Why I Changed My Mind on Infant Baptism

“Let us give thanks unto Almighty God for these benefits;
and with one accord make our prayers unto him,
that our children may lead the rest of their lives according to this beginning.”

(
Anglican Ministration of Holy Baptism)

Introduction

On August 14th, 2011 (several years before I came into full communion with the Catholic Church), my children were baptized at St. Philip the Evangelist Anglican Church (unbeknownst to me, this was the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe – the patron saint of families and the pro-life movement!). Having been a long time member of the Evangelical-Baptist movement and a current professor at an Evangelical seminary, this decision came as a shock to many. So I wrote this to help explain why, and hopefully avoid misunderstandings.

To summarize: after being challenged to learn more about Church history before choosing a new church to attend after having to leave our Baptist church for personal reasons, I came to understand that believer-only baptism (the definitive mark of the original Anabaptist movement) was a 17th Century theological innovation rejected not only by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, but also by the Protestant Reformers and Anglican Church in England. I came to see that the ancient and continuous united teachings of the Church affirms infant baptism (or, more precisely, “non-believer-only baptism”).

To extrapolate: the evidences that led me to the above conclusion came from the Church’s Scripture, Tradition, Practice, Theology, Creeds, Councils, Rituals, and Salvation – each of which will be briefly discussed below. First, though, I must say something about methodology – for how one proceeds in an investigation will determine the kinds of evidences one will accept and what weight is given to them.

Methodology

Two basic reasons were always given to me as to why infants should not be baptized:

  1. The Bible does not command, nor give any examples of, infant baptism.
  2. Since baptism is a memorial symbol of one coming to faith, infants obviously ought not be baptized.

After some reflection, both of these seemed problematic to me. First, there are lots of practices that even “Bible churches” allow that are not commanded or even exemplified in the Bible. The Baptist churches of my background allowed women to partake in communion, and met in church buildings with pews and youth pastors. None of these practices would be allowable if only biblically commanded/exemplified practices were allowed. Further they did not practice things that were biblically commanded like using wine and washing feet.

The same can be said for the theology behind baptism. Nowhere does the Bible call baptism a memorial, and (as will be shown below) often links it with salvation in a causative relationship. This is not to say that these verses might have more than one way of being understood – but it does show that something besides the Bible is at play here (which, of course, is the very complaint brought against infant baptism!). Consider also that many of the churches that decry infant baptism do so on the basis that babies are usually not dunked in water as they believe Bible baptisms to have been done, yet the same churches will serve crackers and grape juice for communion instead of bread and wine.

Now these kinds of inconsistencies do not disprove the practices, nor do they prove others. But they do show that the Bible alone was not responsible for them. Baptists had as much tradition as anyone else. And that’s fine  – no one comes to the Bible free of presuppositions and traditions – the only question is which ones will they be.

So I started looking into important issues with an eye to both the Scriptures and how the unified Church has understood them. One of the beliefs I reassessed according to this paradigm was infant baptism.  Although I had always been taught “believer-only baptism,” I discovered that nearly all of the evidence pointed to it being a 16th century innovation that remained a minority position even after the Reformation. While this may not constitute 100% certainty concerning the correctness of the doctrine, it seemed to at least call it into serious question.

The Church’s Scripture

Proof Texts and Commands

The Scriptures are, of course, the Christian’s ultimate authority. While for many Christians only biblical commands or solid proof texts will suffice to prove a doctrine, these are lacking for both believer-only and infant baptism. Unfortunately, neither side of the issue has as much biblical evidence as it would like. There is, of course, plenty of evidence to support the inclusion of adult believers in baptism. What is missing is equally good evidence to support the exclusion of infants in baptism.

Another problem with the above line of reasoning is that there are many practices adopted by the Church that do not have specific biblical commands or solid proof texts. As shown above, this kind of methodology simply does not work out for any church. Further, where is the specific command to, or example of, only accepting specific commands or examples when determining proper church practices? So the “biblical commands or solid proof texts” method is problematic at best.

