At the RCIA class that I am attending to support my fiancee, a person asked a question about infant baptism. He ask the deacon “if baptism requires just the ritual take place? Or does it require someone to affirm their belief and then be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? If my wife wills it for me to baptized and I’m not fully there with my belief, do the effects from baptism still valid?”
The deacon says that you need to have both the wanting and the ritual side for it to be valid. So the guy tells me after the class that a Catholic baptism is just a dedication because there is no way a baby can reason their belief. And that a Catholic infant baptism has no effect of washing away original sin, because you need both the ritual and the reason.
How would I explain to him that baptism does indeed wash away that original sin for infants?
There are several good pieces on Catholic Answers that explains why infant baptism is what the Early Church believed and practiced. First, simply because one verse says one must believe and be saved does not refute other verses that say that we as innocent children desire to be with Christ naturally. The bible shows small children going to Christ, wanting to be with him on their own, and admonishes those who would stop them. Also, we see whole “households” being baptized. It doesnt say on those adults who believed were baptized. And lastly, its a heresy to say that God only works through spiritual means, that material matter is not a worthy medium of grace. In Gods Covenant with the Jewish people, children were brought into the family of God through circumcision! Baptism is part of the New Covenant! Why would God demand animal sacrifices for actual remission of sin if material matter was not a valid vehicle of grace? Opposition toward child baptism and actual grace being conferred by sacraments (material, outwards signs of real spiritual affects) is simply not tenable logically, scripturally , nor historically!
Im just summarizing here, but take a look at the CAF resources for all the actual bible quotes, history and complete logic.
The pastor’s views are the same as the deacon. The pastor is the diocese’s person in charge of the dioconate. But I walked up to the person inquiring about infant baptism after the session ended. I was discrete about it.
Baptism is more than a dedication - it is an initiation into the Catholic Church when validly done. There is necessity of consent. In the case of infant baptism the godparents answer the questions in behalf of the infant, baptismal vows which the child will later confirm him/herself. In the case of adult baptism, and anyone who has reached the “age of reason,” the baptizee (is that a word?) answers for him/herself - and often Baptism and Confirmation are part of the same ceremony in adult baptisms - typically at Easter Vigil.
As 1 Peter 3:21 tells us - Baptism does now save us. It is a cleansing, not of the flesh - but of the soul/conscience. That is the remission of Original Sin. The soul is made clean and pure and though water is used - it is not the water which cleanses, but God Himself through Jesus Christ.
“Whereunto baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also: not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience towards God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Baptism does not depend upon faith for validity. Someone may receive baptism insincerely, and they receive no grace, but they are validly baptized and not to be baptized ever again. Baptism has two chief aspects: character and grace. The first corresponds to validity. Whenever the sacrament is validly administered, the one baptized always receives the baptismal character. Since the Church teaches that infants are validly baptized, they necessarily receive the character. I suppose the conferral of character can be called a dedication, but not in a sense that denies validity. Otherwise, infants would need to be re-baptized when they were older to receive the actual sacrament.
Not only do infants receive the character of baptism, they also receive the grace of baptism as well. This is because, while infants do not believe, they have no obstacle to receiving God’s grace, and the Church teaches that this is sufficient. The grace of baptism is entirely gratuitous, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (following St. Augustine) argues this point from the very fact of infants receiving sanctifying grace in baptism.
1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.
If this were denied it would lead to absurdities. No Catholic would deny that baptized infants go to heaven. But how could they go to heaven if they did not have God’s grace? It’s absurd.
Presumably, the point that your deacon is trying to make is that infants will not be saved if they fall away from faith when they acquire the use of reason, but his words, assuming they have been reported accurately, are a severe misuse of the words “validity” and “grace.”
This might even be the sort of thing that is worth taking up with the deacon (and the pastor apparently) in the future. It is not good if Catholic clergy are teaching Baptist doctrine to their unwitting flock. I don’t know what to say to them or how to say it, but good luck!