What happens if a baby isn't baptized?

Discussion in 'Paedo-Baptism Answers' started by Exiled_2_God, Jul 22, 2009.

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  1. Exiled_2_God

    Exiled_2_God Puritan Board Freshman

    Hypothetical (I don't have children at the present)

    As a Christian, what happens if my child is never baptized as a baby, though he is baptized after becoming a believer.

    At the Bema, what will happen? Obviously it is either right, wrong, or indifferent no matter what denomination one is affiliated with.


    (FYI: I'm a credo at the present, though studying the issue)
  2. awretchsavedbygrace

    awretchsavedbygrace Puritan Board Sophomore

    So, it does not matter ?
  3. awretchsavedbygrace

    awretchsavedbygrace Puritan Board Sophomore

    Orginal Question posed-
    "As a Christian, what happens if my child is never baptized as a baby, though he is baptized after becoming a believer. "

    Not baptizing your baby is a sin?
  4. Sven

    Sven Puritan Board Sophomore

    If your child isn't baptized, he grows up to become a baptist. :p

    Seriously though, baptism is obviously an important part of the Christian religion. Looking at the OT rite of circumcision, those who weren't circumcised were considered 'cut-off' from the people of Israel. Baptism for both credo and paedo baptists is an initiatory sign that one is now part of the visible Church. Those who are not baptised cannot be considered part of the visible church of God. The baptism issue reall involves differences in the understanding of the Church. What is the visible Church? According to the WCF the visible church "consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children." The LBCF states that the visible church consists of "All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it." According to the WCF, children are part of the visible church and are therefore to be baptized. According to the LBCF, children are not considered part of the visible church until they make profession of faith. Either way, leaving your child unbaptized is the same as saying, "You're not part of the visible community of God." If you believe that God's Word teaches that children are to be considered part of the visible community of God, then it is a sin to leave them unbaptized, if you do not believe that obviously it is not a sin, but it would be a sin to baptize them.
  5. awretchsavedbygrace

    awretchsavedbygrace Puritan Board Sophomore

    I see. :cool:
  6. Simply_Nikki

    Simply_Nikki Puritan Board Junior

    Your question kind of a loaded one. Of course anytime we don't obey what is commanded in scripture it is a sin. The thing is, no one obeys what is commanded in scripture perfectly.

    Because of sin in general, I think it would be safe to say that there will always be something we misinterpreted or got wrong. But, as Joshua said, no person who trusts in the merits of Christ alone for their justification will be separated form the love of God. However I do think we will be held accountable for what we did get wrong and Jesus will correct and teach us what is right (since you're talking about the Burma seat and not the great white throne of judgment). Just like most of us here believe that there are no Arminians in heaven, I think we will all be admonished and corrected on some doctrinal error.
  7. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    [bible]Deut 29:29[/bible]
    What if you ignore the command of Eph 6:4 and fail to bring your child in the fear and admonition of the Lord?

    What if the Church you attend does not preach the Gospel?

    What if the Church does not properly practice Church discipline and there is not a plurality of Elders to guard the souls of you and your children?

    What if the Church you attend undermines or obscures the Gospel of grace (even unwittingly) in how it practices the Sacraments?

    The question is not to ask what God will say in the future and seek to peer into the hidden counsel of His Will but what has God commanded in His Word.

    God ordains the means of grace, in history, for us and our children to be built up toward His holy ends. We ought never to ask "what are our shots at being saved anyway?" if we neglect those means.

    I agree, with my confession, that it is a great sin to neglect the means of grace and baptism is meant to signify God's promise, hold forth Christ, and serve as a means to strengthen and ground a disciple (young or old) in the faith and into the visible Kingdom where salvation is preached and nurtured.
  8. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Surely also, God knows the hearts of those who are seeking to obey Scripture -- I'm sure we will find out about many greater sins of ignorance than a conscientious inability to hold to another side of the issue than we do. I'm sure God knows and takes into account, as well as the administrators here, the strong arguments that exist on both sides making this a much more confusing issue than Sola Fide, and the sincerity of the heart seeking to be convinced and submit to His Word on this issue. It is surely not the same sin as despising an ordinance to conscientously seek to obey God in the time of its administration.
  9. Rogerant

    Rogerant Puritan Board Freshman

    Exodus 4:24-26 "And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him (Moses), and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his (Moses') feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision".

    If Baptism is the sign and the seal of the covenant, and has replaced circumcision, then yes, it would be a sin not to baptize.

    And to bear the sign of the covenant, allows the rest of the congregation to consider the child as being "clean" inside the camp, or in other words, in the visible church.

    Just my humble opinion
  10. Exiled_2_God

    Exiled_2_God Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for all the response. But what is the purpose for baptizing infants (other than a sign) - for the baby isn’t saved yet…? In essence, there are many people in the visible church who aren’t saved, by definition. Hence, there are many people who bear the sign of the covenant who will never be in the covenant (babies that get baptized yet never turn to Christ throughout their life). So with this logic, why is there a sign for something that doesn't even exist... (The sign of a person in the visible church, yet they aren't even in the church as they are not saved.)

    I’m just having a hard time seeing what it accomplishes other than “it’s in the confession so we must do it.” And please bare with me, I’m not trying to be sarcastic here. For as I already stated, the baby will bear the sign of entrance into the covenant upon baptism, but what does this mean, since the baby still needs to be saved. It seems to be more or less a replacement for circumcision, right? Why not just continue to circumcise, as they didn’t baptize infants in the OT (or did they do both).

    I see why we baptize after one believes in Christ, since Christ himself did it as our example, and we see many examples of baptism in the NT not to mention it is commanded in the great commission.

    By the way, I picked up a book entitled "Christian Baptism" by John Murray... good book?

  11. JoyFullMom

    JoyFullMom Puritan Board Junior

    Hi Derek,

    It is dejavue to read your post as these are the EXACT words my dh and I asked over and over trying to work through this ourselves. :)

    I don't know if you embrace Covenant Theology, but it helped us tremendously to go back and understand *that* (which we thought we held to, but didn't *fully* understand). O. Palmer Robertson's book "Covenants" is a very simple and easy read on this. Once we did that and THEN revisited paedobaptism in the context of CT, it slipped into place like the last missing puzzle piece. (I think we were reading "Why We Baptize Our Children" when the *Aha* moment came :) )

    I hope this is of some help :)
  12. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Just a tad :offtopic: here, but we are baptizing 9 of our 10 children this Sunday, from age 11 down to 6 months (the eldest has been baptized already). We struggled with this very question for years, as we lived in China, and the church we attended refused to baptize the children as infants.
  13. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    Derek, you are correct in saying that baptism has come in place of circumcision. It is the sacramental equivalent of circumcision. We no longer circumcise infants because a New Covenant sign has already come in place of it.

    Infants are baptized for the same reason God's people in the Old Testament circumcised their infants. The inclusion of children in the covenant is commanded, and a promise is attached to it.

    God commands that the children of believers receive the sign of initiation, and He promises to run His grace in the line of families and generations (that is, to believers and their seed.)

    Brother, I do think that paedobaptists would not see Christ's baptism in that way. Christ was not a sinner. He did not need to repent. Nor did he need forgiveness of sins. Also, he was baptized at the age of 30, not before. Why? Christ's baptism has to do with His ministry as a great High Priest (cf. Numbers 8:5-7).

    In my opinion, Samuel Miller's Infant Baptism: Scriptural and Reasonable is better. :)

    -----Added 7/23/2009 at 08:30:39 EST-----

    RE Christ's baptism and its purpose, see this post by Rev. Steve Bradley.
  14. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    Couldn't the same be said about credobaptism? I mean, what does it "do" for people other than obey God's command and mark them as part of the visible church? It doesn't make them saved or ensure that they are saved, so there could be lots of people baptized as "believers" who aren't believers, thus allowing people to receive a sign who never possess the reality.

    I think Baptists actually struggle more with this objection more than Presbyterians. If you define the "church" and the "covenant" as regenerate people only, but you know that some of the people worshipping with you are probably unbelievers, then the "church" is now an abstract group that you cannot fully identify.

