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Infant baptism...is it right?

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  • Infant baptism...is it right?

    I have to put this out there because it has bothered me for some time. Our church practices infant baptism and also accepts it as a substitute for adult baptism when it comes to membership at our church. I am sorry but, I see no scriptural basis for infant baptism, and quite frankly, if it is more like a baby dedication, why use the loaded word of baptism when there are spiritual implications associated with that word? Any thoughts?

  • #2
    I definitely wouldn't use it as a substitute - I'm OK with "dedicating" an infant to the Lord ... but baptism is a public response to salvation, and clearly, an infant is unable to confess Christ as Savior and understand/walk in that.

    We dedicate infants, and we always point out during the ceremony that this is a sign of consecration and dedication, and that we charge the parents and congregation to bring up the child in the ways of the Lord and Scripture, and trust that the child will confess Christ at a time when they are able to do so on their own accord, and receive true baptism.

    We do NOT call it infant baptism.
    Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
    blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

    Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:


    • #3
      This is what I've been taught as a born, bred and 'dunked' Baptist from the UK!

      I also agree that there's no Biblical basis for infant Baptism (or 'Christening' as it's often called here in the UK) and certainly no basis for 'substitution' either. As I understand it, infant Baptism became widely practised in the middle ages (or before) when there was a very high infant mortatily rate and it was seen as a way of 'getting the baby into heaven' - and of course if you wanted to donate to the church for the service...

      And we still have it because of 'tradition'. In fact the local Anglican priest in my town wrote an article along these lines. He'll do it as a 'form of dedication' and way of the parents commiting to bring the child up with a knowledge of God; but it doesn't 'make you a Christian' or 'get you into Heaven'. I think he took some flack from some of his parishoners about it...

      We 'dedicate' in my (Baptist) Church and then do adult baptism when you're able to make the desicion for yourself.

      In doing some study and research and I've found Matt 18:10 implies that all children 'below the age of accountability' (when you had your Bar or Bat Mitzvah and became 'an adult') belong to God and that's certainy very old Jewish thinking. For more on that you can go to: http://www.whyangels.com/what_do_ang...uardian_angels (a site I've researched/written/designed and created!) Look at the bible quote 29 and below it.

      I'm certainly no theologian (I'm a web designer!) but from talking to knowledgeable Christians and researching Christian and Jewish books that's what I've found. That's my 2p!


      • #4
        I agree, I have never studied anywhere in the Bible that seems to support infant baptism. (Not that I know every passage of scripture perfectly!)

        Baptism seems to always be used in the Bible associated with adults or people old enough to dedicate themselves to following Jesus.

        Our baby dedication is more about the parents in front of the congregation promising to raise the child in a Godly home to the best of their ability...

        I would struggle with this practice also..


        • #5
          Baptism - your definition

          A lot of what you're talking about has to do with one's definition of baptism. (I mentioned this on a tweet response, but there's only 140 characters there, and I think I've just now used that up.) For example: some denominations state that baptism is "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." That means that infants would be allowed to be baptized, because God's grace was there for them even in their infancy. You mentioned it yourself, jpc101, about the belief that those before the age of accountability belong to God. There's nothing really scriptural about that, but it does definitely require grace for that kind of thinking. Those who believe in infant baptism do so because in such a baptism they are celebrating the fact that God has already offered us grace even before we ask for it. It's a symbol of something God has already done - a baptism of God's Holy Spirit with grace.

          Those who follow a "believer's baptism" do so because, to them baptism is a public confession and celebration of one's salvation. That would, of course, require one to be old enough to claim one's salvation.

          Neither is "wrong" per se, unless you DON'T believe in God's grace being there for a child or unless you are an adult who hasn't accepted Christ but you go through the motions of a believer's baptism anyway.

          As far as scripture: there's not much that tells us scripturally how the act of baptism should be done in the church. Where would you find it? The early church, however, did begin using infant baptism in the first century (and, no, it wasn't because they thouht it would be a way to "get a baby into heaven" - I thought that, too, when I first started asking questions about this).

          There are those who also believe that a water baptism is necessary to enter into heaven - that no matter what God has done through the cross and through the Holy Spirit, if a pastor doesn't say the right words or dunk or sprinkle or...whatever...in the right way then that person is lost. As you can see, I have trouble with that line of thinking since it's God's act of love which allows us the grace of salvation.


          • #6
            I'm not going to enter this discussion any more than to say, I agree with all of the above except for Sam's post...I do believe that there are very obvious Biblical guidelines for baptism. It doesn't really matter what our personal opinions about the matter when the Bible is clear.

            Practical Worship

            Please Pray For My Wife


            • #7
              I had a baptist preacher explain the biblical context for baptism before and he mentioned how the greek used the word "baptiso" or something like that, and that the direct translation is to be "submerged" in water. Long story short, I'm really not for sprinkling either, but I guess denominations have their quirks.

              A little off topic but, I agree with the baptists take on baptism but not salvation, the A.G.'s Armenian view of salvation but not their view of the the holy spirit, and the Methodists view of provenial grace but not the infant baptism. What is one to do?

              By the way, I'm at a UMC church after having served at an Assemblies of God church and a Southern Baptist church.


              • #8
                My Minister has preached a couple of sermons on the subject at a couple of adult 'Believer's Baptism' services we've had if anyone's interested!

                And for the 'definition' of baptism, I think you have to go back to the Jewish roots. Certainly John the 'Baptist' was 'Baptising' in the Jewish tradition before Jesus started his ministry!

                The wikipedia entry on Baptism is worth a read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism

                The Jewish form of Baptism (what John was doing) was the mikvah or ritual immersion, practised by those wanted to be made ritual clean, repent or be prepared for a special ministry or kind of service (as Jesus was Baptised). Converts to Judaism today normally still have to go through the mikvah ceremony (depending on the synagogue).

                My belief is salvation by grace and that Baptism is an outward commitment and sign/witness/demonstraion of this.

                Also John said that Jesus (and those following him) would Baptise to do more than 'clean':

                11 "I baptise you with (Or in) water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
                Matthew 3:11

                And with infant Baptism, yes the early Church did do it - possibly as a replacement for the Jewish naming and dedication ceremony (circumcision) - as many of the early Church weren't Jewish...

                But as wikipedia says: "(In the Middle Ages) Infant baptism became common, alongside the developing theology of original sin, displacing the earlier common practice of delaying baptism until the deathbed."

                So (because of original sin) it was seen by some (if not most) as a way of 'getting the baby into heaven'! (The baby not being able to go to confession and receive absolution...)

                As for Baptism by the Holy Spirit, have a listen to the sermons (especially the top link) because Andy explains it better than I ever could!

                I don't mean to go on, just to say where I'm coming from on this!


                • #9
                  In general I do agree with a lot of what has been said. I was brought up in a Methodist church but my parents still decided to have me dedicated so that I could make the decision to be baptised as an adult for myself.

                  However, at the start of the thread someone mentioned:
                  "Our church practices infant baptism and also accepts it as a substitute for adult baptism when it comes to membership at our church."

                  This is where it gets tricky. I personaly, in general agree that baptism such be reserved for adults who can make their own desision however I have a good friend who was baptised as a child (methodist church) and moved churches when they relocated for work...they found a church and wanted to become a member but the church said to become a member they had to have adult baptism...My friend decided that she could not be baptised AGAIN because to do so would invalidate what her parents had done in their decision to baptise her as an infant....It would also be saying that anything spiritual which God did during infant baptism was invalid....and who are we to say whether God "accepts" infant baptism. As a result the Church refused to allow her to become a member and she left the church feeling rejected by her "church family".

                  Ultimately even if God intended baptism to be for adults only I doubt that God will turn his back on child baptism, I believe he appreciates the motives behind it and works through it. To force someone to be baptised again for membership is basically deeming the work God did through the infant baptism as worthless and of no value.

                  Do remember that when Paul and Silas were freed from prison it says this about the jailor:
                  Acts 16:33
                  "At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized."

                  It says all his family were baptised...there is no mention about it being according to age, or mental ability to make a decision. So I would be carefull before categorising all infant baptism's as being worthless, even if we dont consider them to be ideal.


                  • #10
                    Adult Baptism

                    I was baptized as an infant and have been thinking for a while now that I might want to be baptized as an adult. So if you are a music director at a church that uses infant baptism and you want to be baptized as an adult, do you think there are any church's that will baptize you as an adult even if you cannot attend services due to employment with another church???


                    • #11
                      Hey, you don't have to go to a church - find a Believer, and tell them you want to be baptized - they can do it in a pool, for that matter ... doesn't have to be a priest, pastor, or "professional" clergy, IMHO.
                      Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
                      blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

                      Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:


                      • #12
                        I agree. We are all "priest" in the holy priesthood. Though I feel sure, if you wanted a minister to baptis you, you could find one...


                        • #13
                          Hey, you don't have to go to a church - find a Believer, and tell them you want to be baptized - they can do it in a pool, for that matter ... doesn't have to be a priest, pastor, or "professional" clergy, IMHO.
                          Not just your's, Fred.

                          It has always been the position of the "Church" (which by now means the Catholic church) that the minister of baptism need not be clergy. In fact, I can remember growing up being taught to baptize those in danger of dying - just in case.

                          While Catholics do practice infant baptism, they also practice Confirmation, which is equivalent to "believer's baptism" in that it is a personal descision made at an age where it can be reasonably made.

                          Of course, scripturally, infant baptism has no salvific value. In fact, there is no real scriptural basis for the idea that children are "automatically" granted access to heaven. Paul specifically said in 1 Corinthians 7:
                          For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
                          So it seems it is the grace put upon the parents extending to the children that provides salvation. Still, the act of dedicating or even baptizing an infant should not be declared wrong as long as it is understood what it is really accomplishing. We are not saved by baptism either as adults or children, but by grace through faith.


                          • #14
                            Well said, Mikeymo. Thanks.


                            • #15
                              Just a word of caution, here, folks. While I see from this thread that most of the posters on this forum are firm believers in believer's baptism, I would ask for some pause and respect for others before saying that there is no biblical basis for infant baptism. There are many church groups and denominations that have a proud and distinguished history of both biblical interpretation and scholarship and worshipful, Christ-centred, and Christ-honouring practice in infant baptism.

                              I could go into a long biblical exposition on infant baptism, but I would prefer not to do that and get into a huge debate here. One small nod in this direction is simply this - when in the book of Acts we are told that someone was baptised "with their whole household" (eg. Acts 16:33) it would seem to indicate that the baptism of some in the household was on the basis of the faith of the specific individual mentioned. The idea of the baptism was to express the grace of God that had come to the whole people.

                              It seems to me that there are two approaches to baptism - when we focus on the individual's respone to Christ's work, then we practice and preach believer's baptism. When we focus on the Body of Christ, the community of faith and our journey together in faith and in receiving God's grace, we tend to practice and preach infant baptism. Both forms have been present in the church from the earliest times in Church history, and both have strong theological and biblical foundations. It's simply a question of emphasis.

                              Perhaps both groups are right, but simply choose differnt places to focus. Perhaps we can make space for one another, and love as Christ loved, without judging each other because we fail to agree on an issue like this? Perhaps we can be a little cautious before accusing one another of not believing the Bible, or of not having adequate biblical support for our views, before we have fully understand the other person's position? I really hope we can.

                              For what it's worth