Dr. Couch, which denominations hold to baptism of infants? And why do they do this?
Dr. Lacy Couch goes to a nursing home each week in order to teach the Bible to some older folks. It breaks her heart to have some of them say, "My 'holy' baptism as a child is what is saving me." She has gotten many away from that false belief and helped them understand that it is only by faith in Christ that saves. Not "holy" water baptism!
Mainly, Catholics, Episcopalians, and Lutherans believe water baptism as an infant is what saves, though each group has some difference in meaning and in interpretation. The Lutheran Augsburg Confession says: "We confess that Baptism is necessary for salvation, and that children are to be baptized, and that the baptism of children is not void, but necessary and efficacious to salvation."
Remember, that people believe certain doctrines though they cannot prove them by Scripture, instead they hold them by tradition. In other words, they hold to a belief because that is what they were taught, and what they were taught must be true, whether they can prove it by the Bible or not. Many people do not believe in critical thinking, that is by observation, observation, observation, as to what the text says!
"Tradition, tradition" they sang in Fiddler On The Roof!
Those who hold to infant baptism use Luke 18:16 ("Permit the children to come unto Me"); Acts 10:23-48 (Cornelius' household); Acts 16:25-34 (The jailer's household); Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3-6; Acts 2:38, 22:16.
Luke 18:16: This passage is easy! There is no way it can be talking about infants. Christ is referring to children who can walk, come up to Him, understand to a degree who He is! This in no way can support "infant baptism"! The main point has to do with their simple trusting and faith that then becomes an example to grownups. He added: "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like (just as, with the same simplicity) a child shall not enter it at all." "Don't complicate the gospel--the simple way of faith in coming to Christ!"
Acts 10:23-48: The Roman officer invited Peter to come to his house "together [with] his relatives and close friends" to hear the truth. Those who hold to infant baptism imply that small little children were there who would get saved by water baptism (v. 47). But only those would be saved who "believed" in Christ and had "received forgiveness of sins," and who were "listening to the message" (vv. 43-44). You cannot apply this passage to infants and infant baptism! Those who (1) heard the gospel, (2) believed, (3) THEN received the Holy Spirit, and THEN (4) it was ordered that they be water baptized! (See vv. 47-48). IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to argue that water baptism has anything to do with getting saved from this passage. Water baptism is the sign of salvation that follows faith, and then the receiving of the Holy Spirit. They were already saved before they were dunked!
Acts 16:25-34: Paul and Silas went to the home of the jailer and spoke "to all who were in his household" (vv. 32-33). Those who hold to infant baptism say, "See, there must have been children here who were baptized." But the apostles said to the man, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household" (v. 31). They "spoke these words to the jailer" and they spoke these words to all who were in the house, implying that all in the house could understand these words! Infants could not do so! Then "immediately he was baptized, he and all his household" who had believed! (v. 33).
Galatians 3:27: This passage used by the groups mentioned above does not fit their argument either, because it has to do with spiritual baptism, "For you ARE ALL baptized INTO CHRIST [and thus] have clothed yourselves with Christ." This is referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit whereby He unites us with the spiritual body of Christ, as explained in 1 Corinthians 12:12-on. It is interesting that these groups do not mention this passage which reads: "For by one Spirit WE WERE ALL BAPTIZED into ONE BODY, … we were all made to drink of one Spirit." This spiritual work does not take place by the water baptism administered by the pastor at the baptismal font in the church!
Romans 6:2-6: This passage ties directly into the 1 Corinthians 12 passage. It is not about water baptism but about the Spirit's baptism that ties us to the spiritual body of Christ. Common sense makes this clear and obvious! Paul writes "we are BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST JESUS [and have] been [baptized] into His death" (Rom. 6:3). We were baptized into His death, raised from the death, united with Him in the likeness of His death, and will be resurrected in the likeness of His resurrection (vv. 4-5). And, we were "crucified" with Him in order to be release from slavery to sin. Are these spiritual works are actual works? That is, were we actually nailed to His cross, crucified, buried and resurrected in an actual sense or a spiritual sense? Are these spiritual works, done by the Holy Spirit, or actual physical happenings? If they are spiritual works then so is the baptismal event spoke of here. Water baptism does not save but the work of the Spirit, whereby He unites us to Christ, this saves us!
Acts 2:38; 22:16. We have already explained Acts 2:38 previously. However, Acts 22:16 reads:
"And now why are all of you (plural) delaying? With each one of you (singular) standing up, and with each one of you (singular) calling upon His name, let all of you (plural) be baptized, and let all of you yourselves (plural) wash away your sins."
By the individual action of standing up, or coming forward to call upon the Lord, the result is that as a group they all then are baptized collectively as a group, and the overall result is that they all, by these acts, wash away their sins. There is a long list of verbs, and all the action is working together. One cannot say that the baptism is alone bringing on the salvation. The commitment to Christ is the stepping forward, the standing up, followed by the calling upon His name in order to be saved. These are the acts that saved them. They knew that the water baptism did not save! Their heart and soul commitment is what saved them! The Jews were appointed to KNOW something (His will), to SEE someone (the Righteous One), and to HEAR something (the utterance from His mouth) (v. 14). These are symbolic and spiritual things, not physical. So with the baptism. The water baptism was symbolic of the washing away sins. The water baptism in itself did not save!
Don't cling to tradition! I think it's about forty times or more in the book of John that tells us we are saved only by faith, and not by works or by baptism.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch