Should We Baptize Small Children? Yes


The question among Baptists over whether to baptize small children is sensitive, and I’ve gone back and forth on it. There are several pastoral difficulties, and parents face many questions that they don’t often feel equipped to answer. Local churches who take conversion and church membership seriously have often taken a more conservative stance by implementing a certain age (say, 10, 15, or 18) before baptizing a child in order to guard against giving a young child false assurance or baptizing someone who isn’t truly converted.

Trevin Wax recently brought up the question and makes the case that “there is wisdom in delaying baptism for young children” (emphasis mine). He follows the lead of W.A. Criswell, who “encouraged and affirmed childhood decisions for Christ, but postponed baptism until a child was around 10 years of age.” So if your child professes faith at 6, the encouragement would be to wait until 10 to finally baptize him. Some churches wait longer, even until the child is out from under the direct influence and authority of parents.

I’m sympathetic to these concerns, and I understand the tension that a century of “easy-believism” has brought upon the question. I’m certainly not in favor of baptizing children merely at the sound of a profession. But I believe implementing a probationary period between belief and baptism has significant negative consequences.

Without reverting back to “easy-believism” Christianity, I believe the Bible gives us good reasons for parents to baptize their children upon observing a clear profession of faith in the gospel without a probationary period.


Why Not to Delay Baptism for Small Children


Here are four reasons to consider not delaying baptism for small children:

1. The regular pattern in Scripture doesn’t give any indication of a probationary period.

The biblical examples of baptisms give us no reason to insert a probationary period between belief in the gospel and being baptized. Rather, baptisms came immediately after belief, usually on the same day. The Bible doesn’t seem to give us any examples of an un-baptized Christian (see Robert Stein’s chapter in Believer’s Baptism, ed. by Thomas Schreiner and Shawn Wright), because the apostles were following Christ’s command to baptize all those who profess faith. I’m afraid that in the attempt to guard against false conversions, we have also prohibited obedience to Christ in following his command to be baptized. A child could go for years without being baptized, all the while confessing Christ and trusting in his gospel. This is a category of Christians that do not exist in the Bible, nor do I think it should today.

2. A probationary period seems to imply that there is something more than faith we need to do in order to be a Christian.

Setting up a probationary period or age before a child can be baptized seems to imply a number of things contrary to the very gospel we are encouraging our children to believe. We have reacted against an “easy-believism” Christianity with a “prove yourself” mentality. Wax and others aren’t attempting to supply biblical commands for what is necessary for baptism, merely pointers to use biblical wisdom in this area. But telling an 8-year-old who wants to be baptized that she needs to wait until she is 10 (or whatever age you assign) implies that she is either not a Christian or not a good enough one. In other words, a probationary period implies that there is something more than faith we need to do in order to be a Christian: I need to be at least 10 years old; I need to be able to vote in a church meeting (to use Wax’s example); I need to act in a certain way or articulate things properly so that my parents or pastor will finally treat me as a Christian. If we have no reason to doubt their belief in the gospel, we have no biblical precedence to keep them from being baptized and accepted into church membership.

3. Affirming belief in the gospel is never false assurance.

I’m sympathetic to the concern that early baptism could give a child false assurance. But telling our children that they are a Christian because they have placed their trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins is never false assurance. Never. To think or say otherwise is putting our children’s assurance in something other than a life of faith in Christ’s finished work. We must say to them, “Keep believing! Keep believing!” If we are to affirm faith in young children, then the only biblical and pastoral thing to do is baptize them.

4. The New Testament pattern is reactive rather than proactive concerning conversion.

This point is a little bit harder to summarize, but it’s an important one. The emphasis in the New Testament seems to be more on reacting upon false conversions—leading to church discipline—rather than a proactive, preventative approach to conversion. In other words, the New Testament projects a pattern of assuming a profession of faith to be true and reacts upon what may have been or is false faith by disciplining an unrepentant sinner or identifying a wolf and calling him so. But the reaction is not only negative to false faith, but also a positive encouragement for believing Christians to persevere in faith. The New Testament’s emphasis is not on the proof of an individual’s conversion, but rather the laboring, exhorting, praying of pastors, elders, and parents for their sheep to persevere in a life of faith in the gospel.

Observing Faith in Young Children

The difficulty for both pastors and parents is identifying what is true belief and what is excitement or a desire to please parents. But if a child is expressing faith in the gospel, our first impulse should not be to doubt it. We have every reason to believe that God has used the ordinary means of prayer, discipleship, and teaching to bring to life faith in our young children.

If parents spend time discipling their children in the knowledge of God’s Word and his gospel, evidences of faith will begin to be exposed, such as remorse over sin, a love for Jesus Christ, and a hunger to learn more about God. Intentional discussions and questions can reveal motivations and desires that can either affirm or call into question the child’s faith. Bringing pastors and church leaders into these discussions will help parents recognize these evidences. But if our children express an interest in being a Christian with none of these evidences of faith, we then have good grounds to guard them from being baptized; all the while praying for them, teaching them, and, with great expectation, looking for evidences of faith.

  • Ryan Burns

    Thanks for the post John. I wrestled through this about a year ago. After many of my friends expressed concerns about the age of my children, I eventually wrote a post with similar conclusions to yours:

    Again, thanks for the post. Well said!

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Should We Baptize Small Children? Yes – The Gospel Coalition Blog --

  • Steven

    Yes, Only if we failed to baptize them when they were still infants.

  • Lana B

    “But if our children express an interest in being a Christian with none of these evidences of faith, we then have good grounds to guard them from being baptized; all the while praying for them, teaching them, and, with great expectation, looking for evidences of faith.”

    I really appreciate this paragraph. This subject is something we have struggled with for a few years now, and I suspect that if we were still part of a church that had an invitation to walk up every Sunday, our 9 year old would probably have done so with her friend by now out of pressure to do so. She is struggling b/c her friends have these “2nd birthdays” where they seem to know the exact day when they were saved, and we’ve had a few conversations with her, being careful not to prompt her answers about what being saved means. Until she can tell us why there’s a need for her to be saved, and saved from what in her own words, (as opposed to the A.B.C.’s of Vacation Bible School) we just don’t feel that we can proceed. It’s exciting to see the girls come to realizations instead of repeating canned answers to us. I fear that enough parents don’t get to experience this joy because they are in such a hurry to have their child say the right things and stamp them “saved.”

    • Andrew

      This sentence bothered me “She is struggling b/c her friends have these “2nd birthdays” where they seem to know the exact day when they were saved, and we’ve had a few conversations with her, being careful not to prompt her answers about what being saved means.”

      My daughter, who was baptised an infant, and is now 14, has always known Christ was her saviour and that she is saved. I remember telling her, in a response to a question at 3 or 4, that she was a ‘child of God’ and she believed that and still does.

