Infant Baptism

This post will be a little diff than my others in that i am looking for feedback and discussion.

Growing up the thought of paedobaptism vs credobaptism never even crossed my mind. In fact i just assumed it was a catholic practice and had no biblical basis behind it.

With me being married and the thought of kids in the future this subject has now come to the front of my mind.

Is there a place for infant baptism within Christandom? is baptism a replacement of circumsicion in the old testament? What is the scriptural basis for or against?

I have read some of both sides of the argument and must say i have not seen anything on both ends that really gives me a definitive answer.

i know this is a non-essential doctrinal point, and that either view could be right or wrong, but i am basically wanting to breath some life into the blog. and what better way than to bring discussion to it.

I was reading this lecture from Dr. Kim Riddlebarger and he gives a couple of credobaptism (belivers baptism) objections and paedpbaptism responses to those objections.
so far this lecture (along with r.c sproul’s sermon)has made teh most sense to me..

here are the objections credobaptist have with infant baptism…

1. “There is a clear command to baptize believers but no command to baptize infants”

2. “The Scriptural order is always believe and then be baptized (see Acts 11:14; 16:15, 31; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:16)” [Ryrie, Basic Theology, 423]. According to Nettles, “Every Baptism recorded is a baptism of a professed believer (e.g., Acts 8:12; 35-38)” [Nettles, “Baptists” 22]. “In this infant baptism is expressly contradicted” [Strong, Systematic Theology, 952].

3. “Baptism is the initiatory rite into a believing community; the church. Therefore, it should only be done to believers” [Ryrie, Basic Theology, 423; cf. Also Strong, Systematic Theology, 958; and Nettles, “Baptists” 23-25, and Welty, “A Critical Evaluation of Paedobaptism,” who’s argument about the New Covenant and the character of the church we will view in some detail later–see # 7].

4. When all household passages are taken into view, two significant conclusions can be reached. One, the descriptions given of households never mention an infant and show that a household does not necessarily include infants. Two, every description of baptized households gives compelling evidence that all the baptized people exhibited personal faith before they were baptized. They were instructed, they feared God, they rejoiced, they served” [Nettles, “Baptists” 22-23]. According to Charles Ryrie, “The age of the children is never mentioned in any passage that mentions household baptism. But it is said that all who were baptized in those households believed. This, then, would exclude infants from being included in the baptisms” [Ryrie, Basic Theology, 423; cf Ericksen, Christian Theology III. 1102-1103].

5. A fifth line of argumentation taken by many Baptists is to show the supposedly implausible nature of the logical conclusions of some of proof-texts for infant baptism. Ryrie objects that “If 1 Corinthians 7:14 allows or requires the baptism of children in a household where there is a believing parent, then it would also allow or require the baptism of the unbelieving mate” [Ryrie, Basic Theology, 423]. The same case is made by some that if baptism replaces circumcision, why are females baptized, when baptism was only limited to males? This supposedly proves a basic hermeneutic of discontinuity. Calvinistic Baptist Greg Welty argues that the supposed inconsistency of the fact that paedobaptists baptize their infants but do not serve them the Lord’s Supper is a great problem, since while arguing for continuity, on this point, paedobaptists “smuggle in discontinuities not warranted by the text of Scripture, but required if insoluble difficulties in the practice of infant baptism are to be avoided” [Welty, “A Critical Evaluation of Paedobaptism,” 9-11].

6. According to Tom Nettles, “Baptists also point to the reality that everyone accepts believers baptism no matter what else they may add….Those who accept infant baptism, therefore, must say that it is the same as Believer’s Baptism or it is different. If different then there are two theologies of baptism, one plain in Scripture and one hidden. If paedobaptists…must consider infants as believers capable of giving evidence of their belief, or that the belief of a substitute is in no way inferior to their own, that is a difficult case to prove” [Nettles, “Baptists” 23].

7. Reformed hermeneutics and the stress upon continuity lends itself to the practice of infant baptism. But don’t the Scriptures teach that in the New Covenant [Jeremiah 31:31 ff], “they will all know me,” and therefore, even under covenantal terms, infant baptism is necessarily excluded?

8. What then, according to Baptists, are we to do with our children? Since the Scriptures say they are fallen and sinful, we withhold from them the sign of new life.

are these enough reasons to reject infant baptism all together? seems the crux of their objections is that there is no clear commandment in scripture supporting infant baptism.

Also a side note…not one paedobaptist i have read or heard denies believers baptism. just something to think about..

so let the discussion begin. please be nice, and do not revert to strawmen or Ad Hominem please..and try to use scripture as much as you can…


15 Responses to “Infant Baptism”

  1. centuri0n Says:

    Ah, baptism. I think it’s my favorite blog subject.

    Here are a few thought on the subject:

    One of the historical facts of the church is that up through the 3rd century, by a long shot the practice of adult baptism far outstripped the practice of infant baptism. So whatever argument you might make in favor of paedobaptism, you have to account for its somewhat-lopsided practice of credobaptism in the first 300 years of the church.

    But in that same set of facts, there is no doubt that infant baptism was practiced to some extent and was not completely absent from the pre-nicene church. So if you are a credobaptist (like me), whatever you think the NT says about baptism, it doesn’t say “and never baptize your babies”, and the practice of the first 300 years of church history does not exclude that even the apostles may have baptized some infants. (If you’re looking for a very fast summary of the ancient practice, go to and find Schaff’s History of the Christian Church and look {I think} in the pre-nicene volume)

    So the history of the practice of baptism doesn’t exclude one or the other — but what does it witness against? One of the more rhetorically-powerful books on this subject is Doug Wilson’s To a Thousand Generations, and it’s cheap, and it’s short, but it’s meaty. In that book, Wilson makes a case for covenantal baptism that is very emotionally stirring, very covenant-focussed, and very apparently based on “the Bible”.

    However, Wilson’s net point is that the covenant sign passed from circumcision to baptism in the Apostolic age, and in that those who ought to have been circcumcised under the Law were now to be baptized into grace. As far as raw logic goes, you can’t really punch a lot of holes in his syllogisms (well, maybe a little): the problem is that if this is what the first 2 generations of believers believed and taught, why are there so relatively-few infant baptisms up through the time of Augustine?

    Whatever we think the NT teaches, the teaching of the Apostles resulted not in infant covenant members as a norm but as adults being baptized on a confession of faith as the normative result. In that way, since we are given no explicit order to baptize the infants of believers, and the testimony of history is that the earliest church was somewhat demur in baptizing all infants, I think we have to ask under what circumstance can we rightly baptize infants, and whether it ought to be the normative practice or the exceptional or extreme practice.

    I think we shouldn’t baptize every baby, but that we ought to baptize every believer, identifying him with Christ.

    That’s a conversation starter, yes?

  2. jvmoore1 Says:

    Thanks for the coments…and also thanks for your site!! I have you on my daily list of blogs to reed! Love your wit and cartoons also!! great job!

  3. tmichaelson Says:

    Okay, I am not sure of anything. Reform theology makes good sense to me, as well answers questions. Could help me know start with the most basic understanding of infant baptism. Even if you do believe in belivers baptising their babies, what about after they believe (the children). Please start simple.

    Thanks and Blessings,

  4. tmichaelson Says:

    Okay, I am not sure of anything. Reform theology makes good sense to me, as well answers questions. Could help me know start with the most basic understanding of infant baptism. Even if you do believe in belivers baptising their babies, what about after they believe (the children). Please start simple it seems there is something here. As we who have believed after not growing up in a Chirstian home, now have children who have grown up “believing” seem not to beable many times to defend their faith. Are they believing God or are they believing in God. Big difference. We need to be teaching them the legacy for which they come.

    Thanks and Blessings,

  5. jvmoore1 Says:


    I am still studying and reading on the issue, so I can only give you my take so far. Please do not hold this as the Reformed stance.
    From what I can tell baptism of infantscomes from the view that baptism is the new covenant sign just as circumsicion was to Israel. There is also the view that in the New Testament you see households being baptized and what are the chances those houses did not have infants?

