Advice on Children Baptism

I’ve posted before about my questions regarding the Catholic faith and how I’m feeling “drawn” to it and DH’s reluctance…

However, recently he listened to Scott Hahn’s CD regarding the Pope and has asked for me to get him more “info” as the RCC is now something he feels compelled to research.

That being said, for the last 6 months or so, we’ve been attending a new church and DH had been wanting to make our switch official. But, NOW, he nor I can, in good conscience, do so until we come to something conclusive about RCC.

Then comes the problem with our children (ages 10, 6, 6) who have not been baptized. All three just went through a baptism class at the current church (even though I could really tell that they thought my 6yo twin girls were too young to “make a decision”…ugh). My question is whether or not we should go ahead and have all three baptized in this Protestant Church (knowing full well that we may soon be leaving for the RCC). Does that pose a problem and/or would they be covered under a “baptism of desire” already if DH and I (or just I) begin RCIA in the fall. I don’t want to be deceitful to the church we are attending.

Another option would be my husband baptizing them in a creek we have on our farm (which is what we wanted to do initially anyway)…would that matter as long as he uses the Trinitarian formula?


Baptism by laypersons is required only if the person is in imminent danger of death, which is not the case, thankfully. Baptism otherwise is a Sacrament that is conferred by the minister or priest.
I wouldn’t recommend baptizing your children in the creek, and having no recognized baptismal certificates.
Usually for Confirmation and later marriage, Baptism certificates are requested to be sighted by the priest.

I would wonder that you could wait to have the children baptized when you do convert,
however the Catholic Church does accept legitimate Protestant Baptisms.
The children would not need to be baptized again in that case.

God bless you family, your children, your husband, and you as you seek and follow God’s purposes. I thank God for all the blessings He has already given your family!

I would definitely spend more time praying and thinking about this. I would hold off until you feel compelled. I would definitely not baptize them yourselves in the creek if death is not imminent (reasons below).

The most preferred is baptism in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ. Baptism is the means of entrance into the New Covenant, same as circumsicion at 8 days old was entrance into the Old Covenant.

This is something that should be celebrated with great joy and feasting! It should be made special to recognize the act of God that is happening. God the Holy Spirit comes down into the water and purifies and cleans the soul of the person being baptized. We should make this event special in our treatment of it. Really look into the meaning of the word “covenant”, especially stuff by Scott Hahn. You’ll see that this is how a person is made a part of a family, they join the family. Through the covenant they become a member of God’s family, part of the Body of Christ (think thoroughly about what that means and how immense it is to consider!)

Additionally, with baptism in the Church, you will have an ordained priest who will annoint them with holy oil, they will be given a candle lit from the blessed Easter candle, and many other items to mark how special this event is.

Protestant baptisms are recognized by the Church if done properly, but it is best when done in the Church.

God bless you on your journey!

I confirm the below is true:

I’m of the mind that children should be baptized without delay. Baptism is a work of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing that the one being baptized can add to or take away from the work that the Spirit him or her. If your husband is ready to baptize the children himself, would he not be ready to have a minister baptize them? If so, perhaps call upon the family’s priest or Deacon to do so. If your DH later decides not to become Catholic, and wants to raise the children in a Protestant church, and that church doesn’t recognize a Catholic baptism, it would have no reason to recognize your husband’s baptizing them, either.

I’ll keep your family in my prayers as you walk along this journey of Faith.

Actually, this particular church even allows non-clergy to baptize. The lady leading the class mentioned this to the children saying that they could have their dad or favorite relative or someone special perform it. She also said that use of the baptistry was optional and that she’d know some who were baptized in a swimming pool! It could be as public (in front of entire congregation) or as private as we wanted. My husband just thought the idea of the creek was neat because he remembered, as a child, seeing baptism ceremonies held there by various local churches and since it was “living water” (i.e. The Didache and Hippolytus), it would be the preferred method, as opposed to the church “hot tub” :rolleyes:

That being said, the current church would likely have no trouble issuing baptismal certificates for our children but I need to make sure there wouldn’t be a catch with us not officially being members…I’m thinking this might open a can of worms if they ask why we are delaying becoming members but yet want them to certify our kids’ baptisms :blush:

The pastor made a strong point during an informational breakfast to “justify” the Reformation with words such as “God raised up Martin Luther” and elaborated that his own wife was raised Catholic and was re-baptized when she became Protestant because she hadn’t had a “believer’s baptism” as an infant…I found it all quite contradicting because on one hand, they believe baptism is symbolic so I’m not sure why any baptism would ever be invalid if belief is truly ALL that saves…invalid to what!!! :shrug:

OP, I think some time for discernment and prayer with your husband about baptism and about Church membership is in order. Your hearts both desire to seek the Lord but through different churches.