Reasonable Inferences

Without biblical commands or solid proof texts, can a reasonable inference be made from the Bible regarding infant baptism anyway? The few people whose baptisms we read about in Scripture were adults, because they were converted as adults. This makes sense, because Christianity was just beginning—there were no “cradle Christians” (people brought up from childhood in Christian homes). Even so, there seems to be some indication that infants were included in the households of those baptized.

In Acts, when the Apostle Peter said to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, he added, “For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him” (Acts 2:39). The word “children” that is used here comes from the Greek word “teknon” which includes infants (cf. Luke 1:59 and Acts 21:21). While this does not prove that baptism was for infants it does not exclude them. And, while it may be true that infants cannot repent, many traditions allow that those who are not capable of repenting are not capable of sinning either – so this issue would need to be settled first as well.

In other baptism examples we see instances of entire households being baptized even when only one member of the household is explicitly said to have come to faith in Christ:

  • Lydia was converted by Paul’s preaching, and “she was baptized, with her household” (Acts 16:15). It mentions nothing about preaching the gospel to her household or their coming to belief.
  • The Philippian jailer whom Paul and Silas had converted to the faith was baptized that night along with his household. We are told that “the same hour of the night . . . he was baptized, with all his family” (Acts 16:33). The family was preached to, and “he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” But the text does not say they believed.
  • Paul baptized “the household of Stephanas” (1 Cor. 1:16), although no mention is made of anyone else’s faith in the family.

The Greek word “oikos” (translated “house” or “household” here) would include infants and children in the household. The LXX uses this word when referring to the complete family, and the Old Testament parallel for “house” carries the sense of the family. If any of these texts referred simply to the husband and his wife, then we might expect to read that just the husband and his wife were baptized, but we do not. It would seem odd that in all these cases there just happened to be households and families with no children! But even if in some cases the “whole family” only meant adults, there is an even larger problem for believer-only baptism: why was the whole family of adults commanded to be baptized when only one had come to faith? Now of course it might be inferred that they had, but again we run into uncertainty.

Thus, the Bible seems quiet (if not silent) on the issue, and only an inconsistent “biblical commands or solid proof texts” methodology makes it seem otherwise (and again, such a method would also rule out women receiving communion!). Fortunately the Church’s writings did not end with Scripture – in fact some of the earliest writings of the Church overlapped with the time of the writing of Scripture. Although they are not inspired or on the same level of authority as Scripture, they are at least indicative of how the early Church (who was taught by the apostles) understood Scripture (and take careful note of 1 Tim. 3:15!). This understanding is revealed in both its written traditions and practices.

The Church’s Tradition

The majority of the Church – both historically and presently – believes in the importance of infant baptism, even if for a variety of reasons. This is made clear by a consideration of early quotes from the writings of the Early Church fathers, Medieval Theologians, and Reformation Theologians. To keep this article of manageable size, I have a separate post with representative quotes here: The Church Fathers, Medieval Theologians, and Protestant Leaders on Baptism. Thus, infant baptism’s traditional pedigree is not limited to sources that cannot be shared among these various groups.

The Church’s Practice

We see from the above that the practice of baptizing infants (paedo-baptism) has been customary since the days of the early Church.  The only uncertainty in early writings seemed to be exactly when (not whether) an infant should be baptized.

The earliest direct evidence of infant Baptism appears in the second century, but it is never presented as an innovation. If infant baptism had been opposed to the religious practices of the earliest believers, we would expect some record of early Christian writers condemning it. Instead, from the time of Christ to the Protestant Reformation, the only serious opponent to infant Baptism was Tertullian (160 – 215), the bishop of Carthage. But his specific objection was based on his belief that sinfulness begins “about the fourteenth year of life” (De Anima 38:2) which ruled out original sin. (This and other unorthodox views, led him to later embrace one of the first heretical movements – Montanism). The other challenge to infant baptism was a 4th century heresy which taught that baptism could only remit previously committed sins, and so baptism was to be delayed until one’s death bed (and even this was not really a denial of infant baptism per se, in fact baptism of infants was encouraged if death seemed imminent).

Infant baptism remained the standard practice of the Church even during the Reformation. None of the Reformers rejected infant baptism, including Ulrich Zwingli who, although he fought for a symbolic-only view of the Eucharist, never rejected infant baptism.  None of the original Protestant denominations rejected infant baptism either. It was not until the Anabaptists emerged during the Reformation that anyone limited the practice to credo-baptism (believer-only baptism). These Anabaptist groups (later the Mennonites, Amish, Plymouth Brethren, etc.) were rejected and persecuted by Protestants and Roman Catholics alike. Separatist groups from Europe and England (Puritans, Congregationalists, Pilgrims, etc.) took up this unusual idea as well, and led the way for the various Baptist conventions in America.

Today infant baptism is practiced by the majority of Christian churches, although not all perform infant baptism in the same way or for the same reasons. These “Paedo-Baptists” include Roman Catholics, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Anglicans, and all major Protestant denominations. The groups who reject infant baptism (“Credo-Baptists”) include most Independant, Evangelical, Baptist and Pentecostal churches, and many recent fringe groups and heretical movements.

Paedo-Baptists

Credo-Baptists

  • Eastern Orthodox
  • Oriental Orthodox
  • Roman Catholic
  • Lutheran
  • Reformed
  • Presbyterian
  • Anglican
  • Methodist
  • Independent
  • Evangelical
  • Baptists
  • Pentecostals
  • Seventh-day Adventists
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons)
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Christadelphians

That the Church has practiced infant baptism for most of its life and continues to today is without question.  Why it has done so has to do with its theology.

The Church’s Theology

Covenant Signs

The reason most give for infant baptism in the New Covenant is essentially the same reason for infant circumcision in the Old Covenant. New Covenant baptism is said to be prefigured by Old Covenant circumcision. In Genesis 17 God appeared to Abram for the purpose of establishing His covenant with him and his posterity. Once the terms of the covenant are given, God gives the sign of the covenant:

“Every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations.”

While Abraham willingly and faithfully entered into this agreement (Rom. 4), others entered into the covenant not by their own faith, but by Abraham’s exercised on their behalf (for his son Isaac, the sign certainly preceded even his understanding – see Gen. 21:4).

In the Old Testament, if a man wanted to become a Jew, he had to believe in the God of Israel and be circumcised. In the New Testament, if one wants to become a Christian, one must believe in God and Jesus and be baptized. In the Old Testament, those born into Jewish households could be circumcised in anticipation of the Jewish faith in which they would be raised. In the New Testament, those born in Christian households can be baptized in anticipation of the Christian faith in which they will be raised. This is just one of several examples where the faith of others is beneficial to those who do not yet believe (e.g., Mt.. 8:5-13; 9:2; Mk. 2:3-5; 9:22-25; 1 Cor. 7:14).

The pattern is the same: If one is an adult, one must have faith before receiving the rite of membership; if one is a child, one may be given the rite of membership in the knowledge that one will be raised in the faith. Circumcision was the means of entrance into the Old Covenant community (the “visible” Israel), and just as children were brought into the Old Covenant community through the faith of their parents (cf. Gen. 17:10 and 21:4) via circumcision, so are children today are brought into the New Covenant community through the faith of their parents via baptism.

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses (Colossians 2:11-13)

In Colossians 2, Paul refers to baptism as “the circumcision of Christ”—that is, the Christian equivalent of circumcision. If Paul meant to exclude infants, why would he have chosen circumcision as a parallel for baptism?

The circumcision-baptism parallel is not, however, a simple 1:1 formula where the act of circumcision is replaced by the act of baptism. As the new Covenant is so much more than the Old, Baptism is much more than circumcision. Since there is no explicit command to either baptize or withhold baptism from infants, and the New Covenant is an even more inclusive covenant (e.g., Col. 3:11; Gal. 3:28), why forbid its sign to children when they were recipients of the sign in the previous covenant? (Note: the more inclusive nature of the New Covenant also explains why both males and females can receive its sign).

There is a good New Testament example of this principle from the Old Testament, that of Moses leading his people through the Red Sea. The Exodus event is seen by the Apostle Paul as an Old Testament foreshadowing of Christian baptism (1 Cor. 10:1-4).  It is worthwhile to note that “all were baptized” through Moses’ leadership in crossing over the Red Sea – and he did not leave the infants or children (or females) on the shores of Egypt.

Covenant Continuity Side Note

All of the above is founded on a pretty basic view of the relation between the Old and New Covenants, requiring little more than an appreciation for the New Covenant’s continuity with the Old coupled with the recognition of a simple distinction that is abundantly affirmed in Scripture (e.g., Jer. 31:31-34; Lk. 22:20;  2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:7-13). As such, it does not answer all of the questions one might have regarding the entirety of Old vs. New Covenant issues. What the Bible clearly teaches is that both continuity and discontinuity exist with regard to the Old and New Covenants, and that is all that is required for the Circumcision-Baptism parallels to work.

The Church’s Creed and Councils

Beginning in Acts 15, when the Church wanted to clarify its teachings on a given issue it met in authoritative councils. These councils produced creeds, canons, and definitions that were considered binding on Christians from that time forward. There is not much said about baptism in the ecumenical councils or creeds (apparently it was not a contested issue), but there are two of interest.

The Nicene Creed

The main product of the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople was the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (A.D. 325-381) which unites all orthodox Christians. The Creed has the believer affirm that:

 “I believe in one baptism for the remission of sins.”

This wording reflects, according to St. Augustine, the early understanding of John 3:5—namely, that “born of water” refers to water baptism. Again, to save space I have not included all the citations here. See The Church Fathers, Medieval Theologians, and Protestant Leaders on Baptism (the “Baptism In Water” section) for several representative statements to this effect.

The Council of Carthage

The Council of Carthage (2nd – 3rd Century) was actually a series of local councils producing a collection of canons generally accepted by the Council of Trullo which was recognized by the Seventh Ecumenical Council. This is the earliest council credited with determining the canon of Scripture. The council had this to say regarding baptism:

“We ought not hinder any person from Baptism and the grace of God . . . especially infants. . . those newly born.”  (A.D. 254)

“And in the Gospel our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with His divine voice, saying, ‘Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ This is the Spirit which from the beginning was borne over the waters; for neither can the Spirit operate without the water, nor the water without the Spirit. . . Unless therefore they receive saving baptism in the Catholic Church, which is one, they cannot be saved, but will be condemned with the carnal in the judgment of the Lord Christ.” (A.D. 258)

“Whosoever denies that infants newly from their mother’s wombs should be baptized, . . . let him be anathema. . . . For on account of this rule of faith (regulam fidei) even infants, who could have committed as yet no sin themselves, therefore are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that what in them is the result of generation may be cleansed by regeneration.” (A.D. 418)

The Church’s Rituals

The term sacraments is the more well-known title given to the ritual practices of the Church, but they are also known as mysteries or ordinances. These practices are listed in different manners, but the two primary ones are always baptism (which brings one into the body of Christ), and communion (which builds one into the body of Christ). Again, views are mixed concerning exactly what takes place through these activities; however, all traditional churches agree that something happens that is more than just getting wet, drinking wine, or eating bread. They are (or can be) a sort of conduit for divine grace, or a sign / symbol of a spiritual reality.

Not all believers think this is the case of course. A strictly memorial view of both baptism and communion began in the 16th century with Ulrich Zwingli, who believed that these acts were merely a promise / memorial of some future /past reality. Baptism and Communion continued to be done because Jesus ordered them (thus they are sometimes referred to as “Ordinances”), not because they accomplished anything else. Now, regardless of how biblical one believes this position to be, it is worrisome to me that  Zwingli’s predecessors and contemporaries uniformly disagreed with him. His own words show this to be the case:

In this matter of baptism—if I may be pardoned for saying it—I can only conclude that all the doctors have been in error from the time of the apostles. This is a serious and weighty assertion, and I make it with such reluctance that had I not been compelled to do so by contentious spirits I would have preferred to keep silence and simply to teach the truth. But it will be seen that the assertion is a true one: for all the doctors have ascribed to the water a power which it does not have and the holy apostles did not teach.  (Zwingli, “Of Baptism”).

