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    Q&A–Why Do We Baptize Babies?

    Question:

    What is with baby baptisms? Why are they done?

    Answer:

    My personal opinion on baptism is that it’s something better experienced when you are old enough to understand the decision you’re making. I was baptized as a baby in the Catholic Church. I don’t remember the experience, but there is a photo of my parents with me in the arms of a priest; I’m red-faced and screaming my head off, but everyone else looks happy.

    Infant baptism is a complicated issue–those for it believe strongly and those against it believe just as strongly. We know that we’re saved through faith in Jesus Christ, but the Bible is very clear that baptism is a necessary part of our Christian life.

    Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).

    Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:38).

    Just to be clear, baptism is not what forgives our sins–God does. In the verse in Acts, Peter is addressing a crowd of people who “were pierced to the heart;” they believed in the Lord because of Peter’s testimony and Peter is telling them the next steps to take: repent and be baptized.

    In the Bible, baptism always follows either a declaration of faith or the repentance of sins. Since infants cannot choose to believe in Jesus Christ or repent for any sin, infant baptism may seem like a meaningless tradition. Some denominations practice infant baptisms and others don’t. People have been arguing over whether or not to baptize infants for more than 500 years!

    According to my research, neither infant baptism nor a specific age for baptism is ever mentioned in Scripture. It’s my understanding that those in favor of infant baptisms may have one of the following reasons for what they believe:

    1. Infant baptism mirrors the Old Testament requirement of circumcision. In the OT, Jewish boys were circumcised at 8 days old to enter into the covenant God made with Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14). Those in favor of infant baptism view water baptism the same way–they see it as the way the child enters into the New Covenant of grace.
    2. Infant baptism has more to do with the parents than the child.

    The Rite of Baptism for Children emphasizes the importance of faithfulness on the part of parents when it says to parents: In asking to have your children baptized, ‘you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith.’ That word practice is crucial; it calls for Christian modeling on the part of parents (AmericanCatholic.org).

    Those denominations that don’t practice infant baptism have this reason at the heart of their argument: Baptism always follows belief. People don’t get baptized before choosing to believe in Christ, they’re baptized after making that choice. Since an infant can’t choose to believe, they shouldn’t be baptized. These denominations may substitute the practice of infant baptism with something like a baby dedication.

    In a baby dedication, the parents bring the child before the congregation and the pastor or some elders (sometimes both) pray over the child and the parents. The parents then promise to raise the child according to the will of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6) in the presence of the church. This promise to God in front of witnesses is so that God’s people keep the parents accountable to fulfill their promise.

    I see nothing wrong with infant baptism or baby dedications, if they’re done as a public commitment by the parents to raise their child according to God’s will. Once children are old enough to choose salvation for themselves, they are welcome to be baptized again if they choose. I do believe baptism is a requirement for the Christian faith, as it was both commanded and completed by Christ, but I do not believe that baptism alone allows entrance into the New Covenant promises of God–faith in Jesus Christ does that.

    PI girls, what are your thoughts on infant baptisms?

    For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

    Jenn Arman
    Jenn Arman is a youth pastor, freelance writer and blogger. She was born in San Diego, California and raised 2 hours north east in the Inland Empire where she lives with her husband David and their cats. Jenn desires to bring glory to God and a healthy dose of reality to Christians through both writing and preaching. Visit jenniferarman.com for more on her work. You can also connect with her on www.facebook.com/JenniferArman.Writer and https://twitter.com/JennArman

    57 COMMENTS

    1. I think that, baptizing an infant is not wrong but they are too young! When they get older and make the decision to get baptized that’s good because they understand what it is and whats the consequences.

    2. I understand why there’s the issue. Personally I don’t think it really matters much when they get baptized. I know I’ve had paranoia moments when I would see a baby get baptized and I’d wonder if I got baptized too or not, even though Mom’s got pictures.

    3. Well, me being a Catholic, I think it is a good and wise decision for infants to be Baptized. Because if you were to die when you were an infant and were not yet baptized, you would not go to heaven. I believe this because I’m Catholic, but also because I think Baptism is one of the most important gifts you can receive from God. 😛

      • Wait I thought that babies that pass go to heaven even if they weren’t baptized? I read a book (A divine revelation of hell and heaven by Mary K baxter),I read the one about heaven and she said “When I visited hell I saw no young children,or babies there by no means.When babies die they come up here”She even covered what happens when someone has a miscarriage and what happens to the baby.But as I said it’s a personal decision..

