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Section 8B ... Controversial Issues - Baptism

 

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Baptism - Part II.. Infant Baptism

Carol Brooks
It does not say much for your conversion if your very first act is disobedience, that is of course, provided you have understood that baptism was commanded by our Lord.

    Also See Martin Luther
    There is no question that Martin Luther's refusal to bow down to the dictates of the Catholic Church let the genie out of the bottle. His reforms helped empower peasants, gave rise to Protestantism as we know it and even, in the long run, contributed to democracy and changed the course of Western civilization. On the other hand, not many Martin Luther devotees seem to be aware that his idea of Grace and Faith Alone differed from ours, and that several Catholic doctrines remained firmly entrenched in his belief system. And that is not all.
    All too many Christians tend to gloss over the fact that Luther slandered everyone who disagreed with him. He made strident and offensive verbal attacks against both the papacy and the Anabaptists, while his violent polemics against the Jews are appalling examples of extreme anti-Semitism.

    Bible1-Bar

    PART I - Baptism the how, why and when according to Scripture

    Part II - THIS PAGE

    Introduction

    So Why Do Churches Baptize Infants?
    There are a number of reasons for the practice.

    Salvation Through Baptism - Can Infants Have Faith?
     Four verses put forth to support this beliefs do no such thing

    The Old Testament Rite of Circumcision
    Were babies 'saved' on the eighth day of life

    The Covenants
    Show that circumcision had as much to do with salvation as rainbows did.

    Was Circumcision Based on Faith?
    Not when the entire nation was circumcised at one time

    Circumcision of The Flesh Meant Nothing Without Circumcision of the Heart
    As far back as the time of Moses the Bible speaks of two types of circumcision

    Baptism and Circumcision - The Type and Antitype

    Young Children - The Passover & Lord's Supper
    The striking differences between the two covenants

    Is There Any Mention of Infant Baptism in The New Testament?
    Infant baptism is a doctrine by implication

    Making Disciples and Baptizing Them
    Making disciples means teaching people

    A Dedication Ceremony?
    calling this ceremony a 'baptism' is running several very large risks

    Re-Baptism - Two Relevant Questions

     


    Introduction
    Infant baptism, sometimes called a 'christening', is practiced by the Catholic Church, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Reformed Churches etc. It tends to be a deeply emotional issue since it concerns the most vulnerable members of our family, and is contrasted with what is called "believer's baptism" - the practice of baptizing only those who confess faith in Jesus, which obviously excludes the very young.

    Much of the debate surrounding infant baptism is due to the fact that the Bible doesn't specifically say anything for or against it, nor are there any clearly documented cases of an infant being baptized in the New Testament. This fact is actually used by both those for and against  infant baptism.

      Proponents believe that the New Testament silence on the topic is actually a major argument in favor of the practice inasmuch as since the NT authors took for granted that babies would be baptized, it was unnecessary to say anything about it.

      Those who argue against the practice ask why we baptize babies when it is not specifically commanded, by either word or example, in Scripture.

    I am afraid that I cannot see the validity of the first position. Simply because the Bible doesn't specifically forbid or say anything against a particular practice doesn't mean that it is endorsed or even permitted.


    So Why Do Churches Baptize Infants?
    There are a number of reasons for the practice.

    Remission of Original Sin?
    While I am not familiar with the details of what every denomination believes and teaches, infant baptism is often rooted in the idea that all infants are born with the stain of Original Sin and have to be baptized to free them from this 'sinful nature'. Although it contradicts Scripture, this is certainly the Catholic church's position. 

    The Vatican says that children, born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin "have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness" and "The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth. [01] The church also believes that in the case of older persons baptism is a sacrament which remits both original sin and actual sin. [02]

    Infant baptism might be a necessity if original sin was inherited by each generation. However, I have to wonder how many believers in Original Sin have given any thought to the fact that sin is not a virus or a genetic flaw that can be transmitted from person to person. (f sin is transferable, there is absolutely no reason why virtue, goodness, and righteousness cannot also be physically transmitted). Much to the contrary, as John wrote ... sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John: 3:4). In other words, without someone actually breaking the law, sin does not even exist.

    This doctrine makes a hash of the justice of God which is the cornerstone of our faith. Luckily the Bible knows nothing of this absurdity, which came solely from man's skewed ideas. See Original Sin.


    Salvation Through Baptism - Can Infants Have Faith?
    On the previous page, it was established that faith, not baptism, is a requirement for salvation, which brings up the question of whether infants can have faith. The official Lutheran position is as follows (Emphasis Added)

      Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God's grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The Bible tells us that such "faith comes by hearing" (Rom. 10:17). Jesus Himself commands Baptism and tells us that Baptism is water used together with the Word of God (Matt. 28:19-20). Because of this, we believe that Baptism is one of the miraculous means of grace (another is Gods Word as it is written or spoken), through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a persons heart. [03]

    If that makes it sound like infant baptism is off the table - it isn't. They go on to say that although they do not claim to understand fully how this happens, they (emphasis added) "believe that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant".

      We believe this because the Bible says that infants can believe (Matt 18:6)... The infants faith cannot yet, of course, be verbally expressed or articulated by the child, yet it is real and present all the same (see e.g., Acts 2:38-39; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim 3:15). The faith of the infant, like the faith of adults, also needs to be fed and nurtured by God's Word (Matt 28:18-20), or it will die. [04]

    I am afraid that the four verses put forth to support their beliefs do no such thing.

    Matthew 18:6 - the first of the Bible verses referred to is apparently being interpreted to mean that the child (the 'little one') believes and has faith and woe to the one who causes him or her to stumble. However, we need to understand the exact Greek words Jesus used, instead of interpreting them in the light of preconceived or denominational bias. The verse reads

      but whoever causes one of these little ones (Gr. mikros) who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6 NASB)

    The Greek word mikros has rightly been translated 'little ones' since it means small in size, quantity, number and even social position.

    Several verses in the NT use mikros in regards to a small physical size. For example, Zaccheus who was small (Gr. mikros) in stature couldn't see because of the crowd (Luke 19:3 NASB), and the mustard seed is the smallest (Gr. mikros) of all seeds (Matthew 13:31-32).

    In Matthew 10, mikros refers to prophets and righteous men.

      "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. "And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones (Gr. mikros) even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:41-42 NASB)

    In Matthew 18, mikros refers to the lost sheep (which one has to presume are largely adults) that the Messiah came to save,

      ["For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.] "What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? "If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones (Gr. mikros) perish. (Matthew 18:11-14 NASB)

    Galatians uses the word in the context of a small amount while John and the author of Hebrews use it for a short period of time

      A little (Gr. mikros) leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.  (Galatians 5:9 NASB)

      Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, "Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, 'A little while (Gr. mikros) , and you will not see Me, and again a little while (Gr. mikros) , and you will see Me'?  (John 16:19 NASB)

      for yet in a very little (Gr. mikros) while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. (Hebrews 10:37 NASB)

    The following four verses obviously do not refer to physical size, but how one was ranked in society or the Kingdom of God.

      I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least (Gr. mikros) in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Luke 7:28 NASB)

      Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; and they all, from smallest (Gr. mikros)  to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, "This man is what is called the Great Power of God." (Acts 8:9-10 NASB)

      So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small (Gr. mikros) and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; (Acts 26:22 NASB)

      so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small (Gr. mikros) and great."  (Revelation 19:18 NASB)

    In fact, in the many, many times mikros is used in the New Testament, it NEVER EVER refers to a child.

    Taking that into consideration, If you read Matthew 18:6 in context, it becomes very clear that Jesus said that the greatest one in the Kingdom of Heaven is the one who humbles himself LIKE a small child, and anyone who causes this person or little one to falter is up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle.

