Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Infant/Child Baptism - 1

I am shifting gears and beginning a series of posts on infant/child baptism.

To begin this series I will define what I mean by infant/child baptism. (This idea is called paedo-baptism, so I will use that term from here on out.)

I believe the infant or young child of a parent or parents who is/are baptized Christians and who is/are living faithfully as disciples of Jesus Christ are legitimate candidates for the sacrament of Holy Baptism. These infants or young children are not baptized upon their own profession of faith but upon the profession of faith of their parents, godparents/sponsors and the congregation wherein they are baptized. Once baptized, they are members of Christ's Church by virture of their baptism.

Here are some important clarifying points under girding this view:
1. Paedo-Baptism is not the belief in baptizing children per se, it is the belief that children of faithful Christian parents can be baptized.
2. Paedo-Baptism presumes that the child being baptized will be nourished in the context of a Christian Church. When done properly, Paedo-baptism should be given to a child whose family is part of a Church.
3. Paedo-Baptism (as I will develop later) is not a finished product, but presumes the infant/child being baptized will be raised intentionally and consistently to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. It also means that a child may walk away from his/her baptism for a season or forever.

Another thing to mention. The doctrines of paedo-baptism and baptismal efficacy do not necessarily go together. One can believe in baptismal efficacy and not believe in paedo-baptism and one can believe in paedo-baptism and not believe in baptismal efficacy. However, most traditions that practice Paedo-Baptism hold to a doctrine of baptismal efficacy.

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