Evangelical Child Dedication Ceremony

I was raised Evangelical, and had my kids dedicated in the church during their first year. I saw it as sort of a presentation of new life and a practice to dedicate the raising of the children in the Christian Faith.

Since this ceremony is performed at Bible Alone churches, I was curious why it is performed as it is not in the Bible at all.

As best as I can tell it is a tradition that crept in to replace a longing in people’s heart to dedicate their children to The Lord, and since they accept only “believers baptism” they had to come up with something.

Isn’t it just child baptism without the water and valid form?

I am both saddened and confused by this practice. Any Protestants out there have any thoughts.


Interesting. I am an ex-Protestant and have not heard if this. It does seem a little like a stand- in for infant baptism.

While I think the development of the practice is probably very close, psychologically, to your reasoning, it’s not difficult to find Biblical support. Christ was dedicated in the temple, and if we’re to imitate Christ it’s not too far a stretch to imitate His parents in this way.

Of course, in Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches the dedication mimicry is not the Baptism but the Churching of Women and Infants, which isn’t really done anymore in Roman Catholic Churches, but there’s a large gap between contemporary Evangelical dedications and the Christian/Jewish analogous rituals.

“Baby Dedications” are fairly common in many evangelical church groups. Even among those who do offer infant baptism, many if not most parents opt to dedicate their child to God and promise to raise him/her in the faith. Usually the passage that is read from scripture…Mark 10:13-15…where people were bringing their children to Jesus so he might bless them.

There IS biblical precedent for this…it IS NOT SEEN AS A SACRAMENT or ORDINANCE in any way…it is however a public declaration that one’s child will be raised by good Christian parents and they will bring them up “in the fear of the Lord”.

I remember this subject coming up on an EWTN program and it was as you said. In the move away from the Catholic Church, many things were thrown out of the window. Time passes and the gap is felt, no infant baptism, how does your child know that they belong? Instead they have the dedication, which I can understand.

The same thing happened after the Catholic Church’s in the UK had stain glass smashes and statues destroyed before being taken by the Church of England. Funny how, stain glass and statues crept back into the buildings over the centuries. Some Church of England church’s even have statues and devotions to Mary.

I went to one service once, and they were Presenting the staff kids to the lord, but the really think that is take my attention was when the 'pastor" states to the people: why don’t baptize kids, why? because we are not see that anywhere in the Bible, that was the Pastor reason for not Baptize a infant, i was like what? a least you explain that a little bit better, but i guess he is such a nice guy, funny and charismatic that people don’t even realize the poor argument.

I’ve been to one. Figured it filled a social need, similar to a circumcision or baptism. But since they don’t believe in infant baptism, they came up with a substitute.

Apparently, it is also done in many countries of South America. “Presentation” is a “tradition” of which my Pastor and the Priest who celebrate the Mass (neither a “Hispanic”) were not aware. One thing that I have noticed is that once the child is “presented”, the parents take much longer to Baptize the child – sometimes even years. Now the Priests are aware of that. :wink:


Well the rituals we read about in the NT regarding Christ Jesus’ dedication in the Temple, (Presentation in the traditional language) were quite different than the general dedication by Evangelicals. One of the problems that Evangelicals have it while some have done “Bible Study” they interpret things with no context, and make subjective interpretations of what they believe which support their personal or denominational beliefs, rather than submit their belief to that of the Bible.

Jesus and Mary underwent rituals required of their special circumstances.

Jesus was circumcised. Like baptism for children of Catholics and Orthodox, (as well as some Protestants), circumcision was something that every jewish male underwent as a sign of participation in the covenant. As it was both a medical procedure and a sacred ritual, a circumcised man who did not go through the ritual, would have to submit to the ritual and some spilling of blood (usually a small pin prick at the site of the circumcision when he converted to Judaism at his conversion. An adult convert would then go through the waters of the Mikvah to wash away his sins. The priests then would pronounce the absolution.

The Presentation at the temple was not a simple dedication. It was done because Jesus was the first male to open the womb. While the priests in the temple were not aware our Lady was still a virgin, it appeared that He had “opened” her womb, and she had to go through the purfification rite at the same time. (separate ceremony). The presentation was a sacrifice in which the first born son who should be sacrificed as were the first born in Egypt, had another sacrificed in his place (in the case of our Lord doves were sacrified). This ransom of the first born son was a requirement of the Law.

The Canticle of Simion and the prayer of prophetess named Anna, daughter to one Phanuel,
were not part of the ritual, but point out who Jesus is.
So like a child who is baptized as was the case of infants from the time of the Apostles, Jesus, and our Lady submitted to the Law, and followed the external rites of the Temple and the Law, even though they (the only two in history who did not need to) did not really need to. But they set for us an example of submitting ourselves to lawful authority, and fulfilling the (then) current law. We too should submit to lawful authroity, which the Bible clearly specifies is the Church, and the Apostles (today their lawful successors.)


It is as you said a presentation of new life and the practice of parents pledging to raise their children in the Christian faith. There’s more to it than that though.

All life comes from God. Children are entrusted to us from God, and parents have the privilege to raise children in the knowledge of Him. A dedication is a time for the parents to thank God and ask God’s blessing on the child’s life in the presence of the assembled congregation.

It is a time for the parents and immediate family members to be reminded of their obligations. That they are to raise their children in the Christian faith and are themselves to display a Christian life and example to their children.

It is a time for the congregation to be reminded of their obligations to pray for and help the parents fulfill this most sacred of duties.

Theologically, it draws on the birth of Samuel. His mother couldn’t conceive, but she told God that if she did conceive, she would give her son back to the Lord (as in give her child to the priests at Shiloh) once he was weaned.

And, as Publisher said, the passage where Jesus said blessed the little children is also said at most of these.

For us, this is what happens to all children born to Christian parents. Parents are given children by God. At the appropriate time, the parents come to the house of God and “give the child back to God” in the form of dedicating their entire careers as parents to ensuring that their children know God and serve Him.

This is entirely biblical. And note, that we are not creating a magical rite. This is a service of thanksgiving, blessing, and commitment. It is an expression of hope that the child will accept the Lord when they grow older. We are not claiming that anything automatic occurs to the child’s soul.

All we are doing is representing biblical truths, obligations, and asking God to bless the child and the parents. That is not adding something to the Bible.

How can putting in simplified form everything the Bible says about children and parents and then asking parents to conform to biblical expectations followed by a prayer for God’s blessing of a child be “non-biblical”???

Do you have an example in the Bible if parents bring their children to a church for a special blessing that is not Baptism?

No. But we don’t have an example of an infant baptism in the Bible.

What we do have in the Bible is tons of stuff about how God feels about children and how God feels about parents. Parents need to know about this stuff. The parents and the church both want to thank God for the birth of the child. So, we do this in front of the church. Then we pray for the child.

All of this is biblical. There isn’t one thing in this that contradicts the word of God.

  1. Proclaiming the word of God . . . check

  2. Thanking God . . . . check

  3. Praying . . . . check

Yep, all of that seems biblical.

I have heard the Samuel reference but it is extremely poor.

If it was the case then there would be these ceremonies throughout the Old Testament. Plus consecrating your child to the priests is leaps and bounds different than a child dedication service.

The child dedication service did not exist until very recent history. I see no basis for the form and practice in scripture. In fact the evidence for child baptism in scripture is far greater and yet rejected.

And I know Protestants don’t call it a sacrament or ordinance, but it is just as much one as Protestant communion or baptism even of you don’t formally put a label on it.

For those not familiar this is the ceremony I am talking about.


By the same token you can claim every Catholic Doctrine is Biblical. (Which of course is true) but for the Sola Scriptura purist a greater burden of proof is required.

No. Catholic doctrine, for example, about infant baptism is not simply “proclaiming the word of God”, thanksgiving, and prayer.

It may include elements of those. But it adds, in my opinion, unbiblical doctrine of that baptism takes away the stain of original sin and is thus regenerative.

This 1) adds to the word of God and 2) makes infant baptism much more than just an opportunity to thank God and pray for the child. It saves the child. It makes the child a Christian outside of saving faith.

That is, from the perspective of evangelicals, Catholic practice and belief go well beyond the bounds of Scripture.

By comparison, evangelicals are safely within in the bounds of Scripture. We are not claiming anything happens during baby dedication except: proclamation of the Word, thanksgiving, and prayer.

I find this description extremely lacking, I understand what your saying and why, but you can’t possibly say “it’s biblical” using those few criteria. If so, all one needs to do is incorporate that to virtually any action and claim it’s biblical.

Perhaps that is why Protestant tradition varies so much because it is so easy to justify what is “biblical”,

Also, it is just your opinion that baptism removing original sin is not biblical when in fact it can be supported by scripture.

All I am looking for is either consistency in your arguments or acknowledgement of tradition practiced outside the Bible.

Can you identify any reformer or early church father who practiced "child dedication "

As best I can tell it came on the scene in the last 100 years.

Well what definition of biblical are you using? My definition of biblical is that which conforms to the word of God. The practice of dedicating infants to God as practiced in evangelical churches conforms to the Word of God.

It consists of pointing out, emphasizing, and explaining Scriptural truth that pertains to Christian parents and their children. Therefore, it has biblical content.

It consists of thanksgiving and prayer, perhaps accompanied by the laying on of hands and anointing with oil. Therefore, it has biblical action.

It may be a recent “tradition.” But as long as its a biblical recent tradition its ok. We’re not Catholics. We don’t get hung up on tradition. :slight_smile:

Well try as you may to imitate something that your sect interprets as being derived as Biblical, it is as I’ve posted above, private interpretation of the Scriptures to fit a belief held by your sect.

In the NT we see that the dietary laws of the law or Moses are no longer binding. We see that the Old law is not binding. Yet who would argue that the Ten Commandments are not (just for argument sake, because I’ve met Sola Scriptura “Christians” who’s sects don’t believe the decagogue applies to us.) So what authority says that we should interpret one passage from Samuel, which does not directly tell us to dedicate Children, but the ignores the direct command to ransom of the first born son, and the purification of a woman after her days of confinement and impurity do not have to be upheld? Who after 1800 years of no such practice has the authority to proclaim that it is not only Scriptural, but that it needs to become a practice. and the practice of Infant Baptism which goes back to the time of the Apostles can be not simply discarded, but now denied?

I do not understand how you can hold this position and then claim that Catholic Traditions are not biblical (confession to a priest, baptism, and Eucharist) would be great examples. Catholics tirelessly show how these conform to the Word of God, and yet they are rejected by Protestants as “unbiblical”.

They may be an ancient “tradition”. But as long as it is a biblical ancient tradition it’s ok. We’re not Protestants. We don’t get hung up on tradition.


I get what you’re saying. Simply put, evangelicals don’t believe that infant baptism is biblically sanctioned or justifiable. We get that from reading the Bible. It doesn’t matter how old the tradition is. We believe it is contrary to the true purpose and nature of baptism. Therefore, we will not practice it.

It doesn’t matter how young the tradition of infant dedication is. It is not a baptism, and therefore, it avoids the Scriptural contradictions that baptizing an infant creates. It proclaims Scriptural truths in the format of a church service or segment of a church service. It reminds the church of these Scriptural truths. It gives the church an opportunity to thank God. It gives the church an opportunity to pray for the child. This is what it does, and this is why evangelicals find nothing wrong with it.

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