       (1) At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (2)  And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, (3)  and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (4)  "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5)  "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; (6)  but whoever causes one of these little ones (Gr. mikros) who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:1- 6 NASB)

    Note: this is exactly the same case with Mark 10:14 in which the word toioutos means of this sort.

      "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Gr. toioutos)."

    Note other instances

      With many such (Gr. toioutos) parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it;  (Mark 4:33 NASB)

      "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such (Gr. toioutos) people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. (John 4:23 NASB)


    Acts 2:38-39; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim 3:15
    In the effort to provide Scriptural support for the belief that, although they cannot express it, infants have real faith, the Lutheran Church also quotes three other verses - none of which hold water.

    1) Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." (Acts 2:38-39 NASB)

      Remember that chapter and verse numbers did not exist in the original writings, but were added much later for convenience. If you remove the period between verses 38 and 39, it becomes abundantly clear that, on Pentecost, part of Peter's message to the Jews was that they, their children, and all who are far off (the Gentiles) had the same promise, i.e. the Holy Spirit would be given to all who repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

    2) For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb. (Luke 1:15 NASB)

      For some unknown reason Christians believe that every single promise in the Bible not only applies to the person receiving it, but to all 21st century believers as well.  This is about as ridiculous as it gets. In this case, the angel was speaking specifically to Zacharias about his yet unborn son, John who would be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.

      If these words apply to all unborn children, then the first half of the sentence has to apply as well. But then how many people do you know who are "great in the sight of the Lord" and drink no wine or liquor. In fact, as the very next verse reads, how many are destined to "turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God".

      We cannot pick and choose which of the angel's words apply to us and which do not.

    3.) and that from childhood (Gr. brephos) you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15 NASB)

      In context, Paul was speaking of evil men and impostors who, proceeding from bad to worse, deceive and are deceived. But, he tells Timothy "you continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of.

      Since infants or very small children do not learn and become convinced of faith issues, verse 15 is simply saying that Timothy had been taught the Scriptures as soon as he was capable of learning anything. Considering the known faith of Timothy's grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, Paul knew that Timothy was possessed of equally sincere faith (2 Timothy 1:5).

      This is a text book case of cherry picking. Everyone seems to do it to in order to make the case for their point of view. But when the verses are looked at closely minus denominational or other biases they prove absolutely nothing.

    The Psalms
    The Lutheran website also quotes the Psalms, namely

      "From the lips of children and infants, You have ordained praise" Psalm 8:2. "Yet You brought me out of the womb, You made me trust in You even at my mother's breast" Psalm 22:9. [05] 

    Why do so few remember that the Psalms are poetry, and that virtually all poetry is well known for its figurative language that is not meant to be taken too literally..  Poetry is often illustrative - using dramatization or hyperbole to make a vivid and lasting impression - a colorful image of the thought the author was attempting to convey.

    Besides which, the psalms themselves are often expressions of emotions, and must be read as such. 


    The Old Testament Rite of Circumcision
    Infant Baptism is also seen in other ways... one being the correlation between the Old Testament practice of Circumcision with the New Testament practice of Baptism.

    Proponents of infant baptism will often argue that since there is a unity between the Old and New Covenants, circumcision in the Old is parallel to baptism in the New. Jewish infants were circumcised under the Old Covenant, therefore infants of believers should be baptized under the New.

    The Lutherans say that (Emphasis Added)

      According to the Bible, all people-including infants-are sinful and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). King David confesses, "I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps. 51:5). Like adults, infants die - sure proof that they too are under the curse of sin and death. According to the Bible, Baptism (somewhat like Old Testament circumcision, administered to 8-day-old-babies-see Col. 2:11-12) is God's gracious way of washing away our sins - even the sins of infants - without any help or cooperation on our part. It is a wonderful gift of a loving and gracious God. [06]

    In regard to King David's words, the argument is that he claims to have been born with sin (although the text itself says "in sin") and must be referring to Adam's sin which he inherited. However, this is far from the case if one closely examines four words in the text that are crucial to sound interpretation... "in iniquity" and "in sin."  See Details

    In reply to a letter, Lutheran pastor Tim Rossow, one time Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa, wrote the following (all misspellings in original. Underlining mine)

      The Old Testatment tells us that salvation comes by circimcision on the eighth day of life. There is not age of accountability or decision of a believer. [07]

    The first question to be asked is what Old Testament circumcision symbolized? Were babies saved on the eighth day of life by having their foreskin cut off as pastor Rossow would have us believe? Or was it something else entirely?

    Answering that question involves having a basic grasp of the covenants in Scripture.


    The Covenants

    The word Covenant which means a pledge or commitment usually involves an alliance between two unequal parties - the stronger one pledging protection and help to the weaker in return for some form of vassal status. In the Old Testament solemn agreements or covenants were made between God and individuals such as Moses Abraham and Noah, but had tremendous significance for countless generation to come. The covenants were often testified to by outstanding physical signs.

    The Mosaic Covenant was significantly different from the other two inasmuch as it was bilateral and conditional. God promises were directly related to Israel's obedience to His laws. He promised numerous blessings if they kept His laws (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) and warned of dire consequences should they disobey (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). Because it was conditional there were no accompanying signs.

    However, the covenant established with Noah was one sided promise that God would never again destroy the earth by flood. The covenant was represented by the outward and visible sign of the rainbow.

      "Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. "I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth." God said, "This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. (Genesis 9:9-13 NASB)

    God's covenant with Abraham was again one-sided. The Father said He would give Abraham and his descendants the land for an everlasting possession.. This covenant was sealed with the physical sign of circumcision of all males from the age of eight days old.

      "I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."  God said further to Abraham, "Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. "This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: 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, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. "A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. "But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant." (Genesis 17:8-14 NASB)

      Circumcision had as much to do with salvation as rainbows did..


    Was Circumcision Based on Faith?
    It could be argued that the circumcision of infants in the Old Testament was based on the faith of their parents, However, there is not a single text that describes circumcision being withheld because a parent had no faith. Even when the prophets denounced the Jews for being uncircumcised in heart as in Leviticus 26:41, they did not suggest that the sons of these faithless parents not be circumcised.

    One also has to remember that in Genesis 17 God told Abraham that although He would bless Ishmael, His covenant would be established with the yet unborn Isaac. Yet right after God "went up from Abraham" he and all the males of his household were circumcised as God had instructed. Abraham was ninety nine and Ishmael thirteen.

    Additionally, when the nation of Israel came out of their 40 years of wandering and finally crossed the river Jordan, God instructed Joshua to circumcise all males in the nations, since none of the sons born during those years had apparently been circumcised. The entire nation being circumcised in a day, meant there was obviously little regard to personal faith or beliefs. Circumcision was administered as an outward sign of belonging to the nation that the Father had made a covenant with. [See Joshua 5].

    However,


    Circumcision of The Flesh Meant Nothing Without Circumcision of the Heart

    As far back as the time of Moses the Bible speaks of two types of circumcision: one of the body and one of the heart which were always meant to go hand in hand.

    The following verses make it very clear that a person could be physically circumcised and still indulge in evil deeds and be punished. Unless a person's heart was circumcised, they were a long way from escaping the Father's retribution.

      So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. (Deuteronomy 10:16 NASB)

      Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.  (Deuteronomy 30:6 NASB)

      Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Or else My wrath will go forth like fire And burn with none to quench it, Because of the evil of your deeds." (Jeremiah 4:4 NASB)

      Behold, the days are coming," declares the Lord , "that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised-- (Jeremiah 9:25 NASB)

      when you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to profane it, even My house, when you offered My food, the fat and the blood; for they made My covenant void--this in addition to all your abominations.  (Ezekiel 44:7 NASB)

    As Paul later wrote, a Jew is one whose heart is circumcised,

      For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:28-29 NASB)

    He also pointed out that Abraham received circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of faith he had already displayed

      and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,  (Romans 4:11 NASB)

    And nothing changed in the New Testament, except that the outward sign of circumcision of the flesh was replaced by baptism, the outward sign of circumcision of the heart.


    Baptism and Circumcision - The Type and Antitype
    The Old Testament was replete with 'types'. In Christian theology a type is a shadow of things to come. It is a Biblical event or person which serves as an pattern for a future event or person. The subsequent happenings are called the antitype, which is the fulfillment of the type - thus far more important than the original event or person. For example, in Romans 5:14 Paul asserts that Adam "is a figure (tupos) of Him (Christ) that was to come".  [For Details See Prophecy and Typology]

    Under the New Covenant, baptism is the antitype of the Old Covenant Jewish rite of circumcision - Both remove flesh, one physically, the other spiritually. Baptism also demonstrates the superiority of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant applied to Jews alone, the new includes both Jews and Gentiles. Circumcision under the old covenant was reserved for males only, but baptism is for both males and females.

    In Paul's day, the Jewish teachers were still insisting on the necessity of a literal circumcision. Paul made every effort to show that faith in Christ was all that was required for salvation. Believers were "buried with Him in baptism" and then "raised up with Him through faith" and that "the circumcision of Christ" was a spiritual one.

      and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12 NASB)

    There was a short crossover period. In the very early days of Christianity most Jewish men had already been circumcised before becoming Christians, including Paul himself (Philippians 3:5). After debate, circumcision was deemed unnecessary by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29). However, although there is little doubt that he was already baptized, Timothy was circumcised by Paul (Acts 16:1-3). (Note: Although Timothy's father was Greek, by law Timothy was a Jew because his mother was one).

    In the Old Testament the Jews were not only forbidden from intermarrying with the nations around them or adopting their customs, but were instructed to tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, and burn their graven images with fire. (Deuteronomy 7:3-5 NASB). Even under Roman rule, the 1st century Jews maintained a less-than-sympathetic attitudes toward the Gentiles. Sharing a meal was a sign of fellowship in that and many other cultures which is why Peter was called to task by the elders for eating with uncircumcised men (Acts 11:2-3). It is therefore easy to understand why orthodox Jews would not even listen to a Gentile much less heed one.

    This is why Paul sought to win the Jews to Christ by identifying with them. He did not adapt the Gospel message to suit the recipients but, within the boundaries of good conscience, complied with traditional rites and customs. How he lived and behaved ensured he had their ear and access to the synagogues where he often evangelized. However, he made it very clear that he himself was not under the law.

      To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;  (1 Corinthians 9:20 NASB)


    Young Children - The Passover & Lord's Supper
    Those that believe that it is okay to baptize young children or babies, need to take a closer look at the striking differences between the two covenants when it comes to the rituals. For example,

    The Lord's Supper finds a counterpart in the Old Testament Passover, yet there are some significant contrasts. Very young children did take their place at the Passover table, but small children are not admitted to the Lord's Table or supper. Although there is little doubt that children learned more about the significance of the Passover as they grew older, the Lord's Supper has some preconditions necessary for partaking in this ritual.

    In I Corinthians 11:23-30 Paul warns that "... whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord". He goes on to state that every man has to

      "... examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. (1 Corinthians 11:28-29 NASB)

    In other words, the ritual outward formality has given way to an inward spirituality - a condition that young children cannot meet.

    Finally,


    Is There Any Mention of Infant Baptism in The New Testament?
    Infant baptism is a doctrine by implication. Inasmuch as proponents of infant baptism say that when Scripture mentions that whole "households" received baptism, it is more than likely that those households included babies and/or very young children who must have been baptized along with the adults.

    Opponents say 'households' do not necessarily include very young children.

