INFANT BAPTISM —-
First, shoutout to my brothers at the Wittenberg Project for graciously allowing me to be a part of their ministry! You can find them here: https://www.youtube.com/c/WittenbergProject
First, I want to examine some passages of scripture that changed my view of whether or not infants can have saving faith? Psalm 8:2
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. Matthew 21:16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” These are just two examples, and of course there is the testimony about John the Baptist leaping in the womb of Elizabeth upon her meeting with Mary (Lk 1:41). Psalm 71:5-6 describes the Psalmist trusting in Yahweh since his youth. Pastor Brian Wolfmeuller of the LCMS has excellent content on his website and social media concerning this topic: paidion– This is the most common word used of a very young child, infant, child, both boys and girls. brephos– This word can be used of unborn babies in the womb [St Luke 1:41,44] or of nursing babies and infants [St Luke 2:12,16]. mikron– Literally, “small one,” this word can be used to describe one’s stature [St Luke 19:3], one’s age [St Matthew 18:6,10,14], or in esteem, influence and power. napion– This word can be used of an infant, often nursing [Hebrews 5:13], or, in the legal sense, of a minor. [Galatians 4:1]. thalazonton– One who is nursing [St Matthew 21:16]. teknon– Child, with special reference to the relationship with the parents, used even for unborn babies in the womb. St Luke 18:15-17 [And parallels in St Matthew 19:13-15 and St Mark 10:13-16] (NKJV)
“15 Then they also brought infants (brephos) to Him that He might touch them; but when His disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children (paidion) come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child (paidion) will by no means enter it.’ Also, there is an aspect of covenant which relates to infant baptism. Colossians 2:11-12 says that we were circumcised with a circumcision not made by hands, through being buried with Christ in baptism. So this passage argues that baptism is the new circumcision. It ushers us into the family of God through Christ. Now, in the Old Testament, from the patriarch, to Rahab and her family, to Noah and his family, we see a pattern of entire families being blessed and ushered into the covenant family through the faith of the person who believed in Yahweh. So there are several passages in the New Testament that describe entire households believing, and/or believing and being baptized: Acts 11:14, Acts 16:15, Acts 16:31, Acts 16:34, Acts 18:8, 1 Corinthians 1:16, etc. People have made the argument that there were no infants or young children in these households, but this is an argument from silence. Also, the church fathers encouraged the baptism of infants: From the beginning of New Testament Christianity at Pentecost to our time, unbroken and uninterrupted, the Church has baptized babies. Polycarp (69-155 AD), a disciple of the Apostle John, was baptized as an infant. Justin Martyr (100-166 AD) of the next generation, about the year 150 AD, states in his Dialog with Trypho The Jew “that Baptism is the circumcision of the New Testament.” Irenaeus (130-200 AD) writes in Against Heresies II 22:4 “that Jesus came to save all through means of Himself — all, I say, who through Him are born again to God – infants and children, boys and youth, and old men.” Similar expressions are found in succeeding generations by Origen (185-254 AD) and Cyprian (215-258 AD), and at the Council of Carthage in 254 where the 66 bishops stated: “We ought not hinder any person from Baptism and the grace of God … especially infants … those newly born.” — So we see several things from scripture and from the testimony of early theologians. We see that baptismal regeneration is biblical. We see that even unborn infants can have faith. And from the Early Fathers, we see that infant baptism has always been the norm for the church. “Believer’s Only Baptism” is a relatively new invention, and is a bi-product of the heterodoxy of the early Anabaptists, whom Luther and his followers fought against so vehemently. I also want to leave some of my final thoughts about infant baptism and how it relates to salvation in general.
I have also been greatly challenged by several other passages, but especially these: Acts 2:38-39 New American Bible (Revised Edition) 38 Peter [said] to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.”
This was very powerful, and it is clear in scripture–we receive the forgiveness of sins, and the indwelling or baptism of the Holy Spirit, through repentance and baptism. AND…our children can receive the forgiveness of sins and the baptism of the Holy Spirit…through water baptism! 1 Corinthians 10:1-4
New American Standard Bible 2020 10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and they all passed through the sea; 2 and they all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and they all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
Paul said that all the people of Israel passed through the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They went into the Red Sea. Now….verse 2 says they all….adults, older Israelites, kids, toddlers and babies were baptized into Moses in the cloud and sea. They ALL ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink, and that rock was Christ that they drank from! Now of course, the adults would not have left the children behind because they didn’t all make their own “confession of faith.” Everything had just been set up—this was Paleo-Judaism or Judaism in its earliest form. The children became partakers in the covenant promises because of their parent’s faith. So we see both an individual and a corporate sense of God’s people walking with him through the teaching of Moses, and through his leadership. I want to close out my conversation by saying that infant baptism is a beautiful illustration of monergism in salvation. I am especially curious as to the Reformed Baptists in their objections against infant baptism. If one cannot “make a decision for Christ,” and if our part in salvation is purely passive, then why is there such controversy over baptizing infants? I mean, if heaven and hell are the only alternatives each of us face, and even infants are born needing forgiveness, then why not provide them with the means of forgiveness? I rest my case. Again, Lutheranism is showing itself to be a movement of Christians dedicated to living and worshiping based on what the Scriptures actually say. And speaking of what the scriptures actually say, there is much I wish to say concerning my changing views on the Lord’s Supper.