Baby Dedications?

Hi all, I was wondering if someone could help (Protestants a plus)!

My girlfriend’s church (Pentecostal Charismatic-Kenneth Hagin types), do baby dedications and I was wondering where that is in Scripture? She couldn’t answer me when I asked her and it seems that they also pick godparents!!!

She was comparing it to Baptism (even though they do Baptisms later on for adults and teens). I told her it absolutely cannot be compared with Baptism, but I found it interesting that they do this. What is it, why do they do it, and where is it found in Scripture?

Thanks! :thumbsup:

Baby dedications is a way the adult only baptism sola scripturists smooth over the hurt feelings of new mothers because they have nothing to celebrate as other christians do at christenings. So they can’t have a christening so they ‘dedicate’ the baby. There is nothing in New Testament scripture about it and the only thing in the Old Testament would be the dedication of the first born male child to the Lord. But that was only the first born male child. These fundamentalist do it for every child, male or female, first, second or third.

It isn’t in Scripture.
Not anywhere in Scripture.
It is, as Inkaneer says, just a way around baptizing children.:frowning: I find it very sad myslef…

Thanks for the response Zooey, it is interesting when such a Sola Scriptura pushing denomination/congregation contradict their beliefs. :confused:

Oh how I love to find things they teach that are NOT in the Bible…:extrahappy:

Could they possibly use the presentation of the Lord in the temple (Luke 2:22-40) as a baby dedication?? Just trying to see what they might come at my with if I challenge this. Although, as Inkaneer mentioned, Mary and Joseph are clearly following the Mosaic Law of the first born male child being designated as holy to the Lord.

My wife’s church does that.

Of course, they later go on to dedicate every child.

I am uncertain the logic they have for this.

Hello and thank you for bringing up this rubber-hits-the-road topic.

First, you seem to imply that if baby dedications are not in the Bible then they’re somehow wrong and that, by Protestant standards, we ought not to do them. That, to me any way, is not what sola scriptura is all about. It’s not the claim that every Christian practice has to first be found in scripture in order to do it; rather it is the claim that we ought to test all beliefs and practices against scripture. I see nothing unbiblical about presenting a baby before the congregation and dedicating him or her to the Lord (as Hannah did with Samuel, for a biblical example.) That said, I don’t see anything in scripture that says we have to or even ought to dedicate babies. I wouldn’t appeal to scripture to make a rule for it or against it. But I would find at least a precedent for the practice in scripture.

Now for infant baptism. Unlike baby dedications for which there is at least a precedent, there is no record that a baby was ever baptized in the NT and if Paul Jewett is right (perhaps the foremost expert on the subject), it really wasn’t the universal practice of the earliest post NT church either. It took a while to catch on and, moreover, is difficult to justify on scriptural grounds (but I won’t get into all those arguments here.)

My own view (informed by my credo-baptistic beliefs) is that when Catholics and other paedo-baptists baptize their babies, they are doing a baby dedication, albeit with far more fanfare. But is it also a real baptism? That’s a question I struggle with personally.

I was baptized as an infant (Lutheran). I don’t believe anything happened to me other than getting wet. No grace was imparted, regeneration did not take place, nothing of the sort. But I’m still not convinced I need to get “baptized” again. That’s because I know I am a Christian and I identify with all that baptism stands for. So while I wouldn’t recommend that people baptize their babies, I also would have trouble saying that Christians who were baptized as infants necessarily have to get baptized again (as if we were again under the law rather than grace).

To me, baptism isn’t that which makes you a Christian, but rather a symbol of our having died with Christ. Going under the water symbolizes burial and coming out symbolizes resurrection. Baptism is like a funeral. It symbolizes our death to the old self and our newness of life in Christ. That’s not something a baby can understand. In fact, I doubt most 7-year olds could grasp that and I am equally suspicious of some of the Baptist churches that put so much of an emphasis on getting young children baptized. (It’s like the Baptist version of First Communion).

My church does baby dedications. I used to attend a church that did both baby dedications and infant baptisms because a wide variety of baptismal theologies were embraced. I remember well one Sunday when two babies were presented. One was dedicated, one was baptized. As far as I can tell, the only difference between the two ceremonies (and the real effects in the child’s life) was that one baby got wet and the other did not.

Great topic. Thanks.

Interesting. Considering that you are the ONLY Protestant I have ever encountered that has this take on Sola Scriptura, I am interested to see what you feel about let’s say the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary since it is not contrary to Sacred Scripture (both Enoch and Elijah were assumed into Heaven - Heb. 11:5, 2 Kgs. 2:11).

You also say that there isn’t a precedent for infant Baptism yet there is for baby dedications. What I find you are mistaken with is the fact that the first male born sons were presented in the temple (Exodus 13:2) – not second-born sons or daughters for that matter, yet you still do those. I’m also not sure who Paul Jewett is but he is erroneous in his remarks of the post NT Church not baptizing children:

Hyppolytus - “Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them” (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215]).

Irenaeus - “He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age” (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]).

“‘And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]” (Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]

There are many more Church fathers who spoke of infant baptism but this suffices.

Baptism is clearly the Sacrament of Initiation into the Christian family, into Christ’s Church. This is purely scriptural. It also brings about our salvation, we are born again, and washes away our original sin. 1 Peter 3:21 clearly states, Baptism now saves you. You can of course lose your salvation through sin, but as Jesus said in John 3:5, it indicates that we must be born again by water and the Spirit.

Christ also calls all the be baptized and enter the Kingdom of Heaven: “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God’" (Luke 18:15–16). So why should we hinder the children to be baptized and enter the Kingdom of Heaven? The early Church recognized this as well.

One last thing, St. Paul notes that baptism has replaced circumcision (Col. 2:11–12). In that passage, he refers to baptism as “the circumcision of Christ” and “the circumcision made without hands.” Of course, usually only infants were circumcised under the Old Law; circumcision of adults was rare, since there were few converts to Judaism. If St. Paul meant to exclude infants, he would not have chosen circumcision as a parallel for baptism.

I brought this topic of baby dedications up because most Protestants will not acknowledge ANYTHING that is Tradition and NOT scriptural. It is Church Tradition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into Heaven (which has precedence as I mentioned before). And being that most Protestants dedicate ALL babies and not just the first born males, it goes against the typical Sola Scripture claim.

The bottom line is that it is a “man made tradition”, which most protestants love to accuse Catholics of.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Bernadette

Well protestants better get their act together on infant baptisms because you guys are all over the place on it and baptism in general. Also, I see we have weakened the doctrine of sola scriptura from only [that’s the sola part] scripture is an authority to now the idea that we can do it if scripture doesn’t say not to. Big difference between the two. Somewhere in between those two positions was *fini scriptura *or scripture was the final authority. Apparently that was a transitional doctrine. Catholics are not familiar with transitional doctrine. Ours never change.

As for infant baptism and the early church, I don’t know who this Paul Jewitt is that you mention but I do know he is not an expert on the early church and its baptism practices. It was Origen who wrote in 248 AD the following:

"The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit" (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]).

That is Origen from almost two millenium in the past calling your Paul Jewitt a liar. In fact the only controversy in the early church concerning baptizing infants was whether they should wait until the eighth day [as in circumcision] or baptize immediately. Cyprian of Carthage had this to say on that subject:

**“As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born” (Letters 64:2 [A.D. 253]). **

Like I said baby dedications are a way to have a sort of, christening without getting the baby wet or saved. After all we got to keep those new mothers happy by allowing them a photo opportunity just like those infant baptism believing folks.

Perhaps Mary was assumed. But pending proof to support it, I should not be required to believe it. The problem is–if we check the language of the definition from 1950–I’ve pretty much made a shipwreck of my faith for choosing not to believe in it. I much prefer the language 15 years later at Vatican II, when I can freely reject the Assumption and still be considered a “separated brother.”

As for me being unique as a Protestant–I doubt that seriously. Do some study on what the Reformers meant by the “formal principle of the Reformation” (i.e., sola scriptura) and I’ll think you’ll quickly find that it is not a rejection of tradition, but rather subordination of tradition to scripture. The way you seem to be defining it and the way you describe Protestants, one would wonder if microphones and electric guitars would be “unbiblical” simply because there’s no mention of such things in scripture. I know some Catholics who think VBS is a Protestant “tradition of men” because the Bible nowhere says children ought to attend Vacation Bible School in the summer. In the hands of some Catholics sola scriptura has become a caricature. I would complain more about this were it not for the fact that some Protestants have done equal injustice to the principle as articulated by the Reformers.

You also say that there isn’t a precedent for infant Baptism yet there is for baby dedications. What I find you are mistaken with is the fact that the first male born sons were presented in the temple (Exodus 13:2) – not second-born sons or daughters for that matter, yet you still do those. I’m also not sure who Paul Jewett is but he is erroneous in his remarks of the post NT Church not baptizing children:

No one is claiming that baby dedications are identical to the presentation of the firstborn. Do a little homework and you’ll find that the “firstborn” is a legal status that was valid under the Old covenant. We’re no longer in the covenant of works, but grace. I used the example of Hannah dedicating Samuel. The gesture dedicating or consecrating one’s child to the Lord–it seems to me–is quite biblical. But no where am I trying to be legalistic about it. Babies were also dedicated in Israel. Does that mean I have to go there in order for it to be valid? All I said is that there is precedent for the concept in scripture. That’s far more than you can say about the baptism of infants.

As for Paul Jewett, try Amazon. (Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace) My point in mentioning him is that he has done the historical research and has proven quite conclusively (in my opinion) that infant baptism was not a universal practice of the early church–especially in the East–and that it took quite a bit of time before the entire church was on board with the practice. I did not say that the practice was not early and relatively widespread. I said it wasn’t universal from day 1, which accords nicely with what we see in scripture–or in this case what we don’t see–i.e., any explicit reference to the baptism of infants.

By the way, Jewett’s argument deals exclusively with those who argue that because infants were circumcised they should therefore be baptized. Given your argument above, wouldn’t you be forced to agree that because only males were circumcised that only males should be baptized? But if not, then why not? Or is it only okay to use such lines of reasoning against Protestant positions and not your own? Just curious.

I was baptized as an infant (Lutheran). I don’t believe anything happened to me other than getting wet. No grace was imparted, regeneration did not take place, nothing of the sort.

How do you know this? We cannot fathom the mystery of God’s work in our souls…I would argue that your “ability” to see Christ and believe in Him today could be one of the graces you received from your baptism as an infant. I also lived on baptismal graces for 30+ years before I formally entered the Catholic.Church at age 44----of course, I didn’t see it that way at the time, because I believed you had to understand what you were doing to make your experience of faith in God valid…This effectively took the mystery of God’s work in my life and reduced it to an intellectual equation over which I had complete control…

Baptism is a powerful sacrament, but its effects are often hidden from the eyes of our mind.

Are you comfortable with Mystery?

Why would I believe that simply getting wet with and having the Trinitarian formula pronounced over me (along with the intention to baptize) is what turned me into a Christian? Not only do I see nothing in scripture that proves that Christians are made this way, but there is also the staggering amount of anecdotal evidence to go on. I know a lot of people who have been baptized as infants. And the vast majority of them do not now, nor ever have known the Lord or followed him as his disciple. Having said that, does this mean I know for sure that God’s grace was in no way active in my infant baptism? No–I don’t know this for sure. If God’s grace had been active, then perhaps God chose the occasion of my baptism to give me his saving grace. But I see no theological reason to suppose that baptism was the cause of that grace.

We cannot fathom the mystery of God’s work in our souls…

Agreed.

I would argue that your “ability” to see Christ and believe in Him today could be one of the graces you received from your baptism as an infant.

That is possible. Yet I see no reason to think that baptism ipso facto (or ex opere operato) effects that grace. The Sovereign Lord of the Universe will show mercy to whomever he will show mercy. If he decides to do that in and through a particular baptism, that is His choice. But if the practice of the NT is in any way indicative of what we would expect God to do, then it would seem to me that baptism should normally follow that grace, not be the cause of it.

I also lived on baptismal graces for 30+ years before I formally entered the Catholic.Church at age 44----of course, I didn’t see it that way at the time, because I believed you had to understand what you were doing to make your experience of faith in God valid…This effectively took the mystery of God’s work in my life and reduced it to an intellectual equation over which I had complete control…

Fascinating. I would argue more or less the same thing in reverse. It seems to me that the real “calculus” is found in those baptismal theologies that try to make justification by faith through grace coincide with baptism. In fact, it can get down right “mechanical.” Say these precise words, with the proper intention and matter, and Shazam, you’re in the state of grace (which may very well be lost at some later point in life, then regained through confession, then possibly lost again, then regained again and so on.)

Baptism is a powerful sacrament, but its effects are often hidden from the eyes of our mind. Are you comfortable with Mystery?

It depends on the mystery.

You are quite wrong and have left off the most important part: one’s oath and how God wants you to perform it…

As Peter says:

In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism which now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

It is God’s chosen means of administering entry into His Church. Baptism is an oath, a pledge, you make, by assenting to do the work God requests, being baptised by water, symbolic of entering into Christ’s death and reurrection, by someone who intends to baptize, and thus accepting His gift of Faith in the manner He appointed.

And if one cannot assent himself becuse of age, it is imperative that he is raised in the faith of his parents leadiung to his to acceptance of this oath as he grows.

peace
steve

Quite the contrary, as I mentioned above, Christ came to fulfill the laws. Yes, only males were circumcised, but ALL are to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He fulfilled that law and gave to us the Sacrament of Baptism. As for this Jewett gentleman. You still have not given us any insight into who this is (besides clearly some Protestant evangelical who you obviously follow because you agree with what he has to say), only to go to Amazon. I am not going to rely on someone’s biased research in the matter when I can go straight to the early Church and see (as we have presented) that they acknowledged and practiced infant baptism in the post NT era. You seem to be disregarding the excerpts that we posted. Did you read them?? What do you have to say about that??? Just curious.

You are utterly denying Scripture.

SInce you read Jewitt’s book then maybe you could list here for us what evidence from the early church Jewitt uses to substantiate his claim. Give us the name and work of the early church writer who denied infant baptism. I have not found one in my research but then my research is not exhaustive. It is one thing to argue against infant baptism from a theological position but quite another from a historical position. Like I said the only debate on infant baptism that I have found was whether it shouldbe done immediately or wait till the eighth day as with circumcision. That Baptism was seen as the New Testament equivalent of circumcision was clearly the view of the early church or the above mentioned debate about waiting for the eighth day makes no sense. And while only males [including infant males] were circumcized in the OT both males and females are baptized in the NT. Circumcision did not save. Baptism does. Females are born into sin just as males are and thus the need for Baptism for females too. As for infant baptism not being a universal practice in the East the earliest writers were from the East. And you can’t get any earlier than Polycarp. Polycarp (69-155), a disciple of the Apostle John, was baptized as an infant. This enabled him to say at his martyrdom. “Eighty and six years have I served the Lord Christ” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 9: 3). Justin Martyr would write in his in his Dialog with Trypho the Jew, that Baptism is the circumcision of the New Testament. Origen wrote in his Homily on Luke 14: "Infants are to be baptized for the remission of sins. Cyprian’s reply to a country bishop, Fidus, who wrote him regarding the Baptism of infants, is even more explicit. Should we wait until the eighth day as did the Jews in circumcision? No, the child should be baptized as soon as it is born (To Fidus 1: 2). The idea of infant baptism was widespread throughout the christian world. In the 1,500 years from the time of Christ to the Protestant Reformation, the only bonafide opponent to infant Baptism that I can find was Tertullian (160 - 215), bishop of Carthage, Africa. His superficial objection was to the unfair ability laid on godparents when the children of pagans joined the church, However, his real opposition was more fundamental. It was his view that sinfulness begins at the "puberty, of the soul, that is “about the fourteenth year of life” and “it drives man out of the paradise of innocence” (De Anima 38:2). This rules out the belief in original sin. Tertullian’s stance, together with other unorthodox views, led him to embrace Montanism in 207. Montanism denied the total corruption and sinfulness of human nature. With its emphasis upon the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, it was the precursor to the modern Charismatic Movement. So the only writier in the early church to argue against infant Baptism was a heretic who denied original sin. Except for Tertullian’s heretical views the only other opposition to infant Baptism came during a brief period in the middle of the fourth century. The issue was the fear of post-Baptismal sin. This heretical view also denied Baptism to adults until their death-bed. It was not in reality a denial of infant baptism in and of itself In fact, the heresy encouraged the Baptism of infants when death seemed imminent, as it also did for adults. Obviously the view of Tertullian and the 4th century opponents are not related to the current view of 'believer’s baptism.

Continued…

Continuing…

Speaking of believer’s baptism, it was not until the 1520s did the Christian Church experience opposition specifically to infant baptism. Under the influence of Thomas Muenzer and other fanatics who opposed both civil and religious authority, original sin and human concupiscence was denied until the “age of accountability.” Although there is no basis in Scripture for this position. a considerable number of Swiss, German and Dutch embraced the Anabaptist cause. So offensive was this position that Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Reformed alike voiced strong warning and renunciation. It was considered a shameless affront to what had been practiced in each generation since Christ’s command in the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20) to baptize all nations.For who would be so blind as to limit this expression of God’s grace and mercy to adolescents and adults and to exclude infants and children. If John the Baptizer could be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1: 15), and if Jesus could say (Matt. 18: 6), “Whoever offends one of these little ones (Gk.“toddlers”) who believe in Me, it were better that he were drowned in the depth of the sea,” and if the Apostle Peter could say on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2: 39), "The promise is unto you and to, your children, "what mere mortal dare declare so gracious an invitation to be invalid for infants, or forbid the continuance of the Baptism of infants for coming generations? If the entire families and households of the Philippian Jailer, Lydia, Cornelius, Crispus and Stephanas of the New Testament were incorporated into the household of faith through Baptism, surely that testimony is immutable and established for all time. That has been the constant teaching of the Church since Apostolic times.

Now If you would be so kind I would like to see Mr. Jewitt’s historical evidence of which early christian writer opposed infant baptism.

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