Infant baptism

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Note to reader: the controversy attending this topic is complex and unresolved, and relates to interpretations of scripture and tradition.


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Infant baptism is the practice of baptizing infants or young children. In theological discussions, the practice is sometimes referred to as paedobaptism, or pedobaptism, from the Greek prefix παιδ- paid-, as in the word παιδίον paidion, meaning, "child".[1] This is in contrast to what is called "believer's baptism", or credobaptism (from the Latin word credo meaning "I believe"), which is the religious practice of baptizing only individuals who personally confess faith in Jesus, therefore excluding underage children. It is also referred to as "John's baptism" with water, in contrast to "Jesus's baptism" of the Holy Spirit.

According to Romans 10:9-10, baptism is not necessary for salvation.

On the Reformation fundamental principle of sola scriptura, Baptists, Anabaptists, evangelicals and nondenominational groups reject infant baptism as not supported by the Bible. In addition, some Methodists and most Pentecostal denominations also reject infant baptism as not being supported by the Bible. The American Reformed Baptist pastor and author John Piper [2] states that there are no instances of infant baptism in the Bible.[3] The American German Reformed Church Presbyterian theologian and church historian Philip Schaff [4] says the apostolic fathers make no mention of it because they hardly touch upon baptism at all, but that at the same time it seems an almost certain fact that, with the baptism of converts, the optional baptism of the children of Christian parents in established congregations, comes down from the apostolic age. Schaff says the only opponent of infant baptism among the fathers is the eccentric and schismatic Tertullian, of North Africa, and that the very manner of Tertullian’s opposition proves as much in favor of infant baptism as against it because he meets it not as an innovation, but as a prevalent custom.[5] Christian apologist, writer, and speaker Douglas Beaumont [6] cites the ancient Church fathers, Medieval theologians, and Protestant Reformation leaders who all asserted that water baptism is spiritually regenerative and that infant baptism is a doctrine from the apostles of the Lord consistent with the will of God.[7]

Colossians 2:11-12 has been cited as connecting infant circumcision and infant baptism.[Citation Needed] Paul sees infant circumcision into the Abrahamic covenant with God (Genesis 17:9-14) as the Old Testament type foreshadowing its fulfillment in the New Testament covenant with God in Christ Jesus with its antitype of infant baptism unto salvation in the blood of Christ. On the other hand, Jesus condemned those who claimed kinship with the Father on the basis of a ceremony performed over them at birth as children of the devil.[8]

The Bible does not explicitly command the practice of infant baptism.

The Bible does not explicitly forbid the practice of infant baptism.

Contents

Denominations that practice infant baptism

Infant baptism is practiced in most of the major Christian denominations, including Catholics, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, and among Protestants, several denominations: Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and other Reformed denominations, Methodists and some Nazarenes, and the Moravian Church. For Presbyterians, Baptism is a sacrament, seal, and outward symbol of “inward grace”, which also grants membership into the Christian community.

The Oneness Groups believe that baptism is a requirement for salvation. Both Oneness and Trinitarian Pentecostals use full immersion and do not practice infant baptism.

Colossians 2:8-15

Some opponents of the practice of infant baptism claim there is no biblical passage connecting the seal of circumcision of infants eight days old in the covenant with Abraham and the seal of water baptism of infants in the covenant of Christ in salvation. For example, Baptist John MacArthur says:
[I]nfant Baptism is not in the Scripture, it’s not New Testament Baptism, and it is not, please, a replacement sign for the Abrahamic mark of circumcision. One of the other things that Reformed people say is that infant Baptism takes the place of circumcision. I’ve heard that argument for years. So my response is, what verse says that? Where is it? Show me the verse. Where in the Bible does it say, by the way, Baptism is a replacement of circumcision? Where does it say that? It doesn’t say that anywhere.[9]

Colossians 2:8-15 is cited and interpreted by paedobaptists as explicit scriptural evidence and justification for the doctrine and practice of infant baptism as being a replacement and fulfillment of the type of the seal of circumcision of an eight-day-old infant.

8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

—King James Version (KJV) boldface emphasis added

Tradition in the New Testament

The tradition of infant baptism is dismissed as unbiblical, and condemned as invented by the traditions of men being read eisegetically into Scripture (Matthew 15:2-3; Mark 7:6-8; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 3:14-18). For example, John MacArthur says
You can’t read habits into Scripture, you can’t read traditions into Scripture.[10]

Appeal to unwritten Christian tradition, as being an integral part of the whole doctrine and "deposit of the faith" from Jesus and the apostles, and as guarded and handed down and only properly interpreted and understood according to the mind of Christ by the leaders of the magisterium as shepherds of the church led by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is based on

Matthew 18:15-17; 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:45; John 16:12-13; 20:30-31; 21:25; Acts 1:3; 20:28-30; 1 Corinthians 2:12-14; 11:2 2 Corinthians 3:2-3; 5:20; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 3:10; 4:11-14; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; 3:6; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 6:2-5; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 3:9-11; Hebrews 13:7-8, 17; 1 Timothy 3:15; 4:1; 2 Peter 3:14-18; 1 John 2:18-27; 2 John 9-12; 3 John 3-4, 13; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.

Apologists for the whole of Christian tradition traditionally interpreted as being supported by these texts, also appeal to the Christian sensus fidelium and sensus Christianorum as being consistently expressed by Christian writers and theologians down through the centuries, a whole tradition of Christian doctrine and interpretation as being in complete harmony with the scriptures and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit leading into all truth forever. They point to the fact that nowhere in the New Testament is found any form of the statement that "all of the traditions of the apostles are written in the scriptures", or that "the whole of the doctrine of Christ is contained as written in the scriptures"; and that John himself wrote essentially the same thing, saying, "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31), and that not everything he wrote has been preserved, where he says, "I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority" (3 John 9); and that Paul stated that all of the written scriptures are "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17) but does not state that all of the doctrine of God is contained therein, and he refers in his letters to doctrines he had preached which are not recorded in the Bible, as in for example, Galatians 2:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 4:6; 11:1-2; and in 2 Corinthians 2:3-9; 7:8-12; and in Ephesians 3:3-4, in which he refers to a previous letter written by him to that church containing Christian doctrine, "as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ" (KJV); and that Paul wrote two more letters to the church in Corinth that are not in Scripture, as implied in 1 Corinthians 5:9 regarding one more letter to Corinth, when he refers to an earlier letter, saying, "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people"; and the Letter from Paul sent to the Laodiceans and coming from the Laodiceans to the Colossians (Colossians 4:16).[11]

On the pretext of this scriptural basis, long-held, centuries-old, "sacred Christian traditions" are read into scripture, as in interpreting Paul's interpretation of the circumcision of infants as a type of infant baptism in Colossians 2:8-15 being the direct antitype fulfillment of the covenant with God in Christ, "putting on Christ", and "belonging to Him", as "one body with Him" (Galatians 3:7, 29; 1 Corinthians 3:23; 12:12-14, 20, 27; Romans 12:4-5). The covenant of Abraham was a covenant with God involving the minimal shedding of human blood by the circumcision of the foreskin of the male child, "My covenant" (Genesis 17:9, 14), not as a sign that they belonged to the people called the Jews, a sign that they ethnically and racially belonged to the nation Israel, but as a sign that they belonged to God, with all the attendant duties and promised blessings for obedience. By this interpretation of the meaning of circumcision in Colossians 2:8-15, baptism is a sign of the covenant with God in the blood of Christ Jesus His Son, and that those who have been baptized into Christ belong to Christ by a covenant of blood, as Christ belongs to God (1 Corinthians 3:23; Acts 20:28; Titus 3:4-7; Hebrews 10:28-29; Ephesians 2:10). As it was possible for a circumcised Jew to break the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision by disobedient sin, so it is possible for a baptized Christian to fall away from salvation by afterward despising as profane the blood of Christ by which he was sanctified, by apostasy and willful sins of disobedience (Hebrews 6:4-12; Romans 2:4-11). This argument is articulated in the following article:

Patrick Donahue’s First Affirmative Against "Once Saved Always Saved" (biblequery.org)

“Galatians 5:4 reads, "Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace" (ASV). The standard Baptist position is a Christian cannot fall from grace, but this verse points out specifically that it is possible. First I suggest that this verse has to be talking about Christians:
you can’t be severed from something (Christ) that you were never connected to
you can’t fall from a tree (grace) that you weren’t in to start with ”
(The author cites biblical texts for his argument in the following sequence: Galatians 1:2, 11; 3:15; 4:12, 31; 5:11, 13; 6:1, 18; 3:26; Revelation 3:5; 20:15; 21:27; James 5:19-20; 1:16, 19; 2:1-2; 3:1; 5:7, 19-20; 1 Corinthians 9:25-27; 8:11; Matthew 10:28; 18:11; John 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; 2 Peter 3:9; 2:20-22; 1:9-11; Hebrews 3:6, 12, 14; John 3:36b; 15:2, 6; Hebrews 10:26-27; Acts 8:12-13, 22-23; 1 John 1:9; Romans 6:23; Revelation 14:13; 21:8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Revelation 2:9-10; 1 John 1:9.)
“There is overwhelming, clear scriptural evidence. It is possible for a genuine Christian to lose their salvation. Indeed, a child of God can be disinherited (Numbers 14:12). Live your life with that in mind.”

See Eternal security (salvation)

Circumcision and Baptism

Multiple commentaries on Colossians 2:12 on the biblehub.com site explicitly connect circumcision and baptism:

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers; Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary; Barnes' Notes on the Bible; Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary; Matthew Poole's Commentary; Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible; Geneva Study Bible; Meyer's NT Commentary; Expositor's Greek Testament; Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges; PETER LOMBARD ON BAPTISM. (Colossians 2:12.); Bengel's Gnomen; Pulpit Commentary

A short paper from Piper on Colossians 2:8-15 (puritanboard.com)

...in my struggles with this issue over the years, especially the years in graduate school when I was studying mainly with paedobaptists, three or four texts, more than any others, kept me from embracing the argument from circumcision. One is Colossians 2:11-12. Another is 1 Peter 3:21. Another is Romans 9:8. And another is Galatians 3:26-27.

Circumcision and Baptism | Reformed Bible Studies (ligonier.org)

Today’s passage links baptism and circumcision, showing us that new covenant baptism is a proximate fulfillment of the sign of circumcision (Col. 2:8–15). At the consummation, the sign first given to Abraham will be completely fulfilled when the Lord makes a final cut between the sheep and the goats (Rev. 20:11–15).

Circumcision and Baptism, Author: Pastor J. C. O'Hair | Berean Bible Society (bereanbiblesociety.org)

If the circumcision of the eleventh verse is “without hands”, the baptism of the twelfth verse must be “without hands”. We have no doubt as to the fact of the “handless” circumcision. And we have no doubt that there is in the Bible a baptism “without hands”.

Is baptism the New Covenant equivalent of circumcision? (gotquestions.org)

Jan 02, 2020 · Baptism, mentioned in verse 12, does not replace circumcision; it follows circumcision—and it is clearly a spiritual circumcision that is meant. Baptism, therefore, is a sign of inward, spiritual “circumcision.” This passage also specifies that the new life, represented by baptism, comes “through your faith.”

How Do Circumcision and Baptism Correspond? - John Piper (desiringgod.org)

It defines circumcision in a way that gives it the same basic meaning as baptism, and yet we know from Genesis 17 that circumcision was appointed by God for the infants of all Jewish people. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. … Have you been washed by the blood of the Lamb?

Does Baptism Replace Circumcision? An Examination of the Relationship between Circumcision and Baptism in Colossians 2:11-12 (themelios.thegospelcoalition.org)

Some paedobaptists appeal to this to defend the idea that just as circumcision is a seal linked to faith, so too baptism. However, this verse is speaking descriptively about Abraham and not prescriptively about his seed. Abraham’s descendants are circumcised as a seal of the covenant God made with Abraham, not because they themselves have faith. Actually all this verse would prove is ‘believer’s circumcision’.

22 Bible verses about Circumcision, Physical (bible.knowing-jesus.com)

Genesis 17:10-14 "This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. "And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. "And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations
John 7:23 "If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?

Baptism and Circumcision According to Colossians 2:11–12 (heidelblog.net)

Sep 17, 2012 · What is the Connection Between Circumcision and Baptism? The connection between baptism and circumcision is quite clear in Colossians 2:11–12. The connection is not direct, but indirect and the point of contact between them is Christ and baptism is the sign and seal of that circumcision. … The point not to be missed is that, in Paul’s mind, baptism and circumcision are both signs and seals of Christ’s baptism/circumcision on the cross for us.

Baptism (defendingthebride.com)

CIRCUMCISION AND BAPTISM
The method of entry into the old covenant was circumcision (Genesis l7). The “whole household” was circumcised (Genesis 17:27) because the Old Covenant included infants (Genesis 21:4). In the new covenant, baptism replaces circumcision (Colossians 2:11-12). Galatians 3:27 says, “We were baptized into Christ” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13). The New Covenant is greater than the Old Covenant. Since the Old Covenant included infants, the Jews would assume that the New Covenant would also. The Bible doesn’t specifically mention infant baptism because it was understood and assumed to include them.

Protestant theological arguments against infant baptism

Protestants views: Infant baptism vs. anti-infant baptism video debates

Protestant commentaries 1555–2014 in support of infant baptism: Matthew 28:19-20

Zwingli (1484–1531)

Huldrych Zwingli or Ulrich Zwingli (1 January 1484 – 11 October 1531) was a Reformation Swiss theologian who famously opposed the German theologian Martin Luther on many doctrines, but agreed on the issue of infant baptism. The theology of Huldrych Zwingli was based on the Bible, taking scripture as the inspired word of God and placing its authority higher than what he saw as human sources such as the ecumenical councils and the church fathers. He also recognized the human element within the inspiration of the Bible noting the differences in the canonical gospels.

Works of Zwingli
“The children of Christians are no less sons of God than the parents, just as in the Old Testament. Hence, since they are sons of God, who will forbid this baptism? Circumcision among the ancients … was the same as baptism with us.” (Works of Zwingli)

“Children born of believing parents are children of God, like those who were born under the Old Testament, and consequently may receive baptism.” (Works of Zwingli)

“Baptism under the New Testament is what circumcision was under the Old; consequently, baptism ought now to be administered to children, as circumcision was formerly.” (Works of Zwingli) [7]

Luther (1483-1546)

Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 - February 18, 1546) is probably the most famously recognized leader of the Protestant Reformation in opposition to the doctrinal and dogmatic authority of the Roman Catholic Church and the Imperial authority of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V. He is credited with articulating the founding Reformation principles of the Five Solas, in particular salvation Sola fide "by faith alone" above and apart from any appeals to apostolic tradition, ecumenical councils and the orthodox catholic magisterium.

Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation and Infant Baptism, XIII A
“Why are babies to be baptized?
A[nswer]. Babies are to baptized because they are included in the words ‘all nations’.”
—(Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation)
“Here a question occurs by which the devil through his sects, confuses the world, namely, Of Infant Baptism, whether children also believe, and are justly baptized. Concerning this we say briefly: Let the simple dismiss this question from their minds, and refer it to the learned. But if you wish to answer then answer thus: –That the Baptism of infants is pleasing to Christ is sufficiently proved from His own work, namely, that God sanctifies many of them who have been thus baptized, and has given them the Holy Ghost” (Infant Baptism, XIII A)
“God confirms Baptism by the gifts of His Holy Ghost as is plainly perceptible in some of the church fathers, as St. Bernard, Gerson, John Hus, and others, who were baptized in infancy, and since the holy Christian Church cannot perish until the end of the world, they must acknowledge that such infant baptism is pleasing to God.” (Infant Baptism, XIII A)
“we are not so much concerned to know whether the person baptized believes or not; for on that account Baptism does not become invalid; but everything depends upon the Word and command of God” .” (Infant Baptism, XIII A)
“those who unworthily go to the Sacrament receive the true Sacrament even though they do not believe. Thus you see that the objection of the sectarians is vain. For (as we have said) even though infants did not believe, which however, is not the case, yet their baptism as now shown would be valid, and no one should rebaptize them” (Infant Baptism, XIII A) [7]

Melanchthon (1497–1560)

Philip Melanchthon (16 February 1497 – 19 April 1560) was a German Lutheran reformer and collaborator with Martin Luther, and the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, the foremost intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, and an influential designer of educational systems. He stands next to Luther and John Calvin as a reformer, theologian, and molder of Protestantism . He was a primary contributor to the formulation of the Protestant Confession of Faith (1530)

Article IX of The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. at the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530
“Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God’s grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children.” (Article IX of The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. at the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530) [7]

John Calvin (1509–1564)

John Calvin (10 July 1509–27 May 1564) was the foremost French Reformer in Geneva, Switzerland during the Protestant Reformation, a theological writer who produced many sermons, biblical commentaries, letters, theological treatises, and other works. Calvin produced commentaries on most of the books of the Bible. By 1555 he had completed his work on the New Testament, finishing with the Acts and the Gospels (he did omit only the brief second and third Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation).

Calvin's Commentaries (Mt 28:19)
...the earthly element does not become a sacrament until God quickens it by his word....

Accordingly, it is said in Mark, He that shall believe and be baptized shall be saved. By these words Christ not only excludes from the hope of salvation hypocrites who, though destitute of faith, are puffed up only by the outward sign; but by a sacred bond he connects baptism with doctrine, so that the latter is nothing more than an appendage of the former. But as Christ enjoins them to teach before baptizing, and desires that none but believers shah be admitted to baptism, it would appear that baptism is not properly administered unless when it is preceded by faith. On this pretense, the Anabaptists have stormed greatly against infant baptism. But the reply is not difficult, if we attend to the reason of the command. Christ orders them to convey to all nations the message of eternal salvation, and confirms it by adding the seal of baptism. Now it was proper that faith in the word should be placed before baptism, since the Gentiles were altogether alienated from God, and had nothing in common with the chosen people; for otherwise it would have been a false figure, which offered forgiveness and the gift of the Spirit to unbelievers, who were not yet members of Christ. But we know that by faith those who were formerly despised are united to the people of God.

It is now asked, on what condition does God adopt as children those who formerly were aliens? It cannot, indeed, be denied that, when he has once received them into his favor, he continues to bestow it on their children and their children's children. By the coming of Christ God manifested himself as a Father equally to the Gentiles and to the Jews; and, therefore, that promise, which was formerly given to the Jews, must now be in force towards the Gentiles,
I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed after thee, (Genesis 17:7.)
Quotes from Calvin on pædobaptism - Institutes of the Christian Religion (4.16)
“The argument by which pædobaptism is assailed is, no doubt, specious—viz. that it is not founded on the institution of God, but was introduced merely by human presumption and depraved curiosity, and afterwards, by a foolish facility, rashly received in practice; whereas a sacrament has not a thread to hang upon, if it rest not on the sure foundation of the word of God.” (Inst. 4.16)
“it [infant baptism] is a well-known doctrine, and one as to which all the pious are agreed” (Inst. 4.16)
“infants cannot be deprived of it [baptism] without open violation of the will of God” (Inst. 4.16)
“If reason is listened to, it will undoubtedly appear that baptism is properly administered to infants as a thing due to them [infants].” (Inst. 4.16)
“that circumcision was a sign of repentance is completely established by many passages of Scripture (Jer. 4:4). Thus Paul terms it a seal of the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4:11). Let God, then, be demanded why he ordered circumcision to be performed on the bodies of infants? For baptism and circumcision being here in the same case, they cannot give anything to the latter without conceding it to the former. If they recur to their usual evasion, that, by the age of infancy, spiritual infants were then figured, we have already closed this means of escape against them. We say, then, that since God imparted circumcision, the sign of repentance and faith, to infants, it should not seem absurd that they are now made partakers of baptism, unless men choose to clamour against an institution of God. But as in all his acts, so here also, enough of wisdom and righteousness shines forth to repress the slanders of the ungodly. For although infants, at the moment when they were circumcised, did not comprehend what the sign meant, still they were truly circumcised” (Inst. 4.16) [7]

Matthew Poole (1624–1679)

Matthew Poole (1624–1679) was an English Nonconformist theologian. The work with which his name is principally associated is the Synopsis criticorum biblicorum (5 vols fol., 1669-1676), in which he summarizes the views of one hundred and fifty biblical critics. Poole also wrote English Annotations on the Holy Bible, a work which was completed by several of his Nonconformist brethren, and published in 2 vols fol. in 1683. The work was continued by others (last edition, three volumes, 1840).

Matthew Poole's Commentary (Mt 28:20)
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations; the Greek is mayhteusate, make disciples all nations; but that must be first by preaching and instructing them in the principles of the Christian faith, and Mark expounds it, telling us our Saviour said, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, that is, to every reasonable creature capable of hearing and receiving it. I cannot be of their mind, who think that persons may be baptized before they are taught; we want precedents of any such baptism in Scripture, though indeed we find precedents of persons baptized who had but a small degree of the knowledge of the gospel; but it should seem that they were all first taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and were not baptized till they professed such belief, Acts 8:37, and John baptized them in Jordan, confessing their sins, Matthew 3:6. But it doth not therefore follow, that children of such professors are not to be baptized, for the apostles were commanded to baptize all nations: children are a great part of any nation, if not the greatest part, and although amongst the Jews those that were converted to the Jewish religion were first instructed in the law of God before they were circumcised, yet the fathers being once admitted, the children were circumcised at eight days old; nor were they under any covenant different from us, though we be under a more clear manifestation of the same covenant of grace, of which circumcision was a sign and seal to them, as baptism is to us. Infants are capable of the obligations of baptism, for the obligation ariseth from the equity of the thing, not from the understanding and capacity of the person; they are also capable of the same privileges, for of such is the kingdom of God, as our Saviour hath taught us. (italics and boldface emphasis in original

Matthew Henry (1662–1714)

Matthew Henry (October 18, 1662–June 22, 1714) was non-conformist pastor of a Presbyterian congregation at Chester. He remained in this position for 25 years. After declining several times offers from London congregations, he finally accepted a call to Hackney, London, and began his ministry there May 18, 1712, shortly before his death. Henry's reputation rests upon his renowned commentary, An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1708-10, known also as Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible). He lived to complete it only as far as to the end of the Acts, but after his death other like-minded authors prepared the remainder from Henry's manuscripts. It was initially published in 1896. There is also a smaller devotional commentary on the Bible from Henry known as Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary.

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (Mt 28:16, Verses 18-20)
[3.] Their instructions for executing this commission.
First, They must admit disciples by the sacred rite of baptism; "Go into all nations, preach the gospel to them, work miracles among them, and persuade them to come in themselves, and bring their children with them, into the church of Christ, and then admit them and theirs into the church, by washing them with water;" either dipping them in the water, or pouring or sprinkling water upon them, which seems the more proper, because the thing is most frequently expressed so, as Isa. 44:3, I will pour my Spirit on thy seed. And, Tit. 3:5, 6, Which he shed on us abundantly. And, Eze. 36:25, I will sprinkle clean water upon you. And, Isa. 52:15, So shall he sprinkle many nations; which seems a prophecy of this commission to baptize the nations.

John Wesley (1703-91)

John Wesley was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement. He embraced the Arminian doctrines that were dominant in the 18th-century Church of England. Wesley's writing and preachings provided the seeds for both the modern Methodist movement and the Holiness movement. Methodism in both forms was a highly successful evangelical movement in the United Kingdom, which encouraged people to experience Jesus Christ personally. His written sermons are doctrinal but not dogmatic. Both the Sermons (about 140) and his Notes on the New Testament (1755) are doctrinal standards.

Wesley's Notes on the Bible (Mt 28:19)
28:19 Disciple all nations - Make them my disciples. This includes the whole design of Christ's commission. Baptizing and teaching are the two great branches of that general design. And these were to be determined by the circumstances of things; which made it necessary in baptizing adult Jews or heathens, to teach them before they were baptized; in discipling their children, to baptize them before they were taught; as the Jewish children in all ages were first circumcised, and after taught to do all God had commanded them. Mark 16:15.

Joseph Benson (1748–1821.)

Joseph Benson (Jan. 25, 1748–Feb. 16, 1821.) was one of the most eminent of the early Methodist ministers in England. He devoted himself closely to philosophy and theology, studying constantly and zealously. He became a Methodist circuit rider in 1771. As one of post-Wesley Methodism's most popular preachers, he sometimes addressed crowds of over twenty thousand. He was an able writer, and author of a multi-volume commentary on the Bible.

Benson Commentary (Mt 28:19)
Matthew 28:19. Go ye therefore, and teach — Greek, μαθητευσατε, disciple, or make disciples of, or, as Dr. Doddridge renders it, proselyte all nations. This includes the whole design of Christ’s commission. Baptizing and teaching are the two great branches of that general design: and these were to be determined by the circumstances of things; which made it necessary, in baptizing adult Jews or heathen, to teach them before they were baptized; in disciplining their children, to baptize them before they were taught, as the Jewish children in all ages were first circumcised, and after taught to do all God had commanded them. It must be observed, that the word rendered teaching, in the next verse, (namely, διδασκοντες,) though in our translation confounded with the word used in this verse, yet is a word of a very different sense: and properly implies instructing, which the word used in this verse does not necessarily imply, but, as has been observed, merely to proselyte, or make disciples. The argument, therefore, that some draw from this verse, as if our Lord enjoined all to be taught before they were to be baptized, is without foundation. Our Lord’s words, taken together, in both verses, distinctly enjoin three things, and that in the following order, μαθητευειν, βαρτιζειν, διδασκειν, that is, to proselyte men to Christ, to baptize, and to teach them. It is true, however, that adult persons, before they can be made Christ’s disciples, or be proselyted, must be instructed and brought to believe the great essential truths of Christianity, and even to profess their faith in them. But the case is different with infants, who may be admitted to baptism, as the children of the Jews were to the rite of circumcision, and be instructed afterward. And, as Dr. Doddridge justly observes, if Christ had sent out these missionaries to propagate Judaism in the world, he might have used the same, or similar language: “Go and proselyte all nations, circumcising them in the name of the God of Israel, and teaching them to observe all that Moses commanded.” The whole tenor of the succeeding books of the New Testament shows, that Christ designed, by this commission, that the gospel should be preached to all mankind without exception; not only to the Jews, but to the idolatrous Gentiles: but the prejudices of the apostles led them, at first, to mistake the sense of it, and to imagine that it referred only to their going to preach the gospel to the Jews among all nations, or to those who should be willing to become Jews. (boldface emphasis in original

Adam Clarke (1760 / 1762–1832)

Adam Clarke (1760 or 1762–1832) was a British Methodist theologian and Biblical scholar. He is chiefly remembered for writing a commentary on the Bible which took him 40 years to complete and which was a primary Methodist theological resource for two centuries. Contained in 6 volumes, consisting of nearly 1,000 pages each, it was considered at the time the most comprehensive commentary on the Bible ever prepared by one man.

Clarke's Commentary (Mt 28:19)
Go ye therefore - Because I have the authority aforesaid, and can send whomsoever I will to do whatsoever I:please: - teach, μαθητευσατε, make disciples of all nations, bring them to an acquaintance with God who bought them, and then baptize them in the name of the Father. It is natural to suppose that adults were the first subjects of baptism; for as the Gospel was, in a peculiar manner, sent to the Gentiles, they must hear and receive it, before they could be expected to renounce their old prejudices and idolatries, and come into the bonds of the Christian covenant. But, certainly, no argument can be drawn from this concession against the baptism of children. When the Gentiles and Jews had received the faith and blessings of the Gospel, it is natural enough to suppose they should wish to get their children incorporated with the visible Church of Christ; especially if, as many pious and learned men have believed, baptism succeeded to circumcision, which I think has never yet been disproved. The apostles knew well that the Jews not only circumcised the children of proselytes, but also baptized them; and as they now received a commission to teach and proselyte all the nations, and baptize them in the name of the holy Trinity, they must necessarily understand that infants were included: nor could they, the custom of their country being considered, have understood our Lord differently, unless he had, in the most express terms, said that they were not to baptize children, which neither he nor his apostles ever did. And as to the objection, that the baptized were obliged to profess their faith, and that, therefore, only adults should be baptized, there is no weight at all in it; because what is spoken of such refers to those who, only at that period of life, heard the Gospel, and were not born of parents who had been Christians; therefore they could not have been baptized into the Christian faith, forasmuch as no such faith was at their infancy preached in the world. That the children and even infants, of proselytes, were baptized among the Jews, and reputed, in consequence, clean, and partakers of the blessings of the covenant, see proved at large by Wetstein, in his note on Matthew 3:16. - See the note on Matthew 3:6, and particularly on Mark 16:16 (note).

Henry Alford (1810–1871)

Henry Alford (7 October 1810–12 January 1871) was an English churchman, theologian, textual critic, scholar, poet, hymnodist, and writer. His chief fame rests on his monumental edition of the New Testament in Greek (4 vols.), which occupied him from 1841 to 1861.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford (Mt 28:19)
πάντα τὰ ἔθνη] all nations, including the Jews....
βαπτίζοντες] Both these present participles are the conditioning components of the imperative aor. preceding. The μαθητεύειν consists of two parts—the initiatory, admissory rite, and the subsequent teaching. It is much to be regretted that the rendering of μαθ. ‘teach,’ has in our Bibles clouded the meaning of these important words. It will be observed that in our Lord’s words, as in the Church, the process of ordinary discipleship is from baptism to instruction—i.e. is, admission in infancy to the covenant, and growing up into τηρεῖς πάντα κ.τ.λ.—the exception being, what circumstances rendered so frequent in the early Church, instruction before baptism, in the case of adults. On this we may also remark, that baptism as known to the Jews included, just as it does in the Acts (ch. 16:15, 33) whole households—wives and children. (italics in original)

Johann Peter Lange (1802–1884)

Johann Peter Lange (April 10, 1802–July 9, 1884), was a German Calvinist theologian of peasant origin. He studied theology at Bonn (from 1822) under K. I. Nitzsch and G. C. F. L., held several pastorates, and eventually (1854) settled at Bonn as professor of theology in succession to Isaac August Dorner, becoming also in 1860 counsellor to the consistory. As a dogmatic writer he belonged to the school of Schleiermacher. In 1857 he undertook with other scholars a Theologisch-homiletisches Bibelwerk, to which he contributed commentaries on the first four books of the Pentateuch, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Matthew, Mark, Revelation. The Bibelwerk was translated into English, enlarged and revised under the general editorship of Philip Schaff, with assistance of other scholars from the United States of various denominations, under the title A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical (25 vols., New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1865–80).[13]

Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (Mt 28:19)
Baptizing them.—Or, more correctly according to the reading βαπτίσαντες: having baptized them. But μαθητεύειν is not completed in baptism. Rather are there two acts, a missionary and an ecclesiastical,—the antecedent baptism, the subsequent instruction. [Meyer: “βαπτίζοντες, etc., by which the μαθητεύειν is to be brought about, not what is to take place after the μαθητεύσατε, which would require μαθητεύσαντες-βαπτίζετε.” Alford: “The μαθη τεύειν consists of two parts—the initiatory, admissory rite, and the subsequent teaching. It is much to be regretted that the rendering of μαθ., ‘ teach,’ has in our Bibles clouded the meaning of these important words. It will be observed that in our Lord’s words, as in the Church, the process of ordinary discipleship is from baptism to instruction—i. e., is admission in infancy to the covenant, and growing up into τηρεῖν πάντα, κ. τ. λ.” But this applies only to Christian churches already established. As the Jewish religion commenced with the promise of God, and the faith and circumcision of adult Abraham, who received circumcision as a sign and seal of the covenant already established (Rom. 4:11) for himself and for his seed, so the Christian Church was founded in the beginning, and is now propagated in all heathen countries by the preaching of the Gospel to, and by the baptism of, adults. Infant baptism always presupposes the existence of a responsible parent church and the guaranty of Christian nurture which must develop and make available the blessings of the baptismal covenant. Hence the preponderance of adult over infant baptism in the first centuries of Christianity, and in all missionary stations to this day. But even in the case of adult converts, a full instruction in the Christian religion and development of Christian life, does not, as a rule, precede, but succeed baptism, which is an initiatory, not a consummatory rite, the sacramental sign and seal of regeneration, i. e., of the beginning of the new life, not of sanctification or growth and perfection in holiness.—P. S.] (italics and boldface emphasis in original)

Pulpit Commentary and Pulpit Commentary Homiletics 1880-97

Joseph Exell (1819 - 1887) and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones (1836–1917)

Rev. Joseph S. Exell, M.A., served as the Editor of Clerical World, The Homiletical Quarterly and the Monthly Interpreter. Exell was also the editor for several large commentary sets like The Men of the Bible, The Pulpit Commentary, Preacher's Homiletic Library and The Biblical Illustrator.

Rev. Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones (January 14, 1836–1917). He was professor of English literature and lecturer in Hebrew at St. David's College, Lampeter, Wales from 1865-1870, then rector of St. Mary-de-Crypt with All Saints and St. Owen, Gloucester from 1870-1877 and principal of Gloucester Theological College 1875-1877. He became vicar and rural dean of St. Pancras, London 1877-1886, and honorary canon since 1875. He was select preacher at Cambridge in 1883,1887,1901, and 1905, and at Oxford in 1892 and 1903. In 1906 he was elected professor of ancient history in the Royal Academy. In theology he is a moderate evangelical, authoring numerous individual titles. He also edited The Pulpit Commentary in collaboration with Rev. J. S. Exell, to which he himself contributed the section on Luke, 2 vols., 1889, and edited and translated the Didache 1885.

Pulpit Commentary

Directed by editors Joseph Exell (23rd July 1819–6th March 1887) and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones (1836–1917), The Pulpit Commentary drew from over 100 authors over a 30 year span to assemble this "conservative and trustworthy" homiletical commentary set. (48 vols., London, 1880-97).[14]

Pulpit Commentary (Mt 28:19).
Verse 19. - Go ye therefore (οϋν). The illative particle is perhaps spurious, but it is implied by what has preceded. It is because Jesus has plenary authority, and can delegate power to whom he will, that he confers the following commission. He is addressing the eleven apostles, of whom alone St. Matthew makes mention (ver. 16); but as they personally could not execute the grand commission in all its extent and duration, he lays his commands upon their representatives and successors in all ages. They were to go forth, and carry the gospel throughout the world. Doubtless herein is implied the duty of all Christians to be in some sense missionaries, to use their utmost efforts to spread abroad the knowledge of Christ, and to make men obedient to his Law. The propagation of the gospel is a work for all in their several spheres. Teach; docete (Vulgate). These are unfortunate renderings of the verb μαθητεύσατε, which means, "make disciples." Teaching is expressed in ver. 20, as one of the elements or components of full discipleship. The imperative aorist μαθητεύσατε is, as it were, decomposed by the two following present participles, "baptizing" and "teaching." In the case of infants the process is exactly what is here represented; they are admitted into the Christian society by baptism, and then instructed in faith and duty. Adults have to be instructed before baptism; but they form a small minority in most Christian communities, where, generally, infant baptism is the rule, and would be regarded rather as exceptions. Teaching alone is not stated by the Lord to be the only thing necessary to convert an unbeliever into a Christian; this is effected by the grace of God applied as Christ proceeds to explain. All nations (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη αλλ τηε νατιονσ). The apostles were no longer to go only to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:6); they were to Christianize all the nations of the world, Jew and Gentile alike. The gospel is adapted to all the varying minds and habits of men, barbarous and civilized, near and remote, ignorant or cultivated; and it is the duty and privilege of Christ's ministers to make it known and acceptable in all quarters of the globe. Baptizing them; i.e. individuals of all the nations. The present participle denotes the mode of initiation into discipleship. Make them disciples by baptizing them. Christ thus explains his mysterious announcement to Nicodemus (John 3:5), "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." To the disciples the notion of baptism was no new thing. As a rite typifying the cleansing of the heart and the purpose of leading a new life, it had been long practised in the case of proselytes to the Jewish faith; they had seen it employed by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:6), and had used it themselves (John 4:1, 2). Christ adopts the old rite, gives it a new solemnity, a most sacred formula of administration, a new meaning, new spiritual effects. The persons to whom and in whose presence he spoke would understand his injunction as applicable to all who were capable of its reception, children and adults, the subjects of the initiatory ceremony of proselytism. There was no need of closer specification. (boldface emphasis in original

Pulpit Commentary Homiletics

While The Pulpit Commentary is a homiletic commentary on the Bible created during the nineteenth century under the direction of Rev. Joseph S. Exell and Rev. Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones, Rev. Exell also edited the Pulpit Commentary Homiletics Library.

Pulpit Commentary Homiletics (Mt 28:19-20)
(3) Since Christian teaching is to follow baptism rather than to precede it, and since holy teaching cannot be begun too early, there is great propriety in the baptism of infants. Preliminary confession of faith is necessary for adults who have errors to renounce, but infants are happily not in this evil case.
(4) Hence because baptism replaces circumcision as the sign of God's covenant, baptism is called "the circumcision of Christ," i.e. of Christianity (see Colossians 2:11, 12). If baptism be not regarded as taking the place of circumcision, then the covenant has now no initiatory rite. The Lord's Supper is not initiatory, but of regular habitual observance, as the Passover formerly was.

Philip Schaff (1819–1893)

Phillip Schaff's history of the church
Philip Schaff (1 January 1819 – 20 October 1893) was a Swiss-born, German-educated theologian and a historian of the Christian church, who, after his education, lived and taught in the United States. He is a Calvinist who also believes in infant baptism. Philip Schaff also wrote one of the finest histories of the church. The sourced material on this page is taken from his extensive History of the Christian Church (1889).[15] [5]
§ 73. Infant Baptism.
On INFANT BAPTISM comp. Just. M.: Dial. c. Tryph. Jud. c. 43. IREN.: Adv. Haer. II. 22, § 4, compared with III. 17, § 1, and other passages. TERTUL.: De Baptismo, c. 18. CYPR.: Epist. LIX. ad Fidum. CLEM. ALEX.: Paedag. III. 217. ORIG.: Com. in Rom. V. Opp. IV. 565, and Homil. XIV. in Luc. See Lit. in vol. I. 463sq., especially WALL. Comp. also W. R. POWERS: Irenaeus and Infant Baptism, in the “Am. Presb. and Theol. Rev.” N. Y. 1867, pp. 239-267.
While the church was still a missionary institution in the midst of a heathen world, infant baptism was overshadowed by the baptism of adult proselytes; as, in the following periods, upon the union of church and state, the order was reversed. At that time, too, there could, of course, be no such thing, even on the part of Christian parents, as a compulsory baptism, which dates from Justinian’s reign, and which inevitably leads to the profanation of the sacrament. Constantine sat among the fathers at the great Council of Nicaea, and gave legal effect to its decrees, and yet put off his baptism to his deathbed. The cases of Gregory of Nazianzum, St. Chrysostom, and St. Augustine, who had mothers of exemplary piety, and yet were not baptized before early manhood, show sufficiently that considerable freedom prevailed in this respect even in the Nicene and post-Nicene ages. Gregory of Nazianzum gives the advice to put off the baptism of children, where there is no danger of death, to their third year.
At the same time it seems an almost certain fact, though by many disputed, that, with the baptism of converts, the optional baptism of the children of Christian parents in established congregations, comes down from the apostolic age. Pious parents would naturally feel a desire to consecrate their offspring from the very beginning to the service of the Redeemer, and find a precedent in the ordinance of circumcision. This desire would be strengthened in cases of sickness by the prevailing notion of the necessity of baptism for salvation. Among the fathers, Tertullian himself not excepted—for he combats only its expediency—there is not a single voice against the lawfulness and the apostolic origin of infant baptism. No time can be fixed at which it was first introduced. Tertullian suggests, that it was usually based on the invitation of Christ: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not.” The usage of sponsors, to which Tertullian himself bears witness, although he disapproves of it, and still more, the almost equally ancient abuse of infant communion, imply the existence of infant baptism. Heretics also practised it, and were not censured for it.
The apostolic fathers make, indeed, no mention of it. But their silence proves nothing; for they hardly touch upon baptism at all, except Hermas, and he declares it necessary to salvation, even for the patriarchs in Hades (therefore, as we may well infer, for children also). Justin Martyr expressly teaches the capacity of all men for spiritual circumcision by baptism; and his “all” can with the less propriety be limited, since he is here speaking to a Jew. He also says that many old men and women of sixty and seventy years of age have been from childhood disciples of Christ. Polycarp was eighty-six years a Christian, and must have been baptized in early youth. According to Irenaeus, his pupil and a faithful bearer of Johannean tradition, Christ passed through all the stages of life, to sanctify them all, and came to redeem, through himself, “all who through him are born again unto God, sucklings, children, boys, youths, and adults.” This profound view seems to involve an acknowledgment not only of the idea of infant baptism, but also of the practice of it; for in the mind of Irenaeus and the ancient church baptism and regeneration were intimately connected and almost identified. In an infant, in fact, any regeneration but through baptism cannot be easily conceived. A moral and spiritual regeneration, as distinct from sacramental, would imply conversion, and this is a conscious act of the will, an exercise of repentance and faith, of which the infant is not capable.
In the churches of Egypt infant baptism must have been practised from the first. For, aside from some not very clear expressions of Clement of Alexandria, Origen distinctly derives it from the tradition of the apostles; and through his journeys in the East and West he was well acquainted with the practice of the church in his time.
The only opponent of infant baptism among the fathers is the eccentric and schismatic Tertullian, of North Africa. He condemns the hastening of the innocent age to the forgiveness of sins, and intrusting it with divine gifts, while we would not commit to it earthly property. Whoever considers the solemnity of baptism, will shrink more from the receiving, than from the postponement of it. But the very manner of Tertullian’s opposition proves as much in favor of infant baptism as against it. He meets it not as an innovation, but as a prevalent custom; and he meets it not with exegetical nor historical arguments, but only with considerations of religious prudence. His opposition to it is founded on his view of the regenerating effect of baptism, and of the impossibility of having mortal sins forgiven in the church after baptism; this ordinance cannot be repeated, and washes out only the guilt contracted before its reception. On the same ground he advises healthy adults, especially the unmarried, to postpone this sacrament until they shall be no longer in danger of forfeiting forever the grace of baptism by committing adultery, murder, apostasy, or any other of the seven crimes which he calls mortal sins. On the same principle his advice applies only to healthy children, not to sickly ones, if we consider that he held baptism to be the indispensable condition of forgiveness of sins, and taught the doctrine of hereditary sin. With him this position resulted from moral earnestness, and a lively sense of the great solemnity of the baptismal vow. But many put off baptism to their death-bed, in moral levity and presumption, that they might sin as long as they could.
Tertullian’s opposition, moreover, had no influence, at least no theoretical influence, even in North Africa. His disciple Cyprian differed from him wholly. In his day it was no question, whether the children of Christian parents might and should be baptized—on this all were agreed,—but whether they might be baptized so early as the second or third day after birth, or, according to the precedent of the Jewish circumcision, on the eighth day. Cyprian, and a council of sixty-six bishops held at Carthage in 253 under his lead, decided for the earlier time, yet without condemning the delay. It was in a measure the same view of the almost magical effect of the baptismal water, and of its absolute necessity to salvation, which led Cyprian to hasten, and Tertullian to postpone the holy ordinance; one looking more at the beneficent effect of the sacrament in regard to past sins, the other at the danger of sins to come.

Joseph Parker (1830–1902)

Joseph Parker (9 April 1830 - 28 November 1902) was an English Congregational minister (Puritan). His preaching differed widely from his contemporaries like Spurgeon and Alexander Maclaren. He did not follow outlines or list his points, but spoke extemporaneously, inspired by his view of the spirit and attitude behind his Scripture text. His preaching was neither systematic theology nor expository commentary, but more like his own personal meditations. The People's Bible, in 25 vol. (1885–1895) was later republished as Preaching Through the Bible.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker (Mt 28)
Baptize all our little ones with dew from heaven: preserve their lives that they may become good and great and wise and honourable. Watch our houses that they be not broken in upon with violence: may we find a sanctuary on the hearthstone and the beginning of heaven in the innermost joys of the house.

R. C. Sproul (1939–2017)

Robert Charles Sproul (February 13, 1939 – December 14, 2017) was an American theologian and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. He was the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries and could be heard daily on the Renewing Your Mind radio broadcast in the United States and internationally. Under Sproul's direction, Ligonier Ministries produced the Ligonier Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, and helped draft the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. He was a critic of Roman Catholic theology and objected to the document Evangelicals and Catholics Together, which downplayed the key differences, such as justification by faith alone, between evangelicals and Catholics.

R. C. Sproul On Infant Baptism, Sin, And Patience (2014/07)
I think it’s a sin—you can quote me—not to baptize your children. God was going to kill Moses for not circumcising his son. It was a very serious matter to administer the sign of the covenant to believers and to their infants. And nowhere is there in biblical content that principle of solidarity ever, ever abrogated. And so I think we’re making a huge mistake when we exclude the children of believers from the sign of the covenant. Alright? And so I think it’s a serious matter. Because I want to make sure with the administration of the sacraments that we’re doing what’s pleasing to God. So I think it’s pleasing to God to baptize infants of believers. My friends in the Baptist community think that it’s displeasing to God. Both sides want to do what is pleasing to God. What I do believe is that we should not break fellowship over that issue because there’s not an explicit teaching in the New Testament that says that ‘you must baptize children of believers.’ Nor is there an explicit prohibition in the New Testament that says, ‘No, you may not baptize the children of believers.’ And so you have to rest your case on inferences drawn from narratives and other texts of the Bible and any time a doctrine is left to development by inferences you’re open to all kinds of mistakes.

Conversions from one doctrine to the other: two opposite views

Liam Goligher (1951—) from credobaptist to paedobaptist

Dr. Liam Goligher (January 15, 1951—) began serving as Senior Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in May of 2011. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Goligher has served as Senior Minister in Ireland, Canada, London, England, and his native Scotland. Liam has contributed to more than seventeen books and authored six, including A Window on Tomorrow (Christian Focus, 1994), The Fellowship of the King (Carlisle, 2003), The Jesus Gospel (Milton Keynes, 2006), Joseph—The Hidden Hand of God (Fearn, 2008), as well studies on Ezekiel (thegoodbook Company) and Elijah (Intervarsity). His Sunday sermons are webcast on the internet and on the radio program No Falling Word.

How I Changed My Mind about Infant Baptism, by Liam Goligher (February 26, 2013)
No one should make the decision to change church allegiances without taking time to consider the biblical evidence: theological trajectories, pastoral impact (on people we love and serve), and cultural implications (every tradition has its "hem" traditions!) of the shift. Yet I suspect no one should take as long as I did to make the actual move! For me the change was not a sudden shaft of light so much as an unsought capitulation to the accumulated weight of evidence garnered over many years of regular biblical ministry.

Born into a Christian family I cannot remember a time when I did not love the Lord Jesus or love His church. Sunday was, as it remains, the high point of our week. As a child I loved the psalms and hymns we sang, the minister’s gravity (accentuated by his wearing the clerical collar), and the solemn order of our participation in the Lord’s Supper. My Baptist church looked and felt more like the Presbyterian church down the street.

Sensing a call to preach when I was eleven, I immediately developed a passionate interest in reading theology and doing evangelism. When I discovered the doctrines of grace at age 14 and began to talk about them to everyone who would listen, it caused dismay to my parents, peers, and church leaders who urged me to get over it and stick to the simple gospel. I was baptized as a believer by immersion at the age of 15; it was the thing to do in obedience to Christ. When the minister and church officers recognized my call to the ministry, they naturally directed me into the Baptist ministry, and I went to Ireland to study in a college that identified itself as "Reformed and evangelical." There I first heard the arguments that went beyond the usual proof texts used to support the credobaptist position, arguments that rooted believer’s baptism in the covenant of grace. These discussions and my love for the church sparked a serious study of ecclesiology that I would pursue over several years. By the time I became a pastor of my own church at age 22, I was already beginning to think that Presbyterian church government most closely resembled that which I saw in the New Testament, and I was prepared to say that to anyone who asked throughout the rest of my ministry. Three of the churches I served instituted an eldership as a result of my teaching on the nature and function of church office.

But a sense that Presbyterian polity was biblical was one thing; "getting" infant baptism was something else. Looking back over the first ten years of my ministry, I think I was becoming increasingly unconvinced that I had the baptism issue resolved, and I began to dismiss the issue of baptism as a divisive one and sought to rise above it! What reflection was possible with three (or four as in my very first church) sermons a week to prepare, no sabbatical (in 40 years of pastoral ministry), and a series of busy churches and a growing family to deal with were inconclusive? In Canada I had the opportunity to study Reformation Thought at the University of Waterloo in Ontario where there are strong Anabaptist influences. Reading the primary documents of the Reformation, especially the spiritual and Anabaptist writers, I found myself increasingly in sympathy with the magisterial reformers. I found myself increasingly uncomfortable in an exclusively Baptist setting and eventually moved to churches with an "open" membership where I was not bound to persuade people to be rebaptized and where I had the opportunity to explain to people from the Baptist tradition who applied for membership the paedo-baptist position. I felt deeply committed to serving the congregations where we were led; I appreciated the fact they welcomed paedobaptists into full membership and I respectfully implemented their church order and baptized believers by immersion. I could not accept invitations to pastor "closed" membership churches to the perplexity of many friends who simply never asked me why! As a couple our approach to rearing our five children became driven by covenant theology we followed the advice of William Still of Aberdeen who encouraged us privately to bring our children up in faith that they would become Christians rather than in fear they would not. And in my practice of child dedication I urged parents to see their children as children of promise. My wife and I are grateful to God for that godly and helpful advice.

What were my problems? I wanted to understand where baptism stood in the context of biblical theology, how did it fit into the flow of the bible’s story line? I could not understand why, given the Old Testament emphasis of God's working through families, the New Testament did not signal a change in that policy; it seemed passing strange to me that the new covenant sacrament included women and Gentiles but excluded the children of believers; it seemed that in that respect the new covenant was less generous than the old. There were too many questions surrounding the family baptisms in Acts and Corinthians, Paul's "holy" children, the warning passages of Hebrews, and the nature of the church that I could not resolve from a Baptist perspective.

The Nature of the Church

Was the church exclusively composed only of the elect? The Anabaptists and Baptists (like many such movements in the history of the church) aimed at forming a "pure" church of "believers only" and often contrasted themselves with the mixed nature of churches in the "magisterial" stream of the Reformation. Scripture seemed to contradict this assumption. My early dispensationalism dissolved during expositions of the prophet Daniel that led me to understand that the true Israel was the believing remnant within the larger body of circumcised and professing Israelites. God's covenant community in the times before Christ was a community of believers and their children; in that community some did and many did not fulfill the spiritual expectation of their circumcision. Our Lord Himself claimed to be the true Israel when He said, "I am the true vine" He went on to describe the branches "in him"—all of which were externally united to him and some of which were organically united and brought forth fruit as a result of his word. The writer to the Hebrews specifically links his Christian readers with the Hebrews of the old covenant and warns them that some in their community that have been "washed" (baptized) and who have eaten the heavenly food (the Lord's Supper) and have felt the powers of the age to come (the Word of God) may fall away. These were obviously church members, part of the Israel of God, but they were not savingly united to Christ or numbered among the elect. When our Lord addresses the congregations in Revelation, he recognizes that many within the churches will not have "ears to hear." This suggests New Testament churches were not pure though they strove to be, and it explains why the language of Israel is so indiscriminately applied to the churches (God’s people, holy nation etc. 1 Peter 2:10).

The Continuity of the Covenant of Grace

At seminary it became apparent that the fundamental issue separating credo and paedobaptists is that of the relationship between the old and new covenants. Here theologians make a helpful distinction between ordo salutis (order of salvation) and historia salutis (history of salvation).[16] The ordo salutis relates to the way salvation is applied to believers; the historia salutis refers to the once and for all event of our Lord’s coming into the world and all that he accomplished for our salvation by his life, death, resurrection, and exaltation. It is this distinction that helps us answer the question: “What is new about the new covenant?

Older dispensationalism spoke of several "administrations" of salvation in different dispensations or ages. I clung to a revised form of dispensationalism through seminary and even preached it in the first months of my ministry but it soon evaporated when I set myself to teach through the book of Daniel. Instead I was persuaded that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone in every age. This covenant of grace was announced to Adam, established with Abraham, administered provisionally under Moses, and realized in Christ. Genesis shows that Adam believed in the promise of the Messiah who would crush the serpent's head! That unilateral and unconditional promise of a Savior is called the covenant of grace. It is established in God's covenant with Abraham who was "justified by faith." Paul can say that Abraham was justified (ordo) even though when Abraham believed, Christ had not yet been raised for ourjustification (historia) (Galatians 3:6). In Hebrews 11 Abraham is shown to have had a new covenant faith as he looked for a heavenly city, the New Jerusalem; while Moses"considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward," even though Christ had not yet come into the world to be "reproached" when Moses believed these things (Hebrews 11:26). When the later prophets predicted a new covenant it was not in contrast with the covenant of grace announced to Adam and Abraham.

In Luke’s two volume work (Luke-Acts) I noticed that each book begins by anchoring the gospel in the covenant with Abraham—in Mary’s song where she places the events surrounding her son in the mercy of God "to Abraham and his offspring forever" (Luke 1:55); and in Peter’s sermon where his punch line after pointing to Christ is the "promise" (of the gospel—forgiveness and the gift of the Spirit) which is for us and our offspring. Later he says that Abraham "rejoiced" to see his day; and that Isaiah had seen him in the Temple "high and lifted up."

It follows that, if pre-Christian believers were saved that they had to be saved by Christ alone through Hhis work on the cross. This has implications for the sacraments.

The Signs and Seals of the Covenant of Grace

In the Old Testament salvation is conditioned on faith and is attended by covenant signs and seals—circumcision and the Passover. Both are "bloody" signs. And both point forward to their fulfillment in Christ.

Circumcision

Circumcision, which involved cutting off the foreskin, signifies the "cutting off" of Abraham and his children from the rest of the world and their belonging to the Lord. It was an outward sign and seal of inner spiritual circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:6) which references the new birth and the transformation of the heart. In Ezekial 36:24 the Lord refers to this spiritual circumcision when he promises the new covenant. It is probably to this teaching Jesus refers when he expresses surprise that Nicodemus as a teacher in Israel doesn’t know about the new birth. Circumcision was also, according to Paul, the seal of "the righteousness that is through faith" (Romamns 4:11-12). These two blessings flow to the believer because of their union with Christ. Ultimately it pointed to the "cutting off" of the male "seed" the Messiah "the circumcision of Christ" (Collossians 2:11-12). "In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead." Christ was cut off for us, and his death for our sins is counted by God as our own death. Circumcision symbolizes this reality of Christ suffering as our substitute. In the new covenant, the sign and seal of the covenant is a bloodless sign; it uses water to demonstrate that the sacrifice has been made and the promise has been fulfilled and the sign signifies the forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Passover

Later under Moses GOd gave the people another sign, the Passover; that was also a "bloody" sign that reminded his people how he mercifully and graciously redeemed his people from bondage in Egypt. Passover was different from circumcision in the same way that baptism and the Lord's Supper differ: circumcision, the first covenant sign was applied to infants and adults alike, and was a mark of entrance into God's covenant people. When a Gentile like Abraham is converted and "believes God" he is circumcised as a believer and his family are circumcised as a sign and seal of the promise of God. The Passover meal was restricted to those who were able to understand God's redemptive acts because it was meant to nurture and lead to growth. It was not a sign of entrance into the visible covenant assembly of God's people, but served as a means of renewing the covenant of grace. The new covenant equivalent of Passover is the Lord’s Supper, which is reserved for those who profess the gospel to which they were pledged as children and who follow up their baptism by believing the gospel for themselves.

Only this biblical theological trajectory explains why the New Testament gives no detailed apologetic for baptism leading some to dismiss baptism (as I once did) as secondary or inconsequential. The Bible does not need to enlarge on that which it has already taught. So, a Jewish audience would know exactly what Peter meant on the day of Pentecost when he quoted the Abrahamic covenant language concerning the gospel promise, "this promise is for you and your children and all who are afar off" (Acts 2). What is clearly new in that announcement is that Gentiles are to receive the promise. It is then no surprise to find a Gentile with a family imitating the experience of Abraham (when he was a Gentile technically) believing God and being baptized along with all his family. Far from being an argument from silence, the household baptisms fit perfectly the trajectory of biblical theological teaching.

It is also no surprise to find the warning passages addressed to people who have been washed and have tasted the powers of the age to come. These are baptized Christians who are within the orbit of the church but who despite that may act like many Israelites in the desert and depart from the God they profess to serve.

This explains why the children of even one believer in a couple are described as "holy" by the apostle Paul in Corinthians. They are covenant children separated from the world and exposed to the things of God. And what is it that separates them from the world? It is their baptism. When the later prophets predicted a new covenant it was not in contrast with the covenant of grace announced to Adam and Abraham. The whole point of Hebrews 11 is that Abraham had a new covenant faith and looked for a heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, and Romans 4 and Galatians 3 use Abraham as an example of New Covenant faith. Moses "considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward," even though Christ had not yet been "reproached" in history when Moses believed these things (Hebrews 11:26).

The new covenant is new in contrast to the covenant with Israel through Moses. Galatians 3:1-29, 4:21-31, and 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 stress that the covenant with Moses was preparatory, and Paul says that the glory of the Old Covenant was fading but the glory of the New Covenant is permanent. The message of Hebrews chapters 3-10 is that the Old Covenant (under Moses) was preparatory to the New Covenant. This means that the newness of the new covenant is not that there is a new way of salvation, but that a new day has dawned. In theological terms it is not about the "ordo salutis" but the "historia salutis"—all that was foreshadowed found fulfillment in the new covenant.

We are grateful to God for every church where we have served and at this point of our lives we feel enormously privileged to serve in a church that holds to my beloved "Westminster Confession of Faith." It is my joy to baptize the children of believers and to see those children treated, not as little strangers until they make their profession of faith, but as members of the family of God. As such they are instructed in the full width of Bible truth and in the catechism of the church. It is the most wonderful privilege to see those children come to the point where they want to express their faith publicly and be admitted to the Lord’s Table. Of course it is still disappointing that baptism remains the "water that divides," but I have learned to appreciate the joy in knowing that there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. And it gives me more joy than I can express to belong to a church that takes seriously the creeds, confessions, and catechisms of the Reformation.

Tim Challies (1976—) from paedobaptist to credobaptist

Tim Challies (1976—) [17] is a former Anglican Presbyterian Dutch Reformed church pædobaptist who converted to the credobaptist doctrine of "believer's baptism" only, based entirely on what he read in the Bible. He earned a degree in History from McMaster University, and became a Canadian author, blogger, book reviewer, Christian apologist, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario.[18] He is the editor of Discerning Reader (discerningreader.com) and co-founder of CruciformPress [19], and has written several books including The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment and Sexual Detox. He writes daily at https://www.challies.com.

Why I am not Paedobaptist (June 16, 2016) (challis.com)
For the past few weeks I have been taking a day a week to tell how I have arrived at my various theological convictions. I’ve done this by telling you why I am not what I am not: I am not atheist, Roman Catholic, liberal, or Arminian. Today I want to tell you why I am not paedobaptist. But first, of course, definitions are in order.

While all Protestants affirm the necessity of baptism, there are two broad understandings of who should be the recipient of this act, and both are within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy. Some hold to believer’s baptism (credobaptism) and state that only those who make a credible profession of faith ought to be baptized. Others hold to infant baptism (paedobaptism) and believe that the children of believers ought to be baptized. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defends this position: “…the infants of such as are members of the visible church, are to be baptized.” The same catechism says, “Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.”

By rights I ought to be a convinced paedobaptist. I was baptized in an Anglican church by parents who soon developed Presbyterian convictions. I spent most of my childhood in a Dutch Reformed church that affirmed the Heidelberg Catechism which asks, “Should infants, too, be baptized?” It answers, “Yes. Infants as well as adults belong to God’s covenant and congregation. Through Christ’s blood the redemption from sin and the Holy Spirit, who works faith, are promised to them no less than to adults. Therefore, by baptism, as sign of the covenant, they must be incorporated into the Christian church and distinguished from the children of unbelievers. This was done in the old covenant by circumcision, in place of which baptism was instituted in the new covenant.” This was my understanding of baptism as I grew up, as I transitioned into adulthood, as I married, and as I became a father.

When our first child was born, Aileen and I prepared ourselves to baptize him. But just before the day arrived, a series of events unfolded that stopped us in our tracks. It would be fourteen years before he was baptized and, even then, only after he professed faith in Christ. By that time I would be a pastor at a Reformed Baptist church. Here’s what happened.

Nick was born early in 2000 and we soon began planning a date for his baptism. However, by that time my parents had moved to the States and we wanted to wait for their next visit so they could celebrate with us. It can’t have been more than a few weeks after his birth when one of our elders, a sweet and godly man, approached us to ask about our plans. We told him that we wanted to wait until my parents could be with us. He reported back to the other elders and their reaction surprised and confused us. They communicated to us their expectation that we would baptize him right away. We loved and trusted those men, so were perplexed. Why the rush? If baptism is simply a sign and seal that communicates no saving grace, why the urgency? What difference would a few weeks make? Right here, for the first time, a hint of doubt entered my mind.

I asked the elders if they would grant us a bit of time. A week’s reflection had shown me that while I could explain infant baptism perfectly well, I couldn’t satisfactorily defend it from the Bible. I was beginning to wonder if paedobaptism was even in the Bible. The elders felt that this hesitation was a rejection of both our profession of faith and our church membership vows. It looked like Aileen and I were going to be placed under the discipline of the church.

Thankfully, we found a compromise. Right around this time I received a job offer in a distant town and, since we would soon be leaving the church anyway, I asked the elders if they would be willing to terminate our membership on that basis. They were willing, and we parted as friends. (I should add that Aileen and I were young and foolish enough that we undoubtedly handled this situation poorly at times and do not count ourselves blameless. We have nothing but love and respect for that church and its elders.)

When we moved to our new home we began attending Baptist churches. We eventually settled into one and, in order to become a member, I had to be baptized as a believer. By then my convictions had grown and deepened enough that I believed it was the right thing to do. Since that day my convictions have grown all the more.

So why am I not paedobaptist? I am not paedobaptist because, quite simply, I cannot see infant baptism clearly prescribed or described in the New Testament. I see believer’s baptism and so, too, does every paedobaptist. We agree together that we are to preach “believe and be baptized” and extend that baptism to those who have made a profession of faith. That is perfectly clear. And, indeed, Aileen was rightly baptized as an adult believer in a paedobaptist church.

The pressing question is whether the Bible calls for a second kind of baptism—the baptism of the children of believers. It is this baptism that I do not see despite my efforts to do so. The New Testament contains no explicit command to baptize the children of believers and likewise contains no explicit examples of it. (To be fair, neither does it expressly prohibit infant baptism or show a second-generation Christian being baptized as a believer.) Instead, the doctrine has to be drawn from what I understand as an unfair continuity between the old and new covenants and from assuming that children were part of the various household baptisms (Acts 16:15; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:16). I suppose I am credobaptist rather than paedobaptist for the very reason most paedobaptists are not credobaptists: I am following my best understanding of God’s Word. My position seems every bit as obvious to me as the other position seems to those who hold it. What an odd reality that God allows there to be disagreement on even so crucial a doctrine as baptism. What a joy, though, that we can affirm that both views are well within the bounds of orthodoxy and that we can gladly labor together for the sake of the gospel.

Historical argument against infant baptism given by some Protestants

Zondervan Academic states:

Tertullian is the earliest to reference to the practice of infant baptism. He advised against it.

The Apostolic Tradition’s description of the ceremony of baptism shows that it was designed for those who were old enough to take an active part.

In fact, the confession of faith was so integral to baptism that, if a person could not confess the faith themselves, parents or someone else in the family would speak on their behalf. (boldface emphasis added)

A century after Tertullian, Cyprian advocated for infant baptism, although for many years this remained the exception to the rule of full immersion. Infant baptism did not become routine until the fifth and sixth centuries.[20]

Early teachings on infant baptism

See Church Fathers - Infant Baptism and Early Teachings on Infant Baptism and Infant Baptism and The Church Fathers, Medieval Theologians, and Protestant Leaders on Baptism, Douglas Beaumont - Baptism's Purpose (Removal of sin / Regeneration), Baptism's Mode (Water), Baptism's Recipients (Infants) (douglasbeaumont.com).

Irenaeus [A.D. 189] Against Heresies, Book II, chapter 22—[A.D. 190] Fragment 34
Tertullian [A.D. 205] Tertullian, On Baptism, chapters I, II, IV, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XVIII
Hippolytus [A.D. 215] The Apostolic Tradition chapter 21.4.
Origen [A.D. 248] Sin in Origen's Homilies on Leviticus 7. Sin in Pre-existence [21]
—also Commentaries on Romans 5:9.[22]
Cyprian of Carthage [A.D. 253] Letter 58. To Fadus, on the Baptism of Infants.
Gregory of Nazianz [A.D. 388] Oration on Holy Baptism XVII and XXVIII.
John Chrysostom [A.D. 388] Baptismal Catecheses in Augustine, Against Julian 1:6:21.
Augustine [A.D. 400 – A.D. 412] On Baptism, Against the Donatists (Book IV) [23].
Council of Carthage V [A.D. 401] Canon 7 —
Canons of the Council of Carthage to Investigate Pelagianism, May 1, 418, Canons 2 and 3.1.
Council of Mileum II [A.D. 416] St. Zosimus 417-418 Canons 101.Canon 1 and 102.Canon 2.

Earliest historical mention of infant baptism: A.D. 185 / 189-190

The earliest explicit mention of infant baptism according to those who firmly hold to and maintain the paedobaptist doctrine of "infant baptism" is found A.D. 185 in Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, Book II, Chapter 22:4.[24], and in a fragment of his lost writings dated to A.D. 190.

For He came to save all through means of Himself — all, I say, who through Him are born again to God — infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord. (boldface emphasis added)
“‘And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]” (Fragment 34 [A.D. 190] [25]).
This born again to God and regenerated as newborn babes with textual citation of John 3:5 is interpreted by paedobaptists (infant baptisers) as a direct reference to John 3:3-5:
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
King James Bible (KJV)

The Greek New Testament word for "man" here in John is τις tis "anyone".[26]

See interlinear text of John 3:5. No human being is excluded. Age is not mentioned.

Those who firmly hold to and maintain the credobaptist doctrine of "believer's baptism" see no evidence of infant baptism in these statements quoted from Irenaeus or in John 3:3-5.

Tertullian, On Baptism: A.D. 200 / 205

The next earliest mention of infant baptism is A.D. 200 in Tertullian, in his treatise On Baptism.[27] The very first words of On Baptism show the doctrine of "regenerative baptism"

Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life! … [And further on he says] All waters, therefore, in virtue of the pristine privilege of their origin, do, after invocation of God, attain the sacramental power of sanctification; for the Spirit immediately supervenes from the heavens, and rests over the waters, sanctifying them from Himself; and being thus sanctified, they imbibe at the same time the power of sanctifying.[28]

His treatise on baptism (in particular chapters I, II, IV, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XVIII) shows throughout that baptism saves from sins and that infant baptism is a practice accepted in the early church without any need for any kind of an official mandate of dogma to do so by any synod of bishops, council or pope.[29] The early Church Fathers, including Tertullian, are unanimous in their belief in regenerative baptism, that Baptism actually saves us (as 1 Peter 3:21 explicitly says), by causing us to be born again by water and the Spirit (John 3:5); that it actually washes away our sins (Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:4-7), and creates in us a clean heart (Hebrews 10:22), making us new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), enabling us to approach God (Hebrews 10:22), all of which is prophesied by Ezekiel 36:25-27.

25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
—Ezekiel 36:25-27 (KJV)
Whole families who converted to Christ had all of their members baptized into Jesus, including infants, that they all might belong to God.[30] [29] All who were in immanent danger of death were immediately baptized, using available water, even if only a few drops. And if they were unconscious, all who were unable to request baptism were baptized, including infants, to save them from damnation—"if a person could not confess the faith themselves, parents or someone else in the family would speak on their behalf" (Zondervan Academic [20]; a citation from the early third century Apostolic Tradition attributed to Hippolytus [31]). Tertullian does not denounce the practice of infant baptism but urges against the commonly accepted tradition that the sacrament be delayed until after the period of innocence because it is holy and a "heavy responsibility", and even much later, even in the case of adults, especially the young and unmarried who are subject to great temptations, and elders, because of the danger of committing a mortal sin, which some at that time believe cannot be forgiven after baptism, based on their particular controversial interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6.[32] The references to (i) being enlightened, (ii) tasting the heavenly gift, (iii) becoming partakers of the Holy Spirit, (iv) falling away, and (v) repentance, are interpreted in general by all as references to Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, Apostasy, and Confession, respectively.
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened [Baptism], and have tasted of the heavenly gift [Eucharist], and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost [Confirmation],
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 If they shall fall away [Apostasy], to renew them again unto repentance [Confession]; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
—Hebrews 6:4-6 (KJV)
Not everyone in that period of the history of the church agrees with Tertullian's recommendation that baptism is best delayed, because of the common belief that baptism actually cleanses the soul, washing away sins, and the danger of death before baptism.
"And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Acts 22:16.

He held the opinion that baptism alone, which could not be repeated, is the only, unique and singular means of forgiveness of sins. He was also concerned that what is holy, the baptismal grace, should not be carelessly defiled. The controversial opinion of some very intolerant strict moral rigorists that after baptism no mortal sin can ever be forgiven was rejected in the condemnation of the heresy of Novatianism,[33] in favor of the orthodox catholic doctrine that there is no post-baptismal sin that cannot be forgiven by Christ in the sacrament of confession before death.[34] The only exception is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.[35] The predominant orthodox catholic doctrine held that just as people spoke against Jesus, so they speak against his body, against his household the church (as Novatian did).[36] As blasphemy against the Son of Man is forgiven, so blasphemy against his body the church is forgiven. As blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in Jesus is not forgiven, in this world or in the world to come, so blasphemy against the Holy Spirit of his body the church, as the One working [37] in the sacraments and ministries of healing and the attested miracles worked by his body,[38] is not forgiven, in this world or in the world to come. And as blasphemy against the Bride of Christ is forgiven, so blasphemy against the Spirit dwelling in Her and ruling Her, as being in reality the evil spirit of Antichrist and Satan, is not forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.[39]

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
1 Peter 4:14 (KJV)

Tertullian afterward became convinced that the willingness of the Catholic Orthodox Church to absolve all sins was proof that it had become heretical and committed apostasy from the purity of the Gospel. He and his followers departed and joined the Montanists for a while; then afterward the Tertullianists formed their own group. In his own time, Augustine (354 – 430) records that the Tertullianist group had dwindled to almost nothing and was finally reconciled to the church and handed over its basilica.[40] [41] It is not certain whether these Tertullianists were in all respects "Montanist" or not. In the 6th century, on the orders of the Emperor Justinian, John of Ephesus led an expedition to Pepuza to destroy the Montanist shrine there, which was based on the tombs of the self-proclaimed prophets of the New Prophesy, Montanus, Priscilla and Maximilla.

A sect called "Montanist" existed in the 8th century; the Emperor Leo III the Isaurian ordered the conversion and baptism of its members. These Montanists refused, locked themselves in their houses of worship, set the buildings on fire and perished.[42]

Tertullian had harsh words for those who reject tradition and believe salvation is by faith alone sola fide, a "most venomous doctrine": "vipers", "asps", "basilisks", "monstrous creature", "a viper of the Cainite heresy"
A treatise on this matter will not be superfluous; instructing not only such as are just becoming formed (in the faith), but them who, content with having simply believed, without full examination of the grounds of the traditions, carry (in mind), through ignorance, an untried though probable faith. The consequence is, that a viper of the Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism. Which is quite in accordance with nature; for vipers and asps and basilisks themselves generally do affect arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes, after the example of our Icqus Jesus Christ,[43] are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water [44]; so that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes, by taking them away from the water! [45] (boldface emphasis added)

Hippolytus A.D. 215

“Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them.” [46]
The Apostolic Tradition chapter 21.4.

Origen A.D. 248

“Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin.... In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous” [46] [47].
“The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit” —Commentaries on Romans 5:9.[46]

Cyprian of Carthage A.D. 253

“As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born” ....
“If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he [an infant] approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another”.
Letter 58. To Fadus, on the Baptism of Infants.

Gregory of Nazianzus A.D. 388

“Do you have an infant child? Allow sin no opportunity; rather, let the infant be sanctified from childhood. From his most tender age let him be consecrated by the Spirit. Do you fear the seal [of baptism] because of the weakness of nature? Oh, what a pusillanimous mother and of how little faith!”….
“‘Well enough,’ some will say, ‘for those who ask for baptism, but what do you have to say about those who are still children, and aware neither of loss nor of grace? Shall we baptize them too?’ Certainly [I respond], if there is any pressing danger. Better that they be sanctified unaware, than that they depart unsealed and uninitiated”
Oration on Holy Baptism XVII and XXVIII.

John Chrysostom A.D. 388

“You see how many are the benefits of baptism, and some think its heavenly grace consists only in the remission of sins, but we have enumerated ten honors [it bestows]! For this reason we baptize even infants, though they are not defiled by [personal] sins, so that there may be given to them holiness, righteousness, adoption, inheritance, brotherhood with Christ, and that they may be his [Christ’s] members”
Baptismal Catecheses in Augustine, Against Julian 1:6:21.[46]

Augustine A.D. 400

“What the universal Church holds, not as instituted [invented] by councils but as something always held, is most correctly believed to have been handed down by apostolic authority. Since others respond for children, so that the celebration of the sacrament may be complete for them, it is certainly availing to them for their consecration, because they themselves are not able to respond”
On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:24:31. —A.D. 400 [48].[46]

Council of Carthage V A.D. 401

“Item: It seemed good that whenever there were not found reliable witnesses who could testify that without any doubt they [abandoned children] were baptized and when the children themselves were not, on account of their tender age, able to answer concerning the giving of the sacraments to them, all such children should be baptized without scruple, lest a hesitation should deprive them of the cleansing of the sacraments. This was urged by the [North African] legates, our brethren, since they redeem many such [abandoned children] from the barbarians” —Canon 7 [46]
Canons of the Council of Carthage to Investigate Pelagianism, May 1, 418, Canons 2 and 3.1.

Augustine A.D. 408 – 412

“The custom of Mother Church in baptizing infants is certainly not to be scorned, nor is it to be regarded in any way as superfluous, nor is it to be believed that its tradition is anything except apostolic”
The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 10:23:39. —A.D. 408.
“Cyprian was not issuing a new decree but was keeping to the most solid belief of the Church in order to correct some who thought that infants ought not be baptized before the eighth day after their birth. . . . He agreed with certain of his fellow bishops that a child is able to be duly baptized as soon as he is born”
Letters 166:8:23. —A.D. 412.
“By this grace baptized infants too are ingrafted into his [Christ’s] body, infants who certainly are not yet able to imitate anyone. Christ, in whom all are made alive . . . gives also the most hidden grace of his Spirit to believers, grace which he secretly infuses even into infants.... If anyone wonders why children born of the baptized should themselves be baptized, let him attend briefly to this.... The sacrament of baptism is most assuredly the sacrament of regeneration”
Forgiveness and the Just Deserts of Sin, and the Baptism of Infants 1:9:10; 1:24:34; 2:27:43. —A.D. 412.[46]

Council of Mileum II A.D. 416

“[W]hoever says that infants fresh from their mothers’ wombs ought not to be baptized, or say that they are indeed baptized unto the remission of sins, but that they draw nothing of the original sin of Adam, which is expiated in the bath of regeneration . . . let him be anathema [excommunicated]. Since what the apostle [Paul] says, ‘Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so passed to all men, in whom all have sinned’ [Rom. 5:12], must not be understood otherwise than the Catholic Church spread everywhere has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith even infants, who in themselves thus far have not been able to commit any sin, are therefore truly baptized unto the remission of sins, so that that which they have contracted from generation may be cleansed in them by regeneration” —Canon 3 [46]
St. Zosimus 417-418 Canons 101.Canon 1 and 102.Canon 2.

Controversy based on interpretations of Scripture

The Bible does not explicitly command the practice of infant baptism.

The Bible does not explicitly forbid the practice of infant baptism.

The necessity of baptism for salvation is seen by the majority of Christians [49] as divinely revealed by God in the following Bible texts:

John 3:3-5; Matthew 28:18-19; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38-39; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Peter 3:21.

Luke 18:15-16

"They were also bringing their babies to him" Luke 18:15—KJV "infants".
Greek καὶ τὰ βρέφη ἵνα αὐτῶν kai ta brephe ina auton "also infants to him".
The word βρέφη brephe means, "an unborn or a newborn child, infant, babe, child in arms", children not yet able to walk. From the Greek vocabulary of this passage, these are helpless babies who cannot of themselves come to Jesus by their own power.
See Strong's number 1025 βρέφη brephe "infant".
Compare the interlinear text of Luke 18:15. Compare the parallel versions of Luke 18:15.

"Allow the little children to come to me, and do not hinder them" Luke 18:16.
KJV "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not".
This passage in verses 15-16, is often used to argue in favor of infant baptism, with the reasoning that if the grace of blessing by Christ can be received by the soul of an infant, by "babies", as here in this text of Luke, then the grace of baptism unto salvation can also be received by the soul of a baby, and no one is justified in hindering or opposing the practice of infant baptism, which the ancient church fathers testified comes from the teaching of the apostles, traceable by tradition back to the first century of the early church.
Compare John 3:5 and commentaries.
See 1 Peter 3:21 and commentaries.

Christian Evangelicals and Fundamentalists argue that infants, "babies", are incapable of repentance and of committing any personal sins, and therefore baptizing them once, as infants, as an act never to be repeated, deprives them of obeying the commandment to "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38. All Christians admit that the New Testament teaches that believers, "the saints", can sin after being baptized ("post-baptismal sins") and that they can again "repent" and confess their sins and be forgiven and be saved, according to 1 John 1:8-9 and John 20:21-23; also Matthew 18:15-18; James 5:13-20. Catholics teach that for those who have been baptized as infants, as well as adults who have been baptized, sins committed after baptism can be forgiven, and for this purpose the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation commonly called Confession was instituted by Christ. For this reason Catholics respond that infant baptism does not deprive the baptized person of obeying the commandment to repent, having already been baptized. They are baptized, being Christians "from infancy",[50] and they repent, fulfilling the command "Repent, and be baptized". They repent, and they are (already) baptized, both together, the one and the other being fulfilled. "I am baptized, and I repent of my sins." The church fathers have also called Sacramental Confession a "laborious form of baptism", a "second baptism".[51] Christian Evangelicals and Fundamentalists are not persuaded by this argument, which seems to them to be an exercise in casuistry,[52] which ignores the distinction of a simple interpretation of the obviously plain and simple reading of Peter's word "repent (first), and (then) be baptized". If babies and infants and the unborn in the womb are incapable of repentance and do not know what it means, then they cannot (yet) qualify for baptism.

According to the Bible, even infants and those in the womb are able to praise God or go astray from him by sin. See the following:

Job 31:18; Psalm 8:2; Psalm 139:16; Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 21:16; Luke 1:41; Luke 18:15; Acts 2:39; Acts 17:27; 2 Peter 3:9; compare Psalm 58:3; Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 9:13.

There is even an inherent universal regret of loss suggesting an implicitly incipient natural tendency toward repentance by the whole material creation in Romans 8:19-23. To groan is to desire relief and a willingness to embrace it, an unfulfilled, indefinite longing in the soul.

Apologists for the doctrine of infant baptism point to the next verse, Acts 2:39: "For the promise is to you and to your children..."; and they point to the fact that here in Luke 18:15 "They were also bringing their babies to him", and that Jesus himself, seeing his own disciples rebuking them for doing so, commanded them, "Allow the little children to come to me, and do not hinder them" Luke 18:16—"And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them" Mark 10:16—"And he laid his hands on them" Matthew 19:15.

In response, Christian Evangelicals and Fundamentalists argue that Jesus did not command the "bringing" of infants by others, but that he said, "Allow the little children to come to me, and do not hinder them"—the words "allow to come" and "do not hinder them" indicating to them that these little children are capable of walking, and therefore of an age to reason, understand, repent, and "be baptized", by their own choice, not the choice of their parents on their behalf bringing them to him before they reach an age to have any rational understanding of the meaning of being sorry for their own sins. This eisegetical interpretation utterly contradicts, or at the very least totally ignores, the Bible's word βρέφη brephe, which clearly means, "an unborn or a newborn child, infant, babe, child in arms", children not yet able to walk. Such an interpretation is a clear example of confirmation bias. From the context, Jesus' word, "allow the little children to come to me", means, "allow the little babies to be brought to me—don't exclude them!"

Apologists for infant baptism respond that Jesus was countermanding his disciples' refusal of infants, babies, being brought to him for his blessing, and that even infants, babies, incapable of conscious choice, can receive the blessing of Jesus from heaven in baptism. They also point to 1 Peter 3:21 and Ephesians 5:25b-27, teaching that according to the Bible baptism saves us now, and that Jesus sanctifies and cleanses his church with the washing of water with the word, to present the whole church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. They point to the fact that Paul teaches that baptism replaces circumcision, which is done when a child is only eight days old, which made that little baby a member of the people of God, to be raised and taught the way of the Lord in truth. Colossians 2:9-14. They say this has always been the "tradition" by "word" as handed down from the apostles of the Lord, that whole "households" and "all their families" with all "your children" were baptized.[53] Those "household" passages of the New Testament do not exclude children and infants, neither are they explicitly mentioned, although Acts 21:5-6 mentions wives and children bringing Paul on his way. No minimum age of accountability is mentioned in the New Testament as a requirement of eligibility for baptism into Christ. Nowhere do we read of children raised in believing households reaching the age of reason and then being baptized.

Romans 6:3-11; 1 Peter 3:21; Hebrews 10:19-22; Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:25-27; Luke 18:15-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; Hebrews 13:17; 2 Timothy 2:2, 23-25; Jude 3; 2 Peter 3:14-18; Acts 2:39; 11:14; 16:15, 31, 33; 18:8.

The Catholic and Orthodox doctrine of "household salvation" including the βρέφη brephe infants of Luke 18:15 finds support in Hebrews 11:7, 9, 20, 28, 31, and James 2:17, 22, 24-26.[54]

  • Hebrews 11:7 By active faith Noah constructed an ark for the saving of his household.
  • Hebrews 11:9 Isaac and Jacob as infants were heirs with Abraham their father who by active faith entered and dwelt in the land of promise.
  • Hebrews 11:20 By active faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau his sons.
  • Hebrews 11:28 By active faith Moses kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the first-born might not touch them, infants and adults.
  • Hebrews 11:31 The active faith of Rahab the harlot saved the spies of Joshua from the king's soldiers when they were powerless to save themselves, and saved her whole family from death, which they could not have done without her.
  • James 2:17 Faith by itself, without works, is dead, and baptism is a work of mercy.
  • James 2:22 Faith was active along with Abraham's works, and faith was completed by his works on behalf of himself and his descendants.
  • James 2:24 You can see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.[54]
  • James 2:25 Rahab was justified by works by receiving the messengers and saving them from the king by sending them out of the city by another way, and by saving her whole family from death.
  • James 2:26 As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

They claim that baptism is a work of Christ alone, performed by them in faith,[55] for the salvation of those who are baptized by the washing of water with the word in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

According to the pedobaptist doctrine of salvation of infants by "regenerative baptism", a permanent "baptismal character" (often called a "mark") is imprinted indelibly by the Holy Spirit of Jesus on the regenerated soul of the baptized which cannot be removed.[56] The cleansing of the soul from sin and the gift of supernatural faith implanted in the soul by baptism is, in the case of baptized infants, a "seed"remaining in the soul,[57] to be nurtured and encouraged by the upbringing and teaching of the parents and the Christian doctrine of the Church. Devout Christian parents who have their infants baptized, take upon themselves the duty to raise their children to understand that because of their baptism into Christ they are obligated to dedicate their whole lives to living the Christian life in obedience to Christ, and that to refuse to do so after they are old enough to understand is a very serious sin of rebellion against God himself, punishable by condemnation to hell for all eternity if, having known the truth, they do not repent of their conscious refusal to live a Christian life of holiness in obedience to Christ Jesus the Lord before they die. They have been taught that just as Israelites, consecrated to God by the rite of circumcision when they were babies, passed from life to death, by betraying the covenant of God in Moses, so those infants baptized into Christ, kill the baptismal gift of spiritual life within them, after reaching the age of understanding, by committing mortal sins, or at the very least wound it by sins that are not mortal (venial sins).[58] The "baptismal character" thus wounded, or rendered inert and lifeless, killed by mortal sin, can be revived by confession and absolution in the confessional [59] by the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, where the priest and the repentant sinner meet together in the name of the Lord, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20.

This doctrine of "regenerative baptism" which causes an ontological change that actually cleanses and washes away sins, by effecting in the soul a new supernatural life directly infused by the Holy Spirit ex opere operato through the "washing of water with the word", is found by apologists for infant baptism in the following scriptural texts:

Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:25-29a; Jeremiah 24:7; 31:31-33; Titus 3:5-6; 2 Peter 1:9; 1 Peter 3:21; Ephesians 5:25b-27; Colossians 2:9-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17; and Galatians 6:15.

They point to these texts as teaching that according to the Bible baptism saves us now by regeneration of the soul unto new life, as a "new creature", and that Jesus sanctifies and cleanses his church with his blood by the washing of water with the word as a true sign of the cleansing of the soul by his blood, to present the whole church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. They point to the fact that Paul teaches by a typological analogy that baptism replaces circumcision, which is done when a child is only eight days old, which made that tiny baby a genuine member of the people of God, to be raised and taught the way of the Lord in truth, by the priests of the faith.[60]

This doctrine of baptismal regeneration, which includes infant baptism, is repudiated as being totally against the teaching of the Bible. Abraham, our father in faith, was converted, regenerated, forgiven, and had righteousness reckoned (imputed) to him, by faith (an unborn or newborn child cannot exercise faith), being circumcised in the heart by faith, apart from physical circumcision, baptism, or any other statute, or ordinance. Those who reject infant baptism as regenerative or salvific in any manner accept that the outward symbol of washing of water with the word is simply an ordinance to be faithfully obeyed, not a sacrament, solely as an outward testimony to faith in the salvation of God through believing in the promises of Jesus Christ alone. They obey His ordained ordinances, including baptism, because by faith in Him they are regenerated, not in order to be regenerated; and as a result of having a new heart, not that they might receive a new heart.[61]

1 Peter 3:21 in the King James Version states that baptism is "the answer of a good conscience toward God". The Greek word here translated as "answer" is έπερώτημα eperotema [62], which means much more than a mere answer to a question. It means primarily “question,” “enquiry,” “inquiry” as in a probing investigation or hearing and a trial by law before the examiners, the judge and the court. A true understanding according to the literal sense of scripture is found partly in the forensic use of the Greek word for question, έπερώτημα eperotema, as including, like our word “examination,” both question and answer. Substantive evidence as an "exhibit" brought before the court is presented to the judge as an answer to the charge of the guilt or innocence of the accused. In a medical examination of the patient who has been healed the doctor can see for himself that the disease is cured, as in the case of an infant cured of a deadly communicable disease, and the evidence is presented to the chief medical examiner at the head of a medical panel of judges to answer the question of the possibility of any remaining pathology which could pose a risk to the health of the patient and to the community as a whole.[63] The "answer of a good conscience" by baptism in 1 Peter 3:21 is the New Testament antitype to the Old Testament type in the book of Leviticus, the examination by the Levitical priests of an Israelite healed of leprosy to establish proof of having been cleansed by God, after which the ritual of cleansing was performed.[64] The healing of Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy, by his obedient recourse to the water of the Jordan according to the word of the prophet, was a real cleansing. It was not a merely symbolical declaration of his personal conversion to a sincere belief in the God of Israel. And this Old Testament episode has been seen by the Ante-Nicene Fathers as a type of the New Testament sacrament of "regenerative baptism" for the healing of the soul. As the soul of the child is conceived in sin and born without personal consent, unresisting, sin is washed away from the soul of the newborn child by the blood of Christ in baptism without personal consent, unresisting.

The tragic case of "crack babies"[65] formed in the womb and born of mothers already addicted to "crack cocaine" is a very strong analogy to the doctrine of inherited sin. Just as these innocently addicted babies need curative medical treatment for the utter misery of a tormenting defect not chosen by themselves as individuals, so every individual human soul at the moment of conception is afflicted with the deadly terminal defect of original sin for which they are not personally responsible, already in "lifelong bondage" to the devil.[66] They are innocent, but they need salvation from the collective death of sin inherited from their parents descended in the direct lineage of Adam and Eve.[67]

Calvinist and Anabaptist doctrines of predestination, and of credobaptism alone, are represented by their opponents as a doctrine of "monstrous evil" which arbitrarily and without mercy condemns to an eternal hell all who by default do not believe, simply because they are too young to understand or, because of the accidental circumstance of a lack of any kind of opportunity to hear it, have never heard about the Gospel of salvation, and do not believe. This includes all pagans and babies, infants, all those whom Luke 18:15 calls βρέφη brephe, "an unborn or a newborn child, infant, babe, child in arms", not yet able to walk. Apologists for this view respond that this is because their opponents do not grasp the fact that because of the fall of man, the whole human race became totally depraved, and as a consequence of their totally depraved nature are utterly deprived of the power of free will to choose to repent and be saved, and are "by nature the children of wrath".[68] According to this doctrine, the Sovereign God, just and compassionate and merciful, is in his supremely sovereign, perfect, absolute justice under no obligation to save creatures who by nature have no love for him and are by their very nature destined for hell because of their depravity, which cannot be attributed to God, but to Adam alone, because of his abuse of free will by disobedience, with the consequentially complete self-destruction of free will in both himself and all his descendants as one whole united body of humanity. But to manifest absolutely his goodness before all creation, the Sovereign Lord God has predestined for glory all those chosen souls whom he has sovereignly elected to receive the unmerited grace of salvation for the praise of his glory and honor as the absolute Lord of all creation in heaven and on earth.

However, according to the Bible, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:17. This indicates clearly that a sovereign willingness on the part of God to not provide for all souls in the world any possible opportunity for salvation, even ignorant pagans and infants, is not a doctrine supported by the Bible.[69]

Many Christians reject the arbitrary doctrine that babies who have died, who have not been baptized, who did nothing, either good or bad, and did not believe, are automatically doomed to an eternity in the lake of fire.[70] Those Christians who at the same time also reject any need for infant baptism, who have been told that infants are ipso facto totally innocent of all sin, that there is an "age of innocence", and have heard preachers and apologists cite the phrase "below the age of innocence" with reference to very young children, have searched in vain for this phrase in the Bible.[71] Their doctrinal belief is not found in the New Testament, that the baptism of infants is utterly unnecessary, because they have accepted this unsupported belief:

that the Bible itself teaches that all babies in the womb and those infants and children "below the age of innocence" are already "covered by the saving blood of Jesus" because they are innocent of any sin, and are already saved, but only up until the age of understanding and accountability, at which time they become unsaved and must choose on their own to make a decision for Christ to be saved.

Theologians and apologists who have been challenged to defend this doctrine with support from scripture are not able to cite a single text that explicitly states that an unborn or a newborn child, infant, babe, child in arms, a child not yet able to walk, is saved by the covering blood of Christ apart from the baptism mentioned in the New Testament, John 3:3-5; Matthew 28:18-19; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38-39; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Peter 3:21. This is simply from reading the whole text of the New Testament alone sola scriptura. Such a doctrine appears to be only a "tradition of men" outside of the Bible alone. They are unwilling to consign unbaptized infants to hell, yet "as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" Romans 5:12 (KJV), "Except a man [τις tis "anyone"] be born of water and of the Spirit, he [he or she] cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven" John 3:5 (KJV amplified). They have a belief in the universal compassionate mercy of God for all mankind, yet it is coupled with a doctrinal rejection of the apostolic tradition of infant baptism received by mainstream Christianity, Catholics, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, and among Protestants, several denominations: Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and other Reformed denominations, Presbyterians, Methodists, some Nazarenes, and the Moravian Church.

According to scripture the whole of mankind was defiled by the guilt of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12; Wisdom 2:23-24) which broke off the intimate communion of their whole being with the Lord, severing them and the collective whole of the heritage of all their offspring from the spiritual life of God. Moreover, not only are we born as members of the whole community of the fallen race of man defiled by the terminal defect of this original sin—and for this reason every human being dies, even innocent babies in the womb—we also each of us as natural descendants of fallen man commit our own sins against God and our fellow human beings, against our own parents, children, friends, enemies, against truth, mercy and justice, and against ourselves whether we intend it or not (Romans 3:23; 7:15, 19). Even little children have regrets about what they have done, and tiny babies display anger and stubbornness when they don't get what they want. As we mature in age and come to know the holiness of God we become even more aware of our inherent imperfection and our guilt before Him. Even atheists, against their will, struggle with feelings of guilt, knowing that they are not what they should be, even by their own personal standards.

Hebrews 10:1-2 clearly testifies that the sacrifices and washings of the Law of Moses can never make perfect the conscience of those who draw near to God, because even after offering sacrifices and cleansing their bodies according to the regulations and ordinances of the Torah blamelessly, without fault in their performance of them, they are still conscious of sin, for if they had actually been cleansed they would no longer have any consciousness of sin. But Christ through his blood in the washing of baptism with the word makes those who are members of his body sanctified, cleansed, without spot or wrinkle or any such defect, so that each one as members of the one body of Christ might be holy and without blemish, and this purity of a clean soul and clean conscience is the evidence of innocence in answer to the charge of guilt, "the answer of a good conscience toward God" (KJV).[72] On the Reformation principle of sola scriptura itself, the belief that sin remains in the soul of every Christian cleansed and saved by the Lord contradicts the scriptures that say both that they are "in Christ", and that "in him is no sin".[73]

According to Catholic doctrine, baptism into Christ removes entirely from the individual soul the inherited defect of the original sin of the whole collective human race descended from Adam and the individually personal guilt of all sins personally committed before being baptized. Thus the effect of sin and its removal is not merely juridical as a legal decision exonerating the guilty by a decree of amnesty, expunging the record of the individual and thereby formally changing the official, outward social and legal standing of the citizen in the eyes of the whole community. In contrast to the juridical model, by an absolute reality affecting the whole person, the removal of sin through the blood of Christ in baptism is instead ontological, regenerative, affecting the very being of the individual soul, the "creature" itself, as the cure of a deadly disease is a real healing of the whole physical body, the image of which in the New Testament was the cleansing of leprosy by Christ and the apostles (Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 6:13; Acts 5:14-16; 19:11). The defiling disease is removed.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV, boldface emphasis added.)
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Galatians 6:15 KJV, boldface emphasis added)

A legal declaration of amnesty cannot cure the physical being of the guilty carrier of a deadly disease, only the medicine of the practicing physician administered properly can do that. Sin is not merely covered up,[74] as in the sacrifices of the old covenant, which cannot take away sins, as the author of Hebrews 10:1-22 clearly says, but is in reality washed away, removed, according to Ephesians 5:25-27 and Hebrews 10:22 and 2 Peter 1:9; see Acts 22:16.
All that remains is the leftover temporal damage caused by the disease of sin. Romans 6–8; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:4; 1 Corinthians 15:42-54. According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, those leftover temporal defects afflicting reconciled sinners who have been forgiven in Christ, the residual remaining non-permanent defects which they have not yet in justice fully rectified and overcome by grace-filled virtue during life on earth, will be purged away afterward to fully cleanse them of all unrighteousness in preparation for their entrance into heaven.[75] Included is the doctrine that not all sins are fatal, as in John 19:11 and 1 John 5:17.

According to Catholic doctrine, baptized infants and babies who have died innocent of personal sin are saved and enter immediately into heaven. Those who die in the womb or who have not been baptized before death took them, are commended to God, who alone knows what they would have done if they had lived to hear the Gospel, and whether in their souls and hearts they were resisting or not resisting the saving grace of salvation poured out on all the world through Jesus Christ alone. Their salvation can be assured by what is called, "baptism of desire", God knowing whether or not in their souls they would have been personally willing to do his will, whatever it is; and therefore the grace of baptism by the blood of Christ is imputed to them by the mercy of God, "who is not willing that any should perish" 2 Peter 3:9. This "baptism of desire" is called an "extraordinary" means of salvation provided by God,[76] baptism by water and the word being the ordinary means of salvation ordained by God through Christ by the Holy Spirit for all mankind, including baptism unto salvation of those the Gospel of Luke 18:15 calls βρέφη brephe, "an unborn or a newborn child, infant, babe, child in arms", innocent children not yet able to walk.

Doctrine of Satan and the Antichrist

Fifth century: Council of Mileum II, A.D. 416, Council of Carthage 417 or 418

One of the earliest mentions of an anathema of those who prohibit the practice of infant baptism is found in the Canons of the Council of Mileum II [A.D. 416]: [77]

“[W]hoever says that infants fresh from their mothers’ wombs ought not to be baptized, or say that they are indeed baptized unto the remission of sins, but that they draw nothing of the original sin of Adam, which is expiated in the bath of regeneration . . . let him be anathema [excommunicated]. Since what the apostle [Paul] says, ‘Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so passed to all men, in whom all have sinned’ [Rom. 5:12], must not be understood otherwise than the Catholic Church spread everywhere has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith even infants, who in themselves thus far have not been able to commit any sin, are therefore truly baptized unto the remission of sins, so that that which they have contracted from generation may be cleansed in them by regeneration” (Canon 3).

The Canons of the Council of Carthage (417 or 418) in condemnation against the views of Pelagius and Celestius included an anathema of all those who rejected the practice of infant baptism.[78]

“Likewise it seemed good that whosoever denies that infants newly from their mother’s wombs should be baptized, or says that baptism is for remission of sins, but that they derive from Adam no original sin, which needs to be removed by the laver of regeneration, from whence the conclusion follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins, is to be understood as false and not true, let him be anathema. For no otherwise can be understood what the Apostle says, “By one man sin is come into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed upon all men in that all have sinned,” than the Catholic Church everywhere diffused has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith even infants, who could have committed as yet no sin themselves, therefore are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that what in them is the result of generation may be cleansed by regeneration.” (Canon 2 of 418 Synod)

Clearly, there were voices raised in opposition to infant baptism long before the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.

Sixteenth century

While Zwingli, Luther and Calvin accepted and defended infant baptism, this practice of infant baptism together with all elements of apostolic tradition not found explicitly taught by the Bible alone according to the Reformation principle of sola scriptura was unequivocably condemned by Anabaptist and Baptist groups and Mennonites as a Catholic doctrine, and therefore as being manifestly a satanic lie promulgated and promoted by the Antichrist, most evidently evil and obviously destructive, to anyone with eyes to see, a deceptive doctrine of devils straight out of the pits of hell.[79] This warning clearly condemns to hell all who accept infant baptism as necessary: all of mainstream Christianity, Catholics, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, and among Protestants, several denominations: Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and other Reformed denominations, Presbyterians, Methodists, some Nazarenes, and the Moravian Church.

Foremost with their strong objection to infant baptism were the Anabaptists, who were persecuted and condemned as heretics by the majority of Christian believers, Catholic and Protestant.[80] Zwingli found their theologies to be contradictory, Luther found their entire organization confusing, Calvin labeled them as “poor fools”, “scatterbrains”, “ignoramuses” and “enemies of government”, and the Catholics associated them with the Devil, labeling them “messengers of the Antichrist”.[81]

The term Anabaptism "ana- (again) baptism" referred to being “rebaptized,” and it was a punishable offense. Since the establishment of the Byzantine Christian Empire, rejection of infant baptism, and re-baptism of those who had been baptized as infants as a repudiation of infant baptism, was condemned as anathema by local synods of bishops and the subsequent affirmation of their discernment by the judgment of the ecumenical councils of the whole catholic church east and west.[82] In response to their ecclesiastical anathemas against heretical rejection of the doctrine and practice of infant baptism, repudiation of the practice of infant baptism had been made a capital offense by the civil authority of the Byzantine Christian Emperors. This relationship of mutual support between the institutional church and civil authorities formed a kind of “Christian” kingdom, ideally intended as a realization of the doctrine of Romans 12–13, 1 Corinthians 12, Hebrews 13:17 and 1 Peter 2:13–3:17. Thus, the Catholic Church’s spiritual authority was connected to civil authority. Through baptism, one became a part of the church and a citizen of the state. One’s baptismal record functioned as a kind of birth certificate. Christendom provided a way of understanding the world that seemed to bring it into a harmonious whole. The state handled civil life, and the church offered eternal life through counselling a prudent application of apostolic traditions of ethical and moral doctrinal practice, prayer, scripture and the sacraments. Each ruled their respective sphere and supported the other. Even Reform-minded leaders found it difficult to imagine a legitimate church refusing to baptize infants. Anabaptists stood alone in being willing to challenge the practice of infant baptism.

The development of abuses of power and scandalous disregard of Christian moral principles by corrupt individuals holding high office in government and church prompted many to question the legitimacy of the authority of both. And this prepared the ground for the Protestant Reformation and the response of the Counter Reformation of the Council of Trent.[83] By baptizing each other, Anabaptists denied the Catholic Church’s claim of spiritual authority and challenged its relationship to civil authority. They declared their true citizenship to be in the kingdom of heaven rather than to any kingdom or ruler of the world.[84] Anabaptists argued that their primary allegiance was always owed to Christ alone. This was a form of Christian anarchism rooted in secular antinomianism for the evident purpose of destabilizing and overthrowing civil govenment.[85] Their pacifism [86] was viewed as giving passive aid and comfort to the enemy forces of Islamic terrorism. Civil and religious authorities throughout Europe moved quickly to quell what they viewed as a dangerous movement, similar to the modern governmental response to a clear and present danger. Wherever groups of Anabaptist believers emerged, in the Swiss and German regions of Europe and as far north as the Netherlands, they met with great opposition. Thousands were imprisoned and put to death as traitors to church and state by burning at the stake [87] or by being drowned in a local river. Drowning was considered a particularly appropriate death for Anabaptists. The authorities said they had sinned through the use of baptismal water, so by the water they would lose their lives.

Baptist churches adopted the same Anabaptist views of both the invalidity of infant baptism as a pagan heresy and the absolute need for confessional credobaptism of youths and adults as true believers. Many other Protestant and independent churches also profess their opposition to the doctrine of infant baptism as diabolical and satanic; while others among them, Protestant and Independent, accept infant baptism as being supported by the Bible because the scriptures do not explicitly condemn the baptism of infants and young children, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and other Reformed denominations, Presbyterians, Methodists, (some) Nazarenes, and the Moravian Church. Compare the Mennonites.

Nineteenth century

The doctrinal stand of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is strongly opposed to Catholicism. In 1852, Robert Boyt C. Howell wrote a paper he delivered to the Southern Baptist Publication Society "The Evils of Infant Baptism" in which he set forth in nineteen chapters the following arguments against infant baptism: [88]

CHAPTER 1
Infant baptism is an evil because its practice is unsupported by the word of God
CHAPTER 2
Infant baptism is an evil because its defense leads to most injurious perversions of Scripture
CHAPTER 3
Infant baptism is an evil because it engrafts Judaism upon the gospel of Christ
CHAPTER 4
Infant baptism is an evil because it falsifies the doctrine of universal depravity
CHAPTER 5
Infant baptism is an evil because the doctrines upon which it is predicated contradict the great fundamental principle of justification by faith
CHAPTER 6
Infant baptism is an evil because it is in direct conflict with the doctrine of the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration
CHAPTER 7
Infant baptism is an evil because it despoils the church of those peculiar qualities which are essential to the church of Christ
CHAPTER 8
Infant baptism is an evil because its practice perpetuates the superstitions that originally produced it
CHAPTER 9
Infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the scripture doctrine of infant salvation
CHAPTER 10
Infant baptism is an evil because it leads its advocates into rebellion against the authority of Christ
CHAPTER 11
Infant baptism is an evil because of the connection it assumes with the moral and religious training of children
CHAPTER 12
Infant baptism is an evil because it is the grand foundation upon which rests the union of church and state
CHAPTER 13
Infant baptism is an evil because it leads to religious persecutions
CHAPTER 14
Infant baptism is an evil because it is contrary to the principles of civil and religious freedom
CHAPTER 15
Infant baptism is an evil because it enfeebles the power of the church to combat error
CHAPTER 16
Infant baptism is an evil because it injures the credit of religion with reflecting men of the world
CHAPTER 17
Infant baptism is an evil because it is the great barrier to Christian union
CHAPTER 18
Infant baptism is an evil because it prevents the salutary impression which baptism was designed to make upon the minds both of those who receive it, and of those who witness its administration
CHAPTER 19
Infant baptism is an evil because it retards the designs of Christ in the conversion of the world

The Presbyterian Rev. Alexander Hislop, in ''The Two Babylons'' (1853, 1858, 1916) states in Chapter IV, Doctrine and Discipline, Section I, Baptismal Regeneration:

Now, in both respects this doctrine is absolutely anti-Scriptural; in both it is purely Pagan. It is anti-Scriptural, for the Lord Jesus Christ has expressly declared that infants, without the slightest respect to baptism or any external ordinance whatever, are capable of admission into all the glory of the heavenly world: "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." John the Baptist, while yet in his mother's womb was so filled with joy at the advent of the Saviour, that, as soon as Mary's salutation sounded in the ears of his own mother, the unborn babe "leaped in the womb for joy." Had that child died at the birth, what could have excluded it from "the inheritance of the saints in light" for which it was so certainly "made meet"? Yet the Roman Catholic Bishop Hay, in defiance of very principle of God's Word, does not hesitate to pen the following: "Question: What becomes of young children who die without baptism? Answer: If a young child were put to death for the sake of Christ, this would be to it the baptism of blood, and carry it to heaven; but except in this case, as such infants are incapable of having the desire of baptism, with the other necessary dispositions, if they are not actually baptised with water, THEY CANNOT GO TO HEAVEN." As this doctrine never came from the Bible, whence came it? It came from heathenism.[89]

"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." [90]

"Regenerate" in John 3:3-5: Greek γεννηθή gennethe

The words γεννηθή gennethe and γεννηθήναι gennethenai in the Greek New Testament text of John 3:3-5 mean to procreate, regenerate, bear, beget, be born, conceive, a variation of γένος genos, meaning born, offspring, generation, stock.[91] This "born" (as being literally "generated/regenerated") is the ordinary word "born" used in

Matthew 1:16; 2:1, 4; 11:11; 19:12; 26:24; Mark 14:21; Luke 1:35; 7:28; John 1:13; 3:3-8; 8:41: 9:2, 19-20, 32, 34; 16:21; 18:37; Acts 2:8; 7:20; 18:2, 24; 22:3, 28; Romans 9:11; 1 Corinthians 15:8; Galatians 4:23, 29; Hebrews 11:23; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18.

"Regenerated" is also found as "born again" άναγεγεννηθήναι anagegennethenai in 1 Peter 1:23, "Being born again (regenerated), not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." [92]
Compare the interlinear text of John 1:13, multiple versions of John 1:13, and multiple commentaries on John 1:13.

This "word" of God in 1 Peter 1:23 is understood by pedobaptists (baptizers of infants) as a direct reference to the doctrine of Ephesians 5:25-26, where Paul says,

"Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."

See also interlinear text of Titus 3:5 multiple versions of Titus 3:5 and multiple commentaries on Titus 3:5.

"he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior"

They proclaim that this washing of water by the word of God is the word spoken simultaneously with the action of pouring, immersing or sprinkling of water in the sacrament of baptism to wash away all sins,[93] "I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16.) This is "baptismal regeneration".

The grammar and vocabulary of the Greek text of John 3:5 supports "regenerative baptism":

"unless one is γεννηθή gennethe regenerated of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."

Compare the interlinear text of John 3:5

Ἀμὴν , ἀμὴν , λέγω σοι , ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ Πνεύματος ,
οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ .
Amēn , amen , legō soi , ean mē tis gennēthē ex hydatos kai Pneumatos ,
ou dynatai eiselthein eis tēn basileian tou Theou .
Truly , truly , I say to you , if not anyone be born (generated/regenerated) of water and of [the] Spirit ,
not he is able to enter into the kingdom - of God .
Truly , truly , I say to you , unless anyone is regenerated γεννηθῇ by water and the Spirit ,
they cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Compare multiple versions of John 3:5 and multiple commentaries on John 3:5.

Credobaptists (baptizers of believers only) absolutely reject "regenerative baptism" as completely unbiblical, a pagan doctrine of demons, as having utterly no support whatever anywhere in the scriptures. They understand being "born again by the word of God" in 1 Peter 1:23 as being born again by actively hearing, understanding and believing the message of the Gospel (Romans 10:9-17; Hebrews 10:38), and consciously responding to the preaching of the Gospel, by having a living, active faith in Christ alone as Lord and Savior—born again by a living conscious faith which does not require any works or sacrament of baptism by water and the Spirit in order to be born again and enter into the kingdom of God—being born again by simply having the free gift of justification unto righteousness imputed by faith, the faith of Abraham (Romans 3:21–5:2; 10:17), a conscious faith, the gift of God alone, which is required in order to be able to believe the word of salvation and be saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). Righteousness is not imputed to an infant, to one who is passive, who personally does not understand, who has no faith, and does not believe. Credobaptists have no faith that "baptism doth also now save us". Only a personal faith in Christ as Lord.[94]

Righteousness is imputed λογισθήναι logisthenai (credited) unto all them that believe with active faith in God in Romans 4:11, just as it is imputed έλογίσθη elogisthe (credited) for those that believe in Him who raised up Jesus from the dead in Romans 4:22-24—just as it was imputed λέγουσα legousa (reckoned) to Abraham, and he was called the Friend of God, in James 2:23 [95]
See the interlinear texts of Romans 4:11; Romans 4:22; Romans 4:23; Romans 4:24; and James 2:23.

The phrase "born again by faith in the word of God", "born again by faith in the Lord", "born again by faith", is not found in the New Testament.[96]

In summary:

  • Infant baptism is a sacrament instituted by Christ that of itself regenerates, washes away sin, and saves, by being born again of water and the Spirit. Infant baptism is holy.
  • Believers' baptism is an ordinance instituted by Christ that of itself does not regenerate, does not wash away sin, and cannot save, but being born again by faith alone saves. Infant baptism is evil.

Sensus fidelium, Sensus plenior, Sensus Christianorum, together with the scriptural readings of γεννηθή gennethe, γεννηθήναι gennethenai,[97] άναγεγεννηθήναι anagegennethenai,[98] and παλιγγενενεσίας paliggenenesias,[99] all witnessing to "regeneration", supports the first as a doctrine of God, and condemns the second as a doctrine of Satan.
(See Invincible ignorance.)

Faith and works

In Christianity an important interpretive distinction is made between two mutually exclusive Christian views of "works":

  • (1) the view that defines works as every kind of human effort intended to produce a result by means of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy
  • (2) versus the view that defines works as the ceremonial ritual works of levitical sacrifice commanded by the law of Moses as acts of obedient righteousness, in particular, circumcision.

The divergence between these two semantical understandings of the essential meaning of the word "works" in the Bible has been the cause of much theological contention, leading to both patient apologetic and bitter polemic. Some interpret faith and works as utterly opposed to each other in salvation; others interpret them as complimentary, mutually interdependent, and inseparably necessary for salvation.

The debate clearly depends on interpreting the phrase "works of the law" as meaning "works" in general including good works, and "the law" as meaning anything prescribed by established Christian authority as a necessary requirement for salvation and for living a virtuous life.[100]

Romans 1:17; Romans 3:28 and John 3:5; John 20:21-23

"Regenerative baptism" has been condemned as a "work" that is done to merit salvation in contradiction of the doctrine of salvation sola fide. Apologists for regenerative baptism respond that God, "not willing that any should perish", ordained baptism as a gift which bestows grace ex opere operato "from the work performed", not by man but by Christ working in the sacrament, for "even baptism doth also now save us".[101] Nowhere in the New Testament is anyone seen baptizing himself in the name of the Lord. Always it is others who baptize those who are baptized. All Christian churches that practice any form of baptism accept by a universal consensus the sensus fidelium, sensus plenior, sensus Christianorum that no one can be self-baptized but each one must be baptized by another. It is not a work performed by the baptized person in order to merit salvation. Human beings cannot save themselves.[102] According to Catholic doctrine Baptism is a sacramental gift of unmerited mercy bestowed by the Lord, and performed on behalf of the Lord, who is the one accomplishing the work of salvation,[103] in which his blood alone works unmerited salvation in the soul of the one he himself baptizes through the faith ministry of his Church which is his body.[104] This is ontological salvation, affecting the whole being of a person. According to apologists for ontological "regenerative baptism", faith in the promise of God, that man is truly born again by water and the Spirit, is exercised by the whole Church on behalf of the one baptized, through faith in the operation of the saving power of God by the washing of water with the word, that the one being baptized might be truly saved, cleansed of all unrighteousness, even if the person, adult or infant, is unconscious and in immanent danger of death during an emergency, by "baptism which saves you now".[105] The baptized person does not perform the baptism, and does not do the work of salvation in being born of water and the Spirit. It is Christ alone in his own body the Church which saves. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."[106] And God is "not willing that any should perish."[107] Outside of Christ there is no salvation. Those he saves are his workmanship;[108] they are not their own work.[109] The faith bestowed by the Holy Spirit of Christ in baptism [110] is a gift which must be exercised to bear fruit in good works [111] which God ordained to be done by those who are his workmanship.[112]

10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
—Colossians 2:10-13 (KJV)

"Believers' baptism" is set forth by Anabaptists and Baptist groups such as the Mennonites, as a testimony to an already existing saving faith in the atoning sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ offered once for all time for sins on the cross,[113] in accordance with the doctrine that man is justified by faith apart from works of the law, the law being the ritual ceremonial law of Moses. They utterly reject as superstition the doctrine that the ritual of water baptism saves by regeneration, and absolutely repudiate the doctrine that "baptism doth also now save us".[114] According to the doctrine of credobaptism, without faith there is no salvation, for "without faith no one can please him",[115] and it is evident that the unborn, newborn, infant, baby, child in arms who cannot walk, cannot exercise faith in the Lord and believe in him for salvation before they have the capacity of intelligent choice to be able to recognize Jesus as Lord and choose by the unmerited power of the gift of God to have faith in him alone. Thus, according to the credobaptist doctrine, baptism does not save us, but a confession of faith working through love,[116] and infants too young to understand are not capable of performing charitable works of love, "before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good".[117] According to apologists for credobaptism, salvation is declarational only, a decision, solely by a sincere profession of belief in Christ personally made by the repentant sinner.[118]

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher....
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
—Romans 10:9-14, 17 (KJV)
By the prompting of the inward witness of the Holy Spirit convicting the sinner of sin which merits only the wrath of God and the just judgment of condemnation to hell, the need for salvation in Christ is acknowledged and confessed. This is declarational salvation, decisional salvation. According to the credobaptist doctrine, by their repentance for sin and confessing faith in Christ as merciful Lord and Savior and receiving him into their heart, by which the grace of salvation is not imposed but received ex opere operantis "by the act of the doer" in "opening the door of faith to the Lord that he might come in" [119] (a work of the will), the practice of decisional "believers' baptism" which follows upon a confession of faith in Christ is simply nothing more than a faithfully obedient symbolic act of witness to having already been saved by the received and exercised gift of repentance unto saving faith in the Lord, as a sign of being given to God, through professing faith in the single sacrifice of his Christ for sins which he offered once for all time,[120] performed by the complete burial of full immersion in water in answer to Christ's command to be baptized, βαπτίζω baptizo "immerse". "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."[121] The emphasis is on believing, a work of the believer in active response to God's grace, and babies are incapable of belief. They cannot outwardly profess the gift of faith in Christ alone. Parents who believe in credobaptism alone raise their children in the Christian hope that one day they too, "knowing how to refuse the evil and choose the good",[122] will repent of their sinful state in Adam,[123] and choose Christ as their own personal Savior and Lord of their lives by the declarational decisional salvation of publicly professing their faith in him, and be baptized in fulfillment of his word to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins ex opere operantis, on the assurance of a faith based on the fundamental doctrinal principle of sola scriptura. Some urge use of the sinner's prayer as a guarantee of genuine repentance of sin unto complete salvation by a sincere reciting of a formula of profession of sinfulness, of repentance, and of faith in Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Many of these also believe that once one has truly accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, and explicitly said so from the heart with their lips,[124] they are eternally assured of a personal salvation which can never be rescinded, revoked or forfeited, forever. This too has been condemned as a kind of legalistic requirement of a work performed by the person in order to merit salvation, and as a departure from a simple, trusting faith for redemption and salvation; moreover, it has also been condemned as promoting Antinomianism and Licentiousness.[125]

Among those who profess credobaptism, the parents of children who have reached the age of understanding worry if their children have not yet decided to accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior in some form of public profession of faith before others.[126]

Among those who profess pedobaptism, the parents of children who have reached the age of understanding worry if their children fail to confirm the grace of their baptismal salvation of purification and consecration by water and the Spirit shortly after they were born, through casually developing by degrees careless attitudes toward the danger of sin by not diligently living for Christ, by not confessing their serious sins and being cleansed by sacramental absolution in the name of the Lord, and by not accepting and cooperating with the power of the sacrament of Confirmation to strengthen them with the protection and assistance of the Holy Spirit to be able to bear responsibly vital witness for the Lord in the face of hostility toward Christianity. According to the Bible, it is possible for those who have been baptized to forget that they were cleansed from their sins (2 Peter 1:9).

The Council of Trent made clear the Catholic position on the sacraments including infant baptism by condemning with anathema the proposition that the sacraments have no power to bestow grace and that faith alone suffices.[127]

If faith is an act of righteousness [128] exercised by the believer in obedience to Christ's command "have faith in God",[129] and in obedience to his commandment "believe also in me",[130] and if the "gift of repentance"[131] is exercised according to Peter's command to "Repent, and be baptized every one of you",[132] so that "with the mouth confession is made unto salvation",[133] then faith and repentance are also works, something which men do, even if only in their hearts,[134] and man is saved by the work of faith and repentance unto salvation. It is not a work of man, but the work of God [135] in all who do not resist him but cooperate with him in working out their own salvation with fear and trembling before him as Lord.[136] "Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall" 2 Peter 1:10.[137] Most Christians see in this and other similar passages of the New Testament a refutation of the doctrine that the human will is totally depraved and dead and utterly inert and unable to either resist or cooperate with the grace of God unto salvation.

On the basis of this concurrence of belief in the enabling work of God in the souls of mankind, those theologians engaged in interfaith dialogue seek common ground for unity among Christians by means of clarification of meanings and definitions of terms that may differ superficially in speech but not differ at all in the substance of their genuine semantical content, in a spirit of honest ecumenism, even while many remain cautious and alert against the danger of syncretism by any suggestion of compromise with the purity of the Gospel as they understand it and the context of the whole of the teaching of the Bible, each of them granting the possibility of developing perhaps a more profound grasp of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Sincere Christian believers are very careful of specious reasoning which appeals to proof texts to promote a doctrine which deviates from the whole of the total context of the Bible. They carefully search the whole of the scriptures to see if it is so, like the Beroeans of Acts 17:10-12.

Where do unbaptized departed infants go?

Among believers in the necessity of baptism for salvation there is no universal consensus on the fate of dead infants who have not been baptized, the souls of those whom the New Testament Greek text of Luke 18:15-16 calls βρέφη brephe, "an unborn or newborn child, infant, babe, child in arms".[138] There are four conflicting doctrines:

They go to Hell

This is based primarily on Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (KJV) An unborn or newborn child, infant, babe, child in arms, who does not and cannot understand, does not believe. And that little child shall most certainly be damned by dying because that child did not believe and was not baptized. "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5. Therefore, according to a literalist "plain, simple and obvious" reading of the Bible sola scriptura, unbaptized infants are damned.[139]

John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion [140] states most clearly that only those predestinate souls elected irrevocably to the blessed glory of salvation by the irresistible grace of the Sovereign Will of God alone will attain heaven and stand in the presence of Almighty God. All others, men, women, children, babies, infants, the unborn in the womb, who die, are destined by their unregenerate wicked nature of total depravity for the ruin of hell apart from the presence of God, because "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity". Habakkuk 1:13

Original sin, then, may be defined a hereditary corruption and depravity of our nature, extending to all the parts of the soul, which first makes us obnoxious to the wrath of God, and then produces in us works which in Scripture are termed works of the flesh. This corruption is repeatedly designated by Paul by the term sin (Gal. 5:19); while the works which proceed from it, such as adultery, fornication, theft, hatred, murder, revellings, he terms, in the same way, the fruits of sin, though in various passages of Scripture, and even by Paul himself, they are also termed sins. The two things, therefore, are to be distinctly observed--viz. that being thus perverted and corrupted in all the parts of our nature, we are, merely on account of such corruption, deservedly condemned by God, to whom nothing is acceptable but righteousness, innocence, and purity. This is not liability for another's fault. For when it is said, that the sin of Adam has made us obnoxious to the justice of God, the meaning is not, that we, who are in ourselves innocent and blameless, are bearing his guilt, but that since by his transgression we are all placed under the curse, he is said to have brought us under obligation. Through him, however, not only has punishment been derived, but pollution instilled, for which punishment is justly due. Hence Augustine, though he often terms it another's sin (that he may more clearly show how it comes to us by descent), at the same time asserts that it is each individual's own sin. And the Apostle most distinctly testifies, that "death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned," (Rom. 5:12); that is, are involved in original sin, and polluted by its stain. Hence, even infants bringing their condemnation with them from their mother's womb, suffer not for another's, but for their own defect. For although they have not yet produced the fruits of their own unrighteousness, they have the seed implanted in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed-bed of sin, and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God. Hence it follows, that it is properly deemed sinful in the sight of God; for there could be no condemnation without guilt.
Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 1, Section 5.8 Definition of original sin.[141]
Thus, the ordinance of baptism avails nothing for those who are not already appointed unto salvation and do not believe, "and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" Acts 13:48 (KJV), "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:9 (KJV). Saint Paul says in his Epistle to the Romans, chapter 9:
18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?
22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said, unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
—Romans 9:18-26 (KJV)

They go to Limbo

This is based primarily on Romans 2:15; 1 John 3:21; Revelation 20:12. Medieval Christian theologians, unable to reconcile the mercy and justice of a good and loving God the Father, and the necessity of baptism according to John 3:5, had recourse to the word of Jesus in Luke 12:48 in which those who did not know or hear or understand the Gospel, and had personally of themselves done nothing either good or bad, would receive a light punishment, that loss solely due to the defect of the original sin of Adam, placing them on the very outer edge (Latin limbo "edge") of hell, the state of simply being deprived for all eternity of the beatific vision of God enjoyed forever by the saved saints in heaven, but also of being spared the torment of the wicked. Among Catholic theologians this uncertain doctrine of limbo has remained a philosophical and theological speculation only, and has never been approved as an official doctrine or dogma of the Catholic Church.

According to Revelation 20:10, 14-15 everything in hell (Hades) and everything in it will finally and irrevocably suffer burning in the lake of fire.

10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.[142]

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
—Revelation 20:10 and 14-15 (KJV)

This would certainly include all of the innocent unbaptized children speculatively relegated by some Medieval theologians to a proposed state of the lightest possible suffering on the very outer edge (limbo) of hell.[143] However, some point out that Revelation 20:13 says, "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." Thus, none of the dead remained in hell when death and hell were cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and according to Revelation 20:15, only those not found written in the book of life were cast into the lake of fire.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1261, in an affirmation of the Council of Trent on the question of the fate of unbaptized infants:

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ″Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,″ [Mk 10:14; cf. 1 Tim. 2:4.] allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church′s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.[144]

They go to heaven

This is based primarily on Matthew 18:14 "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." (KJV)
—"for to such belongs the kingdom of God." (RSVCE) "of such is the kingdom of God" (KJV) Luke 18:16, Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14.

"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." Mark 10:15.
"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." Luke 18:17.

They are Annihilated

Annihilationism is the specious belief that the souls of all the unsaved will either

  • (1) be completely annihilated (extinguished, made to be completely extinct) immediately after death, or
  • (2) will continue in hell, either conscious or unconscious, until after the Last Judgment, when they will finally be resurrected and be totally extinguished and cease to exist.

Apologists for this doctrine have recourse to "proof texts" in the Old and New Testament, to all passages in the Bible which speak of "destruction" and "destroy" and "death" and "dead" relating to the bodies, souls and spirits of the wicked and of all infants who are unbaptized.

Their position is not only opposed by apostolic tradition but also by all biblical exegetes and textual critics who point out that the Hebrew/Aramiac Old Testament and Greek New Testament manuscripts do not witness to annihilation of the wicked, but to their utter ruin instead, a conscious ruin of suffering and torment from which they cannot recover or escape.[145] For example,

Ezekiel 18:20-32 clearly says "the soul that sinneth, it shall die (מות mooth)" and also says that iniquity is "ruin" (מכשול mikshowl), not annihilation. Psalm 89:40 says, "Thou has broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin (מכשול mikshowl). They are utterly destroyed, dead ruins. This word translated as "die (מות mooth)" is the same word in Genesis 2:17 "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (מות mooth)."[146] Adam and Eve did die that very day, not physically, but they did die and were dead that very same day, even while their bodies remained alive for a long while afterward, and while they were dead they suffered from that day forward, before they finally turned to dust (Genesis 2:17; 3:19).

In the New Testament, the Prodigal Son was dead and lost when he departed and was absent and away from his father and brother, "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." Luke 15:24. The rich man who died and saw the dead Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham and spoke to Abraham was not annihilated, and he was still conscious as he suffered torment in the flame of hell (Luke 16:23) "for I am in anguish in this flame" (Luke 16:24). The following verses illustrate the biblical meaning of a dead soul.

“Thou hast a name that thou livest and art dead (νεκρὸς nekros),” Revelation 3:1.
“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead (νεκρῶν nekrōn),” Ephesians 5:14.
“You hath He quickened who were dead (νέκρούς nekrous) in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1.
“Yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead (νεκρῶν nekrōn),” Romans 6:13.

Souls that are completely "dead (νέκρούς nekrous) in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13), and are not "written in the book of life", will experience the torment of absolute ruin in the lake of fire, "which is the second death (θάντος thanatos)" (Revelation 20:10, 14-15) and

"shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they shall have no rest day nor night", "and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever", "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 14:10-11; 20:10, 14-15) "into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not extinguished" (Mark 9:43-44, 46, 48).[147]

Clearly their souls are dead (Ezekiel 18:20) and destroyed (Psalm 145:20), but dead souls (Genesis 2:17) that are utterly ruined (destroyed) can experience torment (Genesis 2:19; Luke 16:23), so therefore, according to the Bible, they are not annihilated, neither immediately after death nor after the final judgment of being cast into the "everlasting punishment" (Matthew 25:46) of torment in the lake of fire.

Compare 1 Thessalonians 5:3 ὄλεθρος olethros ruin, doom, destruction, death and multiple versions of 1 Thessalonians 5:3; also 1 Timothy 6:9 ὄλεθρος olethros ruin, doom, destruction, death and multiple versions of 1 Timothy 6:9.

The words "annihilate" and "annihilated" are not found in the King James Bible, nor are the words "extinguish", "extinguished", "extinct". However, "annihilated" does appear fifty times in seven other translations, generally with the meaning of "ruined, useless", as seen from the context.[148] See the section "Universalists" below.

If an infant is not baptized, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man (τις tis "anyone") be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5 KJV.

Baptism for the dead

Mormon doctrine: baptismal salvation for the unbaptized dead

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints practices surrogate water-baptism for the salvation of the souls of the unbaptized dead, including infants, that they might be saved.[149] This is based on their doctrinal interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:29

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? (KJV)

Mormon Apostle Mark E. Petersen explained this in just two short sentences. He says that a just and righteous God would not punish the millions of people who have lived on the earth who never had the opportunity to learn of the gospel and baptism.

“The Savior himself declared that he was God of both the living and the dead, ‘for all live unto him’ (Luke 20:38), showing that he regards them all in the same light.”

Baptism for the dead gives those who would have embraced Christ and His Church the opportunity to do so after death. Mark E. Petersen went on to explain this fact:

People who die without having been taught the gospel may yet be saved in the presence of God. This is made clear in the scriptures. But, how? That is the question. Jesus preached to the dead. The Apostle Peter taught this in his day, saying that after the death of the Savior, and while his body lay in the tomb, the Lord, as a spirit, went to the realm of the dead and there preached to the spirits of the people who previously had lived on the earth (1 Peter 3:18–20). Then he gives us the reason for this preaching: “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit (1 Peter 4:6).

"They" not "We"

Those who deny that baptism on behalf of the dead was ever part of Christian doctrine and apostolic tradition point out that Paul says, "they", in reference to others who believe in the resurrection of the dead. He does not say, "Else what shall we do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are we then baptized for the dead?" He does not say this. If baptism for the dead had been Christian doctrine they reason that Paul would have included it as a practice that "we" Christians perform on behalf of the dead as a work of mercy. There is no evidence from the first centuries of Christianity in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and the first seven Ecumenical councils of any mention of the practice of being baptized for the dead as being part of Christian doctrine and dogma. According to the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church this practice was never a part of Apostolic Tradition. No Protestant denomination practices baptism for the dead. It is unknown in the Church of Christ. For this reason the Mormon doctrine of baptizing for the dead is not Christian.

Universalists

According to the doctrine of Universalism all beings in hell and the lake of fire will eventually be fully and finally purified and cleansed, and all of those who have been damned, including Satan and the fallen angels will attain at last the joy of heavenly beatitude in the presence of a loving God, "who is not willing that any should perish".[150] Not all universalists believe in hell, however, but they do believe in universal salvation.[151] Among congregations of Unitarian Universalists,[152] most (not all) have child dedication ceremonies for infants and children.[153] According to Universalist teaching, neither baptism nor avoidance of sin is ultimately regarded in any way as absolutely necessary, since all will eventually be blessed. The individual is completely free to do whatever he or she decides to do.[154] The wicked learn to their sorrow that they were in serious error, but they also discover to their joy that what seems to be their punishment in full accordance with divine justice and mercy is a rehabilitation of corrective purification of love, to finally make them fit and clean and fully worthy of perfect communion with God.

According to this teaching, at the moment of death, the character of the unbaptized soul of a dead infant is not irreformably forever fixed and permanent, destined to an eternity in hell, but is ultimately by the divine will of God infallibly and irrevocably destined finally to eternal life with God. The whole of this doctrine has much in common with the teaching of Hinduism, Buddhism, Monism and Cosmic Humanism.

Universalism was early condemned as anathema by the Ante-Nicene Fathers and the Ecumenical councils of the universal catholic orthodox Church of the East and the West as a pernicious heresy.

Compare the following Bible passages:

Isaiah 66:22-24; Daniel 12:2; Malachi 4:1; Matthew 5:29-30; 12:31-32; 18:6-9; Matthew 25:46; Mark 3:29; Mark 9:44-48; John 3:36; 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10; Hebrews 6:2; 1 John 3:15; Jude 6-7; Jude 13; Revelation 14:9-11; 19:1-3; 20:10-15.

On the Reformation principle of sola scriptura these passages of scripture cannot be legitimately contradicted or ignored.

"everlasting contempt", "it shall not be forgiven", "everlasting fire", "hath never forgiveness", "eternal damnation", "shall not see life", "the wrath of God abideth (remaineth μένει) on him",[155] "punished with everlasting destruction (ruin ὄλεθρον)",[156] "eternal judgment", "no murderer has eternal life abiding (remaining) in him", "everlasting chains", "the vengeance of eternal fire", "the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever", "they have no rest", "her smoke rose up for ever and ever", "tormented day and night for ever and ever", "their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched", "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:16 KJV

"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5 KJV

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Quaker belief teaches that the goal of all life is to experience God's indwelling presence. Participation by any of their members in sacramental activities with others is not forbidden, but it is not a part of their spiritual discipline or praxis. Baptism is most often referred to by Friends as sensing the presence of God's Spirit, and experiencing an inner change as the result. This can be quite profound. Sometimes the term "illumination" is used, and "inner light" or simply having "the light".[157] The Bible is not the principle rule of faith and practice for Friends, but rather what each of them personally discerns to be the guidance of the inner light of God's living Presence.

Discernment of Truth: Seekers, Converts, and Christian Apologetics

Independent seekers of truth who are not Christians, but are attracted to the person of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, struggle with discernment of what is right in accordance with reason and their conscience. This is especially true for those persons with an unborn or newborn child, infant, babe, child in arms, a child not yet able to walk, faced with the question of the eternal soul and the Last Judgment.

Those who have recourse to Christian apologetics for help are offered arguments from scripture and tradition to help them decide. Those who are persuaded that Jesus is the Son of God and become converts to Christianity will rely on what seems to them to be the truth of the matter of infant baptism according to the various and differing apologists they read and hear, with whom they agree or disagree. Some of them may or may not be found to use specious reasoning, which may or may not be exposed as fallacies by the arguments of other apologists discussing infant baptism. Some use polemic. Accordingly they will choose to become a Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, Independent, non-denominational, or a "cafeteria Christian", and, on the basis of their own personal judgment, on their own personal authority, as being answerable solely to their own conscience alone, they decide for themselves what to believe about the matter. Any one of them can become closed-minded and firmly entrenched in their opinion because of mental and spiritual sloth. There are those who seek to be more and more informed about the matter and sometimes change their minds. Then, after careful discernment and much "soul-searching" with prayer to God for guidance, they often move to a different church or denomination as being more in accord with truth and the Bible, fully assured that they are doing what is right. Their friends and associates may strongly disagree, some even warning that they could possibly, or most certainly will, go to hell unless they repent their decision. There are men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, deceivers and deceived,[158] those who twist the scriptures to their own destruction.[159] Credobaptists have become pedobaptists and pedobaptists have become credobaptists. Baptists have become Catholics and Orthodox, and Catholics and Orthodox have become Baptists.

Catholics rely on Petrine Primacy, the authority of the Pope and the whole of Scripture and Tradition as the one deposit of the divine faith authentically interpreted by the Catholic Magisterium, and they accept infant baptism.

The Orthodox rely on the organic whole of Orthodox praxis in accordance with the authority of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Church Fathers and saints of the faith consistent with what they understand to be the tradition of the Apostles and Prophets in harmony with the Scriptures and the Sacraments which lead to Theosis, and they accept infant baptism.

Protestants rely on the Five Solas to discern the truth about infant baptism according to the Bible. Some rely on the principle that what is not explicitly forbidden is permitted, and they accept infant baptism. Some rely on the principle that what is not explicitly commanded is forbidden, and they condemn infant baptism.

Cafeteria Christians and Cafeteria Catholics decide for themselves if infant baptism is right.

Others decide for or against infant baptism based on the principle of sola spiritu, relying solely on what they discern to be the will of the Holy Spirit and their own prayerful reading of the Bible apart from any other guidance or authority. They may or may not believe that an unborn baby has a soul. They may or may not believe that baptism saves the soul of a newborn infant or a child of the "age of innocence".

Baptism of aborted infants

The word "fetus" is simply the Latin term for "little one", a baby unborn or just delivered, newborn, a little child. In the United States, during the sixties, seventies and eighties, Pro-life nurses attending patients pregnant with unwanted babies were sometimes summarily dismissed and banned for immediately baptizing aborted babies in the delivery rooms of those hospitals and clinics whose boards of directors supported policies allowing the murder of babies, by procedures officially called "women's health care" but unofficially constituting deliberate infanticide, and the removal of these babies from the wombs of their mothers as disposable garbage and "biological waste", some of them still alive when they are ground up with those already dead, others tossed aside in the soiled utility room to die. Today many nurses who have discovered that they are participating in an abortion, and that the baby removed from the mother is still alive, baptize the still living baby, before it is assigned to die of total neglect, deliberately and according to policy, by the staff of the facility or clinic; and then they quit, and publicly denounce the practice. There have been doctors who believe in infant baptism who, after aborting the pregnancy, and finding that the baby has survived the procedure and is still living, will baptize the child before ordering the staff to allow it to die of total neglect, and will absolutely forbid anyone to care for it under threat of punitive litigation in reprisal against anyone who makes any attempt to do so without permission.

Conscience and the defense of Christian doctrine regarding infant baptism

Saint Peter counselled restraint and respect with courtesy regarding defense of Christian doctrine in 1 Peter 3:15-16.

Saint Paul said the same in 2 Timothy 2:25 and Romans 12:14, and counselled patience toward those weak in the faith in Romans 14:1–15:7 and especially to practice avoidance of those who argue about words in 1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 2:23.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1776 [160]

Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment.... For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God.... His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths. [GS 16.] [161]

Jesus himself relied on the intuition and conscience of his hearers to discern the truth of doctrine:

16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
—John 7:16-17 (KJV) [162]

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
—Matthew 7:7-8 (KJV) [163]

Judge not and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
—Luke 6:37 (KJV) [164]

Saint Paul said

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
1 Corinthians 4:5 (KJV)

The Prophet Isaiah also said

20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Isaiah 5:20-21 (KJV)

And the angel of Revelation said to John

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
Revelation 22:11 (RSVCE)

See also

Christian mysteries

Theosis

Schism

Heresy

Invincible ignorance

Ex opere operato and ex opere operantis

Bogomil: Bogomilism

Inquisition

Burning at the stake, Biblical pretext for

Protestant Reformation

Logical fallacy: Argument from silence

Great Apostasy

Salvation: declarational salvation and ontological salvation

"Catholic Heresies and Traditions Adopted and Perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church in the Course of 1600 Years"

Eternal security (salvation)

Substitutionary atonement

Quakerism and the Bible

Old Catholic Church

Society of St. Pius X

Non-denominational church

Ecumenical Movement

Antinomianism

References

  1. See παιδίον paidion "childling";
    παιδάριον paidarion "little boy";
    παιδεία paideia "tutorage, education, training";
    παιδευτές paideutes "trainer, teacher, discipliner";
    παιδεύω paideuo "train, educate, discipline";
    παιδιόθεν paidiothen "from source, from infancy";
    παιδίσκη paidion "girl, female-slave, servant";
    παιδαγωγός paidagogos "boy-leader, tutor, pædagogue".
  2. Our Founder: John Piper (desiringgod.org)
  3. Infant Baptism and the New Covenant Community (en) (1993-02-14).
  4. Philip Schaff, American theologian - Britannica Encyclopedia]
    Philip Schaff, German-American theologian and church historian - Christian Classics Ethereal Library (ccel.org)
    Philip Schaff
  5. 5.0 5.1 History of the Christian Church, Philip Schaff. § 73. Infant Baptism. Philip Schaff - Wikiquote
    History of the Christian Church, 8 vols. (amazon.com)
    History of the Christian Church, 8 vols. 1889 (ccel.org)
    History of the Christian Church Philip Schaff (bible.ca)
  6. Douglas Beaumont - Theology Philosophy Apologetics (douglasbeaumont.com)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 The Church Fathers, Medieval Theologians, and Protestant Leaders on Baptism, Douglas Beaumont - Baptism's Purpose (Removal of sin / Regeneration), Baptism's Mode (Water), Baptism's Recipients (Infants) (douglasbeaumont.com)
  8. John 8:41-45.
  9. Is Infant Baptism Biblical? by John MacArthur
  10. ibid. Is Infant Baptism Biblical? by John MacArthur
  11. The Traditions Taught by the Apostle Paul 1 Corinthians 11:1-2 (newvisionministriesonline.org)
  12. Dr. Stanley says, "There's not one word in the scripture that says, 'If I'm baptized, I'm saved'." —time index 8:13-8:19 minutes into Dr. Stanley's sermon. (Compare 1 Peter 3:21; Ephesians 5:26-27; Titus 3:4-5; John 3:5.) He also says this: "Is it scriptural to baptize babies? Let's think about it. Now let me say first of all, thank God for your parents who want to get you to heaven. That's really what they were after, primarily. So they were concerned about you. But think about this. Now if you were baptized as a baby, did you believe in Jesus? No. Then why did your parents have you sprinkled, or anointed, or poured on? Why did they do that? Because they wanted sort of to give you to God. And they in their interest and their desire for you, and loved you enough, that they want to be sure if anything happened to you, you'd be all right. The only problem with that is this. It's very deceiving. Especially when you belong to a church that tells you if you are baptized in that church you are saved forever." —time index 11:00-11:56 minutes into Dr. Stanley's sermon.
    This is a falsehood which puts words in the mouth of other churches, none of which teaches such a doctrine, that "all who were baptized into the church as infants are saved forever". This is an example of the Straw man fallacy.
  13. Available online at http://biblehub.com/commentaries/lange/
  14. The Pulpit Commentary (78 Works)
  15. History of the Christian Church, Philip Schaff. § 73. Infant Baptism. Referent numbers to notes (452 to 460) in the original source article text have not been included here. They are in the online text link to A History of the Christian Church § 73. Infant Baptism.
  16. Liam Golisher footnote [1] The historia/ordo distinction is simply another way of speaking about redemption accomplished and applied. The historia salutis refers to the actual events, in space and time, by which God brings salvation to his people. Creation, the fall, the flood, the call of Abraham, the exodus, the captivity, the life and death of Christ, His resurrection and Pentecost. They actually happened in space and time but they bear theological significance, because they come in order to fulfill or accomplish the eternal decrees of God. The ordo salutis (or order of salvation) refers, in the wider sense, to the fact that Christ’s work is applied to believers, and in the narrower sense, to how this is applied in the life of the believer (eg. being and continuing to be united with Christ by faith, faith that, through the power of the Spirit, embraces Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel). I am grateful to my friend Carl Trueman for highlighting the need for definition here.
  17. About Tim Challies (challies.com)
  18. About Grace Fellowship Church (gfcto.com)
  19. Cruciform Press (cruciformpress.com)
  20. 20.0 20.1 Did the Early Church Practice Infant Baptism or Full Immersion?, Zondervan Academic
  21. Jan Slomka, Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach, Śląskie Studia Historyczno - Teologiczne 2005, t. 38 specjalny, s.
  22. Origen's Commentaries on Romans not available online. —access attempted 12/16/2019.
  23. CARM - Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Book 4Protestant apologetics site
  24. Against Heresies (Book II, Chapter 22) - Catholic Encyclopedia (newadvent.org) scroll down to paragraph 4.
  25. Early Christian Writings - Irenaeus of Lyons: Roberts-Donaldson English Translation: Fragments from Lost Writings (earlychristianwritings.com)
  26. See Strong's number 5100. τις tis "some or any person or object:— any one.
  27. See full text Tertullian, On Baptism (tertullian.org)
  28. See the article Does Tertullian Reject Infant Baptism? Joe Heschmeyer - Shameless Popery (shamelesspopery.com)a critical clarification of the context of Tertullian's treatise.
    See the text: Tertullian: On Baptism (newadvent.org)
  29. 29.0 29.1 At that period, infant baptism was accepted according to the sensus fidelium and as an expression of the sensus Christianorum. It has always been accepted as an integral part of the Orthodox Tradition of the Fathers. See Infant baptism (orthodoxWiki.org)
  30. 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27.
  31. "The Apostolic Tradition (usually attributed to St. Hippolytus) was written in the early third century (the 200s). It states: ‘Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them.’ " A Guide to Catholic Baptism (aboutcatholics.com)
  32. It has been said that this is why Constantine delayed his own baptism until just before he died.
  33. See Novatian - Early Christian Writings- New Testament (earlychristianwritings.com)
    Novatian and Novatianism - Catholic Encyclopedia (newadvent.org)
    Novatian (orthodoxWiki.org).
  34. See 1 John 1:8-10 and 1 John 5:16.
  35. Matthew 12:30-37; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10; John 8:42-50.
  36. 1 Timothy 3:15]; Matthew 10:25; 12:24, 27]; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:14-23.
  37. 1 Corinthians 12:6; Philippians 2:13; Romans 8:1-14.
  38. 1 Corinthians 12:4-28.
  39. Matthew 5:11-12; 1 Peter 2:4-10; John 3:29-36; Revelation 19:6-9; 22:14-15 and 17.
  40. "dwindled to almost nothing"—see John 15:6
  41. De haeresibus ad Quodvultdeus chapter 86 (To Quodvultdeus, On Heresies) (by St. Augustine).
  42. Quoted by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, Chapter 16. 4. Chapter 16. The Circumstances related of Montanus and his False Prophets. (newadvent.org)
  43. "our Icqus Jesus Christ" / "our Fish Jesus Christ" - ICQUS an acronym spelling "fish" like the more well-known ICThUS Greek "fish" Jesus Christ God's Son Savior Iesous Christos Theo hUios Soter
    ICQUS Ihsous Cristos Qeou Uios Swthr - ICQUS IhsouV CristoV Qeou UioV Swthr (acronymattic.com)
    ICQUS means IhsouV CristoV Qeou UioV Swthr and can be abbreviated as ICQUS
    ἰχθύς ichthus "a fish" (biblehub.com)
    The word “ΙΧΘΥΣ” (ixoye) is an acronym comprised of the first letter of five Greek words: Iesous Xristos Theou Yios Sotare which means Jesus, Christ, Son of, God, Savior. Iesous (Iasoos) is Jesus. Xristos (Christos) is Christ. Theou (Theou) is God. Yios (Huios) is Son. Sotare (Sotare) is Savior. (See CARM Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry - What does IXOYE mean?.)
  44. " by permanently abiding in water", that is, "by permanently abiding in [holding to, abiding in] the doctrine of water [water baptism]"
  45. Tertullian, On Baptism I, Introduction to the treatise. See 1 Timothy 1:6-7 and 2 Peter 2:1-2.
  46. Sin in Origen's Homilies on Leviticus 7. Sin in Pre-existence, Jan Slomka, Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach, Śląskie Studia Historyczno - Teologiczne 2005, t. 38 specjalny, s.
  47. On Baptism, Against the Donatists (Book IV)Catholic Encyclopedia
    CARM - Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Book 4Protestant apologetics site
  48. Statistically, a majority of institutional Christian church doctrinal teachings supports and believes in infant baptism, based on scripture and tradition.
  49. See 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
  50. Compare John 13:10
  51. See Eisegesis and Cafeteria Christianity; also Titus 3:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:15-17.
  52. On Infant Baptism – Is it Biblical? Fr. John Peck - Preachers Institute: The World's Premier Online Orthodox Christian Homiletics Resource (preachersinstitute.com)
  53. 54.0 54.1 Luther's controversial addition of "alone" to Romans 1:17 and 3:28 "by faith alone", absolutely contradicted the doctrine of James 2:24 "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."
  54. Philippians 2 13; Ephesians 2:10.
  55. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, Part Two, The Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Section Two, The Seven Sacraments of the Church, Chapter One The Sacraments of Christian Initiation, Article 1 The Sacrament of Baptism, paragraphs 1213-1284.
  56. 1 John 3:9 (KJV)
  57. Ezekiel 18:24 (context 18:5-28); 1 John 5:16-17.
  58. A "confessional" is a kind of very small partitioned room or closet designed so that the priest and the one "confessing" do not see each other. It normally has a seat and a "kneeler" to kneel upon facing the screen or curtain on the other side of which is the priest. The "seal of the confessional" binds the Christian priest to never reveal what has been confessed. "The ministry of reconciliation" according to the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 and Jesus in Matthew 18:19-20 is exercised in the name of the Lord, John 14:13-14; 20:19-23.
  59. Malachi 2:4-7
  60. See A Concise Refutation of Baptismal Regeneration, by James P. Shelley (bing.com)
    Also Baptismal Regeneration Refuted, By Robin A. Brace - Apologetics Resource Center(arcapologetics.org)
  61. Strong's number 1906 έπερώτημα eperotema
  62. See for example, Top 10 Diseases in Africa - Most Deadly (answersafrica.com)
  63. See Leviticus 14:34 "I put a leprous disease on..." and multiple commentaries on Leviticus 14:34.
    See also Deuteronomy 24:8 as a parallel to Hebrews 12:15, 13:17 and John 20:23,
    also the whole context of Leviticus 13–14.
  64. Children: the most innocent victims of crack cocaine (drugfreeworld.org)
  65. Hebrews 2:14-15; see Luke 4:5-6; Romans 5:6-19.
  66. See Luke 1:46-47 "God my Savior", and the articles Immaculate Conception and Theotokos.
    According to Catholic doctrine: from all eternity the merit of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ alone was applied solely for his sake alone to the soul of her whom he had destined to be his mother, that the incarnation of the Word made flesh in her womb might not be taken from flesh defiled by sin but be taken from the sinless flesh of the body of his mother Mary whom God had prepared for the sake of Christ himself alone, in accordance with what is said in Hebrews 10:5 "a body hast thou prepared for me" and Wisdom 8:19-20 "being good, I entered an undefiled body."
  67. Ephesians 2:3; Romans 3:10-18.
  68. See Revelation 22:17 "whosoever will"
  69. See Revelation 20:10, 13-15; Matthew 25:41-46.
  70. A search of Strong's under the topic of "innocence" gives no examples of these phrases.
    Online searches for the phrase "age of innocence" and "below the age of innocence" in the Bible produce no result.
  71. Catholic theologians answer that a terrified scrupulosity in the conscience is not a proof of not being cleansed of sin in the confessional, but rather an attack of the Accuser (ha-Satan Revelation 12:10) inciting a lack of trust in the mercy of God and the ministry of reconciliation entrusted to his Church (2 Corinthians 5:18-21), tending toward the dangerous sin of despair, which gives birth to a bitter hatred of God's justice, loss of love and charity toward God and man, and finally—if not overcome by prayer and humble submission to God—to death (James 1:13-15).
  72. Romans 6; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:28; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 1:1; Ephesians 1:11-14; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 1:1; Philippians 4:21; Colossians 1:2; Colossians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 6:26 "holy, blameless, unstained"; 1 John 3:5 "in him is no sin"; 1 John 5:20.
  73. Sins - Covered or Gone? (judev3.co.uk).
    A modern analogy of the fact that "a legal declaration of amnesty cannot cure the physical being of the guilty carrier of a deadly disease" is the judgment of the court in the famous case of "Typhoid Mary". See Biography of Typhoid Mary, Who Spread Typhoid in Early 1900s: The sad story of a woman responsible for several typhoid outbreaks (thoughtco.com).
  74. A medical analogy often cited by Catholic and Orthodox theologians sees this period of life after the regeneration of baptism as similar to a time of physical rehabilitative therapy helping to restore some semblance of normalcy to someone who has been completely cured of a devastating disease of bone, tissue, or central nervous system, and who is not yet fully recovered, but actually can eventually be fully released to go home and live a totally normal life.
  75. Also "baptism of blood". See Baptism of Desire, Jimmy Akin (catholic.com)
    See also Summa Theologica iii:68:2, cf iii:66:1-2 - in other words, Summa Theologica: Third Part (Tertia Pars): 68:2, (cf compare) Third Part (Tertia Pars) 66:1-2 - The Catholic Encyclopedia Text of Summa Theologica: Part III: Question 68:2, and Part III: Question 66:1-2. (newadvent.org)
  76. See Church Fathers - Infant Baptism (churchfathers.org) scroll down to Council of Mileum II.
  77. “The Canons of the Council of Carthage (417 or 418) on sin and grace - the original Latin text with English Translation” directed against the views of Pelagius and Celestius - Early Church Texts: One of the most extensive resources on the internet for the study of early Christianity (earlychurchtexts.com)
  78. 1 Timothy 4:1; Galatians 1:6-9. See Jude 17-19; 2 Peter 2:9-11; 3:15-18; 1 John 2:18-19.
  79. The Persecution of Anabaptism: 16th Century Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist Perspectives (thoughtsofalivingchristian.wordpress.com)
    The Birth of Anabaptism, Valerie G. Remple (themennonite.org).
  80. See for example the article: Luther: "There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads..." (beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com)Luther condemns the Anabaptists.
  81. See Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Christianity and its Persecution of Heretics. (heretification.info)
  82. Martin Luther's Views on Conditionalism and Soul Sleep, by Leroy Edwin Froom (truthaccordingtoscripture.com) Luther denied the immortality of the soul. This article also includes a discussion of the beginning history of the Anabaptists and their condemnation of infant baptism.
  83. Acts 4:19-20; John 18:36-37.
  84. Romans 13:1-10; 1 Peter 2:13-17
  85. Matthew 26:52; Revelation 13:10.
  86. See John 15:6 and Romans 13:1-5; Revelation 20:7-15. By calculation of the thousand-year span of the establishment on earth of the Catholic Christian Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire the Protestant Reformation and the rise of the Anabaptists was seen by Church and Government leaders as evidence that Satan had been loosed from his prison, and had "come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle, their number is like the sand of the sea" ... "But fire came down from heaven and consumed them" Revelation 20:7-9. Both the Protestants and the Moslem armies were regarded as the satanic forces of God and Magog.
  87. The Evils of Infant Baptism, By Robert Boyt C. Howell, Charleston, SC: Southern Baptist Publication Society 1852.
  88. The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop. Chapter IV. Doctrine and Discipline, Section I, Baptismal Regeneration (biblebelievers.com)
  89. John 3:5 King James Bible
    See multiple versions of John 3:5
    also multiple commentaries on John 3:5.
  90. See Strong's numbers 1078, 1079, 1080, 1081, 1083, 1084, 1085.
  91. See Strong's number 313 άναγεγεννάω anagegennao to beget, or bear (again).
  92. See Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:26.
  93. Compare 1 Peter 3:21.
  94. See Strong's numbers 3049, 3050, 3051.
  95. See for example 100 Bible Verses about Being Born Again (openbible.info).
    Being saved by faith is proclaimed.
    Being born of God is proclaimed.
    Being born by the washing of regeneration is proclaimed.
    Being saved by the blood of Christ is proclaimed.
    But no passage of scripture has the explicit phrase "born by faith" or "born again by faith". The term "born again" is not found together with the term "faith" in any text of the Bible. The term "born again" is not found together with the term "saved" in any passage of the Bible.
  96. http://biblehub.com/greek/1080.htm γεννάω gennao "regenerate".
  97. http://biblehub.com/greek/313.htm άναγεννάω anagennao "beget, bear (again)".
  98. http://biblehub.com/greek/3824.htm παλιγγενεσία paligennesia "regeneration".
  99. Compare, for example, the following texts:
    Romans 2:6-11 and Romans 3:21-28
    Galatians 3:1-14 and Galatians 5:13-25
    Colossians 2:8-23 and Colossians 3:5-25
    Hebrews 10:1-22 and Hebrews 13:7-21
    James 2:8-26 and 1 John 3:7-24
    Romans 13:1–15:13.
  100. 1 Peter 3:21; John 3:5.
  101. Psalm 49:7-9.
  102. Compare 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.
  103. 1 Corinthians 12:4-28.
  104. 1 Peter 3:21; Ephesians 5:25-27.
  105. Philippians 2:13.
  106. 2 Peter 3:9.
  107. Ephesians 2:10.
  108. Compare 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
  109. Romans 8:9-11.
  110. Ephesians 2:8; John 15:1-10; Romans 5:15-19.
  111. Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26.
  112. Romans 1:17; 3:22-26; 5:8-11; Colossians 1:20; 2:18-23; Hebrews 1:3; 10:12.
  113. 1 Peter 3:21; Ephesians 2:8-9.
  114. Hebrews 11:6; see Hebrews 6:11-12; Romans 4:4.
  115. Galatians 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 24 and 26.
  116. Compare Isaiah 7:16 and 2 Peter 3:9. This passage in Isaiah seems to be the closest reference to what some believe to be a biblical teaching on "the age of innocence", of children "below the age of innocence" who will not be condemned to hell if they die before being baptized, being already saved by the blood of Christ because they are innocent of any sin, and do not have understanding to know how to choose the good and refuse evil.
  117. An act or a work of the will of the one confessing—a "works" salvation, of receiving, believing, cooperating, calling on the name of the Lord and professing, all active verbs indicating the working of the will, a work.
  118. Compare Revelation 3:20.
  119. Hebrews 10:12; Jude 3.
  120. John 3:16.
  121. Compare Isaiah 7:15-16
  122. 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:12-19.
  123. Romans 10:9. This strongly resembles the essential characteristic of a formulaic spell used by a ritual magician which requires an exact recitation precisely performed with the complete intention of the heart and will to effect the intended result, or the automatic function of an applied calculation to an operation of physical science. The whole procedure has been ridiculed both by Atheists and Protestant and Catholic apologists as regarding God as the automated "cosmic dispensing machine" which immediately dispenses the product as soon as the coin or card is properly inserted and the proper button has been activated. The proper "technique" is required of the person who repents and believes for salvation.
  124. Romans chapter 6; 2:6-10; 8:12-17; Galatians 5:13-26; 2 Peter 2:1-3, 9-22; Jude 4-19.
  125. See Luke 12:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:11-13.
  126. The Council of Trent. Seventh Session. First Decree and Canons. On the Sacraments. [Denzinger EN 1583] (clerus.org)
  127. 1 John 3:7; James 2:20-26; Romans chapter 4.
  128. Mark 11:22.
  129. John 14:1
  130. Acts 11:18
  131. Acts 2:38
  132. Romans 10:10b
  133. Compare the good thief on the cross, who only had faith in Jesus, but acted by explicitly professing his faith, an act that was followed by the promise of Christ, "Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Jesus did not say this to him before he made his act of faith. Luke 23:39-43. Proponents of credobaptism emphasize that this man was not baptized but was saved, demonstrating that faith not baptism saves. Catholic theology sees in this an evidence for "baptism of desire" in which the souls of those who are deprived of all opportunity to avail themselves of the ordinary means of entering the kingdom of God through salvation by water baptism commanded by Christ Jesus in John 3:5 are not deprived of salvation by extraordinary means provided by the Father through Christ, whose Spirit knows the hearts of men. Romans 2:12-16; 1 John 3:23; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16; Hebrews 4:12-13. When critics object that if baptism is not necessary in some cases it should not be required because it obviously is not absolutely necessary to be saved, they are told that extraordinary circumstances are met with extraordinary means by the mercy of God when the ordinary means ordained for salvation are not possible, and that the ordinary means of salvation by baptism is commanded by Christ in John 3:3-5 and Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38-42.
  134. Philippians 2:13.
  135. Philippians 2:12-13; 2 Corinthians 6:1; 2 Peter 1:3-11.
  136. Compare Hebrews 6:4-8 and 1 John 1:9.
  137. See Strong's number 1025 βρέφη brephe "infant".
    Compare the interlinear text of Luke 18:15. Compare the parallel versions of Luke 18:15.
  138. Compare John 5:25-29.
  139. Institutes of the Christian Religion (biblestudytools.com)
  140. Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 1 (biblestudytools.com)
  141. Compare Revelation 14:11 "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night".
  142. Compare Matthew 10:14-15; 11:22-24; Luke 10:12; 12:47-48.
  143. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part Two: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Section Two: The Seven Sacraments of the Church, Chapter One: The Sacraments of Christian Initiation, Article 1: The Sacrament of Baptism, VI. The Necessity of Baptism, 1261, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America copyright 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.—Libreria Editrice Vaticana. English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Modifications from the Editio Typica copyright 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.—Libreria Editrice Vaticana. page 321. ISBN 1-57455-109-4
  144. What Christians Want To Know - Is Annihilationism Biblical? by Jack Wellman (whatchristianswanttoknow.com)
  145. See Strong's numbers 4191 מות mooth and 4383 מכשול mikshowl.
  146. See Strong's numbers 3498; 3499; 3500; 2288.
  147. ‘Annihilated’ in the Bible - 50 times in 7 translations (bible.knowing-jesus.com)
  148. Mormon Beliefs: Baptism for the Dead (mormonwiki.com)
  149. See multiple commentaries on 2 Peter 3:9
  150. See the following articles:
  151. See
  152. Baptism / Child Dedication in Unitarian Universalism - Unitarian Universalist Association (uua.org)
  153. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Philippians 2:9-11.
  154. "abideth (remaineth μένει)" John 3:36 μένει menei.
    See Strong's number 3306. μένω meno to stay, abide, remain.
  155. "destruction (ruin ὄλεθρον)" 2 Thessalonians 1:9 ὄλεθρον olethron.
    See Strong's number 3639. ὄλεθρος olethros ruin, doom, destruction, death.
    ólethros ("ruination") does not imply "extinction" (annihilation). It emphasizes the consequent loss that goes with the complete "undoing."
  156. See the following: Compare Colossians 1:27 and multiple commentaries on Colossians 1:27
  157. 2 Timothy 3:8
  158. 2 Peter 3:15-18.
  159. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part Three: Life in Christ, Section One: Man's Vocation Life in the Spirit, Chapter One: The Dignity of the Human Person, Article 6: Moral Conscience, 1776
  160. "GS". The Vatican II document Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes 16.
  161. See multiple commentaries on John 7:17
  162. See multiple commentaries on Matthew 7:8
  163. See multiple commentaries on Luke 6:37

External links

“Born Again” Experience or Baptismal Regeneration?, Robert Arakaki - Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy (ancientfaith.com)


History of the Christian Church. Chapter VII. The Sacramentarian Controversies (bible.ca) —"All the Reformers retained the custom of infant-baptism, and opposed rebaptism (Weiderfaufe) as a heresy. So far they agreed with the Catholics against the Anabaptists, or Catabaptists as they are called, although they rejected the name, because in their view the baptism of infants was no baptism at all." §102 The Anabaptist Controversy. Luther and Huebmaier.

A Brief Defense of Infant Baptism, Kevin DeYoung (thegospelcoalition.org) —"...within two centuries of the Apostles we have clear evidence that the church was practicing infant baptism. If this had been a change to long-standing tradition, we would have some record of the church arguing over this new practice. It wasn’t until the sixteenth century that Christians began to question the legitimacy of infant baptism."

Infant Baptism - God's Ordinance, The Danger of the Doctrine of the Anabaptists, John D. Palmer - Reasonable Religion (reasonablereligion.com) —"...the Doctrine of the Anabaptists, in excluding Infants from Baptism, and shutting them out of the visible Church, makes all Infants to be of the visible Kingdom of Satan, and so leaves us no well-grounded hope of the salvation of any dying in infancy; and is therefore to be justly abhorred as false Doctrine."

What happens to children who die in infancy? David Roach - The Baptist Courier (baptistcourier.com) —"Evangelicals have expressed a range of views on the eternal destiny of children who die in infancy. Among Southern Baptists, most agree Scripture suggests aborted babies — along with others dying in infancy and individuals with severe mental disabilities — go to heaven. But pastors and theologians disagree on various related issues from the clarity of Scripture on children’s salvation to whether infants bear guilt before God."

Baby Baptism - Infant Baptism Facts - Should I Baptize My Newborn Baby? (atotheword.com) —"Baby baptism or infant baptism is not biblical. Jesus didn’t teach or practice it and none of his disciples did either. Nowhere in Scriptures, will you find any instructions concerning baby baptism. It’s not there!"

INFANT BAPTISM EXPOSED! - Jesus-is-Savior.com —"Infant baptism appeared in the Christian church history around the Second Century, coming from the pagan influences of Baal Worship..."

Infant Baptism and Baptismal Regeneration Exposed! Their PAGAN Origin and Deadly History. INFANT BAPTISM EXPOSED! It’s History and Harm - Petersburg Gospel Center (how2becomeachristian.wordpress.com) —"Infant baptism is not a Scriptural doctrine. It is not found in the Bible. There is not one example in the Bible of one single baby being baptized. We will show that baby baptism is of pagan origin."

Lutheran Doctrine - Frequently Asked Questions - Baptism FAQs (lcms.org)
Topics include

What is the Lutheran view of Baptism and its purpose?
Does Baptism save?
Who can be godparents/sponsors?
How does faith play a role in infant Baptism?
What is the history of infant Baptism?
What about infants who die before being baptized?
Why do Lutherans use the “sprinkle” method for Baptism?
Do I have to be re-baptized to join the LCMS?
Does the LCMS baptize children of unchurched parents?
Why baptize infants?

Infant Baptism or Believer's Baptism: Which is Correct? Author: Brittany (equippinggodlywomen.com) (This article displays large blank areas between its several brief statements. After accessing this site, keep scrolling down to read each piece of the article in its entirety.) —"Early Church Fathers: Not a single church father found infant baptism unlawful, though of course, everyone had their own opinion on when the “optimal” time to be baptized would be. There was never any serious controversy surrounding it until the 16th century."

Should Babies be Baptized?: Text of a sermon by Rev. David Feddes (crcna.org) —"If you support infant baptism because you believe in baptismal regeneration, you need a sounder basis than that. By the same token, if you oppose infant baptism because you oppose the idea of baptismal regeneration, you need a better reason for opposing it."

Nurse: I Witnessed the Infanticide that Ralph Northam Defended, by Tyler O'Neil (pjmedia.com) —"The nurse also recalled Christ Hospital's ‘comfort room,’ unveiled in December 2000. Rather than taking live aborted babies (an oxymoron term to avoid the truth of infanticide) to the soiled utility room to die, the nurses would take the babies to the comfort room. ‘This was a small, nicely decorated room complete with a First Foto machine in case parents wanted pictures of their aborted babies, baptismal supplies if parents wanted their aborted babies baptized, and a foot printer and baby bracelets if parents wanted keepsakes of their aborted babies. There was also a wooden rocker to rock these babies to death,’ Stanek testified."

My Hardest Night: A Nurse's Story - Tech. By Barbara. From Vital Signs: the Journal of the Friendship Pregnancy Center fall 1991 (clinicquotes.com) —"In the end, I lost. We were not going to try to resuscitate this baby. So, I did the only thing I could do. Dipping my index finger into sterile water and placing it on his head, I baptize the child."

Salvation of Aborted Babies who Die Without Baptism, by Tony Acosta (walkinginthedesert.com)Includes discussion of "Baptism of Desire" and "Baptism of Blood" and if the aborted child is a martyr because of the faith like the Holy Innocents whom Herod killed specifically because he was attempting to kill Jesus.

Catholic Abortionist Once Baptized Aborted Children at Planned Parenthood, by Sarah Terzo (liveaction.org)

Which Religions practice Baptism and Which do not?, Beverley Byer (owlcation.com)

Annihilationism - CARM Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (carm.org)Founder and site host Matt Slick provides extensive list of multiple articles on the topic of annihilation of the soul.


Article completed 25 December 2019 by Michael Paul Heart on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ in Bethlehem