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James Gau wrote:

Hi Richard,

I have visited your web site and I have some questions. If you could give me some detailed answers to my questions it would be appreciated.

  1. Can you prove from the Bible that it is right to baptize infants?
    In Mark 16:16 Jesus says that he who believes and is baptized will be saved.

    How can infants believe in Jesus?
    [ Answer ]

  2. Was the universe created in six literal days?
    [ Answer ]

  3. Is there a possibility that there can be intelligent life forms on other planets?
    If not, what use does God have to create the vast universe with billions of stars and planets?
    [ Answer ]

  4. What does the Bible say about the fate of the universe?
    Will it exist forever?
    Will it be renewed or will it be destroyed at some time?

    Some Christians believe that the saints will live in this world for eternity.

    What does the Bible say about this?
    [ Answer ]

  5. Why was Jesus baptized by John?

    Some theologians say that Jesus was baptized in order to take the sins of the world on Himself. They say without His baptism he could not take away our sins and die on the Cross for them.

    Is this biblically true?
    [ Answer ]

Thanks and may God richly bless you.

James Gau
Tanzania, East Africa

  { Can you answer my questions on Baptism, creation, intelligent life, and the universe? }

Richard replied:

Hi, James —

It's a pleasure to meet you, even if only by e-mail. I don't often get to hear from anyone in Tanzania. I hope my material on the web is occasionally helpful.

Here are some quick and, alas, not very detailed answers. I can refer you to some other people who have written about these subjects.

Answer to Question 1: The New Testament doesn't give us clear evidence about the question of infant baptism. New Testament description of the activity of the early Church appears mostly in the Acts of the Apostles, though even this book is really focused on the spread of Christianity in the world, rather than on the day-to-day practices of the Church. In Acts, there are several passages describing when a convert is baptized along with his or her household; children may have been baptized along with the adults in these cases.

The people at Catholic Answers have an article about infant baptism as described in the early centuries of the Church:

Answer to Question 2. Here's a helpful article by Jimmy Akin about the Church's understanding of the creation account in Genesis:

The Six Days of Creation by Jimmy Akin

Answer to Question 3. As far as I know, Christian doctrine doesn't take a position about the possibility of the existence of intelligent life on other planets.

On the other hand, the vastness of the universe doesn't provide a compelling reason to believe that there is necessarily intelligent life elsewhere. As far as I know, there isn't scientific evidence for such life yet.

Answer to Question 4. There are indications in the New Testament that God will transform the created world of matter, as part of His plan for bringing everything to fulfillment. As the world of nature suffered corruption from Adam's sin, the world will also be made whole in the final victory of divine love. Revelation 21:1 says:

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth and the first heaven and the first earth had passed away."

St Paul writes, in Romans chapter 8:

"creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God."

St Paul even goes so far as to link the ultimate redemption of the created world with our ultimate redemption, the resurrection of the body:

"We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies."

Answer to Question 5. When Jesus, Our Lord submitted to the baptism John gave, a baptism of repentance, He was making an act of humility and love. He revealed that He was identifying Himself with us sinners, and submitting Himself to the condition of fallen humanity.

In His Baptism, the Holy Trinity is also revealed, the God of Three Divine Persons: the Father speaks, declaring This is my Son; and the Holy Spirit is seen descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove. This revelation is very fitting at this time, because in the Trinity, the Three Persons relate to each other in self-giving love, humility, and gratitude.

That said, this amazing baptism did not change Jesus: It revealed Him, and it revealed His relationship to us. It changes John, and us, and everyone who witnesses it!

Here is a teaching by Pope John Paul II on these and other aspects of the Baptism of Christ:

Best wishes for the coming Holy season —

— Richard Chonak

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