I always find it interesting how certain things fall into place in a short period of time. Just yesterday, I was thinking a little bit about how it makes perfect sense for Catholics, Orthodox and several other non-Catholic Christians to hold the belief that it is a good and proper thing to baptize infants and children. And then, just this morning while watching some of the new Youtube uploads of Catholic Answers Live, I saw that apologist Tim Staples had just posted the same thought process I had a couple days earlier. Obviously, Catholic theology is no secret (the Church has taught the practice of infant baptism since the Apostolic Age)... but it's kinda cool how things fit together and I was able to reach this conclusion just as Mr. Staples was making his thoughts known. These thoughts of mine stemmed from a conversation I had the other day with an older relative, in which we agreed it's easy to know where Christ's Church truly lies; i.e. not in the various Protestant denominations, but in the Catholic Church. We both can't be right about salvation; we can both be wrong theoretically, but only one can be right on matters of salvation. Anyways, the point Mr. Staples and I were getting at, was that infant baptism is indeed biblical, especially when we're dealing with biblical types.So, Jesus said that he came to redeem all men, the entire human race. Infants, 2 year olds and 5 year olds fall into the human race. Now, it's clear that when St. Paul talks about baptism, he calls it the "circumcision of Christ", and also "the circumcision made without hands". As with all biblical types, the Old Testament type is fulfilled by the type in the New Testament. Circumcision in the Jewish religious tradition, was a type of water baptism that we see instituted by Christ in the Gospels. When did babies get circumcised? Once they were 8 days old, and at that point, they had the "sign of the covenant" upon them. They had entered into the covenant that God had made with Abraham. Of course, Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross for all of us, therefore making the new covenant in His Blood. How are we today able to take part in this covenant? Baptism.
|The Baptism- Julius L. Stewart|
Which leads me back full circle. Who did Jesus die for? All of mankind. That includes babies, children, young and old. We're all part of the human race. If we follow the Reformed Protestant theology to its logical conclusion, then that means there are no such things as infant Christians. There is no such thing as a 3 year-old Christian, since they haven't reached the age of reason. luckily, Catholic and Orthodox theology has always held (in unison with the Church Fathers from the first centuries of the Church) that the Sacrament of Baptism is also the Sacrament of enlightenment. It's that moment that God opens our minds and hearts and gives us His grace for the first time, wiping away the stain of original sin. That is why it is so important we baptize or children, otherwise, to borrow the words of another apologist, we're playing a game of chicken with the souls of our children... a game that can have eternal consequences. We can hope that God has some provision set aside in His infinite mercy for the souls of those children who die not baptized, but we know that one cannot enter Paradise unless they are cleansed from original sin. And the only way we know that can be done, is through bpatism, be that of water, blood, or desire, as the Catechism teaches us. The words of Scripture are also very clear which says in John 3:5, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”
And of course, St. Cyprian made it very clear to Fidus in the third century that baptism is the fulfillment of circumcision when he told Fidus that his position on infant baptism was starting to smell like the heretical Judaizers of the mid-1st century:
But in respect of the case of the infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man.Baptism in the new covenant was superior to the circumcision of the old covenant because firstly it included both males and females, and secondly, could be done as soon as one was born so that "no soul be lost". To wait eight days, especially in the third century where infant mortality rates were much higher, would've been a bad idea, putting the child's salvation in peril. Thus, the claim that child baptism should not be allowed is one that is not rooted in Scripture, and is not rooted in the Tradition of the early Church. Once the reformed Protestant starts really looking at what Christians did throughout the centuries, and how the Scriptures are in complete harmony with that position, the veil may begin to be lifted.
|Baptism of St. Paul|