Critique of THE PROTESTANT'S DILEMMA by Devin Rose
Chapter 20 - Infant Baptism
Should infants be baptized? That simple question split the movements
within Protestantism from the beginning and continues to be a divisive
issue among them. The unchanging teaching and practice of the Catholic
Church, based on Scripture and Tradition, is to baptize infants.
Protestants all look to the Bible alone as the sole infallible rule of
faith, yet one group comes to the conclusion that baptizing infants is
laudable, while the other condemns the practice.
Note: Christian groups will believe the apostolic record to various degrees.
Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went
out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their
sins. Matthew 3:5-6.
Note: Can infants confess their sins? Answer: No.
Pages 134-135: The Anabaptists
(literally, “rebaptizers”) were the radical movement within the
Reformation. They rebaptized anyone who followed them because they
rejected infant baptism as invalid, claiming that the Bible taught
credo-baptism (“believer’s baptism”). To them, sola scriptura meant
that every doctrine should be explicitly found in the Bible without the
influence of traditions, even those of the early Church as found in the
writings of the councils, the Father, and other early Christians. If a
doctrine was not explicitly stated in the Bible, then it was not to be
taught as true, and they rightly pointed out that nowhere in the New
Testament does it explicitly say that an infant should be baptized.
Note: The Catholic Church believed in murdering the Anabaptists.
As a result of their views on the nature of baptism and other issues,
Anabaptists were heavily persecuted during the 16th century and into
the 17th by both Magisterial Protestants and Roman Catholics. Wikipedia
Note: Will you believe the apostolic record or the traditions of men?
Page 135: If their theological
innovations ended there, perhaps some accord could have been reached
between them and the other reforming movements. The Anabaptists went
further, however, and asserted that the doctrines of the Trinity and of
the divinity of Christ were also not explicitly found in Scripture and
thus should not be accepted. These incredible claims were based on the
belief that the Bible could in Scripture and thus should not be
accepted. These incredible claims were based on the belief that the
Bible could be accurately interpreted by any Christian who had the Holy
Spirit and that an individual’s judgment could trump that of the Church.
Note: Anabaptists were not preaching the death of Jesus Christ for salvation.
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach
Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks
foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ
the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24.
Note: Are you preaching up Jesus Christ or degrading Him?
Page 135: The magisterial
Reformers – Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin – were appalled by the radical
Reformers’ rejection of such fundamental Christian teachings. For them,
it was good and even necessary to look to the traditions of the early
Church and to the writings of the Fathers – especially those of
Augustine – in order to formulate true doctrines. The magisterial
Reformers believed that these past Christians had (for the most part)
developed sound biblical theology by correctly interpreting Scripture.
Any errors they saw in the Fathers’ teachings would of course be
corrected by their own, wiser understanding of theology, but the core
doctrines were to be preserved insofar as they were in harmony with the
Bible. And the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and infant baptism were
most certainly in harmony with the Bible.
Note: Only saved believers should be baptized per the apostolic record.
So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the
prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened
his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now
as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch
said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then
Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he
answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So
he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch
went down into the water, and he baptized him. Acts 8:34-38.
Note: Infant baptism is not in harmony with the Bible.
Pages 135-136: Protestants
today has inherited this centuries-old division from its founding
fathers. (The situation is even more dizzying, given the vast number of
denominational splits that have occurred since the 1500s.) Most
Protestant traditions practice infant baptism, but large groups of
Protestants – especially Baptists, most other Evangelical Protestants,
and the very populous Pentecostal communities – reject it as unbiblical.
Note: Infant baptism is not found anywhere in Scripture.
But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the
kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were
baptized. Acts 8:12.
Note: Can infants believe in Biblical preaching? Answer: No.
Page 136: Although no biblical
verses command or explicitly describe infant baptism, various passages
provide strong evidence that babies and small children received the
sacrament. For example, recall Peter’s testimony to the crowds at
Pentecost: “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you; and you shall
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to
your children.” (Acts 2:38-39). Here he makes no mention to exclude
children who had not yet reached the age of reason.
Note: The author deceptively left out the following verses for context.
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be
saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received
his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were
added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine
and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:40-42.
Note: Can infants understand Christian preaching? Answer: No.
Page 136: Elsewhere in the New
Testament (Acts 16:33, 1 Cor. 1:16) we read about entire households
being baptized, and these would have included servants, children, and
Note: The Christian Gospel is the death of Jesus Christ for your sins not baptism.
I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest
anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also
baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I
baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to
preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ
should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is
foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved
it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:14-18.
Note: Do all households have infants? Answer: No.
Pages 136-137: The Church
Fathers also witness to infant baptism. In the early 200s, Hippolytus
wrote: “Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for
themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other
relatives speak for them.” And later that century, Cyprian of Cathage,
in a council with many other bishops, defended the practice. Cyprian
reaffirms in no uncertain terms that infants, even ones just born,
should be baptized without hesitation. Many other Church Fathers
similarly testify to infant baptism’s being a noble and ancient
teaching of the Church.
Note: The apostolic record is in disagreement with the Church Fathers.
Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul
and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to
be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you
will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the
Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same
hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all
his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house,
he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with
all his household. Acts 16:29-34.
Note: Can infants believe in God? Do all households have infants? Answers: No.
Page 137: Martin Luther’s
beliefs on infant baptism and the reasons for it were likewise quite
Catholic. Recall that Luther believed God communicated grace to the
person being baptized, and that it was God himself who baptized through
the minister. Luther also recognized that the Church had always
baptized infants, up to and including the sixteenth century when he
began the Reformation. Combining this universal practice of the Church
with his sacramental understanding of baptism, “Luther regarded infant
baptism as the means by which God brought about faith in individuals.”
Note: The apostolic record is in disagreement with Martin Luther.
Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all
his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were
baptized. Acts 18:8.
Note: Can infants believe in God? Do all households have infants? Answers: No.
Page 138: His reasoning is
compelling: If infant baptism is invalid, then the vast majority of
Christians (who were baptized as infants) were invalidly baptized, and
thus never received the Holy Spirit or the virtues of faith, hope, and
love. They were therefore not members of Christ’s Church and thus could
not even be rightfully called Christians. On the other hand, if infant
baptism is valid, then the Protestant groups practicing credo-baptism
were denying children the supernatural help they needed to be saved.
Note: Have you called on God to save you? Have you confessed Jesus Christ?
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your
heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you
confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that
God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart
one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made
unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will
not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and
Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For
“whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:8-13.
Note: Can infants call on God? Can infants confess Jesus Christ? Answers: No.
Page 138: Either the
magisterial Reformers were correct in teaching infant baptism even
though it’s not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, or the radical
Reformers were correct in rejecting infant baptism as an unbiblical
practice on which the Church had fallen into error from the beginning.
To accept the radical Reformers’ interpretation, as most Evangelicals
do, would concede to them a credible claim to faithful scriptural
interpretation – tough to do, given the Anabaptists’ rejection of the
Trinity and Christ’s divinity, with which only a tiny minority of
modern Protestants would agree. On the other hand, to side with the
magisterial Reformers also raises a thorny question: If we accept this
particular tradition of the early Church, even though it isn’t
explicitly defined in the Bible, on what basis do we reject other
ancient traditions such as prayers for the dead, the Mass, purgatory,
the primacy of the church of Rome, and baptismal regeneration – all of
which have as much as or even more scriptural support than does infant
Note: Christendom has grown into a large tree with many birds of heresy.
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is
like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which
indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is
greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air
come and nest in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32.
Note: The largest limb of Christendom, the Catholic Church, has the largest birds of heresy.
Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower
went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and
the birds came and devoured them.” Matthew 13:3-4.
Note: The birds of heresy or Satan will steal the Word of God from your heart.
“Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of
the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and
snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed
by the wayside.” Matthew 13:18-19.
Note: Will you let Satan steal the Word of God from your heart through traditions?
Page 139: If Protestantism is
true, we would expect that a subject as important as who should and who
shouldn’t receive baptism would be clear from Scripture. But it
manifestly is not, and faithful Protestants have fallen on different
sides of the issue for almost 500 years. In the balance hang the
millions of souls who as infants were either baptized invalidly or
denied baptism’s saving grace.
Note: Christians are saved through faith (belief) in Jesus Christ.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of
God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also
for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from
faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Note: The Christian Gospel is centered on Jesus Christ not baptism.
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX