Why I Reject Infant Baptism As A Biblical Practice
- Our Lord Jesus left no command, precept or example to baptize infants, even when He had opportunity found in the written Gospels.
- Scripture as a whole is completely silent on the practice. There is not one precedent found anywhere.
- Every ordinance and practice in the worship of God must have the authorization of Scripture itself. (Galatians 1:9). God has plainly spoken how we are to worship Him, thus all other acts of worship are to be considered ‘strange fire’. Infant baptism is such an act.
- Believer’s baptism was instituted by God Himself. John the Baptist was commissioned as the first administrator of it. (Matthew 3:5). Those who were baptized came confessing their sins and believing, not wearing diapers and being held by their parents.
- The practice of baptizing by full immersion was confirmed by the practice of Christ and his continual exhortations to His disciples; see Mark 13:37; Luke 14:27, 33; 21:36; John 3:12; 8:31-32; 13:34,35; 15:8; Reading these verses shows the total silliness of baptizing infants. They cannot confess sins because they are ignorant of them, they cannot understand commands of repentance much less the doctrine itself.
- Not once in Scripture, did the Apostles of Jesus Christ baptize infants, non-believers. Again, no command, precept or example.
- In Scripture, believer’s baptism was the only baptism practiced by New Testament churches. Saving faith was required, which infants do not have: Acts 2:41; 8:12, 37-38; 9:18; 10:44; 16:30; 18:8; 22:14,16.
Brethren, baptism is an act of worship, and those who worship God in ways unauthorized by Him in His written Word, such as infant baptism, practice idolatry and offer ‘strange fire’ to the Almighty.
This debate, like Calvinism vs. Arminianism vs. Semi-Pelgaianism, is one that will never go away.
I’ve recently began to consider that the Presbyterian practice might be correct. Though I have not come to a conclusion, I have heard/read logical & seemingly accurate (biblically speaking) points from both sides. However, this post helps to solidify my position in the believers baptism camp.
I once again highly recommend Jeffrey Johnson’s excellent review of the Covenant Theology behind baptism positions: http://reformedbaptist.blogspot.com/2010/05/fatal-flaw-of-theology-behind-infant.html
It will do wonders to strengthen the Baptist in his stand on teh Word of God.
In addition to Joel’s EXCELLENT post, I would like to point out the word, baptize, is a transliteration of the Greek, baptizo, which describes a boat being sunk – a complete immersion under the water. There are MANY good free books explaining various aspects of this issue and, in accordance with #2 above, ALL Scripture points only to believer’s baptism.
Brother, you are committing a word fallacy here and obviously just repeating some errant teaching you heard somewhere in your past. You cannot support your claims with solid exegesis. The massive weight of church doctrine is against you as well.
in Hebrews 6:2 and 9:10,the word was used to refer to ceremonial washings, which were definitely not immersions and is also used in the Septuagint to describe the use of a bird’s blood to baptize another bird for sacrifice. Obviously there is not enough blood in a single bird to be able to immerse another bird in it.
Obviously, none of you immersionites understand the implications of Genesis 17 and the transition from circumcision to baptism as the sign of the covenant. You have stepped all over the “you and your household” command to Abraham and its reiteration in baptism in the new testament. Clearly, you also have no understanding of church history, including the absence of any controversy as infant baptism became the norm in the first century.
If you had studied your church history and find that this was never even a debate in the early church. You have sinned against God and the church by condemning God’s covenant sign and excluding people from God’s covenant community.
I’ve read lots of church history – none of which over rides Scripture. Baptizing babies is NOWHERE in scripture and it’s a flawed view of the covenant with Abraham and the Sinai covenant that leads folk to equate Hebrew circumcision with New Covenant baptism. Read Johnson’s book for a solid review of this – it is endorsed by a Presbyterian pastor, several of which assisted Johnson in making sure his understanding of their view was accurate.
Bryan is quite right, the debate will never go away, but it ought to. There is no biblical basis for intant baptism. It is a theological construct without exegetical support. I have many presbyterian friends, I have been involved with a church that split over this issue, and for the life of me how one ignores the overwhelming evidence of belivers baptism based on a tenuous notion that baptism is the NT answer to OT circumcision, The truth is, circumcision of the heart is the answer to OT circumcision, not baptism. I love the Reformed guys, I love their books – but their blind allegiance to infant baptism perplexes me.
Having been through both types of baptism, I can say without reservation that believers baptism by immersion was the defining moment in my life.
Great observations by D.R . Leach [ above] is that OT circumcision was the “type” ,and NT [new covenant] circumcision is that of the heart, but I think that more importantly is that baptism is an outward sign of what has already taken place inwardly, death to the old man and ressurection to a new life in Christ. This is something that infant baptism simply does not demonstrate.
