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Thread: Infant baptism

  1. #1

    Infant baptism

    Can someone explain to me the idea behind infant baptism?

    I can understand why when someone is old enough to decide for themselves which religion/church/denomination they want to join that baptism into that faith may be important but what does baptism do for infants who can't make the decision for themselves yet?

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    It's just a tradition. The belief is, as I understand it, that they are somehow cleansed from sin. Original sin as they often refer to it. But there really is no examples of infant baptism in the bible. Baptism came after believing.
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    I think it's a combination of a few things. Firstly because the parents choose to do it. Secondy, and it goes hand in hand with the first reason, is because the parents belong to a denomination that practices it. So not sure if this answers your question. Mainly, I believe, it comes down to tradition. My parents baptized me when I was a baby because, well, everyone else they knew did the same thing.
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    Infant baptism comes in a couple of different flavors. You'll tend to see it in the Roman Church and the Anglican Church a lot more than the more stripped-down Protestant churches.

    Flavor one; the baptism actually saves them. It sets them apart for life. I don't meet many of these any more.... even among Anglicans and Catholics.

    Flavor two; the baptism is a ceremony where the parents are promising to raise their children in a Christian way, a christening and welcoming of the baby. I've seen a lot more of these even among more stripped-down and ceremony-free churches lately.

    I stand firmly against it, from my reading of the Bible. But I do know good, sincere Christians who believe in it. In Flavor One, they do it because theysee it as saving somebody's soul, whether they would later choose to join or not. In Flavor Two, they see it as a commitment by the parents.
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  5. #5
    Many of the churches I've attended don't do "infant baptism", but they do perform "infant dedication". There isn't any water involved, it's simply the parents dedicating their child to God, praying that God will use the child for his plans as the child grows up.

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    I only recenlty (last couple years) heard of this dedication type of thing. I have always percieved infant baptism as a dedication of that child to Christ.
    Last edited by Dani H; Feb 2nd 2010 at 03:52 AM.
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    There are a couple variations. One is the Roman Catholic version which (the last i heard) cleanses us from Original Sin. I think the Lutherns believe this but i would have to look through my Book of Concord. I can if you would like.

    The other variation is tied in to Covenant Theology. As i am still learning about it I dont feel I can give you a 100% accurate answer for what they believe. Presbterians hold to a form of this and some other "reformed" churches. The argument here includes children because they were included in the covenants with God prior to Christ (correct me if wrong). Another way to look at it has to do with "okios" baptism which refers to the house hold baptisms that occur in the NT.

    If you want some book recommendations i can cough up some resouces for both sides (credobaptist & paedobaptist). I feel strongly that an indivudual research the matter with prayer dilligently.

    I hold to a baptistc leaning but i dont have all the answers and i am honest enough to say that I know the discussion and debate runs alot deeper than that. Hence why the church has been split on the issue for so long.
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    I was planning a reply earlier, but I couldn't quite decide how to write it, but Quickened is on the track I was thinking regarding covenant theology. Our church and denomination do infant baptism. I also understand it that as OT covenant was to include the children, with the parents having the responsibility to raise the children to know and understand their requirements of the covenant, so today do the believers also include their children in the new covenant. As children grow, in time they are encouraged to do a public profession of faith and affirm their baptism.
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    If baptism is a responce to the Lord's instruction (an outward sign of an inward commitment), and an infant can not make such a decision... why do it?

    (Yes, I am aware of the traditions).... In street ministry, I often encounter people who say they were baptized, and raised in Church and believe they are 'saved' because of it....

    Many of these folks are less open to hearing about Christ and His payment for sin. I spoke with many people just today. There were a few young men who said this very thing... the one man who prayed to accept Christ was the one on his way to perform Community service. He had no religion.... several minutes of speaking with him and he prayed to accept Christ.

    His name is David, please pray for him. .

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    It seems to me that those who baptise babies do so to remit sin. The only sin that a baby could have would besin inherited from the parents original sin. No where does the bible teach that baptism (water) cleanses us from sin. Most who baptise infants also teach that if an infant dies prior to baptism they must go to purgatory or worse be lost forever in condemnation.

    I have yet to see convincing evidence from the bible to support infant baptism. Infant dedication is within reason since Christ Himself took up children in His arms and blessed them. Mark 10:14-16

    I generally view infant baptism through roman catholicism which is a works based religion and does not teach biblical grace.

    For the cause of Christ
    Roger

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by dacx View Post
    Can someone explain to me the idea behind infant baptism?

    I can understand why when someone is old enough to decide for themselves which religion/church/denomination they want to join that baptism into that faith may be important but what does baptism do for infants who can't make the decision for themselves yet?
    It's done because (1) the New Testament has examples of whole household being baptised (Acts 16:15a: When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home)

    (2) baptism is seen as replacing Old Testament circumcision, which was supposed to be done to male babies on the 8th day (Colossians 2:11-12: In him 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) and also replacing the O.T. sacrifice of a lamb or two birds, which was a symbol of Christ to come (Luke 2:24: to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons.")

    (3) infants are part of the church, and will therefore go to heaven if they die before they are old enough to "make the decision for themselves"

    Associated with (2) and (3) is the idea of covenantal theology (cf Acts 2:38-39: 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 and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."). Wikipedia is reasonably good at explaining this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infant_baptism

    Quote Originally Posted by dacx View Post
    Are some churches/denominations more likely to perform infant baptism than others?
    Presbyterians, Reformed, Methodists, Lutherans, Anglicans/Episcopalians, Catholic, Orthodox and some other denominations practice infant baptism -- not always for the same reasons, as the Wikipedia article explains

    Baptists, Mennonites, and most Pentecostals do NOT practice infant baptism.
    Last edited by Radagast; Feb 2nd 2010 at 08:37 AM. Reason: Filled in Scripture quotes for benefit of OP, fixed formatting, expanded abbreviations

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    If this was good enough for Jesus, then it is good enough for me:

    Luke 2:22 (King James Version)

    22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

    Baptism??? unnecessary, how does a baby repent??? and why??? no need.
    Last edited by The Mighty Sword; Feb 2nd 2010 at 12:20 AM.

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    Yeah, I believe in it, since I find ample support for it from the Scriptures; but I think largely that the reason it continues as the predominant practice among Christians is that that was the practice handed down through the early church, and subsequent generations of Christians largely found no reason to depart from it. I certainly agree that the early forms and practices of Christian baptism are somewhat shrouded in mystery, otherwise, if there were clearer declarations on Scriptural meanings and modes, perhaps we'd be better unified as Christians regarding such. One can debate what Jesus and the Disciples did, and there's no question that what one believes about baptism has a lot to do with whether or not infants are to be included, but one has to admit that it continued as the standard of practice in the history of the Christian Church for well over 1500 years.

    Most Christians who practice infant baptism don't think it has anything to do with decisional regeneration or that it is a sign from man to man or man to God of that individual's decision to join a church or declare his/her individual faith. Having said that, there are a variety of differences between practitioners of the what and why of Christian baptism apart from that. As a Presbyterian, I hold to those reasons mentioned by Radagast above.

  14. #14

    Explaining why some Christians - including many protestants - practice infant baptism

    Dear dacx,
    Welcome to Bibleforums!!
    It's great to have you here!!!
    And thanks for your good questions!

    Unfortunately I don't have time to give much of an answer. So this'll be very quick and cursory (for me).

    Different streams of Christianity have different views about infant baptism, which generally cohere with other theological differences between their groups.

    Some churches regard baptism and holy communion, and sometimes other things, as "sacraments" -- that is, actions which the church, or believers, can engage in in which God also sovereignly acts. For Christians with such beliefs, what chiefly happens in Baptism, or Holy Communion (the Eucharsist, or the Lord's Supper) -- and perhaps in other things such as ordination, or confession -- is that God uses actions He has instructed the church to undertake, and joins in them in a sovereign way. As a result of this, these actions become the vehicles of God's grace, in a way that surpasses anything that mere human effort could accomplish.

    Thus, those who believe that Holy Communion is a sacrament believe generally that Christ gives himself to those who partake in faith in a special way, which strengthens them, supernaturally, to draw close to God, to made more Christ-like, and so on. Similarly, those who believe that baptism is a sacrament generally believe that it becomes the God-given vehicle by which God works, supernaturally, in the soul, and, because of what Christ has done, cleanses the soul from sin, and brings about new life, or regeneration.

    Some of those who believe this, also believe that parents can exercise the necessary faith for God to act sovereignly in baptism for an infant. There are many cases in the New Testament where parents came to Jesus on behalf of their children, and occasionally friends came on behalf of their friends. Jesus in many of these cases responded to the faith of the parents, or friends, even though the child was not able, apparantly, to approach Jesus, or know what was going on. These cases do not have to do with baptism, directly, but in the view of those who think that infant baptism is part of the Christian faith, they provide precedent for the general principle that the faith of parents may obtain God's action on behalf of their children, at least sometimes. Also, there are places in the New Testament where the heads of households believed in Jesus, and their entire households were baptized. This again is taken by those who believe in infant baptism as a precedent for the practice.

    Of course, those who disagree have counter-arguments, or disagree about how the passages in question are to be interpreted.

    Behind this approach lies a sense of human life, of the church, and of how God works which is not wholly individual, but which depends upon God's sovereign action, and which involves the people of God as a whole, or as a community. Thus the faith of the believing community, or family, welcomes God's action into the life of an infant, in this view. God acts powerfully. For instance, often at baptism -- for infants and for adults -- the person doing the baptism says "you are sealed in baptism, and marked as Christ's own forever." This presumes that God has chosen to act with sovereign grace in the life of the baptized individual, through the baptism. While God's action, here as in most cases, is in response to human faith, it is understood -- by those who practice infant baptism -- to be God's action in response to the faith of the parents, the godparents, and the church. This presumes that the parents will bring the child up in the Christian faith.

    Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, Syrian, Anglican, and many Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and some others, practice infant baptism, and subscribe to some, most, or all of the theology I've just set forth. Anabaptist, baptist, pentecostal, and free church denominations or congregations generally do not.

    The purpose of this post was just to try to explain to you, as you asked, what the rationale behind infant baptism was for those who practice and believe in it.
    (I did not come from a Christian family, and was baptized when I was 16 on my own initiative. Nevertheless, I do think infant baptism can be a valid practice, but I am certainly not trying to make a case for that here. I'm simply trying to help you understand how those who do believe in infant baptism understand it, and why they practice it, and how it makes sense to them. )

    In friendship,
    Scruffy Kid
    Last edited by Scruffy Kid; Feb 2nd 2010 at 09:09 AM.

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    **Mod note: This is Christian Answers. Please keep your responses to the OP only and refrain from debating amongst one another (that's what Bible Chat is for).

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