Some stuff on infant baptism

I’m having a debate with a former Catholic (now “non-denom”) on another forum and things have pretty much stalled. In summary, I posted the things he’d need to prove in order to change my mind on infant baptism. I thought it might be helpful for folks into this stuff. :wink:

1. The Bible forbids it. You’d have to show me that somewhere in scripture, there is, implied or explicitly stated, that baptizing infants is forbidden and ineffectual.

**2. That Luke 18:15 has nothing to do with IB: Parents were bringing their infants to Christ. Why? No, not for baptism, but for a great gift of some kind. But they don’t have faith–how could they possibly benefit?
3. Why faith is sufficient to get others’ sins forgiven and to heal them, but is insufficient for baptizing infants.
In fact, it’s likely that Lydia’s entire household was baptized based on HER faith: Acts 16:15.

Also, in Acts 16:30, the jailer asks what he must do in order to be saved. Paul said “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you AND your household will be saved.” Did you catch that? All they said that if HE, singular, had faith, then HIS WHOLE HOUSEHOLD WOULD ALSO BE SAVED. This is a rock-solid, unspinnable example of proxy faith salvation in the Bible. Your job is to prove to me that this is completely irrelevant to the issue.

4. That Acts 2:38-39 doesn’t include infants. The promise is made to their CHILDREN, too. You wrote somewhere above that infants aren’t children. You’d also have to prove that one.

5. That circumcision has nothing to do with Baptism. They’re explicitly compared by Paul. Infants were circumcised. It’s, among other things, initiation into the covenant. You’d have to prove why the New Covenant is NARROWER than the Old.

**6. That only explicit proof texts–not implicit–have any validity in these conversations. **
7. That Romans 5:12 doesn’t include infants. Sin entered the world through one man and brought death. The “promise” is for everyone–including children. But not infants? You have to prove this.

**8. That original sin doesn’t affect infants. **
9. That the absence of explicit, direct evidence in the first century actually means something. Remember, the Church was under persecution for the first three centuries of its existence. It was literally driven underground. Scriptures were burned wherever they were found, and it’s entirely plausible that baptismal records were as well. You’d have to prove that, as you assume, the Church was just as diligent in keeping baptismal records as it is now.

The point here is that I want you to prove why later evidence is invalid because the direct evidence you want isn’t available. You make loud noises about the apparent absence of primary sources in this time period, but you have thus far completely ignored later evidence. This isn’t a rebuttal, it’s willful ignorance.

**10. Why, if baptism–not just faith alone–washes away sins, it has no effect on infants. **Yes, faith is necessary, but the Bible is clear that BAPTISM is a compenent of the forgiveness of sins. Baptism DOES SOMETHING. Again, yes, faith is required, but BAPTISM ITSELF DOES SOMETHING. Why doesn’t it do anything for infants?

**11. Show me that Christ didn’t establish an authority on Earth. **
That’s about it. Take on those, and I’ll happily amend my beliefs and conform myself to the truth.

As far as I can see you are on the right track. In fact I will bookmark this for future reference!

A wise old priest once advised me to ask questions that would require others to think and research for themselves, rather than make statements for them to work to refute. :thumbsup:

I think you’re doing very well. Just fyi, I like what Kimberly Hahn has to say on this question - a brief excerpt:

If you read through the Old Testament, the male children of the Old Covenant were given the sign of the covenant - circumcision - on the eighth day of life. In other words, a Jewish boy was recognized as a Jew within the covenant as an infant, before he could express any faith of his own. And when he was given the sign of the covenant which made him a Jew, he was expected to live as a Jew, to believe as a Jew, and to be faithful as a Jew. . . .the sign of the New Covenant was something both girls and boys could receive, thereby highlighting another aspect of the New Covenant - in Christ there is neither male nor female (Gal. 3:28). . .if the New Covenant surpasses the Old, why would it exclude children of believers when children had formerly been included? The new converts from Judaism would not have seen this an an improvement.

Her husband makes the point in one of his audio-tape studies (I forget which) that in the ancient world in those societies where circumcision was practiced, it was the Jews alone who circumcised infants, whereas the other societies waited until the boy was about to enter manhood; thus it was a rite of passage associated with fertility, where, for the Jews, circumcision (and later Baptism with the Christians) was a sign of a covenant entered into with God.

Thanks, FC. That looks awesome. My “opponent” is taking some time to respond, but if he does, I’ll be incorporating that bit in there somewhere.

Here’s Part II of my original post. My opponent is always going on about the “glaring lack of historical evidence” from about the time of the apostles to the late second century. So, I found this and added it to the debate. I think it’s strong, but if there’s a weak link, it’s finding some documentation that Polycarp was baptized by John himself, as the author of this piece says.

I thought a little context would be helpful when going back in time to look at the ancient practice of infant baptism. Placing various quotes in a timeline going backward help to illustrate it.

In the year 215 AD, the Church Father St. Hippolytus of Rome writes:

“And they shall Baptize the little children first. And if they can answer for themselves, let them answer. But if they cannot, let their parents answer or someone from their family.” (Hippolytus of Rome, Apostolic Tradition, 21 c. AD 215).

Now, St. Hippolytus was the disciple of St. Irenaeus of Lyon; and, in AD 180, St. Irenaeus writes:

“For He came to save all through Himself --all, I say, who through Him are born again to God * – infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men.” (Irenaeus, Against the Heresies 2:22:4 – c. AD 180)

St. Irenaeus was the disciple of St. Polycarp, who was the disciple of the Apostle John himself (as well as an associate of the Apostle Philip). And, in AD 155, St. Polycarp said this at his execution:

“Polycarp declared, 'Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me injury. How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?” (Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp 9 c. AD 156)

Now, it is well documented that “The Martyrdom of Polycarp” was written the year after the saint’s execution; and so the quote above is extremely reliable. It is also well documented that Polycarp was 86 years old at the time of his death. Therefore, if the saint claims to have served Jesus for 86 years, it therefore follows that he was Baptized as an infant. And, in another place, we are told that Polycarp was Baptized by none other than the Apostle John! Therefore, at least in the case of St. John, we can show conclusively that the Apostles Baptized infants.

Furthermore, here are some more Church Fathers on infant Baptism. Thought I’d throw them in.

St. Justin Martyr (150 AD):

“And both men and women who have been Christ’s disciples since infancy, remain pure, and at the age of sixty or seventy years …” (Justin Martyr, First Apology,15:6 – AD 110-165)

Now would be the usual spot where you, Ruzz, wax hyperbolic about the “great big glaring hole of evidence.” Where exactly would that be? I’ve just showed that this practice traces right back to living memory of the apostle John.

You have two choices: conclusively refute the evidence, or ignore it.*

Ruzz used to be a semi-regular poster on this forum. He was particularly stubborn. Good luck! :smiley:

Whoops! I didn’t mean to post his name, even if it’s a pseudonym.

But, this is a good “teachable moment.” I never saw Ruzz here, even while we were battling it out at the (now temporarily down) Protest Warrior forum, but his impression of this place was not good. Yes, Ruzz is stubborn in a lot of ways. Yes, he’s got some “interesting logic.” But he’s not your typical allischalmers or bibleapologist. Not by a long shot. Unfortunately, the stories he tells me of his treatment here are embarassing.

No doubt he felt overwhelmed, and that’s part of it, but if he had been tentatively making small steps back to his childhood faith, his experience here was a major setback. And if he ever DOES come to the conclusion that he made a potentially catastrophic mistake by leaving the Church, he’s going to have a heap of complications in his life that only a rock-solid conviction of the Church’s authenticity is going to keep him coming home.

I respect Ruzz as much as he frustrates me. We’re in this new, strange category of relationships called “cyber buddies.” We’ve never met, but in many ways he’s more of a friend than my real-life buddies. So, whoever reads this and recognizes him, please know that every poster here is a three-dimensional human being. People with disagreements or criticisms of the Church aren’t all knuckle-dragging fundies. It’s possible to turn away seekers in fragile theological/spiritual states.

And no, this isn’t a rant–just a friendly reminder. :thumbsup:

Poppycock! :rolleyes:

I think you’ve just ignored a large portion of the evidence here.

Does the Didache explicitly recommend adult baptism ONLY? Or is does the Didache only describe adult baptism and remains silent on infant baptism? Anyone?

Yes. If memory serves, he was not insulting or mean-spirited. I do not ever recall him being treated badly, but then again, I was not involved in all of his discussions. I suppose it is possible that he was overwhelmed with truth. And sometimes the truth makes the heart ache. If he was treated badly, I for one would like to ask his forgiveness on behalf of those who may have wronged him.

Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism. And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

That’s it? That’s supposed to mean that infants are excluded from baptism? Lol. Today’s word, kids, is eisigesis. :rolleyes:

What does eisigesis mean? And how is it pronounced? Thanks.

It means “reading your pre-conceived notions into the Bible.”

You want sola scriptura to be true? You take some verses and interpret them the way you want.

Thanks again. Do you know how it is pronounced?

Not really. As a reclusive bookworm, I barely know how to speak the English language. I just pronounce this word like so:


He says he’s going to respond when he gets more time. He probably will, but the questions you ask are going to be what I press him on. I already asked if he believed babies need a savior.

If you want to see the debate thus far, go here:

As you’ll see, we’re just a few guys with our own little site, and there’s a lot of chit-chatting going on. (We’re going to be renovating the site in the next few weeks and giving it a new name:

Let me have another go at this – same pronunciation, different orthography:

ICE-uh-JEE-sis (JEE as in Jesus)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit