Baptize! Whom?

            I’m going to discuss a sticky subject today.  I’m going to talk about baptism. I’ve been around long enough to know that who should be baptized, and when, and how they should be baptized is a controversial subject among Christians. 

            Here are some facts.  Historically, the Christian church baptized both adults and infants.  That is clear by Jesus’ own clear words in Matthew 28.   He says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  It tells us who should be baptized (“all nations” which certainly includes infants, as infants are part of every nation). 

            And then, the Bible also mentions “households” being baptized, and we are safe in assuming that children were included in the households mentioned (Acts 16:15, Acts 16:31–33, 1 Corinthians 1:16 as well as Acts 2:39 where Peter says “the promise (of the forgiveness of sins) is for you and for your children….”)

            Extra-biblical evidence exists regarding infant baptism as well (too many examples to compress into 500 words), but one reference stands out.  Irenaeus an early church father writes about 189 A.D.  “For He came to save all through means of Himself – all, I say, who through Him are born again to God – infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men.  Since Irenaeus was born in a Christian home in Smyrna around the year 140, this means he was probably baptized around 140. He was also probably baptized by the bishop of Smyrna — Polycarp, a personal disciple of the apostle John, who had died only a few decades before.  (Interesting, eh?)

            Now someone might say, the Bible nowhere explicitly says children are to be baptized” and that is true, as true as it nowhere says that teenagers or the elderly are to be baptized.  Also, the argument that the Bible does not say children are to be baptized cuts both ways.  It does not forbid the baptizing of children either.

            Solid archaeological evidence for infant baptism is also provided in the catacombs under ancient Rome.  Many grave markers indicate that small children were baptized, some at a very early age.

          Now it is true that early and 2nd century extra-Biblical evidence does not prove a Biblical teaching; however, the evidence does support it.     

            Thus, I encourage those who have not had their children baptized to consider the Biblical evidence, and extra-Biblical evidence as well and call your pastor to immediately baptize your child.  Baptism is a gift of God to be shared with young and old alike.  In my next epistle I hope to move on to the “why” of baptism. 

            “Beloved… it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Send email comments or questions to  Rev. Micheal M. Strong is pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church Farmersville, IL.  

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