This is the first of what may be several threads addressing specific Catholic doctrines. As my questions about the “usual issues” of Transubstantiation, The Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility and Tradition have been and are being answered very well in my previous “Questions from your friendly neighborhood Protestant” thread, I don’t see a need to start a new thread about them. Here, then, is another doctrine I am wondering about: infant baptism and original sin.
While the Bible mentions people consecrating their children to God (Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple, etc…), I haven’t seen anything that says being immersed in or sprinkled with water can save a person. An infant is not aware enough to make a confession of faith, and it seems that in the Bible, baptism always accompanied a mature person’s desire to repent and believe (like with Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch). I have been baptised (in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit), though not in the Catholic church, but this did not happen until I was aware of what I was doing and what I believed. The church I grew up in believes that baptism is a ceremony declaring a person’s public confession of faith in God and acceptance of Jesus. The immersion in water in and of itself does not save a person.
I have heard of stories of people panicking about getting their children to Mass to be baptised as soon as possible, out of fear that if their children die without having a priest sprinkle water on them, they will go to Hell. While I believe that we are born with the stain of original sin, I fail to see how water and a blessing, if not accompanied by the individual’s repentance and belief, can remove this stain. I don’t pretend to know the state of the souls of those who die before reaching the maturity required to believe. However, I don’t see how a child who died at birth is going to Hell, but a child who lived long enough to be sprinkled with water is saved from that.
This issue has been a difficult one for me to understand, and, as always, I very much appreciate your answers. God bless you all!