How Old is Too Old for "Paedo-Baptism"?

Discussion in 'Paedo-Baptism Answers' started by carlgobelman, Nov 6, 2009.

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  1. carlgobelman

    carlgobelman Puritan Board Freshman

    I've been thinking about this issue quite a bit given all of the baptism talk going on here today. I am a member of a church that practices paedo-baptism due to their old German Reformed Evangelical roots. They are more of a conservative evangelical church now that emphasizes credo-baptism, but still practices paedo-baptism.

    I've been a believer for eight years and was baptized about five years ago by full immersion. Being raised in a baptist home, I have always been a credo-baptist until recently. When I was baptized, my children were 11 & 9 and now they're 16 & 14. Seeing that I am coming around to the paedo-baptist view and seeing that they're still 'under my roof,' should I have them baptized? Or given their teenage status, should they make their own profession of faith and be baptized?
  2. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Do they believe? Certainly if they do not believe in the gospel at an age when they are undoubtedly old enough to know what it is and reject it, they shouldn't be baptized. If they do believe, what's the problem?
  3. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    I moved this thread to 'Paedo-Baptism Answers' to avoid any 'drive-bys' from the other aisle.
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Without knowing you or your family, children of that age strike me as fine candidates for a membership class. Why not just do that, and duck the question?

    If they are not willing to learn the basics of the faith in such a setting, then it seems to me they are old enough to be basically refusing baptism--a situation in which I would never recommend applying the sign.

    We do not live in days that honor proper submission in the best sense. Therefore, children who in the past understood they were minors and obliged to their parents in fundamental ways, are not so cognizant today. We have to take such realities into account. Nevertheless, I think my proposal above solves the issue without a hassle.
  5. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Both are way too old for infant baptism. The 14 year old might go through a Children's catechism class, but the 16 year old should probably approach the elders as an adult - if he feels ready to make a profession. Baptism should be administered with the public profession.
  6. carlgobelman

    carlgobelman Puritan Board Freshman

    Just a minor clarification... :D
  7. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Here's an interesting quote from the church father Hippolytus:

    Last edited: Nov 6, 2009
  8. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    I don't think you'll find a better answer than this essay by Vern Poythress who is a prof at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is paedo now himself, but writing for credos, or credos on the way to paedo.

    Indifferentism and Rigorism
  9. TaylorWest

    TaylorWest Puritan Board Freshman

    Paedo (from the Greek: paidion) simply means 'child.' Presbyterians are convinced that the children of believers should be baptized, not just infants.

    I was raised as a Baptist and was baptized at the age of 18. However, I became convinced after my oldest daughter turned 10 that the Bible requires children of Believers to be baptized. Therefore, I had all four of my children baptized at that time (10, 9, 7, 2). Since these children were being baptized as 'children of the covenant', that is, as children of parents who love Jesus and are members in good standing with our church, they were not interviewed by the elders.

    I don't think it is wrong to ask the children about their faith, but I do think it shows a lack of understanding of the covenant structure and teaching of the Bible to do so:).
  10. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    8 days. You have 8 days to get it right. After that you need to wait until they can read the LBCF.
  11. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    But the WCF doesn't say paidion, or children:

    "IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized
  12. wookie

    wookie Puritan Board Freshman

    But the WCF does not seem to exclude older children either. Is it possible that "believing parents" are a reference to long-time covenant members of the church (those who grew up in the church), rather than those who recently joined the church with their children?

    In Genesis 17, Abraham applied the covenant sign to his son Ishmael when he was thirteen years old (v. 25). There is no indication that Ishmael made a confession of faith. Neither did the Bible impose any age restriction for members of the household receiving the covenant sign.

    Perhaps the term "household baptism", rather than "paedo-baptism" should be used.
  13. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    I would leave the choice up to the local council to make the decision and go by their judgment for these are the men God has called to take care of you and your family spiritually. I do imagine that the majority would not baptize a child (after all we are all somebody's children and under our Parents in some sense till we die) past 11, 12, 13 max until he or she would be able to give a credible profession of Faith. I know the argument that all males in Abraham's household, not just the children, were circumscized however the New Testament (and historic Reformed Theologians) have never said that circumscision and baptism are 100% identical in nature and function just girls are included. There is, like in the covenant of grace, changes and continuality.

    But these are just thoughts of a lay person so take them for what they are... midnight thoughts on an important subject that ought to be given weeks of thought before posting.
  14. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I see the merit of that argument, and can think of scriptural support.

    As the child nears the age of accountability, however, I would lean toward waiting for a profession of faith. And by mid-teens, if the child isn't ready for a profession, I'd forego the baptism.
  15. wookie

    wookie Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a tricky issue. But I'm not sure if I would embrace the doctrine of "the age of accountability" as it does not seem to be taught anywhere in Scripture. As far as I can see, the Bible does not seem to set a criteria with regard to the age of the members of the household.

    For me, this issue has to do with how we view the covenant sign. Is baptism a human pledge, as the credobaptists believe, signifying that one has made the choice and commitment to be a disciple? Or is baptism a sign and seal of God's covenant with us, what God demands of us, a reminder of the promises and obligations contained in the New Covenant?
  16. TaylorWest

    TaylorWest Puritan Board Freshman

    Infants or Children?

    Yes but, ...

    1) The WCF is not the only document in the PCA's constitution. We also have the Bible and our Book of Church Order (BCO). The BCO does use the words child/children as well as infant/infants.

    PCA BCO 56.4.E

    2) Yet, even if we look only at the WCF 28.4, which says 'infants,' the cross references supplied in support of the teaching include Acts 2:39, which uses the broad word 'teknon' (teknon is nearly synonymous with paidion), and not 'nepios' (Gk - nepios: infant, see Matt 21.16).

    So, any which way you look at it, children are rightful recipients, and not just infants, for PCA folks.
  17. Nathan Riese

    Nathan Riese Puritan Board Freshman

    There is a lot of discussion about being old enough to reject baptism/faith. Where is that in the Bible? Why aren't we using exegesis here and reaching conclusions? Everyone is just giving conclusions and not giving a logical reason-based/Biblical-based structure to reach the conclusion.

    Where in the NT does it tell us to baptize infants? It does not command it, but it is applied because we believe that it is consistent with the nature of the covenant and Scripture and in the family principle. The positive evidence made for paedo baptism is through household baptisms.

    Household baptisms are very similar to household circumcisions, wouldn't you agree?

    Do we not all agree that baptism has replaced circumcision?

    Household circumcision (i.e., Abraham's household) was administered to those old enough to reject it, were they not? Did they attend a membership class? were they interviewed by Abraham and given the "option" to be circumcised?


    in 1 Corinthians 7, are children of only one believing parent or both parents made holy, but only if they are under "the age of accountability"? At what age are these children NOT holy?

    Wouldn't it be more consistent with Scripture to consider a household baptism inclusive of children over the age of accountability?

    I think that we can conclude "YES"

    Those who conclude "only infants" need to give reasons, not just their conclusions. Anyone can give conclusions. Unless, of course, quoting confessions = sufficient reasons to conclude ('s not.)
  18. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    This could then give warrant for forcibly baptizing unbelieving spouses.
  19. Nathan Riese

    Nathan Riese Puritan Board Freshman

    This can give warrant for "forcibly" circumcising unbelieving servants too (if we were in the OT)...

    oh wait......


    oh yeah...right. now i remember.
  20. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    So you'd baptize the 50 year old non professing child of a 75 year old who joined the church?
  21. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

  22. TaylorWest

    TaylorWest Puritan Board Freshman

    Fifty-Year-Old Children

    I think the first thing to note here is who the concept of 'household' has changed since the first century. My reading of the Bible seems to allow for such a thought. But that is only because households were pretty patriarchal at the time. Even if there were slaves, they were considered a part of the household and were therefore baptized with their masters. However, we are so far from that in the US today, that I could only imagine such a thing in the case of a mentally handicapped child who happened to be 50 when his father became a believer as was baptized.

    Outside of that extreme case, it seems that in the States, adulthood comes when the child moves away to college. In a very real sense these children are no longer under the care of their parents and they should speak for themselves.

    All that said, if a seventeen-year-old son of a new believer made it clear that they wanted no part in the church and that they did not want to be baptized, there would be no good reason to baptize the child.
  23. David J Houston

    David J Houston Puritan Board Freshman


    I actually lol'd!
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