    The households mentioned are

    Cornelius and His Household (Acts 10)
    In Acts 10:2, Cornelius is described as a "devout man and one who feared God with all his household...". Since by implication 'household' means family, it is very well possible that small children or babies were included.

    On the other hand, in anticipation of Peter's arrival Acts 10:24 says Cornelius "was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends" adding "they were "all here present before God to hear all" that Peter had been commanded by the Lord." (Vs. 33 NASB). In other words, all that were gathered there were capable of hearing (and believing) what Peter had to say.

    Additionally, when the Jews in Jerusalem wanted to know Peter's reasons for associating with non-Jews, he recounted the circumstances that led him to preach to Cornelius and his household. He then said,

      "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' "Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life." (Acts 11:15-18 NASB)

    Below a certain age, no child can believe or repent..

    Lydia and Her Household (Acts 16:14-15).
    The passages simply states that

      A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:14-15 NASB)

    We have absolutely no idea whether there were any young children or babies involved

    The Philippian Jailer And His Household (Acts 16:30-34).
    This one leans towards there being no very young children involved, because the text states that the jailer and his whole household believed

      and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. (Acts 16:30-34 NASB)

    Crispus and His Household (Acts 18:8).

      Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized. (Acts 18:8 NASB)


    Conclusion:
    Although there is no firm evidence one way or the other, what stands out is that belief is a factor in every case. Cornelius' group believed and repented, as did the Philippian jailer and His household and Crispus and his household. Lydia is said to have opened her heart.

    So since it was only the adults that could have believed and repented, are we to believe that any infants present were baptized along with the believing adults?

    Is it possible? Certainly! But is it likely?

    While no one can be absolutely certain, I find it very unlikely considering that it is clearly stated that the four individuals and their households above believed before they were baptized.


    Making Disciples and Baptizing Them
    Jesus commissioned His disciples with the following words:

      And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20 NASB)

    The Greek word translated 'disciple' is mathetes which means learner or pupil. 'To disciple' is to teach or instruct. Making disciples therefore involves teaching people of the things of Christ and then baptizing them. However, a person has to be of a certain age before they can be taught the first thing about sin and salvation.  As the Scriptures show over and over again, repentance and faith must come first, but both these are impossible for an infant or young child.of

      Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit... So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.  (Acts 2:38, 41 NASB)

      But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. (Acts 8:12 NASB)

      Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" [And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."] (Acts 8:35-37 NASB)

    The case has also been made for the baptism of infants in the modern church that it is just ... 


    A Dedication Ceremony?
    It has also been claimed that Baptism of an infant fulfills the same purpose as an infant dedication or blessing. While it does not save, it does identify the infant as a member of a group, proclaiming that this child is a Christian's child and focuses on the Church as a covenant community with baptism the rite of initiation. In the words of Rick Beckman...

      "Baptism is a privilege, just as circumcision was. Both acts identify the person outwardly as one of Abraham's offspring. The emphasis has always been on the inward, certainly circumcision didn't make a Jew saved any more than baptism makes an infant saved but it does identify the infant as a member of a group of others who are living for God. To baptize an infant is to proclaim for all present, "This is a Christian's child!"

      And in that regard, it is also a pledge, a pledge that the child will be reared in a manner consistent with the Scriptures. "This is a Christian's child, and he is going to be raised in the ways of the Lord!" Just as circumcision was the first step in an infants' being raised in light of the Abrahamic Covenant (and subsequently the Mosaic Covenant), so is baptism a first step". [08]

    Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in North Carolina (a member of the Presbyterian Church in America). In his words,

      We do not believe that there is anything magical about the water we apply to the child. The water does not wash away original sin or save the child. We do not presume that this child is regenerate (though he may be), nor do we believe that every child who gets baptized will automatically go to heaven. We baptize infants not out of superstition or tradition or because we like cute babies. We baptize infants because they are covenant children and should receive the sign of the covenant. [09]

    With which I have little argument except to point out that calling this ceremony a 'baptism' is running several very large risks.  As David Cloud points out infant baptism results in 1) a false security and 2) in churches being peopled by unregenerate members. This because

      "Multitudes of people baptized as infants grow up thinking they are ready for Heaven even though they have never been born again through personal faith in Christ. They are trusting in their infant baptism and in their church membership. Such are deceived by the teaching of their own churches.

