25 September, 2006

Infant Baptism - An Exchange With A Catholic Priest

Curious: I'm curious as to the Catholic view on infant baptism. Where is this rite supported in Scripture?

Catholic: ...from the Douay-Rheims to "Bible Believing Christians": Acts Of Apostles 16:15 "And when she was baptized, and her household, 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.

Curious: 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.

Catholic: 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.

Curious: 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.

Catholic: ...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.

Curious: Scripture seems silent then regarding infant baptism. Thank you for your time. Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.


Infant baptism follows hard on the heels of purgatory, limbo and heaven & hell going. It's not Biblical and therefore not recognized by God. Infant baptism appeals to the emotion of mankind and this is why it's a common practice nowadays. As with most doctrinal discussions, inevitably a defense is sought in the authority of the Church (i.e. the Bible doesn't say it but the Church does) and numbers (e.g. billions of Catholics can't all be wrong).


Anonymous Lily said...

A priest of the Roman Catholic church admits that his beliefs, "cannot be simply Sola Scriptura".

That is ridiculous. Is he actually saying that scripture - the Holy Bible - is inadequate?

Sometimes the simplest solutions are overlooked. The Bible will always be inadequate and the Bible will always be incomplete when trying to defend a doctrine that's just not there.

September 26, 2006 12:05 PM  
Blogger Moneybags said...

Sola Scriptura is FALSE:

St. Paul writes: "Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours." (2 Thessalonians 2:15 )

Many Protestants will quote the above verses from 2 Timothy 3:14-17 as if they support sola-scriptura. However, first and foremost, these verses never say that we are saved by the sacred scriptures alone. And most importantly, these verses do not refer to the Bible! When St. Paul wrote this, the Bible had not yet been put together. St. Paul was refering to the Old Testament being useful for teaching. This verse can not be used to support sola-scriptura!

The Church has always taught that the Sacrament of Baptism can and should be conferred on children. In Baptism we are “born again”; it is the start of the life that continues in the next. Since Baptism is the start of life, a child should be baptized as soon as possible that they might have a share in divine sonship. As Jesus says, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).

In the Gospel Jesus instructs us to go forth and baptize the whole world – not just adults. St. Paul baptized whole families and it is most likely there was at least one child in those families (Acts 16:15; 1 Cor. 1:16). The Third Council of Carthage (253 AD) with St. Cyprian taught that infants should be baptized as soon as possible after birth. The Council of Milevi in 416 AD taught the necessity of baptism for infants. This same position has been reaffirmed at the Fourth Lateran Council as well as the Councils of Vienne, Florence, and Trent.

October 13, 2006 6:57 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Sola Scriptura is false because billions of people have been conditioned to follow the voice of man (Church) and not the voice of God (Bible). Sola Scriptura is false because the majority of mainstream Christian doctrines are entirely absent from Scripture. Sola Scriptura is false only because it serves the best interests of the Church.

If you’re going to go down the path of “the Bible doesn’t say it so it’s not true”, then please stop referring to Paul as "St Paul" and avoid assuming children were baptized. The Bible never talks about either one.

The beauty of Paul’s verse in 2 Timothy 3 is its duality. Scripture was a perfect tool of instruction for the people in his time exactly the same way as it is for people in our time. 2 Tim 3:14 can’t be referring to the OT only because the old law no longer saved. Simple enough. Therefore the OT alone wasn’t enough to “train in righteousness” since the OT didn’t teach about the redeeming nature of Christ’s death, the idea of becoming spiritual Jews or even the vital act of baptism. The Jews in the NT had the exact same misconception you do: The OT was a great tool to refute and correct. Wrong. This is precisely the mindset Christ was trying to combat during his ministry. Vs. 15 of 2 Tim says “That the man of God may be perfect…” If you think a man of God during Paul’s time could be made perfect by reading and being instructed from JUST the OT, then the work of Christ, the disciples and the apostles quite literally accomplished nothing.

Mark 10:14
1. Infant baptism and infant sprinkling are not mentioned in this text or any other in the New Testament.
2. If your interpretation were the correct one, then the doors of the kingdom would be shut to all but baptized infants since Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." (Mark 10:15).
3. "Of such" and "as" indicate that Jesus is making a comparison in these verses. Unless the adult has child-like qualities the doors of the kingdom will be shut. Child-like qualities are stressed elsewhere in Scripture, (e.g., "…howbeit in malice be ye children..." 1 Cor. 14:20, "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes…" 1 Peter 2:1, 2).
4. The Matthew account leaves no doubt as to the intent of Jesus' words: "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever, therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3,4). See verses 10 and 14 - "little ones" are the disciples.
5. In the Mark account Jesus refers to his disciples as "children." (Mark 10:24).

As for Paul baptizing households, this is your ‘proof’ that infant baptism is acceptable? Two references to "households"? These are the facts:

Acts 16:15
• Members of Lydia’s 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.

1 Corinthians 1:16
• :15 says that the household of Stephanas devoted themselves to the ministry. “Devoted” to the ministry is an act infants are incapable are carrying out.

Finally, "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?

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. Plus, 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 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.

1 Cr 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." Infants are saved (or not saved) based on the judgment of their parents.

October 16, 2006 1:06 AM  

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