      She’s now 14, and more bold with her faith than I was at the same age. She’s evangelised her faith to atheists, and homeless, and I believe it all comes from building off a relationship she’s simply always had.

    • Christina

      I know this is an old post, but for anyone else stumbling on this and in the same situation…

      I was raised by Christian parents, knowing from a young age who God was and fully believing that he died for my sins. I sang to God from my crib, I knew what it meant to say Jesus was in my heart. My entire childhood revolved around Him.

      I had the misfortune of being ministered by people who believed in this “2nd Birthday” stuff. I kept “coming to Christ” expecting to feel differently so that I could have a DAY that was my rebirth. The reason I didn’t feel differently is because I ALREADY believed.

      I grew… like a child who grows from milk to meat, my faith in Christ grew from child-like faith to fully realized adult assurance.

      You may be causing your daughter to not know what it means to believe in Christ because she might already be there and you won’t believe it.

      I was 22 when I finally decided that February 12, 1984 was my “2nd Birthday” – the day I was baptized…I was 3 months old.

  • Bruce

    ‘The Bible doesn’t seem to give us any examples of an un-baptized Christian (see Robert Stein’s chapter in Believer’s Baptism, ed. by Thomas Schreiner and Shawn Wright), because the apostles were following Christ’s command to baptize all those who profess faith.’

    I don’t disagree with a lot of what you say but I couldn’t help thinking of Apollos as the example (Act18:24-26). Luke doesn’t clearly say whether he was baptized or not – perhaps we make that assumption because of what follows in Acts 19. Nevertheless we are not told, so perhaps we should heed Paul’s lesson to the Corinthians where he tells them, ‘Do not go beyond what is written'(1Co 4:6).

  • john cho

    easy, just baptize them as infants.

    • John Thomson

      easy, but wrong.

      • Rich

        Not wrong, instead of waiting for my kids to evidence interest in Christ I trust it is best to rely on Christs interest in my kids, And that I know by the evidence of His word. Salvation is of God. My kids are His already.

        • Michael

          This is a great discussion. John has been very good about providing interesting topics of conversation here.

          Salvation is provided by God but I would say it still must be chosen. Even John 3:16 says that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. We have to believe. It’s not enough to simply have contact with water. Babies cannot believe because they have not comprehended the message.

          Romans 10:17: “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”

          Romans 5:1: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

          Acts 2:38: “Peter replied, ‘Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

          We must turn from our sin to God. That’s the requirement that I see in scripture. If by “my kids are His already” you mean that they are already heaven bound with no requirement on their part then I would say these verses are in contradiction with that idea. Did you mean something else?

          Son Followers Blog

        • Nick

          That is assuming a lot on Christ though?

    • Russ

      Do you care to give evidence towards that claim?

  • TL

    I’m open to be corrected because I’m sure there are better equipped theologians then me, but to my knowledge this is NOT a Reformed interpretation of the doctrine of Baptism.

    John Calvin endorsed infant baptism (babies) because he saw baptism as the OT equivalent of circumcision (Institutes 4:16). Since babies were circumcised, Calvin endorsed the baptism of babies. So a truly Reformed practice of baptism would require us to baptize our children while they are still babies.

    • David Kreklau


      I think you’re right about Calvin believing that… but I just happened to listen to an excellent sermon by John Piper on this very subject yesterday. It may be helpful to why some of us who hold largely Reformed beliefs don’t agree with Calvin (and others) on infant baptism. I felt that Piper satisfactorily answered this connection between circumcision and baptism. Here’s the link:

      • TL

        Yes, I am familiar with Piper’s view. My point wasn’t to point out who is “right” or “wrong.” I just wanted to point out that John Stake’s view on this blog is not in line with the traditional Reformed doctrine of baptism. Again, I’m open for correction on that. But I do not believe this blog (or Piper) is “wrong.” I think Scripture leaves it open for different churches to hold different practices.

  • PJ Tibayan

    Vern Poythress had some good thoughts on this –

    Steven and John Cho – Wetting them as children is not baptism according to the Bible. I’m just saying.

    • john

      Poythress believes in infant baptism…

      • PJ Tibayan

        Poythress does believe in infant baptism, but the audio discussion was his case for baptists to baptize children when they profess faith and not wait until they’re adults. Too bad they took down the interview and now charge for it. This moved me as a Baptist to be convinced of what Starke argues for in this post.

  • John

    While it is true that the NT does not mention a probationary period prior to baptism, it also does not provide a clear example of a child ever being baptized.

  • seth

    I don’t see anything wrong with waiting a bit. Early church people who were going through baptism had a quite long process from what I remember (someone else care to fill in the rest, since I’m a bit rusty on my history).

    • scott

      Acts 8:38

  • TL

    Though it’s true that there is no clear example of a child being baptized there is no Biblical evidence forbidding the practice either. By the way, there is no clear evidence of most of the stuff we do on Sunday mornings (offering collection, corporate prayers in unison, gathering in fancy buildings with projectors, etc.) I wouldn’t say it’s wrong or sinful to do it, but just saying… there’s no Biblical evidence for all the stuff we do on Sunday mornings.

    Which is the reason why I brought up John Calvin. What’s the point of baptism? Doctrinally, what’s the point of baptism?

    • John Thomson


      Baptising or not is in a different category from whether we use overheads or not.

      ‘Both the Abrahamic and New covenant make accredited birth the entrance point to covenant rights and responsibilities, including the covenant sign. In the Abrahamic covenant the accredited birth is physical – birth by blood into a Jewish home – whereas, in the New covenant it is spiritual – birth by faith in the gospel. In both cases the covenant sign follows the birth. In both cases too, the spiritual life or otherwise that follows will reveal the ‘genuineness’ of the ‘birth’ and whether the person is a genuine child of the covenant or not.’

  • David

    Two underlying issues not mentioned…

    There is often confusion of whether it is a matter of signifying a person’s choice to become a Christian, or a testimony to God’s call. Is it about us or God?

    Where does being a member of God’s covenant community fit in? Like with circumcision -it was done to young Jewish boys well before they got to have a say in whether they wanted to be part of God’s covenant people or not.

  • Brandon

    1 Corinthians 10:2 – New Testament instance of infant baptism. :)

    • Will

      Um, check your context there Brandon. The use of the word “baptized” in this passage is not referring to actual baptism. Whether or not infant baptism is legit, this passage does NOT, in any way refer or endorse it.

  • Brian

    We baptize babies (yes, dunk them – 3 times even) and then feed them the Holy Supper. But hey, I’m Orthodox. Interesting to watch Baptist/Reformed folk deal with this issue.

    • Matt Beatty

      Some of us (CREC) who are Reformed do this, too. Paedocommunion isn’t anything more than a speck on the back of Reformed theology at this point… but hey, we can hope and pray, right?

