Dear Friends,

How is it that some “Bible-believing” Christians believe the Bible allows the baptism of infants? This is my third blog on this question. Today I will focus on the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.

The very first Bible study I ever led in an Anglican church was on the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. I confess that I was nervous. Up until then most Bible studies I had led were with people around the same age as me. This Bible study took place at 9:15am, before the main service at 10:30am. I knew that it often drew over 20 people and most of the people were considerably older than me. So, I probably over-worried and over-prepared. I prayed a lot but I definitely did not “over-pray”.

I began the Bible study and about 10 minutes in I paused and asked for questions and/or comments. A woman in her 50’s said, “I have been an Anglican all my life, but this passage shows that Anglicans are wrong on baptism. We should follow the example of Jesus and be baptized as an adult. We should not baptize babies.” Others quickly chimed in, in agreement. The rest of the Bible study was taken over by this discussion. I must confess that in all of my preparations for the Bible study I had spent absolutely no time thinking about infant vs adult baptism, so I felt very unprepared for the actual discussion. The whole situation was ironic. I was the only person in a room of over 20 people who had been baptized as an adult. Everyone else had been baptized as a baby. I was the only person arguing for the validity of infant baptism in a room full of people who were baptized as infants, now arguing against infant baptism.

Why had I not prepared for this discussion? I forgot the powerful appeal the baptism of Jesus by John has for supporters of adult-only baptism.

Since that Bible study I realized that Jesus’ baptism had seemed like powerful confirmation of adult baptism in my own thinking for many years. But, in fact, this is a mistake. The Bible makes it repeatedly clear that the baptism of John the Baptist (which is what Jesus underwent) is most definitely NOT Christian baptism. They are completely different. Here is one representative text. “And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19: 3-5 ESV) John’s baptism and the baptism Jesus instituted are different, so John’s baptism of the adult Jesus is not the model or standard for Christian baptism.

If you have questions or comments, please email me at george@messiahchurch.ca Please pray for me.

George +