Martin Luther on Infant Baptism

I´d like to share some of Martin Luther´s apologetics on Infant Baptism. I think he has articulated very well an apostolic faith in the practice. I´ll post two paragraphs from his Large Catechism ( which I particularly like:

“Further, we say that we are not so much concerned to know whether the person baptized believes or not; for on that account Baptism does not become invalid; but everything depends upon the Word and command of God. This now is perhaps somewhat acute but it rests entirely upon what I have said, that Baptism is nothing else than water and the Word of God in and with each other, that is when the Word is added to the water, Baptism is valid, even though faith be wanting. For my faith does not make Baptism, but receives it. Now, Baptism does not become invalid even though it be wrongly received or employed; since it is not bound (as stated) to our faith, but to the Word.”

“Therefore I say, if you did not believe then believe now and say thus: The baptism indeed was right, but I, alas! did not receive it aright. For I myself also, and all who are baptized, must speak thus before God: I come hither in my faith and in that of others, yet I cannot rest in this, that I believe, and that many people pray for me; but in this I rest, that it is Thy Word and command. Just as I go to the Sacrament trusting not in my faith, but in the Word of Christ; whether I am strong or weak, that I commit to God. But this I know, that He bids me go, eat and drink, etc., and gives me His body and blood; that will not deceive me or prove false to me.”

I´ve come across this in a research of the topic of Infant Baptism and find it one of the most well explained. The issue of re-baptism has been on my heart and mind and after a bit of research, I feel that we could increase our understanding and support of the practice of Infant Baptism. This includes what it means, what it doesn´t mean, and what is crucial to the child both after Baptism and at the age of reason. I hope this may open a good discussion with some fresh ideas and ways of understanding the faith.

Certainly, among Protestants, Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Methodists do baptize infants.

(Edited) I was pleased to read his words. After all, the Church recognizes the valid sacrament in the Lutheran faith. In fact, part of my point was that he has articulated one of the best explanations of infant baptism that i´ve read. Though, I am specifically referring to the paragraphs I quoted. As for the greater article the only thing I found questionable (in my personal opinion) was the statement that impoyment of the sacrament does not matter. And even in this, I wouldn´t assume he intended to contradict the small requirements put on Baptism.

Hi Michael,
Thanks for posting this. It nice to see a positive post about some of Luther’s writings.


No prob. I was hoping to hear some discussion. The reason I was looking into the topic is because my brother in law, who was raised Catholic has converted to a non denominational church. He was Baptized as an infant and this pastor of his convinced him to be re-baptized.

I think that this issue is possibly growing more and more. When there is a child given Baptism and yet the parents have no real Christian conviction and lifestyle, the Sacraments become a superstition. Then, the person hears the basic elements of the Gospel, while attributing all of that persons disobedience in the faith to “empty rituals”. They are then inspired to love Jesus and reject what they consider man made laws.

This must be handled very carefully with the person because of the true conversion of heart. Yet, re-baptism must be spoken out against. Also the fact that there were many yrs of superstitously participating in the Sacraments. Someone cannot just act as though they did not believe and so the Sacrament didnt “work”.

So, I did post these sections from Martin to a group my bro in law is a part of. I think Martin nailed it on the head. :thumbsup:

I must admit that this was me in a nutshell.

My parents couldn’t give two damns about Christianity; and I was raised as nothing. I was taught nothing about God and no one told me about Him. I was Baptized Anglican because it’s just what our families did, but beyond that it was meaningless. In fact, my Atheist brother baptized his boys just for tradition and he hates the idea of “a God”.

Therefore when I accepted Christ at the age of 14 I was Baptized; and who could blame me?

Hey bro, Im so glad you posted. Thanks for sharing.

I am the last person who is going to blame you, or my BIL. Yet I tried to ask him som very important questions before he recieved a rebaptism.

It was not merely a matter of him getting baptized as an infant. He apparently went through Confirmation and had received Eucharist many times (which obviously means hearing everything the liturgy contains many times).

Then, to cement things, he chose to baptize his two boys, asking me to be their Godparents in the faith. This means he took a short course on the meaning of Baptism, then renewed his own Baptismal dedications while promising to raise his boys in the faith.

I therefore, had serious questions as to how he participated in these things without belief or a contrite heart to the Lord, believing in the things he was participating in. I asked if he ever prayed to Jesus and if he ever asked for forgiveness. You want to know his response to me? It was, “My decissions are between me and God, end of story.”

My intentions were not to hold sin or unbelief against him, but to know how someone can treat the Sacraments as supersticious and not hear the gospel in the mass. At the same time, I know, as the Church Teaches, the importance of parental guidence and instruction in the faith. I don´t doubt that he is not very culpable for much behavior and understanding of the faith, but to act as though he did not receive and believe the gospel, or pray for God´s help is unfair also.

To my understanding, I don´t doubt he has a conversion of heart and new appreciation for the Lord. I don´t doubt that he has guilt over the way he was acting as a father and husband. I am very supportive of these changes. But this means that he was not obeying in the Lord who he already professed faith in. He claims that it took the counseling of this preacher to know Jesus. Well, that´s what my sister very vaguely conveyed.

P.S. dronald… What did you think of Martin´s apalogetics???

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