    • Michael

      Since you bring it up, why do you baptize infants? I know it’s a common practice in some groups. I’ve just never understood the rationale for it Biblically. Wherever baptism is mentioned by the apostles, it always follows belief. So where did infant baptism come from and what is the purpose for it?

      • Matt Beatty

        Seriously? Go read something by a paedobaptist. Anything.

  • Pingback: What I Read Online – 02/24/2011 (a.m.) | Emeth Aletheia()

  • Simon

    Good post and good teaching on the subject. Belief in Christ is the only requirement for baptism and I like the fact you bring this out in the post. It does not matter about age.

    I have often argued that a probationary period between salvation and baptism is not scriptural. And to argue it is now cultural is a dangerous thing. Baptism is a simple external act that is shwo after the internal act of being saved has taken place.

    In sport there is the adage that if you are good enough then you are old enough (in relation to how old a team member should be).

    I think we can have a similar approach to baptism in that if a child shows that they have taken Christ as their Saviour then baptism is appropriate.

    I would qualify my statement by saying that is, perhaps, impossible for a 2 year old to show they have trusted Christ. But a child of 5 could very well do this.

    On the pastoral side I do think parents play a huge role here. They know their children. They know if they are serious in what they say. They know if they have the capacity and capability to believe in Christ.

  • Kim Shay

    It seems to me that establishing the validity of the profession is crucial. My daughter was baptized at the age of seven. Her Sunday School teacher was very big on encouraging kids to be baptized once she heard they had made a profession. Now, at the age of 21, she looks back and believes she was not converted until she was at least nine, and says she does feel like being baptized was something “expected” of her. It’s hard to see the faith in a child, especially when, like my daughter, the child is always eager to please. Quite co-incidentally, my two sons, now 18 and 16, say that they believe they were baptized too soon. Baptism makes a very serious statement, I think. They are confessing to the community of believers. I think the crucial thing is to wait to announce a “decision” until we are more certain that the child is actually been regenerated.

    • Simon


      I think you make a good point. Not being a parent myself I have never heard this perspective. I agree totally with you that genuine salvation is critical in baptising anyone.

    • Michael

      I do agree with this. From my perspective, the bottom line is that baptism shouldn’t be forced on a child. When the child is ready and has a desire to be obedient in that way, then he/she should be baptized. Baptism is an outward sign of the inward change. We know salvation is not dependent on it. So to allow a delay is not hurtful in my opinion. I also agree that if a child is ready, we shouldn’t stand in the way and prevent it.

      Son Followers Blog

    • Matt Beatty


      You highlight the difference between the paedo and credo camps nicely. Credos see baptism as something THEY are doing (I’m professing my faith and this water signifies that…) and restrict it – naturally – to those who are capable of making a profession. Paedos see baptism as an indication of what GOD is doing – thus the passivity of the child is no impediment.

      The fact that the kids said, “I didn’t make sense of all this until later” fits beautifully with paedo theology. I’m always thinking back to how little I knew of Christ when I professed faith at 20. Thankfully, no one “rebaptized” me but saw it as God’s realizing of a covenant salvation promised to me 20 years earlier in baptism.

      • Michael

        So I did some reading. :) I still don’t see how paedobaptism fits with the example found in the gospels and the instruction given by the apostles. There is no link in scripture that associates baptism directly with circumcision. There is a loose association in that both are outward signs of their respective covenants. But in my opinion there is nothing there that compels us to ignore the clear teaching regarding baptism in the New Testament and adopt a completely different model than what the apostles themselves endorsed.

        Normally I would say that how a person is baptized is not a critical issue except that it sounds like you’re saying that salvation was established and guaranteed before you ever decided to believe. This assumes that all who are baptized as infants are guaranteed to believe eventually? Or are they guaranteed salvation whether they believe or not? This can’t be the case because Paul clearly says that it is faith that saves us and not water baptism. My concern is that people are placing their faith in baptism in the same way that some others may place their faith in church membership. Neither is a valid foundation for assurance of salvation.

        Son Followers Blog

        • Matt Beatty

          You read… but didn’t really. No Presbyterian/paedo (that I know) believes that “all who are baptized as infants are guaranteed to believe eventually” anymore than a Baptist believes that because you walk and aisle and take a dip in the baptismal (or the local lake) you’re signed, sealed, and delivered.

          So, with all due respect, keep reading – particularly how Presbyterians understand the covenants and their respective signs. And how God administers salvation in it/them. That’s the key. To attempt to extract baptism from the idea of covenant is where – in paedobaptist eyes – where the mistake lies. Or, perhaps, to define the recipients of the covenant too narrowly.

          You argue that only those who believe are “in” the covenant/elect (unless you don’t believe in election… in which case, scrap that…). I’d argue that it is God’s promise that grants us the covenant sign (fitting – since salvation is HIS, not OURS), not our profession.

          Ask yourself: Children are considered recipients of the promise (Gen. 17/18) in the Old Covenant (do you debate this?) and this is a covenant of GRACE whose “requirement” (contra Sinai) is FAITH. When Jesus arrives, this sign is taken FROM these children… without a positive word to the contrary? Really? Hermeneutically – before we get to the discussion of actual texts – this just seems odd, doesn’t it.

          All that “covenantal thinking” which explicitly involved saints’ children (not to mention their participation in the covenant MEAL – Passover) and not a word like, “Oh, and by the way, DON’T baptize your kids because this isn’t for them. They need to be considered LO AMMI (not my people) until they prove themselves in.

          That’s it in a nutshell. I propose our children are Christians until their mouths or lives say otherwise; you say they’re pagans until they say (or, in the case of many strict baptists) beg, plead, etc. for the parents to accept them.

          Meanwhile, loads of baptists who walk the aisle, gave a “credible profession” and were then left to rot on the vine are walking away from their baptisms.

          Each system is prone to excesses and weaknesses – we’d point to Rome; you’d point to Revivalistic decisionist evangelists… the point is what does the WHOLE of Scripture say of how people – and children – come to faith. You read the Acts narrative (which only report ADULTS by the way…) as normative for adults and children. I’d say you’re better off looking to all of Scripture for how God sees his covenant children (I Cor. 7:14) and what happens to those who make them stumble. (Matt. 18)

          • John Thomson

            Seems like a point to reiterate a distinction between covenants I made above

            ‘Both the Abrahamic and New covenant make accredited birth the entrance point to covenant rights and responsibilities, including the covenant sign. In the Abrahamic covenant the accredited birth is physical – birth by blood into a Jewish home – whereas, in the New covenant it is spiritual – birth by faith in the gospel. In both cases the covenant sign follows the birth. In both cases too, the spiritual life or otherwise that follows will reveal the ‘genuineness’ of the ‘birth’ and whether the person is a genuine child of the covenant or not.’

