My wrestling with the idea of baptizing children began in 2004, when my wife was pregnant with our first child. At the time, my struggle wasn’t about baptizing children, rather it was specifically about the baptizing of infants. I draw this distinction between baptizing infants and baptizing children because I believe it is an important one for this discussion. The issue of baptizing infants falls under the umbrella of what is known as padeobaptism, or as I prefer to call it, covenantal infant baptism. I don’t intend to discuss the baptism of infants here, but I draw the line between the two because I want to be clear that I am talking about credo (or confessional) baptism in this article. This is baptism, not based upon the covenantal promise given by God to parents, rather a person’s, in this case a child’s, confession of faith in Jesus.
Eventually my wife gave birth to our son, and 20 months later, our daughter. Since we were not attending a church that supported infant baptism, along with the fact that infant baptism wasn’t yet at the level of a conviction for me, we never baptized either of our kids as infants. Despite my leanings towards, and growing conviction concerning, covenantal infant baptism, it was when my son turned 5 and daughter turned 3 that I knew it was “too late” for me to baptize my kids based on the padeo-baptist framework. So, I was left wondering what to do. At what age, or what time should I discuss baptism with my kids? If they, at a very young age, say they want to be baptized, should I let them? What if I don’t think they are regenerate? What if I’m not sure of the state of their soul before God? What if I’m not sure they really grasp the truth of the Gospel? What am I to do? These were my wrestling.
On April 4, 2010, my wrestlings were resolved as both my children (ages 3 and 5) chose to enter the waters of baptism in obedience to Christ’s command, and as a declaration of faith to the Church and the world. As a father, I was both encouraged and enthralled to welcome my children as brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ. Their baptism, like all the faithful before them, is valid, fruitful, and efficacious. Theirs is no “mock” baptism, trial run, or kiddy version. Like the faithful before and after them, my kids were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Now, the purpose of the post, article, paper, or whatever you want to call it, is to explain the basis for which I believe it is appropriate and right for churches to baptize young children under a credo-baptism framework. For the sake of clarity, I will be using the term “young confessing children” throughout and, by this I mean those children under the age of 6 (+/-) who confess to have faith in Jesus as both their Lord and Savior.
My hope is that the arguments below will help give other parents and pastors food for thought in this critical area of church life.