Should Infants Be Baptized?
This article examines the Roman Catholic doctrine of infant baptism.
The scriptures used to support this doctrine are examined below.
"And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and
the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it he was indignant,
and said to them, 'Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for
to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever
does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.'
16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon
The Catholic stance reads a lot into these verses that simply isn't
there. These people brought their children to Jesus, He
touched their children, He told the others to let the children come to
him, He held them, He put his hands on them, and He blessed
them. However, it doesn't say (and there's no reason to
believe) that He baptized them in water, and we cannot presume that
they were infants. This passage refers to the simplicity of the gospel
message being accepted through child-like faith, and it's not
addressing the issue of water baptism.
"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. 39 For the promise is to you
and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the
Lord our God calls to him."
This passage offers a promise, but it's offered on an individual
basis. It doesn't offer a promise that will cover a person's
children based upon the parent's faith. Rather, it
offers a promise between God and the parent, as well as a promise
between God and the children. Also, it doesn't make the
promise effective for everyone at the same point in time. The
promise applies to the children in the same way that it does to the
adults: when they repent (change their mind and believe the
gospel) they will receive the
Holy Spirit. It in no way implies that the children can
receive the Holy Spirit on the basis of anything their parents do, such
as sprinkling them. Above all, it doesn't apply to infants,
who are incapable of understanding the gospel and repenting.
"This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the
covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised."
There is no basis in the Bible for treating water baptism like Old
Testament circumcision, thus baptizing infants. There is also
no Biblical basis for establishing the same rules for water baptism as
for circumcision; i.e., administering water baptism on the eighth day.
"One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of
Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of
God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said
by Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, with her household, she
besought us, saying, 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord,
come to my house and stay.' And she prevailed upon us."
Again, the phrase "with her household" does not imply that Lydia's
faith covered other household members who didn't believe the
gospel. The passage means that other members of her household
also believed the gospel, and were baptized in water as a public symbol
of their own faith in Christ. The word "household" doesn't
automatically include infants. In fact, there is not mention
of infants in Lydia's household.
1 Corinthians 1:16
"(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not
know whether I baptized anyone else.)"
Again, no infants are mentioned, and the term "household" doesn't
include any household members who didn't believe the gospel--infant or
not. If anything, 1 Corinthians 1:16 indicates that Paul did not place
primary emphasis on water baptism, as Catholicism does, because he
couldn't even remember for sure who he had baptized.
24 For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the
countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean
water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and
from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 A new heart I will give you,
and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your
flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will
put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be
careful to observe my ordinances.
Again, this passage is used by Catholics as a desperate attempt to
justify the sprinkling of infants merely because it has the word
"sprinkle" in it.
Salvation comes from God by grace through faith (see the article on "Do
We Go to Heaven Because of Certain Things We Do?"). Water
baptism certainly has no saving power, as was the case with infant
circumcision (Romans 2:28-29). Neither do I see a single
instance in the Bible where an infant was baptized.
Owen Weber 2009