Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 14, 1956

"Grape-Nuts," "Christian Science" And "Infant Baptism"

Keith T. Thompson, Owen Sound, Ontario

The late Bishop J. Taylor Smith, of the Church of England, visited the United States a few years before his death and upon his return to England he was asked what he thought of America. He answered, "Very wonderful and very curious." When asked to illustrate his reply, he answered, "Wonderful? Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and the whole people. Curious? Grape-nuts and Christian Science. They have a breakfast food which they call grape-nuts and it has in it neither grapes nor nuts. They have a religion which they call Christian Science and it has in it neither Christianity nor science." Those acquainted with the dogmas of "Christian Science" will readily agree with this Anglican prelate's appraisal. But, along with other prominent denominations, this "Bishop's" church has fostered a practice equally incongruous and inconsistent as those he cited on his return to his homeland. I speak of the widespread practice known to the world as "Infant Baptism." As far as God's Word is concerned there is actually no such thing as "infant baptism." Whenever, in our discussion we use that expression it will be in a purely accommodative sense. That is, we will accommodate ourselves to the prevalent usage of the term, even though we believe the term to involve an impossibility. We prefer the phrase "infant sprinkling" as more accurate in its description of what actually takes place. Our purpose is to show that God's Word neither authorizes, sanctions nor permits "infant baptism." We trust that we will prove to those who claim to have been baptized as infants that they never have been baptized at all and are therefore in need of scriptural baptism.

First, "infant baptism" cannot be established by the Bible. There are three recognized means of proving a practice to be scriptural: (1) A Direct Statement or Command; (2) An Approved Example; or (3) A Necessary Inference.

It is admitted by leading scholars of the denominations that observe this practice that it cannot be established by the Bible. They admit that no direct statement or command can be found to authorize it. For instance, John Henry Newman (Roman Catholic), Parochial and Plain 'Sermons, Vol. VII, p. 219: "It is but fair and right to acknowledge that the 'Scripture does not bid us baptize children." Henry Alford (Church of England), Contemporary Review, VIX, March 1869, p. 329: "They ought to declare that infant baptism was a practice unknown to the apostles." Similar quotations are available from such outstanding scholars and church historians as Luther, Neander, Schaff, Meyer and Moshiem. Here is an interesting statement from Dr. Arthur P. Stanley, who was for many years Dean of Westminster Abbey, and a leading scholar in the Church of England. "In the apostolic age, and in the three centuries which followed, it is evident that, as a general rule, those who came to baptism came in full age, of their own deliberate choice. We find a few cases of the baptism of children in the third century; we find one of the baptism of infants. Even among Christian households, the instances of Chrysostom, Gregory, Nazrazen, Basil, Ephrem of Edessa, Augustine, Ambrose, are decisive proofs that it was not only not obligatory, but not usual. All these distinguished personages had Christian parents, and yet were not baptized until they reached maturity. The old liturgical service of baptism was framed for full-grown converts, and is only by adaptation applied to the case of infants." (Christian Institutions, p. 19, 20.)

Can an approved example be found for the practice in question? If any baby was baptized in the New Testament church, we ask, (1) Who did the baptizing? (2) Whose baby was it? (3) When was it done? (4) How was it done? (5) Why was it done?

Most of the arguments attempted from the scriptures to prove "infant baptism" fall under the "necessary inference" heading. But, an examination of these proves them to be UNnecessary inferences. For example, it is argued that there may have been infants present in some of the households that were baptized. As the household of Lydia (Acts 16:13-15) is often cited by the defendants of this practice, let us note the assumptions that must be made to even infer "infant baptism." It must be assumed (1) that Lydia was married; (2) that she had children; (3) that these children were infant children; and (4) that she had these children with her on a business trip three hundred miles from her home in Thyatira. Given assumptions like these one could prove that the devil is God!

"There is neither command nor precedent, neither implication nor allusion, expressed or implied, directly or remotely, in all the Holy Bible from the first word to the last word for infant baptism!"

Second, the examples of baptism in the New Testament demonstrate conclusively that infants are not subjects of baptism. The baptism of John the Baptist was obviously not for infants for it was "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." (Mark 1:3.) A survey of the examples of baptism in the book of Acts reveals that no infants were among those baptized. Acts 2:41 reads, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Since infants cannot "gladly receive" the word there could have been none in that group. Acts 8:12 says, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." Since the writer went into the detail of mentioning "men and women," if infants had been included would he not have mentioned them too? Acts 8:36, 27 relates the baptism of the Ethiopian who was treasurer of his country. Acts 9:18 mentions the baptism of Saul of Tarsus. Acts 10:48 gives Peter's command to Cornelius and his household to be baptized. (A household mature enough to fear God — Acts 10:2 — and speak in tongues.) (Acts 10:46.) Acts 16:15 tells of the baptism of Lydia and her household which we considered under the first point. The jailer and his house were all capable of hearing the word of the Lord and believing in God. (Acts 16:32-34.) Acts 18:8 says that "Many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." No infants here! Acts 19:5 records the baptism of a group of "disciples" (learners) who had previously been baptized under John's baptism.

Thus a consideration of the cases of baptism in the New Testament shows beyond any reasonable doubt that infants were not subjects of baptism.