History of Infant Baptism

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by JarJo, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. JarJo

    JarJo
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    We've all read the bible verses for and against infant baptism, and we've all made up our minds on whether it is a biblical practice. But I would like to approach the question, if you don't mind from a different perspective, that of history:

    From my own studies, I have seen that in the year 200AD, infant baptism was widely practiced and accepted among Christians. My own studies have not turned up any evidence of a dispute within Christianity, or any objections to this practice before or at that time, that would indicate it was something new and that it went against the teachings received by the first Christians from the apostles.

    Could opponents of infant baptism point out anything historical that would show how and when this 'false teaching' was introduced, and evidence that it was controversial among Christians in the first centuries? I know this isn't your normal approach to doctrine (to look at history), and instead you look at the bible. But to me, this is an important question, since I want to believe and do what the apostles taught the early Christians to believe and do.
     
    #1 JarJo, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2012
  2. Doubting Thomas

    Doubting Thomas
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    2,616
    Likes Received:
    6
    The writings of Irenaeus offer implicit evidence of infant baptism in the mid-2nd century. Also, Tertullian also testifies to its practice (but recommended against it) around the same time.
     
  3. JarJo

    JarJo
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    So are we to understand that there was a big controversy in the church from the end of the apostolic age, circa 90AD, where the Christians drifted away from the apostolic practice of forbidding child baptism, and that by the year 200AD the false practice had become universal? And that the only surviving objection to this reversal in policy was Tertullian in the 3rd century? It seems like that would take a grand Satanic scheme to make that happen and leave no evidence of a dispute.
     
  4. Doubting Thomas

    Doubting Thomas
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    2,616
    Likes Received:
    6

    Good point. We in fact see no evidence of Christ or the Apostles forbidding infant baptism, and no particular controversy regarding it except in the case of Tertullian.
     
  5. mandym

    mandym
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    Messages:
    4,991
    Likes Received:
    0
    Which is only evidence that the issue did not come up. The bigger question is why? Because everyone agreed with it? Or because no one was doing it?
     
  6. billwald

    billwald
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2000
    Messages:
    11,414
    Likes Received:
    0
    As long as we are reading history . . . The Gospels at least hint that Jesus intended for his followers to reform rabbinic Judaism from the inside and return to the true teachings and meaning of Torah. There is no evidence in the Gospels that Jesus intended to start a new religion.

    Acts teaches that the Jerusalem Church (Synod) controlled Christian doctrine. The Jerusalem Council expected Christians to follow Torah and offer sacrifices. St. Paul was subservient to the Jerusalem Council. The Council held Paul on a loose string and were content to let Paul preach his interpretation of Christianity as long as he stayed within specified limits and didn't care about the details of Paul's teaching within those limits. Paul was expected to toe the Torah when he was in Jerusalem.

    After AD 70 the Jerusalem Synod disappeared and the gentiles took over command of the believers.

    Paul's legit (early) letters described a bottom up congregation run organization where women had equal standing with men in all matters. The later forgeries (the Pastorals) describe a top down organization that was controlled by a magisterium of bishops and women kept their mouths shut and followed orders. Back then it was common for new material to be written as if authored by a dead leader and no one was offended by this practice.
     
  7. Doubting Thomas

    Doubting Thomas
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    2,616
    Likes Received:
    6
    There's implicit evidence from Irenaeus that it was practiced--and that without controversy--since he believed both: (1) regeneration took place at baptism; and (2) infants were among those who could be "born again" to God. Tertullian who disapproves of the practice* yet testifies to its existence. No other voice of dissent can be found in the early church. Hippolytus, Origen, and Cyprian mention this again in the early 3rd century--again without disapproval or hint of controversy--in geographically varied locations.

    (*And Tertullian, who believed in baptismal regeneration, believed it should be delayed until the person could make a concious decision because he believed in the near-impossibility for forgiveness of sins after baptism)

    If infant baptism was such a heretical innovation, where's the evidence of wide spread protest to it's institution in the early church?
     
  8. mandym

    mandym
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    Messages:
    4,991
    Likes Received:
    0
    You give the acceptance by Irenaeus to much credit. There is not enough info to determine that it was widely practiced. Much more than that there is no scriptural evidence that it was practiced at all in the early church. In scripture grace is a free gift and given through faith not Baptism or any other secondary thing.
     
  9. Doubting Thomas

    Doubting Thomas
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    2,616
    Likes Received:
    6
    I don't think so. The matter of fact manner he expressed his beliefs without evidence that any in the Church protested against them is telling. Irenaeus was a defender of the apostolic faith against heretics such as the gnostics, and has been shown to be very accurate on both his depiction of heretical belief systems (read AGAINST HERESIES) and his witness to the Apostolic faith. There's no record from him or anyone else that there were separate communities of Christians that refused to baptize infants.

    I just gave some (see above)

    There's no evidence it was forbidden and there's indirect evidence that it would have been practiced.

    Neither in scripture nor in the early church is faith and baptism opposed to each other. In fact, Scriptures indicate that in baptism (1) one was actually buried and risen with Christ through faith (Roman 6:3-5; Col 2:12-13); (2) one put on Christ (Gal 3:27); one was saved by the resurrection of Christ (1 Peter 3:21); (4) one was born from above by water and the spirit (comp John 3:3,5 w/surrounding context); (5) one received remission of sins and the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). In other words, neither in scripture or the early church was baptism considered 'a secondary thing'.
     
  10. DHK

    DHK
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    37,982
    Likes Received:
    134
    In the history of infant baptism it does not matter so much when, as it does "whom." There were man false teachers. None of the churches that stayed true to the Word of God practiced infant baptism. Many heretical churches did. Paul warned of false teachers that would come, as did every other NT writer including Jesus Himself. We should not therefore be surprised that this heresy was around at a very early age. Just because it existed didn't make it right.

