Malankara World

40 Questions Answered

By H.G. Dr Geevarghese Mar Osthathios

QUESTION 5. Is infant baptism in accordance with the will of God?

None of the ancient churches questions the rightness of the practice of infant baptism. It was the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century who started re-baptizing those who had received infant baptism and the church catholic has rejected their doctrinal deviations. We can show that infant baptism is right in many ways.

(a) Mk. 16: 16 is not in all ancient manuscripts. Mk. 16: 9-19 is a later interpolation. (See brackets or the RSV small scripts). Even if it was said by Our Lord, He did not think of infants when He said it as the verse says that he who does not believe will be condemned. Was He saying that infants will be condemned? No. Mk. 16; 16 is only about the converts from outside the Church and not about the second generation Christians. The Bible does not have a single reference to show that the children of certain families remained un-baptized till they became grown-ups and then get baptized.

(b) There are about five families mentioned as baptized in the Acts and Corinthians (Acts. 10:48; 16: 15, 38; 18: 8 and 1 Cor. 1: 16) and it is unimaginable that only the adults of those families were baptized. It is unthinkable from the Jewish practice of regarding the family as unit and not the individual. {When Achan sinned, the whole family was stoned to death Josh. 7). So infants were baptized in N. T. times.

(c) Children can receive blessing without believing. (See John the Baptist leaping in the womb filled with the Holy Spirit Lk. 1: 41; Jesus blessing the infants brought to Him by the mothers Mk. 10:13, 16 etc.) If infants can receive the blessings of laying of hands by the Lord, they can also receive baptismal grace of regeneration. The theology behind this is that grace precedes faith (Eph. 2: 8) and prevenial grace is a reality. The initiative is from God always. If God takes the first step in dying for us, He also takes the first step in saving through the free gift of regeneration without the precondition of faith. Our duty is only to respond and to reciprocate by faith and obedient life.

(d) The analogy of Circumcision: When Circumcision was started in the Jewish Community through Abraham and Ismael, both were grown ups, 99 and 13 years each (Gen. 17: 12, 24-27). From the time of Isaac it is in the eight day that circumcision is given (21: 4; Lev. 12: 3). Our Lord was also circumcised on the eighth day (Lk. 2: 21). As the connecting link between Judaism the Old Israel and Christianity the New Israel, He submitted Himself both to Circumcision and Baptism. To the Christian, however. Baptism is Circumcision (Col. 2: 11). The Jerusalem Council decided that the Jews and the Gentiles needed only baptism to be incorporated to the Body of Christ (Acts. 15). Unlike circumcision, baptism is given to the women also as in Christ man and woman are equal in status as Jew and Gentile (Gal. 3: 27)

(e) Other arguments in favor of infant baptism include inherent holiness of the children of Christian parents (I Cor. 7: 14), justification by grace as a gift which does not regard age-bar for salvation (Rom 3: 24), the presence of little children in the early church (I. Jn. 2: 1, 12, 13, 18), the tradition of church's practice, the example of Polycarp and others who were baptized as infants.., (See 3 Doctrinal Truths by the author in Malayalam). It is clear that God wills infants' baptism.

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