The name of this column is “Food for Thought” and that is what it’s meant to be.
I have written this weekly column now for over 20 years and the name has never changed.
While it’s true that some of the columns have been controversial in nature––such topics have never been written to divide the Christian community but rather to incite discussions on various subjects.
One can pretty much come to a conclusion as to what my belief or stance is by the way the column is written. But again, I’m giving my personal take on an issue or a subject.
Such is the case with this particular column concerning infant baptism.
I have been called over the years and have been asked if I would be willing to baptize a child during one of our services and have always declined the solicitation to do so.
But, I do that with an explanation which involves our church’s take on the subject and that is believing that a child should be at an age of accountability before being baptized.
The Bible talks about circumcision for Jewish male children to be performed on about the 8th day after being born. This is an outward sign or symbol of the infant being officially accepted into the Jewish community.
There is a practice amongst certain churches or sects that do perform a ritual of sprinkling an infant, i.e., baptizing the child into the Christian community. Such baptisms are not exclusive to male infants but are open to all males and females.
The stance amongst other churches usually features the belief that a child should reach the age of accountability, which varies at a different time from child to child.
The age of accountability is not so much about a specific age as it is about a child’s personal ability to understand right from wrong, and one’s ability to make a decision based on their accurate understanding of the purpose of a topic, such as baptism.
It then becomes the church’s position that a child has made a decision to want to be baptized following his or her accepting Christ as personal Savior.
To baptize, or sprinkle an infant can do 2 things. First it can give a child a false hope.
I have had individuals say to me, “Well my parents had me baptized just after I was born so I’m all right.”
Infant baptism does not automatically guarantee a child acceptance into the kingdom of God. That comes through a person, at some point in his or her life, making a decision to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. Following that decision, a person would then decide to be baptized in water.
Jesus, who knew no sin took it upon Himself to be baptized by John the Baptist in order to be identified with sinners.
A large number of Christians believe that water baptism comes following salvation and is done so for the purpose being identified with Christ. It symbolizes being buried with Christ (total immersion) and raised to a newness of life.
Therefore water baptism is explained as an outward expression of an inward experience.
The 2nd thing infant baptism can do is to take the act of being baptized away from being a personal decision.
A person should be able to decide on his on her own as to whether or not to be baptized.
In lieu of infant baptism many churches do a baby dedication. That is simply to have the child publically prayed over and given back to the Lord from whence he or she came.
The prayer most often includes asking God to watch over and care for the child.
Parents who believe in prayer never stop praying for their child no matter what the age, but baby dedication doesn’t affect a child’s decision or personal right to be baptized.