Infant Baptism

Yes… that is the title of the post…

For those of you who know me very well, you may or may not know that I’m a 57% paedobabtist (one who believes in covenantal infant baptism). I think that is the best way to describe myself because if I were a 100% paedobaptist my kids would be baptized already and if I were 0% then I wouldn’t be writing this post. I chose 57% because it, I think, best represents where I stand on the subject. For those to whom this is news, let me go back a couple steps to get you up to speed.

The History

It began when Jennifer was pregnant with Asher. I was at a Christian bookstore and was just browsing. A book called, “The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism” caught my eye. I picked it up and began read a little. “A little” ended up being several chapters and I decided that, after sitting on the floor of the bookstore for 30 minutes, that I should buy the book.

I read the book and gave the subject a lot of thought. I bounced my thoughts off my wife, some of my friends, and I even wrote a document that I submitted to the elders of my church for their input. In all my interactions, my friends and pastors listened to what I said and wrote but never really convinced me that my thoughts were wrong or that their thoughts were right. I left most conversations and readings somewhere in the middle.

57% is Not a Conviction

So, that is where the 57% comes in. When examining the case for infant baptism I think the argument is good. The only problem is that it is not an explicitly stated “thou shalt baptize your children” within the scripture. The discussion is much deeper and wider and the arguments are many. As I have said to many of my close friends, “when I place the argument for infant baptism in a scale, I think the weight goes ever so slightly in the direction of paedobaptism. It isn’t like the scale dramatically tips in that direction… but it appears to be going that way.” The problem this present for me is that is “appears to be going that way” enough for me to actually have my children baptized? Obviously, my answer thus far is no. I haven’t done it because it is not a conviction… yet.

The Latest Developments

In wanting to get past 57% and on to a conviction in one direction or the other I keep my eye out for readings and people to talk with about the subject. That is why, the other day in the RTS bookstore I was drawn to a book called, ” To a Thousand Generations: Infant Baptism – Covenant Mercy to the Children of God” by Douglas Wilson. What solidified my purchase of the book is the blazing conviction from which Wilson pens the following:

In arguing for biblical infant baptism, it is not sufficient for us to say that infant baptism is merely consistent with the Scriptures, or that a biblical case can be made for it. In order for us to be satisfied that we are being biblical Christians, we must be content with nothing less than a clear biblical case requiring infant baptism.

Now, I haven’t read the book yet, so I don’t know if I will agree with Wilson, but THAT attitude is the conviction I’m looking for. I want to come to a conclusion that I believe that the scriptures either require or do not require infant baptism for children of believers.

As a final note, there are some themes developing in my systematic theology class on the doctrine of redemption that are giving some interesting fuel to my thoughts… though I’ve been drinking from a systematic fire hose for 15 of the past 32 hours so I will hold those thoughts until I’ve had time to mull them over a bit more.

Final Note

I always get a chuckle when I’m studying this subject because I was baptized as an infant… along with like 4 other times in my life… but that is another story.

2 thoughts on “Infant Baptism

  1. That’s a tough one. I grew up in circles that hammered on the necessity of infant baptism, but never gave me compelling theological reason for doing so. Over time, I sort of crafted my own theology on the subject, and so I would say I’m more like 86% paedobaptist. For me, I’ve never heard a convincing theological argument for credobaptism, except for someone saying something like, “all the people in the New Testament were baptized as adults,” or something like that. Let me know how Wilson’s book is. I have the other one already, and have paged through it but maybe I should read the whole thing.

  2. A lot depends on what you consider Baptism to be. If you figure it is the rite of passage of a cognitive, thinking adult making a conscious decision to follow Christ then infant Baptism can’t fit this mold. I, and I think the Catholic Church, feel that Baptism is the cleansing of the original sin of Adam an Eve, shared in at birth by all humans. By having our infants baptised we are not as much initiating them into a certain church as we are cleansing their souls of original sin and giving them a fresh start in their early life. I feel Baptism is the washing away of sin and a gift to us from Jesus whose dedication to the removal of sin is evidenced by his death on the cross. As a believing adult I felt it was important to give our children the full benefit of Christ’s love and sacrifice by having them ‘cleansed’ of sin at an early age. I seem to recall that the Catholic Church’s theory was that if they died at an early age they would have a pure soul without sin and go to heaven. Children while they may be bad at times do not normally consciuosly ‘sin’ and remain ‘pure’ through childhood. Its those teen years that are killers :)

    Of course Baptism does not guarantee that they will lead a rightous life or make decisions based on what Jesus would want us to do — just as adult Baptism does not.

    My thoughts :)