We have a Protestant friend who said, “I have not found an acceptable reason why Catholics believe in infant baptism.” Can anyone help with a response I can give him or an online resource that I can direct him to?
Thanks for any suggestions or recommendations.
The fundamental reason is a belief in original sin. Even infants are under sin and must be restored to grace. Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
Oh absolutely! many n-Cs think it’s unscriptural because that is what they have been taught, but they also have very little knowledge of both the scriptures and Christian history, so it helps when we can explain it.
I have an article on my blog which covers this that is the result of research I did and perhaps it will help.
Tell him to ask his protestant brothers in the Reformed, Presbyterian, Nazarene, Methodist, Lutheran and Anglican communities first. Once he takes his laser focus off of the Catholic Church, infant baptism will not seem so foreign. Rather, it is the failure to baptize infants in his communion that is the exception. Ask him to justify that.
…we confess that Baptism is necessary to salvation, and that children are to be baptized, and that the baptism of children is not in vain, but is necessary and effectual to salvation.
For it is very certain that the promise of salvation pertains also to little children [that the divine promises of grace and of the Holy Ghost belong not alone to the old, but also to children]. It does not, however, pertain to those who are outside of Christ’s Church, where there is neither Word nor Sacraments, because the kingdom of Christ exists only with the Word and Sacraments. Therefore it is necessary to baptize little children, that the promise of salvation may be applied to them, according to Christ’s command, Matt. 28:19: Baptize all nations. Just as here salvation is offered to all, so Baptism is offered to all, to men, women, children, infants. It clearly follows, therefore, that infants are to be baptized, because with Baptism salvation [the universal grace and treasure of the Gospel] is offered. 53] Secondly, it is manifest that God approves of the baptism of little children.
That God, however, approves of the baptism of little children is shown by this, namely, that God gives the Holy Ghost to those thus baptized [to many who have been baptized in childhood]. For if this baptism would be in vain, the Holy Ghost would be given to none, none would be saved, and finally there would be no Church. [For there have been many holy men in the Church who have not been baptized otherwise.]
We would like to thank all the members who took the time and made the effort to respond to our thread. We actually sent the entire thread to our friend, let’s call him “Bruce” and suggested that he could take part in the discussion directly by going on the Catholic Answers website (for this and any other questions he might have about Catholicism), but he chose to simply send us this reply:
“I have read the issues re: baptizing infants in various books and pamphlets before (In all of our discussions, “Bruce” never provides specific names) and do not find the arguments compelling.”
“Jesus commanded his disciples to be baptized (Matt 28:19-20) . . . Our baptism becomes an act of obedience as we submit to the Lordship of Christ, being baptized in response to his command . . . Jesus was baptized as an example for us to identify with Him and His cause . . . The word ‘baptize’ means ‘to dip, plunge, submerge.’ Our baptism by definition, then, is complete immersion in water (Acts 8:36-38) . . . Baptism is for those who have expressed their belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord (Acts 2:41) . . . Only baptism by immersion capable of fully representing the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the believer’s death in sin, burial of the old life, and resurrection to a new life in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:12). For this reason baptism is not essential for salvation that has already taken place in the life of the believer . . . For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives
. . . Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives . . . We are no longer slaves to sin . . . For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin . . . And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him (Romans 6:4-8) . . . Every baptism in the Bible was by immersion . . . For example Philip and the eunuch (Acts 8:38-39) . . . Since immersion was the mode being used we can conclude that the families you cited were also immersed . . Not all Protestants immerse . . . Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ all sprinkle infants . . . Wesley, Calvin and Luther all agreed that immersion was the best way to picture a burial and resurrection . . . There are differences among Protestant denominations . . . Baptism is one of the areas where we disagree . . . This does not prevent groups working together to evangelize and do good works . . . We can at the end of the day stand and recite the Apostle’s Creed. Other than my question about purgatory I cannot think of any area of Catholicism where I have been in error and the only reason I had the question about purgatory is because an uninformed Catholic told me it was out . . . Now that I know that it is still in I cannot imagine why anyone would change . . . The sacrifice of Christ on the cross negates the need for the soul of the believer to go there . . . If you were invited to go to the immersion of one of your kids how would you handle it? Would they be giving up their salvation by becoming Evangelical Protestants?” (N.B. We have continually suggested that “Bruce” - who was born Protestant, but has changed denominations several times and is presently a non-denominational Evangelical - read a book about Catholicism by a Catholic author, but he claims that he knows Catholicism and does not hold the typical Protestant misconceptions, misperceptions and myths about the Faith. We have also suggested several times that, should he want to read the official Church position, The Catechism of the Catholic Church can be accessed online).
We welcome any reaction to this posting and any suggestions we might offer to “Bruce” on this topic in particular or on Catholicism in general.
I’m not convinced that Acts 8 indicates that the eunuch was necessarily baptized by immersion. It simply says they went down into the water.
Every Lutheran Baptism I have witnessed has been by pouring, not by sprinkling. It also needs to be mentioned that the Didache gives us guidelines from the early Church: "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**."*
Immersion may be preferential, but it is not the only valid method.
Although Immersion was used in some cases, I suggest that in the case of the Philippian jailor that he and his family were were baptized by pouring since it was the middle of the night and they had just finished washing the apostles wounds.
Moreover, the DIDACHE which is an authentically early church document that dates from the same time as the New Testament says that pouring was common as well.
