Search this blog

How should a pastor respond to a child who wants to be baptized? How should churches approach the subject of child baptism?

Two centuries ago, few Baptists would have even raised these questions. Many churches required their converts to be 18 years old before baptism.

Today, the situation is remarkably different. As Baptists, we still reject the practice of “infant baptism” because we believe baptism to be immersion of a professing believer, not the sprinkling of an unbelieving baby. And yet, many Baptist pastors baptize children at very young ages without sensing any sort of disconnect.

Gina Welch, the atheist who faked a conversion experience at Thomas Road Baptist Church, put her finger on the problem: If salvation is about making a conscious choice to believe the gospel, why the emphasis in Baptist churches on baptizing small kids? Welch describes children’s baptism in a way that should stir up numerous discussions about the nature of true faith:

“Here at Thomas Road, they baptize a lot of children who grow up in the church. When this happens, the child is often so small that he can’t walk down into the pool – one pastor floats the child off into the arms of the baptizing pastor like a paper boat. When the child is immersed, sometimes he’s so light that he has to be pushed under. And sometimes his legs fly up out of the water. This seemed strange to me: Woody had told me they didn’t baptize babies at the church because they believed a person had to choose to get saved, had to understand what it meant to be a sinner and to have Jesus sacrifice on your behalf. How could a little child apprehend these concepts?”

Growing up, I never questioned the baptism of small children. It’s what I was used to. But after living in Romania for several years, I noticed that children under 12 were rarely baptized. What made the biggest impression on me was the weight and significance given to baptism, such that I never saw anyone ask to be “rebaptized” after realizing “they didn’t understand what they were doing the first time” – a problem that plagues many Baptist churches in the U.S. (Check out a forum of Romanian pastors discussing childhood baptism here.)

Baptizing Small Children: My Position

The Bible does not provide us with a one-size-fits-all method for handling childhood conversions. Yet in applying biblical wisdom to this question, I believe we can glean several principles.

1. We should actively share the gospel with our children, and we should encourage them when they trust Christ.

We should never communicate to children that they are too young to understand the gospel or must wait before trusting in Christ. Jesus said, “Let the little children come!”

2. Those who are baptized must be able to make a credible profession of faith.

Why must the profession of faith be credible? Because baptism is the entryway into church membership, which comes with all the responsibilities and privileges of being part of the covenant community.

3. There is wisdom in delaying baptism for young children.

In this regard, I follow the lead of W.A. Criswell, long-time pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX, who encouraged and affirmed childhood decisions for Christ, but postponed baptism until a child was around 10 years of age.

I once heard a deacon say, “If your child still believes in Santa, he’s probably too young for you to know just what he believes about Jesus.” Likewise, if we consider a kindergartner too young to vote in a church business meeting, perhaps we ought to hold off on baptism until the rights and responsibilities of the covenant community can be fulfilled.

4. Delaying baptism does not mean we should consider childhood baptisms invalid.

Because Scripture does not shackle us to a certain age or make clear prescriptions in this area, we must exercise restraint in making dogmatic assertions regarding the “proper age” for baptism. It’s wisdom we are after, not uniformity. Faithful pastors may disagree.

To be clear, I do not consider childhood baptisms invalid. I myself was baptized when I was eight.

But I do believe that we should be very careful in how we handle the precious little ones that the Lord has entrusted to our care – neither discouraging them from believing in Christ nor giving them false assurance of their decision by speedily baptizing them.

View Comments


56 thoughts on “Should We Baptize Small Children?”

  1. Jim Sharp says:

    dear brother, you wrote; “not the sprinkling of an unbelieving baby”. a more theologically accurate statement; “not the sprinkling of an innocent baby” — unbelief is volitional sin for which the sinner shall be held accountable.

    i’m a baptist but have a charitable view of covenant baptism. i might also suggest that numberless unbelieving adults have been baptized … maybe more in number than the “too young” children issue which you address.

  2. Mark Tuso says:

    Trevin, I too was influenced by Criswell’s position. I read the sermon (May 1969) in which he described not only his position, but a measure of regret for having previously baptized children against his convictions. It was convicting to say the least.

    In the Bible, baptism is always the first step following the new birth. Yet, if you think about it each example of believer’s baptism is that of an adult, no examples of children are given. Now, as Southern Baptist’s we believe that the practice of baptizing babies is unbiblical, yet at the same time, a study done in 1995 reported that the only age group of baptisms in our denomination that was growing was among the “under five” category. How is that different from infant baptism?

    Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and former President of the Convention, discussed this with a prominent Pastor in Washington D.C. (Dever) and this is how the conversation went, though I can’t find the reference.

    Dever: I heard about one church recently, and I don’t know if you know about churches like this or not, in order to encourage baptisms among children the baptistery is shaped like a fire truck and they’ve got confetti cannons that go off whenever a kid is baptized. Do you know about any of this?

    Patterson: This is my first time to hear this. This is blasphemous!

    Dever: Anyway, it’s a church in America. It’s an evangelical church and they mean to preach the gospel so I want to be real quick to say their intentions are good. That’s going to get kids off course, because they want to come forward, get in the fire truck and make the confetti cannons go off.

    Patterson: I do not view positively the huge number of child baptisms that Baptists are now guilty of. Baptists are some of the worst paedo baptizers there are.

    Dever: I know the average age of baptism has dropped, I think, about 10 years in the last 100 years. When you read biographies from the 19th century, they’re always getting baptized at 17, 18, 19, 20. J.R. Graves was baptized when he was 19. John Gill was that way. John A. Broadus was that way.

    Patterson: It’s out of hand in our churches.

  3. Henry Criss says:

    I agree that we should place more emphasis on a candidate for baptism’s ability to make an informed and volitional decision to trust Christ. In my opinion the best way to handle the situation of a young child who makes a profession of faith is to continue to encourage the child along, but not to baptize them until they reach a point that they have evidenced the ability to make, as you said, a credible profession.

    Some have said that we should baptize the child, what ever their age, as a means to encourage them. The argument being that the child will be discouraged in their faith if we do not allow them to participate in baptism and that baptizing them will do no harm. I believe that if the child has truly been regenerated, there is no amount of discouragement that can cause them to leave the faith. Also, we do them much harm by placing our seal of approval (allowing them to participate in baptism) on a faith that may or may not be genuine. When they begin to examine their faith in later years and find it lacking, they will be falsely assured because we (the ministers and church) found it sufficient.

  4. Trey Herweck says:

    I have been wrestling with this for quite some time. I am and will continue to hold to believers baptism, but I wonder if we miss the point with such a huge distinction between justification and sanctification when it comes to baptism. I do believe there needs to be credible evidence in the life of a child to baptize, but I also believe there needs to be quality teaching in the life of a child following baptism about baptism.

    you are baptized ONCE according to Paul in Ephesians, and it is the work of God that brings about and sustains salvation. I don’t think we should ever use the word “re”baptism but continually point children, youth, adults back to the work that God did, has done and will continue to do in the work of their justification and continued understanding of that, being their sanctification. I think the traditional view of believers puts too much weight on “did I really mean it?” how much does this matter (understand this in its context)? Do we expect anyone to FULLY know and FULLY mean it? The point is not if they’re “in” or not, the point is to fan the flame of God’s continued work in their life, to grow them to a maturity of trusting Jesus more and more. At 16 or 17 after getting jacked up on Mountain Dew at youth camp and repenting of everything, why do we not point them back to what God has already done in them and for them? We tend to invalidate the previous 8 years of their life and tell them they need to mean it this time and tell them to get baptized again then tweet about how many baptisms we have lined up for this Sunday. (broad stereotype, I know, but I’ve seen this SO many times)

    Just some thoughts, but maybe we ought to take some lessons from our Presbyterian brothers and gain a fuller picture of baptism in how to mature children in their faith more than just converting them…over and over again.

  5. K.B.H. says:

    Good thoughts Trevin, this is a conversation that needs to be had more and more.

    I used to hear pastors tell churches, “We gotta reach them in their teens, because its ‘harder’ to get them to make a decision when they are adults”
    Now that it seems ‘hard’ to reach teenagers, we are going younger and younger.

    Denominational pressure to produce ‘respectable’ baptism numbers may have contributed to this, tempting pastors to baptize younger and younger.

  6. Craig says:

    I thought this is a helpful article.
    It touches on much I dealt with as my children aged. Your readers may enjoy it. It is written by Vern Poythress.

  7. Wes Kenney says:

    I generally agree with your points here. I believe the command to baptize is a command Christ gave the church. And I realized that as a pastor, I had taken too much of the responsibility for it upon myself. Interestingly, this realization came not through baptisms of young children, but of two teens and an adult. I simply presented them to the church as candidates for baptism, all agreed, and they were baptized. We scarcely saw them again thereafter.

    God used a man in his 70’s, whom I would bury less than a year later, to teach me this lesson. He insisted on standing before the church and confessing his faith to them, and it was apparent to all that we were listening to someone truly regenerated by the power of God.

    Since then, I’ve determined that the church I serve will not baptize anyone based on my word alone. Last week I baptized my 8-year-old daughter, who has been asking questions for two years. We’ve encouraged her all along, but only in the lady couple of weeks had it become clear that she had a good grasp of what sin was, that she was personally guilty of it, and that forgiveness could only come through faith in Christ. She communicated all these elements to the church, and I made it clear that the church needed to find it credible in order to authorize baptism for her. They did, and we baptized her the following Sunday. Great day.

    So I won’t arbitrarily set an age, but I won’t present someone who is unwilling or unable to stand before the congregation and confess their faith as they understand it in their own words.

  8. Travis says:

    While I don’t want to get us off track, can we also bring to the discussion the fact that the BF&M makes baptism necessary for a person to receive communion. Would you also withhold communion from a child who professes faith but who has been, not to be harsh here, denied baptism?

    I actually agree with the points you’re making. My daughter was 5 or so when she first made a profession of faith. However, her profession, while sweet, is not yet full-orbed enough for me to be confident enough to baptise her.

    Any thoughts on the communion issue as it relates?

  9. Cristi says:

    Very valid question, Trevin. As a Baptist brought up in Romania, in ‘exile’ now serving in the UK in another denomination, it certainly raises many dilemmas.

    Can I shift a little from a theological ground to something more pastoral.

    As a non-parent, I ask the question: how accurate is the understanding of sinfulness, salvation, grace in the mind of a 6 year old (one of my friends daughter was baptised then)? Or even in early teens? Has that faith been tested? Has there been a ‘counting of the cost’? See Jesus’ reference in Luke 14:28-33

    I would not necessarily question the intention – just the timing and the maturity of that child.

    Pastorally, what if a couple want to get married and you sense that however sweet and sincere, they just don’t see ‘the full picture’. Would you not want to encourage them to wait perhaps…

    Just my two pence….

  10. Alison says:

    I guess I am just a mom without all the theological training of most on this thread. However, it seems to me that if a child has made a genuine profession of faith that we are wrong to deny them the opportunity to be obedient to the command of baptism. Both of my older daughters were baptized at a young age, yet the work of the Holy Spirit is so evident in their lives. I, myself, made a profession of faith when I was 8 and was baptized. I have no doubt about that moment nor about my commitment. As to the question of whether or not a child “knows what they are doing” always bothers me. I agree completely that they should have an understanding of sin and their need for Jesus. But honestly, if we wait to make a profession of faith and follow in baptism until we understand all the mysteries of God, who among us would ever be baptized?! I just don’t believe an arbitrary age can be set and expect that will solve any and all baptisms that are not a result of genuine faith. In my opinion the child must be considered on an individual basis and the parents and the church should work in cooperation to disciple them. How am I in the right if I deny a believer the avenue to be obedient?

  11. Clay says:

    This post highlights the problem of applying the biblical teaching on baptism (i.e. following profession of faith) to situations involving children who grow up in Christian homes. I propose that most children of committed Christian parents do not have “conversion experiences” that correlate to the situations described in the Bible. I grew up as a Baptist, and there was never I time in my life when I did not believe to the extent I was able to believe. My conversion experience has been a long process of taking ownership of the faith my parents instilled into me. This process continues to this day for me, which is why I see a problem with trying to discern what a “credible profession of faith” really means.