    However, Presbyterians believe that there are both external and internal aspects of the covenant. When God sent prophets to unbelieving Israel, He still called them "His people" based on the covenant, even though many of them didn't believe and thus were not internally in the covenant. Also, when Jesus ministered on earth, he was sent primarily to the house of Israel because they were His people, even though many did not believe and thus were never internally His people. Perhaps most striking is the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15. Those who abide bear fruit, and those who do not are taken away. Taken away from what? They must have been connected to the tree in some way for them to be separated from the tree. On the other hand, they must have not been connected to the tree in some way for them not to bear fruit.

    So, once you accept that God's covenants have both external and internal aspects, the major objection to infant baptism is removed.

    Oh, and Murray's Christian Baptism is a good book that pushed me toward pedobaptism, though the whole process was about 2 years.
  15. Exiled_2_God

    Exiled_2_God Puritan Board Freshman

    It seems as if once someone embraces CT, the rest falls into place. So I'm beginning to study the whole package - tackling the bear - and it will take some time. It took me almost two years to come on board with Reformed Soteriology...

    So what happens if I stay in my Baptist church (which adhere's to the Doctrines of Grace), and then find that I believe in paedobaptism... is this a "leave the church" issue?? Obviously, by that point I also would most likely be a CT guy... just thinking out loud.

    And yes, you're right... the same argument can be turned on a credo.

    -----Added 7/23/2009 at 09:05:08 EST-----

    Seems like it is a common road one must encounter as they study. I'll try to get a copy of Robertson's book. Thanks for the advice.

    -----Added 7/23/2009 at 09:18:09 EST-----

    I looked at the proof-texts from the catechism, but I still don't see how that is translated into "we must baptize our infants." And I understand the logic of the Covenants, and the sign, but I still don't necessarily see the scriptural support that infants should be baptized. But, I will definitely study the issue and take a look at that book and the post you cited.

    "The inclusion of children in the covenant is commanded, and a promise is attached to it."

    How is this inclusion commanded through the means of infant baptism specifically?
  16. JoyFullMom

    JoyFullMom Puritan Board Junior


    We did choose to leave our baptistic church....but by the time we covered all this ground, honestly, the paedobaptism was just *one* thing we were no longer like-minded on and we felt it important to be raising our kids in a church that taught what we are now teaching in our home.

    I will add, we kept up dialogue with our pastor during our journey. We asked him questions and allowed him to offer rebuttal to what we were learning. Our departure was no surprise to him and we left on very good terms and remain very fond of him and everyone there. It does not have to break *fellowship* amongst believers, but as you go along, you may come to the same place we did.

    Praying for you as you dive in! ENJOY! :)
  17. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    This advice may sound counter-intuitive, but I would advise you to hold off as long as possible before "surrendering" to pedobaptism, if you even find yourself being that convinced at all. The best scenario is for you to really dig down deep, think through all the arguments and objections, explore the related doctrines in ecclesiology and soteriology and covenant theology, and make one assured decision. So rather than "switch" when the scales tip to 51%, wait until you have some good clearance on them, because something might cause you to swing back the other way. Better to settle this in your mind once and for all than go back and forth for years. I would advise you to stay in your church until you really feel that you belong elsewhere.
  18. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    I am not sure I agree with the relative idea of sin here. Baptism is not like the food laws.
    If there is a clear Biblical truth that is not followed it would be a sin for all who neglected to follow the Biblical principle In my humble opinion.
  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I would agree that sins of ignorance are lesser sins but they are still, objectively, sinful in the sense that a person is denied the benefits not merely of a bare signification but a robust Covenant Theology and Ecclesiology that sees children as essentially part of the Church community and nurtures that which they have been marked out for.

    Today, for instance, people have lost the substance of what marriage represents and so it is common for people to simply wonder why marriage is necessary when a couple can "love" each other, co-habitate and take care of their children without a ceremony and a ring. It's not the bare ceremony and symbol that is missing but a proper understanding of who has ordained the institution and living in consonance with their constitutions as husband and wife that impoverishes them.

    Accordingly, what I see as most impoverishing about neglecting the proper administration of the Sacrament has to do with a robust understanding of the Church's mission toward the visible Kingdom of God - not as a home for perfected or convinced Saints but a place of discipleship where the members are visibly Covenanted together with leaders committed to latch on to a man, woman, or child and plead with them with all their might to press in and improve upon that which they have been set out for.

    What difference does it make?

    I never noted a bare sign but I noted many different factors that work together, visibly, in the Church to ensure that the Church is a place where the Gospel is proclaimed, the Sacraments are performed to build up and confirm in the faith, and discipline is performed to mark out the boundaries of who Elders have the authority to disciple.

    On the significance of baptism see here: http://www.puritanboard.com/f122/baptism-teaching-its-meaning-significance-43895/

    There's a presumption in your presentation that the Church is a collection of people that we know are regenerate. As I noted above, the hidden things belong to the Lord. The Church does not proceed on the basis of knowledge that a person is elect and until a person disabuses themselves of that myth they will have a hard time understanding Hebrews and a whole host of other passages that deal with what the Church's ministry is about.

    There is an "oughtness" to the Gospel that, when a person is brought into visible relationship to the people of God, he cannot rightly wander off and pretend as if "I was never really in the Church so I'll just take the judgment of the world at large that never heard about you." The tenor of Hebrews is that "you've seen and tasted this great thing, you had better press in and believe because it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God."

    It is quite remarkable, in light of that, to simply think of anybody in visible communion as if: "Oh well, if they fall away then they weren't really ever in the Church." This idea is foreign to Hebrews. Rather, there's a certain amount of desperation in view that we would be pleading with and encouraging one another to believe and not be disbelieving. If Today you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!

    The Church, then, is that incubator where the encouragement and enjoinments occur. It's not the place where we tell each other we're regenerated and "cool, welcome to the club of those who can never fall away". Our children are in relation to the Lord by default because we are in Covenant with Him and our household serves Him. That child is to be trained in the fear and admonition of the Lord. He is a disciple and baptism belongs to disciples. He will face the fearful wrath of God if He falls away from what he is in visible relation to. Even Baptists understand they don't just pay for pagan daycare until their child is regenerated and joins the Chuch. Children are discipled, plain and simple, and fall under the wrath of being Covenant breakers when they fall away. They are citizens of the visible Kingdom and are entitled to the privilege of concern that we have for any believer that falls away. Hence, to ask what difference it makes is to ask what difference does it make for any believer to be in visible relationship to the Church and to be under its care.

    Lastly, it makes all the difference in the world as I note in my post about the fact that this sign of the Covenant is much more than simply something I'm saying about myself. It is not a sign of either my faith or my parent's faith but it is a sign of God's Promise to save. It is visible and it is certain. God has ordained it to be a comfort to me and a means of grace for me to press in. It represents everything that Christ offers in the Gospel and visibly confirms those benefits to me when I believe. To ask "what difference it makes" frankly is to devalue that great thing that God has given us to confirm a promise. It's like He gave you a signet ring as a Promise to you and for you to ask: "What difference does it make that you gave me this ring?"
  20. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I think I would agree with this in large part -- but I think this sin can easily and does often exist in Presbyterian circles as well; and that as far as this works into actual practice, many RB's are right there with the paedos in how seriously they take their duties to the children God has placed in their homes and in their churches. Taken from this angle too, the sin is not one of despising or neglecting the realities in view (despising the ordinance or despising the discipleship of little ones)? I think the main difference that would exist is that you lay out a paradigm where one is not concerned with determining the child's state so much as to apply the same warnings that all members receive and to encourage them to press on (some RB's I know actually do take more this view of the church while some paedos do not!). I agree with the dangers of teaching children for instance, to look at themselves and doubt when they ought to be learning the more simple reflex of looking to Christ in faith; but I think in substance those who are being conscientious about baptism and about discipling their children are often much closer in substance than those 'on the same side' who have lost zeal in either aspect. I think I do understand the distinctions you're making here; thank you for this response.

    -----Added 7/23/2009 at 11:21:18 EST-----

    (Just wanted to add in answer to the main question as I don't want to sidetrack the thread, that the gist of what I have been trying to say is that I think it will have been a greater sin to have neglected conscientiously trying to obey Scripture as regards baptism, or the training of our children, than to find we didn't understand Scripture as well as we should have, were our minds undarkened -- it is more helpful personally for me to ask not so much 'what are the stakes if I get it wrong?' but merely 'what is right?')
  21. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Thanks Heidi. My responses are never intended to note that RB's don't do certain things that PB's do. I'm less concerned about how groups of people within theological streams act and more concerned about what I believe a proper Sacramentology and Ecclesiology is supposed to be aimed at.

    What I find in common with many RB's and PB's is more of an individualistic, "is this guy regenerated", approach. I hear all the time sort of a "I know that guy is saved even if he's in an Arminian or Roman Catholic Church" or "But how do you know that child is saved?"

    I understand this approach because I used to think that way but thinking in terms of Covenant and discipleship was transformative. Leave the being God to God and let the Church simply do it's work that it was commissioned to accomplish on this Earth. I'm not lecturing you here because I think you understand this.

    The death and resurrection of Christ has provided room and time for men to press in to the Kingdom of God with faith and repentance. We're a visible Kingdom that heralds this Truth and it pains me, often, to see people that are relatively indifferent toward those that go out from us or struggle within our Body because, after all, they're really not part of the Church or they would have kept up. That's just wrong.
  22. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Exactly right.

    I have never been a fan of the questions: "What's the minimum I can give God before I'm guilty of robbing Him?"

    It's just an upside down way of looking at things. It helps, obviously, to understand what Baptism is because it simply would never occur to me to ask what's at stake if I completely neglect the means of grace.
  23. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    Here is a quote from PCA pastor Wes White's The Question of Infant Baptism.

    I believe the rest of this short article answers your question. White discusses the relevance of many of the Scriptures cited as proof-texts in the Heidelberg Catechism quote I put in my previous post.

    I would personally answer your question by pointing to the meaning of circumcision and baptism. The sign of circumcision, according to the Apostle Paul, was a "seal of the righteousness of the faith" (Rom. 4:11-12). What is interesting about this is that circumcision was administered to both believing Abraham, and to his infant Isaac who could not profess faith (Gen. 17:26-27, 21:4). In fact, God explicitly commanded that the sign be administered to infants promising to be "be a God unto thee [Abraham], and to thy seed after thee" (Gen. 17:9-14). Paul elsewhere tells us that those who believe in Christ whether Jew or Gentile are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:16, 29). The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant! On the day of Pentecost, Peter tells his hearers to repent and be baptized for the "the promise [of the Spirit] is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call" (Acts 2:38-39; cf. 16:31). The promise of the Spirit is the same promise given to Abraham (Gal. 3:8, 14). Doesn't this strongly indicate that God is still a God of believers and their seed in the New Covenant?

    The meaning of baptism is essentially the same as that of circumcision. This is explicitly seen in Col 2:11-12 which says that "In Him [Christ] also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands...having been buried with him in baptism.... (ESV)" We were circumcised when we were baptized! (This language is what the Westminster Confession calls "sacramental union" [WCF Chapter 27:2].) What did circumcision signify? Well, circumcision signified the same reality. Deut 30:6 says, "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed..." (cf. Rom. 2:28-29). What is clear from these texts is that though the sign changed (from the cutting off of the foreskin of the flesh to the washing with water in the Name of the Trinity), the thing signified did not change. Both circumcision and baptism signify the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, the circumcision of the heart. If circumcision was administered to believers and their children, baptism should also be administered to believers and their children.

    -----Added 7/23/2009 at 12:47:36 EST-----

    The Westminster Confession, therefore, rightly affirms,

  24. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    The baby as he grows up even before he comes to faith can't benefit in the same way from improving baptism, because it has not been applied to him. Parents can explain baptism to him and that might be blessed by the Spirit, but it is not the same as God being able to say to circumcised men, "circumcise your hearts as well as your foreskins" or a preacher emphasising to those who have been baptised that they need to be baptised/washed/regenerated in heart as well as body and their baptism is an added motivation factor.

    Those who have been baptised are under the bond of the covenant of grace to seek washing of heart. Those who have not been baptised don't have that added incentive and the Spirit can't use the sacrament of baptism in the same way.

    Those who are not baptised have incentive enough to believe, though.
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