Baptism is a contentious issue in the Christian community. Christians cannot seem to agree on the issue of baptizing infants. While some denominations continue to baptize infants, other religious groups, including Baptists, do not practice infant baptism. The Baptist church strongly believes in believer baptism. This is where self-aware persons confess their sins and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Still, many protestant churches, including Methodists, Anglicans, and Lutherans, baptize their babies. With that in mind, one might wonder why they don’t Baptists baptize their infants.
According to the Baptist church, infants cannot profess their faith or repent of their sins. Baptists support their belief system by referencing certain scriptures in the New Testament. A good example is Acts 2:38, where the apostle Peter says, ‘Each one of you must turn away from your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God’s gift, the Holy spirit .’The Baptists church continues to quote the New Testament in its argument against infant baptism. Acts 8:12 says, ‘But when they believed Phillip’s message about the good news of the Kingdom of God and about Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women’. Here, it is clear that baptism was reserved for adults who could listen, discern and make an informed decision to turn their lives over to Christ.
So, what is the point of baptism? what does the Bible say about Infant baptism? Why don’t Baptists baptize their infants? What is the difference between baptizing a believer and an infant? Read on to unpack the controversial topic of baptism within the Christian body.
What does the Bible say about baptizing infants?
Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is rather silent on infant baptism. Moreover, the Bible is not specific about the baptism of entire families if one member is baptized based on their beliefs. This has resulted in an over 500-year disagreement on the issue of baptizing babies. It is worth noting that believer baptism is also known as credo baptism, while infant baptism can be called Paedo baptism.
Fans of Paedo baptism go back to the Old Testament to get their supporting arguments. They relate the covenant made to Abraham with the baptism of babies. In the book of Genesis 17:10-11, the Bible recounts the details of God’s covenant with Abraham, which included all his descendants. To honor this covenant, Abraham was instructed to circumcise all the males in his family, including babies who were 8 days old. Baptists do not agree that baptism is the New Testament version of circumcision. They suggest that the covenant in the Old Testament is different from the one initiated by Jesus in the New Testament.
Another argument in support of Paedo baptism is rooted in the household baptism witnessed throughout the New Testament. The book of Acts 16:14-15 states, ‘One of those who heard us was Lydia from Thyatira, who was a dealer in purple cloth. She was a woman who worshipped God, and the Lord opened her mind to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After She and the people of her house were baptized, she invited us to come and stay in my house if you have decided that I am a true believer in the Lord.’ The same is witnessed in Acts 16:33, where another family was baptized. Infant-baptizing denominations argue that there must have been babies in these households.
The Baptist church falls under this category. Believer baptism is based on several scriptures in the New Testament. Firstly, the Baptist church believes Christians must make a conscious decision to get baptized as a sign of their faith in Jesus. They also cite that Jesus did not practice infant baptism as one of the main reasons for rejecting Paedo baptism. While they do not baptize infants, the age for accountability is not set in stone. If a 10-year-old child is willing to profess their faith and get baptized, the Baptist church is not against it. That is per the words written in Mark 16:16, which emphasizes that ‘Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned .’Based on this piece of scripture, Baptist insists that believing first is an integral part of baptism.
Believer baptism is witnessed all other the epistles as Christ’s apostles went from one location to another preaching the good news. In the book of Matthew 28:9, Jesus gives the disciples specific instructions. He says, ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit .’The same is evident in the book of 1 Peter 3:21, where the Bible says, ‘Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a god conscience, through the resurrections of Jesus Christ .’That implies that believers need to be baptized to gain a clear conscience that is free of sin. If this is true, infants may not need baptism since they are blameless.
What is the point of baptism?
Baptism was and still is an integral part of Christianity. It signifies that one is ready to live according to the good news delivered by Jesus Christ throughout His ministry. It is a public declaration of one’s faith. In Acts 8:36-38, the Bible says, ‘as they traveled down the road, they came to a place where there was some water, and the official aid, “here is some water. What is to keep me from being baptized? The official ordered the carriage to stop, and both Phillip and the official went down into the water, and Phillip baptized him.’
As mentioned earlier, the son of God gave His disciples the important job of preaching the good news and baptizing converts in His name. The church unanimously believes that it is through baptism that Christians fulfill their covenant with Jesus Christ. The Bible in the book of Romans 6:4 says, ‘We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.’
How is baptizing a believer different from baptizing an infant?
The baptism of believers is very different from that of an infant. In this case, infants will be viewed as unbelievers because they have not yet developed the reasoning capacity to meditate on the good news and subsequently believe in it. According to the Grace Baptist Church, it would be pointless to baptize someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus. It is considered more or less lying to them. Without faith, the baptism of infants does not fulfill the promises made to believers. A good example is when an adult claim that they already tried Christianity because they were baptized as infants. This cannot be the truth as they have not studied Christian doctrines as adults, even though they were baptized as children.
On the other hand, when a believer is baptized, there is a deep meaning. It implies that they have had the opportunity to hear and study the word of God. Furthermore, it shows that the person agrees with the message conveyed by Jesus and his disciples. The baptism of believers is a sure sign of faith. What’s more, baptized believers can begin their life anew with their sins forgiven. That is written in the book of Acts 22:16, which says, ‘and now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name’. This verse tells Christians that baptism ensures that sin has no power over them. These are complicated themes that would be hard for an infant or a toddler to understand. Baptizing a believer holds far more weight than an innocent child who has yet to learn the difference between right and wrong.
Why do most Christians reject the idea of infant baptism?
There are several reasons why most Christians have rejected the idea of Paedo baptism. Initially, the church practice is not taught in the Bible. The Bible is considered to be the final authority for many Christians. There is nowhere in the Bible where the baptism of infants is mentioned or explained. As a result, conservative denominations such as the Baptist church remain firm in their stance against infant baptism.
Christians propose that Jesus Himself did not participate in the baptism of babies. There is nowhere in scripture where Jesus ventured to baptize children. Some would argue against this by quoting Matthew 19:14, where Jesus asks the disciples to let the children come to Him. These claims can be counteracted by the fact that Jesus does not express the desire to baptize them. Instead, he placed his hand on them and told His followers that the kingdom of God belonged to ‘such as these’ about the children.
While some maintain that household baptisms proved that the early apostolic church baptized infants, this is not entirely factual. In the book of 1st Corinthians 16: 15, the apostle Paul writes, ‘You know about Stephanas and his family; they are the first Christians converts in Achaia and have given themselves to the service of God’s people .’In this scripture, it is apparent that the converts were adults belonging to the family of Stephanas. That is because they joined in serving the people of God in the early church.
Finally, anti-infant baptism Christians believe that circumcision is done in the Old Testament has nothing to do with New Testament baptism. Again the Bible does not state that baptism is the replacement for circumcision. One of the apostles named, Timothy got circumcised after getting baptized. This implies that the circumcision of Israelites and the baptism of converts are two different concepts with the same result; establishing a covenant with the Kingdom of God.
What Christian denominations baptize their infants?
One of the main Christian denominations that practice Paedo baptism is the Catholic Church. Based on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Catechism, infants should be baptized shortly after birth. Failure to do this would mean they won’t become children of God.
Several other protestant churches take part in Paedo baptism. These include Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Lutherans. It is essential to point out that they do not share Catholic’s stance on infant baptism as explained above. Instead, they are of the school of thought that baptizing infants is a way of including them in the covenant community. They suggest that all children whose parents are believers should also be baptized.
- Why The Baptists Do Not Baptize Infants
- This is why Baptists Don’t Baptize their Infants
- Why Don’t All Churches Baptize Infants?
- Why We Don’t Baptize Infants
- The Proper Recipients of Baptism
- What does the Bible say about infant baptism / Paedo baptism?
- The Controversy about Infant Baptism
- Lesson 35: Why We Do Not Baptize Infants (Genesis 17 and other Scriptures)
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.