Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Hypocrisy of Paedobaptism

This is just a little thought that has been brewing for a while. There seems to be a real hypocrisy in many Baptist churches. They would turn red and blustery at the evils of paedobaptism. Many Baptists could hardly say the word without spitting! But then they will turn around and baptize little Bobby or Suzy who prayed to “ask Jesus to come into my heart” last week after a sermon on hell. Now before you start quothing “let the little children come…,” I must quickly say that I am in no way opposed to little children being led to the Lord. What I am saying however, is that if we are going to practice believer's baptism should we not have a clear definition of what that is.

My definition of a believer is, “one who has repented of sin and believed in Christ alone for salvation from the wrath of God.” This requires not just a prayer and an altar trip but some time to show that it is real repentance and faith. This is one reason why the early church often made converts wait years to be baptized.

I think everyone knows some child, born into a church-going family who made an early profession of faith and was baptized only to go astray as a teenager and end up as an adult who has no interest in church. How hard would it be to allow such a child to grow and mature and defer their baptism until the age of say, sixteen. Would it really be so bad to examine teenagers and ask if they are really showing a life characterized by a love of God and love for others?

Is there not a fundamental hypocrisy in standing on the doctrine of believer's baptism and then baptizing those who have been given no time to show that they truly are believers.

1 comment:

Kris Stephens said...

Great thoughts here, Jon. I've wondered the same thing about the people that we baptize, but I had never related it to paedobaptism. I would say that there is not a 1-to-1 correspondence between the two, though. The paedobaptist has a different opinion of what the baptism is actually doing and symbolizing than the baptist who might baptize prematurely one who has made a profession of faith.

Having said that, I do agree that sometimes we are too quick to baptize. I'm not sure that I would require that they wait as long as you suggest, but would not be opposed to the idea. FWIW, I'm going to be baptizing Emma this Sunday night. She has been asking about it off and on for over a year, but I haven't felt that she was ready until now (she's 7 1/2). She understands the Gospel, her faith seems to be genuine, God certainly seems to be at work in her life, and she responds well to that. In my mind, she is showing marks of a true believer, she understands that baptism is a matter of obedience, not something that adds to her salvation, so I believe that she is ready to be baptized.

Just my two cents!