILING TO BE BAPTISED HAVING COME TO FAITH AS MISSING A MOMENT OF GREAT BLESSING AND SIGNIFICANCE, ALTHOUGH BY NO MEANS ESSENTIAL. HOWEVER I WILL ACCEPT THAT, WHILE NOT STRICTLY SCRIPTURAL, CONFIRMATION MAY ACHIEVE A SIMILAR BLESSING WHERE IT IS A GENUINE RESPONSE OF FAITH. GOD IS NOT TIED DOWN TO DETAIL. BUT IT IS NOT SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM.
Baptism in Early Church History by Dennis Kastens
From the beginning of New Testament Christianity at the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2: 38-39) to our time, unbroken and uninterrupted; the church has baptized babies. Entire households (Jewish, proselytes and Gentiles) were baptized by Christ’s original 12 Apostles (I Corinthians 1: 16; Acts 11: 14, 16: 15, 33, 18: 8) and that practice has continued with each generation.
(A TOTALLY UNPROVEN DOGMATIC STATEMENT. THERE IS NO REFERENCE ANYWHERE IN SCRIPTURE TO THE BAPTISM OF BABIES AND NO REAL REASON WHY IT SHOULD BE READ IN. INDEED THE INFERENCE IS ALWAYS THAT IT WAS THOSE WHO HAD BEEN CALLED AND THOSE WHO BELIEVED WHO WERE BAPTISED. WHETHER ANY INFANTS WERE INVOLVED MUST BE DECIDED FROM OTHER PASSAGES OF WHICH THERE ARE NONE. )
The Early Church.
Polycarp (69-155), a disciple of the Apostle John, was baptized as an infant. This enabled him to say at his martyrdom. "Eighty and six years have I served the Lord Christ" (Martyrdom of Polycarp 9: 3).
OR WAS POLYCARP OLDER THAN 86? NOWHERE IS HIS AGE GIVEN.
Justin Martyr (100 - 166) of the next generation states about the year 150, "Many, both men and women, who have been Christ’s disciples since childhood, remain pure at the age of sixty or seventy years" (Apology 1: 15).
BUT THIS SAYS NOTHING ABOUT BAPTISM. AND BAPTISM PROBABLY WAS ALLOWED DURING CHILDHOOD, JUST NOT IN INFANCY.
Further, in his Dialog with Trypho the Jew, Justin Martyr states that Baptism is the circumcision of the New Testament.
BUT IT IS NOT STRICTLY CORRECT EXEGESIS SO WHAT DOES IT MATTER? ANYWAY JUSTIN MARTYR WAS HARDLY A MODEL OF ORTHODOX BIBLICAL DOCTRINE. HE WAS TOO INFLUENCED BY PLATONISM.
Irenaeus (130 - 200), some 35 years later in 185, writes in Against Heresies II 22: 4 that Jesus "came to save all through means of Himself - all. I say, who through him are born again to God - infants and children, boys and youth, and old men.”
BUT WHAT DID HE MEAN? THERE IS NO SUGGESTION THAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT BAPTISM. ALL HE IS SAYING IS THAT SOME INFANTS WILL BE SAVED NOT HOW IT IS DONE.
Church Councils and Apologists.
Similar expressions are found in succeeding generations by Origen (185 - 254) and Cyprian (215 - 258) who reflect the consensus voiced at the Council of Carthage in 254. The 66 bishops said: "We ought not hinder any person from Baptism and the grace of God..... especially infants. . . those newly born."
THUS WE KNOW THAT BY THIS STAGE TWO HUNDRED YEARS AFTER CHRIST THE NORTH AFRICANS WERE PRACTISING IT. THE FACT THAT THEY HAD TO SAY IT HOWEVER DEMONSTRATES THAT MANY STILL THOUGHT AND PRACTISED OTHERWISE.
Preceding this council, Origen wrote in his (Commentary on Romans 5: 9: "For this also it was that the church had from the Apostles a tradition to give baptism even to infants. For they to whom the divine mysteries were committed knew that there is in all persons a natural pollution of sin which must be done away by water and the Spirit."
THIS IS NOT NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING. BUT THEN WE WOULD NOT EXPECT THAT FROM ORIGEN WITH HIS STRANGE VIEWS. THE NORTH AFRICAN CHURCH WERE NOT VERY ORTHODOX.
Elsewhere Origen wrote in his Homily on Luke 14: "Infants are to be baptized for the remission of sins.”
AS ORIGEN WAS A PATENT HERETIC (ALTHOUGH NOT SEEN AS SUCH AT THE TIME) THIS GOES ALONG WITH HIS OTHER STRANGE IDEAS.
Cyprian’s reply to a country bishop, Fidus, who wrote him regarding the Baptism of infants, is even more explicit. Should we wait until the eighth day as did the Jews in circumcision? No, the child should be baptized as soon as it is born (To Fidus 1: 2). To prevent misunderstanding by rural bishops, perhaps not as well-schooled as other or even new to the faith, the Sixteenth Council of Carthage in 418 unequivocally stated: "If any man says that newborn children need not be baptized . . . let him be anathema.”
SO IT HAD BECOME A PRACTISE OF THE NORTH AFRICAN CHURCH WITH ITS SACERDOTAL BISHOPS. BUT WERE THEY RIGHT?
