I am going to attempt to work thru things that are hang ups for me entering the Catholic church. Please be patient with me, and don’t take offense. I’ll do each one as a separate thread.
On baptism - it seems the early church and in the Bible, baptism was done as part of someone’s conversion. There seems to be a lot of Biblical support for this, and only very little support of infant baptism.
I attend mass weekly with my wife, and the bulletin a few weeks ago even stated that more adult baptism at conversion was how the early church worked (don’t have it in front of me to quote).
Wouldn’t it be better to do things the way they are more supported in scripture?
You are correct in saying most baptisms in the early church were of adults. This is because the church consisted mostly of adult converts as Christianity was in its infancy. As the church grew the converts-to-infants ratio changed but the church has always baptized infants. For more reading and biblical references on this see: catholic.com/tracts/infant-baptism
Well, I think when you study what Baptism is and does (remitting original sin and making one a child of God and bringing one into covenant relationship with God), how it replaces the covenant act of circumcision (done on the 8th day), and how there are examples in Scripture of entire households being baptized then you come to understand that baptism is for everyone, not for someone a specific age.
Of course the original Christians were adults-- because they were Jews who had come to believe in Jesus as Messiah and/or Gentile converts of Paul. But Peter says, “For the promise is to you and to your children” (Acts 2:39).
BUT, that was just the first generation. Those who became Christian brought their whole families into covenant relationship with Christ (unless they refused and departed as Paul indicates some did). So, our first and second generations of Christians, when they had children-- of course they baptized them. Because they took Jesus’s words very seriously regarding baptism and salvation.
The Jewish faith, in which we have our foundation has always been a covenant relationship that starts as a baby brought in to the community symbolically (and now sacramentally) followed by training up in that faith.
And we do have early Church references to infant baptism. Remember, Divine Revelation is in the form of both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition passed down to us.
The idea that there is no scriptural support for infant baptism is simply not true. Scriptural support for infant baptism is found in the Old Covenant rite of circumcsion.
Catholics baptize children as infants the same way that children were circumcised as infants by the Jews. Circumcision was a sign of the child’s entry into the covenant with God. Baptism is also a sign of the covenant, entry into God’s family, adaption by God as sons and daughters…
Circumcision was done on the eighth day according to God’s command. The earliest Christians saw the link between the old rite of circumcision and the new rite of baptism and baptized infants.
Catholic also have what is called confirmation which is done when the child grows up and is able to reconfirm their baptism at an age of understanding - confirmation should be done before the person receives communion as a confirmation of their faith.
Its a three stage process:
1285 Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.89 For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed."90
I think at one time you could have communion before confirmation - not 100% sure - but you should be confirmed prior to communion
The roots of the practice of confirmation are found in the Acts of the Apostles:
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
At no time in history did the Church ever deny Baptism to the children of faithful Christian parents. And why would you deny the possibility of salvation to your child, if you truly believe that Baptism is the rebirth into the Covenant of Jesus Christ?
I am in agreement with the others who state that Baptism now replaces Circumcision - Baptism is the New Covenant replacing Circumcision which is the Old Covenant between God and His people. A covenant is like a contract because something is exchanged. The difference between a covenant and a contract is that unlike a contract where “goods” are exchanged, in a covenant, people are exchanged. See Romans 2:29. [No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.]
Baptism opens our soul to receive God’s Grace.
We are all born without the Grace of God in our souls due to Original Sin.
The baptism given by John the Baptist was for the forgiveness of sins. We know that Jesus was not in need of baptism for the forgiveness of sins because He had no sin – Original Sin or actual sin. But, what Jesus does do by allowing John to baptize Him is Jesus now makes baptism a Sacrament. Jesus makes the invisible Grace of God visible thru the tangible, material water and Himself. He is sanctifying the water used in baptism.
There are many layers that need to be peeled away in looking at what actually happens to a soul when baptized.
In the Gospel account of Jesus’ Baptism, John, as he is baptizing people in the Jordan River, just before Jesus comes on the scene says, “I baptize you with water for the forgiveness of sins, but one is coming far greater than I who will baptize you with water and fire.” This fire is the Holy Spirit. When we receive baptism today, thanks to Jesus for making Baptism a Sacrament, it is Jesus, who is baptizing, the priest is just administering it – the one ministering the baptism becomes a vessel for Jesus to pour out His Spirit and infuse the soul being baptized.
In the Bible, God always uses water and spirit to make things new. When we are baptized we are made into a new creation. Do you remember in John the story of Nicodemus? How are we born again? Well Jesus gives this answer in John 3:5:[Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit]. Well in Baptism, we are born again of water and Spirit and made the sons and daughters of God and heirs to His Kingdom.
Baptism opens our souls to receive the life of God Himself – His Holy Spirit comes to live in our souls. We become temples of the Holy Spirit. The same power that rose Jesus from the dead now lives in us. The question is really, “Why wouldn’t a parent want God’s Spirit to live in their infant’s soul?” What happens to a soul that hasn’t had a chance to speak for themselves, an infant for example, that dies before they can say they want baptism? We don’t really know do we? Because if we believe John 3:16, then what about those who die in infancy before they can speak and say they believe?
I don’t think Jesus mentions anywhere in Scripture anyway that “age” or “intelligence” was a requirement to become a child of His, just openness and who is more open than an infant. ?
There are other elements to Baptism like someone mentioned Confirmation and for some reason historically Baptism and Confirmation were separated in the Western Latin Rites but not the Eastern Rite. Any one know why?
Sure, we can use Scripture verses that support Infant Baptism. Say for example, the story in Acts when Lydia and her whole household was baptized. The verse, of course, doesn’t state the age of those present receiving baptism but there certainly could have been infants present. That also raises the question of immersion, pouring and sprinkling water? The Scripture doesn’t say that they walked down to a pool or to the river to be “dunked” just that her whole household was baptized. Were they in her house when they received baptism? Outside? Who really can say they know that answer?
There is also the necessity of faith that maybe is you next layer to uncover.?
May the Holy Spirit give you His Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding during your journey of faith.
In Christ, Peace2u2
You should be, by this issue, becoming aware of the problem of the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura. Neither infant nor adult-only baptism can be supported conclusively, with great confidence, going by scripture, so Protestants divide with each other over this matter. However, the Church, both east and west, just happen to have practiced infant baptism from time immemorial. Similarly Protestants diverge over baptismal regeneration (whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation), the Real Presence, the role of free will in justification/salvation, etc. The Church simply knows, carrying the message she received at the beginnings of Christianity and proclaiming it ever since.
There are scriptural support for infant baptism as others have pointed out. Not withstanding that, how could any loving and responsible parents put their children’s salvation into ambiguity if the children were to suffer premature death prior to baptism? Their Bibles say clearly those not born of water and spirit can not enter the kingdom of heaven. Why would they deprived their own children this path, even if they think the bible is silent on infant baptism? Their bibles NEVER require children to reach the age of reason or understanding. I feel that is the greatest gift that one can give to one’s child. The kingdom of heaven. What motive or excuse can a parent have to deny them this gift.
Jesus, however, said, "Let the little children come to me, and stop keeping them away, because the kingdom from heaven belongs to people like these.
Together with John 3:5, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit”, these verses made a formidable pair pointing towards child baptism. It is only logical.