Perhaps the vast majority of the Church has indeed been wrong, but in any case it is at least possible that some real benefit comes from performing these acts (regardless of what we think it is). It seems likely, in fact, that Christians would not be commanded to perform actions that accomplish nothing. Might these benefits be in any way salvific? It is to this question that I now turn.

The Church’s Salvation

Baptism-Salvation Link

This last piece of historical evidence is more of an overall conclusion reached via all of the above considerations. It is a conclusion that might help to explain some additional Scripture passages. Now, the Bible clearly indicates that baptism is linked to salvation. For example:

“Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water [historically understood as baptism] and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.'” (John 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)

“Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” (Acts 22:16)

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5)

“Putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism” (Col. 2:11-12)

“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 [historically understood as baptism] and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)

“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.” (1 Peter 3:20, 21)

So baptism and salvation are clearly linked (click here for a funny video on Baptismal Regeneration). The difficulty is that “salvation” in Scripture and theology is a slippery term – one that can mean deliverance from physical danger (e.g., 1 Tim. 2:15) or spiritual destruction (1 Cor. 3:15). The term is also used as a catch-all for what most recognize as a process made up of several stages (e.g., “justification” [Rom. 5:9], “sanctification” [Acts 26:18], and “glorification” [Rom. 8:17]). But these terms are not used consistently in the Bible either – whether concerning their meaning or their chronology (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 5:26; 1 Thess. 5:23; Rom. 8:30).

Without going into the various theological positions, the most important question concerns baptismal regeneration – the belief that salvation (i.e., justification) comes through baptism per se, even without explicit personal faith.  The idea that baptism functions as some sort of auto-justification seems problematic, especially to those raised in believer-only baptist movements. But when seen through the lense of the Old Testament covenants (as the Church always had), it makes a lot of sense.

Old-New Covenant Parallels

Being a part of the New Covenant community does not guarantee final salvation any more than being initiated into the Old Covenant guaranteed it (cf. Romans 9). The Prophet Jeremiah says, “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart” (Jer. 4:4), and, “the days are coming when I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised.” Indeed, the Lord promises to eventually punish “all the house of Israel (who) are uncircumcised of heart” (Jer. 9:25, 26). We can conclude, therefore, that circumcision did not automatically issue in final salvation.

Rather, circumcision signified a being in a right relationship with God (Gen. 17), but Moses and other prophets qualify this by saying that, in reality, only circumcision of the heart can fully accomplish a salvific right relationship. In a similar manner, baptism signifies union with Christ (Rom. 6:3-5). But also similar to the qualification given by the prophets, the Apostle Paul explains that it is baptism by God’s Spirit which fully unites us to Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). So even if baptism serves as an initial unifier, one may retain the sign without faith, but not the sign’s significance without faith. (Obviously this idea would not fly with more Calvinistic Baptists, but the idea of guaranteed perseverance or “once saved always saved” is likewise a late theological innovation).

It would, therefore, be a mistake for unfaithful people to look to their physical baptism alone for a guarantee of final salvation. But of course this is just like the reliance Israel had on its physical circumcision. And just as Israel’s unfaithfulness did not invalidate the practice of circumcision, neither does the same problem invalidate infant baptism. Just as Israel was commanded to raise Old Covenant children in the ways of God (Dt. 11:18-19), so too, New Covenant children are to be instructed in the ways of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Just as an Israelite by birth can disobey or disbelieve and be kicked out of the Old Covenant community, miss its promises, or receive its curses – so can a child born into the New Covenant. Therefore none of the biblical requirements for godly parenting is abrogated simply because they have a baptized child any more than it would have been for an Israelite family with a circumcised child.

