Baptism: How Early?

Baptism: How Early? April 2, 2012

This post is for (or about) credo-baptists, or for those who don’t practice infant baptism, and are discussing at what age a person can be baptized. That is, at what age does a person become responsible enough to be baptized?

Traditionally, many baptize at “the age of accountability,” which often means about 12 or so. Or when a child/person professes Christ and seeks baptism and offers a credible witness of personal faith. This leads to regular discussions about whether a child/young person is mature enough to be making his or her decision or whether that decision is the result of parental education, church education, parental pressure or church pressure.

My own theory is this: for credo-baptists, baptism should not happen until a person has individuated — that is, has begun to form his or her own self-identity. This puts me at odds at times with those who will baptize a four or five year old because they have made some kind of expression of faith. This especially puts me at odds with some parents who think I’m questioning the salvation of their child, etc. But here’s the point: if you believe a person should not be baptized until they have made a credible confession of faith, then that shouldn’t happen until that person adequately understands what he or she is getting into. The best expression of credo-baptism in the history of the church was the Anabaptists of the 16th Century, for whom baptism was (deadly) serious.

This post was provoked by a letter from a reader who was responding to a post by Tim Challies.  Here is that letter:

I thought you might be interested in reading this post from Tim Challies

(http://www.challies.com/articles/at-what-age-should-we-baptize#disqus_thread)

that discusses whether or not we should baptize children professing to be Christians. In your book the King Jesus Gospel you say that there are three responses to the gospel we must make, namely, repentance, faith and baptism. Many of the baptists presented in this article believe there should be a waiting period (either by age or maturity) before baptizing a child.

Is it just me or does this fly in the face of what the new testament teaches on this subject?

Have a good one!

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