(Infant) baptism just for family tradition

Hi,
Last week I was at a catholic infant baptism with my protestant wife (I am catholic). The whole family is catholic and only a few are practicing their faith. Most of them, I would say, don’t even know the evangelium is and don’t really get what Jesus did for them (just the basics). Ok, this is the situation.

After the baptism ceremony, after the parents and the godparents answered all questions with yes, then was the baptism party. At the party the mother had a little confusing speech. She wanted to let the family know, why she decided to baptize her little one. She said something like this:

“When I was young, I was searching and was also very religious. I was so religious that on Sunday I went to church and on Friday I went to mosque. And because my family hands over the tradition of being religious to me, I would like to give this tradition to my kid. Because I think, everyone needs something spirituality.”

There was no mentioned anything about God, Jesus, truth, faith, salvation or what the baptism does for her child.

After this I had a discussion with my wife. I know (because of catholic answers) many biblical arguments for infant baptism. So the discussion went something like this:
Me: Baptism is the starting point of being Christian and the infant is saved (as St. Peter said).

Her: Right, but the infant must have faith. Faith is the ground for everything.
Me: Yeah, the faith is brought by the parents, god parents and the church. Because of their faith, the infant received the graces.
Her: Do you really thing the parents of this child have got faith into Jesus Christ…
Me: hmm, ok, even they might not have faith, the church has.

My question is not regarding infant vs adult baptism, but the question is. How should I think about parents having their infant baptism just because of tradition and not really of faith?
The parents will probably not raise their child in faith.
What would be the apologetic answer?

Another question: After I quoted St. Peter (“Baptism saves you”) to my wife, she replied:
Her: Do you think those people are saved?

I didn’t know how to answer, I guess most of them didn’t do mortal sin, so if they are in the state of grace, they would go to heaven, right?

But what about the faith into Jesus Christ? Most of the family members don’t even know what it means to follow Jesus (or anything about basic Christian faith). I would say, they have no faith.

I know, we cannot judge about any certain person, but what is the answer of the church to such general case? Where the faith does play a role in church teaching?

Thanks a lot and regards,

Andreas

What a sad, yet not so uncommon situation.

In a world where liberalism is the new orthodoxy, people have terribly muddled ideas about religion in general, since according to liberalism, no religion is better than another, and any religion is basically fine.

Hopefully the child’s parents will return to the Church, as they appear to be Catholic in name only at this point. However, it is still a good thing that the child was baptized.

. Ok, this is the situation. Okay…let’s take a look at all this. How do you know? According to n-C belief. a one time expression of faith gets a person “saved”, so then if that’s what your wife believes then no one has a right to judge them. One can and should pray for them.:shrug:

After the baptism ceremony, after the parents and the godparents answered all questions with yes, then was the baptism party. At the party the mother had a little confusing speech. She wanted to let the family know, why she decided to baptize her little one. She said something like this:

“When I was young, I was searching and was also very religious. I was so religious that on Sunday I went to church and on Friday I went to mosque. And because my family hands over the tradition of being religious to me, I would like to give this tradition to my kid. Because I think, everyone needs something spirituality.”

There was no mentioned anything about God, Jesus, truth, faith, salvation or what the baptism does for her child. Okay, so she wasn’t very articulate in here remarks. Most of us are not preachers and regardless of how we love the Lord we may have a difficult time expressing it. What did you expect from her? A homily or some kind of evangelistic “altar call”? I think maybe your expectations were a bit too high…

After this I had a discussion with my wife. I know (because of catholic answers) many biblical arguments for infant baptism. So the discussion went something like this:
Me: Baptism is the starting point of being Christian and the infant is saved (as St. Peter said).

Good so far…

Her: Right, but the infant must have faith. Faith is the ground for everything

.
Me: Yeah, the faith is brought by the parents, god parents and the church. Because of their faith, the infant received the graces.
Her: Do you really thing the parents of this child have got faith into Jesus Christ…
Me: hmm, ok, even they might not have faith, the church has.Good effort, but both of you seem to have started at a point of judging the family. Again I’d have to ask…how do you know the state of their souls? The church teaches that we cannot know another’s final end and the state of their soul. And all these remarks are based upon you guys watching a baptism and going to a simple party? Stop and think about this…

Your wife is coming from a Sola Fide position which we do not hold. I have a couple of blog articles that may help you out with this. The Case For Infant Baptism and Baptism~ Necessary or Not? The problem I would have is that many n-Cs like your wife don’t even see baptism as necessary for salvation though and as my 2nd link shows, that contradicts the scriptures. Truth be told…the church teaches that it doesn’t matter about the parents and godparents because it is enough that the priest intends to do what the church intends for the sacrament to be efficacious. The rest “is above our pay grade” as the saying goes. The sacrament is valid and the graces given to kick start the child’s spiritual life. those same graces will apply regardless of the faith journeys of those who attended the baptism and party. Speculating about the condition of their souls is fruitless…:shrug:

My question is not regarding infant vs adult baptism, but the question is. How should I think about parents having their infant baptism just because of tradition and not really of faith?
The parents will probably not raise their child in faith.
What would be the apologetic answer?

Rejoice that they did this at all. You don’t know how they will raise the child. many parents get serious about their faith after having a child because they realize that they have an important responsibility. I suggest substantial prayer for all of them…perhaps the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

(Cont’d)

Another question: After I quoted St. Peter (“Baptism saves you”) to my wife, she replied:
Her: Do you think those people are saved?

Best answer…“Am I God? Who am I to judge them? Do you think I am saved? Do you believe what Peter wrote in scripture?”

I didn’t know how to answer, I guess most of them didn’t do mortal sin, so if they are in the state of grace, they would go to heaven, right?

Above our pay grade again and fruitless speculation.:shrug:

But what about the faith into Jesus Christ? Most of the family members don’t even know what it means to follow Jesus (or anything about basic Christian faith). I would say, they have no faith.

“Faith into Jesus Christ”? That’s not even a scriptural phrase so what kind of odd teaching is your poor wife getting in her community?

Look, they had faith to bring the child to the sacrament didn’t they? That means there is grace acting in their lives already so how can you judge them? Keep in mind what the Bible says…*"*But the LORD said to Samuel: Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The LORD looks into the heart." (1st Samuel 16:7 emphasis mine)

I know, we cannot judge about any certain person, but what is the answer of the church to such general case? Where the faith does play a role in church teaching?

Thanks a lot and regards,

Andreas

I hope that helps.:thumbsup:

In this situation the pastor could have, and probably should have, delayed the baptism until and unless there was a well-founded hope of the child being raised Catholic.

of course, the pastor cannot make such determination if the parents actually lied about their intention. But if they told the pastor what they told everyone else, it seems a delay would have been the avenue.

The Church’s answer would be don’t baptize your child if you are not practicing the faith.

We are not saved at a point in time, salvation is a process. So, “are they saved” is a nonsensical question in Catholicism.

I think that you are making a lot of uncharitable judgments about this family. Why not just pray for them and their child? Be a friend and a good example.

Perhaps your real issue is debating infant baptism with your wife. There is little question that the early Christian Church was performing infant baptism routinely by the second century. It has served the Church well.

Hi, Andreas!
…I think that you are dealing with several levels of Faith (or lack thereof) and understanding.

Faith as “an umbrella” will not save anyone–Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Sadly too often that is the case with both “active” and inactive Believers.

Jesus stated that the path/road to Salvation is narrow (difficult and demanding) and few travel through it; He also warned that not all who call Him Lord will enter into the Kingdom–clearly, Salvation, though simple as it is, is not an easy engagement!

While it is true that we are not to judge others, we are made aware by Scriptures and the Church what it means to be on the path to Salvation and what it means to be a derelict (coasting through in that minimalism state of “belief”); as time progresses, Catholics (and others) rely more on social spiritualism (what hollowood teaches about God) than on Apostolic Teachings about God–it is the water effect (path of least resistance).

Perhaps this is a call/opportunity for you to bulk up on your Faith (live it and teach it through both example and actual interaction with your family members).

Though the points made by your wife are correct (empty sense of accomplishment: symbolic Baptism and irreligiousness), Believers err at both ends (lack of knowledge/commitment and piosity–exaggerated/superficial Faith).

How to respond? Do not defend what you know is wrong. Do not mistake errors in the Faith committed by men with Church failure/error (do not jump the boat because weak members of the Faith are part of your social/family circle).

Seek to be an example for those around you. Instruct/educate those who you find lacking so that their reason for Believing (Faith) is based on a relationship with God and not on the familiar (man’s traditions).

Maran atha!

Angel

Hi,

Thanks for your response!

@ChurchMilitan

The question is not about my wife, I know here well and you are judging here in this case. However I am not asking about “one time expression of faith” and didn’t ask about the validity of the baptism (it is valid and the infant receives the graces because of the authority of the church) and I didn’t ask about my wife’s faith. I am asking about the teaching of the church.

I wasn’t expecting nothing special from the speech, but when she said, this is the reason my I decided to baptize my baby and there is no basic reason of faith, but just the family tradition and a fussy esoteric spiritual reason, sounds odd to me. And yes, I can tell, that she has got a faith into something spiritual, but not in Jesus as her Lord.

Is this serious? in my opinion the whole gospel is about faith in Jesus Christ. I am not good in bible verses, but one comes into my mind (Joh 11, 25-27):

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.d Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

My wife and I didn’t judge the certain souls. And of course we are praying for them. The argument “don’t judge them” you could apply to everyone (even to unbaptized people). With this argument, you could even tell, in my opinion, that there is no need for baptism, cause god will judge them. And I mean, the church does not baptize people, only because Jesus says so, but also because the church has got a great hope, this person will be in communion with Jesus. Otherwise you could tell, we don’t baptize them, because we don’t want to judge about them, but Jesus and he is merciful. Or why should baptism even matter…

Nevertheless, we were discussing about baptism and faith and the principals we could apply here.

My question is still not answered, which role plays faith at baptism. I can tell that most of my family do not have faith, you could even ask them and they would tell, that they believe in a god, but Jesus and his church, forget it (and yes, they are baptized and some of them receive even all sacraments). Where the faith does comes in? Must the person even believe in Jesus as god?

Yes, the source of this question is the depate about infant baptism and I know many of arguments for it, but my question here is not about it. My question is about faith and baptism. What role does faith plays at baptism? None? What is the church teaching?

I will try to answer my question by myself:

At baptism god gives graces (giving Holy Ghost, forgive sins, being part of church, etc) on behalf of the authority of the church. This is the starting point of a Christian on his way to heaven. The faith of the priest, parents or god parents is nice, but not necessary to get those graces (Yes, faith doesn’t play any role so far). Even in the baptism ritual the priest ask the parents and god parents more times “Do you believe…” and they answer “yes”. What other “proof” should the church require to test their faith? (Rhetoric question)

Faith is not an issue at baptism at all.

By faith I mean in short: believing in Jesus Chris as God and our Lord and imitating him.

Am I right?

Thanks and regards,

Andreas

I think that since the priest baptized the baby he believes there is hope the child will be brought up in the faith. You’re a good influence, at the least. :slight_smile: In such matters we have to leave the decision to baptize or not up to the person with the authority to make it–the priest of the parish. Don’t worry for the baby. Even if his/her Catholic upbringing is minimal or even flawed, God is able to work with/make up for whatever we’re given by our parents–not that those of us who know better should be lax about it. Pray for all involved and be supportive of their efforts at practicing the faith–that’s really all I think you can do.

Hi, Andreas!
…here, again, you are speaking of levels… when John the Baptist was sent to preach and Baptize people the world existed as it has (grown ups and children); following the norm of Judaism children reached the fullness of age (reason/understanding) and were ushered into the Faith (Bar Mitzvah); yet, the introduction to the Faith is given quite earlier through the ritual of circumcision (this is the act the initiates the Hebrew child into the God’s family (people). While John, Jesus and their disciples were said to have been Baptizing people once was there a forbidding of Baptizing whole families or children. As a point of reference we do have several passages where it is said that a person and the whole family were Baptized. Conversely, when God Commands Moses to present His Law to the Hebrews the Command is made that all of Israel be present, including the suckling–what import would such infants have, could they understand the gravity of profession of Faith?

Conversely, due to ignorance (and I suspect rejection of the Church’s Authority) non-Catholic Christians who continue to demand that Baptism be granted/received at “x” age (age of reason, etc.) argue from intellectual/dogmatic views that completely excludes the Holy Spirit and His Omnipotence and Omnipresence… how old were John the Baptist and Jesus when they first met (no, not during John’s ministry)? …well John was about six months old and Jesus had just recently been conceived in His mom’s womb!

The Grace received during Baptism does not depend upon age or reason or Faith. Clearly, Faith comes from hearing the Word (that is from being Taught) and an infant does not have the faculties to, intellectually, assent to the acknowledgment of Faith (sadly, that also goes for many “adults” nowadays).

Jesus Commands His Disciples to go and preach to the whole world and if people Believe they are to be Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (there no prerequisite of age or intellectual development)–one could still argue, “but what about preach and if they Believe?” Well, the Kingdom of God does not subjugate man or imposes its Power… the Church, as matter of development, understood that Christ did not mean to exclude children (‘let the children come to Me…’) and the practice of infant Baptism was utilized.

Once more I urge you to be more active in the Faith-life of your family members… teach them the importance of Living the Faith and offer to be a stand-in God-father to all children (and adults) who are Baptized (receive the Sacraments) for merely man-made tradition.

Maran atha!

Angel

Hi,
Thanks again!

So in short the apologetic QA would look like this:

Q: What role does the faith play at infant baptism?

A: None. God gives the graces of baptism because of the authority of the church. This authority is given by Jesus himself. The baptism is valid even when the priest, parent or godparent do not have any faith.

I got it!

Thanks and god bless!

Andreas

Of course the baptism is valid, but you were concerned with the child being reared in the faith. So, now that the baptism is over what do you think you can do about it? If it’s nothing then do nothing, except as we’ve suggested–pray and be a good influence. I wrote that God can shape this child’s life according to his will even without the parents being the best role models/teachers, and he can, but that doesn’t mean that’s how it should be. I think I mentioned that too. It may not be what you wanted to hear–that all you can do is be a good influence and pray, but what else can you do without overstepping parental rights?

As I wrote, the priest must have thought the child had a founded hope that s/he will be reared in the faith or he wouldn’t have done the baptism. You weren’t in on any discussions the family had with the priest, so you cannot know what was said and what the priest heard. :slight_smile: The baptism is done. Now the community of faith has part of the responsibility to rear the child in the faith. Do your part–that’s all you can do. :shrug:

ok, thanks I got it!

Last thing, I should have read the CCC before. There is an answer as well:
*
1253 Baptism is the sacrament of faith.54 But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. the faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. the catechumen or the godparent is asked: “What do you ask of God’s Church?” the response is: “Faith!”*

The parents had a “beginning of faith” for sure. :slight_smile:

God Bless!

Andreas

Indeed, and baptisms are done within the community, with the community responding as well as the parents, to help form the child in the faith. :thumbsup:

anpoky.

You basically asked . . .

What role does faith have in (infant) baptism?

I am not by my computer (where all my Church quotes are) so for now at least, I won’t be following up my comments with Church quotes.

God makes the first move drawing the recipient toward Baptism. This is called God’s prevenient grace.

Then the recipient has a NATURAL faith.

God continues to draw the recipient to Him.

Once the recipient is Baptized he/she has SUPERNATURAL faith poured into him/her (there are other gifts and graces too).

At this point you are likely wondering. . . “OK. But how about with an INFANT?”

The “drawing” is also upon the infants stewards (usually but not always his parents. You could be the “steward” of a non-baptized person who was in extremus [imminently dying]).

So the infant draws upon (as you correctly pointed out) the faith of the father and or mother or other steward, and the faith of the Church.

After baptism, the infant possesses (but usually is unable to DEMONSTRATE) supernatural faith (and other Baptismal graces).

Because Baptism is a great gift, and “to whom much is given, much is required”, infant baptism should only be performed in cases where that supernatural faith can be nurtured, or at least not distorted and deformed. Again, if there is imminent death, then baptism is indicated (should be performed).

Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;

2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_P2X.HTM

The Priest doing the Baptism will make this assessment (if the baby is in an environment where the faith can be adequately nurtured).

The “environment” of poorly catechized parents might be agreeing to ongoing catechesis, eventually sending their child to Catholic school, a pious grandmother helping the family, etc. etc.

Hope this helps.

God bless.

Cathoholic

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