Skip to comments.Baptism and Infant Baptism
Posted on 10/25/2010 9:27:38 AM PDT by GonzoII
The Bible attests that baptism is the way a person becomes part of the Body of Christ, the Church. At the end of his speech at Pentecost, Peter told his hearers what they had to do to be saved: Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Note that Peter said everyone, not just adults. In Catholic belief, the Latin term ex opere operato, which literally means from the work performed, expresses the essentially objective mode of operation of grace imparted in the seven sacraments, by Gods Spirit, (of which baptism is the first) and its independence of the subjective attitude of either the minister or the recipient. Thus, even though infants are too young to understand and accept baptism, they can nevertheless be baptized.
Without baptism you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven
Through baptism, converts to Jesus Christ first received forgiveness of their sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and became members of the community of Christians, the Church. Does baptism have anything to do with salvation? Jesus said: He who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mk 16:16). He told Nicodemus that unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (Jn 3:5). The Church of New Testament times responded to this teaching by immediately baptizing all new converts (See Acts 2:38, 41; 18, 8; 19:5; 22:16). Paul explained that baptism unites believers to Jesus in his death so that they will also share in his resurrection (Rom 6:35). Baptism then is also a means to salvation.
Baptism starts the process of salvation
From the earliest Christian centuries, the Church has baptized either by immersing or by pouring the water over the head of the person while praying the Trinitarian formula (Mt 28:19). Nowhere does the Bible say how much water is to be used (see Acts 9:36:37), otherwise we would be seeking salvation by works, and not by the grace imparted in the sacrament of Baptism. The Church does not know of any means other than baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are reborn of water and the Spirit'. God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments (Catechism of the Church §1257)
The evidence that water Baptism starts the process of salvation is overwhelming in the Bible. However, a common evangelical bias, or prejudice, can be stated like this Nothing we do with our bodies in the physical realm has anything whatever to do with Gods dealings with our eternal souls in the spiritual realm. This bias has its roots in an ancient Gnostic heresy called Manichaeism, which the Catholic Church dealt with centuries ago. This evangelical notion that we should worship like angels, without the aid of our bodies, leads evangelicals to reject not only the Eucharist and Baptism, which they style ordinances. These are Sacraments of the New and eternal Covenant.
Living in a personal relationship with God
Evangelicals and fundamentalists are under the erroneous impression that Catholics do not believe in having a personal relationship with the Lord. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states: The mystery of the faith requires that the faithful live in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God (§2558). Most Catholics pray to this effect when receiving their First Communion, at Confirmation or on a daily basis or whenever they receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion during the Catholic worship service, the Mass. The expression, however, is not found in the Bible. It is a product of our present cultural way of thinking. A more Biblical expression is: following Christ.
Circumcision and Baptism are both rites by which people come into a special Covenant (not ordinance) relationship with God (see Exodus 12:48). Repent and be baptized, everyone of you .. This promise is for you and your children and for all those .. Peter tells us in Acts 2:38-39. Jesus also said that no-one can enter heaven unless born again of water and the Holy Spirit (Baptism) (Jn 3:5). In Mt 19:14, Jesus urged: Let the children be, do not keep them back from me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. The fundamentalists argument that this does not apply to infants since the children referred to are able to approach Christ on their own, is incorrect, since the parallel texts (Lk 18:15) and the original Greek texts use the word for infants in arms (little children who are unable to approach Christ on their own).
More importantly, Paul likens baptism to circumcision, and it was mainly infants who were circumcised under the Old Law (see Col 2:11-12). Circumcision of adults in Judaism was rare, there being few converts. If Paul, in making this parallel, meant to exclude infants from Baptism, it is strange that he did not say so. In everyday life people use water for cleanliness and hygiene as a precaution against dirt and disease. Water in one form or another is also an absolute necessity if a person is to stay alive Among the Jews of Palestine ritual cleansing with water was a common practice. It was this ritual cleansing to which Jesus gave a deeper spiritual meaning. He did this by connecting the Holy Spirits working in the believers life in a particular way with water. It is by the Holy Spirits working in the water of baptism that the spiritual corruption of sin is washed away and a new life with God is begun (Jn 3:5, Titus 3:5, Jn 7:37-38). Naturally enough, the people we read about being baptized in Scripture, are adults because they were converted as adults. This makes sense because Christianity was just starting out and there were no cradle Christians, no people brought up from childhood in Christian homes.
Infant baptism in the New Testament
Does the Bible say that infants and young people can be baptized? There are some good indications. Lydia was converted with all her household (Acts 16:15). The expression with all one's household in Jewish usage meant the inclusion, not only of children but of servants. The jailer of Paul and Silas was converted by them. We are told that without delay, he and all his household were baptized (Acts 16:33). And in his greetings to the Corinthians, Paul recalled that, Yes, and I did baptize the household of Stephanas (1 Cor 1:16). In the case of the jailer, He and all his must refer to himself and at least two others. If it were just the jailer and his wife it would read he and his wife, but it says He and all his, which must include children, as well. The scripture evidence here leans in favor of infant baptism. There is nothing in the Bible that says infants and young children were unsuited to Baptism. Infant baptism in the early Church.
Fundamentalists do not pay much attention to historical evidence, yet early Christian practice clearly shows that infants were baptized. Origen, for instance, in the 3rd century, wrote: The Church received from the apostles the practice of giving baptism also to infants, though they do not have sins of their own: so that there may be given to them holiness, righteousness, adoption, inheritance, brotherhood with Christ and that they be his members. This and other quotes from esteemed Fathers of the Church of the early centuries, such as Origen and John Chrysostom, in their writings Commentarii in Romanos 5:9 and Catechesis ad illuminandos, cannot go unheeded. The Ecumenical Council of Carthage in the year 252 AD debated the fact, not that infants should not be baptized, but that it should not be withheld from them until the eighth day of birth, as with circumcision, with the Jews. There was no record in the early Church of anyone condemning infant baptism, showing that it was common practice.
Other outstanding leaders in the early Church testifying to the Churchs practice of infant baptism are Polycarp of Smyrna (167/8 AD), Justin Martyr (died 165 AD), Cyprian of Carthage (C. 249 AD), and Hippolytus of Rome (170-236 AD), Irenaeus of Lyons (120-202 AD). St Augustine of Hippo in the 4th century taught strongly of the necessity of Baptism for wiping away original sin the sin of our first parents, which we all inherit. The 16th Synod of Carthage (418 AD) definitely condemned those who denied baptism to new-born babies.
The most common question about infant Baptism is: How can a parent or guardians faith substitute for the faith of a child? It is noteworthy that Jesus did not pose this question. When Jairus asked Jesus to raise his young daughter from the dead (Mk 5:22-43) or another father asked Jesus to expel a demon from his son (Mk 9:17-27), Jesus acted with power because of their faith, not the faith of their children.
How much more would Jesus desire to free children from an even worse bondage, the bondage of sin, and raise them to eternal life, in response to the faith of their parents and of the whole Christian community. But the Catholic Church also teaches that the parents of the baptized child must provide a faith environment that will prepare the child to make a personal commitment to Jesus Christ on reaching maturity.
Nothing is sadder than the sight of those little plots of ground in some cemeteries, particularly in America, where children have been buried in separate, often unconsecrated sections, simply because their parents adhered to denominations who do not believe in infant Baptism.
Confirmation is the sacrament of the Church for the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the life of a baptized Christian. The Holy Spirit first comes into a person at baptism (Acts 2:38) but the Acts of the Apostles also speaks of the prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15-17). When Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6). Later on, an anointing with oil was also added to the Sacrament. Through the Sacrament, the Holy Spirit empowers Gods people to proclaim the Good News with power, to live the message and to continue Jesus mission and ministry in the world. Expectant faith is necessary to experience and receive the full power of the Spirit. Many today have come to know this power in a fuller way through the baptism (or release) of the Spirit.
Written by John Lee and Frank Bompas. Printed with ecclesiastical approval.
The Evangelization Station
23260 Joaquin Gully Rd. Unit 6
Twain Harte, California, 95383USA
Jn 3:5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Acts 2:38 But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is to you, and to your children
It's seems to me Lord that you want those curtain climbers baptized, but could you have talk with these folks (see below)?
“....repent and be baptized...”
Kinda means you have to know what repent mean and do that as well. Being dunked under water or being sprinkled with water is a bath / shower without the first part of repentance. A child that does not know right from wrong does not know what repenance means and is therfore not able to repent.
As a Reformed Presbyterian you have no argument from me on infant baptism.
“Baptism starts the process of salvation”
Here I always thought it was the accepting of Christ as ones’ saviour.
“...repent and be baptized...” refers to adult converts. Just as the children of adult converts to Judaism were included in the covenant via circumcision once the adult convert had himself been circumcised, so are the children of adult converts to Christianity called to baptize their children as their inclusion in the new covenant where there is neither man nor woman, slave nor free....
“A child that does not know right from wrong does not know what repenance means and is therfore not able to repent.”
and therefore sprinkling a bit of water on the poor kid means nothing to him/her.
Disagree or not, just so you know where we come from on the issue.
by Mark J. Bonocore
Is it correct and Apostolic to Baptize infants and children before the age of reason?
Well, first of all, it must be admitted that there is no specific reference to infant Baptism in the Scriptures. However, that's really beside the point, since there is nothing that speaks against infant Baptism either; and, as you and I were discussing at the Oratory, there is also no Scriptural account of Baptizing retarded or mentally-imbalanced people, yet the Church has always done so.
Case in point, in Matthew 17:14-18, we are told how Jesus cast out a demon from a young boy because of an appeal by the boy's father:
And Jesus heals the boy because of the father's faith. Now, obviously, it was not possible for this boy to have faith in Jesus on his own. He was psychologically and spiritually disturbed (whether naturally or supernaturally); yet Jesus used the father's faith to make him whole again. So, if such a thing is possible with demonic possession, why should Baptism be any different?
Many retarded and/or insane people do not have the ability to reason so as to "accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior" (as the Evangelicals say ;-) Yet, didn't Jesus come to save them as well? Don't they need to be Baptized into Christ? (Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27)
Well, if so, then why should we assume that the ability to reason is necessary for Baptism? Why can't babies be Baptized before they reach the age of reason?
Well, an Evangelical might tell you that it's because the ability to reason is necessary before one can sin. And, indeed, that is very true. We Catholics have an old expression:
So, our Evangelical brothers and sisters try to apply this to Baptism. In the case of an infant or a retarded person, they will say that these lack the ability to reason, and therefore they are free of guilt. And, again, that is very true. However, think about what it implies. :-) What this implies is that infants and retarded people do not need a Savior! Which, to us Catholics, is completely ridiculous. :-)
We know from Scripture itself that Christ came to save everybody, including infants and retarded people. He is their Savior just as much as He is the Savior of rational, healthy adults.
So, the real issue with those who deny infant Baptism is that they deny the reality of what we call original sin, something which non-Catholics usually confuse with "original guilt" (which Catholics DO NOT believe in). For example, we do not hold that a child is born guilty of sin. That is not the Catholic position at all. Rather, we believe that the child is personally innocent; however, because of the sin of Adam and Eve, the child is born with a "macula" (in Latin, a "dark spot") -- a lack of the light of God's grace in the soul (something the Virgin Mary did not lack, and so she is the Im-maculate Conception).
This lack of God's light (grace) is why we have an inclination toward sin; and all people (whether they have the ability to reason or not) suffer from it. Yet, in Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit, and become adopted sons and daughters of God. The light of God's grace dwells in our souls, and so we have the ability to overcome our sinful inclinations and live as the children of God we are called to be.
And this is why we believe that Baptism is a Sacrament. It is not something which we do to ourselves, but it's something that is done to us by God through the ministry of His Church. We merely accept it; or someone else accepts it for us.
A baby is not capable of repentance, as it has no understanding of right or wrong. Secondly, repentance means you acknowledge your sin and make an effort not to do this again. A child has neither of these capabilities. Thirdly, no man may speak or promise on behalf of another man - you cannot repent for my sins, nor I repent for yours.
The child is simply nothing more but a puppet in a ceremony, having neither voice, vote or understanding of the covenant he is being entered into.
If we were to actually bother to read the bible, you would read that multitudes were preached to, and children were encouraged to learn. The bible states that men and women were baptized, but NEVER a child. This includes Jesus Christ, who went to a temple as a child, but was not baptized until he reached the age of accountability, and fully understood and willfully accepted the covenant he was to enter into.
Well now you know better.
How does the Kingdom of heaven belong to them then?
Give it a couple of decades nd you guys will get another message and change 180 degrees
Here I always thought it was the accepting of Christ as ones saviour.
Well now you know better.
Yep. Silly Bible.
I was raised Methodist, and then went to Southern Baptist and now in a non-denominational evangelical church.
Personally, I think infant baptism is more of a promise the parents make to God to raise the infant up in a Christian household.
Then when the child is old enough, he can join the church (or confirmed in the Catholic church) and that’s when the full affect of the baptism takes place. The part that needs faith and repentence.
My children were baptized as infants. Then my son wanted to be baptized when he was older, and my daughters want to be baptized again in our current church.
I liked baptizing my kids because I was making a pact with God. I was dedicating them to him. (My husband is not very religious. He respected my decision in this matter.)
Que bien, señora!
Faith alone in Christ alone.
Et tu Hodar
1 Peter3:21 This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God 7 for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
You may consider reading the whole Bible not jsut the cliff notes your pastor gives you.
1 Peter 3:21 This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God 7 for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
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