    Who practiced it and why? That is the question.
    Who opposed it and why? That is another very important question.

    Here is a fairly lengthy quote from the second chapter of J.T. Christian's book, "A History of the Baptists."
    Biblical churches always baptized by immersion, and always baptized believing adults
     
  11. JarJo

    JarJo
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Is it just me or are some of the 'facts' in the quoted text hard to substantiate? For example I can't find anything in the 'council of Elvira' that mentions infant baptism.
     
  12. DHK

    DHK
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    37,982
    Likes Received:
    134
    Perhaps you haven't read of it. The very first Canon speaks of it. Did you even read this one??

    http://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/elvira.html
     
    #12 DHK, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2012
  13. JarJo

    JarJo
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    It says:

    I'm not trying to be obstinate but I don't see anything in this canon about the age that people must be to be baptized. In fact, you could read it as providing an exception to the rule for baptized children who commit idolatry, presumably because they aren't old enough to be responsible for their actions.

    Most of the citations in the quote from that book aren't dealing specifically with infant baptism. They talk about having faith and instruction before baptism. Of course, even in the RCC, an adult convert has to have faith and instruction before baptism. The rule for children is different, because the faith of the parents is that basis for their baptism. You can find hundreds of quotes about the requirements to be prepared for baptism, but if they're all about adult baptism, it doesn't really address the issue.
     
    #13 JarJo, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2012
  14. DHK

    DHK
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    37,982
    Likes Received:
    134
    Then don't be obstinate. Give me an example of an infant that specifically has displayed faith and has been instructed about the gospel and matters concerning baptism.
    Common sense prevails here. It specifically addressed infant baptism by limiting its remarks to adult baptism, and saying that only adults can be baptized.
     
  15. JarJo

    JarJo
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here's what it says:

    Canon 1: It is decided that anyone of mature age, who, after the faith of saving baptism, approaches a temple as an idolater and commits this major crime, because it is an enormity of the highest order, is not to receive communion–even at the end [of his life].

    Let me split it up into phrases to explain it piece by piece:

    Canon 1: It is decided that anyone of mature age
    - this canon only applies to people of mature age

    who, after the faith of saving baptism,
    - it applies only to the baptized

    approaches a temple as an idolater and commits this major crime, because it is an enormity of the highest order, is not to receive communion–even at the end [of his life].
    - if one of those people commits idolatry, they are to not be admitted to communion ever again

    So... the first two points basically allow exceptions to the penalty for:
    1. A baptized baby or child who was taken to a pagan temple by their parents
    2. Someone who was a catechumen, i.e. not yet baptized, who commited idolatry, but later repented

    The fact that they have to specify the first exception indicates to me that there were baptized children.
     
  16. DHK

    DHK
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    37,982
    Likes Received:
    134
    When something is talking about mature people or adults you cannot read into infants. That is reading into the passage things that are not there. It is a logical fallacy and no one would accept it in debate. It is not logical.

    Here is the canon as stated:
    Note: anyone of mature age. That is the subject here, not children. Not a word is said about infants or children--not one word. You cannot read anything about that in this passage.
    If you do, then perhaps we can talk also about the validity of Pope John XXIII who baptized a bell! Yes, he did. Why not? It is just as relevant as baptizing babies. It is not mentioned, but neither are infants. Is the baptism of bells a Biblical and acceptable practice like Pope John XXIII did? Is this the proper place to discuss it, in the light of this canon? No. It has nothing to do with this canon, as this canon speaks about "mature persons," not mature BELLS !!!
    You cannot read into a passage that which is not there. It says nothing about infants.
    It is not infants that approach a heathen temple; it is adults.
    And on and on. You are so twisting the meaning of this canon, it is unbelievable the way that you are trying to justify yourself.
     
  17. JarJo

    JarJo
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    I see. Well you were the one who felt that Canon 1 had something to say about infant baptism. I don't see much in there that has to deal with infant baptism, and the fact that it mentions "mature" doesn't, in my opinion, imply that only mature adults are baptized.

    How about the other citations from councils? It cites one council that requires catechumens to know the creed, and another council says they have to receive instruction before baptism. Well these rules are the same today in the RCC. Except of course these are the rules for adult converts, not for infants. Babies don't have to memorize the creed, of course, that goes without saying.
     
    #17 JarJo, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2012
  18. DHK

    DHK
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    37,982
    Likes Received:
    134
    Exactly. And the RCC requires infants to be baptized because the RCC believes in the heresy of baptismal regeneration. Thus the necessity of infant baptism. Tertullian spoke against infant baptism for this reason. Baptism cannot save; is not necessary for salvation; takes away from the sufficiency of the blood of Christ if made necessary for salvation. It is heretical when used that way. And it is used that way in the RCC.
     
  19. David Lamb

    David Lamb
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Messages:
    2,982
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm probably reading more into your words than you intended, DHK, but surely biblical churches baptize believers. Your phrase "believing adults" could be seen as meaning "believers who are past the age of majority".
     
  20. JarJo

    JarJo
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Tertullian's main concern was for the sponsors of the baptized babies, who might grow up to not be good Christians, which would make the sponsors responsible in some way.

    It seems that Tertullian made an objection based on sponsors, but wasn't overly concerned about an adult profession of faith before baptism. In fact Tertullian made an exception for necessity, presumably when a child was sick and in danger of dying.

    So where were all the true adult-only Baptists in the early church? Was Tertullian the only one? Where were all the other 'real christians' putting up a fight when this practice became widespread?



    It sounds like being baptized had quite an effect on these guys! Maybe the early Christians wanted even babies to receive the Holy Spirit.
     
    #20 JarJo, Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2012

Share This Page

Loading...