Dear Friends,

How is it that some “Bible-believing” Christians believe that the Bible allows the baptism of infants? This is my sixth blog on this question. Today I will introduce some problems for the Baptist position.

First, “household” texts. Paul baptized whole “households” and families. (See Acts 16:15, 33 and 1 Corinthians 1:16) In my first blog in this series I shared how it was reading Acts 16 that began to make me doubt the Baptist position. In the world of the book of Acts it is very unlikely that everyone in the household was over 12 years of age. It is possible, but unlikely. If the “adult-baptism only” position is the only New Testament teaching, you would expect a qualification in the Bible that “all the adults in the household were baptized.” The natural way to read these texts is that all members of the household, including young children and infants, are baptized.

Second, “new covenant” texts. I will probably say more about this in another blog but, for now, there are many New Testament texts that refer to Jesus instituting or inaugurating a new covenant. (See Luke 22:20) All of the first Christians were Jewish. The primary sign of the covenant with Israel was circumcision administered to babies. This marked them as being in the covenant. Many New and Old Testament texts make clear that a “circumcision of the heart” was also required. But the point is that for the children of Jews, the sign of the covenant was done first in the hope (but without a guarantee) that the belief or faith would develop later. As Jewish Christians, it was natural for them to hear these commands about baptism with “Jewish “ears” as a covenant language and seek to baptize their children.

Third, “you and your children” texts. In light of the above, when the Gospel is proclaimed and adults are urged to respond on Pentecost Peter says, “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off…” This echoes Old Testament covenant language; the proper response being to include your children in the covenant and seek to make the covenant known to the ends of the earth. For a Jewish person this would mean circumcise (now baptize) your child and work for the glory of the New Covenant to be known to the ends of the earth.

It needs to be noted that beyond the record of the New Testament, church history shows that the first hearers of the Gospel followed the practice of having the children of believers baptized. It is a hundred years after the book of Acts that the first questioning of the “usual” practice is raised. The “usual” practice is the baptism of the family of believers. This shows that the Apostles practiced infant baptism and the early readers of the New Testament understood the commands in such a way.

More “problems” for the “adult-baptism only” position arise when we look at texts which touch on what “happens” in baptism and baptism signifies – next week! Please pray for me.

George +