Dear Friends,

How is it that some “Bible-believing” Christians believe that the Bible allows the baptism of infants? This is my fourth blog on this question. Today I will focus on the different claims made by Anglicans/Presbyterians and Baptists.

The Baptist position on baptism is this. First we come to saving faith in Jesus and then we are baptized. This is the only valid Biblical pattern. If we are baptized before coming to saving faith then a mistake has been made. To correct this mistake we must be baptized “again”. We are not really being re-baptized because the first baptism was invalid. Because the only Biblical pattern is that first you come to real saving faith and then you are baptized, baptism of children is not wise. The child must be old enough to have made a clear commitment to Jesus. Different “baptistic” churches have different rules about what is the youngest age they will accept someone who asks to be baptized. My unscientific understanding is that 12 is a common age limit. In other words, if you claim to have a saving faith in Jesus and are under the age of 12, you will be asked to wait and come back when you are 12.

In other weeks I will write about how Baptists and Anglicans describe what baptism signifies and problems/advantages with their different practices. But for now I want you to notice the central Baptist claim when it comes to what the Bible teaches about baptism. There is only one Biblical pattern. First you come to saving faith as an “adult” and then you are baptized.

Anglicans and Presbyterians agree that one biblical pattern is that you come to saving faith as an adult and then you are baptized. They deny that this is the only Biblical pattern. There is another Biblical pattern for the children of Christian believers. In the case of the children of baptized Christian believers, their children can be baptized even if that means that the child will come to saving faith after their baptism. As you can imagine, this will mean that Anglicans will describe what baptism signifies in a different way from what Baptists do. I should mention that “what baptism signifies” is not just a matter of opinion. “What baptism signifies” has to connect to other Biblical doctrines. More about this later.

To be clear, an Anglican and a Baptist will handle the following situation in the same way. A lifelong Muslim or a Pagan hears the Gospel and comes to a saving faith in Jesus. After their conversion, they are baptized and only after their conversion should they be baptized. The illustration helps us understand the New Testament better. Almost everyone is a “first-generation” Christian. They have all been Jewish or a Pagan their entire lives. They are all hearing the Gospel for the first time. Virtually none have Christian parents.

George +