Baptism of Children, part 2

From the Baptist perspective, we should baptize believers of any age upon a credible profession of faith. The emphasis in these posts is that we should not put a minimum age on baptismal candidates. And the obvious reason is because the Bible never does. Let me speak to the fairly obvious inclusion of children in baptism:

Mark 10.14: “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Paedobaptists wrongly use this verse to argue for infant baptism. Baptists wrongly respond that this passage says nothing about baptism. Yes, it does not say anything explicit about baptism. But it is commanding us to allow children to come to Christ! So the question is “can a child desire to be a follower of Christ?” And if the answer is ‘yes,’ which it is, then we must think about how to help a child rightly respond to that faith.

Acts 2.38-39: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Paedobaptists wrongly use this verse to argue for infant baptism. Modern Baptists appear to ignore this verse: instead of “repent and be baptized,” in most Baptist churches it is “pray this prayer” or “walk this aisle.” So sad. The historic Baptist use of this verse seems right: if you or your child or anyone in the world hears the gospel, and desires forgiveness and eternal life, what should they do? Repent and be baptized. It does not get much simpler than that.

Acts 16.31-33: And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household”…and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.” Paedobaptists have then wrongly used all the “household”-type baptisms to assume that infants were included. Baptists have wrongly responded that we cannot assume infants are in these households. But if our understanding of Acts 2 is correct, then every “household”-type baptism in the NT should be understood as ‘everyone in the household who believes in Jesus repents and is baptized.’ It is a fairly simple hermeneutic. The command need not apply to infants, but to anyone who can hear and understand the gospel, including children of many ages.

Granted, much of the way we read these texts is based on our presuppositions and hermeneutics. But that is pretty much always the case. However, the above way of understanding these passages appears to not have to “force infants in” or “force children out” of any of the texts. Our only concern should be “what should a human being do when they hear the gospel and they want to respond in faith?” The biblical answer is ‘repent and be baptized.’

I hope these texts show a rightness to baptizing every believer with a credible profession of faith. Next time let’s look at the urgency of doing so.


2 responses to “Baptism of Children, part 2

  1. Good stuff! I just had the privilege to preach on Mark 10 and covered 14. I like your points and to add to what you said about that, I see the emphasis of that verse on the characteristics of a childlike faith, not on a chronological age. So the focus is on our complete dependence on the Lord regardless of age.
    I also would love to hear your thoughts on “re-baptism”. I have been wrestling with that for some time now. When I was baptized I believed in Jesus, I believed He is the Savior, I knew I needed to be forgiven of my sins and asked God to forgive me my sins. However, one church membership form asks, “Were you baptized after you committed your life to Jesus?” To that I would say, “No.” I was certainly not “committed” to Him. As cheesy as this phrase might be, it probably resonates with where I was in my understanding, “Jesus was my Savior, but He wasn’t my Lord.”
    Over time the Lord would slowly open my eyes to some misguided and incomplete teachings. Even repentance was not fully understood till after baptism. Truthfully, I still feel a long way to go. My eyes still slowly opening. The Lord still teaching me so much.
    Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts on rebaptism maybe in this series or even over a cup of coffee.

  2. Todd Morikawa

    thanks brother, I’m sure I will hit on some of these things in this series, but we should certainly grab coffee after I get back from vacation 🙂

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