Updated: Aug 19
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Why was infant baptism common practice for the first 1500 years of Christianity?
Well, the answer is simple.
Baptism replaced the old physical sign of being a believer, circumcision. When was circumcision done amongst the Jews? When they were babies. Why can people not be baptized twice? For the same reason you can’t be circumcised twice.
The sweet softness of the New Covenant replaced the harshness of the Old Covenant.
Those of the Anabaptist or Baptist faiths, mostly located in America, deny the simple history and theology of infant baptism because they claim “infant baptism is not in the Bible!”
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. For the promise is unto you, and to your children… (Acts 2:38–39)
There were five entire households baptized in the Bible (Acts 10, Acts 16x2, Acts 18, 1 Corinthians 1)! Not one included a child? Among the 120 people baptized at Pentecost, not one was a child?
Why Is Baptism Necessary To Enter Heaven?
Baptism cleanses all sin.
All are born with original sin. Original sin, like DNA, is passed down hereditarily. All are descendants of Adam, the first man.
Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned. (Romans 5:12)
Jesus said that all who enter Heaven must be baptized. No exceptions.
Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
Luckily, there exist three types of baptism: by desire, by blood, and by water. The penitent thief on the cross, St. Dismas, was baptized by desire, and not with water — as he was nailed to a cross. He asked Jesus to remember him when he entered his kingdom. And Jesus replied: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).
Many of the early Christian martyrs, some who become Christian at the moment of their death in the arenas, didn’t have time to get baptized before they were killed. The early Church testifies that there is something called Baptism by Blood.
However, we should not take God’s mercy for granted. If you are able to, get baptized as soon as possible. If you are a parent, baptize your children as soon as you can. Baptism by water is how God imparts grace, it is how one becomes a Christian, and it physically implants a mark on the soul.
The biggest objection by deniers is that Christians must personally believe before they can be baptized. Babies, who are not responsible for the sins of their fathers, are not responsible for their own beliefs. A parent, who guards and guides every single aspect of the baby’s life, must take responsibility for them. It is their duty. Babies can’t feed themselves, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be fed. Babies can’t clothe themselves, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be clothed. And babies can’t save themselves, it doesn’t mean their parents shouldn’t baptize them.
For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (I Corinthians 7:14).
What Did the Early Christians Say About Infant Baptism?
“The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit” (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]).
“Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin [original sin]. . . . In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous” (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]).
“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 21:16 [A.D. 215]).
“As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born” (Letters 58:2 [A.D. 253]).
“If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he [an infant] approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another” (ibid., 58:5).
“He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age” (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]).
Naaman’s servants, however, approached him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’?” So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored and became like that of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:13-14)
Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. And the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-14)