In our last Podcast 035, we discussed in detail the doctrine of “Original Sin.” If you have not listened to that podcast yet, I want to encourage you to go back and listen to it before we finish up with the topic of Infant Baptism in this podcast.
Millions of people believe they were baptized as an infant and this poses a particularly thorny problem.
Infant Baptism becomes one of the strongest objections to obeying the Gospel as an adult. The argument is pretty simple, it goes like this. “I don’t think I need to be baptized as an adult because I was baptized as a baby.”
This issue becomes a huge stumbling block for people who are discovering the Biblical Plan of Salvation for the first time because they have gone to church all their life and lived pretty righteous and decent lives. They believe their sins were washed away when they were baptized as an infant. They point back to their infant baptism, recognizing they have lived this life of respect for God and this becomes the proof it their faith.
Now that we understand there is no such thing as Original Sin and therefore no need for infant baptism, the way is clear and paved for the individual to obey the Gospel as an adult.
Let me restate something from our last lesson. Please listen carefully! The doctrine of “Original Sin” is not found in the Bible. Therefore, the entire doctrine of Infant Baptism crumbles under that weight. Infant baptism is just something men made up because they had to have a response to the perceived problem of Original Sin. Without the problem, there is no response required.
Let’s Make a New Tradition!
Infant baptism is a massive tradition, practiced for over a thousand years. In our modern era the doctrine has radically morphed into something new and even further outside the Biblical realm. Check this out. What I am about to tell you will graphically depict just how easily people buy into completely unscriptural teachings.
The doctrine of Original Sin is fading in our modern church era, and churches do not believe babies need to be baptized… but, they just can’t stop doing it cold turkey. So, in order to appease their congregations, they don’t explain the doctrinal error and turn away from it as an un-biblical practice, they just rename it. Let’s call it a “Baby Dedication.”
This charming event is where the parents baptize an infant, not for the remission of Original Sin but to dedicate the infant, and themselves, to bringing up the child in the training and admonition of the Lord. How can anyone complain about that?
Now I’ll grant that it is painfully difficult to get rid of such a heart-warming, Hallmark moment which brings the whole family together! It’s so adorable. But what are we thinking? Nowhere in all of scripture do we see a parent sprinkling water on an infant’s head as a dedication to the Lord!
Why are we doing this? How easily people accept religious practices without even considering their Biblical validity. This one is particularly interesting to me because it is such a new practice and it’s easy to see how we got here.
Additional Problems with Infant Baptism
Now, there are some other problems with infant baptism outside of the fact that there is no such thing as Original Sin which I suppose we should mention, just to be thorough.
First, if you think you were baptized as an infant, how do you know? Who told you that? The truth is, no one knows for sure if they really were baptized as a baby. Sure, they may have a certificate, some photos and a cute little baptismal gown preserved in mothballs but they still have no recollection of the event themselves! Do you want to base your eternal security on something that you have no personal awareness of? Do you want to base your eternal security on something that was done to you long before you were able to desire it, understand it, believe it and accept it? I don’t!
Second, who’s faith was working when you were baptized as an infant? Consider this passage about baptism:
“In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”
We must not depend on anyone’s faith but our own. Just as we are not responsible for anyone else’s sin, we are not responsible for anyone else’s faith. Each person is raised with Christ in baptism through their own personal faith in God, not the faith of the parents.
The third problem with infant baptism is; it is usually done by sprinkling water on the infant’s head. This would be the “mode” of baptism. In our next podcast, we will dive into this topic in and overwhelming fashion but for now, please understand, the Greek word translated “baptize” means to cover completely. Infant baptism is done by sprinkling, not immersion.
Finally, our goal is to imitate the first century church as well as possible. Do we ever see infants being baptized in the scriptures? No. Do we ever see a baptism service? No. Let’s never go beyond what is written and make up things even if they are well-intentioned and tragically adorable.
How Did it Start?
Infant baptism, as a tradition, probably started as a result of people erroneously equating Old Testament circumcision with New Testament baptism. In the Old Testament, parents were required to circumcise their babies on the eighth day after birth. For some reason, people began equating circumcision with baptism and decided to baptize their babies shortly after birth. There is one glaring problem with this thinking… circumcision is only performed on males. If we want to equate the two, shouldn’t we only be baptizing male babies? There is no relationship between circumcision and baptism. For a complete review of this topic, please see A Faith that Obeys Podcast 025 – Baptism is Like Circumcision.
A Silent Secret
Now, there is one final thing on this topic which really excites me. It’s what this whole Infant Baptism debate does for our main argument, “Is baptism necessary for salvation?” I have been teasing this for the last three lessons and I even made a pretty bold assertion that the Anabaptists did not believe they were saved before their baptism. They did not believe in “faith alone.” I told you I would give you proof of that assertion.
Let’s go back to the Anabaptists and Catholics of the 1500s. Listen carefully. The central flash-point argument of that day was whether baptism was valid for infants or if only adults could be baptized, remember? But there is a glaring issue missing from their debate which reveals a huge story; and we never hear anyone talk about it.
What was the issue? I’ll tell you in a minute! Let me get this teed up!
Proof of Assertion
Do you remember the term “believers baptism?” Today, modern evangelicals think believer’s baptism means baptizing someone who is already saved as an outward sign or symbol. I think this is inconsistent with the original meaning of the term.
We have really good historical information about the Anabaptist movement, in part, because it was so violent. We know their positions very well. While some documents suggest that Anabaptists may have thought salvation occurred before baptism the absence of any argument regarding this subject speaks volumes. Understanding this silence provides a major revelation for our overall pro-baptism position. Listen carefully. Here’s the surprise.
Completely missing from the debate between the Anabaptists and the Catholics is the “why” of baptism. Everyone agreed why they were baptizing infants or adults. Both sides baptized people for the remission of sin. Catholics wanted their babies baptized because they were terrified they would be lost in their sins if they died prematurely. The Anabaptists were baptizing adults for the exact same reason. How do we know this to be true? Well, for the same reason I’ve just stated. Because we see no debates on the “why” of baptism, only the “who.” What this means for our main argument is pivotal. Their silence on this subject fortifies our position that water baptism is necessary for the remission of sin! There was never any debate about that!
I think this aspect of the history is amazing. When we take some time to think it through, it becomes obvious. I love to flip things on their head and ask the question, “What were they not arguing about?” That answer reveals quite a bit doesn’t it?
Now, the Real Issue
As I began this podcast, I told you about a particularly thorny problem. I told you that the issue of Infant Baptism becomes one of the greatest stumbling blocks for obeying the Gospel. Now, let me get a bit more personal with all humility and love.
Have you let your “Infant Baptism” be the reason you are resisting obedience to the Gospel as an adult? Do you honestly believe, after listening to everything we have studied, that infant baptism, specifically your baptism as a baby, was somehow an acceptable method for salvation? What more does God need to show you? Aren’t you ready to humbly and simply obey the Gospel? It’s time to surrender your heart and your life to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Over the years, I have watched so many really wonderful people reject the Biblical Plan of Salvation because they put their faith into something they did not do for themselves or for God. They put their faith in actions their parents took on their behalf. Don’t let this be your excuse for not obeying the Gospel as an adult.
Let’s strive for a faith which pushes beyond the emotional, a faith which pushes beyond the traditional. We are looking for something we call a saving faith. We are looking for A Faith that Obeys.Enjoy!