POLL: Where do you stand on the issue of infant baptism?

Grant Swart

Infant baptism represents yet another controversial subject among many of those who regard themselves as being steadfastly of the Christian faith. It has continued to be divisive and a cause of much confusion ever since it started developing as a Christian sacrament over the first few hundred years of church history.

Infant baptism is sometimes referred to as, or can be confused with, a christening ceremony in which the baby is named and welcomed into the congregation. In certain instances the ceremonies are private and held between family members and close friends, but often it involves entire congregations and can be a very public affair. Christenings and infant baptisms generally require the infant to be sprinkled with water or to be bodily immersed in water. Neither of these are the same as the non-sacramental ceremony of baby dedication, in which salvation is not implied and is not the subject of this poll.

In some circles infant baptism is regarded as being a cleansing from original sin, as infants are incapable of understanding sin or the need they have to be cleansed from it. Those who represent another school of thought, regard it as a heretical practice and yet others adopt a neutral stance toward it stating that, as there is no biblical prohibition of the practice, it can be deemed acceptable.

This adds a further dimension to the issue, one which poses the question as to whether “christening” is acceptable only as a naming ceremony and a dedication of the infant to the church congregation, or whether it also constitutes a biblical baptism from sin, when performed as a part of a baptismal ceremony. Can infant baptism be regarded as a fulfillment of the command Jesus gave to His disciples in Mathew 28 to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…”

The diversity of opinion regarding infant baptism can serve as a source of confusion about what biblical baptism entails. The practice of infant baptism is not mentioned in the Scriptures, yet neither do the Scriptures speak out against it. Many people are dedicated followers of their church traditions and are therefore reluctant to question those traditions, which seem to be binding on their faith and which might include or exclude infant baptism.

The result of infant baptism can have one of, at least, two possible outcomes. On the one hand, people can be left believing that, because they were baptized or christened as infants, they have already been set right before God. If, however, that presumption is false, they can unknowingly be lost to the kingdom of God due to their lifelong unrepentant and unsaved state. On the other hand, they can truly be among those who will be saved because their parents were sufficiently conscientious to have had them baptized as infants. If infant baptism does in fact lead to salvation, they can inherit the kingdom of God.

Where do you stand on the issue of infant baptism? Your vote and your comments are, as always, greatly appreciated.

 

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26 thoughts on “POLL: Where do you stand on the issue of infant baptism?

    • Sally R

      Thank you for participating. Is it also your opinion that infant baptism is unbiblical and that the practice is responsible for sending many to hell unknowingly?

      Blessings to you!

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  1. Baptism is an act of obedience, once a person has repented and been redeemed by the Lord. The Lord does it all – the bringing of repentance and faith, the saving, the ability to obey, the sanctification and finally the glorification. An infant is incapable of responding in obedience. Grieviously many are baptized as infants and spend the rest of their lives being assured by their family/church that they are secure in the Lord, and that serves to harden the heart further. Only by the grace and mercy of the Lord is one saved.

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  2. It is a tradition, nothing more. Which is okay if the baby is baptized. I don’t see anything wrong with it. It is not an indication the baby will go to heaven or hell though.

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    • Dalia

      Thank you for commenting. Your comment raises a few questions, though.

      (1) If it is only a tradition and not a biblical instruction, then why do it? Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

      (2) If it is not an indication that the baby will go to heaven, what then is the purpose of baptizing the infant and the whole ceremony that it involves?

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      • Hi, Grant! Well, I believe Mary explained it well. And, also, it is man’s tradition, (Catholics, from my early upbringing). Nowhere in the Bible does infant baptism come up, not out of Jesus’ lips. Logically, I just don’t see how a baby can understand the meaning of baptism at all. So, there is absolutely no purpose, other than a false assurance, belief, and hope of the parents that their little one will go to heaven if the baby dies. In a nutshell it Is a ceremony based on the parents hope and fear.. But Jesus is a fair judge and the babies will be with him if they pass because in their infancy they lack awareness of Him. Now, in adulthood, that’s a different matter. But nowhere in the bible is there infant baptism. If I am mistaken, I am very open to correction.

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      • Although infant baptism is not mentioned explicitly in Scripture, there are hints of it in several passages that record the baptism of a whole “household,” which may have included children and infants:

        “… she [Lydia] and the members of her household were baptized…”
        (Acts 16:15)

        “… immediately he [the jailer] and all his family were baptized.”
        (Acts 16:33)

        “… I [the apostle Paul] also baptized the household of Stephanas…”
        (I Corinthians 1:16)

        Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children…” (Acts 2:38-39)

        The earliest explicit reference to child or infant baptism is in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, about 215 A.D.:

        “Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them.” (Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition 21:15, c. 215 A.D.)

        Martin Luther and John Calvin, the two primary founders of the Protestant Reformation, both believed in infant baptism:

        Of the baptism of children we hold that children ought to be baptized. For they belong to the promised redemption made through Christ, and the Church should administer it to them. (Martin Luther, The Smalcald Articles, Article V: Of Baptism, 1537)

        “If, by baptism, Christ intends to attest the ablution by which he cleanses his Church, it would seem not equitable to deny this attestation to infants, who are justly deemed part of the Church, seeing they are called heirs of the heavenly kingdom.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1559)

        Nevertheles, there are a minority of Protestants who do not practice infant baptism but who wait until children have reached an “age of accountability” (also not referred to in Scripture) to be baptized.

        In his article What About Infant Baptism? Mark Copeland presents some common Protestant arguments against the historic Christian practice. The author makes two major points: (1) Infant baptism is not “real” baptism, because it is not immersion. This is erroneous, because all persons baptized in the Orthodox Church, whether as infants or as adults, are baptized by full immersion. When our son Garrett is baptized, he will be immersed in water not just once, but three times, in the name of the Holy Trinity. (2) Babies “are not lost and in need of salvation.” Copeland interprets the doctrine of “original sin” to mean that babies are born with the guilt of Adam’s sin, and he rejects the doctrine on that basis. This, however, is a misunderstanding of original sin. What we inherit from Adam is not personal guilt but a fallen nature that is subject to death. “God created man for incorruption” (Wisdom of Solomon 2:23), but “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men” (Romans 5:12). Thus, the author’s case against infant baptism is based on two errors — a factual error and a theological error.

        Orthodox Christians understand baptism to be a sacrament or a mystery — a visible means by which the grace of God is communicated to us.

        We understand the sacraments of the New Covenant, established by Christ in the church, to be the fulfillment of the types and images that were foreshadowed in the Old Covenant, between God and the people of Israel. (See Hebrews 9-10) In the Old Testament, circumcision was the means by which a Jew entered into the covenant of Abraham. In the New Testament, it is baptism which marks our entrance into the kingdom of God, the beginning of our Christian life. Just as Jewish boys were circumcised as infants, so also the children of Christian parents are baptized as infants. St. Paul makes this explicit link between circumcision and baptism:

        In [Christ] you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)

        When does a person’s Christian life begin? For an adult, it begins at the time that one freely chooses to embrace the apostolic faith in Christ. But for a child born into a Christian home, the Christian life begins at birth, as his parents teach him to love God, as they read the Scriptures to him and teach him to pray with them, and as they bring him to church regularly to worship with other believers.

        While baptism marks the beginning of our Christian life, each of us who are baptized must continue daily to persevere in our faith until the end of our earthly life. As St. Paul says:

        “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect… I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do… I press on toward the goal to win the prize…” (Philippians 3:12-14)

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  3. Infant baptism is not biblical. While it is true that it’s not mentioned in the Bible, it is not true that it is therefore biblically “neutral”. Those who hold that position are committing the logical fallacy of “Denying the Antecedent” where an argument is made for p and q. If p, then q and therefore if not p therefore, not q. It’s like saying “if it is snowing then it must be cold outside”. This statement is logically correct. But it is incorrect to assume that since it is not snowing it is therefore not cold outside. The truth is that it can indeed be cold outside and snow not be present.
    Baptism is an act of submission for those who have been redeemed and justified. It is commanded in Scripture as a testimony for those who realize they have passed from death unto life (quickened). It is meant to identify to all in attendance that a soul has been crucified, buried, and then risen again in newness of life by the work of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a symbol of obedience that this reconciled soul is for evermore to be identified among the Bride of Christ and has nothing to do with cleansing of sins unto salvation. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse the stain and condemnation of sin. And since an infant cannot attest to any of the above, the biblical command cannot apply to infants.
    Therefore, even thought there is not a specific command against “infant baptism” in the Bible there is a clear description of who must participate in true Christian baptism. Infants cannot be included in that group if we are to follow Scripture and the Lord instead of the traditions of man.

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  4. My 2¢ infant baptism is not biblical, but optional (dedication) and does not lead to salvation. The examples we have are of people capable of comprehending the word of God and who, after hearing and accepting it, were baptized. We must choose Christ of our own free will. No one can make the choice for us.

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    • Nick B

      Thank you for your comment. The examples you refer to and your stance on the requirements for Baptism of the sinner are Biblical. However, the second part of your statement presents a slight problem when we read the following regarding whether we are able, or at all willing, to choose Christ of our own free will. Only God alone can make the choice for us.

      Rom 3:9-12 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, (10) as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; (11) no one understands; no one seeks for God. (12) All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

      And

      Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

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  5. You will find no record in God’s Word that children were not baptized, and no trace of a prescription forbidding the Baptism of infants.If you want to show that the Baptism of infants is against the evidence of Scripture, you must first produce the evidence either that the Apostles deliberately refused to baptize infants, or that they taught expressly that infants were not to be baptized.Search how you will, you will never find any evidence of these things.

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    • tintin1889

      and no trace of a prescription forbidding the Baptism of infants

      None forbidding, but none permitting it either. Do we simply add commandments, religious practices, traditions of men, unbiblical sacraments, pagan rituals, personal rules, new ideas, secular recommendations to God’s Word because it is not specifically addressed in the Bible?

      Everything we do in religion must be done by Jesus’ authority (Col. 3:17). The Scriptures provide us to all good works (2 Tim. 3:16,17), so if a practice is not included in God’s word, it must not be a good work. If a practice is not authorized in the New Testament, then it must be human in origin and therefore not pleasing to God (2 John 9; Gal. 1:6-9; Matt. 15:9; Prov. 14:12; etc.)

      According to these Scriptures babies should be baptized only if we can find statements in the New Testament that show that God wants us to practice this. To prove infant baptism is unacceptable, we do not have to find a passage that expressly forbids the practice. Rather, if the Bible tells us specifically who to baptize, and if infants are not included in those instructions – i.e., if the gospel teaches individual responsibility and personal accountability – then the practice of baptizing babies should be abandoned

      The household conversions do not disprove what we have learned elsewhere. Instead they harmonize with it. All who are baptized must do things that babies cannot do. Therefore, the command to be baptized does not include babies. When people baptize babies, they follow human authority, and they displease God

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  6. Nowhere in the New Testament is there the faintest suggestion that adults only could be baptised.On the other hand, Christ expressly said, “Unless one be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the Kingdon of Heaven.”And a child is someone.Christ also sent the Apostles to teach and baptize all nations, and the term “all nations” certainly includes men, women and children..Our Lord did not say “Baptize the adults only of all nations.”

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    • tintin1889

      First, infant baptism is an unauthorized change in God’s pattern for baptism. God tells us whom to baptize. He tells the conditions people must meet in order to be baptized, but babies do not fit. To baptize babies is to act by human authority without divine authority.

      Second, infant baptism leads people to believe they are saved when they are not. God requires people to be baptized for the remission of sins when they are old enough to make their own decision about the matter. But many people have been baptized as babies. Then, when they are old enough to be responsible for their conduct so they should be baptized, they refuse because they believe they have already done so. But their infant baptism was not Scriptural. So the person goes through his whole life never having been Scripturally baptized, and therefore he never has received forgiveness of his sins!

      Cornelius’ household – Acts 10:1-11:18; 15:7-11
      Peter taught these people that God is no respecter of persons (10:34). So whatever anyone in the household did to be baptized, all the rest must have done the same things. Peter did not give two sets of rules, one for babies and another for adults.
      Notice some things that people in this household did that babies cannot do: all in the household feared God (10:2,35); all came together to hear and receive what God had commanded (10:33,44; 11:1,14); they heard and believed (15:7,9; 10:43), they repented (11:18), and they were told to work righteousness (10:35). No babies baptized here!
      Furthermore, since God is no respecter of persons, we are not going to find any examples of conversion in which less was required of people than in the examples we have already studied. Some examples may give fewer details, but no one in any household was baptized without faith, repentance, confession, etc. If such a case existed, God would be a respecter of persons.

      Lydia’s household – Acts 16:13-15,40
      In this case there is no reason to believe that Lydia was even married, let alone that she had little children. The Bible teaches that, if a woman has a husband, he should be the head of the household (Eph. 5:22-25). So whenever the Bible refers to the activity of a household, if the husband is included in that activity, if the wife is mentioned by name then the man is also mentioned. (Notice how the other household conversions demonstrate this. Genealogies also followed this rule.)
      Since Lydia’s household was baptized, the fact that no man is mentioned would imply that she was the head of the household. Her household may have included relatives, especially older relatives, and perhaps servants, but no husband is implied, let alone children.
      Paul later “encouraged” those who were brethren (NKJV), including Lydia’s house (v40). Did this include babies?

      The Jailer’s household – Acts 16:23-34
      Before this household was baptized, Paul spoke the word to all in the house (v32), and they believed (v31,34). Again, babies can’t do these things, so no babies were included in the number baptized here.

      Stephanas’ household – 1 Corinthians 1:16; 16:15
      Again, what verse says there were babies in this household? Note that Stephanas’ house ministered to the saints. Again, people who are baptized must be old enough to be active in God’s work as members of the church. This does not include babies.
      The household conversions do not disprove what we have learned elsewhere. Instead they harmonize with it. All who are baptized must do things that babies cannot do. Therefore, the command to be baptized does not include babies. When people baptize babies, they follow human authority, and they displease God.

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  7. According to the Greek text God says, “Unless one be baptized,” not “unless a man be baptized.”By birth a child attains its natural life, but is by no means born into the supernatural life of divine grace.And precisely because it has not attained to the use of reason and to an ability to secure sanctifying grace by its own interior and personal desires, it has but one means of getting it;and that is by the actual Baptismal rite.

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    • tintin1889

      Sanctifying Grace cannot be secured by means of the ability of any human, infantile or adult. Sanctifying grace is a gift to the sinner from the Sovereign God to those who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. Baptism in water is done after salvation has been received by the sinner, not in a futile effort on mans behalf to try to secure salvation in accordance with his own interior and personal desires, but as a sign that the one being baptized has received justification. For salvation faith is required, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is by the Grace of God alone.

      A. Each Individual Is Responsible to Serve God from Proper Motives.
      B. Each Person Should Be Baptized for the Purpose of Receiving Forgiveness of Sins.
      C. A Baby Cannot Be Baptized to Receive Forgiveness, because It Has No Sins to Be Forgiven.
      D. Baptized People Should Learn to Exhort and Encourage Other Christians – how does a baby do that.
      E. Baptized People Should Learn to Worship God- and a baby should learn what?.
      F. Baptized People Should Put God First in Their Lives – how does an infant make that decision?.

      Some people claim that babies can have faith, and therefore they should be baptized (note Matt. 18:6). But remember that denominations typically baptize babies as young as a few days or a few weeks old. Can anyone seriously believe that babies, at this age, can have the kind of faith the Bible requires before baptism?

      Romans 10:13-17 – Faith comes by hearing God’s word.
      What about repenting and confessing? We have shown that these are also required before baptism. Can babies do these?

      Just suppose babies could believe. Logically, then, babies could also DISbelieve.
      But the Bible says to baptize the ones that believe and not the ones that do not believe (Mark. 16:16; Acts 8:12,36,37; etc.). Do folks who practice infant baptism make a distinction between the babies that believe and those that don’t? If so, how?

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  8. Thank You, Grant. Your answers have convinced me that you are “Right”. I have thoroughly enjoyed your replies as the statements I gave had been used against me from a Catholic perspective and I wasn’t sure how to answer those statements. Do keep up the good work and God Bless.

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  9. Baptists and evangelicals are absolutely correct…there is no SPECIFIC mention in the New Testament that the Apostles baptized infants. There are references to entire households being converted and baptized, but we orthodox cannot prove, just from Scripture, that these households had infants, and neither can Baptists and evangelicals prove, just from Scripture, that they did not.

    One interesting point that Baptists/evangelicals should note is that although there is no specific mention of infant baptism in the Bible…neither is there a prohibition of infant baptism in the Bible. Christians are commanded by Christ to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and to baptize all nations. No age restrictions are mentioned. If Christ had intended his followers to understand that infants could not be baptized in the New Covenant, in a household conversion process as was the practice of the Jews of Christ’s day in converting Gentile households to the Covenant of Abraham, it is strange that no mention is made of this prohibition.

    So, the only real way to find out if Infant Baptism was practiced by the Apostles is to look at the writings of the early Christians, some of whom were disciples of the Apostles, such as Polycarp, and see what they said on this issue.

    And here is a key point: Infant Baptism makes absolutely no sense if you believe that sinners can and must make an informed, mature decision to believe in order to be saved. Infants cannot make informed, mature decisions, so if this is the correct Doctrine of Justification/Salvation, Infant Baptism is clearly false teaching. But the (arminian) Baptist/evangelical Doctrine of Justification/Salvation is unscriptural. Being forced to make a decision to obtain a gift, makes the gift no longer free. This is salvation by works!

    Baptism is a command of God. It is not a work of man. God says in plain, simple language, in multiple locations in the Bible, that he saves/forgives sins in Baptism. We orthodox Christians accept God’s literal Word. We take our infants to be baptized because God says to do it. Our infants are not saved because we perform the act of bringing them to the baptismal font…they are saved by the power of God’s Word pronounced at the time of the Baptism. Christians have believed this for 2,000 years!

    There is no evidence that any Christian in the early Church believed that sinners are saved by making a free will decision and then are baptized solely as a public profession of faith. None.

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
    http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/06/the-origen-of-baptistevangelical.html

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  10. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

    The fact that children die shows that they are subject to the consequences of sin just like adults. If children are not held responsible by God for the Original Sin inherited from their Grandfather Adam, they would never die until they reach an Age of Accountability, when “their eyes are opened to the knowledge of Good and Evil”.

    But the Bible never mentions an age of accountability. Instead, it teaches that “the whole world (is) held accountable to God” (Romans 3:19), Psalms 51:5, Eph. 2:3.

    Just because something doesn’t seem fair, doesn’t mean it is not true. As Paul says in Romans, who are we the created to question the Creator?

    All human beings, including infants, are born sinners and are in need of a Savior to redeem them from original sin and the penalty of that sin: death…both physical and spiritual.

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

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  11. The only option I saw in the poll for infant baptism being unbiblical was followed by it being responsible for sending them to hell. Infant baptism in and of itself is not the reason anyone goes to hell. Our lack of atonement for our sins are what send us to hell. Infant baptism, if trusted as ones justification is no different than any other justification if it’s not by Christ’s work alone. God is a jealous God and will not share his glory with another in justification or any other requirement God has made for righteousness. So, I would have liked the option of choosing that it’s unbiblical with it also being a forgivable sin to be repented of in trusting Christ as ones ALL in ALL.

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    • Ok, your right. God doesn’t save sinners by the power of his Word alone in Holy Baptism. God needs the sinner’s assistance. God needs the sinner to make a decision that he wants righteousness, that he wants to be good, that he wants God. Then God demands that the sinner pray, or at least have these thoughts go through his head: “Dear God, I know I am a sinner. Please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart, and be my Lord and Savior. I promise to turn from my sinful ways and follow you.”

      We know this is the true Plan of Salvation from all the passages of Scripture that say, “Repent and pray the Sinners Prayer for the forgiveness of sins” and many like it.

      Even though Baptism or one of its variants is mentioned over 100 times in the NT and the term “born again” is mentioned only twice, we know for a FACT that Baptism is not involved in salvation in any way, shape, or form.

      And the fact that there is no mention of any major controversy in the Church over infant baptism is proof that the Catholics destroyed all evidence of the true believers in the Early Church and their practice of adult baptism as a public profession of faith…only!

      Please, dear evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ! Open your eyes to the truth! God doesn’t do transactions with sinners! He doesn’t need your help to save you. Read the NT without your denominational biases… and the simple, plain truth of the Word will shine forth as God said it would.

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