Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 10, 1958
NUMBER 48, PAGE 3a,5b

Foolish Preaching On Infant Baptism (No. I)

James E. Cooper, Campbellsville, Kentucky

In our last article we showed that infant damnation is a logical consequence of the doctrine of inherited depravity. In this article we shall take another step and see that infant baptism is the result of the idea of infant damnation because of original sin.

The practice of infant baptism prevailed because its originators took one truth, and mixed it with one error. The truth is that baptism is "for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38.) The error is that infants are born depraved sinners. If a child died without baptism, it was thought to be damned and lost, having never been baptized. Hence, the practice of infant baptism was begun. In The Faith of Our Fathers, page 221, James Cardinal Gibbons tells us, "The Church teaches that Baptism is necessary for all, for infants as well as adults, and her doctrine rests on the following ground: Our Lord says to Nicodemus: 'Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' These words embrace the whole human family, without regard to age or sex . ..." On page 223 he says, "every child is, therefore, defiled at its birth with the taint of Adam's disobedience. Now, the Scripture says that nothing defiled can enter the kingdom of heaven (Rev. 21:27). Hence, Baptism, which washes away original sin, is as essential for the infant as for the full grown man, in order to attain the kingdom of heaven." These quotations are sufficient to show that our diagnosis is correct. One truth and one error were married in the early aposasy and brought forth their first child, infant baptism. Since the truth involved is perverted with the error, this is also a false doctrine, and to teach it is "foolish preaching."

The first mention, in any form, of infant baptism was in the first quarter of the third century A. D. History records that Tertullian condemned it. His words as translated by the distinguished pedobaptist, Dr. Wall, in his History of Infant Baptism, Vol. 1, page 94, are: "Our Lord says indeed, do not forbid them to come. Therefore let them come when they are grown up; let them come when they understand. when they are instructed whither it is that they come; let them be made Christians when they can know Christ. What need their guiltless age make of such haste to the forgiveness of sins!" Thus, Tertullian advocated waiting until children were old enough to be instructed and understand. He called the age of infancy the "guiltless age," and ridiculed the haste some were making to "Christianize" their infants. He opposed infant baptism.

The next mention recorded by history is that of Origin, who lived about the same time as Tertullian, and advocated infant baptism. On what grounds? As we have already suggested, it was because he thought infants were born totally depraved. He said: "If there were nothing in infants that wanted forgiveness and mercy, the grace of baptism would be needless to them." Again, "Having occasion given in this place, I will mention a thing that causes frequent inquiries among the brethren. Infants are baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Of what sins, or when have they sinned? Or how can any reason of the laver in their case hold good, but according to that sense that we mentioned even now; none is free from pollution though his life be but of the length of one day upon the earth? And it is for that reason because by the sacrament of baptism the pollution of our birth is taken away, that infants are baptized." (Wall, Vol. 1, pages 104-105.) Friend, if it had not been for the doctrine of infant damnation as a result of inherited depravity, there would have been no suggestion of the doctrine of infant baptism.

Many Protestant denominations repudiate the doctrine of infant damnation, but continue to practice infant baptism. We might put the question to them that was put to Origin, Why? Are they baptized for the remission of sins? If so, whose sins? When have they sinned? Our friends who practice infant baptism do not believe that baptism is for the remission of sin, but they baptize their babies. They believe that babies are born totally depraved, but they won't accept the logical consequence of infant damnation. Why do you practice infant baptism? Sometimes folk call it "Christening," or "infant dedication," but it still is the same action and ceremony. Why do you continue to practice it, if you don't believe the doctrine of infant damnation? Why don't you be consistent and either accept both or reject both?

Perhaps it is simply that what is called infant "baptism" is done that little children might be bound to the sects of their forefathers. These sectarian institutions are dying a slow death, and they want to hold every child born into a family to keep it (the denomination) from dying completely. If this is not the reason why you practice infant baptism, please tell me why you practice it. Do you believe the little infant will die and go to hell if you don't baptize it? Do you really believe the doctrine of infant damnation? Or, are you just trying to keep these young folk from hearing the gospel of Christ and obeying it? Many have been deceived into thinking that they have obeyed their Lord in baptism because of the practice of "infant baptism." Why don't the preachers come right out and tell the people the truth? Which are they doing? Baptizing babies because they are damned, or because they don't want them to learn the truth and leave sectarianism?

Did I hear someone say that Jesus said: "suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven?" Now, friend, do you think Jesus is authorizing you to drag a howling, protesting, kicking, screaming, little child up to let some preacher sprinkle a few drops of water in its face and call it "baptism?" Jesus did not say, "bring the little children to me."' He said to let them come. When he said forbid them not to come, he indicated that they must be old enough to want to come of their own volition, without being dragged.

Somebody else says that Jesus told us to teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit . . . And little babies are in the nations. They conclude that babies must be baptized. But, notice, Jesus first said to "teach" all nations. You cannot teach the infant to believe in Christ. You can't teach him to repent. You can't even teach him to be baptized. If you practice infant baptism, you ignore the "teach" and want to take the "baptize" only. Furthermore, I wonder why those who argue for infant baptism on this ground don't go out into the heathen, ignorant world, and take all the savages who are ignorant of God's Word and herd them all together and sprinkle water on them while they are still untaught. If it is proper and right to baptize babies while they are ignorant of God's Word, why isn't it proper and right to baptize heathens while they are ignorant of the Word? Probably the difference is that untaught savages put up a bigger struggle than the untaught baby.

Some think infant baptism is authorized in the Bible. They think that when the household of Cornelius and others were baptized that there must have been some infants baptized. Nothing is mentioned in the New Testament about infants in those households. It is mere assumption to say that these households had infants in them, and that these infants were baptized like the grownups. On the other hand, there are statements in the accounts of household conversions that indicate that there were no infants present.

Cornelius feared God with "all his house." Does that include infants? If so, they were old enough to "fear God." In Acts 16:32, Paul and Silas spake unto the jailor and "to all that were in his house." If this included infants, they were old enough to be preached to, and to understand the preaching. In verse 34, after being baptized, they returned to his house and "he sat meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." Those who were baptized from the jailor's household were old enough to believe. Infants cannot believe, nor understand, the preaching and are not subjects of baptism.

Friend, babies are not lost. They are safe. Notice what I said; they are S-A-F-E. Since they are not lost, they do not need to be saved. They have no need of redemption, because they are not lost. They are not capable of hearing and understanding the gospel. They are equally as incapable of believing it as they are of disbelieving it. They can do neither. They do not have the ability to repent of their sins, if they had any sins. They cannot confess faith in Christ, if they were able to believe. They are not able to render personal obedience to the command to be baptized. They do not have the ability to rejoice in the consciousness of sins forgiven.

Somebody wants to know, "What harm is there in it, anyway?" Friends, the Bible does not mention it. Since the Bible does not mention it, it is will-worship, founded on the wisdom of men, and has carnalized and secularized the "church" more than anything else by initiating unconverted people into its "membership." It imposes a religion upon the subjects of it before they are aware of it, and thus deprives them the liberty of conscience in choosing that which they have examined, and in refusing that which they disapproved. It is all harm, and no good.