Infant Baptism / Christening

By J. C. Bailey

 Many churches practice infant baptism. Millions have been 'christened' as infants.

Infant baptism is performed in the name of the Lord, but does the Lord authorize it? Is it of human origin or divine? The child has no choice in the matter. Do parents have the right to have their infants baptized? Let us examine infant baptism in the light of the Word of God.

Terms defined

By 'infant' we mean a baby or small child who is too young to make a decision. Infant baptism is usually performed by sprinkling or pouring. Sometimes it is done by immersion, but most who read this will be familiar with the practice of sprinkling or pouring.

Infant baptism is not of divine origin

I say this without fear of successful contradiction. Jesus said: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:16). Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, said: "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Truth is always in harmony with truth. Scriptural baptism is preceded by faith and repentance. Infant baptism is preceded by neither. To practice baptism before there is faith and repentance is to pervert the gospel. Anyone who preaches a different gospel is accursed (Galatians 1:6-9). When one practices infant baptism he is going beyond the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9).

The first recorded case of affusion was in the year 251. The first law for sprinkling was in 752. It was made by a pope who had to flee Rome (Edinburgh Encyclopedia, Article on Baptism).

Infant baptism nullifies the law of God

Jesus accused the religious people of His day of "making the Word of God of no effect" through their tradition (Mark 7:13). That is exactly what this man-made practice does. It makes the law of Christ of no effect. Jesus taught that every creature is to believe and be baptized, but they who advocate infant baptism nullify this command of Christ. They supplant it by a human law.

Jesus is to be obeyed. This the Scriptures teach: "And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9). Every one who practices and endorses infant baptism is guilty, either wilfully or ignorantly, of supplanting the divine law of believers' baptism. Are you, my dear reader, guilty?

What about household baptisms?

Some try to justify infant baptism on the basis of New Testament examples of household baptisms. It is argued that infants must have been included when whole households were baptized.

In most passages, however, where household baptisms are reported, hearing and believing are also mentioned, which infants are unable to do. Cornelius "feared God with all his household" (Acts 10:2). His household was saved as a result of hearing the gospel (Acts 11:14; 10:44,46). Paul told the Philippian jailer: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household" (Acts 16:31). Did this include infants? Can infants believe? We read further: "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house" (Acts 16:32). What was the response? "And immediately he and all his [family] were baptized" (Acts 16:33). That infants were not included is further indicated by what follows: "He rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household" (Acts 16:34).

Crispus "believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized" (Acts 18:8).

To teach that infants were included in household baptisms is going beyond what is written. Furthermore, this human addition to the word of God is clearly contrary to what is written. It is to accuse the apostles of sinning by violating the terms of the Great Commission! God forbid. The 'household baptism' argument is simply a case of a drowning man grasping at a straw. If you, my friend, insist on going the way of rebellion do not try to take Peter and Paul with you!

Paul says we were buried with Christ in baptism, in which we also were raised with Him "through faith in the working of God" (Colossians 2:12). This shows that the baptism he practiced was not infant baptism.

Let the children come

"But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven'" (Matthew 19:14). Perhaps this verse is used more than any other to support infant baptism. But does it say one word about it? Is there in all the chapter even one reference to baptism? Does not this verse teach that children are alright as they are? Jesus says "of such" is the kingdom of heaven. They are alright as they are! What good will a human ordinance do them?

Some say: "Well, it will not hurt them." It certainly may! They might think they have been baptized when in reality they have only obeyed the command of men and not the command of God.

Is it harmless to take the name of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in vain? For that is what is done every time a child is christened. If I do something in a man's name when he has not authorized it, I am taking his name in vain. Every case of infant baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a forgery.

You who practice infant baptism, how are you going to answer to God for having changed His law, for having put a human law in its place? I know you love your children, then how dare you deceive them, how dare you make them think this human ordinance can take the place of the divine command of believers' baptism?

Baptism and circumcision

Figuratively, baptism is compared with circumcision (Colossians 2:11,12). Because infants were circumcised in Old Testament times, some try to justify infant baptism by this comparison. In many points, however, baptism is different than circumcision. Who was circumcised? Israelites. Do those who practice infant baptism only baptize Israelites? Only boys were circumcised. Do those who practice infant baptism sprinkle only boys? Were not the Jews required to believe and be baptized?


If you have trusted in this human practice for salvation, renounce it at once. If you have taught it to your children, take your Bible and show them that you have been mistaken. Baptism is connected with salvation (1 Peter 3:21). Salvation is too important for one to be satisfied with a human substitute that will not save. Let me quote again the language of Jesus: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16).       


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