Mother in law questions


Hello, My mother in law has had quite a few questions for me regarding the Catholic faith. I do my best to send her sources and explain the things I know. She has been asking a lot about baptism. The basic theme is do you believe that it’s water that saves you and forgives sins? Don’t you have to repent and then be baptised? How can babies repent first before baptism? What are the best responses to these? Thank you


Find the answers given in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Tell her that this is what the Church teaches and that you accept these teachings. Then ask her what her sources are.

Bring up topics that you can agree on. Let her know how very much you love Jesus. Let her know that you read the Bible.

If you feel that the discussions are creating tension between you and your mother-in-law, gently place your hand on her hand and say, “I don’t want to have this discussion cause pain between us.”

Your being a Catholic should show her that being a catholic means being respectful of elders. Your being a Catholic should show her that you are kind. Your being a Catholic should show her that her child is safe with you and that you love her child dearly. Your being a Catholic who rejoices in your faith will do much more than winning a battle of the differences in Biblical interpretation.



…I think your mother-in-law comes from the anti-infant Baptism school/s…

The problem with her and their conclusions is that they believe that it is man who is actually making the Sacrament Valid.

How old was John the Baptist when he glimpsed Jesus for the very first time?

…Jesus had just been conceived in His mother’s womb yet, her mother’s relative, Elizabeth, proclaimed Him as her Lord!

…human chronological age matters not to God!

…neither does it matter to God the outward appearance of man.

Do you believe in Christ?

Do you believe Christ?

If both answers are “yes” then you should have no problems with infant Baptism since it was Christ Who Delegated His Authority to the Church…

…as your mother-in-law, many people have the wrong understanding of God and Worship… remember Jesus’ disciples… once when they came across a blind man and they asked Jesus: ‘is he blind because of his sins or that of his parents?’ Jesus did not ask about the issue of sin but simply gave sight to the man.

The Command to go out and preach the Gospel (Good News) and to Baptize those who believed was not meant to bind the Sacrament of Baptism (just as the Command to observe the Sabbath was not meant to bind Love and Mercy); the Church understood this very clearly otherwise there would be Teachings against it…

Conversely, if Baptism is to be forbidden to children, what would be the correct age for a person to be Baptized… if we follow Scriptural example, should we not wait till the age of 30, Jesus’ age?

…and as far as reason/cognition how much reason/cognition those in the graves have?:

29 Otherwise what shall they do that are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not again at all? why are they then baptized for them? (1 Corinthians 15:29)

Note that this passage is not as an admonition against Baptism; rather, it engages the fact that Believers are receiving the Sacrament of Baptism on behalf of their dead loved ones because they are Hopefully awaiting the Resurrection of the Dead. It is their Faith that Christ, through their Baptism for their dead ones, will also raise those who were not alive during His Ministry and could not have received the Sacrament of Baptism. They acted as proxy–they were confident that their vows of Faith would afford God’s acceptance of their loved ones into the Fold.

…and since we have the Fullness of Faith, Baptism, the Sacrament of Initiation, is followed by the other Sacraments… as the infant/child matures he/she will consciously partake of those other Sacraments as his/her Vocational Call inspires.

Maran atha!



Baptism is one of the sacraments of initiation into the Catholic church. Baptism removes the stain of original sin from our souls and leaves an indelible mark on there. A baby’s parents and God parents promise to raise the child Catholic, and makes this decision for the baby.

Another sacrament of initiation is Confirmation. This is when a person makes the decision for themselves to grow with maturity in the faith, and receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I hope this helps clear up things for your mil.


Not water but Jesus Christ…and the Father and the Holy Spirit.

No a baby does not have to repent - for they have nothing to repent of. It is original sin that is remedied in their case -along with all the other glorious effects of being baptized into Christ.



That can yes be another time when the person continues in their faith by their free will …but that is not really the time when they make that decision …they will have already been making it more and more as the grow in Christian life.

And many babies too are confirmed…


I’d be wary of using this argument as Confirmation was originally administered to infants and Eastern Churches still continue this practice. The main purpose of Confirmation is to strengthen that person’s faith and the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, not to be a point for a Christian to affirm his or her own faith. Confirmation actually means “to strengthen”. The sacrament is known as Chrismation in the Eastern Churches.

Anyway, Jesus said people would be born again of water and spirit, not just water, and not just spirit. It’s not the literal washing in water that saves you, but the grace that accompanies it.


Ask her why if infant baptism is wrong did the apostles practice it with the Philippian jailer and his household?

Also she needs to see the historical source that I cite in the following blog article of mine.
The Case For Infant Baptism


Why is it a sacrament of initiation then? I am well aware the it is a time to strengthen the gifts of the Holy Spirit. During Confirmation a personally accepts thier own journey of Catholicism.

My answer was to clear up any misunderstanding the op’s mother in law may have about our religion and baptism, without the assumption that it is the only sacrament of initiation.:shrug:


Baptism, Confirmation, and first Communion are all sacraments of initiation into the fullness of grace and communion with the Church. All were from the earliest days administered to infants, and still are in most eastern churches.


The primary purpose of Baptism is that we should die in Christ and be born again in Him. Dying in Christ also washes away our sins, but being born in Christ and receiving His eternal life is even more valuable.

Innocent babies who are baptized get to start their lives on the best possible footing. No bad habits, no divided thoughts. Just pure grace, overflowing, filling them with His life.


wkj_123. You asked:

Hello, My mother in law has had quite a few questions for me regarding the Catholic faith. I do my best to send her sources and explain the things I know. She has been asking a lot about baptism. The basic theme is do you believe that it’s water that saves you and forgives sins? Don’t you have to repent and then be baptised? How can babies repent first before baptism? What are the best responses to these? Thank you

Repent and be Baptized and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

wkj_123. Your mother in law is alluding to Acts 2:38

ACTS 2:38 38 And Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The rationale she is using is . . .

. . . . “Peter says ‘REPENT’ THEN be Baptized.”

Then she will say/think . . . .

. . . . “HOW can a BABY ‘repent’”??

“If a baby can’t get to the “repentance” portion of this verse, HOW in the world can the same baby get to the baptism aspect?”

You need to understand her objection if you want to be able to answer it.

I want to make sure you understand her objection BEFORE getting into how to answer this.

Do you understand her reasoning/objection here? If not we can unpack that more.

If you do understand her reasoning/objection, we can move on to answering her.

God bless.



One other thing wkj_123.

You said (perhaps quoting your mother in law):

The basic theme is do you believe that it’s water that saves you and forgives sins?

(emphasis in above quote is mine)

This is NOT “the basic theme”.

Water does not “save” us in the sense that this is being put forth.

If you allow her to argue this is “the basic theme” you will have allowed her to create a straw man. She will in effect be attacking something other than what the Church teaches.

This straw man will not be true (and thus be easy to attack).

The “basic theme” is we have enough faith in Jesus to believe Him when he tells us we MUST be born of water AND the Spirit.

JOHN 3:1-6, 22 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. . . . . 22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized.

We obey Jesus.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

This being born of water AND the Spirit is part of what St. Paul talks about when in Romans he refers to “the obedience of faith”.

2nd KINGS 5:11-14 11 But Naaman was angry, and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

We believe what Jesus told us. Then we MUST obey.


Re: Confirmation, it is a Sacrament of initiation because it is the continuation of Baptism.

We do not “confirm” that we are Christian by accepting Confirmation. That is the English sense of the word. No, it is the Holy Spirit that Confirms us – He strengthens our faith, confirming it within us by anointing us and laying hands on us. We are called; we do not do the calling.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are essential at any age, and the additional protection against demons and temptation is a biggie that we need young. (And yes, people quit talking about that part in the US, but it is still Catholic doctrine.) Without the help of this Sacrament, young Catholics suffer continual problems after they reach the age of reason, and are easily tricked into doing things that they do not realize are against the Faith. Putting it off lets them establish bad habits too.


I Corinthians 10:2

And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea:

The parents did not leave their children in Egypt until they were old enough to accept Moses as their deliverer. They took their children with them.

Repentance for baptism I believe in NT terminology is to turn towards Jesus Christ from being against Jesus Christ, who is their Deliverer greater than Moses the prefigure.

Repentance is not focused on the repentance of evil done but specifically a focus on a change of Master.

Parents carried their new-borns through that sea, a baptism, shouldn’t we do the same for our children?


A copy of Catholicism for Dummies would be a huge help, as it is effectively a catechism, but in layperson terms. It explains this, and many other aspects of the Catholic faith. Highly recommended. Used copies can be had for very low prices from ThriftBooks.


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