It has been difficult to post recently as life and ministry have been very busy and margin continues to get swallowed up. However, writing is a necessary output for my own spiritual formation, so I am taking some steps to build this into my schedule. Thanks to all of you who have inquired as to the missing blog posts in your RSS feeds. It does my heart good to know that both of you are reading this blog.
Infant baptism has fallen by the wayside in much of evangelical Christianity. So, when you post about this topic you get some good conversation via tweets and different formats where some great questions are asked. I wanted to answer these objections and questions in a post.
- What about those kids who get baptized and don’t walk with God? That’s a very good question. I think that the first thing is to realize that God is on a different time frame than we are. Just because someone has not yet responded to the gospel does not mean they won’t. The sacrament is not a guarantee to faith. Infant baptism provides an opportunity for the people of God to walk along and trust him to save this child. This is about God not about us. Finally, the sacrament is also to show that the child of believing parents is a member of the covenantal community and that we can look forward in hope that they will publicly profess their faith. (This is edited, thanks to Laura who helped clarify some poor logic in the comments below.)
- I heard that infant baptism is believed to actually give salvation to the infant, is that true? This is true or false depending on your tradition. The two major divisions are catholic and protestant. The catholic understanding of the sacraments is very different than that of the protestant tradition. The catholic understanding of the sacraments is that they procure grace for you. The protestant understanding is that the sacraments are a means to experiencing grace. This means that in the protestant tradition salvation is not procured by infant baptism. It is an external promise that will some day become an internal reality. It is a marking that the children of believing parents are members of the covenant community of faith. In baptist traditions children are not part of the community of the church but are viewed as outsiders until they “make profession of faith”. This is in stark contrast to what we see in the Scriptures where children have always been included in the community of faith. So, infant baptism does not secure salvation but inclusion in the community of faith with the promise of future salvation.
- Should I get re-baptized now that I have trusted Christ and am no longer a part of a tradition that does infant baptism? I would say, “By no means!” Why? This is because the day you were baptized there was a promise made over you by God. He has made good on this promise. If you choose to re-baptize then you are saying that you do not care about the fact God has made good on his promise. I would argue that you should praise God for his faithfulness and rejoice with those around you about how God saved you and did so in covenantal faithfulness to you.
I am sure there are more objections. These are the one that seemed to come up the most. Please post others in the comments so that we can dialogue about them.