            John 1:12-13 (ESV)
            But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

            • Matt Beatty


              Rom. 4:11 “He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well…”

              Circumcision was fundamentally NOT about physical birth, by to signify belief/faith on the part of Abraham AND HIS SEED (Gen. 18). Remember, it is the sign of the covenant of GRACE – given unilaterally to the children of Israel.

              Who are these “saints” in 1 Cor. 7:14?

            • John Thomson


              You have not explained the force of the quotation from John’s gospel.

              1Cor 7:14 (ESV)
              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.

              ‘saint’ is clearly a poor translation. Does a Christian husband make a wife a Christian? Or vice versa?

            • Matt Beatty


              I’m not particularly concerned with the translation of hagios as saint – although Paul’s use is telling in his letters is telling, isn’t it? The verbal form means “to sanctify” – would you be more comfortable with “those being sanctified?”

              Do I believe that wives are made Christians – as in elect – by virtue of their spouse’s faith? No. Who has? Do I believe that the unbelieving spouse or covenant child is regarded differently than the unbeliever down the street. Absolutely. And that this covenantal status that God grants to our children is a privilege? Yes.

              I don’t know why this kind of federal representation is so difficult to understand, really? Or why we insist on telling our children – unlike the rest of the Bible – that God is NOT their God… that’s he’s not for them but against them, and so on.

              Must they have faith and repentance? Absolutely. Will some appear to have it, only to later apostasize? Yep. (Matt. 13; Heb. 6) But my word, let’s give them a fighting chance.

              John – honestly – do you think that the long litany of paedos – most of who are DIRECTLY responsible for the recovery the GOSPEL that you know and love (Luther, Calvin, Owen, Edwards, Packer, and so on) have never wrestled with John 1:12-13? Really?

              The force of the verse is this… it requires faith and repentance for all who would see the Kingdom and this faith and repentance comes sovereignly through the work of the Spirit in believers’ lives. I see that in 80 year-olds and 8 year olds… and younger.

              But that’s not the issue. The issue is one of whether we have grounds to suspect that God means to work in our kids and, if we do, we should treat them from Day 1 as Christians.

              If the criticism of paedos is that, in baptism, we come foster a spiritual “nominalism” by telling young children that they’re in when they’re really not, I would answer, “That is a real danger. Only the daily preaching of Christ, of His grace and forgiveness of sins will be sufficient to avoid that ditch.” But the baptist, in my experience, just moves the whole conversation back 15-20-40 years. Then, a prayer is prayed, an aisle walked, and “new life” gotten… only to evaporate later on. Again, a ditch that can only be avoided, humanly speaking, through the preaching of the Gospel.

              My own experience tells me that if I preach Christ and look on a child’s faith the way Jesus did – childlike trust – and forego the strenuous “seminary model” of asking for the end product right up front (prebys make this mistake in admission to communion), then we will see great fruit… and see the false professors and apostates.

            • John Thomson


              You say that we should treat our children as Christians (our unbelieving spouses too?)yet you accept that they are not Christians until they have faith and repentance. It is the schizophrenia of this I find hard to grasp.

              I confess I find it hard to grasp in the Abrahamic covenant too where the physical seed is assumed to be the spiritual seed until a lack of faith proves otherwise. Even Nicodemus a teacher in Israel did not know he must be born again.

              I see the new covenant as making this matter of personal faith much clearer by removing the physical dimension and insisting new covenant membership is based on a personal profession of faith. That is not to say that family and those close to Christians are not set apart and blessed by dint of their association but that is quite different from saying they are Christians or assumed to be such.

              Do you preach to your children as Jesus did to Nicodemous ‘You must be born again’?

  • Jasper

    Great post, and very thoughtful.

  • Pingback: Click on THIS | musings in montage()

  • Pingback: Worth a Look 2.24.11 : Kingdom People()

  • pete

    One thing seems to be missing throughout this thread; the issue of sin. I believe that repentance is just as necessary for salvation as is “belief in Jesus”. My concern is that it is quite difficult for most U10s to understand their sin and with “turning around” from it when they are still at the discovery stage of all of life and what it has to offer. I have been a Christian for 30 years and still struggle with understanding
    my sin nature.

    • John Starke

      Hi Pete,
      Thanks for the comment. I mention briefly the need for repentance in the last paragraph. A quick response, I suppose, would be that we are not saved by the quality of repentance or the quantity of knowledge of our sinfulness, but by the very presence of faith and repentance, not matter how childlike, simple, or small they are. Praise God for that! That’s very good news.

    • Tom Thiessen

      I agree that sin and repentance are crucial in this conversation.
      I think you answer the question yourself when you say that even mature believers don’t understand the seriousness, magnitude, or weight of sin. If a child can be disciplined (which happens at a young age) then they can begin to understand sin. If some high level of understanding is required then who could be baptized?

  • Stephen

    Scripture clearly speaks of baptism as having a past, present and future dimension. We are baptized into Christ’s accomplished death and resurrection and raised to walk in newness of life now. There is also an eschatalogical dimension to baptism signifying our future resurrection in Christ. Baptism has a wider dimension than merely pointing to an experience in the past.

    If this is true, and if baptism is primarily about God thru his Spirit doing something TO US, not us making a statement to God or making a statement to our fellow believers, then seeking to discern the secrets of the heart by questioning the validity of a childlike confession of faith in Christ seems beside the point and a recipe for confusion.

    In the end who are we to say that baptism is truly “believer’s baptism”? Wouldn’t it be better to call it “confessor’s baptism”? Only God can see the heart. Whether it’s the confession of an adult, teenager, young child, or the confession of believing parents bringing their infant into the sphere of God’s Word and promise — the validity of our baptism will be demonstrated over a lifetime of repentance and faith, and finally and fully on the last day.

    Grace and peace!

    • Jasper

      It’s my understanding that Baptism IS our physical response to what God has done in transforming us by the Gospel in new birth. It’s an act of profession and obedience.

  • Diane Aiello

    No child’s request for baptism into the Christian faith should ever be delayed or denied. It is not for us to judge the motivation of a professing Christian. That is up to God. Adults are told that they need to have the faith of a child in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. As a children’s ministry person, I am so familiar with the how very precious is the faith of a child. The Bible promises us that if we raise them in the way of the Lord they will not stray from it. So our responsibility to God’s children is to encourage them in their faith and be there throughout their growing time to direct them in the way of the Lord and to play an active role in doing all that we can to maintain their faith.

    • Kevin

      The Bible doesn’t exactly promise that if we raise our kids in the way of the Lord, they will not stray from it. For the most part, that is true but should not be taken as a promise but as a proverb. I know many godly parents who have raised their children in the church with a constant focus on the gospel and their kids have no care for Jesus or His church. This is not an indictment on the parents at all.

  • David Kreklau

    Mr. Starke,

    This was a great post, I enjoyed it a lot. I think all of your points give great support to your argument, especially point 4.

    However, I wonder if the reason this is such a question (of having our children wait for baptism) is because most (if not all) conversions we see in the NT are of adults who are outside of the faith coming into the faith, whereas this question addresses children growing up in a household of the faith. Thus, the church has struggled with knowing what an appropriate age would be to baptize. Those of us who do not believe in infant baptism feel that there is obviously an age that is too young (infants), so what is an appropriate age?

    Perhaps a helpful analogy is how our country’s secular government has struggled with this same issue. For example, when can children drink? The drinking age has been argued between the age of 18 or 21 over the years. Children growing up in the US have to reach a certain age of maturity before they can partake. Whereas if you bring in a foreigner of 21 years of age or older, they can immediately partake.

    I don’t know what the answer to this question is, and I think your blog puts forth a very compelling argument. I just wanted to pose this question of context to you and see what your thoughts are.


  • Will

    I’m somewhat confused as to why baptism of a child is so difficult to grasp, yet nobody seems to be challenged with the concept of a child expressing faith in Christ. In fact, all kinds of studies would endorse that we would like to see children make a profession of faith before the age of 13 etc etc. How is it that we could accept that a child can express genuine faith to Christ yet not “know enough” or be able to obey in baptism. Either we should be ready to baptize a child who chooses faith in Christ or we should stop encouraging children to choose to accept Christ…at least until they are old enough to “understand it”. I’m 42…don’t quite understand it yet. The disconnect we are creating between believing and obeying in baptism is nothing less than disheartening, and it’s in things like this that I can understand why young people walk away from faith in alarming numbers.

    If they can choose to believe, they should be baptized.

    • JD

      This is an excellent point Will, probably the most important one in the thread IMHO. THis is what Gunderson is concerned with in his book “Your Child’s Profession of Faith.” (see page 19). Also William Farley gets at this in Gospel Powered Parenting, another excellent book. pages 26-28 on understanding new birth.

  • John Thomson


    I think the concern is that the child’s profession at this point may be largely simply a reflection of the faith of the parents and not be personal. The older the child the more likely the confession is to be personal.

    There are no easy answers here. In our modern culture we are probably more chary than before to baptize children. We probably, rightly or wrongly, don’t wish to be seen as brainwashing.

    As I get older I am less concerned with this last perception than I once was. Nevertheless, I do think there is something in an age of responsibility.

    • Will

      I couldn’t agree more that there is something to the concept of age of responsibility, which is kind of my point. We aught not to be encouraging children to make confessions of faith unless we have some sense of assurance that they get it and mean it…we should probably be thinking pretty critically about the 5 years olds etc.
      My point is simply that we close the gap between our ideals of faith confessions and child baptisms. As far as I’m concerned, there should be no gap. So if we second guess their readiness for baptism, we aught to simultaneously second guess their readiness to express faith. If we have confidence in the latter (which obviously should be first), then the move to baptism should be right away.
      That “if” should be our critical point…not the “then”.

    • Tom Thiessen

      I have an honest question that I hope will challenge some presuppositions in this discussion.

      Is there something inadequate with a child trusting Christ because their parents taught them the gospel and told them to believe it? Isn’t this exactly what kids and parents are commanded to do?

      I understand that we don’t want our kids just parroting words that they don’t understand or believe, but the idea that it is insufficient to believe it because dad told him to seems to go against the Bible. Children are directly commanded to obey their parents in the Lord. My dad’s faith has all sorts of things to do with why I (genuinely) believe. I think my 2 year old son genuinely understands his sin and the gospel, and trusts Jesus through the means of my teaching it to him and telling him to believe it. By the Spirit of God he has understood, obeyed me, and believed in Christ (and been baptized based on his profession).


      • John Thomson

        Nothing wrong at all in children professing faith at the level they are at. We shall, however, in my view wish to give this until they are older to be more confident it is their own.

        • Tom Thiessen

          My concern is, what are we telling them (with our actions) during those years of waiting? Are we telling them, let the little children come to Jesus? Or are we telling them, this is only for older people, your faith is too childlike?

          By refusing baptism, we are essentially telling them they are not Christians, not welcome at the table, not part of the people of God, etc.

  • Pingback: Should We Baptize Young Children? – Justin Taylor()

  • Matt Beatty

    I would think the sheer number of “Christians” baptized after they walked an aisle, prayed a prayer, went to a class, cried like crazy, etc. is enough to cause a second look at the wisdom of the Reformed churches (not Anabaptist) practice on the subject.

  • Bruce

    Adding to my earlier post – comment number 5 about Apollos –

    Please excuse my ignorance, I hope someone can help me here. I am trying to understand the huge importance we attach to baptism which is performed by different denominations in lots of different ways. Clearly it is important, because we read about the Great Commission and many accounts of baptism which follow in the NT – but the Bible doesn’t appear to give us unambiguous instructions on administering baptism, regarding style or age (infant, child, teen or adult etc).

    The gospels record that some of the disciples were originally followers of John and presumably received John’s water baptism for the repentance of sins (although we are not told this explicitly). Were they believers of the gospel? No, not yet because the gospel was as yet incomplete, and anyway we see them failing for about three years to fully understand the totality of Christ and His ministry, despite Him explaining to them what was going to happen. Finally, only after our Lord’s resurrection does the magnitude of what He has done hit home and, hallelujah – they believe! Now they understand the gospel in it’s entirety….and yet none of them are recorded as then being (re)baptised – in water. In light of the comments and discussion posted here please can someone explain why not? Surely the apostles should have undergone a baptism following their true repentance and belief. The efficacious baptism they appear to receive is the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, which John told them they would receive and happened at Pentecost (Mat 3:11, Acts 2ff).

    So my question is this: Do we err by placing far too much emphasis on men’s water baptism? – and not enough on our Lord’s baptism in the Holy Spirit, which a new believer regardless of their age receives, and this regardless of whether their parents or anyone else except God recognizes it. Also we never hear a great deal about the baptism of fire which believers are told to expect (eg Php 1:29), nor ‘cleansing by the washing with water through the word’ (Eph 5:26) despite these being much more major themes through the NT.

  • Matt Beatty

    I’ve never understood the argument that says that we shouldn’t baptize a young, professing child (to say nothing of infant baptism) on the grounds of what I recall hearing Mark Dever give – that we wouldn’t want them voting on church issues (too young) or we need to wait until their faith is tested before we baptize.

    Since when did family membership imply an ability to make decisions? What parents ask their 5 year-old (or even 15 year-old) about what job to take, what color to paint the outside of the house, or allows them to give (significant) input on the family budget? And yet, are they not just as much a member as Mom and Dad?

    On the second account, it would only seem fair to ask the same of adults. How many adults could go back to the person that baptized them and say, “Since I professed faith and was baptized I’ve made a real impact in the Kingdom in spite of the daily trials, tests, and persecutions I’ve encountered… you really would be impressed and glad I was baptized.”

    • jean

      The Bible never directly tells us to baptise children or infants.

      • Matt Beatty


        So I take it you only do – in church or in life more generally – what the Bible tells you to do “directly” (without inference)?



      • John Thomson


        Still, one would expect, in such a major church practice, that there might be at least some explicit command to do so, especially as new covenant birth was so clearly and regularly said to depend on faith.

        • Matt Beatty

          That’s just it, John. Taking a “reformed baptist” hermeneutic to the text and reading modern individualistic assumptions about how God works – yes, I’d agree. I’d be looking for “explicit command” too.

          But, if this faith that Paul has and expects of others is the SAME FAITH as Abraham, albeit given a new clarity and power through the Holy Spirit’s ministry, then why is it a stretch to think that the children of believers – just like with Abraham – are ASSUMED to be in… until their confession or works indicate that they’re not?

          God didn’t have any trouble justifying Abraham by faith, through the future work of Christ AND giving his child a sign (of what? Of faith – Rom. 4:11). Now, the sign changed from a bloody rite tied to a particular nation to a water rite tied to the people of God in every nation. But the THING SIGNIFIED is the same.

          Luther, Calvin, etc. – all the architects of how YOU and I view salvation (monergistic, union, ordo, etc.) ALL – to a man – baptized babies. I think I could argue that there is no single example of a credobaptist contribution to our understanding of faith and salvation where a paedobaptist wasn’t on the scene first… usually long before and with more nuance and comprehensiveness.

          So I’m always puzzled to see this “those paedos are so confused” argument. Doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

    • lander

      Paedo-communion? Sprinkling magic lembas dust in baby’s newly christened mouth? It’s appalling.

      I guess, brave Reepicheep, to be ‘totally reformed’ these days you must get in your covenant-coracle and row it through Idaho and thence to the utter extreme ends of Narnia to be translated to sainthood.

      Anyone else tired being called “Anabaptist,” on the TGC blog like they’re leading a crazed mob of iconoclasts, while listening to acrobatic justifications for medieval mysticism?

      More James Boice and Tim Keller please: simple hobbit Baptists can partner with our betters. But padeo-communion reminds me why I’m not in the confessional club. It just ends in pseudo-Catholicism (without the authority of a bishop, it’s still radical individualism).

  • Justin

    This is a question that I am currently wrestling with at my church. At the church I now pastor, we have a long history of baptizing children on a “profession” of faith. Often it is a profession that consists of sub-biblical terminology like “accepting Jesus into my heart” and the like. The results have been devastating! It seems an entire generation has been baptized and provided assurance through baptism without any true understanding of the gospel or any fruit of the Spirit. They are, seemingly, now inoculated to the gospel through their illegitimate baptism.

    For me the issue revolves around a CREDIBLE profession of faith. In the NT and in many other places of the world publicly pronouncing faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord is immediately credible because of the opposition to such profession. The profession and desire to be baptized evidences that this person has forsaken the world and chosen Christ.

    In our American culture, with children growing up in the church, a profession of faith and baptism does not carry similar weighty significance in and of itself. Again, it all comes to back to a credible profession of faith. Is that simply understanding the facts and being able to sincerely articulate them?

    At this time, I tentatively believe that the verbal articulation of the gospel must be accompanied with evidence of forsaking the world and choosing Jesus to be found credible, usually occurring around Jr high/ Sr high school. I’ve grown up in a church that baptized children without discernment and now I pastor a church that has. In both situations, I see the devastating consequences it has brought.

  • Pingback: Should We Baptize Young Children? « A Clay Jar Speaks()

  • Jeff Downs

    Pastor Bill Shishko takes a difference approach to paedobaptism. You might want to check it out here

    • Matt Beatty

      Care to summarize the argument Jeff. So we don’t have to listen to five hours of audio?

  • Pingback: One Baptist Perspective » More Thoughts on the Baptism of Children()

  • Nathan

    I think the idea of a credible profession of faith is a key to this discussion. As children grow from infancy to adulthood there is development in all kinds of areas (physical, mental, emotional, etc). Our position on believers baptism needs to take this into account. Just like we expect a certain amount of developement to drive a car or to get married, we need to expect a certain amount of development for a child to make a credible profession of faith. Research shows that only when children reach the age of 12-15 are they able to assess the consequences of different courses of action. Scripture affirms this idea in Deuteronomy 1:39 and Isaiah 7:15-16.

  • John Thomson


    I agree and think the two Scriptures cited are important (incidentally the same expression that is used of an unfallen Adam).

  • Pingback: SHOULD WE BAPTIZE SMALL CHILDREN? | Gospel Moment()

  • Pingback: When is my child “ready” to get baptized? « scientia et sapientia()

  • Pingback: At what age should a Child be baptised? « life & word()

  • Gene Schlesinger

    So what happens when these small children decide later that they weren’t really “saved” when they were baptized? It’s problematic that many many re-baptisms are not of people who were baptized in their infancy, but who had made a profession of faith and were baptized on that basis. IF this practice will add to that problem, I think it should be avoided. Now, if we can baptize young children without later feeling the need to baptize them again when they “get it” better (or have a more powerful conversion experience or whatever), then I think it’s a great idea. “Let the children come to me” and all that.

  • Pingback: When Should We Baptize Kids? — SojournKids()

  • Pingback: Saturday Links()

  • Andrew Thorpe

    There are no biblical grounds for not baptising anyone who has repented and believed the Gospel. Delaying baptism on the grounds of age amounts to a gospel plus agenda, which Reformed Christians are supposed to oppose. Moreover, what can we tell our children when they are refused baptism – the church (or its constitution) tells us one thing whilst the Bible tells us another…seem to have come across that before when Luther was around. Why put doubt into the heart of young believers by prohibiting baptism (and usually the Lord’s Supper as well)? Why not embrace them as brethren and treat them as such? We should encourage them not put obstacles in their way. The problem with children is that they are less good at hiding their sins than adults (generally), so they are easy targets for the “holiness police”. Jesus actually put children on His knee whilst the disciples were trying to shoo them away…what do our constitutions show?
    What lies at root here is the hope that we can make sure that everyone who is baptised and a church member is absolutely, certainly saved. This is not possible. Sure, there have to be safeguards (ie not living with someone who is not your spouse…), but we need to have some faith in God’s promises.
    Delaying baptism to teen years also creates a “rite of passage” problem – it should be repentance and faith which bring people to baptism, not their age.
    Lastly, why not rejoice that the Lord is at work amongst the children of believers? It is, after all, what He has promised in each of His gracious covenants. Why not just say, “Thank you Lord for saving my children” … or even, “Thank you Lord for saving someone else’s”?
    We left a church, in part, over this matter. The word of God says one thing, but Christians think they know better…whoops.
    PS There are at least two unbaptised Christians in the New Testament (Acts 17:34), as well as the thief on the cross.

    • Rosalind Bowen

      I agree with you…I read John the Baptist baptising all that believe…so I believe children can be baptised..but why parents, who are the priests of their home can’t baptise them?

  • Pingback: To Baptize or Not to Baptize… « East Point Church()

  • Pingback: Week in Review: 02.26.2011 | Near Emmaus()

  • CCredentials

    In the OT there was a certain age of accountability. That is basically when a person eats from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and realizes what sin is. Until you know what sin is, and that you are a sinner, you won’t know what grace is.

    If baptism TRULY is about reformation, changing your life and entering into a covenant with the Lord. Then how can a child fully understand that? Yeah sure David was anointed when he was 12 and all that but anointed and prepared are two separate things.

    Being baptized means you are PREPARED to live the gospel life. To flee the appearance of evil, and to keep your eye on the prize. Can a child honestly do that?

    I mean this is a big decision and it should be an informed one. I am sure that any church leader in their right mind would be against a 12 year old getting married. So the marriage covenant needs to be more thought out than the one with the Lord?

    I just think that if we make light of baptism then we do the kids a disservice. By letting kids get baptized without fully being persuaded that they are committed, i think can be a harm to them. Telling them that it isn’t really about change (within) but the immersion in water.

    Thanks for letting me comment.

    Blessings to you!

    • John Starke

      Thanks for your comment. The Bible doesn’t say that baptism is about being changed or a personal reformation, but that you have been raised with Christ. I understand your point, but the New Testament stresses belief and repentance, not a completely reformed life. I’m not sure marriage is a good parallel. Marriage is something particularly designed by God for adults. The gospel is for all who will believe. That’s good news!

      • CCredentials

        Well I think that if you are being baptised you should have already made the decision to change. You don’t get baptized to stay the same right? Reformation is when you are born-again. You are a new creation in Christ.

        Yes, of course, the gospel IS for all who will believe. But the bible says that even the demons believe. That is not enough. We also have to Follow.

        A child can say they “believe” in Christ but the same day believe in Santa Claus or other things. They just don’t have enough basis of thought to make such a commitment. How can they really understand what they are doing?

        And I don’t see the negative to waiting to be baptized. I know people who got baptized as a baby, as a teen, as adult and are now atheists. It is not about the baptism but about the covenant with Christ. And if you trivialize baptism you can trivialize the covenant with Christ. In my opinion.

        • Matt Beatty


          It’s funny – the devil’s belief is given as an example of the lack of ADULTS’ trust, not children’s. Jesus seems to imply the opposite. A child’s ability to trust TRULY in spite of not having the whole picture is our model.

          Catechesis works to strengthen that initial deposit of knowledge, assent, and trust, not to (necessarily) initiate it (cf. Poythress’ excellent article). A comparatively low bar to get in; a relatively high bar as the goal of Christian instruction and discipleship.

          Perhaps you could point to a passage of Scripture that gives us the “how much” of belief or “what kind?” Beyond “Jesus is Lord.”

          Some folks in my PCA circles, which is loaded with engineers and not poets, think that a credible profession of faith is more like a quadratic equation than a Rembrandt. Or a great piece of literature.

          Let’s assume that we put the brakes on a child’s baptism after they walk right up and ask for it… on the basis of loving Jesus and everything because, after all, they can’t really understand what they’re doing. When do they get the green light? Memorize the Shorter Catechism? Treat siblings kindly 100% of the time? Beg and weep for you to let them in? And which of those who have biblical warrant – implicit or explicit – as the pattern of our kids coming to faith?

          • CCredentials

            Hey Matt, Jesus said we are to have faith like a child because a child has not been tainted with sin. They are innocent (though born of sin). Christ wants us to approach Him like a child does his own father. When I was young and asked my dad for $5 I knew he would give it to me. God wants us to ask Him that way. A child ONLY knows his fathers voice. Adults know the voice of sin too.

            A 4 yr old can profess Jesus is Lord, does that mean he takes it seriously and is committed to Christ?

            I don’t think a child is developed mentally or spiritually enough to really be aware of what they are doing.

            How old must a child be to trust them to be home alone for 24 hrs? Or even a couple hours?

            How old must they be to let them leave the house alone?

            All I am saying is that we don’t let kids do some things because some things/decisions need to be made by adults.

            If we make light of baptism it CAN send the message that anyone can do it and it isn’t a real big deal. I think baptism is a big deal (not required for salvation) and ought to have some sort of standard of practice.

            I doubt many 10 yr old kids get up on Sunday and go to church without their parents. The parents are the ones requiring them to go. If the parents didn’t go there is good chance the kids won’t go either.

            I think asking you what you think the point of baptism is would be helpful.

            What if a kid got baptized at age 7 and then decided he was an atheist for whatever reason. But then he decided at age 9 he wanted to be a Christian again and be baptized. What is appropriate action?

            I guess I just don’t see the harm in having baptism reserved for adults.


          • Jay Beerley

            Mr. Beatty,
            Would you put a 5 year old up for church discipline?

  • Pingback: Combing the Net – 2/28/2011 « Honey and Locusts()

  • Geoff Chang

    So long as in baptizing a child, you are bringing them into some form of church membership (whether junior membership or student membership or even full membership), then we should have no problems with it. But in allowing children to be baptized and join the membership of the church, you should be clear about the full implications of what that means, namely that the children are now, in part, under the accountability of the local church. This means that parents, in part, are relinquishing their authority in the child’s life, and recognizing that the church has an authority over them separate from them. This means that if Johnny is baptized in middle school and goes off the rails in high school, living as a non-Christian, then that church has the responsibility to now publicly excommunicate that member from the church. How awkward that would be for the parents! And what long-term effect would that have with Johnny’s heart, even as he might not be mature enough to understand what’s going on? As parents (and children), they need to understand that this is what it would mean to be a member of the church.

    So long as a church is practicing meaningful church membership, then baptizing children becomes meaningful as well. But realize that with it, comes not only the privileges and affirmation of membership, but also the accountability and responsibilities as well.

  • Pingback: Helpful Posts on Baptism «()

  • Pingback: What Age Is Too Young to Baptize? « C4 @ WEST()

  • Pingback: When Should Your Child Be Baptized: Three Criteria | The Apollos Project()

  • David

    For Credos, baptism should immediately follow profession no matter what age. (Who are we to judge? And all Credos must admit that baptism is no sure sign of regeneration having taken place.) So if we are baptizing simply as a mandated formality (baptizing after profession) there is a plethora of Biblical examples that show this ‘formality’ should be performed on children based upon the faith of the parents. The Credos’ reasoning places the emphasis too much on the individual. The Church is not a group of individuals but individuals who make up a group… it’s a subtle difference but an important one. If, by baptizing, we are bringing them into Church membership then we are admitting that baptism has replaced circumcision. Circumcision, like baptism, is not a sure sign of what has happened inwardly to an individual (‘not all Israel is Israel’ and yet all Israel was circumcised), yet both are a recognition of what God has done for a people.

    So, if the issue here is based on a Credo understanding then the answer is simple… you must baptize immediately after a profession of faith has made. But the most important issues have been dismissed and the Credo position has simply been assumed. I would much prefer a debate on Paedobatism as a covenantal mandate vs. Credobaptism as a profession mandate rather than basing the whole argument on the legitimacy of profession. I think when you do this you disrobe Credobaptism and show it’s inherent flaws.

  • Dan


    I’d be interested to see your response to the 9Marks’ response:

    • John Starke

      Thanks, Dan. Well, I suppose I would respond to with the same arguments I gave above. The 9Marks articles didn’t address any of my points and I’m wondering if that was even his intention. It seems like the author’s intention was less of a response and more of a “here’s why I hold my position.” What do you think? Did you see a point or two from the 9Marks article that directly addressed any of my points or challenged them?

      I love 9Marks, though. So thankful for them.

      • Dan

        You said, “I believe implementing a probationary period between belief and baptism has significant negative consequences.” Either I missed them in your post or they weren’t listed.

        I don’t think the 9Marks article *directly* challenged your points. I do think they raised some important considerations.

        In my opinion, both your article and the 9Marks article are arguing largely from silence. Perhaps this is why there is diversity of opinion on the subject. This is not to my credit, but I am currently persuaded by neither your presentation nor that of Mike Gilbart-Smith.

        Thank you, though, for the thoughtful considerations.

        • John Starke

          Hi Dan,
          See #2 and then #3 follows the consequence of #2. Those would be my significant consequence. And I don’t think it patterns after Scripture, which is #1 and #4.

  • matt

    For those who maybe interested in Church histroy’s perpective infant baptism, at least as far as I know, was first approved by Cyprian of Carthage in the 3rd(400’s) century. It is not mentioned in early church writings.

    Here are some other references advising on the practice of baptism

    Didache (early 2nd century)- ‘advise the one being baptized to fast for one or two days before’

    Justin Martyr (110-165)- ‘…there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God he Father and he Lord of the universe. The one who leads the person that is to be baptized to the bath is to call God by this name alone’.

    Tertullian (160-212)- “…baptism is not be administerd hastily…therefor, according to the circumstances, disposition, and even age of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable, especially in the case of little children”.

    Make of that what you will.

  • Steve Martin

    I believe that God does work in infant Baptism.

    His Word is present there. The Lord never commanded us to do anything (He did command us to Baptize) where He would not be present in it, for us.

    I find it odd how so many Evangelicals will say that God is ACTUALLY present, and alive in their hearts…but that He could NOT be present in a bowl of water accompanied by His Word of promise.


  • Joslyn Daniels

    There was an interesting debate between R.C. Sproll (not sure of the spelling), and John MacArthur on the radio recently about this subject. John MacArthur argued against infant baptism, but I thought R.C. Sproll’s argument for it was more convincing.

  • Steve Martin


    This is a very good audio presentation that makes a very convincing (in my mind, anyway) case for infant Baptism:


  • Pingback: Revisiting Baptism and Young Children « Fundamentally Reformed()

  • JD

    We should not rush to baptize children.

    1 Cor 13:11 “When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”
    1 Cor 14:20 “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature.”
    Eph 4:14 “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine.”

    Children apprehension of things is generally less mature than most adults. They are unstable, easily swayed.

    If the parents backslide or suddenly switch religions will your children stay solid in their beliefs and professions or would they just follow in suit?

    Recommended reading: Your Child’s Profession of Faith (Dennis Gunderson), Gospel Powered Parenting (William Farley), The Faithful Parent (Stuart Scott), and Safe in the Arms of God (John MacArthur).

  • Matt Beatty

    “Children apprehension of things is generally less mature than most adults. They are unstable, easily swayed.”


    Do you think your children are incapable of loving you? I mean, REALLY loving you? I’m (for one) certain that they couldn’t articulate that love in iambic pentameter or in New Yorker variety prose, but can they articulate their beliefs in accurate, meaningful, albeit age-appropriate, language?

    Or do you go around the house thinking, “These kids don’t have a clue…”

    The corollary to this is that the “Reformed” Baptist has no reason – as in NONE – to expect their children to succeed them in the faith NOR a recipient of God’s grace and mercy prior to the time they are “able” to articulate it in the way their parents have conditioned them to (e.g. not sure what makes a 13 year-old’s ability vastly different from an 8 year-olds… do you remember 13?)

    Which is to say that the so-called “Reformed” baptist view isn’t. Reformed, that is. Or Calvinistic (since Calvin would’ve scorned/anathematized it) It is Anabaptism.

    • JD

      Matt Beatty –

      Any thoughts on the Scriptures I mentioned and what the apostle is teaching (or at least inferring) by those statements? I noticed you only quoted MY statement. As a general criticism, that is one of the weaknesses of the original post. There were no Scriptures. Allusions, yes, references, yes. But no Bible verses supporting the actual position of baptizing young children. I’m not looking for a proof text, but if a man is going to take a stand on something, he ought to have good clear passages to stand on. Then it would be better if we could discuss exegesis in the comment thread rather than tradition. I think there are lots of verses, such as the ones I mentioned, that teach wisdom in waiting. Otherwise, in terms of arguing tradition, I really don’t know what you mean by Reformed baptist, , anabaptism, etc.

      In terms of my kids loving me. Yes. REALLY loving me (to borrow your font)….NO! Heck no! True biblical love involves sacrifice (1 John 3:16), self denial on behalf of the other person, sanctification (Eph 5), bearing other’s burdens. My young children are selfish. I love them like crazy, and my love for them is so deep that I have to love them out of their self love. As they mature, I hope and pray and look forward to them REALLY loving me….especially someday when the tables turn and they are feeding me and changing my diapers ! YOu discussed expressing love in terms of “language”(iambic pentameter)….biblical love has to be discussed in terms of action.

      BTW, if I may, Jesus “profession” (when his faith matured and he separated from his parents on his own faith-mission…speaking in human terms) was at age 12, and he was not baptized until his early 30s.

  • Chris Thompson

    I just read this article and I am glad you wrote it. Thank you. We have a 5 year old who accepted Jesus and we are going to let her be baptized and your article has helped solidify my thoughts. I particularly like the sentence above that stated “I need to act in a certain way or articulate things properly so that my parents or pastor will finally treat me as a Christian”. How many times have I seen this. We put our requirements on the children instead of using the Bible as our plumb to make the determination.


  • Pingback: Should We Baptize Small Children? « CrossWay Community Church()

  • Pingback: Links to Articles I Want to Remember « chrismcfarland()

  • Pingback: When is my child "ready" to get baptized? |