When NOT to baptize children?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by jennywigg, Nov 12, 2011.

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  1. jennywigg

    jennywigg Puritan Board Freshman

    Obviously, I should ask the leadership at my church about this, but I wanted to throw this out to my PB peeps. Our kids are 9, 7, and 6, and until a year ago, we attended churches in the SBC. Now that we're in the PCA, I'm feeling sad that my kids aren't baptized like everyone else's. I feel uncomfortable not having them formally recognized as covenant children. Am I looking at things the right way? How does your church handle older children of new members?
     
  2. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I am glad you feel uncomfortable with your children remaining unbaptized. What is your husband's perspective?
    Personally, I don't think that 9 years old is "too old" and I think they should all be baptized as soon as is possible.
     
  3. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    i agree with Ben. I would baptize all of your children in our church, if either parent asked.
     
  4. caoclan

    caoclan Puritan Board Freshman

    I believe your children would still fall under the "household" mentioned in Acts. Your husband is the covenant head of your household, so they should be baptized. What a wonderful way to demonstrate the covenant to all, and to show the Lord's promises to those who believe, their children, and all who are far off!
     
  5. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    I'd discuss it with the pastor and session. The Westminster Standards call for the baptism of infant children of members. So it wouldn't be contra-confessional if the session advised waiting until the children are admitted to the table. On the other hand, there are churches which would have baptized the children when you and your husband joined. And I probably wouldn't pick a fight with them, either.

    WCF XXVIII.4
     
  6. Mindaboo

    Mindaboo Puritan Board Graduate

    Two of my children were baptized after we became members, and they were 4 and 2 at the time. I've personally never seen a church, (PCA) that hasn't baptized covenant children when the parents became convicted that the children should be baptized. Our former pastor baptized a family of children last September. The children ranged in age from 4-12. The twelve year old has made a proffession of faith, the others have not. The pastor gave them a lot of material that he'd written on the subject. Maybe I could see if my friend has it still.
     
  7. raekwon

    raekwon Puritan Board Junior

    Jenny, I don't want to presume upon what you do or don't believe regarding baptism at this point, but I want to throw this out there, just in case. I'd advise making absolutely sure that you and your husband's convictions regarding baptism have actually changed. I can understand feeling a bit of unease knowing that other peoples' kids are baptized (and seeing babies baptized on occasion), but only do it in obedience to Christ... not out of a feeling of "peer pressure" (for lack of a better term) regarding everyone else's kids.

    (I say this as someone who was a credobaptist, became a paedobaptist, and had his daughter baptized at 5.)
     
  8. jennywigg

    jennywigg Puritan Board Freshman

    Very good point...thanks for that. I know exactly what you mean, but mine is more of an uncomfortableness with my own kids not being visibly recognized (to us and the rest of the church) as being covenant children. Does that make any sense? I would't feel bad waiting if it was just that everyone else's kids grew up in the Presbyterian church and were baptized as infants...this is a personal desire, I guess.


    My sweet hubby is much newer to the idea of all of this, having grown up in what was an essentially an unbelieving household and coming to faith after we were married. So, his opinions on this are mostly based on what he has seen in the families of people he respects. For example, one of our friends is an elder at our church. They were Reformed Baptist, then joined the PCA, so they didn't baptize their girls as children. We talked to them about this, so Dave has been assuming that's what we'd do.

    I'm the resident questioner/researcher/worrier of the family, hence my asking about this and not him. He's having to take all this newness a bit more slowly, as he does with most things. ;) Which makes me feel like I'm usurping his spot of authority in the family, but that's another post. :D
     
  9. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Actually, Jennifer, I was thinking along these lines, earlier today, but wasn't sure if I should say anything. But, since you brought it up, I would like to encourage you as a brother in the Lord (and nothing more) that you consider easing off a bit on your own research and let your husband take a bit of a bigger piece. There will still be lots for you to do as you two work through this issue as a team, but I am a bit uncomfortable with us all advising you in a way that doesn't include your husband.
     
  10. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    I’ll give my two cents. Since your children are 6, 7, and 9 what stopping them from making a profession of faith? Their definitely old enough to make a basic profession of faith, particularly the nine year old, and I have seen 6 year olds (one case being a child of a seminary prof in an OPC church) taking communion. If a child is unwilling to make that profession of faith then you should not baptize the child, regardless of the peer pressure being given by the church. For to force a child to be baptized that refuses to make that profession is a different scenario altogether compared to an infant being baptized. And it reinforces that the children are not being baptized on the basis of faith or the promise of faith; instead it is on some sense of the divine command as related to a paedo interpretation of the command to be baptized or based on some type of ritualistic traditionalism that not grounded in faith.

    In regards to your church not seeing your children as being part of the covenant community? Are the teachers of the church your attending refusing to teach your children the gospel and the Christian faith, along side of you and your husband? Are other children making fun of your children because their not baptized? If this is the case then I would suggest a serious talk with the members of your church; including with your pastor and the parents of these children. If children are making fun of your children or if teachers are refusing to help you teach your children the faith then that sends a message to your children, a negative message that not based on the gospel itself. For someone should never be denied the opportunity to receive the gospel truth. Also discipline needs to be given to children who would be making fun of your children because such a making of another shows that child does not understand the gospel and needs to be quite before massive damage is done. You never baptize on the basis of peer pressure, but instead on faith in the promises of God; remembering how baptism shows our union with Christ. This should not be taken however as a critique against infant baptism, but instead a critique against the idea of salvation based on being part of a community, instead of faith in Christ which maybe something covenant children that are mocking other children may not understand. And this does give way to ideas set forth in Federal Vision, but that another discussion for another time.
     
