Anyone who visits a Church in the Reformation Tradition will sooner or later learn that the children of Christians there are commonly baptized quite soon after they are born. Of course, many people know that liberal mainline churches baptize children, and many are aware that non-Protestant bodies baptize babies. Some realize that Lutheran or Episcopal denominations baptize babies and assume this is because these traditions didn’t quite break free from the grip of Roman Catholic traditionalism. But the fact is that sincerely Bible-believing, inerrancy-affirming Evangelical churches also baptize babies.
Babies are too young to give any sort of outward profession of faith, yet Reformed or Presbyterian ministers baptize them into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. They do not baptize infants because they are sentimentally attached to them, nor because that is what was traditionally done in the history of the Church.
Of course, Reformed or Presbyterian pastors are sentimentally attached to their children, as are we all. And there is very little doubt that all the way back to the Apostolic age the Church has always baptized the children of Christians.
Nevertheless, as powerful as those reasons are, they are not the reason that we practice paedobaptism (“baptism of infants”). No, we practice paedobaptism because we are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Bible teaches us to do so.
Many other Bible-believing Christians, however, are sure that the Bible does not teach paedobaptism. On the contrary, they think only those who verbally and convincingly profess faith in Jesus should be baptized. Indeed, conservative Reformed congregations are often visited by Christians from good churches–who hold to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the infallible Word of God and the final authority for all of life–who also think that paedobaptism is unbiblical. They are convinced that only those who have made a credible profession faith, in a way that is only possible when a person has reached a certain age. All such believers are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are glad to have them among us. The Baptist tradition, whether that is in their official denominational name or not, has done much good in North America. When Christians disagree they must do so in a Christian manner and hopefully this brief booklet will do just that.
Perhaps, you are one of these people who believes and has always been taught that one must first reach a certain age and make a profession of faith before being baptized. If so, this little essay is written for you. It is not written so much to change your mind, as to show you the way our minds work: How is it that we Reformed Christians both believe the Bible and practice paedobaptism? There are many cults out there, after all, who also claim to believe the Bible as the Word of God; yet these false religions reject the true God by denying key doctrines like the Trinity or the Incarnation. You have a right to ask to be assured that our claim of loyalty to Scripture is not some sort of game but a sincere attempt to submit to the authority of God’s Word. You may not agree with us, but this is written so that you will at least know where we are coming from.
TO BE CONTINUED