Infant Baptism Controversy - the Crux of the Matter


OK, this is NOT a thread regarding the validity of Infant Baptism. This is an effort to “Bridge the Gap” (borrowing from the theme of our friendly Muslim Paarsurrey).

Catholics teach that an infant can be baptized into the Covenant. Many Protestant Faiths believe this is false, and the two sides end up arguing past each other. Well, I think I finally found the crux of the matter.

A) A Protestant who believes in OSAS (Once Saved, Always Saved) or AoS (Assurance of Salvation) realizes how critical Faith is to ones ultimate Salvation. They will find it egregious for a Catholic to think that he can be baptized as an infant, for this would mean that one thinks he is going to heaven automatically, since OSAS and AoS feel you can’t lose your Salvation once you’ve gained it. Therefore, to one that believes this, Infant Baptism is an ultimate Heresy.

B) But Catholics don’t feel this way. They teach that one can lose their Salvation (“If you remain in me and my words remain in you” and “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love”). Therefore, one’s Faith is just as important to a Catholics Salvation as it is to a Protestant, for we cannot remain in God’s Covenant without Faith and all it entails (Faith, Hope, Charity, etc.).

Now, this is not meant to settle the issue. I just hope it helps both parties to understand where the other one is coming from. No, Catholics are not trying to “get into heaven free”. And our Protestant friends are actually trying to convince us that our actions are detrimental to our Salvation.

So, it seems to me that the doctrines of Infant Baptism vs. OSAS and AoS are forever incompatible.

Am I heading in the right direction or have I got closer to the edge?


They’re not mutually exclusive in some Protestant eyes. The Presbyterian Church of America (and probably the PCUSA) practice infant baptism and they hold to Calvinist theology. They just don’t believe baptism saves, but is merely part of the New Covenant.


Which is why I used the Catholic reasoning of Baptism.

If your Baptism is symbolic, then of course it can fit in the mold of assurance, but I don’t see you guys arguing about it, like the numerous threads that we have over this issue.

Again, this is just meant to show Catholics why an AoS (is this Calvinistic, I didn’t know if it was or not) has a problem with Baptismal Regneration among infants.


Well, I’m not arguing for the Presbyterian view of baptism, having joined the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. However, I was a Presbyterian, so I was trying to point out that Protestant views of baptism aren’t uniform. Most Baptists wouldn’t consider baptism as part of any covenant, but rather as something to do in obedience to the Lord.


I am not following. Can you explain this to me please? Thank you. :slight_smile:


Well, from my understanding, is they believe that baptism is to the New Covenant what circumcision was to the Old Covenant.


Yes. I understand that. But I don’t understand the part about baptism not saving. That is what I asked for clarification around. Can anyone clarify please? Thank you.


I don’t think they believe that baptism washes away original sin.


The Catholic church clearly teaches that Baptism (with faith) not only washes away all sin (original and actual) but puts us into the new covenant family of God, like circumcision did in the Old Testament. Baptism infuses grace into our soul and it is grace that is the power we need to overcome sin.

Col 2:11-13
"In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And even when you were dead (in) transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions;"

“Having forgiven all of our transgressions” means all sin

Original and actual sin…

Rom 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned”

Titus 3:5
"not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life."

“bath of rebirth” is a referrence to baptism…“renewal by the holy Spirit” is the Holy Spirit infusing us with grace…“so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs of hope in eternal life” is saying we are made just by the unitive act of faith and baptism in order to receive eternal life.

Catechism of the Catholic church…


Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word.”


Hey Ill step out on the limb (being a cat anyway :smiley: )

I think the original poster is getting warmer at least into more useful discussion. Whats different rather than arguing.

as for the baptism I think it could be what is posted re covenant and not washing away sins. There is numerous songs and references to the Blood having that property.

I understand that when one gets baptisted it is a outward public show, not hidden, as Jesus was in public, confession of faith, obedience like said. There is a testomony of how one came to faith.

Now having said that there must be conterversy with some churches. As I was reading a fictional book by Frank Peretti The Visitation. There was references in there about the Pastors wife not having been baptisted and the gossip surrounding it. Which I took the writer to believe it wasnt necessary, a good thing, but not necessary. But surrounded by Gossip regarding it, indicating judgemental minds on the matter.

I think the theif on the cross enters into the discussion as well.

And there are various ideas of what happens to infants born and unborn from what Ive seen in the catholic and protestant groups. Myself logically speaking if Jesus is going to save that last lamb and “desires that none should perish” then I am believing and trusting in a logical God who never breaks promises. And on that evidence, I know that all the babies wake in His arms.


Baptism saves us from original and actual sin by giving us sanctifying grace, which enables us to do the good which God will us to do. However, even with sanctifying grace our free will doesn’t evaporate and we can at some point in our life choose not to follow the grace we have received in baptism and turn from God by being in a state of mortal sin and dying in that state. So baptism saves us, however we also have to cooperate with the grace we received through baptism.


i’m no theologian, but let me try to explain the protestant point of view as i understand it.

baptism is important yes, but what is it without a person’s faith? if a baptized baby who cannot understand the whole idea of Jesus dying on the cross etc is saved, how about a man who accepts Christ under difficult situations (such as a war or natural disaster where baptism is not easily carried out) ?

if baptism is that crucial to person’s salvation, then the baptized baby who dies the next minute (for whatever reason) will go to heaven, but that man who keeps his faith in God’s mercy amidst the shelling and danger will not.

having said that, yes i believe that baptism is one of the first steps we all take in our walk with God, and that there is little excuse for one *not *to be baptized in a peaceful, prosperous, tolerant country. we take this step to make our declaration public, but it is more for ourselves really. it’s like singing in front of a crowd for the first time. you have to take the initiative and step out of your comfort zone, but once you’ve done it, it matters little whether the audience remembers what you sang, only the fact that you have done it.

the crux of the matter lies in how baptism is perceived. catholics see it as getting a passport/social security number while protestants tend to see it as the taking up of arms in a raging battle.

regardless of that though, to me, what is far more important is how you lead your life. how much you truly put your faith in God despite your baptism “status” is a greater testimony to God’s love and majesty. =)


They are only “incompatible” because the OSAS folks want the Catholic Church to be wrong and don’t want folks to be Catholic

Assume for a second that we are saved by “Faith Alone” and we are “OSAS” (and typically you have to be one of the “elect” predestined to be so)…then…

Why would infant baptism matter one way or the other?

What in the world could it possibly hurt?

The best they can argue is that its a “waste of” or an “invalid” scrament. Either way what difference does it make? It’s “Faith Alone” and “OSAS” right?

There is nothing we can do to gain or loose our Salvatin right?

Since frequently, in their view Baptism doesn’t mean didly. i.e. The Sacrament is just a symbol and is not efficacious. It’s only the “Faith” that matters. Then why would they care?

For those that do believe that Baptism does in fact wash away original sin (and Actual Sin) and is necessary but still maintain that it is “Faith Alone” that matters and “OSAS”. Then again, why would baptizing an infant be a bad thing? How exactly does being baptised as an infant prevent the infant from having Faith as an adult?

Even if it’s just a ceremony that makes the parents feel good and really doesn’t do any thing, then so what?

It doesn’t matter until they reach the age of reason anyway and then it doesn’t get in the way of anything.

But by golly its a horror that must be stopped!



The problem with this view, is that either Faith in Christ must not be necessary for infants to go to heaven or infants who die go to hell?

This of course takes off to the Limbo threads…so nevermind…



For the person who desires to be baptized but cannot, the Church calls this a “baptism of desire.” God is not bound by the sacraments He gave us. He alone knows the heart of the person who is unable to receive baptism for whatever reason, and we can hope in His mercy. :smiley:


Originally Posted by stephanut
baptism is important yes, but what is it without a person’s faith? if a baptized baby who cannot understand the whole idea of Jesus dying on the cross etc is saved, how about a man who accepts Christ under difficult situations (such as a war or natural disaster where baptism is not easily carried out) ?

This is where one has to excericse “Enlighted Common Sense” approach.

I will use a term we used in Nuclear Power Plants when I worked as a Radiation Tech.

ALARA which is an acronym for “As Low As Reasonably Achievable

The key here is “Reasonably Achievable”

“Enlightened Common Sense” will deliver you the “Reasonably Achievable” concept.

The soldier on the Battlefield who accepts Jesus as Savior? If Baptism is not **“Reasonably Achievable” **so then the “Blind Faith” concept of “We trust in God to do the Right Thing” takes over

The Mentaly Retarded Person cannot accept Jesus as Savior nor can he reject Jesus as Savior. Knowing Jesus is not “Reasonably Achievable” so then the “Blind Faith” concept of “We trust in God to do the Right Thing” takes over. BUT the Baptism issue is still valid. Baptism is “Reasonably Achievable” at some point in time of the Mentally Retarded person’s life.


Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXVIII, Of Baptism.

V. Although it is a great sin to condemn or neglect this ordinance,[13] yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it:[14] or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.[15]

VI. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered;[16] yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.[17]

It looks like they view it as an ordinance or rule laid down by God that ought to be obeyed; not as something that is necessary for salvation in all cases.


Is it the Protestant understanding that Infants are already saved until they reach the, “age of reason” and at that point they make the choice to believe and be Baptized? Therefore Infant Baptism is not needed?

If this is the case (which I don’t know it may not be) how does this work with OSAS? If Infants are saved already and therefore Baptism isn’t needed, why would they need to do anything when they reached the age of reason if they were once saved always saved?

I haven’t done much study of OSAS but this is the question that came to my head from reading this thread.

God bless


I think in (osas) techings they are, " Saved" until age 12 ? reason
then one must say the, “sinner’s prayer” to become, “Locked in.”



Since you are Catholic I am probably asking the wrong person but; how can someone lose their salvation at any point in time in the OSAS system?

Some one please enlighten me :confused:

God bless

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