Why I Baptized My Babies (Part 1)

I’m very new to the paedobaptist (infant baptism) camp, so I won’t pretend to be the best apologist for infant baptism. There are many people who have come before me who have done a far better job making a case for it.

My only purpose here is to share the intellectual journey I’ve been on as a father: What brought me to the place where I decided to have my babies baptized?

In this post I’ll mention some of the initial observations that started to open me up to the possibility.

Baptist by default

Not by any deliberate choice on my part, I absorbed a “baptistic” theology growing up: a basic belief that water baptism should always follow a sincere confession of faith in Christ for salvation. After all, that’s what I experienced. I knew other people out there baptized their babies but never much saw the sense in it. Baptism without personal faith is useless, right?

My opinion about this was affirmed by a cursory glance at the New Testament. Out of all the passages and stories about baptism, where do we find an infant being immersed in water? Nowhere. Clearly if God wanted babies to be baptized he would have included at least one story in the New Testament about it. But He didn’t. Case closed.

No Baptist kids in the Bible either

One day it was pointed out to me that just as there was no example in the New Testament of a baby who was baptized by believing parents, so there is also no example of a child being raised in a Christian home who postpones baptism until he makes a personal confession of faith. In other words, just as there are no explicit stories of baptized infants, there are also no stories of children being raised in a Baptist fashion.

When I realized this I knew answering the question could not be settled merely by appealing to unambiguous references telling the timing of a child’s baptism.

Just when should our children be baptized?

Can my children call God “Father”?

I started teaching my oldest son to memorize the Lord’s Prayer from an early age. Like many kids, he knows it by heart. Perhaps one of the sweetest sounds in all the world to a Christian parent is the voice of their own child reciting the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples 2000 years ago.

Also, like many Christian parents, I’ve also had countless conversations with my kids about their need for salvation. We have a growing collection of children’s Bibles that we hope will capture our children’s attention. I have spoken to them about the cross, the resurrection, the need for faith and repentance, and the gift of eternal life more times than I can count. Like many parents, I long to see my sons become true worshipers of God.

But somewhere along the line I realized the inconsistency in my own practice. At his very young age, I did not have any firm conviction that my child had regenerate faith. Even if by God’s power my child had been born again at the age of two, how was I to know, given his limited abilities to express any comprehension in the gospel. And yet, despite this, I was training my son to say, “Our Father,” as if he had truly been adopted into God’s family, as if he was a child of God.*

So how was I to understand the status of a baby born into my family? Was he (as Doug Wilson would satirically say) the newly arrived Amalekite in the high chair? Or should he be taught from a young age to call on God as Father and believe that his prayers are heard?

Aside from the issue of the timing of baptism, this was the chief questions plaguing me as a father: Just how does God see my children? Are they merely lost heathen? Or are they shown some kind of special favor?

These were some of the initial questions that set me searching for clarity.

. . . .

Read all the posts in this series:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9

. . . .

* I am not of the opinion that everyone can call God “Father.” While God is the Creator and progenitor of all mankind, and every patriarch on earth ultimately derives his name from the heavenly Father (Eph. 3:15), it is only when we receive the “Spirit of adoption” that we can cry out “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). To call all people children of God only depreciates the doctrine of adoption which is one of the chief benefits offered in the gospel.

2 thoughts on “Why I Baptized My Babies (Part 1)

  1. Hey Luke…been reading your stuff here on infant baptism and I must say it is interesting. Here are a a couple of questions I have for you:
    1. Would you encourage an adult who is searching out God, but has not yet made the decision to fully trust God with their lives to be baptized as part of that process?
    2. What do you do with the concept of identification which is intrinsic in the act of baptism?

    • Hi Jim. Long time, no see.

      Great questions. I’m not sure how I would answer the first question, to tell you the truth. It is not something I have thought about. Initially I would say I would not recommend someone being baptized who wasn’t committed to Christ, but then I’d have to think it over some. Baptism, as far as I see it in the New Testament, is for individuals or households who are identifying themselves with Christ, not for individuals who are “on the edge.” But then maybe you have other thoughts about that.

      As for identification, I assume you are talking about baptism being a rite associated with being identified with Christ (union with Christ). Is this what you are talking about?

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