Aristedes felt that children must be convinced of the truth before being considered, "brothers without distinction.
Hold it dronald. Wait a second. I think you are reading into this text something that just isn’t there.
Aristides (of Athens) was merely talking about Christians who persuade their servants (and their families) to also become Christians . . . and when they DO become Christians (and when their kids become Christians) they refer to them as Christians without distinction.
That’s all. Let’s take a closer look in larger context . . . .
Now the Christians, . . . . are pure as virgins, and their daughters modest: and their men abstain from all unlawful wedlock and from all impurity, in the hope of the recompense that is to come in another world: but as for their servants or handmaids, or their children if any of them have any, they persuade them to become Christians for the love that they have towards them; and when they have become so, they call them without distinction brethren: they do not worship strange gods: and they walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them, and they love one another: and from the widows they do not turn away their countenance: and they rescue the orphan from him who does him violence . . . .
Catholic Christians today likewise persuade their neighbors (or relatives, or employees, or whatever) to become Catholic Christians. And when they DO become Catholic Christians, we Catholics likewise refer to them as Catholic Christians too. FULLY Catholic Christians.
We make no distinction. Even if they were our employees (they are still “Christians”).
We EVEN refer to their Baptized kids as Christians.
They are brothers without distinction.
But this does NOT argue against infant Baptism in any way.
It does not argue for substituting being born again (born of water and the Spirit) with an invented “sinners prayer” accompanied by an emotional experience (the so-called “believer’s baptism”).
Nor did any of the other quotes.
The St. Gregory of Nazienzen quote in Oration 40, section IX-X, is only non-specific as he uses pronouns and I cannot be sure if St. Gregory was alluding to the infants themselves or those “asking for mercy” (the catechumens).
The “others” St. Gregory may be alluding to here, are the others who personally ASK for Baptism (with your interpretation, you must assume 3 year olds are going to the Bishop and asking to be Baptized).
He may very well be talking about the Catechumens themselves here for the three year wait (“But in respect of others”). Not necessarily the infants per se. Possibly even the catechumens and their children (he is not going to Baptize the kids if the parent(s) aren’t themselves ready for Christianity).
St. Gregory IS talking about people who approach him and ask about these things (quite unlikely 3 year olds).
And listen to what St. Gregory DOESN’T say in section XI:
NOT St. Gregory of Nazienzen XI Let us then gather round the camp fire, and pray the sinners prayer that we may win the victory; let us partake of accepting Jesus into our hearts. What is believers baptism but not a complete taking away of sin; for if once purged by this prayer, why should they need further purification? Let us adults make an altar call today!
No. Here is what St. Gregory really said:
St. Gregory of Nazienzen section XI. Let us then be baptized that we may win the victory; let us partake of the cleansing waters, more purifying than hyssop, purer than the legal blood, more sacred than the ashes of the heifer sprinkling the unclean, and providing a temporary cleansing of the body, but not a complete taking away of sin; for if once purged, why should they need further purification? Let us be baptized today, that we suffer not violence tomorrow; and let us not put off the blessing as if it were an injury, nor wait till we get more wicked that more may be forgiven us; and let us not become sellers and traffickers of Christ, lest we become more heavily burdened than we are able to bear, that we be not sunk with all hands and make shipwreck of the Gift, and lose all because we expected too much. While you are still master of your thoughts run to the Gift (he is writing to adults).
Incidentally. When Moses sprinkled the people with a hyssop branch the Scriptures suggest Moses did not sprinkle the people MINUS the infants. But rather Moses sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice upon ALL “the people” including infants (see Hebrews 9:19). St. Gregory’s Moses-context includes infants.
The fact that St. Gregory himself wasn’t Baptized as an infant is irrelevant. His father was a Hypsistiani (basically an older version of a Unitarian with a pagan slant). St. Gregory’s mom although a Christian, may not have been when he was small. Or St. Gregory’s father may have insisted on no Baptism just like the Unitarians often do today. St. Augustine wasn’t Baptized as an infant either as were many other Saints.
Also as Cross Roads Initiative points out:
Gregory (St. Gregory of Nazienzen), one of the greatest preachers of the Early Church, points out that Christ was baptized not for his sake but for ours, sanctifying the waters of baptism for all generations to come . . .