Augustine (354 - 430), writing about this time in De Genesi Ad Literam, X: 39, declares, "The custom of our mother church in baptizing infants must not be . . . accounted needless, nor believed to be other than a tradition of the apostles."
ALSO A NORTH AFRICAN. BUT THIS AGAIN DEMONSTRATES THAT THERE WERE THOSE WHO DISAGREED IN NORTH AFRICA EVEN AS LATE AS THIS. THE CHURCH WAS MOVING OVER TO SACERDOTALISM, BUT MANY STILL DISAGREED. THE APPEAL TO THE APOSTLES IS SIMPLY HIS VIEW. IT IS ARBITRARY. THE OPPOSERS WOULD HAVE STATED THE SAME FOR THEIR CASE.
He further states, "If you wish to be a Christian, do not believe, nor say, nor teach, that infants who die before baptism can obtain the remission of original sin."
HERE WE SEE HIS FAILURE TO UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURES. THE APOSTLES HAD SAID THAT THE CHILDREN OF CHRISTIANS WERE ‘SANCTIFIED’ AT BIRTH. DO MODERN CHRISTIANS REALLY BELIEVE THAT BAPTISM MAKES SUCH A DIFFERENCE TO A TINY BABY? DO WE REALLY BELIEVE THAT UNBAPTISED INFANTS ARE ALL THEREBY DOOMED JUST BECAUSE THEY HAD NOT BEEN BAPTISED WHEN THEY DIED? . CERTAINLY PAUL DID NOT. HE SAW THE CHILDREN OF A CHRISTIAN PARENT AS ‘SANCTIFIED’ FROM BIRTH (1 CORINTHIANS 7.14).
And again, "Whoever says that even infants are vivified in Christ when they depart this life without participation in His sacrament (Baptism), both opposes the Apostolic preaching and condemns the whole church which hastens to baptize infants, because it unhesitatingly believes that otherwise the infant cannot possibly be vivified in Christ."
SUCH DOGMATIC TEACHING ONLY DEMONSTRATES AUGUSTINE’S OWN VIEWS AND HOW THE CHURCH WAS STRAYING FROM THE FULL TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL SWAYED BY STRONGMINDED MEN.
Specific directions, with detailed instructions, for the baptizing of infants were given by bishops to pastors and deacons during this era of Christian history. In the year 517, seven bishops met in Gerona, Catelina, and framed 10 rules of discipline for the church in Spain. The fifth rule states that ". . . in case infants ill . . . if they were offered, to baptize them, even though it were the day that then, were born . . . " such was to be done (The History of Baptism by Robert Robinson, [London: Thomas Knott, 1790], p.269.).
SO BY NOW THE CHURCH HAD STRAYED INTO STRANGE TEACHINGS ON THIS AS ON MOST OTHER SUBJECTS. NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING NO LONGER HELD SWAY.
The foregoing pattern, practiced in both East and West, remained customary in Christianity through the Dark and Middle Ages until modern times. Generally, the infant was baptized during the first week of life, but in cases of illness this took place on the day of birth. An example of this already comes from about 260 in North Africa in an inscription from Hadrumetum (Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres II, 4429-A): Arisus in pace natus bixit supra scriptas VIIII This Latin inscription indicates that a child who died nine hours after its birth was baptized. Such practice of Baptism within the first days of life. or on the day of birth in an emergency, remained for both Protestants, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.
AGAIN THE NORTH AFRICAN CHURCH.
The Witness of the Catacombs.
The witness of the literary texts of the early church fathers, councils and apologists for the practice of infant Baptism in the first Christian centuries (I.E. THE THIRD AND FOURTH CENTURIES - TWO HUNDRED LONG YEARS AFTER CHRIST) receives valuable confirmation from the catacombs and cemeteries of the Middle East, Africa and southern Europe, Below are epitaphs from the 200’s of small children who had been baptized. It is interesting to note that there are no Christian epitaphs in existence earlier than 200.
As soon as the era of Christian Inscriptions begins, we find evidence for infant Baptism. In that century there are attributes and symbols in tombstones inscriptions of little children which allows us to clearly infer we are dealing with baptized children. The following is as early as 200 or shortly thereafter: In the second last line is the phrase Dei Serv(u)s which means slave of God followed by the Chi Rho symbol for Christ. The last line is the Greek ichtheos familiar as the "fish symbol" - an anagram for Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior. These words and symbols mark the one-year, two months, and four-day-old child as a baptized Christian.
DO THEY? DOES IT SAY SO? NOTE THAT HE SAYS ‘INFER’. HERE BAPTISM IS ASSUMED BY THE INTERPRETER.
From the Lateran Museum, also from the 200’s, is a Greek inscription that gives information about the religious status of the parents. It reads, "I, Zosimus, a believer from believers, lie here having lived 2 years, 1 month, 25 days."
BUT THERE ISNO MENTION OF BAPTISM HERE. HOWEVER THERE MAY HAVE BEEN AN EMERGENCY (SUPERSTITIOUS) BAPTISM BECAUSE THE CHILD WAS DYING.
Also from this era are headstones for children who received emergency baptism with ages ranging from 11 months to 12 years. Since the patristic sources of the third century, as those earlier, give us to understand that the children of Christian parents were baptized in infancy, we must conclude that these emergency baptisms were administered to children of non-Christians.
IF SO IT WOULD SHOW HOW FAR THE CHURCH HAD STRAYED FROM THE TRUTH ABOUT BAPTISM. HOWEVER IT IS PURELY AN ASSUMPTION IN ORDER TO JUSTIFY THE DOCTRINE. THERE IS NOTHING TO SAY THAT THESE CHILDREN HAD NOT BEEN BAPTISED BECAUSE THEIR PARENTS BELIEVED IN ‘ADULT’ BAPTISM.
The inscriptions themselves confirm this conclusion. In the Roman catacomb of Priscilla is reference to a private emergency baptism that was administered to the one-and-three-quarter-year-old Apronianus and enabled him to die as a believer. The inscription reads: Dedicated to the departed Florentius made this inscription for his worthy son Apronianus who lived one year and nine months and five days. As he was truly loved by his grandmother and she knew that his death was imminent, she asked the church that he might depart from, the world as a believer. The fact that it was the grandmother who urged the baptism makes it very probable that the father of the child, Florentius, was a pagan.
OR MORE LIKELY THAT THE GRANDMOTHER WAS SEEN AS THE MATRIARCH AND THAT INFANT BAPTISM WAS SEEN AS UNUSUAL?
This is confirmed by the formula in the first line which is pagan and not found on any other Christian epitaphs. We have thus in this inscription evidence for a missionary baptism administered to a dying non-Christian infant.
Sole Opponent - A Heretic.
In the 1,500 years from the time of Christ to the Protestant Reformation, the only bonafide opponent to infant Baptism was Tertullian (160 - 215), bishop of Carthage, Africa. His superficial objection was to the unfair ability laid on godparents when the children of pagans joined the church. However, his real opposition was more fundamental.
SO HE ALONE IS NOT TO BE TAKEN AT FACE VALUE?
It was his view that sinfulness begins at the "puberty, of the soul’, that is "about the fourteenth year of life" and "it drives man out of the paradise of innocence" (De Anima 38:2). This rules out the belief in original sin.
BUT COULD HE HAVE ARGUED AGAINST INFANT BAPTISM WHILE IN A POSITION OF AUTHORITY IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH UNLESS THERE WAS AT LEAST SOME GOOD SUPPORT FOR HIS POSITION? HIS TEACHINGS WERE POPULAR. HE WAS NOT A LONE VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS. WE COULD SAY THAT HE WAS FIGHTING A GROWING TREND TOWARDS INFANT BAPTISM AT THE BEGINNING OF THE THIRD CENTURY. HIS LATER VIEWS (NOT HELD BY ME) WOULD NOT NECESSARILY BRAND HIM AS A HERETIC TODAY. AND HE WAS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOST SCRIPTURAL OF THE EARLY FATHERS.
Tertullian’s stance, together with other unorthodox views, led him to embrace Montanism in 207. Montanism denied the total corruption and sinfulness of human nature. With its emphasis upon the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, it was the precursor to the modern Charismatic Movement.
Except for Tertullian’s heretical views, marking his departure from mainstream Christianity, the only other opposition to infant Baptism came during a brief period in the middle of the fourth century. The issue was the fear of post-Baptismal sin. This heretical view also denied Baptism to adults until their death-bed. It was not in reality a denial of infant baptism in and of itself. In fact, the heresy encouraged the Baptism of infants when death seemed imminent, as it also did for adults.
SO WE DISCOVER THAT BAPTISMAL DOCTRINE HAD GONE HAYWIRE, EVEN AMONG PROMINENT CHRISTIAN LEADERS.
Not until the 1520s did the Christian Church experience opposition specifically to infant Baptism.
A RATHER DOGMATIC STATEMENT ASSUMING GREATER KNOWLEDGE OF HISTORY THAN WE HAVE.
Under the influence of Thomas Muenzer and other fanatics who opposed both civil and religious authority, original sin and human concupiscence was denied until the "age of accountability." Although there is no basis in Scripture for this position, a considerable number of Swiss, German and Dutch embraced the Anabaptist cause.
WHILE I WOULD NOT FULLY AGREE WITH THEM IN ALL THEIR VIEWS I CANNOT DISPUTE THAT THERE ARE SCRIPTURES WHICH APPEAR TO SUPPORT THEIR ARGUMENTS. IT IS NOT TRUE THAT THERE IS NO BASIS IN SCRIPTURE FOR THEM. ONLY THAT THE OVERALL TENOR OF SCRIPTURE IS AGAINST IT.
So offensive was this position that Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Reformed alike voiced strong warning and renunciation. It was considered a shameless affront to what had been practiced in each generation since Christ’s command in the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20) to baptize all nations irrespective of age.
IT DOES NOT SAY IRRESPECTIVE OF AGE IN MY BIBLE. IT SAYS BAPTISE BELIEVERS.
Regeneration for All Ages.
Who would be so blind as to limit this expression of God’s grace and mercy to adolescents and adults and to exclude infants and children’s. If John the Baptizer could be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1: 15), and if Jesus could say (Matt. 18: 6), "Whoever offends one of these little ones (Gk."toddlers") who believe in Me, it were better that he were drowned in the depth of the sea," and if the Apostle Peter could say on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2: 39), "The promise is unto you and to, your children, "what mere mortal dare declare so gracious an invitation to be invalid for infants, or forbid the continuance of the Baptism of infants for coming generations?
NO ONE AS FAR AS I KNOW REJECTS THE IDEA OF BRING AN INFANT FOR THE BLESSING OF GOD. JOHN THE BAPTISER WAS A SPECIALLY CHOSEN INSTRUMENT AND HIS FILLING WITH THE SPIRIT UNIQUE AND WITHOUT BAPTISM. IT REFERRED TO THE GIFT OF INSPIRED WORDS GIVEN TO HIM AS ‘PIMPLEMI’ (TO FILL - AS APPOSED TO PLEROO) ALWAYS DOES. IN THE SAME WAY PAUL SAYS THAT ALL THE CHILDREN OF CHRISTIAN PARENTS ARE ‘SANCTIFIED’ FROM BIRTH. JESUS STATEMENT ONLY DEMONSTRATES THAT WE SHOULD BE CAREFUL BEFORE WE ASSUME A BELIEVING YOUNGSTER IS TOO YOUNG TO BE BAPTISED. (WE COULD USE THE SAME ARGUMENT AGAINST DELAYING CONFIRMATION). PETER’S WORDS ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST DO NOT BEAR THE WEIGHT PUT ON THEM. HE DID NOT SAY ‘TO THE CHILDREN AT THAT MOMENT’. IT WAS A GENERAL STATEMENT.
If the entire families and households of the Philippian Jailer, Lydia, Cornelius, Crispus and Stephanas of the New Testament were incorporated into the household of faith through Baptism, surely that testimony is immutable and established for all time.
NOTE THE NEED FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF ‘ENTIRE’. IF I SAY TO SOMEONE ‘ALL YOUR FAMILY ARE DRUNKARDS’ I DO NOT EXPECT ANYONE TO INCLUDE THE BABIES NOR DO I EXPECT TO HAVE TO DECLARE THEIR EXCLUSION. IF I SAY ‘ALL THE HOUSEHOLD PACKED THEIR WORLDLY POSSESSIONS’ I DO NOT EXPECT PEOPLE TO SEE INFANTS BUSY PACKING. THE WORD ‘HOUSEHOLD’ MUST BE INTERPRETED BY THE CONTEXT. IT NEITHER AUTOMATICALLY INCLUDES OR EXCLUDES INFANTS.
Yes, we baptize babies. Unmistakably Scriptural proof substantiates that doctrine. (???) Christian history, unbroken and uninterrupted. reflects such practice in each generation.
DOGMATIC STATEMENTS WITH NO PROOF. THERE IS NO ACTUAL EVIDENCE FOR INFANT BAPTISM UNTIL THE END OF THE SECOND CENTURY AD.
Conscientious Christians do not delay but hasten with their children to Baptism that they may received the gift of salvation and regeneration and gratefully embrace the Apostle’s affirmation extended to those of all age groups: "For as many of you as have been baptized have put on Christ" (Galatians 3: 27). Dennis Kastens is pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri.
SEE 1 CORINTHIANS 7.14 WHERE THEY COULD BE SAID TO HAVE PUT ON CHRIST, IN SO FAR AS AN INFANT CAN, BEFORE BAPTISM, BUT NOT IN THE FULL SENSE OF BECOMING SPIRIT-FILLED CHRISTIANS. TO SUGGEST THAT EVERY INFANT BAPTISED HAS RECEIVED SALVATION AND REGENERATION IS QUITE FRANKLY NOT TRUE. THE MOST WE COULD SAY IS THAT THEY HAVE POTENTIALLY RECEIVED IT.
In Defense of Infant Baptism By Don Matzat
What does the Bible teach about the Baptism of infants? Are infants to be included or excluded from Baptism?
There is no doctrine that has caused more unrest, disagreement, and at times angry responses from opponents than the doctrine of Baptism. Those within denominations who baptize infants are put into the position of having to defend the practice, even though the baptism of infants is rooted in the history of the Christian Church and practiced by out 75 percent of Christendom. The response of the adversaries is often angry.
AS EQUALLY UNFORTUNATELY IS OFTEN THE DEFENCE OF INFANT BAPTISM. IT IS UNFORTUNATE IN BOTH CASES. SUCH ANGER AGAINST GENUINE PEOPLE ACHIEVES NOTHING.
One evangelical radio network discontinued broadcasting The Lutheran Hour after the speaker made a presentation on infant Baptism. In an earlier issue of this journal I spoke about Baptism of my granddaughter and stated that God applied the full righteousness of Jesus Christ to this "empty" infant. I received some angry letters from Baptist pastors who no longer wanted to receive the Issues, Etc. Journal because of my stance on infant Baptism.
WERE THEY ANGRY, OR JUST CONCERNED FOR TRUTH AS THEY SAW IT?
The fact of the matter is that those who reject and even disdain the Baptism of infants, and who promote a "Believer’s Baptism", are in the minority and actually out-of-step with the (SUPPOSED) historic position of the early Christian Church. They promote an understanding of grace and faith that is of recent origin.
OR SCRIPTURAL, BEFORE THE CHURCH BECAME SACERDOTAL?
In fact, their theology arrogantly suggests that the mode of Baptism received by church fathers, the likes of Athanasius and Augustine, and by the Reformers Luther and Calvin was not proper.
OR SHOULD WE SAY NOT SCRIPTURAL? IS IT NOT EQUALLY ARROGANT TO DECRY THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN BELIEVER’S BAPTISM? THESE ARE FALSE ARGUMENTS.
In this regard, Martin Luther writes: Now if God did not accept the Baptism of infants, he would not have given any of them the Holy Spirit nor any part of him; in short, all this time down to the present day no man on earth could have been a Christian. Since God has confirmed infant baptism through the gift of the Holy Spirit. . . our adversaries must admit that infant Baptism is pleasing to God. For he can never be in conflict with himself support lies and wickedness, or give his grace and spirit for such ends. (Tappert: Book of Concord, [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959] pp. 442-3).
BUT WE COULD EQUALLY ARGUE THAT THOSE WHO BELIEVE ONLY IN ADULT BAPTISM HAVE ALSO EXPERIENCED THE SPIRIT SO THAT IT PROVES THEM RIGHT AS WELL? PERHAPS IT RATHER SHOWS THAT BAPTISM AS SUCH IS NOT ALL THAT IMPORTANT TO GOD BECAUSE IT HAS TENDED TO LOSE ITS TRUE MEANING AND HAS THUS BECOME OF SECONDARY IMPORTANCE. WHAT HE IS CONCERNED ABOUT IS THE THOUGHTS OF THE HEART. WE DO LOVE TO RESTRICT GOD TO OUR PETTY IDEAS. ALL THAT LUTHER SHOWS IS THAT GOD DOES NOT GET HET UP ABOUT WHAT WE GET HET UP ABOUT.
Even though the title of this article is In Defense of Infant Baptism, the truth of the matter is that those who reject the Baptism of infants are the ones who should be in the position of defending their stance. While infant Baptism is rooted in the history of the early Christian Church, the so-called "Believer’s Baptism" originates in the post-Reformation Anabaptist movement of the sixteenth century.
BUT MANY WOULD SAY IT ORIGINATED AMONG THE APOSTLES AND WAS LATER LOST THROUGH SACERDOTALISM. IF INFANT BAPTISM WAS SO PROMINENT WHY DID PAUL AND PETER FORGET TO MENTION IT? HOW CARELESS OF THEM. WOULD HE SAY THE SAME ABOUT JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ANOTHER LONG LOST DOCTRINE?.
But be that as it may, the fact still remains that any theological position has to find its basis in Scripture. So, what does the Bible say about the Baptism of infants?
What Does the Bible Say?
Those who reject the Baptism of infants accurately point out that the Bible does not specifically command that infants should be baptized nor are there any specific examples in the Book of Acts of an infant receiving Baptism.
A SIGNIFICANT ADMISSION.
While this is true, it is not difficult to explain. The Book of Acts deals with first generation adult converts to Christianity. The Bible does not tell us what these first Christians did with their children as far as Baptism is concerned. In order to definitively answer that question, we must look into the writings of the early church fathers.
BUT A WHOLE GENERATION IS A LONG TIME AND MANY CHRISTIAN PARENTS HAD CHILDREN MEANWHILE - FOR THIRTY OR FORTY YEARS. STRANGE THEN THAT THERE IS NO REFERENCE TO BAPTISING THEM AS INFANTS AND NO INSTRUCTIONS TO TIMOTHY AND TITUS TO DO SO.
Yet, the Bible is not silent in the matter. What you see in the Word of God concerning the Baptism of infants depends upon how you approach the Word. When searching Scripture in order to answer the infant Baptism question, the issue is not whether or not there are any specific references including children and infants in Baptism. Rather, the issue is whether or not there are specific references in Scripture excluding children and infants from Baptism.
NO. NO. IT IS THE POSITIVE WHICH MUST BE PROVED!! YOU CANNOT EXPECT MENTION OF ALL THAT PEOPLE DO NOT DO. THE LIST WOULD BE ENDLESS.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is an inclusive message. "God so loved the world," and Jesus commanded us to "baptize all nations." Obviously, infants are a part of the world and represented in all nations.
BUT ‘THE WORLD’ AND ‘ALL NATIONS’ INCLUDE EVERYONE. SO WE SHOULD BAPTISE EVERYONE REGARDLESS AND ASSUME ALL ARE SAVED?
The reasoning used by those who reject infant Baptism was the same reasoning used by the Supreme Court in dealing with the abortion issue. The Court was faced with the question of whether or not a fetus is a person who is guaranteed the right to life under the constitution. Should the unborn be included or excluded from the rights of personhood? Since they were unable to answer the question, rather than potentially erring on the side of inclusion, they excluded the unborn and made abortion legal.
IRRELEVANT. THIS BRINGS IN AN EMOTIVE SUBJECT POINTLESSLY.
Those who reject infant Baptism claim that there is no biblical warrant for including infants and children in Baptism. But the real question is, does the Bible specifically exclude infants and children from Baptism? Definitely not!
SOME WOULD SAY, ‘DEFINITELY SO BY IMPLICATION!’ EQUALLY STRONGLY.
In Mark 10: 14 our Lord Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." The Greek word for children in this text is paidia, which means babes in arms.
BUT PAIDIA MEANS YOUNG CHILDREN NOT BABES IN ARMS.
What means other than Baptism has God provided whereby little children can be brought to Jesus?
BY BIRTH TO A CHRISTIAN PARENT (1 CORINTHIANS 7.14), BY DEDICATION AND A BLESSING, AND WHEN OLD ENOUGH BY FAITH.
Baptism is the only way we know of.
COME AND SEE ME :-)))
If you want to obey the command of the Lord Jesus concerning your little children, have them baptized!
EVEN THOUGH THE BIBLE DOES NOT SAY SO? HIS ACTUAL COMMAND WAS TO BAPTISE BELIEVERS.
In addition, there are five references in the New Testament to the Baptism of entire households. Peter baptized the household of Cornelius (Acts 11: 14). In Philippi, Paul baptized the household of Lydia and the household of the jailer (Acts 16: 15, 33). He also baptized the household of Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, he speaks of baptizing the household of Stephanas (1: 16). The Greek word for household is oikon and refers to all the inhabitants of the house including slaves, servants, infants and children. Can anyone seriously suggest that within the households of Cornelius, Lydia, the Jailer, Crispus and Stephanas there were no children or infants present?
THIS IS MISUSE OF LANGUAGE. WORDS ARE FLEXIBLE AND MUST BE INTERPRETED IN CONTEXT. IF I SAY ‘ALL YOUR FAMILY ARE DRUNKARDS’ I EXPECT SENSIBLE INTERPRETATION. THUS HERE ALSO IT IS A MATTER OF SENSIBLE INTERPRETATION IN THE LIGHT OF STATEMENTS ELSEWHERE. HIS DEFINITION OF THE WORD OIKOS IS NOT STRICTLY CORRECT. IT CAN MEAN THIS BUT BY NO MEANS ALWAYS.
In addition, if the members of these households had converted to Judaism, all the males would have been circumcised. This included infants who were at least eight days old.
BUT THIS WAS INTO A PHYSICAL GROUP, WHERE THE FLESH WAS THE IMPORTANT THING, NOT A SPIRITUAL GROUP WHERE SPIRITUAL CHANGE WAS ESSENTIAL.
In Colossians 2: 9-12, the Apostle Paul compares the effect of circumcision with the effect of Baptism.
BUT THIS IS THE CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART OF WHICH THE PROPHETS SPOKE WHICH WAS FOR ADULTS.
While there are no specific references to infant Baptism in the New Testament, there is every reason to believe that children and infants were included.
ONLY BY THOSE ALREADY DETERMINED TO SEE IT.
As you will see when you read Pastor Kastens’ article Infant Baptism in Early Church History (SEE ABOVE), the witness of the early church fathers is very clear. Children and infants were included in Baptism.
FROM THE THIRD CENTURY AD ONWARDS.
But Can Infants Believe?
Those who reject infant Baptism practice what they call a "Believer’s Baptism." On the basis of Mark 16: 16 ("Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved."), they claim that a person must believe and be able to confess his faith before receiving Baptism. According to this way of thinking, since infants are unable to believe and confess, they are excluded from Baptism. Only those who have reached the "age of reason," or the "age of accountability" are baptized.
OR SHOULD WE RATHER SAY THE AGE OF BELIEVING?
This position is specious for a number of reasons.
First of all, Mark 16: 16 is not speaking chronologically. In other words, the text is not saying first believe and then be baptized. The verbs "believe" and "baptized" are participles. Any Christian who has been baptized as an infant can confidently say, "I believe, and I have been baptized."
BUT IF CHRIST HAD MEANT THE LATTER HE WOULD HAVE PUT BAPTISED FIRST. HE SAW THE TWO AS HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME.
The commission of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 28: 19-20 commands us to make disciples by "baptizing and teaching." If we read this text chronologically, we would contend that teaching follows Baptism. But it is not intended to be chronological.
BUT CONTINUAL TEACHING IN DISCIPLESHIP DOES FOLLOW BAPTISM.
The opponents of infant Baptism teach that a person must first believe, confess their faith, be saved, and then baptized. From this perspective, Mark 16: 16 should read, "Whoever believes and is saved will be baptized," rather than "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved."
THIS DOES NOT FOLLOW. BOTH WERE SEEN AS HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME. IT IS ALL SEEN AS ONE EVENT. AND THE SALVATION SPOKEN OF IS FUTURE AS WELL AS PRESENT.
Second, the issue is not whether or not an infant can believe. Infants are not baptized because they believe. They are baptized because of the clear Word, command and promise of God.
CLEAR? WHERE? IT IS BECAUSE IT IS NOT CLEAR THAT THIS LONG ARTICLE AND THESE DOGMATIC STATEMENTS ARE REQUIRED AND THAT THERE IS SO MUCH CONTROVERSY.
They are baptized on account of God’s grace, not on account of their faith.
BUT ON WHAT SCRIPTURAL GROUNDS?
Martin Luther writes, "For my faith does not constitute Baptism but receives it" (Tappert: p. 443).
IRRELEVANT. HE SPOKE FROM A PARTICULAR VIEWPOINT, NOT FROM SCRIPTURE.
Third, to claim that a person must reach the "age of reason" or the "age of accountability" before receiving Baptism is to claim that there is something within the person that is able to cooperate with the grace of God.
IT IS NOT. IT IS SIMPLY SAYING THAT THE PERSON MUST PERSONALLY MEAN WHAT THEY ARE DOING AS A RESULT OF AND IN RESPONSE TO GOD’S ACTIVITY WITHIN THEM.
This is called synergism, a theological perversion that places man into a cooperative relationship with God in the salvation process.
ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE DO NOT COOPERATE WITH GOD IN THE SALVATION PROCESS? OF COURSE WE DO EVEN THOUGH IT IS BECAUSE GOD SOVEREIGNLY BRINGS ABOUT OUR COOPERATION. IT IS NOT OUR COOPERATION THAT SAVES OR EVEN PARTLY SAVES, BUT NO MAN IS EVER FINALLY SAVED WITHOUT IT.
In some cases, the proponents of a "Believer’s Baptism" fall into the trap of Pelagianism, an early heresy that denied that man is dead in his trespasses and sin and therefore unable to contribute anything to his salvation - not even his human reason and understanding.
IF WE MEAN THAT GOD CANNOT DO IT WITHOUT OUR COOPERATION, WE ARE WRONG. BUT TO SAY THAT HE DOES NOT DO IT WITHOUT OUR COOPERATION IS CERTAINLY TRUE. IF WE ACCEPT THE SCRIPTURES WE WILL BE AWARE THAT NO ONE IS EVER SAID TO BE SAVED WHO DID NOT RESPOND IN FAITH. (WE MUST LEAVE THE REMAINDER TO GOD)
Concerning the role of human reason, Martin Luther wrote:
"My friend, what good does reason do when faith and God’s Word are concerned? Is it not a fact that reason most violently resists faith and the Word of God so that because of it, no one can come to faith or put up with God’s Word unless reason is blinded and put to shame? A man must die to reason and become a fool, so to speak, yes, and must become more unreasoning and irrational than any your child if he is to come to faith and accept God grace. (Plass: What Luther Says, [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959], Vol. 1, p. 51)
LUTHER LIVED IN AN ATMOSPHERE OF CATHOLIC PHILOSOPHERS WHOSE REASONING MADE INVALID THE TRUTH OF THE SCRIPTURES. IT IS NOT MAN’S REASON OR FAITH THAT SAVE, BUT GOD. NEVERTHELESS HE USES BOTH REASON AND FAITH AS MEANS THROUGH WHICH HE BRINGS MEN TO HIMSELF AS JESUS MADE CLEAR WHEN HE BID MEN BELIEVE, JUST AS HE USES THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING, AND IT IS UNTRUE AND UNSCRIPTURAL TO SAY OTHERWISE.
Do those who suggest that human reason is a necessary ingredient for faith to exist also believe that when they are sleeping and their reason is inactive they have lost their faith? Faith is a miraculous gift of God worked in the heart by the Holy Spirit without human cooperation. If God can bring a stubborn, unbelieving adult to faith through the preaching of the Gospel, would anyone foolishly suggest that he is unable to work the same miracle in the heart of a passive infant through the vehicle of Baptism?
WHO ON EARTH CAN SAY THAT WHEN WE ARE ASLEEP WE DO NOT REASON? OFTEN I GO TO BED AT NIGHT WITH A MENTAL PROBLEM AND IT HAS BEEN SORTED OUT IN THE MORNING. WHAT GOD CAN DO AND WHAT HE DOES DO ARE TWO SEPARATE THINGS. THE TRUTH IS THAT MANY A BAPTISED BABE NEVER COMES TO FAITH. THE BIBLE QUITE CLEARLY PUTS THE EMPHASIS ON FAITH IN RESPONSE TO THE WORD AS THE CHANNEL OF SALVATION AND WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO REPLACE IT WITH METHODS OF OUR OWN INVENTION, EVEN BAPTISM.
I have on numerous occasions discussed if not debated the subject of infant Baptism with callers on my daily radio program. The scenario is always the same. The opponent of infant Baptism is put off by the fact that we teach and confess that an infant can become a believing Christian by God’s grace through Baptism. The issue is, "Is that all they have to do is be baptized?" The focus is always on what the person is doing or not doing and never on what God is doing and able to do.
NOWHERE DOES THE BIBLE SUGGEST THAT BAPTISM PER SE IS THE CHANNEL OF GOD’S GRACE AND SALVATION. JESUS WAS CONSTANTLY SAYING THAT TO BE SAVED MEN MUST BELIEVE, EVEN THOUGH ON THE OTHER HAND HE ALSO SAID THAT MEN COULD NOT COME TO HIM EXCEPT THE FATHER DREW THEM. WE DO NOT DOUBT WHAT GOD CAN DO BUT WE DO STATE THAT HE MAKES CLEAR WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS SAVING WORK ARE AND THAT IS THAT THERE IS RESPONSIVE FAITH IN THE PERSON BEING SAVED. THE IDEA THAT GOD IS SOMEHOW LIMITED BY WHETHER MEN BAPTISE PEOPLE OR NOT IS QUITE FRANKLY THE WORST KIND OF HERESY. GOD HAS NO SUCH LIMITATION. BABES DO NOT BECOME BELIEVING CHRISTIANS. INFANTS IN CHRISTIAN FAMILIES MAY BE POTENTIALLY SO BUT THAT IS A DIFFERENT MATTER.
Those who teach a "Believer’s Baptism" are usually also proponents of Arminian decision theology.
NOT ME, ALTHOUGH I ADMIRE DR ARMINIUS AS I ADMIRE JOHN CALVIN, RECOGNISING HOWEVER THE FAILURES OF BOTH.
They spend more time talking about the fact that they went forward, made a decision, and got saved than upon the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Those who focus upon what they have done in order to be saved will be invariably put off if not angered by the truth of infant Baptism.
AND SO WILL MANY OF THOSE BE PUT OFF WHO SEE GOD AS SOVEREIGN AND READ THE SCRIPTURES AND ARE NOT SACERDOTALIST.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2: 8-9 that we are saved by grace through faith, and it is not of our doing. Grace comes before faith. Baptism is a pure administration of the grace of God in Christ Jesus.
BAPTISM DOES NOT ADMINISTER THE GRACE OF GOD. GOD’S GRACE ACTS INDEPENDENTLY OF MAN AND REACHES OUT WHERE HE WILL. IT BEGAN TO ACT IN ETERNITY. HE MIGHT HAVE CHOSEN SUCH A METHOD BUT NOWHERE DOES SCRIPTURE SUGGEST THAT HE DID SO. THE TRUTH IS THAT SINFUL MAN JUST CANNOT RESIST ESCAPE THE SNARE OF HAVING SOMEHOW TO TAKE CHARGE OF SALVATION. BUT THE EMPHASIS IN SCRIPTURE IS ALWAYS ON GOD AS THE SAVIOUR AND FAITH AS THE CHANNEL.
I knew a young couple who had affiliated with a Lutheran Church but did not embrace the practice of infant Baptism. They were both products of the "Jesus Movement" in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s and had been baptized in a river. After seriously studying the issue under the guidance of their pastor and especially reading the infant Baptism defense in The Book of Concord, they changed their minds and had their three children baptized. The father explained his change of mind by saying, "We thought we were saved by faith through grace rather than by grace through faith. According to the Bible, grace precedes faith. Therefore, we brought our children under the grace of God."
AND WHAT WILL HE THEN SAY IF THEY DO NOT COME TO FAITH AS MANY BAPTISED INFANTS WILL NOT? I COULD CITE MANY PEOPLE TAKING THE OPPOSITE JOURNEY.
A Wonderful Gift!
Infant Baptism is a wonderful gift of God. While it is most certainly true that the practice has been abused, as Luther put it, "Precisely because infant Baptism has been wrongly received it has existence and value. The saying goes, ‘Misuse does not destroy the substance, but confirms its existence.’ Gold remains no less gold if a harlot wears it in sin and shame" (Tappert, p. 444). The very fact that infant Baptism has been abused indicates its value.
SO IF SOMETHING IS MISUSED IT MUST BE GENUINE? THAT IS SEMANTICS. THIS ARGUMENT CAN BE USED TO JUSTIFY ANYTHING. BUT SOMETHING MISUSED IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT.
Opponents of infant Baptism are quick to point out that millions of people have been baptized as infants and have never really "come alive" or grown in their relationship with the Lord Jesus. This may indeed be true, but this is not the fault of infant Baptism since the alternative is also true. Millions have been baptized as infants and have in faith laid claim to the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection and lived victorious Christian lives. If the issue here is which method is more successful in making Christians, one might ask the question as to the spiritual condition of the hundreds of thousands of people who have gone forward, made a decision and got saved at the Billy Graham crusades over the past 50 years. What percentage of these people have remained true to their commitment and become alive, victorious Christians?
I FAIL TO SEE HOW WHAT HAPPENS IN AN EVANGELISTIC MEETING HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE. IS THE WRITER REALLY SUGGESTING THAT SOMETHING WHICH ‘WORKS’ ABOUT FORTY PER CENT OF THE TIME (IF THAT) IS THEREBY SHOWN TO BE RIGHT? GOD’S GRACE NEVER FAILS. HE IS NOT A FORTY PERCENTER. THE QUESTION IS WOULD THOSE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SAVED EVEN IF THEY HAD NOT BEEN BAPTISED AS INFANTS AND THE ANSWER IS THAT THOSE WHO WERE FOREKNOWN WOULD HAVE BEEN SO WHETHER THEY WERE BAPTISED OR NOT, JUST AS MANY ARE SAVED BY THE GRACE OF GOD WHO HAVE NEVER PREVIOUSLY BEEN BAPTISED. INFANT BAPTISM MAY HELPS SOME PEOPLE IN BRINGING UP THEIR CHILDREN TO KNOW GOD, BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT SCRIPTURAL. CHILD DEDICATION DOES THE SAME.
The issue is not my opinion or your opinion or which method is more effective. THE TRUTH IS THAT NEITHER METHOD IS ‘EFFECTIVE’. WHAT IS EFFECTIVE IS THE PREACHING OF THE WORD OF THE CROSS WHICH PAUL GAVE HIMSELF TOTALLY TO SO THAT HE MAINLY REFRAINED FROM BAPTISING (1 CORINTHIANS 1.17-18)
The issue is: What does the Bible say? Scripture is very clear: Infants and children are not to be excluded from Baptism.
NOWHERE DOES SCRIPTURE SAY THIS. TO SUGGEST IT DOES SO IS QUITE FRANKLY JUST ONE MAN’S OPINION. WHETHER THE OPINION IS CORRECT IS ANOTHER MATTER.
IS THERE SOMETHING IN THE BIBLE THAT PUZZLES YOU?
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