    I also have a problem with equating faith with intellectual understanding, i.e. – I have come to believe that this is a product of the enlightenment and was not part of the original Christian understanding of what faith is. Is faith really only valid after the indivual reaches some point of proper intellectual understanding of ideas and facts?

  12. Mark Tuso says:

    This discussion often leads to the idea of whether or not children should or should not be denied something. Jesus was clear that causing a child to stumble is not good. The argument usually devolves into whether or not the adult/ parent / minister involved in the conversation / decision with the child is in fact sinning against God and the child by “denying” them something. This is dangerous language. This line of argumentation takes the discussion away from biblical direction / Spiritual direction / biblical parental responsibility and attempts to bind the conscience of the adult / parent / minister through the will of the child.

  13. Alison says:

    @ Mark… Not my point at all. My question is that if a child makes a profession of faith and there is evidence of that bearing out in their lives then who am I to stand in the way of their obedience to baptism?

  14. Mark Tuso says:

    My comments were not necessarily directed at yours. I will say that there is a vast chasm fixed between the cases you describe in which a young convert bears evidence, or fruit of repentance, and the multitudes that go for a heavenly swim.

  15. Alison says:

    On that, we agree! :o)

  16. Trevin Wax says:

    Thank you all for the great conversation.

    As a parent, I realize this is a sensitive issue. It’s important to think biblically and carefully about the implications of our choice regarding this matter. No matter where we may come down on the question of baptizing small kids, the important thing can be brought down to two questions:

    1. Only believers should be baptized.
    2. All Believers should be baptized.

    The question is: how do we discern, in a culture of easy-believism, who is truly a believer? We need to make sure that we are thinking through the implications of delaying or not delaying baptism. There are pros and cons to both sides.

    As for me, I take the historic Baptist position because that’s the one I think it’s the best way to contextualize the New Testament’s teaching on baptism in the world in which we live today.

  17. Adam Davis says:


    The question you pose is one that the American Church must ask and address. At the church where I serve, we have attempted to address this question in several different ways.

    1. We require all baptism candidates (young and old) to attend a baptism class where both the Gospel and Baptism are explained. This class allows us to deal with “candidates for baptism” more personally. Some balk at this idea because it is not scriptural. However, this is our attempt to cut through the “culture” of church and make sure that we are baptizing regenerate people. If the culture of church was not as it is, then I would be all in favor of dumping the class.

    2. We require all baptism candidates (young and old) to write out their testimony prior to baptism. We usually receive these testimonies 3-4 weeks prior to baptism. When we receive them, I read through them and look for their understanding and embrace of the Gospel. If their are questions, we approach the candidate to seek clarification or more information. Personally, I have found this to be invaluable in determining one’s understanding of the Gospel. (We read the baptism candidates testimonies on the night when they are baptized. It is so amazing when those in the congregation express to me the encouragement they receive when they hear the testimonies.)

    3. I also provide a class for parents of children desiring to be baptized on the very question Trevin asks. We talk about baptism and the phenomenon known as rebaptism. I then provide the parents the pros and cons of following through or withholding Baptism. Once again, I am amazed at how parents respond to this class…95% positive.

    This is an issue that needs to be raised again and again. By asking the question, we are confronted with the meaning of baptism and how it is practically carried out within the local church. Thanks Trevin!

    By the way, I am more than happy to share my teaching notes (immediate participation or withholding baptism ) with anyone that desires them.

  18. Stev says:

    It is helpful, I think, to consider the difference between a RESPONSE of faith and a RESPONSIBLE faith. The connection of baptism to both the right response of faith and the believers commitment to be responsible for their faith life (and the church’s responsibility to them – i.e. discipline)will normally delay baptism to an age where such responsibility can be met. A believer is not ready for baptism until they and the church can assume their responsible roles in kingdom service.

  19. brian bel says:

    I’ve learned something here. I’m not Baptist, or even Protestant for that matter, and so it’s interesting to find that I’ve been ignorant of the fact that many in the Southern Baptist orbit baptize children. I’m likely ignorant in other regards about this because I’ve thought that to Baptists, Baptism is symbolic of that which has already taken place in the believer’s heart. Yet, Trevin speaks of a believer’s Baptism as being “valid” versus “invalid”. If it’s symbolic, how can it be valid or invalid, either one? Also, Trevin affirms Gina Welch’s observation that, “…salvation is about making a conscious choice to believe the gospel…”. My knee-jerk reaction is to say, wait a minute… if salvation is about me making a conscious choice to believe the gospel, that’s, well, that’s pelagianism. Isn’t it? So, I’m interested in all of your responses. Is there agreement on what happens at Baptism? Does anything objectively happen? Or is it simply our carrying out Jesus’ command that we go thru this ritual? One last thing… for those who are Reformed Baptists, I’m guessing this creates a quandry since the Reformed folks I know are quick to say infants should be baptized, yet the Baptist faith in general holds to professing adults as being eligible for Baptism. Do you Reformed Baptists find this a problem?

  20. Mel says:

    I was in a baptist church plant where the pastor was supported by his home church. Because baptism is the single means of determining church growth by many SB churches and his support depended on steady numbers of baptism, children began to be baptised at alarming rates because there was not actually any church growth to report. In addition, baptism was elevated from the pulpit to the point that one had to be baptised in order to be considered saved and have fellowship with the church. There was no room in his thinking to allow that we could have fellowship with presbertyrians and worse, baptism was reduced to obedience (works righteousness) and was no longer a display of Christ’s saving work in giving us new life.

  21. Joel Carini says:

    I’ve been trying to formulate a position on baptism recently, and have found the arguments of both credobaptists and paedobaptists convincing. Vern Poythress outlines a kind of middle ground, not baptizing children until they profess faith, but not being too strict in judging their faith. If children are brought up in a church that preaches the gospel as clearly as the “Young, Restless, Reformed” movement is trying to, then rather than constantly casting doubt on whether a profession of faith is genuine, we should not be afraid to baptize them and then keep teaching them the gospel, confident that God will be faithful. Baptizing young children professing faith is only a problem when a church does not clearly teach the gospel.

  22. Joel Carini says:

    Also, many reformed baptists, it seems, implicitly believe in an age of accountability, and doubt whether very small children can have genuine faith. Alistair Begg, for example, was genuinely converted at the age of five (see his sermon on the chain of salvation), not because he at that age had an enormous intellectual capacity (though I wouldn’t be surprised), but because “God has chosen the foolish things of this world to shame the wise,” and because genuine faith is from God not from the believer.

  23. Another excellent Resource in this regard is Your Child’s Profession of Faith, by Dennis Gundersen.

  24. Adam Davis says:

    I have identified 2 problems when it comes to baptizing children and one of them has already been mentioned in the reply section.

    #1. Pastors–There is a strong pressure on pastors to succeed or perform. In Southern Baptist circles, numbers have been the measuring stick for “success”. For companies and industries in the public sector, it is the profit that determines success or failure. Many bring that same philosophy into the church and make numbers the main issue. Churches with growing numbers must have “successful” pastors. Churches with declining numbers must have pastors that fail at leading churches. Therefore, there is a social pressure that some pastors (Not All…and quite frankly…I think it is the minority) fall into believing.

    #2 Parents–This is in my opinion the biggest culprit of the problem. Parents are the ones pushing their children to believe and be baptized. They want “comfort” for the souls of their children. Therefore, many of them take the first inclination of belief in Christ from their children to be genuine. I love what John Piper says: “Will we trust in the sovereignty and goodness of God (with respect to a child’s faith struggle)? It is at this time of waiting that our sin nature tempts us to take things into our own hands and push the child to make a commitment that he may be unprepared to make. We fear the outcome of the child’s struggle and we want to secure the desired result.”

  25. Jim Swindle says:

    My pastor points out occasionally that to know someone is alive, we don’t look for when they were born, but for whether they demonstrate that they’re alive. A credible profession of faith doesn’t mean a credible conversion experience. It means current, living, real repentance from sin and faith toward God through Jesus.

  26. Wil Maddeaux says:

    I know children (8 years) who were put off because people thought they weren’t ready, and who then came under other influences, and became unbelievers. But I also know others baptized in early/mid teens who “then came under other influences and became unbelievers.”

    Certainly nothing will help us more than to study the nouns that fit into these blanks: “_____________ saves us” or “__________ is our saviour.” There are about a dozen such nouns listed in the NT; should they not all be included in our teaching? I’m not really interested in whether we’re P’s or A’s or R’s; I just want to be a disciple (Mat 28:19,20) who [ Mat 7:21b ]

  27. JATomlinson says:

    Hey, great article! I linked to this article on my Christian Bible Study Blog at this link

  28. Pingback: Saturday Links
  29. I live in Romania and I saw a few people, some close to me, that had been baptized at the age of 16, 18 and they asked to be “rebaptized” at 20, 30 even at 50, because they didn’t understand what they were doing the first time. These things are rare, and most of them happened in the ’90. Today the younger generation is developing a lot faster, they become mature at a younger age, some of them.

  30. Douglas Hanson-Torwalt says:

    As a Lutheran Pastor, I do not understand why you wouldn’t baptize an infant. Martin Luther was baptized when he was one day old and he was a person of strong faith, who pointed to his baptism as a means of God’s loving grace enacted upon a helpless child. For Luther it is God who does the baptizing and all baptism are valid, whether the one being baptized is a day old or 100 years old not because of the faith of the one being baptized, but because of the grace of God given freely to the one being baptized.

  31. Ari says:

    Finally, im have no doubt any more about what age and when to be baptize….

    IV – Infants Can Believe

    The most frequent objection to infant baptism is that babies cannot believe. They do not, says the objection, have the intellect necessary to repent and believe in Jesus.

    If this is your opinion, Jesus disagrees with you. Luke 18 tells us that certain parents were bringing infants (Greek – brephe) to Jesus, that He might bless them. The disciples rebuked those who brought the babies. Jesus’ response is well known: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Luke 18:15-17). Some have objected that it is “little children” and not infants that Jesus speaks of here. Yet the very little children that the disciples were forbidding were infants. The infants are the focus of the passage. Clearly on this occasion Jesus had babies in mind when He said what He did!

    Does this passage speak of infant baptism? No, not directly. It does show that Jesus did not raise the objection that so many do today about babies not being able to believe. According to Jesus, these babies had what it took to be members of the kingdom of God, feeble intellect and all! “Do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”

    Now Jesus does not contradict Himself. The central message of His ministry (the Gospel) was that there was only way to enter God’s kingdom. There was only one way to be saved. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Repeatedly Christ taught that faith in Him was the one way to become a member of God’s kingdom (cf. John 3:16-18). Therefore, when He says about babies, “for of such is the kingdom of God,” He is telling us that babies can believe (for how else could they enter the kingdom?!).

    So if Jesus maintained that babies can believe (though their faith is very simple), who are we to deny it? And who are we to deny baptism to those who can believe? For those still stumbling over infant faith, remember: it is purely by God’s grace that any person, adult or child, can believe. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit as much for the adult as for the child (see John 6:44; 1 Cor. 12:3; Eph. 2:1-4). When the adult believes in Christ it is only because the Holy Spirit, working through the Gospel, has worked the miracle of faith in his heart. So with the infant. If faith, then, is always a miracle, why can we not believe that God would work such miraculous faith in a baby?

    Someone might ask, “If babies can believe then why do they need baptism?” Answer: it is through baptism that faith is created in the infant’s heart. Baptism, far from being the empty symbolism that many imagine it to be, is the visible Gospel, a powerful means of grace. According to Scripture, baptism “washes away sin” (Acts 22:16), “saves” (1 Peter 3:21; Mark 16:16), causes one to “die to sin, to be buried, and raised up with Christ” (Romans 6:3-4) causes one to be “clothed with Christ” (Galatians 3:27), and to be a member of the body of Christ: “for by one Spirit, were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). It bears repeating: baptism is a special means of God’s grace by which He gives faith, forgiveness, and salvation to the infant.


  32. Bono says:

    These arguments are certainly not strong enough, therefore I believe reading this is just bogus. There is not one bible verse to give your argument a backbone. The ENTIRE household shall be baptized, that is BIBLICAL and not an opinion.

  33. Bono says:

    And thank you Ari for giving all these REFORMED believers some examples! God Bless.

  34. Matt says:

    Some differing thoughts and questions…Not sure why we make Baptism so much about us. Seems to me that throughout the OT and NT, from Isaiah 1:2, Hosea 11:1-2, Ezekiel 16, Luke 18:15-18, etc., that relationship with God is about God choosing us regardless of our capabilities. If so, I suppose we should bar the mentally disabled from baptism as well since they are incapable. I suppose back at the Exodus event that parents should have kept their children from being delivered from Egyptian slavery and delivered into relationship with God because they weren’t old enough to choose for themselves. In fact, it seems the older and more capable we become, the more unfit we are for covenant with God; rebellious, untrusting, over-confident in ourselves, prideful in our intellect, etc. The earliest church fathers from Irenaeus on assumed the validity of infant baptism. Though I certainly appreciate and accept the need for our response of faith and faithfulness, it is an outgrowth of relationship with God through Christ that nurtures that. I know this doesn’t jive with most of the comments here, but perhaps it’s worth thinking about, too.

  35. simmmo says:

    Trevin, how would you look at the case of the mentally disabled. Many of these people would not be able to make a “credible professsion of faith”. Many of the mentally disabled remain in an infant-like state for the rest of their lives. Should we refuse full communion in the faith to these people because they can not provide a credible profession of faith? And if not, why should we not baptize our infants? The analogy is not exact, but I mean, both categories would not be able to make a “credible profession of faith” the way you describe it.

  36. John says:

    I would love to have those notes Adam.

  37. Adam Davis says:

    Send me your email and I will mail them to you. My email address is

  38. nzila ngatho says:

    To add in this conversation, i agree much of what is said above but i want to point out that, there is a bibilical teaching why we should not baptize children. Rom 6:2-15, baptism is a BURIAL of a dead sinful body,and comiming out of water is resurrection to the newness of Christ. This tells us that you must be dead by choice to sin(saved) to be buried, chilndren don’t understand this gospel. Jesus was taken by his parents to be dedicated, but he made a choice to walk himself to river jordan to be baptized. Children can only be dedicated(put under the care of the Holy Spirit, during their years of ignorance) until they are able to make a decision to pass a death sentence to their sinful bodies, carry those bodies to the river, offer them for burial(the body should be totally enveloped in water to signify the true birial) and the church witness them rising up in the newness of Christ . Words put in action, dying , buried and resurrected with christ.Rom 6:1-2, we cant live in sin after this stage and you cant stop children who know nothing from doing foolish things. Finally, lets follow Christ, he came to show the way.

  39. ac says:

    I know this is an old article, but if you’re still around Adam, would love to see your teaching notes. I recently just held a class but we’re really trying to refine and improve it.

  40. Mary Goss says:

    My understanding of baptism I consider much more serious than marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I do consider marriage very serious in God’s eyes. Why would you baptize a child, 6 – 10 or a teenager 13 to 17. Was not Jesus baptized as an example for us? How old was Jesus? About 30 years old! Never in the scriptures was there an example of a child being baptized. As the years go by do we not need to teach our children to be a responsible Christian? We can teach our children early on in life why children are not ready for baptism. I see to many children baptized who, later in teen years cannot get along with their parents or fall away from the church when they go off to college. So therefore I ask is your child old enough or responsible enough to be married? Your 7 year old or your 16 year old? Baptism is very serious and Jesus was perfect yet waited until he was 30. Please think about this. If we bring our children up learning about baptism and the age of responsibility for baptism we won’t need to even consider turning a child down who wants to be baptized. The responsibility starts with the parents and their religious teachers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Search this blog


Trevin Wax photo

Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

Trevin Wax's Books