Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 9, 1953

Infant Baptism

Jack Holt, Indianapolis, Indiana

The practice of infant baptism grew out of two misconceptions of God's Word. First: the teaching that infants are born guilty of original sin; or that the sin of Adam attaches to all of his posterity; by some it is called, "Hereditary Total Depravity." By which is simply meant that the infant inherits a corrupt nature from Adam and must needs be pardoned or it will be lost. Second: the view was entertained by some that baptism in water was the only means of cleansing the infant from the original sin or depravity. The men who held this view well knew that belief was essential to salvation, they also knew that repentance was commanded. But, it is evident that an infant can do neither, therefore upon baptism and baptism alone they conditioned the forgiveness of sins.

Perhaps this quotation from the pen of John Wesley will be to the point. "As to the grounds of it, (speaking about infant baptism), if infants are guilty of original sin, then they are proper subjects of baptism: seeing in the ordinary way, they cannot be saved, unless this be washed away by baptism. It has been already proved that this original sin cleaves to eternal damnation...infants need to be washed from original sin: therefore they are proper subjects of baptism." (Wesley's Works, miscellaneous, Vol. 2, p. 16)

Hence, John Wesley says that since infants are guilty of original sin, and since the Bible supposedly teaches that baptism is for the remission of sins, it follows that infants must be baptized or be lost.

Friends, let me point out to you a few of the terrible consequences of this doctrine of original sin. First, if the doctrine of original sin be true, and if baptism alone is that which cleanses, it must follow that all babies that are not baptized will be lost. Can you believe such? Yet it is being taught today.

The doctrine of original sin is not found in the Bible. There is not one passage in all of God's word that would lead anyone to believe that we are all born in sin. But oftentimes people ask the question, "If babies are not guilty of sin, then why do they suffer." The trouble with people who ask this question is that they cannot separate suffering from sin. They have the mistaken idea, that if you suffer, that proves you are guilty of some sin. But, the fact that one suffers does not mean that he is guilty of sin. Christ suffered while in the flesh, but this certainly does not imply that he was guilty.

The Bible teaches in three ways. First, by command. Second, by example. Third by necessary inference. Infant baptism is not commanded: there is not one example of it being done, and the inference for its practice is lacking. Martin Luther says, of the practice, "It cannot be proved by the sacred scriptures that infant baptism was instituted by Christ, or begun by the first Christians after the apostles." Mr. Henry Ward Beecher said, "He had no authority for the baptism of infants." Hence, the scholars who practice infant baptism readily admit that they have no authority for the same.

The only authority anyone has for administering baptism in this dispensation is the great commission of our Lord. According to Matthews account Jesus said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

The command is to "teach all nations," and baptize them, that is the taught, the command is not to baptize men and women as such, but to baptize the taught. These are the only ones to be baptized. Infants cannot t be taught the word of God, hence they are not subjects of baptism.

Perhaps Mark in his account of the great commission makes it a little plainer. As recorded by Mark it reads, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: he that believeth not shall be damned." From this account we can readily see that it is the believer that is to be baptized. We can also see what is to be believed, the gospel of Christ. Infants, certainly then, cannot be believers; hence they are not subjects of baptism.

The great commission began to be executed on the first Pentecost after the ascension of Christ. If we will but examine the preaching of the apostles and other inspired men from this date onward, we can find out how they interpreted the commission. On the day of Pentecost the apostles were endued with power from on high. After a great crowd had gathered Peter spake unto them. By preaching, he convicted them of their sins. Being pricked in their hearts they cried out, saying, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said unto them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized and there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (verse 41)

If we will just examine this case we will find that there were no infants among the three thousand that were baptized. There were certainly no infants among those who cried out for they spake in an intelligible voice, saying, "Brethren what shall we do?" Could an infant do that? Moreover only those who "received his word" were baptized. Can an infant receive the word? Again there were no infants included in Peter's preaching, for he commanded all those who cried out to repent...can an infant repent? Thus we see that infants are not included in the great commission.

Additional observations concerning infant baptism:

1. The Bible does not mention it.

2. It is done in the name of the Father, but the Father does not require it.

3. It is done in the name of the Son, but the Son never taught it.

4. It is done in the name of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit never authorized it.

5. It is practiced not only without the will of the child, but often against it.

6. All who were baptized continued the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and in prayers. Can an infant do this? Those today who accept infants as church members deny them the Lord's Supper. Why? If they are members they are commanded to partake of it. In New Testament times every member of the church could partake of the Lord's Supper.

But let me ask these questions. If any baby was baptized in New Testament times: Who did the baptizing? Whose baby was it? When was it done? How was it done? Why was it done? The Bible is as silent as a tomb concerning any of these.