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Kayla wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am Catholic and I was baptized an infant and have grown up seeing babies baptized, but I have also heard that you should wait until a person grows up first.

  • Should baptism be performed at birth or later on in life?
  • Are there religions that believe that infant baptism is wrong and that you should wait to be baptized?
  • What is their reasoning?

Kayla

  { Should baptism be performed at birth or later on in life? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Kayla —

Thanks for the question.

The parents should baptize their new baby shortly after birth. PERIOD.

Our Lord Himself says that Baptism is necessary for salvation. Mark 16:16

Plus this is what His Church tells us through the Catechism:

The Baptism of infants

1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.

1251 Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them.

1252 The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole "households" received baptism, infants may also have been baptized.

I can't give you the exact reasoning, but I believe, that certain Protestant denominations frown on infant baptism because they think it is unbiblical, which it isn't (see below).

Instead, they believe that one should wait until a certain age and choose for oneself.

This argument is a little ridiculous in my opinion. Let's say a baby was born in a hospital today. Can you tell me what mother would say to the nurse before going home:

I think "my baby" should decide for [him|her]self whether they should be brought home with a warm blanket to keep them warm. We won't take the blanket, or, for that matter, the diaper they are wearing. Thanks, the same!

To anyone, this would be crazy. In the same way all mothers wish to physically protect their new born, it's the natural desire for all parents to want to spiritually protect their new born by removing original sin from their immortal soul, which is what Baptism does.

The parent's best wishes for the children's spiritual well being are given to them at Baptism.
It is the parent's responsibility to ensure their children grow up to appreciate the faith THEY believe in as Catholic parents.

At Confirmation, the grown adult makes the choice for themselves.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Biblical Passages that support infant baptism:

To be administered to children "Infant Baptism"

Matthew 8:5ff - servant healed because of centurion's faith
Matthew 15:21ff - daughter healed because of the Canaanite woman's faith
Matthew 18:14 - (It is not the will of God that children be damned.)
Matthew 19:14 - "Let the children come to me"
Mark 10:14 - let the children come, for such is the kingdom of Heaven
Luke 7:1ff - just say the word, and let my servant be healed
Luke 18:15-17 - people were bringing even infants to him ... whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it."
John 3:5; Mark 16:16 - (No one enters heaven without baptism of water and spirit)
Acts 16:15 - (Paul and Silas baptize Lydia and her whole household)
Acts 16:30-33 - (Paul and Silas baptize a prison guard and his whole family)
Acts 18:8 - (Crispus, his family, and other Corinthians are baptized)
Romans 5:18-19 - all are born with Adam's sin and need baptism
1 Corinthians 1:16 - "I baptized the household of Stephanas"
Colossians 2:11-12 - baptism has replaced circumcision
See also: - Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15, Acts 2:39, 1 Corinthians 15:22
St. Hippolytus of Rome (c. 215AD) - "Baptize first the children; and if they can speak for themselves, let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them." (The Apostolic Tradition 21)
Origen (post 244AD) - "the Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving baptism also to infants."(Commentary on Romans 5, 9)
St. Cyprian of Carthage (252AD) - this council [ Council of Carthage ] condemned the opinion that infants must wait until the eighth day after birth to be baptized, as was the case with circumcision. (St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter 64 (59), 2)

John replied:

Hi, Kayla —

To add to what Mike says. Most Protestants who reject infant baptism, also don't believe it does anything. They believe that we must first profess faith and, even then, Baptism is only a symbol of the regeneration which came about the moment we believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Catholics and all Christians until the Reformation understood that all sacraments, including baptism, are spiritual realities. They symbolize what they accomplish, and accomplish what they symbolize.

So yes, when the priest pours water on the person it symbolizes the work of the Holy Spirit which is taking place in the person's soul but it also brings about that work.

John

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