Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Why I Baptize Babies?

I am a paedo-baptist. That means I believe and practice the baptism of infants and young children. Well, actually, I believe that the infants and children of a Christian parent or parents ought to be baptized. (I meant to say ought.)

Why, you might ask, do I believe this? I believe it is biblical and I believe the refusal to baptize the infants and young children of Christian parents or parent is unbiblical.

Here is my view:

1. Baptism is the gateway into the Church and a life of Christian discipleship. (cf. The Great Commission.)

2. The New Testament never tells who is or who is not to be baptized -- so we have to go elsewhere to decide who the church should baptize. Sorry, but the data is simply incomplete.

3. So where do we go to decide who ought to be baptized? The best answer is to scripture -- scriptuer interprets scripture.

4. In the O.T. circumcision was the gateway for membership in the people of God.

5. Circumcision was for adults and children of circumcised adults.

6. Baptism replaces circumcision.

7. Therefore, believers and their children ought to be baptized.

Other considerations:

  • The Church is Israel reconstituted -- unless explicitly staed we should assume O.T. principles carry into the New. (I am not a dispensationalist).
  • The leaders of the New Testament era were -- Jews. What would their default position be regarding who ought to be baptized?
  • The church practiced paedo-baptism from early days and saw it as apostolic.
  • It is a more practical and helpful model for Christian children than the baptistic approach of "waiting for my kids to get saved." (I was a baptist pastor for 10 years, I speak from experience.)

Okay -- I'm done.


Bryan said...

I liketh this post very much.

Question: What form of baptism do you think is Biblical and why? The Orthodox generally fully immerse. Why has sprinkling become the norm instead of the exception in many Traditions?

Just wondering outloud...


Peter said...

I think all three -- immersing, pouring and sprinkling -- are biblical. I know a lot of mileage is put on the word baptizo because its literal meaning is "to dip". But the literal meaning of a word is based on its etymology not on how it is actually used in the New Testament. There are examples in the gospel of Luke (have to look it be positive where it is in Luke) where baptizo is used to speak of handwashing. So the word has some flexibility of meaning.

That being said, I prefer immersing or pouring in order to signify burial with Christ. That is not the only thing baptism pictures, but it is dominant in the New Testament. If parents are for it, I pour lots of water over babies.

I think sprinkling became the habit in Northern Europe where the climate was colder and there was more concern about babies and children taking sick. I am pretty sure immersion in a baptistry like you see in modern baptistic churches was the norm in the early/patristic era.

Blake said...

Good thoughts. A couple of things brought me over to the paedo-baptist camp. I realized that circumcision and baptism were signs of membership of the people of God as you have noted. Children were included in the old covenant, the inferior covenant. So why would children be excluded from the better covenant? This sort of covenantal thinking made sense to me.

Also, the historical argument is much in favor of paedobaptists. The majority of orthodox Christians have and still believe that children of Christians are members of the Church by baptism. Baptists have to say that they Church got this sacrament all wrong for 1500 years.

Now, what do you think of paedocommunion....:)


Bryan said...

Good thoughts Peter. I'm with you . . . I prefer lots of water!

Blake, I like your question about children being included in the new covenant. Makes sense to me.


Peter said...


Beleive in it and practice it at St. PAt's -- at the discretion of parents.