Baptists who baptize infants

Baptists who baptize infants May 8, 2015

A Baptist minister has stirred controversy within his tradition by baptizing an infant.  Yet it has become a common practice to baptize children 5 years old, or even younger.  This all seems to be in the context of reconsidering what baptism is, that it is more than just a symbol.  (To be sure, one might think, “well, it’s just a symbol,” so what difference does it make?  But this seems to be something more, which we Lutherans can appreciate.)

After the jump, read the account of the pastor baptizing the baby, then read  a seminary president’s response.

From  Aiming to deepen rite’s meaning, Baptist pastor in Ohio baptizes infant:

There are plenty of Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist churches in Dayton, Ohio, where parents could have an infant child baptized.

But one local couple wanted Rodney Kennedy to baptize their 7-month-old son, even though they knew there was one hurdle to overcome: Kennedy is pastor at First Baptist Church in Dayton.

And Baptists — both generally and specifically — do not baptize infants.

“We knew that asking Rod, he might say no,” said Lucas, the boy’s father who requested only his first name be used in this article.

But Kennedy did not say no, and during worship on Sunday, April 19, he conducted his and his church’s first-ever infant baptism.

“And the congregation burst into applause,” Kennedy told Baptist News Global. “And they don’t applaud much.”

But the time between the request and Kennedy’s “yes” was filled with a month of prayer and discussion between the pastor and leaders of the American Baptist Churches USA congregation.

And informing all of that has been years of increasingly liturgical practice for the church and Kennedy, who describes himself as “somewhat Catholic-Baptist.”

“I already accepted the validity of infant baptism and we don’t make people get baptized” if they were baptized as infants before joining First Baptist, he said.

Since that’s been the church policy for 50 years, Kennedy said it made sense for him to participate in the practice, too.

Even so, Kennedy said the rite had a different feel to it than most baptisms.

“There was an overpowering sense that this was the right thing to do, and there was a sense of God’s presence there,” he said. “It was just a really high and holy moment.”

 [Keep reading. . .]

There are plenty of Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist churches in Dayton, Ohio, where parents could have an infant child baptized.

But one local couple wanted Rodney Kennedy to baptize their 7-month-old son, even though they knew there was one hurdle to overcome: Kennedy is pastor at First Baptist Church in Dayton.

And Baptists — both generally and specifically — do not baptize infants.

“We knew that asking Rod, he might say no,” said Lucas, the boy’s father who requested only his first name be used in this article.

But Kennedy did not say no, and during worship on Sunday, April 19, he conducted his and his church’s first-ever infant baptism.

“And the congregation burst into applause,” Kennedy told Baptist News Global. “And they don’t applaud much.”

But the time between the request and Kennedy’s “yes” was filled with a month of prayer and discussion between the pastor and leaders of the American Baptist Churches USA congregation.

And informing all of that has been years of increasingly liturgical practice for the church and Kennedy, who describes himself as “somewhat Catholic-Baptist.”

RodneyKennedy
Rodney Kennedy

“I already accepted the validity of infant baptism and we don’t make people get baptized” if they were baptized as infants before joining First Baptist, he said.

Since that’s been the church policy for 50 years, Kennedy said it made sense for him to participate in the practice, too.

Even so, Kennedy said the rite had a different feel to it than most baptisms.

“There was an overpowering sense that this was the right thing to do, and there was a sense of God’s presence there,” he said. “It was just a really high and holy moment.”

– See more at: http://baptistnews.com/faith/theology/item/30022-baptist-pastor-in-ohio-baptizes-infant#sthash.RtI8H4s2.dpuf

There are plenty of Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist churches in Dayton, Ohio, where parents could have an infant child baptized.

But one local couple wanted Rodney Kennedy to baptize their 7-month-old son, even though they knew there was one hurdle to overcome: Kennedy is pastor at First Baptist Church in Dayton.

And Baptists — both generally and specifically — do not baptize infants.

“We knew that asking Rod, he might say no,” said Lucas, the boy’s father who requested only his first name be used in this article.

But Kennedy did not say no, and during worship on Sunday, April 19, he conducted his and his church’s first-ever infant baptism.

“And the congregation burst into applause,” Kennedy told Baptist News Global. “And they don’t applaud much.”

But the time between the request and Kennedy’s “yes” was filled with a month of prayer and discussion between the pastor and leaders of the American Baptist Churches USA congregation.

And informing all of that has been years of increasingly liturgical practice for the church and Kennedy, who describes himself as “somewhat Catholic-Baptist.”

RodneyKennedy
Rodney Kennedy

“I already accepted the validity of infant baptism and we don’t make people get baptized” if they were baptized as infants before joining First Baptist, he said.

Since that’s been the church policy for 50 years, Kennedy said it made sense for him to participate in the practice, too.

Even so, Kennedy said the rite had a different feel to it than most baptisms.

“There was an overpowering sense that this was the right thing to do, and there was a sense of God’s presence there,” he said. “It was just a really high and holy moment.”

– See more at: http://baptistnews.com/faith/theology/item/30022-baptist-pastor-in-ohio-baptizes-infant#sthash.RtI8H4s2.dpuf

From Seminary president says Southern Baptists drifting toward infant baptism, Baptist News Service:

While a recent Baptist News Global story about a Baptist church in Ohio sprinkling an infant is newsworthy, baptizing babies isn’t as far-fetched as many conservative Southern Baptist churches assume, a seminary president said in a May 4 blog.

Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., said the first-ever infant baptism at First Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, made news because “by definition, a Baptist church does not baptize infants.”

Allen said progressives, however, aren’t the only ones revisiting the rite of “believer’s baptism” in Baptist churches.

“Within Southern Baptist life, we have been on a steady march towards infant baptism, routinely baptizing children younger and younger in age,” Allen said.

A North American Mission Board task force on baptism and evangelism in 2014 found the only consistently growing age group in Southern Baptist Convention baptisms is 5 and under. Allen said the trend should prompt careful reflection and remind Southern Baptists of some of the dangers associated with baptizing young children.

“As a convictional Baptist, it is hard for me to admit this, but when we baptize children too young to grasp the gospel and, as a result, whose hearts haven’t been affected by it, it is more troubling than a sprinkling of an infant,” Allen said.

“Why is this? Because when Presbyterians, for example, sprinkle infants, they anticipate the child will one day be converted. When we baptize young children we are testifying they have been converted.”

And Lutherans baptized young children as a means of converting them.  But still. .  .


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