      In some churches the infant becomes a member immediately at the time of the baptismal ceremony. In others, the infant is not yet considered a full member, but is admitted as a member in later years without having to show evidence of regeneration. Either way, infant baptism results in those churches being filled with members who are not truly saved." [10]

    If you give it some thought you will realize that this is a very serious probability..


    Re-Baptism
    It is not outside of the realm of possibility that there are some circumstances in which a person may want to be re-baptized for which there is Scriptural precedent.

    In one instance people were re-baptized after the circumstances of their first baptism were found to be 'insufficient' in some way. In Ephesus Paul encountered disciples who had already been baptized into John's baptism. Although even Jesus was baptized by John, Paul realized these men lacked essential understanding and he re-baptized them.

      It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism." Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus." When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. (Acts 19:1-6 NASB)

    This clearly demonstrates that unless belief in Christ accompanies baptism, it is not valid. This obviously includes anyone who was baptized at a very young age.

    If you were "baptized" as an infant, it was pretty much a meaningless rite, although it may have meant the world to your parents at the time.  As you had no part in the decision, and both repentance and faith are prerequisites for baptism, you should be baptized by immersion.

    People are also baptized as a prerequisite to joining a particular church, because everyone else is doing it, or in a flood of emotion after a particularly moving altar call may or may not have had the necessary faith in Christ or had a proper understanding of why they were doing it.  In which case, it is possible that you just got wet and might consider being re-baptized.

    As an infant, I was baptized in the Catholic Church but eventually realized it was a meaningless ritual - the only value being knowing what my parents and other relatives looked like all those many years ago. I was re-baptized by immersion in my mid forties.

    The two relevant questions you should ask are 1) When and how were you baptized and 2) what was your understanding of baptism at the time?

    If you were baptized as an adult, you might want to ask yourself what your understanding of baptism was. While it is not necessary to have perfect knowledge of the Scriptures at the time of baptism, a basic understanding of sin and salvation is. So did you, when you were baptized, believe that you were in sin, felt remorse and self-reproach for those sins, wished to change direction, and become a follower of the Lord Jesus. And did you believe that your sins would be forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? If you understood the basics, then there is probably no reason to be baptized again. If you are unsure, then there is nothing in Scripture that says you should not be immersed again.

    However, even if you understood the basics, but were baptized by any means other than immersion, then you should consider being re-baptized..

     

    End Notes
    [01] Catechism of the Catholic Church. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a1.htm

    [02] Catholic Answers. Infant Baptism. https://www.catholic.com/tract/infant-baptism

    [03] LCMS The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Frequently Asked Questions. https://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=537

    [04] ibid.

    [05] ibid.

    [06] LCMS The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Frequently Asked Questions.
    https://www.lcms.org/about/beliefs/faqs/doctrine#baptism

    [07] Pastor Matt Richard Why Do Many Evangelicals Find It Difficult To Accept Infant Baptism?Posted on April 9, 2013 http://steadfastlutherans.org/2013/04/why-do-many-evangelicals-find-it-difficult-to-accept-infant-baptism/

    [08] Rick Beckman. Infant Baptism: Answers to Common Objections. http://rickbeckman.org/infant-baptism-answers-to-common-objections

    [09] Kevin DeYoung. A Brief Defense of Infant Baptism. March 12, 2015. The Gospel Coalition, Inc.
    https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2015/03/12/a-brief-defense-of-infant-baptism/

    [10] David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service. Infant Baptism. http://www.wayoflife.org/database/infantbaptism.html

    Baptism-Back

    Baptism - Part I

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