I have come back to this post again, to read it carefully. Here are a few thoughts. Joel, you don’t break any new ground here, but you have produced a succinct, tightly written list of points that I think are unanswerable by our Reformed friends. It’s astounding that men otherwise in allegiance to Scripture ignore the undeniable evidence of believer’s baptism (and as you rightly observe – nothing else exists in the entire Scripture) and replace it with infant baptism. Honestly, the Church of Christ (Campbellite) folk have more evidence for baptismal regeneration than the Reformed guys do for infant baptism. At least they appeal to Scripture, even if they twist it in the process. Reformed guys will moan that I “don’t get it.” But I do get it, I really do. I’ve read their best apologists. I understand their presuppostions, their arguements and the theology that grows out of it – but why those prone to infant baptism meanerings are not checked by just the simple lack of ANY evidence in the NT of such a practice – is beyond my ability to fathom. Why is it not profoundly striking to paedobaptists that what they see as the norm never takes place in the Scripture? Should that not give great pause? How do you introduce a practice that is not evidenced in God’s Word – and then defacto usurp and deny the practice that is demonstrated in God’s word – the baptism of believing men and women? Brethren, when our theology takes us to a place where the outcome is a practice that denies absolutely clear Scripture, we need to re-work that theology. There was a time in my younger years that I wanted to be fully Reformed, and I did EVERYTHING I COULD to understand paedobaptism, and I figured my PCA and OPC friends, to say nothing of the likes of Hodge or Thornwell or Bahnsen or Sproul couldn’t ALL be wrong. Nevertheless, as much as I respect all those fellows and another hundred plus I could add to that list – on this issue, they are DEAD WRONG.
This debate will not be concluded on a blog. I do enjoy this blog, even though I am a fire breathing Presbyterian 😉
thank you for your opinion on this subject. While you have a number of Biblical references, you seem to have read into each of them what you wanted to read into them. Your Mt 3 reference actually says nothing about anyone believing anything. Since Christ has not yet died, nor even spoken about His death, it would be hard for anyone in Mt to have any belief. Even John says that he is not doing a believers baptism, but rather a baptism of repentance (3.11).
As a point of fact, none of your scripture references talk of full immersion in point 5. I do not know an instruction manual in the Bible on performing a baptism.
Acts 2:38-39 mentions that baptism is for all, ‘for you and your children’.
Perhaps most importantly Mt. 19.14 ‘but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”‘ Removing children, even an infant, from baptism breaks this command of Christs. For we know, as you pointed out in Acts 10.44, that the Holy Spirit can fall on ANY who hear the word of God. There is no way to judge cognitive understanding, but it is simply the hearing of the word in the ear that brings one to belief.
One final thought:
Christs command to His disciples was simply Go, baptize, and teach. If we exclude infants, are we keeping His command?
Thank you again for your 7 points of discussion on infant baptism. I hope I was able to add to the conversation here.
freed in Christ, a few questions:
(1)You mention Acts 2:38-39. I cannot help but wonder what you think of verse 41 that follows : “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and that same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” How do unbelieving children “receive” this word? How do those not even old enough to understand this word – “receive” it? Since they (the receiving ones) were the baptized ones, how does this support your point of view?
(2) You also mention Mt. 19:14. Would you be kind enough to point out baptism in context here? I can’t find it anywhere in chapter 19. Since baptism is not in vew in this passage, willl you explain the hermeneutical principle that justifies your viewpoint?
(3) You point out that Christ commands his disciples to “Go baptize and teach.” Rightly so. However, how does one teach infants, for surely if we are to find infants as rightful recipients in this command to baptize, context demands we find them the recipients of teaching as well. Have YOU taught any 3 mos. old infants lately?
If any of you can provide scripture that says that Children of believing parents are now excluded from the covenant and from receiving the sign of the covenant like when they received it before Genesis Chapter 17 and Saint Peter Repeats the same commandment and Promise connecting to baptism. The new sign is baptism for believers and there children. In Acts And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Then saint Paul does say the promise is for you and your children. He does not say wait until your children choose to believe.
For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38, 39 ESV). You guys at the Credobaptism only camp have alot to prove with out using such a shallow way on interpreting scripture.
With due respect Joseph, it is this kind of anemic reasoning that keeps me a confirmed Baptist. Wish you well.
Thank you for this post and for all the comments.
Circumcision was a spiritual sign given to Abraham and all his male physical offspring. Repeatedly the prophets called the circumcised to have their hearts circumcised, i.e. be regenerated, something the New Testament writers do NOT do to the baptized. An important and vital distinction in the advance of redemptive history. Whereas both circumcison and baptism point to regeneration by Christ that is where the similarities stop. In the New Testament the Apostles are addressing the church in various locations via the epistles. Those letters always begin by stating the recipients are effectually called, chosen and saints. Of course they can do that even though some in the churches may be hypocrites or false professors. So it is assumed with charity that all who make a credible profession of faith are in fact Christians. Therefore Paul can say we are all sons of God by faith in Christ, and as many of “us” as were baptized were clothed with Christ, or were buried and raised,etc. It was unthinkable to be a Christian and not be baptized. If infant baptism were true then Paul couldn’t address the churches this way. He could not say as many of us in the church are clothed with Christ or raised again through faith(Col 2:13) because according to Reformed theology their baptized covenant children are only in the external covenant, only receivers of the administration of the covenant, not the substance; however Paul assumes, because it was the only biblical practice, that only “professed” believers were baptized, so he can say that within the biblical framework of “professors only” baptism. Never like in the Old Testament does Paul say “You who have been baptized, baptize your hearts!” NEVER. Because in the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants the only qualification to receive circumcision was to be born physically and be a male. Thus a profession of faith was not required before its reception as is the case with baptism in the new. So on the old the majority who were circumcised were told to repent and be saved or circumcised in heart. In the new since only professors of faith are baptized there is never that call to be baptized in heart, be saved, but rather to live out there salvation they already profess to have before baptism. Thus infant baptism is unbiblical in light of the significance and the language and context its used in the NT. A failure to see that is to retrograde backwards into a judaistic phase of redemptive history.