  11. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    My general thought is generally under 13 its ok to have children baptized as covenant children, though given today's pagan society there are some 11 and 12 year olds already choosing to live as pagans willingly. While legally they are treated as children, morally I think the Bible considers them responsible.
     
  12. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    Except, I believe, that confessions of faith (and like wise baptisms of those who weren't baptized as children) are for those who have truly come to faith, not that Jennifers children haven't (and if they haven't I pray they will!).

    Have you discussed this with your Pastor/Elders Jennifer?
     
  13. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    Sean, are you denying then that a nine year old must make a profession of faith before their baptism; that you shouldn’t make any kind of distinction regarding children and their cognitive ability to make a confession of faith before baptism?
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011
  14. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    PCA churches do (or at least should) require more than a bare profession of faith for admission to the table. There are 5 questions that must be understood and answered for membership in the body. Presbyterians have a high view of the sacraments. While the church of which I'm a member is too broadly reformed to be considered by many here for membership, they are quite diligent in the training and examination of the children, and I'm fairly confident that it would be a rare 9 year old, and that no 6 or 7 year old could complete that process.
     
  15. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    Depends, I have no idea when the "cut-off" should be.
    Edward's post is basically what I was trying to say.
     
  16. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    I wasn’t asking for an age cut off and depends is not really an answer. Are you making the case that no distinction should be made for children regarding a cognitive ability to understand the gospel? That a 4 year old, a 9 year old, 12 year old, and a 17 year old should all be treated the same without distinction and forced into baptism by their parents and the church without needing to make a confession of faith?
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011
  17. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    But you should be. It hinges in part on the meaning of 'infant'.


    Yes it is. It depends on the ability to understand what is being undertaken. Walking down the aisle and praying the 'sinners prayer' isn't going to work in a confessional Presbyterian church.
     
  18. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Anecdotal only, and not addressing the substantive issue:

    I have seen people of every age, every stage baptized in a PCA church. One day, a 60 year old woman and a 9 year old. Next Lord's Day, a 16 year old High School student.

    I have seen a young man about 7 years old take membership vows by profession of faith (he was examined).
     
  19. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    The promise is to you and your children. Not to you and only you infant children.

    Therefore the sign of baptism is for you and your children.

    While the Confession does say 'infants' that it seems is in the typical way that children come about in the church (they are born to members of the church). Thus, we would all agree that the infants should be baptized, but is it limited to that? The Confession isn't dealing with outside the ordinary things, it is not very typical that baptists become presbyterians. So we must look to Scripture, Scripture shows that this is not just for infants, but to ALL IN THE HOUSEHOLD and specifically in Acts 2, to children. But you look at the household baptisms, everyone was baptized...

    So yes this includes all children who are under your authority.
     
  20. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    Andrew is correct.

    Some children may be able to make a credible profession at 6, 8, or 12. If so, praise the Lord & baptize them. If not, then pray for them & baptize them.

    A caution however, I said earlier that I would baptize a child upon the request of ONE parent. That is true, but if the other parent was also a believer, and they objected to the baptism I would pause. There is a worse sin then delaying baptism, in my opinion. And dividing a believing husband & a believing wife is at the top of that list.

    peace.
     
  21. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I once witnessed a couple present their 3 or 4 children for baptism as they joined the church. I'm pretty sure it was 4. The ages were something like 9, 7, 5 and 2.

    I thought it was interesting because the younger kids were baptized much as any covenant child would be. But one or two of the older ones were asked questions by the minister. It wasn't exactly the usual 4 or 5 questions asked of communicant members. But it included things like obeying your parents and listening to the elders or something like that. It may have also included some kind of rudimentary profession. But technically I don't think it would have been considered to be one.

    For what it's worth this was an EPC congregation that had an irregular practice regarding admission to the table. They did have catechism classes from time to time. But as far as I could tell, they did not have a set procedure for making a public profession of faith the way the OPC does.
     
  22. jennywigg

    jennywigg Puritan Board Freshman

    No one said anything about how my church sees my children. This is a purely personal question. The question is also not about my childrens' professions of faith or lack thereof, nor is it about any peer pressure. There is no peer pressure. There has also not been anyone making fun of the children. Just a simple question: Should we have our children baptized as covenant children.

    Good advice. Thanks.
    David, you're leaving me cold with your advice. I'm in a PCA church. Are you giving me SBC answers? No one is forcing anyone to do anything. I'm also not going to drag a "profession of faith" out of my child. She's a covenant child, and my husband and I will be speaking with one of our pastors in the next week or so about having her and siblings baptized as such.
     
  23. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Praise the Lord!
     
  24. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Please see Genesis 17. Remember, that Ishmael (from whom the promise would not come), is circumcised at 13 years of age after Abraham learns that the covenant will be with Isaac. He's not an infant, and there's no profession of faith required.

    15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

    22 When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. 23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
     
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