4

Proponents of Believer's Baptism argue that Baptism requires an existing faith on the part of the person being baptized, and for this reason a) reject the practice of infant baptism and b) teach that baptism is not (directly) a Means of Grace (n.b. this answer).

Proponents of Infant Baptism (well, Catholics at least, and I think some others), OTOH, believe that Baptism is a Means of Grace, and that it is through baptism that a believer comes to faith and repentance. They believe that God is absolutely capable of working faith and repentance in infants.

Since proponents of BB apparently don't believe this, do they believe that an infant cannot have faith or repentance? If so, do they believe that infants are condemned to Hell? If not, in what manner do they believe infants can be Saved? (Or do they believe infants don't need to be saved? I know there is disagreement on that question...)

3
  • 1
    With knowledge comes responsibility. Infants are not judged righteous or unrighteous since the don’t have ability to take in knowledge that would make them accountable yet.
    – 007
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 15:37
  • @Kris, which is directly in contradiction with the doctrine of inherited Sin, but as noted, not everyone agrees with that. (I will withhold my thoughts on that subject...)
    – Matthew
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 15:46
  • 1
    The divide actually occurs over whether a baby is guilty of Adam's sin or inherits Adam's disposition of sin. In the former, the baby starts with a "black mark" prior to action and in the latter the baby is certain to incur a "black mark" once it can act. Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 0:18

4 Answers 4

2

Baptism as a baby that is titled as a believer would mean the person had a belief, but in what? How? Making Christ Lord of your life would be a difficult decision to make if you could not hold your own neck up, eat, or further speak or articulate any clear point of view as is with any newborn.

So the question then becomes, what does the Bible say about children and salvation.

A clear place to look is in 2 Sam when God took David's child from him. The scripture shows he will go to see him again.

2 Samuel 12:23 KJV But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

This indicates:

The child was "alive" though not yet born The child is in Heaven now That David will see him in Heaven one day

This helps bring along the idea of "age of accountability" doctrine which shows that God won't hold someone accountable that isn't yet able to accept His free gift of salvation (the gospel acct 1 Cor 15:1-4) as he wants all to do as outlined in 2 Peter 3:9.

For more reading on this, you can find lots of good info on this topic here. In particular:

children are not held accountable by God for their sins until they reach a certain age, and that if a child dies before reaching the “age of accountability,” that child will, by the grace and mercy of God, be granted entrance into heaven.

1
  • Good answer. @Matthew I think this answer also applies for miscarriage / stillborn baby in the context of a denomination that believes in Infant Baptism where baptism hasn't been performed before the baby dies. Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 18:41
1

I can present one view of this, but it is hardly the only one.

Consider the baptism of twin babies:

  • The first baby gets baptised.
  • The church's roof collapses and everyone is killed.
  • The first baby goes to Heaven and lives forever in bliss.
  • The second baby goes to Hell and lives forever in perpetual torment.

And the obvious questions:

  • Is baptism really that magic?
  • Is that really how God has designed things?
  • Is that a god that you would want to worship?

For those that believe that baptism is simply one step in a process that starts with repentance, the above is all nonsense; it just doesn't work that way. So how do those that believe in infant baptism justify it?


As for "being condemned to Hell", that is a different issue, one that again has very different views.

Some denominations see it quite differently from how Catholics (and daughter protestants) see it.

  • "hell" is simply a word meaning "grave", the place where a dead, unconscious body rots and returns to dust. It has no supernatural meaning.
  • Those that have repented and incorporated God's holy spirit into their lives are developing a holy character that at the first general resurrection (at Christ's return) will be born again as spirit beings, Jesus's siblings.
  • Those that haven't (including the vast majority of everyone that has ever lived) will be physically resurrected at the end of the Millennium, and only then will they be offered their opportunity of salvation.
  • At the end, the few that still reject God's holy spirit and salvation (the unpardonable sin) will be totally destroyed, dead, without consciousness, forever.
  • No one will be perpetually tortured. God is not a psychopathic sadist.
1
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 16:46
1

They may be out there, but I have never heard of anyone saying children or babies go to Hell, except a few rare times years ago when Infant Baptism proponents expressed concern for the urgency of getting infants baptized.

Nowhere do God or Jesus ever bless any nonbelievers, except children, on multiple occaisons

When heathens sacrificed their babies to Moloch, the prophet Jeremiah referred to the dead babies as “the innocents”. God even called then innocent. This means they are not condemned.

In Matthew 10, Christ receives non-believing children to Himself, against the initial steps of the disciples, even referring unclearly to the Kingdom:

13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (KJV)

There is also the idea that Reformed Theology preachers have mentioned about Heaven’s variety of people as in Revelations

7:9 After this I looked, and behold, (A)a great multitude that no one could number, (B)from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, (C)clothed in white robes, with (D)palm branches in their hands, (KJV)

This could not happen if only the normal means were available because many tribes and nations and tongues rise, flourish, fall, and become entirely and permanently extinct without a single member hearing the gospel. The Reformed explanation for how people from their tribe ended up in Heaven is that infants go to Heaven.

Maybe John MacArthur’s most widely sold book is Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child which came out right before a large industrial accident in Russia where many children died and the town somehow latched onto his book for answers about where their kids were. He expands on this idea about extinct tribes and even ones where some but very few hear the Gospel. “Non-Christian, third-world, false-religion environments have been plagued by high infant mortality, which I suspect God has been gathering little ones for their places in Heaven.” Saying that good ultimately came even from these places.

5
  • 5
    1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called.50 The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.51 Catechism of the Catholic Church
    – SLM
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 22:14
  • 4
    1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism. CCC
    – SLM
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 22:15
  • 1
    @SLM 1261 seems to obfuscate 1250
    – 007
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 22:27
  • @SLM My answer is a response to what proponents if believers baptism think. My opinion doesn’t necessarily appear anywhere. I did read and follow what you wrote. I see
    – Al Brown
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 8:58
  • @Kris Agree. It should therefore say, “The Church and the parents MIGHT deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.”
    – Al Brown
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 9:00
0

As among paedobaptists, there is some variation among credobaptists. In the credobaptist tradition I grew up in, I was taught that baptism was for the forgiveness of sins, that children lack the understanding to choose right and wrong, and therefore do not sin even when they do wrong things. Original sin as a whole was considered incompatible with Scripture, because we are told that Jesus did not sin, that he was the spotless lamb, etc., and therefore sin can't possibly be inherited, or else Jesus would have inherited it. Without a belief in original sin, there was nothing but personal sin to be redeemed from. Put those beliefs together, and the logical conclusion is that there is no reason for children to be baptised.

Within my home church, there was some disagreement on whether the children of unbelievers would go to heaven or hell, with most saying that they went to heaven, because, as mentioned above, they were considered unable to sin. It was, however, very much agreed that the children of believers went to heaven (being sanctified by their believing parent(s) according to 1 Corinthians 7) if they died before being capable of sinning. The difficulty was in determining when they became capable of sin, and that was a constant debate and significant source of grief whenever a child died.

As an adult no longer in that tradition, there is a lot about that set of beliefs that I find troubling, so please don't take this as an endorsement of that theology.

1
  • "sin can't possibly be inherited, or else Jesus would have inherited it"... to which most Christians would suggest that Jesus' miraculous conception had something to do with that! (Roman Catholics go even further and assert that Mary was without sin, though it's unclear how, or how far back Jesus' lineage needed to be preserved from sin. There's a reason I, and most Protestants, don't buy the sinless-Mary belief.) I've even encountered the claim that sin is specifically inherited from the man, which I find entirely too plausible to dismiss out of hand.
    – Matthew
    Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 0:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .