My dad stated a while back that infant baptism was instituted in response to Islam. I checked this out and found it to be a lie (again, I’m not even certain what extent Protestants can be labeled as honest any more). Of course his protests are that it was then instituted around the time original sin was invented (shows how week the case is). To which he came back the other day with the same statement. Every time though that I tell him to actually read relevant Church fathers on this subject, he just gloats that he’s right and then goes on and on about how we need to totally reject baptism and modernize.
So, this is in defense of infant baptism. I was never baptized as a Protestant. Most Protestants have this entire concept of an “age of reason” (as you might have guessed, Protestants don’t agree what this is) for when a child (actually, not a child since children can’t profess faith but…you get it) professes faith and is now officially ready to be baptized. The Evangelical Covenant Church, having stemmed from a Lutheran tradition, still maintains both teachings. But this is mostly in defense of infant baptism.
It certainly was not instituted as a response of any sort to Muslims. This goes down the drain when rationally considered in light of different Church fathers. This probably won’t stop my father from making this argument against the Catholic and Orthodox faiths again but it certainly will show the entire argument to be void of any truth in it whatsoever.
For He came to save all through means of Himself— all, I say, who through Him are born again to God — infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2.22)
This error however, of yours, by which you think that this scripture was spoken of infants who die unbaptized, does an intolerable wrong to the holy laver itself, if an infant, who could have been “hurried away” after baptism, has been “hurried away” before this, for this reason:— “lest wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul.” (St. Augustine, On The Soul and Its Origin, 3.14)
The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. For the Apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries, knew that there is in everyone the innate stains of sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit. (Origen, Commentaries on Romans, qtd. in Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers: Pre-Nicene and Nicene eras)
I might be mistaken on this one considering that I am not an Islamic studies student but I’m fairly certain that Muslims weren’t around in the seventh century B.C.E. which would have to be the case if my dad’s arguments are to hold up on this. Which is why he has to re-emphasize his next argument which is that it centers around original sin. Yes, it centered around sin but he blames St. Augustine for having invented it.
But inasmuch as it was by these things that we disobeyed God, and did not give credit to His word, so was it also by these same that He brought in obedience and consent as respects His Word; by which things He clearly shows forth God Himself, whom indeed we had offended in the first Adam, when he did not perform His commandment. (Irneaeus, Against Heresies, 5.16.3)
So Irenaeus fuelled the doctrine of original sin or came up with the concept? The problem is when a Protestant attempts to attack the doctrines of the Catholic Church or Eastern Orthodox Church on a strictly historical basis, it never works out for them. My dad has stated that the deuterocanonical works of the Catholic Church were added in the 16th century C.E. Since most of his Protestant friends aren’t historians, they generally buy everything he says. My Hebrew professor last semester stated that at least Sirach was well-accepted in the canon of scriptures until Martin Luther came along. Since my Hebrew professor has relevant education and training, I think I’ll go with his statement (my dad’s an engineer).
Back to infant baptism though. I think it is quite obvious, and I would no doubt follow my older sister on this one, that baptism is a command that we are supposed to follow (Matt. 28:18-20). That seems to be the only reason why advocates of adult baptism still practice baptism. But what I want to ultimately know from adult baptism advocates is exactly what the age of reason is. Adult baptism advocates throw out this age of reason as if everyone agrees on the same age. It’s just a ridiculous set of arguments. But to ultimately top it off, adult baptism becomes nothing more than an act that shows everyone else how self-righteous you are. This has always been the symptom I’ve noticed amongst friends who have been baptized as adults. “Yay! I’m getting baptized! I’m uber-Christian now!” My dad at least wants to do away with baptism all-together and make the sign that someone’s a Christian their facebook post.
Following this line, baptism, whether figurative or literal, in the “believer’s baptism” agenda simply becomes an act of showing everyone else you’ve made a profession to the Christian faith and that you are greater than the rest. This is why I never chose to be baptized growing up. I always wanted to be baptized but the Evangelical non-denominational Church I was brought up in always taught that baptism was for the believer only and I never knew if I would go out as a candle the next day afterwards and have made a mistake. With baptismal regeneration, baptism changes you into a new person even if not immediately. I hate the arrogance of “Christians” that have been baptized as adults who think that adult baptism is the rage or no baptism is the rage. “Yay! I’m uber-Christian now! I got baptized! Have you been baptized? No? Heathen! Oh, never mind, you made the profession on facebook, I see. Never mind!” What if I just want to believe without having to pray a stupid “sinner’s prayer”? Did you know that I wasn’t even considered a Christian by my family until after I prayed that prayer? Did you know that after you pray that prayer, you get to Heaven no matter what (allegedly)? At least I was taught that growing up.