How important is Baptism in the life of a Christian? St Peter says that Baptism saves you (1 Peter 3:21). That seems pretty important. There are some assemblies, however, including some popular “non-denominational” ones (where unfortunately you might find many fallen away Catholics), who deny Baptism for young children and infants, preferring to wait until the older child can grasp its significance. That same reasoning isn’t applied for determining what foods to eat or clothes to wear or how to behave. In those and similar instances the parents decide. But when it comes to what is most important – new life in the Spirit – the decision is delayed based on the understanding of the child.
Attempting to substitute a unique religious ritual in place of Baptism, some assemblies perform a presentation ceremony supposedly based on the presentation of Jesus in Luke 2:22-24, but without the offering of turtledoves. Unfortunately it is also without the saving power of the sacrament of Baptism.
Consider that the Bible nowhere forbids infant and child Baptism, and several passages suggest it (Acts 16:15 and 16:33, 1 Cor.1:16). The Jews dedicated their eight-day-old male children to God through circumcision. This included John the Baptist (Luke 1:59-60) and Jesus (Luke 2:21), both of whom did not understand its significance at the time. St. Paul tells us that Baptism takes the place of circumcision (Col 2:11-12). The early converts to Christianity were adults, who brought their entire families to God through Baptism. In 215 A.D. Bishop and martyr St. Hippolytus wrote, “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.” (The Apostolic Tradition)
Since Baptism incorporates us into new life through the power of the Holy Spirit, removes the stain of original sin, establishes Christian membership, and bestows sacramental grace, its saving power should not be denied to young children and infants. “To such belongs the Kingdom of God” (Mark 10:13-14).
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