Catholic Friday:  Baptising Infants; Is this Biblical?


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Happy Catholic Friday!

This is a continuation of last week's Catholic Baptism post by Dave Vermont, our 52 Prayers Roman Catholic representative.  Dave has so kindly agreed to help me understand the tenets of his faith and the origins behind many of the traditions kept by the Catholic church which have been the subject of much controversy amoung skeptical Protestants.

I'd like to thank Dave again for his willingness to help me understand Catholicism so I can share some of these findings with my staunch Catholic friends who do what they do every Sunday at Mass, "because they're Catholic."  Thank you, Dave.

Why do Catholics baptize infants?  For several reasons.  The bible has numerous references to Baptism being the entrance to the new covenant.  For example, the bible relates baptism to circumcision.  Paul notes that baptism has replaced circumcision (Col. 2:11–12). In that passage, he refers to baptism as, "the circumcision of Christ" and "the circumcision made without hands."  Under the old covenant Jewish babies would enter into the covenant on their 8th day of life through circumcision.  If infants were not meant to be included, circumcision would not be drawn as a parallel in the bible.  Since before Jesus, infants were admitted to the old covenant, there is no reason to think that after Jesus infants would not be admitted into the new covenant.  In fact, Jesus famously specifically said, “let the children come to me”. 

In Matthew (15: 21 – 28), we see the Canaanite woman who comes to Jesus and begs for the healing of her daughter.  Jesus heals the daughter at the behest of the mother, without the daughter being present.  Thus, we see that the faith of the parents “stands in” for the faith of the infant.  This is the same thing that happened at circumcision under the old covenant and Baptism in the new covenant. 

We see further evidence in the New Testament, particularly were “whole households” were baptized simultaneously.  Acts 16: 31 – 33, ”…and he and his whole family were baptized at once”.  Given that extended families lived together at the time, including multiple generations, and almost always infants, it seems likely that in these household baptisms included at least young children and most likely infants too.  Furthermore, having just heard and believed in Gospel and decided to covert, it is unlikely parents would not want to be part of church that turned away their children.  Finally, baptism of infants is in Catholic records as early as 244 A.D.  Origen, for instance, wrote in the third century that "according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants" (Holilies on Leviticus, 8:3:11 [A.D. 244]).

Also, most Christians believe that salvation is a gift from God.  We do nothing to merit the initial grace of faith.  We do nothing to merit God’s initial justification.  What better proof of that than infant baptism? 

Must baptism be by full immersion?  Catholics believe that full immersion is an acceptable but not required form of baptism.  When Jesus is baptized the bible implies that he waded into the river, but it does not state that he was fully immersed in the water.  When Jesus commissioned the Apostles he focused on the form of Baptism (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) but said nothing about using full immersion.  Early Catholic art show Jesus standing in the river, with John the Baptist using a shell to pour water over his head.  Some of this art is in catacombs, where early Catholics hid to practice their “outlaw” religion.  Also, early Baptisteries, are essentially large stone bowls, clearly made for Baptism by pouring.

There were also practical considerations, After Peter’s first sermon, three thousand people were baptized in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41). Archaeologists have demonstrated there was no sufficient water supply for so many to have been immersed. Even if there had been, the natives of Jerusalem would scarcely have let their city’s water supply be polluted by three thousand unwashed bodies plunging into it. These people must have been baptized by pouring or sprinkling.  We know the Holy Land contains large swaths of desert and water was a precious commodity.  It is just not practical to set aside large quantities of water for baptism.

But the best evidence for Baptism by infusion (it is not sprinkled upon the head of the infant but poured steadily over it) and infant Baptism comes from the Didache and other similar writings from the 1st and 2nd century.  The Didache was written around A.D. 70 and, though not inspired, is a strong witness to the sacramental practice of Christians in the apostolic age. The Didache reads, "Concerning baptism, baptize in this manner: Having said all these things beforehand, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living water [that is, in running water, as in a river]. If there is no living water, baptize in other water; and, if you are not able to use cold water, use warm. If you have neither, pour water three times upon the head in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." These instructions were composed either while some of the apostles and disciples were still alive or during the next generation of Christians, and they represent an already established custom. These writings are not scripture, but they record the practices of the first Catholics.  These are the people that learned the practices from the Apostles themselves.   Who knows better how to conduct a Baptism then the people baptized by the Apostles?  Who knows better what the bible meant than those that wrote it?  What a powerful testament to faith in God it is to have carried on traditions for over 2,000 years.

 “Oh, but, that is based on tradition”, you say.  “We can only base what we do on the bible”.  No doubt, we should follow what the Bible says.  That is why when Paul says, to hold fast to these TRADITIONS, we have taught you, that is what Catholics do.   In the words of Saint Paul:

"I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2) and he commands the Thessalonians, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15). He even goes so far as to order, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us" (2 Thess. 3:6).

So baptism is necessary for salvation.  Baptism by infusion and the baptism of infants were practiced by the earliest Catholics.  These practices are based in scripture and handed down to us by tradition and that we follow unto this day.

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  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett June 25, 2010

    i think i probably disagree on several counts with what you’ve said here, dave.  though my disagreeing really doesn’t mean much at all—and you’re certainly entitled to your views.  i won’t attempt to bring up every point, but only one.  because this one stood out to me as being a particularly poor argument (that i doubt you are willing to let be used against your thoughts on other occasions):

    you said, “If infants were not meant to be included [in baptism], circumcision would not be drawn as a parallel in the bible.”

    this is faulty logic.  there are lots of parallels given in the bible in which not every aspect of the second type or symbol corresponds with every aspect of the first.

    by your very own logic, baptism must be by immersion—because the biblical authors would never speak of it as being symbolic of death and resurrection with Christ if they didn’t mean for there to be a literal burial.

    i happen to believe baptism was intended to be by immersion (mostly because of the meaning of the greek word itself), but i would never use the above argument to try and prove such.  it’s just not necessarily true.

    every parallel, symbol, parable, metaphor, or simile in the bible is not an allegory in which all parts match all parts.  attempting to make them so comes across as if you’ve already settled in your mind what you want the outcome to be—and you make the bible’s words say it.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT June 26, 2010

    James, let’s look at circumcision v. Baptism.  Circumcision is a physical act commanded by God and requested by the parents that is done to an infant to enter the child into God’s covenant with his chosen people.  Baptism is a physical act commanded by God (Jesus) and requested by the parents that is done to a ___ to enter the child into God’s covenant with his chosen people.  It seems that the only similarity between the two that you don’t want to extend is the nature of person that receives the sacrament.  Admitedly, circumcision has it’s effect on the body, whereas Baptism has it’s effect on the Soul but this is not enough to break down the rest of the analogy, especially b/c both have the same spiritual effect, entry into God’s covenant.

    To reiterate:
    (1) it is not I, but Saint Paul that likens Baptism to circumcision.
    (2) The bible nowhere excludes infant baptism.
    (3) Jesus makes specific reference to let the children come to him.
    (4) We see multiple examples in the N.T.  (I only cited one but there are others) of the faith of one standing in for the faith of another.
    (5) It is unlikely that Jews, who joined their infant children to old covenant, would have accepted Christianity if it excluded infants.
    (6) Full households are repeatedly baptized, including Act 2:38-39 reference to “for the promise in made to you and your children”. 
    (7)  Being that we do not merit the grace of salvation, it does not follow that God would withhold the initial grace for salvation from infants.  Conversely, if you believe that you must be an adult to be baptized you must believe that to be saved you must earn salvation by a good act, namely the willful acceptance of God’s grace.  This is problematic to the extent it makes you the maker of your own salvation and necessarily cancels predestination, which is referenced in Romans 8:29.

    As to the Greek, immersion is not the only meaning of “baptizo’. Sometimes it just means washing up. Thus, Luke 11:38 reports that, when Jesus ate at a Pharisee’s house, “[t]he Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash [baptizo] before dinner.”  Clearly, one was not expected to be fully immersed before dinner.  According to Mark, the Pharisees “do not eat unless they wash [nipto] their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they wash themselves [baptizo]” (Mark 7:3–4a, emphasis added).  So baptizo can mean cleansing or ritual washing as well as immersion.

  • Jessica

    Jessica June 26, 2010

    Dave-I had NO idea that Catholics believed in predestination!  Be careful revealing some of these things, you’re gonna get yourself more work;)

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT June 26, 2010

    Catholics believe in single predestination.  Basically, that we are all predestined to be saved BUT we can loose that outcome by commiting sin.  Catholics do NOT believe in “dual” or “double” predestination that leads to idea of “once saved always saved” simply b/c that is unbiblical.  As for more work, there is a book on predestination that I have on my reading list, after I read it I will happily write on the subject .... but don’t hold your breath, I usually get through about 1 page a night before I fall asleep!

  • Jessica

    Jessica June 26, 2010

    okay, im with ya on the “we’re all saved until we’re not” front.  It’s the “God picked me and not you” part that I just can’t get behind.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT June 26, 2010

    That is b/c God picks everyone. 

    2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord does not delay his promise ... NOT wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”.

    Read together with Romans and the passages on works and you can see the plan! ALL are chosen.  ALL will be given the grace to succeed (including infants).  But SOME will turn away.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett June 26, 2010

    dave, i’m not arguing that baptism isn’t for infants.  nor am i arguing that baptism must be by immersion.  i was merely pointing out that the following statement is poor logic and a faulty argument:

    “If infants were not meant to be included [in baptism], circumcision would not be drawn as a parallel in the bible.”

    you then attempted to defend it only by doing it again:

    “Circumcision is a physical act commanded by God and requested by the parents that is done to an infant to enter the child into God’s covenant with his chosen people.  Baptism is a physical act commanded by God (Jesus) and requested by the parents that is done to a ___ to enter the child into God’s covenant with his chosen people.”

    we can’t assume that paul (or any other biblical writer) approves of several (or all) points of a comparison, when he’s only making one.  the fact that paul likens baptism to circumcision (which i have no problem with) does not necessitate that it is something “requested by the parents that is done to an infant to enter the child into anything”  paul and other biblical writers make all kinds of parallels in which every every point does not have its counter. 

    OR you may be making the wrong parallel.  what if the better parallel is that:

    circumcision came at the time of physical birth, and baptism at the time of a new and second birth.

    why do you make a “new” circumcision available to those who aren’t descendants of abraham?  what about females, why are they baptized?  we could use the same logic:

    - if women were meant to be included in baptism, paul would not have used circumcision as a parallel in the bible.

    - if gentiles were meant to be included in baptism, paul would not have used circumcision as a parallel in the bible.

    dave, i’m not attempting to have you come over to my side on the baptism issues.  i seriously doubt either of us are going to change our views on baptism today.  i’m just asking you to use arguments that are logical and make sense, responsible arguments.  this one is not.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT June 26, 2010

    OK, I guess I’m just confused.  You started out last week wondering why I would choose to ask Jess to post anything that we could possibly agree on.  Then you posted on this week that “you disagreed on several counts” but now you say you’re “not arguing that baptism isn’t for infants” but also say that you’re “not attempting to have you [meaning me] come over to my side on the baptism issues.  i seriously doubt either of us are going to change our views on baptism today”.  So do you believe infants should be baptized or not?

    You write, “we can’t assume that Paul (or any other biblical writer) approves of several (or all) points of a comparison, when he’s only making one”.  Of course you are absolutely right about that principle and certainly I didn’t do that.  I listed several points (at least 7) to show why I thought Paul’s comparison did extend to infants.  I did not extend the comparison unilaterally or flippantly, I made the inference in context with other passages of the bible, cultural norms of the time, archeology, geography, art history and theology.  Next time I can throw in some Zoology, just to cover all the bases. grin

    Now , you talk about the “better parallels”, and I would agree that those points can and should be discussed in this context.  However, I would also point out that some of those points are dealt with directly in other passages.  Particularly, the Apostles debate whether gentiles must be circumcised to become Catholics (my apologies I don’t have the verse at hand).  But in those discussions the Apostles establish other principles that can be applied to answer the very objections you raise.  The Apostles agree that Jesus extended the covenant to gentiles, they agree that the covenant has been EXPANDED, and is not static or contracted.  Given this general principle, how could infants be excluded from an expanded covenant?

    I am interested in hearing your continued thoughts on the subjects to come.  I’m sure Jess and the other readers of 52prayers are as well.  The bible teaches us to speak to others with “love and reverence”.  In all my posts I have tried to answer Jess’ questions with more than “b/c the Catholic church says so”.  I have done so b/c people genuinely seeking truth deserve more than a cut and pasted out of the Catechism.  (Frankly, it’s been a blessing b/c it’s helped me to organize my own thinking on the topics).  I’m not a pastor, a Priest, or a deacon.  I’m just a guy, who likes to debate and write, answering some question on a blog, out of “love and reverence”.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett June 26, 2010

    dave, i definitely see how i’ve confused you.  my apologies.  i wasn’t meaning to ask last week why you guys would post anything we might agree on.  it just seemed from jess’ description of catholic fridays, that she was exploring the differences between catholicism and protestantism—and i figured the importance of baptism was not anywhere near the top of that list of differences.  but when you explained why you put things in this order, i thought it made sense.  no problems here.

    and i should be clear:  i don’t believe the bible teaches infant baptism, and i do believe the original intent for baptism was that it be by immersion.  i can clarify a greater deal, though, by saying i believe the bible teaches believer’s baptism—that faith is present before baptism.  i was only meaning to say that i’m not attempting to argue all those points, because i’m afraid it would take up all the comments room on 52 prayers, as well as a greater amount of my time than i am probably willing to give.

    so rather than engage in a full debate (which i, like you, do enjoy by the way), i thought i would point out just one statement that i believe to be illogical.  i also chose to single that one statement because its one i have heard a lot.

    logically, i can support your listing seven points to show why you believe paul extends baptism to infants.  i have no problem with you listing those other arguments (even though i disagree with most).  i need to be clear again—i was only disagreeing with the following sentence:

    “If infants were not meant to be included [in baptism], circumcision would not be drawn as a parallel in the bible.”

    this sentence is not true.  it contains faulty logic.  note, though, i’m not saying your conclusion concerning infant baptism is incorrect in my disagreement.  i’m merely saying this sentence proves nothing, and is false.  so, if i were you, i would remove it from my list of seven reasons you believe in infant baptism.

    i’m not saying this because of an inability to support (in other ways) the idea that baptism is for infants. i’m saying the statement at its core is untrue.

    because paul does draw parallels in which not all points of comparison fit, work, or hold true.  i’m saying the following sentence is true:

    even if infants were meant to be included in baptism, still circumcision could be drawn as a parallel in the bible.

    because biblical writers do this all the time.  they compare two ideas that have several points of comparison, yet only intend one.  Jesus did it all the time as well.  my examples of women and gentiles not being baptized were only meant to demonstrate that indeed not all points of paul’s comparison of circumcision and baptism hold true.  so to say he wouldn’t have drawn a parallel if some other point didn’t mesh well is poor study.

    i’ll definitely stay around and continue commenting.  and i do hope i’m able, dave, to disagree with love and reverence.  i have to admit a fault of mine in the past has been that i find it difficult at times to show my love and disagreement at the same time.  feel free to correct me if i ever come across as angry or rude.  i don’t want to do that to anyone, especially a fellow brother in Christ.

    i’m also not a pastor, priest, or deacon.  i’m an agriculture development worker with a couple of degrees in bible.  by a couple of degrees, i mean that i learned just enough to cause me problems…  i’m enjoying the friday posts, dave.  and jess, you’re putting together a great blog.

  • Jessica

    Jessica June 27, 2010

    See, now THIS is what I’m talkin’ bout!  Stop the silence on 52 prayers and let’s shake things up a bit!  HA!

    Brett-AS always, THANK YOU so much for your thoughts and your debates.  I live for this stuff!

    Dave—YOU’RE THE MAN!  I am thrilled that you’ve decided to take on these topics. I owe you big time.  And don’t feel the need to exhaust yourself on Baptism.  I’m hoping Brett (and others—including myself) will have plenty more to say on the other 18 topics.  And I realize you, unlike me, are not a full-time blogger:)

    You guys rock.

    And for anyone (including Dave and Brett) that reads these posts or comments, please, speak your mind openly!  I welcome the different perspectives.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT June 27, 2010

    So being a lawyer it is tuff for me to stop talking until someone in a black rob actually tells me to.  Therefore, I’ll just sum up with this:

    1.  The sentence, “If infants were not meant to be included [in baptism], circumcision would not be drawn as a parallel in the bible” COULD be incorrect, IF there was no CONTEXT.  My point is that given the entire context this conclusion is necessarily correct.

    2.  Circumcision is inherently related to infants.  VERY FEW adult men undergo circumcision.  Everybody knew this and this is the FIRST thing they would have thought of.  It’s like if I say, “Maxim magazine is the Playboy of modern times”.  Sure, I could be talking JUST about the articles, but….

    3.    Taking a comparison made in the bible and reading too much into it is a danger, but so is reading TO LITTLE into it.  You say I have drawn to many connections from the comparison but I can (and do) say that you have drawn too few.  Picking only one connection and ignoring the nakedly obvious ones is also incorrect.

    4.  The very comparison of circumcision and baptism in the bible also necessarily negates “believer’s baptism”.  Not many infants were “believers” the day they were circumcised.  Again, the people Paul was speaking to would have know this.  Let’s see of show of hands for all the men that were confessed believers the day they were circumcised!  I dare say that except for Jesus and John the Baptist few hands are raised.

    I’ll be quiet now.  It’s Saturday night and tomorrow is Church.  Who knows, maybe we will even have a baptism.  Such is the mysterious way God works.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett June 27, 2010

    1.  i’m still disagreeing.  the sentence, “If infants were not meant to be included [in baptism], circumcision would not be drawn as a parallel in the bible,” states that paul would not have used circumcision to explain baptism if he didn’t want infants involved—based on some unwritten premise of paul not using parallels that don’t compare point for point.  i) we don’t know what paul would have done in this particular instance, and (so we look elsewhere in the bible and find ii) examples of him using parallels in which he only intended one or two points of comparison (leaving several undone and unmatched).

    2.  you said, “Circumcision is inherently related to infants.”  but i’d argue circumcision is inherently related to new birth and belonging to a group, not physical infancy.  i don’t find anywhere in the bible where it is stated that baptism has to do with infants.  i find many places where circumcision and baptism both have to do with birth (one phys and one spir) and identification with the people of God.  i think you’re using the symbolism incorrectly to say it has to do with physical infancy.  especially because your reading taken to it’s logical end would state that baptism should be at infancy, and only at infancy (except in extenuating circumstances).

    3.  I don’t make only one connection between circumcision and baptism.  We’ve just not discussed any of the others.  and being unwilling to put words in paul’s mouth that he likely did not intend does not equal reading too little into a symbol.  you’ve not given one verse in which anyone teaches on circumcision and baptism while intimating in that conversation anything that would even resemble baptism being for infants.  [yet there is much that would suggest it is for those who can have faith in Christ.]

    4.  your comparisons are poor at best, dave—irresponsible with the word of God at worst.  if you want to negate believer’s baptism, you can’t just say circumcision does so.  circumcision had nothing to do with belief or faith;  this is true.  we know circumcision had to do with belonging to a particular group of people.  that was inherited physically.  i belonged to God because i was a child of abraham.  but it is made clear in the new testament that we belong to God and are abraham’s true descendants if we have faith in God.  it’s no longer about a physical birth.  no one is grandfathered into christianity.  it’s about faith in Christ and a spiritual birth.

    if circumcision was what God was going for, dave, then he would have stuck with it.  there are reasons baptism “replaced” circumcision.  chief of which is that faith “replaced” physical race.

    but, dave, i have no problem with you making statements that perhaps because circumcision was for infants, baptism is also.  but to say that because this is a possibility, all other options are false is ridiculous.  especially because you’re choosing a reading of the relationship between circumcision and baptism not evidenced elsewhere OVER readings that are.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett June 27, 2010

    in my last comment, dave, i accused you of not presenting any verses that would suggest your understanding of the relationship between circumcision and baptism is correct.  i will give just a few texts that point to why and how the two ARE related.

    col 3:11-12 - circumcision is the putting off of the sinful nature, done by Christ, as the individual is buried with Christ in baptism and raised with him through that individual’s faith in the power of God. 

    —so baptism represents a death to sin, and being raised to live a new life in Christ.  this is accomplished through the believer’s faith in God.  let me add that this death to sin bit is not found anywhere in circumcision—circumcision was “replaced” because it could not serve the purpose God intended.  there were too many problems with it.  the chiefest problem was that it didn’t have to do with faith in God.  and i would argue (conceding i might be wrong) that the second problem was it didn’t deal with the death of a sinful nature.

    i think circumcision, in that way, can be seen as a tutor leading up to baptism.  yes, circumcisions gives us the belonging to the people of God.  and yes, it gives us new birth and life.  but it gives little more, and God says those are not enough.  we need death to our sinful nature, we need to be associated with God through faith and not ancestry.  so we have baptism.

    rom 2:17-4:25 - greater meaning is given to circumcision than had been understood before.  now circumcision must be one of the heart, not the foreskin.  and the Spirit does it.  but it occurs when the individual belongs to God inwardly and has faith in God.  race is replaced by faith, just as circumcision will be given greater meaning through baptism.

    —in this context of explaining to us the “new” circumcision, paul says in 3:21-31 that those who have faith are justified and that righteousness comes through faith to all who believe.  he also says that the circumcised will be justified by faith, just as will be the uncircumcised.  he’s pointing out the shortcomings of circumcision, and showing that faith has replaced ethnicity and physical birth.

    —faith is credited as righteousness.  abraham is the father of all who believe, etc.

    —eventually the argument comes to chapter 6, in which we learn that baptism has to do with both new life (like circumcision) and death (something circumcision couldn’t do).

    so, dave, this is why i think you wanting to put circumcision at physical birth alongside baptism at physical birth is incorrect:  i can’t find it suggested anywhere in the bible.  and we’re told in several places (more than i’ve listed) exactly why and what the relationship between circumcision and baptism indeed is.  so you’re choosing a reading of that relationship that is not only not present in the bible, but also that disagrees with the readings that are given.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT June 27, 2010

    In the passages I cited, adults, new to the faith, are regularly baptised.  No one, least of all me, ever argued that baptism was ONLY for infants. The “controversy” in our modern world is whether infants can be baptised.  Infant baptism is biblical and historical.

    Off to Church!

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett June 27, 2010

    i know you’re not arguing against adult baptism or for infant baptism only.  but some of your statements in defense of infant baptism, taken to their logical end, would suggest that baptism is for infants, first and foremost—and was indeed the very intention of it.  the way you are interpreting the circumcision symbolism in baptism would suggest such.  phrases like these:

    “Circumcision is a physical act commanded by God and requested by the parents that is done to an infant to enter the child into God’s covenant with his chosen people.”

    “Circumcision is inherently related to infants.”  (stated with the assumption then that baptism must also be)

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT June 27, 2010

    The statement, “Circumcision is a physical act commanded by God…” was a literary device of juxtaposition to point out that while you were arguing I made to many connections between the two, that you were making too few.  A point you have subsequently essentially conceded.  Regardless, the comparative statements are in essence true.
    The statement “Circumcision is inherently related to infants” is attached the fairly dramatic point that most circumcisions happened to infants and very few adult men.  Necessarily, any Jew in the 2st century (are dare say most people down through history) understand that.  Your analysis ignores history and what was happening in the 1st century when the bible was written.  Thousands of adults, including thousands of Jews, were being converted.  Thus, the Bible explains to the converts the very things you describe, to help them understand what the new and powerful sacrament of baptism is. 
    The bible describes what Baptism is b/c that is what the converts need to learn.  It does not repeat what is already obvious to the converts.  It’s like what Caffey (or maybe it was the other guy) asked the private in “A Few Good Men”.  He asked if the manual tells the Marines were the chow hall is, the private answers that the Marines “just know” were the mess hall is and when it is time to eat.  Now, I am NOT saying that Catholics “just know” the infant baptism is OK but I am saying that some things have to looked at in complete context b/c the people of the day would have never considered the alternative as even being possible.  In context, the comparison of circumcision to baptism, the fact that “whole households” were baptized, the fact that we see the faith of one standing in for others, the fact that Jesus said the faith of child in necessary for salvation, the fact that Act 2:38-39 reference to “for the promise in made to you and your children”, and the fact that Catholics have practiced infant baptism for approximately 2000 years all point to it as a valid practice.
    The Jews of the Apostolic era had been joining their infant children into the covenant with God for 30 Centuries (that is 3,000 years for the math challenged) by the time the age of Christianity began.  Is it really your position that God, who specifically said, “let the children come to me” would turn away the children of the new faithful b/c “if circumcision was what God was going for, dave, then he would have stuck with it.”?

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett June 27, 2010

    i don’t ignore what was happening in the first century.  rather i take the texts and passages on circumcision and baptism to mean what they say.  your interpretation disagrees with those very passages (romans 2-4 just for starters).

    also, there already existed water baptism before paul “introduced” the ideas on circumcision.  three water baptisms that i can think of just off the top of my head.  there was 1) the proselyte’s baptism which the jews were using before Jesus ever came along, 2) john’s baptism of repentance, and 3) the one that Jesus instituted. 

    i’m not ignoring what happened in the first century.  the fact is that much of baptism was already understood when Jesus instituted it.  and baptism was regularly and often occurring long before we have any record of it having been compared to circumcision.

    but all of that being said, i believe the bible was written in such a way that it should be able to be understood without knowing a great deal about history and the like.  [but that’s a completely different subject.]

    by the way, i have never stated that i believe God would “turn away the children of the new faithful, etc.”  i was (mistakenly?) under the impression that we were merely talking about baptism and what God intended in / for it.  that has little to no bearing in my mind on God turning people away.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett June 27, 2010

    here are the reasons (or most) you’ve submitted:

    - the comparison of circumcision to baptism

    - the fact that “whole households” were baptized

    - the fact that we see the faith of one standing in for others

    - the fact that Jesus said the faith of child is necessary for salvation

    - the fact that Act 2:38-39 reference to “for the promise is made to you and your children”

    - the fact that Catholics have practiced infant baptism for approximately 2000 years

    none of these are based in texts actually concerning baptism—except acts 2, which i’d suggest actually damages your argument.  the part you left out included “repent and be baptized,” something an infant is not capable of.  and the rest of the context… “the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call…” makes clear that the promise is for everyone God will call.  the promise is that if they repent and be baptized in Christ, they will receive the Holy Spirit.  that text infers absolutely nothing about infant baptism.  but i digress.

    although i disagree with several of your points above, i don’t know that i want to discuss it further.  dave, i feel like unless you’re wiling to deal with the texts that are actually written about baptism (and/or its relation to circumcision), then we’re at an impasse.

    you could start with colossians 2:9-12 (in which i made a typo earlier and called it chapter 3).

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