Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Comment on comment

My Wednesday, September 13, 2006 post, "I baptize you..." caused an anonymous commentor to question me asking, "I'm curious as to the Catholic view on infant baptism. Where is this rite supported in Scripture?"

Here's my response from the Douay-Rheims to "Bible Believing Christians":

Acts Of Apostles 16
15 And when she was baptized, and her
she besought us, saying: If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

1 Corinthians 1
16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanus; besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

I am certain these households had infants and children in the families of both the freemen and slaves.


Blogger Jason said...

The support for infant baptism in Scripture comes from two verses that mention "household" and an assumption that these same households contained children?

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

"And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Acts 8:37

Both of these verses stress the need for knowledge (belief) before baptism can occur. Do infants believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?

"You are all sons of God through your faith in Jesus Christ, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ." Galatians 3:26 Here, Paul tells us that baptism is a result of faith. Do infants have faith?

"Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6 Since infants don't have faith and don't believe He exists and don't earnestly seek him (from lack of understanding due to age), then it's impossible for them to please God. Since baptism is a result of faith, baptism pleases God. Baptizing an individual without faith is pointless.

2:10 PM  
Blogger rev fr lw gonzales said...

The parents, godparents, and community profess the faith in the name of the child. Our parents and guardians feed and nourish us physically and spiritually as well.

Paul says: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child..." Undoubtedly Pauls parents spoke for him at a young age.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I understand but that's not evidence of infant baptism in Scripture. A belief in God and Christ Jesus is unquestionably required before baptism, would you not agree? Even Christ himself wasn't baptised as a child. Following his example is undoubtably the safest bet.

5:20 PM  
Blogger rev fr lw gonzales said...

Excellent comments Jason, but as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, I defend her Holy Wisdom through the Deposit of Faith which is Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium, which is the teaching authority of the Church. For me and 1.4 billion Catholics it cannot be simply Sola Scriptura.

Thanks again Jason.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Scripture seems silent then regarding infant baptism. Thank you for your time.

Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

10:02 PM  
Blogger DilexitPrior said...

Father Gonzales has already pointed out the references to entire households being baptised and yet jason seems to reject these as biblical evidence for infant baptism. Furthermore, seeing as jason seems to be looking for a solely scriptural explanation, it would probably be irrelevant to point out that infant baptism has been accepted and practiced in the Church for two millenia (even the vast majority of Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church, such as the Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans, still practice infant baptism).

That being said, something scriptural that hasn't been pointed out yet, that you might find interesting jason, is that Paul notes that baptism is to replace circumcision in Colossians 2:11-12:

"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." (RSV)

In this passage Paul refers to baptism as "the circumcision of Christ" and "the circumcision made without hands."

As you know, typically it was customary for infants (rarely adults) to be circumcised under the Old Law. While this passage does not conclusively, in and of itself, prove the place of infant baptism I find it difficult to believe that Paul would have chosen this parallel for baptism if he intended to exclude infants.

12:34 AM  
Blogger DilexitPrior said...

Hehehe, after posting this I realized that my 'avatar' image is me holding my beautiful Goddaughter (2 weeks at the time) on the day of her baptism. Obviously you know where I stand on this question. :-)

12:38 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Forgive me but two references to "households" is not enough to definitively say: "Infant baptism is found in Scripture". These are the facts:

Acts 16:15- members of Lydia's household baptized.
• Members of her household had accompanied her to a place of prayer by the river.
• She invited Paul and Silas to stay with her, strongly suggesting that other adults also comprised her household.
• Her household seems to have become a meeting place for the church in Philippi (16:40).
There is no indication that Lydia was married or had any children.

If we went through and looked at other households that were baptised, we'd see those who were baptized had various adult qualities-- acceptance of the message, faith. This precludes children unable to have these traits from being baptized.

Nonetheless, re: Col 2:11, Paul never says circumcision is replaced by baptism, he's simply makeing a spiritual comparison between the two. Baptism may have some similarities to circumcision (cutting off, separation, etc.), but this hardly constitutes authorization for infant baptism. And if circumcised children is an argument to baptise children, what about females? Circumcision was never required for girls. Does this mean they also don't need to be baptised?

Neither Jesus nor the early church seems to have operated under the assumption that children needed to be "saved." To begin with, we might observe that Jesus himself was baptized as an adult, not as an infant.

Jesus taught that lostness and salvation are a matter of sin and faith. Young children are capable of neither sin nor faith and thus seem to be neither "saved" nor "lost." When Jesus said "the kingdom of heaven belongs to" children (Luke 18:16), he apparently states that children share in the kingdom of heaven by virtue of their youth and spiritual immaturity. (Certainly if "original sin" from Adam existed, Jesus would not be able to make such a statement concerning unbaptized infants.)

It is interesting that the Scriptures speak of many things that are required for salvation; baptism is just one of them. For example, there is the requirement to "do the will of the Father" (Matthew 7:21). If God expects children to be baptized, then does he not also expect them to "do the will of the Father?" Yet, the Scriptures contain no such discussion of staged responsibilities and obligations for those baptized as infants. This is further evidence that conversion was reserved for those beyond a certain age of accountability.

7:45 AM  
Blogger DilexitPrior said...

Neither Jesus nor the early church seems to have operated under the assumption that children needed to be "saved."

We're not going to get very far in this discussion at this rate since I'm fairly certain that your understanding of the process of salvation does not correspond with ours.

Furthermore, I wonder whether or not you view baptism as a sacrament. . . if baptism is merely a symbol or sign of a mature decision to follow Christ, than I'd have to agree that it should be reserved for those of an age of reason, but since I (along with the consensus of the Church Fathers, Tradition, and the vast majority of Christians) believe that baptism effects a real change in the highest grade of reality (the soul) of the person being baptized, actually cleansing the soul of the baptized from orignal sin, then it is very important that infants are baptised.

But as I've pointed out, since our understandings of the process of salvation and sacrament differ, this conversation won't get very far.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I believe baptism is absolutely vital to salvation. What I don't believe, based on the lack of evidence in Scripture and God's obvious expectations of believers, is the doctrine of infant baptism, including sprinkling (which originally came as a result of the Church trying to figure out a way to baptise people who were bed-ridden. Sprinkling wasn't acknolwedged as a legit way to baptise until the Council of Ravenna in 1311)

I understand and respect the importance you place on tradition and having the majority of Christians on your side but I don't view this as firm ground to stand on when trying to understand the commandments of God. With that in mind: Limbo, purgatory, original sin, and infant sprinkling are all unfound in the Bible and would have been foreign teachings to anyone and everyone during the time of Christ.

Infants don't need to be saved because they're not accountable for their actions. I truly believe it's as simple as this. 1Cr 7:14 "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."

Children being made "holy" here wasn't a result of baptism, but a result of the faithfulness of one or both of their parents. If your child isn't accountable for his or her actions (specifically in terms of sinning, repentance, etc.) because of age, then he or she will be saved/judged under (or based on) the parent.

And we've seen how baptism didn't replace circumcision as it would have excluded females so the answer can't be there.

9:20 AM  

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