Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baptizing Babies

It is unfortunate that the debates over baptism too often centre on the appropriate mode of baptism when the real issue of importance is that of age. Is there an age when children are too young to be baptized? In particular, should Christian parents baptize their babies?

It is on this question that there is more agreement than we may at first realize between Credo-Baptists and Paedobaptists believe Both are bound to assert that baptism is the outward sign of presumptive forgiveness of sins, presumptive regeneration and presumptive adoption into God’s covenant family. It is presumptive because the person who is baptised may later apostatise, and this remains just as true whether the person in question is a baby or a faith-professing adult. As humans we cannot truly know whether anyone is truly regenerate or a member of the "invisible covenant community" of the elect, since the faith-professing adult may apostatise on his deathbed just as the baptised infant may walk away from the faith when grown. The best we can do is presume that the person being baptized is regenerate. In the case of the faith-professing adult, such presumption can be made on the basis of his or her confession. In the case of the infant, such presumption can be made on the basis of the parents’ faith because of the myriad promises God has given to believing parents concerning the status of their children.

Of course, a Baptist will object that the Biblical cases of baptism are always preceded with confessions of faith. However, it should not be overlooked that in all such cases, someone is entering God’s covenant family from outside, whereas a child of believing parents is never outside but already in, a fact which is testified to by baptising them as soon as possible.

 

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