Sunday, June 26, 2011

Infant Baptism - Believer's baptism

Question Received: I attend a church that teaches that infant baptism took the place of circumcision. They teach that it does not save the child, but that when the child comes to a saving faith, they look back to their baptism. They will not re-baptize a new believer who was baptized as a child. Is this unbiblical?

My Answer-

Infant baptism is a baptism not accepted by most "Free Churches" or those with independent church government. Baptist, Bible Churches, Independents, some Calvinistic, Churches of Christ or Pentecostal heritage churches do not.  There is always exceptions when speaking broadly.
These churches, broadly speaking, view infant Baptism as a valid baptism. In fact most if not of these church traditions all see the mode, sprinkling or pouring as opposed to full immersion under water, as not valid baptism.
Christian's who believe in "believer's baptism" or "credo-baptism" quote several passages in the New Testament about repentance, conversion and then baptism as a witness and acknowledgment of their new birth in Christ. Some of these churches, like the Christian Churches-Disciples of Christ/Church of Christ see the act of baptism as being connected to salvation. Baptist churches and Bible Churches see baptism as an ordinance that testifies about the new birth by person who understands their salvation mentally and spiritually and is professing it by obedience to scripture - and not part of salvation.

Most all churches who believe in "believer's baptism" only see full immersion as the biblical norm.

Concerning "infant baptism" or "padeo-baptism", about 75% of people in churches participate in infant baptism. Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Episcopal/Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist practice infant baptism. Most of these churches are governed by bishops and a connected hierarchy.

Are these Christians in these faith traditions right or wrong? I think they are wrong by the witness of Scripture. It is awesome we in America have the choice to choose the church we want to practice our faith in. Do I have many friends who are great Christians in many of these faith traditions? Yes. When a position on baptism must be affirmed it is with our local church affiliation that it becomes a matter of conviction for each of us. They see a biblical reason to practice infant baptism in their churches. I respect their decision as the respect my decision to participate in a church that believes it is biblical to be saved then baptized.

After Pentecost the Biblical norm was conversion by as an adult and then baptism in obedience.
Below Phillip witnesses to the Ethiopian Eunuch.

Acts 8:35-38
English Standard Version (ESV)
"35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" 38And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him."

Concerning the support of infant baptism because it is the "new circumcision" from the Old Testament, this is an argument that falls apart.

Romans 2:29
English Standard Version (ESV)
"29But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God."

The circumcision of the heart in Acts 2:29 is conversion or being born again.
Circumcision in the Old Testament was for male infants only and could only be for infant males due to what circumcision is. So are baby girls immune from their circumcision/baptism? This verse has to do with being saved not baptized. Male and female can be saved. Male and female can not both practice Hebrew circumcision.

The church you will attend, you say, will not re-baptize the person as an adult.
Their argument is God was serious even if you were not. How serious can a baby be about anything? Those who believe in infant baptism often view "re-baptizing" as heretical.

Those who believe in believer's baptism would say that baby was never baptized and only needs to be if converted as a mature understanding person then baptized. Conversion of the individual can be misunderstood if the person was already baptized. This is a problem for traditions that baptize infants. Of course no adult can remember their infant baptism. Now they are confronted with receiving Christ. But they are already part of and members of the church before salvation. Confusing, as church members then need to be converted.
Another reason people baptize infants originally was to wash away original sin. Many that practice infant baptism dispute that as a reason today. Biblical support for infant baptism? I can not find any.
Here is another passage referenced supporting infant baptism. Paul and Silas witness to the Philippian jailer. The jailer's whole family is converted and baptized.
There is no statement in scripture that says any infants were baptized. In Acts 16 it only says members of the household were baptized after they learned and obeyed what it means to be saved.
That is reading the white not the print.

Acts 16:28-33
English Standard Version (ESV)
"29And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." 32And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family."

My advice to you is to be sure you are saved. Then join a church you can support which includes their view of baptism.
The biblical pattern is salvation by repenting of your sins and trusting that Jesus Christ died to pay your penalty for your sins, be baptized in obedience, join a local church, worship, edify other believers and then participate in evangelism.

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