4 thoughts on “Infant Baptism and Original Sin”

  1. I'll note that the Orthodox through today and most of the patristics don't have any concept of inherited guilt as "original sin" and also do and did practice infant baptism. So, although infant baptism and original sin grew to be connected in the west they aren't really tightly correlated. I did a series with my own thoughts on original sin recently. Baptism needs to be tackled separately.

    I will note that the Orthodox do baptize for the forgiveness of sins and new birth into the Church. So although an infant may not have sins at that time that need to be forgiven, to refuse to baptize them is to refuse them entrance into the Church. (Anyone who is baptized is baptized by triple immersion, chrismated (confirmed), and communed that same day.) The sacrament of confession is seen as connected to baptism over the course of a life lived.

  2. Dr. Beck,

    As an occasional commenter on your blog, it is a pleasure to be linked to, though I'm not sure my thoughts on the matter are worthy of such scrutiny! I come from the same Restorationist tradition as you (though of a more conservative variety), and it has been a pleasure to be challenged by your thoughts here.

    Joseph Porter

  3. I grew up in the Presbyterian Church, which believes in infant baptism, and I spent my early adult years (20-40) in a fundamentalist church that believed in baptism strictly by immersion to adults only. So I've experienced both sides. I used to be an opponent of infant baptism, but recently have changed my mind about it. While the connection of infant baptism to original sin may be true of some churches, I don't believe it's true of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Here are some excerpts from their website about infant baptism from a page entitled "Presbyterian 101":

    "The Bible declares that God claimed humanity as God's own 'before the foundation of the world'. (Ephesians 1:4)"

    "Both believers and their children are included in God's covenant love... Baptism, whether administered to those who profess their faith or to those presented for Baptism as children, is one and the same Sacrament. The Baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God's love claims people before they are able to respond in faith."

    "Baptism distinguishes children of those who believe in God's redemptive power from children of nonbelievers."

    "Baptism is received only once. Its effect is not tied to the moment when it is administered, for it signifies the beginning of life in Christ, not its completion."

    I especially like the last statement. The fundamentalist church to which I belonged for many years had an interesting tradition, which helped me in my thinking about infant baptism. This was a organization that started in the early 20th century and believed that you had to be specifically called by God in order to receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of salvation, and that baptism was just a sign of that calling. After a generation or two of that, people began asking "What about our children? Do they just have to 'start over', as it were? Aren't they called by God just by the very fact that they are our children?" The church leadership had to agree, so a tradition was born where every year there was a ceremony called "the blessing of the children". Parents would bring their infant children up to the minister, who would lay his hands on them and say a prayer over them and anoint them with oil. Pretty much the same thing as infant baptism, really. They understood pretty much what the Presbyterian Church (USA) states above.

    While baptism in scripture is always by immersion and administered to adults, I think infant baptism has its place and I've come to better appreciate it as an ancient tradition of great meaning.

  4. Lutherans believe in infant baptism as well. I've attended Churches most of my life that don't believe in infant Baptism. Now however I'm a member of a Confessional Lutheran Church and am learning so many wonderful things about the "means of grace" including the Lord Supper. It has opened up scripture to me like never before. We do not believe that infant Baptism saves a person because Faith has to be present but we do believe that the Holy Spirit does come into a Child's heart and starts to build faith. If a child is taught God's word that faith will grow. Unfortunately most Christians think baptism is something we do but if you look at God's word and very verse that refers to baptism you will see that it's something God does. It puts our faith in the objective word of God not in our feelings or our commitment to Him. To me that view is more of a work then infant baptism is. Baptism is pure grace coming down to us. We believe the water is just water until it is combined with God's word and then God does a miracle. All I know is that babies even in their mother's womb can hear when the parents read God's word to them. Our son when he was about 7 months old and could barely talk said, "Jesus died for my sins" one morning when I was singing to the Lord. You can't tell me babies can't know Christ at an early age. Small children are so much brighter then we think. I believe they learn and know allot more then we think they do. The "Age of Accountability" is something man has made up. No where do you find it in God's word. An excellent book on the subject is, "Baptized Into God's Family: The Doctrine of Infant Baptism for Today" by A. Andrew Das from www.nph.net
    I teach a 3rd grade Sunday School class and these children have know Christ since they were wee babies. They love him with all their hearts and want to tell others about Him. Confessional Lutherans have great schools and educate their children. Yes children or anyone for that matter can fall away from the Lord. Lutherans believe in Original Sin. Unlike allot of confused Christians who believe that once a person is saved they no longer sin anymore. I don't know what planet they live on. God's word says that out of the heart comes all sort of evil. Why do you think people that have alzheimer's get so nasty? Because man's heart is wicked deep down inside. When a person has no control of their will due to many things one sees the evil that is deep inside of them. We will have that evil till we die and get a new mind and a new body. Unfortunately the hardest things for man to see sometimes is his own sinful heart.

    Ephesians 2:8-10 "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

    Grace is a gift as well as faith. Man just want to take some bit of credit for making himself right with God.

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