Infant Baptism – Now’s your chance to convince me

I am reading through Mathew Henry’s Treatise on Baptism. It’s a copy I have from a Presbyterian minister friend.

I would like to hear your opinion on Henry’s Treastise and on the matter in general. I would like to have some debate.

My paedobaptist friends should ‘smell blood in the water’ on this one. Now’s your chance. I’m coming around to the position, but still struggle a bit.

Lutherans, now’s your chance to convince me. There is a Missouri-synod Lutheran Church here in town.


L P said...


I will respond as a former credo-baptist. I will argue from the angle of means of grace. By this we mean that God uses means to supply to us what he himself demands - faith in the Gospel.

There are a few assumptions that credo-baptists make regarding faith. First they think it should be reflexive and cognitive. When you are sleeping, are you aware of your faith? Secondly, they assume that babies do not have faith.

Babies do have faith - an example - Ps 22:9-10, John the Baptist in Lk 1:15, 1:41.

Circumcission points to baptism and the reality itself. Thus circumcision is subsumbed by baptism. They are not equivalent exactly but the former is enclosed by the latter the same way passover is subsumed by the Supper.

Thus since babies were circumcised in Israel so babies are baptized in the Spiritual Israel.

We baptize babies because they have more faith than an adult - even Jesus says that, most of all Jesus died for them, thus they may be baptized, they to are sinners Jesus died for.

Baptism is the Word accompanied by water, it is the visible proclamation of the forgiveness of sins.

Credo baptist are not 'catholic' (small c)' for they cannot affirm that one line in the nicene creed - we acknowledge one baptism for the forgivenss of sins. They rebaptize baptized babies thus not Nicene.

I end with a question - assume you have a person born blind, deaf and mute, how will you proclaim the Gospel to such a person, he cannot hear you, nor see you?

I asked one baptist about this he said - baptism is useless for this person.

Fair enough, baptists do not believe in means of grace, that is why he said it was useless.

Can you notice, how impoverish that makes a baptist?


Steve Martin said...

I was baptized as an infant and never re-baptized.

The Lord baptized me in His name. He adopted me. His promises were spoken to me by Himself. The priest or the pastor speaking the words over me was merely His instrument. The Holy Spirit was acting in me and for me, crucifying me with Christ (Romans 6) and raising me with Christ (also Romans 6).

Would you rather rely on something YOU DO...or something that GOD DOES FOR YOU?

In baptism (and Holy Communion) God brings His promises to bear in your life. Whether you feel it, or not. It is by faith, and faith alone, that these promises are accessed and made real.

That is why we need to remind the baby as it grows, what great thing has happened to him/her in their baptism.

Infant baptism is pure gospel. The baby cannot understand (at that point) what is happening, and can make NO decision.
We Lutherans believe that is the best part. God makes the decision...for us.

I don't care if you become a Lutheran or not, but I do care that you understand baptism and who it is that is doing the work in baptism.

May the Lord bless you and keep you, J.K..

Steve Martin said...

Here are some of my posts on baptism (infant baptism):

If you get a moment here and there you might want to peruse a bit.

Not necessarily for anything I have written, but there are some good comments, pro and con, that might help you.


Steve Newell said...

J.K., like you, I was raised in the SBC. As an adult, I realized that the Lutheran teachings are consistent with Holy Scripture and that the SBC doctrine has many teachings that run counter to Holy Scripture.

Before we can address infant baptism, we must first answer the question "Does Holy Baptism save?". As one raised in the SBC, baptism was viewed as an ordinance (something we do), not a sacrament (something God does) which is viewed by Lutherans as a "means of grace". If one views baptism as an ordinance then there is no value to infant baptism to the individual.

Given the fact that Holy Baptism is viewed as a means as the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38-39 and 1 Peter 3:21), we must view baptism as a means that God delivers the forgiveness of sin to us. No where can we see in scripture as something we do to affirm our salvation (an ordinance), it is associated with our salvation. Likewise, in the “Great Commission”, baptism in the name of the Triune God, is done as part of making disciples, but prior to instruction in the Faith.

We must know ask the question who needs the forgiveness of sin. Again the “Great Commission” instructs us to go to “all nations”. This covers all people, regardless of age. An infant is as much a member of a nation as an adult. Likewise, Peter instructs those on Pentecost that Baptism is for those who hear him and their children.

Many will argue that an infant cannot make a decision for Christ. The truth is that NO ONE can make a decision for Christ. We have no free will in matters of our salvation. Paul writes that we all dead in our sin and that it is God who gives us life. Our salvation is completely due to God’s grace and even our faith is a gift of God. (See Eph 2). An infant is no different than an adult in that the infant is dead in their sin since they inherit the same sinful nature from Adam and that the infant needs Christ just as much as their parents do. Also, the doctrine of “an age of accountability” is not supported by Scripture.

I have written posts on Extreme Theology on Baptism and we are all born spiritually dead.

Steve said...

John the Baptist lept for joy (in the womb) at the presence of Jesus (also in the womb).

But infants can't have faith?

Jesus told us that we must become "as these little ones".

I think it is much easier for the Holy Spirit to give faith to one who has not been jaded as much by the world.

Does not the Holy Spirit communicate to us in "sighs too deep for words"?

J. K. Jones said...

LP, Steve M., Steve N., and Steve,

Thank you for your comments and e-mails. I am reading and thinking about them.

I am trying to be thoughtful and carefull.


L P said...


A bit more to think about.


Steve Martin said...

L.P. Cruz has an interesting post on Calvin

(just a heads-up)

Andrew said...

Wow, this is a complex subject! I was baptised as an infant (Catholic Church) and as an adult (Protestant Church).

The above arguments are some DEEP things I've never processed.

My relationship with God says...As a parent I will give my children to God's will. Their abilities with human cognition and languange will grow as they do (hopefully). I will pray that they make a choice to surrender their cognition and language to God at a later date and before failure of their mind.

joel in ga said...

As an ex-Baptist and ex-Calvinist Lutheran, I find the thousands of infant baptisms mentioned in the New Testament to be compelling evidence for paedobaptism. Please see 1 Cor. 10:2ff, where Paul draws analogies between what our spiritual forefathers went through and the New Testament Church. "All these things happened to them for ensamples."

joel in ga said...

Btw, M.F. Sadler's The Second Adam and the New Birth is a very full treatment of regeneration and conversion with infant baptism thrown in. It's available at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=3roCAAAAQAAJ&dq=sadler%20new%20birth%20second%20adam&pg=PR3

L P said...


I just had a quick read at this and the argument of this minister is compelling on John 3:5.


joel in ga said...

Sadler does a great job with 1 John 3:9 (ch. 15), too. Incidentally and interestingly, Sadler's book was recently republished by Lutheranesque Calvinists like those at Biblical Horizons and leithart.com.

Steve Martin said...


If you get a chance, there is some good discussion taking place over at L.P.C's blog (Extra Nos).


J. K. Jones said...

Steve M.

Thanks for the note. I have some questions on that topic I have been wanting to ask Lutherans for a long time.


L P said...


Let us talk a bit more on your question, it requires a bit of space.


Perhaps informing Larry to chime in would be good also.

Blessings to you both.


Anonymous said...


I'll give Larry a heads-up.

J. K. Jones said...

I have greatly appreciated the comments and references given to me on this post. I have learned many new things. I have a better understanding of the many positions on the issues surrounding baptism.

I am attracted to the position that God work’s through the sacrament of baptism in the same way He works through the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. He works through His Spirit. He is really present in the Lord’s Supper through His Spirit.

I have found G. I. Williamson’s review of the Westminster Confession of Faith to be especially helpful it this regard. (http://www.amazon.com/Westminster-Confession-Faith-Study-Classes/dp/0875525938/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1248358284&sr=8-1)

Also the many discussions at Extra Nos (www.extranos.blogspot.com).

I’ll continue to review and learn.

Thanks again to all.


Anonymous said...

It's facinating how people believe that a dousing of water and a magic spell makes a baby somehow different.

J. K. Jones said...

Since God exists and He has both the power and the desire to act in the world He created, He can act to make baptism serve His purpose.

He can perform miracles.

L P said...

To those that think God does nothing in baptism, that is what they get.

I doubt if they have seriously looked at the Scripture to the face and dealt with passages like Acts 2:38.


J. K. Jones said...

My wife and I had our daughter baptized this past month. She is not a believer.

LPC said...


What do you mean she is not a believer? We baptize so that they can believe. I baptized my grandson at age 4 because his mom is a bit cheesed off with church people. My daughter was very happy for me to do that for her child. This grandson of mine shows signs of belief. He prays at meal table and when we are in the car he asks us to play Jesus songs on CD. He is now 6 years old. All this after baptism even though my daughter hardly taught him about the faith.


J. K. Jones said...

My point was she had not made a profession of faith, not that bpatism had no effect upon her. She is being raised in a Christian home and makes strides each day in her understanding of faith and the Christian life.

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