Blog Archive

Friday, May 7, 2010

Question of the Week:
Infants & Baptism

Where in Scripture does it talk about infant baptism? Or is it just a human tradition?
~ Archie Palmer, Burlington KS

The last directive from Jesus before He returned to Heaven appears in Matthew 28:19 (NKJV):

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you."

To whom and how baptism is done—as part of making disciples—is a point of difference among denominations.

Scripture only speaks of baptism being performed as a response of faith, by those old enough to do so. Consider Acts 16:32-34 (NKJV):

Then they [Paul and Silas] spoke the word of the Lord to him [the jailer] and to all who were in his house... And immediately he and all his family were baptized... and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

This passage has been used to explain baptizing infants, since “all his family” were baptized. But the context indicates that these were people who listened to the Gospel and “believed.”

Some churches baptize infants, then practice “confirmation” when a child is older and can testify to faith. But this is generally done collectively, for an entire class, rather than at an individual’s initiative. It tends toward confirmation by default—unless one chooses to opt out—rather than in accordance with the biblical example of opting in.

The biblical ritual for infants comes from the command of God given to Moses in Leviticus 12. Males were circumcised on the eighth day. Then after a male was forty days old or a female was eighty days old, the mother brought an offering to the Lord. Jesus is presented at the temple (Luke 2:22) in accordance with this command. Thus the practice in many churches today is of dedicating an infant (or young child) to the Lord.

If infants are not baptized, are their souls in jeopardy? The Bible indicates that children are “sanctified” (made holy) by the believing parent (1 Corinthians 7:14). There is no indication of up to what age such sanctification continues. It might be: until an unspecified age of accountability; until a specific age of recognized maturity such as twelve or twenty; or for as long as the child remains in the believing parent’s house, under their “covering” of authority.

Do you have a question about the Bible or Christianity? Leave it in today’s comments to be considered for a future post.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies. To see comments, click here.

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