    There is the discussion of the fact that there is no mention of babies being baptised in the New Testament, but I must say there is also no mention of baby dedication mentioned as the norm either. There is also no mention of women taking communion either, so you could present a case on that as well.

    An interesting point RC Sproul makes is that most credobaptist say that for someone to be baptised they must be saved. Now, how do we go about checking this? They walked down an aisle? Stayed at church for more than 6 months? Live a perfect life for more than a day? You see where I am going? Just because someone may outwardly go through the motions, does that solidify their baptism? No more than a church baptising a baby as a vow to raise the child under the authority of scripture and the church.

    Like I said earlier I am still working through this and studying. I am hoping someone of more scholarly wisdom can pop up and leave a comment that will clean up everything I have said.

    It is a wonderful thing to dig deep in the Word and wrestle with doctrine and see what is right, not what is the norm/tradition.

  6. cnieuwsma Says:

    I was wondering how credobaptists would explain John 15:1-6 where we are branches on the tree of Christ? God is the vinedresser and he prunes the vine. He cuts off the bad branches and grafts in new ones. This only makes sense if you believe that the branches are baptized people who aren’t regenerate.

  7. Chris Rosebrough Says:

    In the course of my Christian journey I have repented of my credobaptist beliefs and have come to belief that scripture supports paedobaptism.

    However, it should be noted that the branch of evangelicalism that I grew up in taught that Baptism was something “I” did to show the world I had made a commitment to Christ. (This is a patently Pelagian way of viewing Baptism and salvation)

    When I was first confronted with the practice of infant baptism, I wrote it off as ‘false tradition’. When debating the topic I was all to happy to point out the fact that there are no infant baptisms in the NT. But as I studied scripture more carefully I realized that this argument was as strong as the Jehovah’s Witness’ argument that the Trinity is a false teaching because the word ‘trinity’ doesn’t appear in the Bible.

    What convinced me to turn?

    It began with a study of baptism that FIRST answered the question, What does the SCRIPTURE say that baptism accomplishes? This is primary! The question “Who is baptism for” is secondary.

    When one looks at the passages with the primary question in mind, one finds that scripture says that in baptism, our sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38), our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), that we are baptized into Christ’s death and we are buried with Christ (Rom 6:3-4), we are clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27), and we are raised with Christ and our hearts are circumcised by Christ (Col 2:11-12).

    These verses rocked my world. I had NEVER been taught that baptism did any such things. The Biblical emphasis of baptism is on What Christ is Doing not what “I” was doing. Furthermore, it requires faith to believe that these passages are true and apply to me.

    This look at Baptism is what set me on the road to understanding and believing infant baptism.

  8. anotherpilgrim Says:

    I just wanted to suggest a resource to you.

    I am studying this topic myself (with some sense of urgency) and recently came across this link.

    Following the reasoning presented in it, I am convinced that arguments that are currently advocated against paedobaptism have no strength. However, I’m still not clear as to the positive case FOR infant baptism. I’m just clear that there is no clear case AGAINST it.

    But hope it helps.

  9. mikey Says:

    Francis Schaeffer on Baptism

  10. Ed Says:

    Your link to Riddlebarger’s lecture doesn’t work. I believe
    the lecture you are refering to can now be found at:

  11. Marina Says:

    One biblical fact is that Christ was not baptised or infant sprinked as a child, but when he was an adult, he had to fulfill all things and was baptised – by full immersion of course.. I guess we have a choice, do what the scriptures tells us to do or do what man wants us to do. The scriptures clearly lays out to us that baptism can only be done when a man or woman capable of believing the scriptures, realizing their situation before God, being in in a sinful state, repents of their sin and then is baptised. Baptism being a death of the old man of sin and a rebirth of the new man of faith. Belief, repentance and baptism and walking in the ways of God…. very simple, yet very complex for the modern man who wants to manipulate Gods Word to fit his/her way of life…….
    The key to all answers is very simple.. What does the Bible say? What did Jesus do? and What would Jesus do?

  12. femystic Says:

    If you are still interested in this topic, you may find it useful to read from Alexander Campbell of the Restoration Movement. Raised a Presbyterian in Scotland, at the birth of his own child he began to question and study the practice and purposes of baptism. His study and reflection caused him to move away from an acceptance of infant baptism to believer’s baptism as the proper form; and from sprinkling or pouring to full immersion. See: Campbell, Alexander, Christian Baptism With Its Antecedents and Consequents. 1851. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1951

    One would also be prudent to examine the Jewish practice of baptism which John the Baptist was schooled in. It was also a baptism by full immersion and done as a ritual cleansing to restore oneself to purity (washing away sins).

  13. Dave A Says:

    “Why do Christians do…Infant Baptism?”

    “Is Paedobaptism (the practice of baptizing adult converts to Christ and their infant children really drawn from the Bible) or is it just theological baggage leftover over from early Catholicism by doting parents and pastors?”
    While I was baptized as an infant, I was re-baptized as April 15th of 1995 on public profession of my faith, just months shy of my 3rd year of receiving Christ. I was eager to declare to the world, that I once was lost, but now was being baptized as the Scriptures taught—‘after believing the Gospel’. It was a slam-dunk: ‘unfaithful’ churches dunk babies; ‘biblical’ churches only dunk believers.

    Smart Guys Who Made My Certainty…well…Less Certain
    When going to seminary my own pastor Alistair Begg (his good friends John MacArthur, Stuart Briscoe, John Piper) along with other Moody radio affiliated preachers: Tony Evans, David Jeremiah, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll—almost all the radio preachers I knew of were Baptists. As a young Christian, I just simply assumed: ‘pastors who take the Bible seriously know infant baptism is not Biblical!’ Yet, in seminary, it disturbed me to discover that brilliant theologians with ‘theological firepower’ (JI Packer, John Stott, Michael Horton, Martin Lloyd Jones, Sinclair Ferguson, Eugene Peterson, RC Sproul, JB Philips, Tim Keller, Jay Adams, James Montgomery Boice, CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, Francis Schaeffer, David Wells, Gerhardus Vos, Martin Luther, John Calvin, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, many Puritans) claimed infant baptism as Biblical. “Were the American radio preachers who shaped my earliest Christian days right; or where these theological ‘Yodas’ (who Baptist radio preachers looked up to) right on baptism? ”

    Don’t Know Much About History…
    I noticed that churches and denominations with the strongest heritage of theological education (Lutheran, Congregational, Anglican, Presbyterian, Orthodox, CRC, Episcopal and Catholic) accepted infant-baptism; denominations and churches that de-emphasized or were mildly skeptical of theological education, (Baptist, independent, Fundamental, Bible churches) favored ‘believer’ baptism only.

    Does “Newer” Always Mean Better?
    Although Christian practice never rests exclusively upon historical considerations (and Biblical evidence weighs more heavily) if the vast majority of Christendom (throughout history, and around the world) has understood a practice as consistent with Scripture, we should be suspicious of the newer ‘western practice’ before questioning the ancient, standing practice of a global church. Not only the Catholic Church, but also most of the Protestant Reformers—Lutheran, Presbyterian, Congregational, and Anglican held to covenantal baptism (converts to Christ plus their kids). While they differed on baptism’s meaning, they stood united on the recipients of baptism.

    The Survey Says…
    Survey church history and you’ll find: 1. Jewish history prior to Christ, for 2000 years, assumed that Jewish infants belonged to God’s covenant people, standing with their parents as a family unit: They were circumcised, receiving a permanent ‘tattoo’ of belonging to God. This Old Testament paradigm (that God deals with families) is assumed in both testaments. 2. The Christian church for 1500 years after Christ, assumed this principle of family solidarity—seeing believers children as part of a believing family unit. There is no debate on this point. The church father Tertullian was apparently the only exception to this understanding. But the point stands that the entire, global church for 1500 years almost exclusively embraced infant baptism as Biblical. 3. German Anabaptists (1522) were the 1st Christians in the history of the church, who baptized only adult believers for the same reasons as today’s American Baptists do.

    Asking the Culturally Relevant Question…
    If you traveled to the pacific island of Fiji and saw loincloth-wearing natives, rubbing blue gourd syrup on their feet, you’d shed your American biases (and try slip into tropical Fiji culture) asking, “What does this practice mean to Fijians?” Imagine you entered a time machine, traveled back in time to better understand the roots of your Christian faith. Arriving on ancient, Near Eastern soil, you could adopt a ‘tourist posture,’ “How do I as a member of First Bible Church in Freeport see the religious standing of my kids (only using the New Testament)?” Or you could ‘go native’ immersing yourself in their world, “How do these 1st century Palestinian Christians (shaped by the Old Testament) view the religious standing of their kids?” How should their perspective affect how I read my Bible?” You have to ‘go native’ to understand how Old Testament believers viewed their kid’s spiritual standing (before deciding on baptism).

    The Scriptures Say…
    I. Continuity between the Old and New Testaments of sacred Scripture. As a general interpretive principle (with some exceptions) it is wise to assume continuity unless we find explicit Biblical reasons not to. Simply put, its best to assume that God hasn’t changed His ways of doing things, unless we have clear Biblical reasons for change. This differs from the understanding that we should assume God has changed His way unless He repeats Himself in the New. .
    II. Continuity of God’s people. Rather than there being two separate peoples of God, the Bible views Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church as one body of covenant people. Romans 11:11-25 claims that believing Jews and Gentiles form one ‘olive tree’ God has one covenant people, spanning two testaments (i.e. grafted into the same ‘olive tree’, not two separate ‘olive’ trees.
    III. Continuity of the basis for salvation. Salvation has always come to God’s people in the same way—i.e. by means of Christ’s righteousness, received by faith alone. Salvation has always been a gift, thru a redeemer—a plan beginning in the Old Testament.
    IV. Continuity of Family Solidarity. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament we see that God issues His covenantal promise to families, not just individual people. 1) God’s Covenant’s promises, both the promises of grace (and requirement to obey God by faith) are given to family units corporately. This paradigm makes sense of the household (or family) baptisms we see in Acts.
    V. Continuity of Covenant signs. Rather than Old Testament circumcision merely being a national, ethnic sign, the Bible teaches that circumcision was supposed to signify the same spiritual realities as New Testament Baptism.

    Lite Baptism: All The Babies…But None Of That ‘Wet Stuff’
    Baptistic churches (SBC, Independent, Fundamentalist, Bible) also perform a religious rite with babies. Oddly, this practice of “baby dedication” has no biblical or historical support, other than a taken-out-of-context, “baby dedication” of Samuel by Hannah. It is basically a baptism, minus water (or theology). Near as I can tell, these ‘dry-baptisms’ are done because parents want their churches to do some religious ritual to “mark” their baby in some special way, as ‘belonging to God’. That impulse is a natural one for a Christian parent. Ironically, the desire has a far better biblical basis than ‘baby dedication’ does as a practice. Ask a Bible church pastor why he does baby dedications, and then listen for his biblical rational. Try it. What you’ll hear is a basically practical, “we do it to ‘shepherd’ our families and care for our church’s children…’ You’ll hear lite biblical rationale for this widely practiced baptism substitute .

    According to Scripture, both circumcision and baptism mean the same thing: both are signs of God’s righteousness, which comes by faith Rom.4:1. But can’t baptized babies grow up into adults who reject Christianity? Sure. But so can people baptized after professing faith in Christ. Like wedding rings, circumcision and baptism are signs of the Gospel, worn faithfully or unfaithfully. Both are signs, which require ongoing faith, repentance, and perseverance in Christ, and bring blessing for faithfulness, and curses for unfaithfulness. Heb.10:29; 1 Jn. 2:19 .

  14. Tim Etherington Says:

    Brother, you and I covered this on the Webb board didn’t we? I don’t think I have much more to say about this. I’m more convinced than ever before that covenantal baptism is done upon a profession of faith.

  15. paul tatro Says:

    I would like some information about whether or not infants miscarages or other deaths ofchildren would be in heaven.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: