Even though the majority of Protestants practice Infant Baptism, it is rejected by many others. Some Christians believe that Baptism is only for those persons that are old enough to understand what he is undertaking. The person has to be old enough to profess faith in Jesus Christ and except him as their Lord and Savior: “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom 10:9).” Therefore, since infants are not yet capable of doing what St. Paul says, then you should not baptize them.
So, why does the Church allow infants to be baptized? Children who have not yet attained the age of reason are initiated into the Family of God—the Church, by the rite of Baptism. Because of original sin, which destroyed the life of God in the soul of our first parents, it has been inherited by everyone. When infants are baptized, the effects and stain of original sin is removed and the soul is infused with Sanctifying Grace.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
“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 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 (CCC, #1250, #1252).”
In order to understand the origins of infant baptisim, one must look at who were the original people that entered into the New Covanent. During the early years of the church, the members were exclusively Jewish. In the Old Covanent, the Jews practiced infant circumcision (Gn 17:12, Lv 12:3). Being faithful Jews, Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to be circumcised when he was eight days old (Lk 2:22-32). Without circumcision no male was allowed to participate in the cultural and religious life of Israel.
Just as circumcision was the covanent sign in the People of the Old Testament, Baptism became the new sign of the People of the New Testament: “In [Jesus] you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead (Col 2:11-12).”
From the Catechism of the Church it states;
“Jesus’ circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham’s descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law and his deputation to Israel’s worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that “circumcision of Christ” which is Baptism (CCC #527).”
Nowhere in the New or Old Testaments does God indicate the exclusion of children from entering into covenant with Him. Also, nowhere in the Bible is the practice of infant Baptism prohibited. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus clearly tells His disciples: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matt 19:14).”
In Acts 2:5 – 3:5, Peter preached under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and he was speaking to a Jewish audience. Peter announced, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children” (Ac 2:38–39). There are a number of places in the New Testament that whole households of people were being baptized: “After she and her household had been baptized…” (Acts 16:15); “…then he and all his family were baptized at once” (Acts 16:33); “I baptized the household of Stephanas also…” (1 Cor 1:16).
Some evangelical Christians will make the claim that a person must receive the Holy Spirit first. After they receive the Holy Spirit, then and only then can the person request Baptism (an infant would not be able to do this). Well, the fact is that, a number of times in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit was received after the Baptism with water had taken place (cf. Lk 3:21-22; Acts 8:14-17; Acts 19:1-7).
Until next time, God bless.