Q. I was raised in a Reformed Church that subscribed to infant baptism. My parents had me so baptized at age 5. I always felt this was proper based on my understanding of the doctrine of covenant theology that says infants should be baptized, they way infants were circumcised, prior to faith (Acts 2: 39). I am a believer of many years and my wife and I recently decided to become members (covenant partners) at a non-denominational baptist background church we have attended for 3 years. Now I am told I can not become a member without a baptism of immersion. I know the points or arguments for both. I feel my baptism was sure, based on the character and integrity of God. What do you advise?
A. I believe Baptism is the public confirmation of a private decision to accept Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior. The reason there is no mention of infants being baptized in the Bible is that infants and young children lack the intellectual maturity to understand sin and its consequences and therefore cannot choose to accept Jesus as their Savior. For that reason God doesn’t hold them accountable for their sins. In my opinion, the Christian ceremony closest to circumcision is sometimes called a Christening. It’s where parents dedicate their child to Christ and agree to raise him or her according to Christian principles.
In Acts 2:38 Peter told the people to “repent and be baptized.” The Greek word translated “repent” means to change one’s mind. For his Old Covenant listeners it meant to change their minds about the sufficiency of the Law to save them and accept the fact that they needed a Savior. Therefore in Acts 2:39 Peter couldn’t have been referring to children who were not intellectually mature enough to accomplish this.
It’s not for me to say whether you should be baptized again. I happen to believe that while baptism is an important part of a believer’s life, it is not a requirement for salvation. My parents both belonged to a Methodist church when I was born, so I was baptized as an infant. When I was born again at age 40, one of my first actions was to find a church that believed in adult baptism by immersion where I asked them to baptize me again. Let me hasten to add that I didn’t do so to satisfy any external requirements. (The church I was baptized in didn’t require people to become members.) I did so because I wanted to give public testimony to the fact that I had been born again.