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What Does the Bible Say About..Infant Baptism?

I have friends that are in religions, Catholic, Lutheran, etc., and they feel that if you don’t baptize your baby, it will go to hell for you are the parent and responsible for that child’s well being. Where in the bible does it say or if not, that babies have to be baptized? My belief is different. I believe you take the lord in your heart when you are old enough to realize what Jesus has done and if you have faith and believe. What kind of answer through any scripture can I tell them back?


Those who believe in baptizing infants or young children do so based on one of two errors. But before I get into that, I must say that few churches actually baptize infants in the biblical use of the word baptism. The literal meaning is immersion in water, and very few would dare to immerse a baby for fear that they would accidentally drown the child. I have heard that some Orthodox churches do immerse infants.

Most who baptize infants (Roman Catholics, Lutherans, for example) do so because of the mistaken idea that a child is born with sin. Please see What Does the Bible Say About..Original Sin? for my previous answer showing that the concept of “original sin” actually goes against scripture. If children are not born with sin, and if baptism is for the purpose of forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16), then there is no reason to baptize (immerse) an infant. Further (and I touch on this in that answer and will expand on it shortly), one of the prerequisites for biblical baptism is that the person have faith, which a child or infant cannot have.

Some groups denied the concept of original sin, but did not want to give up infant baptism. They had to come up with some other reason to baptize infants. The Methodists and others, then, came up with the idea of baptism as a promise that the parents will raise the child in the church. At a later date the child would go through a confirmation ceremony in which they take on themselves the responsibility that was, up to that time, their parents’. (See my previous answer at What Does the Bible Say About..Confirmation?) This concept requires an erroneous understanding of the purpose of baptism. Along with others who deny that immersion is essential for salvation, they don’t understand that baptism is for the express purpose of removal of sin. Instead they see it as a promise that someone will be saved, or something that you do because you have been saved. Instead it is a conscious act by a repentant believer.

That last sentence leads into the way I deal with those who believe in baptizing infants. Throughout the book of Acts, and the New Testament as a whole, baptism was something that a person chose to submit to. There is no example in the Bible of someone being baptized who did not choose to be baptized. (See my article at The King's Foot for a story about the difference between baptism and just getting dunked.) Furthermore, Peter told the people in his audience on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ death that they should “repent and be baptized.” (Acts 2:38) Without repentance, it is not biblical baptism but a bath. Likewise, faith is a prerequisite for biblical baptism. When the eunuch asked Philip what hindered him from being baptized, Philip answered that all he needed was to believe with all his heart. (Acts 8:37) Earlier in the same chapter the people of Samaria were baptized after they believed (Acts 8:12). Can a child who has no sin repent? Can a child, even if they were born with sin, repent? Can an infant believe? If not, they can never be biblically baptized.

Please go to my Topical List of Questions and look up the topic “baptism” for my previous answers about baptism, including why it is essential for salvation. That will also show where the Bible says you need more than just faith in order to be saved from sin.