Thursday, January 05, 2012
Another reason why I'm a Baptist
At one point, I came across the site of a fairly well-known Presbyterian church that included information on its policies for children baptisms. It had two sections listed. In one section it listed that any member of the church could have their "infant" baptized during an upcoming service after completing a few house-keeping details. In the next section they had information that indicated that all "older children" could not be baptized unless they had made their own public profession of belief in Jesus Christ.
Now as a thorough-going baptist (at least now, sorry Mom :), I couldn't agree more that baptism should follow after a person expresses saving faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is to be the public and outward declaration of inward faith and saving grace. I find it interesting, however, that those churches who practice infant baptism can at the same time put some sort of age restriction on when it's inappropriate or not. I see an inconsistency in saying infants can be baptized and older children cannot be. Why not? The infant has no choice whether they get splashed or not. They are making no volitional response. So, why is it inappropriate to splash water on a 10 year old? Who cares if the kid doesn't believe? His 2 week old sister doesn't beleive either. If I believe baptism is the sign of the covenant, should I really care if my 10 year old would prefer not to be marked? Isn't it the parents' decision anyway?
Baptists believe that baptism follows an individual's personal decision to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. Infants should not be baptized because salvation and entrance into the covenant community is received by faith, not through any church ritual. Repent and believe and then be baptized is the natural order (Acts 2:38). It's clean, simple, and less confusing than the practices of my Presbyterian and other infant-splashing brothers and sisters.
Note: I have a lot of love for many of the denominations and Christian traditions that baptize babies. I do not doubt their salvation and in no way doubt their sincere attempts to obey the Bible as honestly as possible. I just found the paradox in my reading today worth blogging about.