Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Children, Youth, Baptism
As a Baptist, baptism is important! I was reminded of this in the preaching at an event I was at on Sunday evening.
But a recent conversation with another minister re-ignited some thoughts about baptism and children and youth.

If baptism is on profession of faith, and not the sprinkling of children, is there an age or level of understanding needed before baptism? I've heard it argued that we need to find ways for children to publicly declare faith that are not baptism, so that baptism can be done when a young person is of an age to make a lifetime type of commitment to the way of Christ. In many ways that sits well with me. But I'm not 100% sure.

I'm sure we know of many younger people who have been baptised only to wander away, but then the same could be true for adults. I'm sure we do need to take preparation more seriously (catechises?).
But the question remains - if an 8 year old wants to be baptised and has an understanding of faith (all be it an 8 year old's understanding), should we go for it or not?
I think I'll need to reflect some more!

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Blogger Ken Summerlin said...

I was raised to believe that my public profession of faith was when I walked down the aisle of the church, met the pastor and told him that I had accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was publicly declaring my faith in the presence of a body of Believers. I then followed that public profession of faith with baptism. Many years later, I came to the understanding that my baptism WAS my public profession of faith. It was not in walking down a church aisle, not talking to a pastor, but my baptism was the way that God gave me to publicly identify myself as a follower of Christ. In that context, I still believe that baptism is the appropriate public profession of faith, whether I'm 8 years old, 18 years old, or 80 years old.

Another point to consider is the method of baptism. Although I believe that baptism by immersion is the biblical example, the modern church has certainly altered other practices (such as communion) to be taken figuratively, rather than in a historically accurate manner. Is baptism by sprinkling or pouring an acceptable reflection of that sacrament?

9:10 pm  
Blogger Pete Lev said...

Hi Ken. Thanks for your comments and story! Wasn't planning to get into discussions of the amount of water used - maybe that's for another post

8:10 am  
Anonymous Andy Goodliff said...

Pete, I think i want to argue that yes we should go for it, with the right preparation before and a thought-out catechesis following ... its what happens after baptism, i.e. very little, that i think we go wrong ....

5:23 pm  
Blogger Lloyd said...

When you are old enough to fully understand who Jesus is and what He did on the cross for all of mankind, you are old enough to accept Him as your Savior and Lord. Then comes baptism, your public profession of faith and obedience to Christ. God bless, Lloyd

2:06 pm  
Blogger Pete Lev said...

Thanks Lloyd and Andy.
Lloyd - I think you hit the precise question in my mind - who is to say when you are old enough to understand, and what level of understanding is enough?

10:39 am  
Anonymous Andy Goodliff said...

Part of the response from some Baptists has been to say that baptism is a political act, its about a committed discipleship, which is inappropriate for children to undertake, in the same way it would be inappropriate for them to get married, etc ... I'm convinced by the argument, but that is the one i find most commonly made ... I'd want to say its more than a public profession of faith, that is, baptism is a sacrament, in which God acts, and is not just a human act.

4:10 pm  
Blogger Jerry said...

What about a person of any age who has some sort of mental handicap and may never be able to verbalize a profession of faith. Do we baptize them, if so, when?

7:50 am  
Blogger Jackie said...

Jesus said in Matthew...."let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these". If a child shows interest and can express who jesus is and that he came to forgive us of our sins then why not let them be immersed. A Child like faith is the infancy of becoming a mature christian. I'm not so sure I had it all together when I was baptized at age 21, but I'll tell you what, I really didnt have a clue when I was an infant and was sprinkled for my "parents sake" Since my committment to christ at age 21,I've continued to grow and i will forever grow and learn until the day I meet Jesus face to face.

1:05 am  

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