      • taylorswiftfan-this is not why Catholics baptize babies. As Catholics, we baptize them to cleanse them of original sin and to welcome them into the church. As parents, we also promise to guide our children through the Catholic faith. Just because a baby is not baptized does not mean they will not go to heaven. That’s not what the Catholic faith teaches.

        • In the Bible it says that we are born without sin, because we are innocent. What ‘original sin’ are you talking about if we’re born innocent? And I heard that Catholics add books to the Bible which is also wrong.

        • actually lililove97, As a Catholic, we did not add books to the Bible. We added the 7 Old Testament chapters that the Jews removed in the Septuagint. Catholics for example, believe in Purgatory, which is actually in an Old Testament Chapter, II Maccabees 12:44-45. Also Martin Luther, in 1529 removed the same 7 OT books and also 4 New Testament books (Hebrews, James Jude, and Revelation) in order for the Bible to fit with his theology, but later added them again, in his additions in their original positions.

          So Catholics did not add anything to the Bible. Please don’t say things like that without clarifying yourself, it can really hurt others…I mean, I was slightly offended, but I understand that sometimes, these things aren’t really understood, I mean, I just understood it recently 🙂 We simply readded the removed parts of the Bible 🙂

        • yes, I agree 😛 but in my catholic book, that a priest named Fr. Laux wrote, it stated that if an infant is NOT baptized and dies, it does not go to heaven? so I’m not sure I guess

        • lililove97-where in the Bible did you read that we are born without sin? I’m asking out of curiosity because I don’t think I’ve read that, but then I haven’t read my Bible cover to cover, yet. 🙂

        • Nothing in scripture mentions what happens to unbaptized babies. My understanding is that for centuries theologians believed that unbaptized babies remained in a state of limbo, but within the last decade the Pope reversed this based on a Vatican document that believed in part that God’s mercy and love for children gave hope that unbaptized children were still saved.

        • Very good article and comments. Bravo. Baptizing an infant is ethical, since baptizing an infant is wishing a good thing to the baby – grace, just as parents wish good food and clothes to the baby. According to the Catholic Catechism edited by Pope John Paul II: “Infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumentate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth” (no. 1231). Thus, if parents baptize a baby, then they are committing themselves to many years of Christian education, liturgies and holidays.

        • original sin being that of Adam and Eve’s doing. we are born pure otherwise, infants know not of the difference between good and evil, and just because a child is not baptized does not mean that they will not go to Heaven…What of those unborn and unable to become baptized? God would not allow innocent souls to perish at the hands of the devil.

        • YouHadMeAt_Believe, yeah i hadnt understood whether Catholics added books to the Bible or not. I’m a Catholic, and had been wondering for a while. So, thanks!:)

      • yay Catholics!
        Jenn, because I am Catholic, and you said you were baptized into the Catholic Church, I have a concern that I’d like to bring up.
        You say “Once children are old enough to choose salvation for themselves, they are welcome to be baptized again if they choose.” The Catholic Church does NOT allow for more than one baptism. Baptism places an indelible mark on the person who is baptized, and you can only receive it once!
        Baptism provides very special graces, and the person can benefit from these graces even as an infant! Later, when a Catholic receives Confirmation (another one-time-only sacrament), they receive more graces, and this is the point where the person decides for themselves if they are going to truly live out their Catholic faith.
        I am also a bit surprised at your quotation of the verse from Ephesians; as this is one so often taken out of context and used to say that “we don’t need to DO anything to get to heaven. I think it’s dangerous to solely quote this verse, because people get the wrong impression very easily. Just a thought 🙂

    4. My church do not do baby baptizing cause in the bible it doesn’t says to do so and we are a word teaching church but we do baby dedication though once every other month! That’s just my church and if your church doesn’t do that then okay.I think it’s more so of a personal decision and just as you said.Some people are strong about it and others are just as strong against it.Whatever floats your boat I guess!

    5. I’m Catholic, and I have seen my baptism pictures, when I was merely 3 weeks old, or so. I personally don’t choose either, i think both are equally great. I do believe however, that if you are baptized as a child,you can also be baptized again as an teen or adult, so that you KNOW you have fully embraced Jesus 🙂

        • Oooh…so THAT’S what that class and ceremony was all about! My family isn’t Catholic, and as far as I know, we were going to a non-denominational church at the time, but they offered a confirmation class when I was in 7th grade. No one bothered to explain why we were there or what we were doing, and, frankly, I don’t think my mum even understood what was going on. I remember asking her why she signed me up to the class, not to complain but just to know what it was all about, and she just said she thought it might be a good idea. She basically treated the thing like a flu shot. Way to be informed in tending to my spiritual development, Mumsy dearest… -___-

          But anyway, that makes a bit more sense now. Thanks.