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, Matthew 28:19 in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
Rather than re-post all of Bruce’s response, and in light of him not seeing infant baptism as acceptable yet, I would point him to the numerous instances in Scripture where the faith of another is justifiable and transferable to another being (thus diminishing his ‘need’ for personal saving faith at the time of baptism). The Centurian, Lydia, the father of the possessed boy, etc. - all examples of the faith of one being ‘acceptable’ to save another…
And, the Catholic Church is completely comfortable with the concept of each person needing to come to a person faith in Christ. We call it the Sacrament of Confirmation. (Found in Acts with the laying on of hands).
I rather like the idea of turning his anti-infant baptism thoughts away from the Catholic Church. They seem to have put blinders on him to be open to see this in a different way. The is a you-tube video from a Presbyterian minister, and Protestant thought leader internationally, by Dr. Bryan Chapell where he discusses ‘why we baptize infants’. His view is most certainly NOT Catholic (he says the water doesn’t have any power, etc.), but it argues for infant baptism in a uniquely Protestant way that in the end is about as close as any Reformed Church can be to the Catholic Church. (Other than water not having power, he does use Scripture to explain why it must be done…which is a question that I have asked him personally to explain and haven’t received an answer yet). Dr. Chapell lives and preaches near me, and I have spoken with him many times about this and other topics in an effort to build unity between him and our Diocese.
It has been my experience that treating Baptism Sacramentally often stems from an issue that is a bit more complex to unravel. Many Protestant Evangelical groups can’t get past humans having any single bit to do with our personal salvation…(other than accepting Christ) and so they struggle with doing ANYTHING that could be seen as ‘works’ in order to be redeemed. Digging down to that and working through that might get you past baptism in particular with Bruce.
The water itself doesn’t have the power to take away sins. It is the operation of the Holy Spirit, working with the washing with water, which takes away sins.
Also, remember that confirmation was originally administered together with baptism, so infants would have been baptized, confirmed and communed, just as is done in many non-Latin Catholic Churches today.
OK, but then I don’t see you addressing those arguments.
"Jesus commanded his disciples to be baptized (Matt 28:19-20) . . . Our baptism becomes an act of obedience as we submit to the Lordship of Christ, being baptized in response to his command . . . Jesus was baptized as an example for us to identify with Him and His cause . . . The word ‘baptize’ means ‘to dip, plunge, submerge.’ Our baptism by definition, then, is complete immersion in water (Acts 8:36-38)
Doesn’t say that he was completely immersed.
But I agree that immersion is the preferable way (having deeper symbolic meaning), just not the only valid way, to baptize. As was stated in the Didache (which Church Militant already pointed out).
Pointing to the original meaning of “baptize” is a fine example of the Epistemological Fallacy.
. . . Baptism is for those who have expressed their belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord (Acts 2:41) .
Doesn’t say here that expression of belief is a prerequisite of baptism.
Only baptism by immersion capable of fully representing the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the believer’s death in sin, burial of the old life, and resurrection to a new life in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:12).
Yes, the symbolism is greater in immersion, I agree. Just not required.
For this reason baptism is not essential for salvation that has already taken place in the life of the believer .
For what reason? I must’ve missed it; no reason was given for this belief.
For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives
You do realize that Christ’s burial wasn’t a “complete immersion” in the dirt, right?
Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives . . . We are no longer slaves to sin . . . For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin . . . And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him (Romans 6:4-8) . . .
All well and good, but a non sequitor unrelated to the discussion at hand.
Every baptism in the Bible was by immersion . . . For example Philip and the eunuch (Acts 8:38-39) . .
He’s repeating himself.
Since immersion was the mode being used we can conclude that the families you cited were also immersed .
This is called “begging the question.” And quite blatantly, too.
Not all Protestants immerse . . . Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ all sprinkle infants .
Ask Bruce how he supposes that people were baptized in houses (of people of moderate means) throughout the NT? Only the very richest would have a pool.
Acts 9:17-18, Acts 22:16
I fully understand and believe in what the Church teaches, the the Holy Spirit works through the water to wash away our sins. I made that point because in the video I suggested, that was NOT what the Presbyterian PCA minister was saying…I apologize if I didn’t make myself clear.
And, while tradition demonstrates that while you may well be correct that the Sacraments were commonly administered together, Acts 8 suggests that this was not always the case correct? And administering the two Sacraments separately is most common for young children…while performing them together is most common for adults. (So we agree).
Again, I was trying to give fair warning that a non-Catholic church will not be fully in line with Catholic teaching, while also demonstrating that ‘Bruce’ has set his sights on fighting against the Catholic Church on an issue that the vast majority of his Protestant brothers and sisters would come closer to agreement with the Catholic than they would to his denomination…and therefor, hopefully pull his blinders off about infant baptism…
A question for ‘Bruce’: "When St. Paul was baptized, how was HE immersed? Scripture itself tells us that he was told to ‘ARISE and be baptized’…and he was inside a house…I might challenge ‘Bruce’ to explain how St. Paul was immersed while standing indoors? To jump to an inference that he walked to the river is to replace one ‘man-made’ interpretation for another. As Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, etc., we have Scripture AND tradition ‘on our side’…
And as FatherKnowsBest has rightly indicated, immersion and pouring are both valid in Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, etc. faiths…pouring is simply more practical. Pouring does zero to diminish ones faith…since it isn’t faith in the water that we believe in, but faith in what Christ promised to accomplish THROUGH that water. Christ does the work.