The question which I will respond to in this article refers to infant baptism:
Why Baptists do not recognize infant baptism? Why do they ask people passing to this confession to be baptized again? Hasn’t infant baptism always been a practice of the Church?
I will respond to each question in turn.
Why Baptists do not recognize infant baptism?
Because Baptists are guided in their life and faith by the Holy Scriptures and baptism is a choice that everyone must make. One can be baptized only according to his personal faith in God. Jesus told his disciples:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)(NASB)
As you can see, the text focuses primarily on faith. On the day of Pentecost, after listening to the preaching of Peter, a large number of people were baptized after they had received his word, that meant they believed in the Lord Jesus whom Peter had preached:
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)(NASB)
Obviously, not all were baptized and it does not say about their children they they were baptized there. There are many other biblical passages that show the same truth. Here’s a text:
But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: “HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH.”IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.” The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:26-39)(NASB)
The text makes clear that personal faith in Jesus was the basic condition for the eunuch to be baptized by Philip and only when he himself personally, with his own mouth, has testified that he believed in Jesus Christ and asked to be baptized, then he was baptized.
Infant baptism is not biblical and therefore, is not valid, because it is not based on personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Has infant baptism always been a practice of the Church?
No, absolutely not. Although it tells us a about the baptism of many people, there is not a single mention in the Bible about baptism of infants who have not yet believed in God.
Some of the great Fathers of the Church were baptized as adults. For example, St. John Chrysostom was baptized at age of 25, St. Gregory Nazianzen at 28, and St. Basil the Great at 26 years. You may say that they came from non-Christian family and later returned to Christianity. It is not so. Father of Basil the Great, also Basil, was a very good Christian and being a teacher of rhetoric has been called by people “universal teacher of virtue.” Basil’s mother, Emilia, was the daughter of a Christian martyr. The couple had 10 children of which four have entered the number of saints canonized by the Orthodox Church and they are Macrina the Younger, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa and Peter of Sebaste. All children received a Christian education from childhood, but they were not baptized as children, but were allowed to believe and choose by themselves to be baptized.
Even more, as the Orthodox Church and other denominations have gone to the extreme of infant baptism, in the fourth century they delayed the baptism until they were close to death of fear to sin after baptism, believing that baptism guarantees them entry into the kingdom of heaven. For such people St. Basil the Great preached the Thirteenth Homily “Inducement to the Holy Baptism.” But in this sermon, he also stresses the importance of personal choice of each man to be baptized, and writes:
He found the catechist and did not despise the teaching, the rich man invited the poor to get into the cart, the stately and the proud invited the simple and unknown man, was taught the gospel of the kingdom, received the faith into the heart, but did not lay over the seal of the Spirit, and when he found water, said: “Look! Water!” – a word derived from a great joy from the soul – “This is what I was looking for! What prevents me from my baptism? “. Where will is done, there is no obstacle. God, the One who calls us, loves people, His servant at hand, and grace in abundance. If there is benevolence is, no problem can be! (St. Basil the Great, Homilies and Speeches, Bucharest 2009, p. 235)
Baptism by faith is not an invention of the Baptists, but a condition left by Jesus in the Gospel that some of those who call themselves Christians overlook, while Baptists observe it just as they chose to follow the rest of the New Testament teachings.
Translated by Felicia Rotaru