        • that annoys me that so many people at my school said they were being confirmed but they don’t seem sincere about their faith at all.

    6. I don’t get the baptismal of infants. They can’t speak up for themselves–they’re too young to have an opinion of what their beliefs are. Yes, while I know there’s significance for baby baptisms–it’s a way to welcome them to the church–I don’t feel like it’s appropriate. Baptism, to me, should be when you’re a fairly strong believer. Being baptized is your way of proclaiming to the world that you’re giving your life to Jesus and are using the water to “cleanse” you of your sins. Even though I was baptized when I was a 4th grader, I was still too young.

    7. My thoughts on infant baptisms are that children are innocent and automatically inherit the kingdom of God if they die at a young age. They are too young, with unformed opinions, on what they believe or what is right. It’s not wrong but they are too young like Milana said. Children are born without sin.

      • Catholics beilieve that every one is born with original sin, because Adam and Eve bit the fruit. That was original sin and we all inherit it, and we baptize babies so that they can be cleansed of original sin right away.
        And if i could draw your attention to the post below by balletrox14, she made an excelent point. We have the sacrament of confirmation, which happens at an older age (at my church we are confirmed in 8th grade). There is a TON of preperation and studying that goes a long with confirmation. It is basically a renewal of your baptismal promises (this time though, you can speak them and not your parents) and closure that you are going to live your life fore Jesus Christ. I also do not think its right or wrong (i am a catholic though, so i do believe it to be right) and is a preference of the denomination.

        • Okay this is a much clearer answer.My question is where did this “limbo” come from? What is “limbo” anyways? I never heard of it in the bible…I’m just asking.

        • But we need to ask God for forgiveness for sins to be taken away ,and obviously babies cant do that.:)

    8. I was baptized as an infant and I think that it is perfectly acceptable.In the Catholic Church, we also partake in the sacrement of confirmation, where we choose to follow Jesus. I understand both sides of the issue, and I think that it is just a matter of preference within the denomination.

    9. I was dedicated as a baby, which is mostly the same thing, and I think that it’s a good idea but not at all necessary. In my opinion, doing this for a baby is more like getting the whole church together to publicly pray that when the baby grows up he/she will follow God. I also think that if you get baptized as a baby, you should have the choice to get re-baptized when your older. I don’t see any problem in baptizing a baby as long as you later give them that choice to make for themselves. My dad, for example, was baptized as a little kid but went through the process again after I was born, showing that he still believed in God after the world had hit him head-on.

    10. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it, but there also doesn’t seem to be any reason to. Baptism is a symbol of dedicating your life to God and a statement you make to the world that you are a Christian. It doesn’t actually cleanse the baby of sin; God does that with or without dunking you in water (or sprinkling you with it). A baby can’t say, “I am a Christian,” and it doesn’t really make sense for us to baptize him because he hasn’t made any decisions yet. However, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with parents having some kind of ceremony of dedicating their babies to God. I see infant baptism as a statement not by the baby but by the parents, saying, “We will do our best to raise our child in a Christian way.” Infant baptism is fine but it does not replace baptism that happens later, when you confirm to the world you are a believer.

    11. I was baptized into the Episcopal Church when I was five months old. I don’t remember that, obviously, so it does not seem real to me. I recently got baptized by full immersion by a Free Methodist pastor at age 17, and what made it even more special was that my all-time favorite teacher and spiritual mentor, Mrs. Neal, helped. (I don’t know if everyone’s heard of the Free Methodist Church, because I hear that it’s not as common in some parts of the country, but there’s a lot of them in the Midwest. It is evangelical and a bit different from the United Methodist Church, which is much more common.) I thank God for that opportunity.

    12. Well I believe that the only way to have sins be forgiven is to believe in Jesus Christ as our savior and that he died for our sins. We can’t go to heaven by getting baptized. And I firmly believe that weather or not babies get baptized or not that if they pass they will still go to heaven because babies are unable to understand that Jesus is our savior and that he died for our sins. So God let’s the babies go to heaven because he knows that they are to small to understand. So my belief is no you cannot go to heaven by being JUST baptized. And you don’t have to be baptized to get to heaven. You JUST have to believe that Jesus is Christ and that he died for our sins.

      • That actually is a form of baptism. It’s called baptism of intention. Of course if you want to do everything in your power to please and follow God, yet you reject any opportunity presented to you to receive baptism, that is a sacrilege, which if I remember correctly, is a mortal sin. If you die before you are able to properly cleanse yourself of such a sin, you will in fact go to hell.

      • So why was Jesus baptized? He must have a reason too. He believed in himself and he died! So when Jesus told the discliples to baptize people in the name of Jesus Christ, it was just a suggestion… is that what you’re saying? You can’t go to Heaven just by being baptized you have to live in his way all your life and follow his commandment. Baptism is a command in order to get to Heaven.

    13. My in-laws are Reformed Presbyterian, and as far as I can tell, their practice of infant baptism is more about the parents than the child. It’s about the Covenant or something, equivalent to circumcision, but applicable to both sexes. I looked it up on their church’s FAQ’s last year when my month-old nephew was baptized.

      I was baptized when I was seven, but I don’t think I really knew the significance of the practice. I just saw all my friends getting dunked in a pool outside the church by our pastor one Sunday after the sermon, and I felt left out. I received the mandatory counseling beforehand, but I don’t remember a word of it. I don’t know if my mum was baptized as a child, but we were actually baptized on the same day in our pool in the backyard of all places. We had our friends from the congregation and outside the church come to the house, and we had a fun celebration afterwards. As for what I would do with my own children, there are a couple unknowns to deal with first:
      1.) I don’t know if I want to have kids. My husband and I have been talking about this, and we’re really not sure. It’s just weird when you get to the age where all your friends are having babies on purpose. o_O
      2.) I don’t know if I’ll be attending church at that point. I’m not attending now; the reason for that is a very long story, and I don’t want to get into too much here. It’s enough to say that it involves a pastor who went on a power trip and manipulated me into thinking the entire congregation hated me, disapproved of my relationship with my husband (while we were undergoing the mandatory counseling before the wedding), and didn’t want us to get married.

      Assuming I have kids and eventually get over my church phobia, I really don’t think I would baptize him/her/them (?) as babies. While I sort of understand why others do it, I don’t feel comfortable making that choice for a child. I didn’t really understand my baptism, and I definitely didn’t understand confirmation…now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure my mum didn’t either. When I asked her why I was going to confirmation class, she just said, “It seemed like a good idea.” No one explained it to me. It felt like my mum was just trying to get all my bases covered in my spiritual life instead of learning about what is truly necessary for my development. She basically treated it like a flu shot, and I don’t think it was appropriate (her treatment of the practice, not necessarily the confirmation itself).

    14. It’s funny I found this. My two nieces were baptized yesterday one is 1 month old and the other is almost 2 years old! I didn’t know if it was right or wrong. but I do know that infants have no sin! I don’t know what verse it is but it says enter into the kingdom of God as little children. which means they have no sin!

    15. I think baptizing children is wrong because getting baptized is cleaning your soul and babies soul is not dirty,
      Plus God is my role model and he didn’t get baptized till he was a grown man ( mature )
      also the bible sys that the heavens are the children and why would the Lord give the heavens to someone impure.

    16. I’m Catholic, so I was baptized as a baby. I don’t see anything wrong with it, and I definitely understand how there’s a reason to. I was also confirmed.
      My best friend is nondenominational, so I know how baby dedications and baptisms in that church work. It seems like, in the Catholic church, confirmation is kind of the same idea as a baptism in my friend’s church. And, a Catholic baptism is like a baby dedication.
      Like I said, I don’t see anything wrong with either way. 🙂

    17. I agree with the article. I think that baptism is for believers, and infant baptism does nothing for the child, but only for the parents. I don’t think it’s necessary.
      I think that it’s wrong and unbiblical to say that bapism of infants causes them to go to heaven. That is just like saying that baptism alone can save someone whether they believe or not.
      I think babies go to heaven but the reason I think that is because they are not old enough to understand the message of the gospel. They haven’t had a chance.
      Not because they are pure and innocent or something. The Bible says people are born under original sin. Baptism doesn’t remove original sin. Jesus Christ removes original sin, and all other sins after that.

      • Infant baptism does exactly what any baptism would do, and if baptism did nothing, God wouldn’t have told us to do it. So long as the ceremony is performed correctly, the baby gets all the graces any one else would get, and they do become part of the church. Being part of the church is certainly SOMETHING, even as an infant. Don’t people always say that it takes a whole community to raise a child?
        And it’s true that babies are born with original sin, and Jesus Christ removes original sin. How do you think Jesus removes original sin? By giving us baptism, that’s how. There are even different forms of baptism, (baptism of water, baptism of blood, and baptism of intention) so it’s not like we believe no one can be saved unless being baptized with water by a priest.

    18. My church has always baptized infants, and, as you mention, this is because of the Old Testament circumcision. In the OT, God made a covenant with his people (that He would be their God, and they would be his people), and this covenant also applied to their children and households. In the New Testament, this covenant remains, but, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, it now applies to Gentiles. So, the reason we baptize our children is to symbolize that they are covenant children and that their parents will bring them up in this covenant. They may not ever accept Jesus as their savior, but before they have the ability to do that, they are a part of the covenant.

    19. I was baptized as an infant, and I see it as more of a sign (Acts 16:31, They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you and your family will be saved.”) that says that we, as infants, are saved through our parents faith. I know a lot of people who have chosen to be baptized again, and I don’t see that there’s anything wrong with infant baptism, and I also don’t think there is anything wrong with not baptizing your infant. Some great points in this article!

    20. Baptism is the rite of passage into the church. One is not a member of the church, and cannot be saved until they are baptized. Therefore, even if they are not of the age of reason yet, it is good for a child to be baptized as soon as possible, to become part of the church and receive the graces therein. Traditionally people would wait to be baptized until they were in danger of death if they were in a sect of Christianity that did not believe in confession, and they needed the baptism to wipe clean their sins of life along with original sin before they died.

      Of course if you do believe in taking confession, then it’s not necessary to put off baptism for that long, considering that it would also be putting off legitimate entrance into the community of the church and graces that are extremely beneficial for your spiritual growth.

      Considering all that which is at stake for putting off Baptism, I don’t think it’s worth it to wait until the child is at the age of reason. They are still allowed to reject the faith after baptism if that is their opinion when the time comes, but if they have already been baptized before reaching the age where they make that decision, they will have the holy spirit in them to help them decide correctly.

      BAPTISM CANNOT BE REPEATED! It is one of the sacraments which leave a permanent mark on the soul, changing the very being of a person, forever. Once the mark is made, attempting to make it again is useless, since it is already there, and will never fade. The only reason anyone should ever have for attempting to be baptized again is if they are sure there was something illegitimate about their first baptism which prevented it from bestowing the mark onto their soul.

      • Well…I got baptized originally in 2007 I believe.And on July 29th of this year I got re-baptized cause I backed slipped ALOT and I wanted a fresh start.I knew what the whole point was and I understood it.I wanted to have a fresh start.My pastor even says “This call is for all of the people who have been re-born again but you back slipped take a step of faith and join me up here” I’m guessing that’s with the catholic church…

    21. I believe that baptism should be a choice on the part of the person. At my church, we have dedications for babies, and I think this is better because it is a committment on the part of the parents. Then, at any point, a person can choose to be baptized. They give their testimony and for us, baptism is a step of faith that is made by choice.

      Also, I think baptism of adults and older children is better because, what if someone joins the church who was not baptized as a baby? Shouldn’t they also be baptized now that they have become Christians?

    22. I believe that baptism doesn’t get someone into heaven. I also believe that while baptism is absolutely a part of the Cristian faith, God will not deny you entrance into heaven if you have not been baptized. Salvation is a one step thing, baptism just shows others that you believe in Christ.

    23. I was baptized as a baby (proud Catholic girlie here) and I have discussed this with some of my non catholic friends. This is how I explain it: my parents gave me the gift of God when I was baptized as a baby. Now that I am old enough to choose for myself, I accept their gift. I think the baptism is an important sacrament. But I think the more important part of it, is when you are older, and you reflect on your baby baptism and truly and knowledgeably accept the gift of Christ.

    24. I was baptized as a baby! I’m a Catholic. The way stuff works for us is that baptism is a lot like a sign of the New Covenant (with Christ). When baptism happens, the baby is welcomed as a member of the Church, and the parents promise to raise him/her in Christ. The kid can choose later on if they want to accept the gift of Christ from their parents (in the sacrament of Confirmation).

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