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.
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Read all the posts in this series:
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