Infant Salvation

Some will argue that since an infant cannot exercise faith, they cannot be saved and thus should not be baptized. Even if, for the sake of argument, personal salvation is deemed a necessary requirement for baptism, it is not at all clear that infants can be excluded out of hand. Of course, if walking the aisle during an altar call, reciting a specific prayer (and really meaning it!), or some other willful, physical act is required for salvation, then it is clear that those lacking the ability to do so could not be saved. But even those who subscribe to believer-only salvation will usually give a pass to those with an inability to respond (e.g., due to age or mental ability). But this raises a problem for “Bible-Only” believers: for the Bible never explicitly teaches exceptions to the rule that faith is necessary for salvation. Scripture does not speak of an “age of reason” or of an “age of accountability.” And even if such a thing could be deduced from Scripture, the Bible does not state that children remain in some suspended state of salvation until they have reached this theoretical age.

So there are two problems: most Christians do actually affirm the salvation of infants (in which case baptism should not be a problem!), and they do so without strict biblical warrant (which is their argument against infant baptism!). This seems inconsistent. Even if there seems to be other ways God can save someone without an explicit affirmation of the Gospel, it might be asserted that a person’s lack of faith is still a problem for baptism. Now, while unbelievers obviously should certainly not be baptized, the mere absence of faith is distinct from the willful denial of faith. If infants are truly incapable of choosing to believe, they are also incapable of choosing not to believe. Thus I think the objection may be based on the illegitimate equivocation of a passive absence of faith and an active denial. Finally, even if any sense of non-belief excludes one from baptism, are we certain that infants cannot believe? The Bible certainly does not say so. Infants may not be able to speak (cf. Rom. 10:10), but they can hear (cf. Rom. 10:17) – and although infants may not be able to actively respond to the gospel, they can passively receive gifts (cf. Rom. 5:15; Eph. 2:8). And isn’t faith a gift of God (Rom. 12:3)?

Interestingly, the rejection of infant baptism arose at nearly the same time as secular “Enlightenment” philosophy. The primary element in enlightenment thinking was its reliance upon, and trust in, man’s reason as the ultimate authority (sola ratio?). But faith is not merely mental assent to a proposition. It is a relationship of love and trust, a relationship which is not limited to the intellect, and children have loving, trusting relationships long before they can reflect upon them intellectually, or even give a single reason for them.

Jesus said “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). Luke’s account reads: “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God’” (Luke 18:15–16). The Greek word translated “children” or “infants” here is “brepha” which literally means “infants”(as opposed to children who could approach Jesus on their own).

Finally, several Scriptures seem to imply the possibility of infant salvation:

“Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother’s breast.” (Psalm 22:9)

“From birth I have depended on you.” (Psalm 71:6)

“I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” (Matthew 11:25)

“Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise.” (Matthew 21:16)

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17)

“For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.” (Luke 1:44)

“From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

“I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake… I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father.” (1 John 2:13-14)

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17)

Thus, it seems that the objection to infant baptism based on the certainty that infants are unsaved or without faith lacks biblical warrant.

Pascalian Wager

What finally convinced me to proceed was a sort of “Pascalian Wager” (used – correctly –  as a final consideration, and not as the primary argument). It followed from the above evidences that it is at least possible that baptism saves, and even if it does not, it certainly did not violate any biblical command. I realized that if baptism really is nothing more than a memorial act, then it could not cause any actual harm to one mistakenly baptized as an infant. Thus, it followed that to deny baptism to infants is a gamble not worth making.

Conclusion

So, all that to say this: my children are baptized because they will be raised as members of the Church. They will be taught that the choice to exercise faith remains theirs to make, as will the choice to remain in the Church when they leave home. In the meantime, my wife and I will  “make our prayers unto him, that our children may lead the rest of their lives according to this beginning.”

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2 thoughts on “Why I Changed My Mind on Infant Baptism

  1. I did not know the traditional reasons why infant baptism was rejected…this explained a lot to me, thank you.

  2. interesting argument…I went through a similar discussion with myself before submitting to credo-baptism and joining the Baptist church… both my sons were baptized as infants (one Lutheran, one Presbyterian), and neither has felt the need to be re-baptized… now, I’ve been sprinkled and dunked…guess I am covered!

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