The teaching from your husband’s church on baptism does sound inconsistent:

I have theological difficulties accepting a “believer’s baptism” as being superior or necessary. First, what does belief add to the work of the Spirit that is lacking when there is not the ability to believe? Does God not welcome an infant into His Household? Second, at what point is belief sufficient - is a 6-year-old’s understanding of Baptism sufficient that she could request and honestly receive a “believer’s baptism” that is on the same level as that received by a 55-year-old? I have found that some have received two or three baptisms as adults because they later consider their prior baptisms to be insufficient, or having been done prior to gaining a certain level of belief. This too seems odd to me - we are called to mature as Christians after our baptism (Ja 1:4), not to be entirely mature at the time of it. If Peter could call 3,000 adult Jewish men to baptism, who had just that day witnessed the Pentecost and listened to a fairly short speech (length by Scriptural standards, but … ) by Peter, then he was calling new converts, not mature Christians, into relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

The only consistent way to read the call to Baptism is as a universal call to a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, to be received by all, not only by the most mature or by those old enough to remember it.

Would your husband be opposed to having a Catholic deacon baptize the children? I’d rather see them baptized by his pastor or by him than remain unbaptized until you’ve fully joined one or the other church. But I see this as part of a much longer and more important conversation about where the family will make its spiritual home.

Have you been in contact with your local Catholic church at all? Is that where you are thinking if attending RCIA?

I would suggest that you do this, and also make an appointment to speak with the priest and ask *him *about your children’s baptism. He will be able to ask the right questions to give you a good answer. I would personally not want to have my child baptized in a denomination with which I had come to disagree, but there are other considerations from the Catholic point of view.

If you and your husband are already pretty sure that you want to learn more about Catholicism through RCIA (joining and attending RCIA does **not **commit to converting–in fact, some people attend with no intention of converting at all), then I would suggest that you start attending Mass right away. You cannot yet receive the sacraments, so don’t do that, but you can go to Mass, and at any point start praying as Catholics do.

Can a Catholic deacon baptize a child outside of Catholicism?

I just don’t want to bring harm upon my children by dilly dallying around about this if, in fact, baptism is absolutely necessary to save their soul. I don’t want to play Russian roulette every time we get into a car, etc. That’s why I asked if the baptism of desire would come into play in that circumstance.

Welcome to the discernment process. :smiley: A couple of thoughts for you. Firstly, since your current church sees baptism as merely symbolic, such a baptism may not be valid in the RCC. For baptism to be valid the one baptizing must have the same intention as the Church has when it baptizes. And, on a more practical level, if your current church does not keep records/grant certificates, it may be impossible to verify your children’s baptisms if you enter the Church. So, I’d wait if I were you with the caveat that you contact your local Catholic parish and talk to the priest about your situation.

The priest may allow your 2 youngest children to be baptized (your 10 year old may have to receive instruction because s/he has reached the age of accountability) before you and your husband go through RCIA/are received into the Church if you have a firm intention of entering the Church In the meantime, do not fear for your children’s eternal destiny. God knows you are in the process of entering the Church–that it is your desire, so you are “covered”. And, if one or more of your children should be in danger of death anyone may baptize them. However, you should not delay inquiring into your situation with a priest ASAP to confirm what you should do and when. :slight_smile:

slh3016, while God set rules for us to follow, he is also a loving God. He is not going to send someone to Hell for something that is not their fault. Don’t sorry about your kids, they are covered, and your two youngest might well be young enough that they could be baptized in the Catholic Church right away. As you yourself do not have to officially be Catholic to have your Child baptized in the Catholic Church. You just have to promise to raise them in the Catholic Faith.

As Della pointed out, I would recommend getting in touch with your local Catholic Church. You can start attending mass, and start the RCIA process as soon as possible. Attending RCIA does not require you to join the Church, you can always go threw the entire class and decide against joining. It is only there so that you know what you are joining…

The bolded quote confuses me because wouldn’t that really mean that any Protestant baptism (except for possibly the Campbellite Churches of Christ) is invalid since baptism is viewed as symbolic?

The bolded quote confuses me because wouldn’t that really mean that any Protestant baptism (except for possibly the Campbellite Churches of Christ) is invalid since baptism is viewed as symbolic?

Any baptism by any person (even a non-Catholic) is valid as long as the Trinitarian formula is used. If you and your husband are fairly certain that you will be converting to Catholicism very soon, you can always call the parish and see if you can have the children baptized now and you and your husband start RCIA in the Fall.

I’ve included links to priests who post her, who may be able best to answer your concerns if you explain the facts as you have to us. Hopefully they will be able to respond quickly. You gradually have explained everything so if you put all those facts together they will best understand your situation.

In your very natural worry for your children you could have the conditional baptism, but with the expectation that the children will require Baptism when and if you enter the Church to ensure the reception of Sacraments in the future to go ahead without possible complication or uncertainty.

If a baptism of desire, the children would still need to be validly baptized when and if you join the Church, as Baptism is a Sacrament. If your church believes only that it is symbolic they don’t recognize Baptism as a true Sacrament and therefore cannot administer the Sacrament.

There are Protestant Churches that do recognize Baptism as a Sacrament so with the Trinitarian requirement and sprinkling or immersing at the dame time, then their Baptisms are accepted as valid by the Catholic Church.

There are a couple of priests I know do post here,

God bless you hand help you with all the questions that trouble you, and lead you to where God wants you and your children.

Your sister in Jesus,

Thank you, everyone! I’m going to contact the local parish I’d likely attend to see if I can meet with the priest, who can hopefully clarify this as well as some other questions I still have :blush:

No. Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, etc. are all recognized as valid. But some of the less liturgical churches, which have rejected baptism as a sacrament may be suspect. In that case, you would receive a conditional baptism in which the priest would say while baptizing you, “If you have not been baptized, I baptize you…” If you have a certificate of baptism or witnesses to your baptism in another church it may be acceptable. This is another issue you need to discuss with a priest. Such issues are very easy to work out, so don’t worry about it. The priest will be happy to explain anything or deal with any issues you may have. :slight_smile:

This is incorrect.

When the Church speaks about performing a sacrament, and having the “intention” of the Church, it doesn’t mean that the person or group believes the same things. It means they have the intention of performing the sacrament as the Church intends for it to be administered. So for baptisms, if they use the proper form and matter (i.e. water poured/sprinkled/immersed, and the Trinitarian formula) then the sacrament is a true sacrament and valid. Since the one performing the baptism doesn’t need to be ordained, all Protestant baptisms that use proper form and matter are accepted and are proper sacraments. This is why even an atheist can baptize someone if they use the proper form and matter.

This is also why we don’t have to worry if our priest “really” believes in Transubstantiation or not. We don’t need to discern if he believes in the Real Presence. If he has been validly ordained and has faculties, and he performs the Mass according to the manner laid out, then the Mass and Eucharist is valid and licit. Even the most heterodox and/or apostate priest, if he performs the Mass according to the Latin rite (assuming this is his rite) then the Mass is perfectly valid and licit.

A minor point, but conditional baptisms are used when there is some confusion about if a person was baptized, or baptized using the proper form and matter. If the baptism was performed using proper form and matter, it is valid.

There have been some cases where some protestant denominations use faulty Trinitarian formulas (i.e. I baptize you in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier). Mostly these are related to people wanting to get rid of that nasty old “maleness” of the terms “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”.

Other problems arise in denominations that have completely rejected the Trinity, like the Mormans. As such, their baptisms are not sacraments, and a Mormon convert needs to be baptized.

Yes, which is why the OP needs to talk to the priest about her and her family’s baptisms. Her and her husband’s baptisms are probably valid, but she should check with the priest to be certain of it. :slight_smile: Still, any circumstance can be dealt with. No one’s case is hopeless, something many inquirers fear which keeps them from asking a priest.

All morning, I have been trying to recollect the pastor’s exact words (Southern Baptist) when I was baptized nearly 20 years ago. At first I felt confident that it was in the name of the Trinity, but now I’m not sure exactly what the wording was and it may have been only in the name of Jesus :eek:

DH can’t recall either and May or may not be able to get a certificate of baptism :confused:

Guess we’ll have to sort that out with a priest if the time comes.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit