Why Do Catholics “Baptize” Infants?

Many believers and skeptics along with some Catholics wonder, “Why do Catholics baptize infants?” Yet, Catholics admit that they do not actually baptize according to the baptism that Christ instituted. Read the words of the Roman Catholic church for yourself. By “baptism”, the Roman Catholic church means sprinkling, and it is true that the Roman church can accept pouring and immersion too. The Roman Catholic church admits to having changed baptism from immersion into sprinkling and pouring. They recognize that Biblical baptism is immersion. The Roman Catholic denomination states,

The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion. This is not only evident from the writings of the Fathers and the early rituals of both the Latin and Oriental Churches, but it can also be gathered from the Epistles of St. Paul, who speaks of baptism as a bath (Ephesians 5:26; Romans 6:4; Titus 3:5). In the Latin Church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as the sixteenth century. Infusion and aspersion, however, were growing common in the thirteenth century and gradually prevailed in the Western Church. The Oriental Churches have retained immersion, though not always in the sense of plunging the candidate’s entire body below the water.” (Fanning, W. (1907). Baptism. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved June 4, 2013 from New Advent: newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm. emp. added.).

The Roman Catholic church recognizes that their “baptism” is not Biblical or the original. They also note the words of earlier Christian writers stating,

“The same is taught by the Fathers. St. Justin Martyr (First Apology 66) declares that in baptism we are created anew, that is, consequently, free from all stain of sin. St. Ambrose (On the Mysteries 3) says of baptism: ‘This is the water in which the flesh is submerged that all carnal sin may be washed away. Every transgression is there buried.’ Tertullian (On Baptism 7) writes: ‘Baptism is a carnal act in as much as we are submerged in the water; but the effect is spiritual, for we are freed from our sins.'” (ibid.).

Immersion for baptism was the Biblical mode of baptism and the only mode of baptism. Baptism is transliterated from the Greek baptizo meaning “immersion, dunk, submerge”. This is clear from the baptisms described in the Bible of those going into the water (Acts 8:38). Baptisms required much water (John 3:23, cf. Acts 10:47-48). The meaning of baptism is to be buried with Christ (Rom. 6:4, Col. 2:12). The Roman Catholic church has admittedly changed the baptism that Christ established and the Apostles taught and practiced.

Yet, they still profess a belief in “baptizing” infants, because Augustine defended this practice. The Roman Catholic sect professes,

“St. Augustine (On the Soul, Book III) says ‘If you wish to be a Catholic, do not believe, nor say, nor teach, that infants who die before baptism can obtain the remission of original sin.‘ A still stronger passage from the same doctor (Epistle 28) reads: ‘Whoever says that even infants are vivified in Christ when they depart this life without the participation of His Sacrament (Baptism), both opposes the Apostolic preaching and condemns the whole Church which hastens to baptize infants, because it unhesitatingly believes that otherwise they can not possibly be vivified in Christ,'” (ibid. emp. added).

As the following quotes will show, the Roman Catholic church is diligent to affirm that infants must be sprinkled as “baptism” or be “deprived of the happiness of heaven”.

While Jesus said in the present tense about little children, “for the kingdom of heaven is of these” (Matt. 19:14), the Roman Catholic church does not understand that this refers to children being eternally safe from condemnation, because children have never sinned (Rom. 4:15, 5:13). Yet, the Roman church believes in “original sin”, which has no basis in the words of Christ or His Apostles and prophets. The Roman Catholic church thinks,

“Original sin may be taken to mean: (1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam. […]

Besides, even before the use of reason, sin is already in the soul, according to the data of Tradition regarding the baptism of children and the sin contracted by generation” (Harent, Stéphane. Original Sin. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 22 Feb. 2012: from New Advent: newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm. emp. added).

The Roman Catholic church recognizes that infants and children are not mentioned to have been baptized in the Bible. Yet, the Roman church infers that infants are not excluded from baptism, and that the references to households being baptized in the Bible included babies and little children. The Roman Catholic sect admits,

The Catholic Church, however, maintains absolutely that the law of Christ applies as well to infants as to adults. When the Redeemer declares (John 3) that it is necessary to be born again of water and the Holy Ghost in order to enter the Kingdom of God, His words may be justly understood to mean that He includes all who are capable of having a right to this kingdom. Now, He has asserted such a right even for those who are not adults, when He says (Matthew 19:14): ‘Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for [“of”, Catholics added “for”] such.’ […]

Moreover, St. Paul (Colossians 2) says that baptism in the New Law has taken the place of circumcision in the Old. It was especially to infants that the rite of circumcision was applied by Divine precept. If it be said that there is no example of the baptism of infants to be found in the Bible, we may answer that infants are included in such phrases as: ‘She was baptized and her household’ (Acts 16:15); ‘Himself was baptized, and all his house immediately’ (Acts 16:33); ‘I baptized the household of Stephanus’ (1 Corinthians 1:16).”  (Fanning, W. (1907). Baptism. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved June 4, 2013 from New Advent: newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm. emp. added).

The Roman Catholic church overlooks that Jesus instructed that belief come before baptism (Mark 16:16). They dismiss that repentance also came before baptism in the Bible (Acts 2:38, Rom. 6:4-6, Col. 2:11-13). They refuse to see that infants and little children cannot accomplish these essentials of faith and repentance, and that these households in scripture did not include babies and little children being baptized. Concerning baptism, this catholic Roman church declares,

“To the objection that baptism requires faith, theologians reply that adults must have faith, but infants receive habitual faith, which is infused into them in the sacrament of regeneration. As to actual faith, they believe on the faith of another” (ibid. emp. added).

This is not in the Bible, and the Bible is the only source for Christ’s words. Christ is perfect and so are His words (Heb. 4:15, 1 Pet. 2:22). Yet, the Roman Catholic confession has no confirmation from Christ. Christ is not their Prince of Peace.

What if an infant is not baptized before he dies? The Roman Catholic sect admits,

“The fate of infants who die without baptism must be briefly considered here. The Catholic teaching is uncompromising on this point, that all who depart this life without baptism, be it of water, or blood, or desire, are perpetually excluded from the vision of God. This teaching is grounded, as we have seen, on Scripture and tradition, and the decrees of the Church. Moreover, that those who die in original sin, without ever having contracted any actual sin, are deprived of the happiness of heaven” (ibid. emp. added).

Regarding the pain of eternal separation from God, the Roman Catholic church must now reason,

“Since the twelfth century, the opinion of the majority of theologians has been that unbaptized infants are immune from all pain of sense. This was taught by St. Thomas Aquinas, Scotus, St. Bonaventure, Peter Lombard, and others, and is now the common teaching in the schools. It accords with the wording of a decree of Pope Innocent III (III Decr., xlii, 3): ‘The punishment of original sin is the deprivation of the vision of God; of actual sin, the eternal pains of hell.’ Infants, of course, can not be guilty of actual sin.” (ibid. emp. added).

How do Roman Catholics defend an infant being deprived of heaven as just? They admit,

Finally it must be borne in mind that unbaptized infants, if deprived of heaven, would not be deprived unjustly. The vision of God is not something to which human beings have a natural claim. It is a free gift of the Creator who can make what conditions He chooses for imparting it or withholding it. No injustice is involved when an undue privilege is not conferred upon a person. Original sin deprived the human race of an unearned right to heaven. Through the Divine mercy this bar to the enjoyment of God is removed by baptism; but if baptism be not conferred, original sin remains, and the unregenerated soul, having no claim on heaven, is not unjustly excluded from it.

As to the question, whether in addition to freedom from the pain of sense, unbaptized infants enjoy any positive happiness in the next world, theologians are not agreed, nor is there any pronouncement of the Church on the subject.” (ibid. emp. added).

There is the Roman Catholic “baptism” in their own words. Why do Catholics “baptize” infants? What do you think?


About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
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8 Responses to Why Do Catholics “Baptize” Infants?

  1. of course like your web-site but you need to take a look at the spelling on quite a few
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    find it very troublesome to inform the truth nevertheless I’ll definitely come back again.


  2. J. Victor,
    Scott’s been corrected many times (even with his use of The Didache and his nonsense about the Orthodox pre-dating the Roman rite). He (like almost every Church of Christ minister) does not allow nonconforming views that show he’s wrong (yet he argues that his sect is not a cult).

    Congrats to you on getting your post to stick, but if you continue to be reasonable he will not post your comments.


  3. J. Victor says:

    Simply because something’s been given the Imprimatur stamp it does not make it universally authoritative. The imprimatur is issued by a bishop and bishops are not considered to be infallible. There have in fact been many bishops throughout history who’ve been heretics. As for the Catholic Encyclopedia, it is probably ok but the writing is so ridiculously nebulous that most Catholics don’t even refer to it. This is why I recommended going to the source documents which have Papal approval. They are much easier to follow and they are unquestionably authoritative of the entire Church. I further recommended the Catholic Answers website since it is extremely user friendly and they cover every controversial issue of the Catholic Church you can think of. They are not authoritative either but as opposed to the Encyclopedia they are much easier to follow.

    As for your claim that the Didache does not contain any mention of Baptism by sprinkling I beg to differ. Below is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the document.

    And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19 in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

    Doesn’t sound like full immersion to me. This of course is not authoritative either but it does show that the early Church employed both forms of Baptism as opposed to what you’d said originally.

    Now as to the reason the Bible needs interpretation you cite correctly that someone who has been trained in the Scriptures like Paul and who has also attained his spiritual level may be able to get by on the Bible Alone credo. but for most folk that is not necessarily so. And it is not necessarily their fault either. Perhaps they are poor and have to spend every hour of the day just to provide for their families. They don’t have time or luxury for Bible reading. They may not even be able to read which accounts for the majority of people in this world I’d guess. They need a church to tell them what is relevant to their lives and most importantly to tell them what is necessary for salvation. And the Bible alone gives them nothing because they are not learned enough to understand it. Consider the plight of the Ethiopian in Acts 9:31 or better yet 2 Peter 3:16 where the author, speaking of Paul’s writings, tells us of … some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

    Are you as wise and as learned as Paul? How can you or any of us be certain that we are not one of the untaught or unstable mentioned in that Scripture?

    And it is that exact Scripture that explains why there are so many Protestant denominations. It is agreed that the words of Christ are infallible but they need to be interpreted by an infallible interpretter in order to understand them properly. Otherwise you get the chaos we presently see where instead of the Church telling people what is necessary to believe you have the people simply going to the denomination that tells them what they want to hear. There is no mechanism for spiritual growth by such a system because the Church loses much of its ability to challenge people to increase in holiness.

    Now as to why the Roman Church is the infallible guide in Faith and Morals it again comes from Matthew 16 where Peter was named the Rock upon which Jesus would build His Church. We Catholics take that Scripture very literally and we do not convolute it as we’ve seen other denominations do. That designation by Christ imbued His Church with rock solid teaching on faith and morals that the gates of hell could not prevail against. And the prophesy there is that the Seat of Peter would replace the Seat of Moses at the birth of the Church at Calvary. You may not have heard of the Seat of Moses but that too was considered an infallible guide that was passed down from High Priest to High Priest and we see evidence for it in the words of Caiaphas in John 11:51.

    So just as it was with the Jewish system that preceded it, the Church recognized that the successors of Peter were likewise imbued with that infallibility charism. You probably also know that tradition further has it that Peter founded the Church in Rome. And we also see in many documents throughout Church history that Rome had great authority because of it. Consider the writings of Irenaeus of Lyons (a follower of Polycarp who was taught by the Apostle John). Writing around 180 AD, he is very clear that the Roman Pontiff was the supreme authority. But even earlier than Irenaeus we also have the 1st century letter of Clement to the Corinthians, which begs the question why would a Bishop of Rome have authority over a city in Greece?

    There are many, many other documents from those times that attest to the Primacy of Peter and his successors. I won’t list them all but maybe the best is the recent discovery that Peter’s grave is actually in the foundation of the Vatican!!! Talk about a literal translation of Scripture!!! Apparently, in the 4th century AD when the time of the great persecutions was over and Rome had actually converted to Christianity, they decided it was safe to bring the Church out of the Catacombs and build a Cathedral. And because it was a venerated spot and they knew where Peter was buried they decided to build St Peter’s Basilica on the exact same location, thus making him literally the Rock upon which he (Christ) would build His Church. Would the 4th century Christians have done this if they had your alternative interpretation of Matthew 16:18?

    As for me and the reason I am a Catholic I came to them from atheism after discovering that they were right about Christ being truly present in the Eucharist. This is a long story that I won’t bore you with here but to say that from that starting point I prayerfully investigated every other doctrine of the Church and found them to be correct at every teaching. Since that time I have never been let down when taking their side on any specific topic.

    My apologies to you if I was belligerent in my original post and I commend you for your research into the teachings of the early church fathers. Keep digging as I did and I think you’ll eventually find as I did that the Roman Church is the closest thing we have to the original Church set up by Christ and the Apostles. And as opposed to what you’ve been taught, you might also find in your objective research that the Roman Catholic Church takes the Bible more literally than any other denomination.



    • Victor,

      I do not mind you being belligerent or having such strong convictions. I can respect that as those who are adamant are also respectful and considerable honest in reconsider their position as I reconsider my own. Yet, I find that those, who so easily accuse of legalism, are legalistically following a standard of legalism of their own.

      Yes, there are things that are hard to understand in the Scriptures as Peter said about Paul’s writings, and yet Paul said that Christians, saints, can understand (Eph. 3:3-5, cf. Phil. 1:1). Yes, we may need help like the Ethiopian eunuch, but this does not disarm the fact that we must decide what is truth, and in that each person must interpret either privately or according to the affirmation of the witnesses of Christ (John 8:17, etc.). See, Philip taught the Ethiopian eunuch concerning the Scriptures with the Scriptures and bear witness of Jesus and His command to be baptized.

      Before I concede to two of your points, I must readdress that I think you will do yourself a good service to consider my challenges to you. How are you choosing by private interpretation whom you consider to be an infallible interpreter? This is not a trick question or snare, but a very seriously thought. “How does Christ as we know Him in the Gospels and all Apostolic scripture lead you to the Roman Catholic church and its head without your private interpretation? How do get from Christ and the origin of His Church to the Roman Catholic church?”

      After reading over the Didache again and also in Greek, you are right that the baptism on the last occasions is pouring upon the head. Yet, considering the context, this reference does neither defines baptism to be a little pouring rather than pouring immersion, nor is the Didache an authority. You are correct concern the Imprimatur, but does the imprimatur of the Catholic Encyclopedia have more authority than the Didache?

      I have read Irenaeus and I have not noticed to the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. I have Clement numerous times, and I find no passage indicating his authority over other Christians in Corinth.

      The interpretation of most is that Matthew 16:18 is referring to the Petra, the confession of faith in Jesus as the Christ, rather than calling Peter, Petros, the rock considering that Christ is the Rock (1 Cor. 10:4, isa. 44:8, 48:16). I think any church would build a church building upon the site of Peter’s burial, but again I find this to be a primitive Catholic church, who more resembled the Orthodox churches than the Roman Catholic.

      Personally, I seek to be a Christian and a member of no denomination, sect, or cult. I just want to follow Christ and His Apostles and prophets as the first church did. I hope you see the merit in this.


      • J. Victor says:


        First let me apologize for not responding sooner. I’ve had a toothache the past two days that has made it difficult to concentrate on anything else for very long. But it has also given me time to reflect on your comments so it has all been for the good.

        Let me also say that I have no axe to grind against the Church of Christ. I have known many of its members and for the most part I’ve seen a genuine love of Christ in them. I see it in you as well. So there must be something good going on there too. Blessing to you for that. And I am firmly of the opinion that as members of the Christian faith community we have a lot more similarities than we have differences.

        My motivation for writing initially was in response to your contention that full immersion is the only Biblically sanctioned method of Baptism and that those who baptize by pouring are somehow running afoul with Scripture and hence God. But since you have acknowledged that the Church has been given the authority to alter the outward sign of Baptism and that you yourself do so when full immersion is impractical it would seem we have reached an agreement of sorts.

        And, if the Didache and those ancient Christian mosaics found in the catacombs can be trusted, it would appear the early Church did baptize by both methods. Full immersion being more representative of the rebirth experience mentioned in John 3 and the pouring method being more representative of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit found in Acts 2. In your last post you seem to have conceded this point as well.

        The Catholic Church also employs both methods. So what remains is the Catholic practice of baptizing infants. But this is not a straying from Scripture. It is simply an interpretation of Scripture that you do not share.

        Your fundamental desire to worship God as the first Christians did, however, is commendable. And it would appear to be the motivation for your insistence on full immersion. But let us not get all hung up about the outward signs of a sacrament or any other liturgical rubric. Liturgy on its own has no salvific power and to behave as though it does smacks once again at legalism. There have been many throughout the history of the Catholic Church that have maintained that adhering to certain liturgical practices are essential for salvation and they have all been summarily excommunicated. The latest such heretical nonsense comes from the Society of St. Pius X and their queer obsession for the Latin Mass. The Church is constantly under fire by legalists and those who insist that full immersion is the only way to legitimately baptize are just one of many such factions.

        I do understand however your base argument against the modern Catholic Church and your desire to strip away all the nonsense. But it wrong I think to call it legalism. A better term I believe would be her stodginess. Throughout the centuries the Catholic Church has been covered over and over by mud slung by those who hate her. And that mud is largely in the form of the lie that they’ve spun. It these lies make it very difficult for outsiders to view the Catholic Church objectively. As one apologist once said, if people really knew what the Catholic Church was all about everybody would be Catholic. Unfortunately about 95% of what Non-Catholics know about Catholics is wrong and so they remain outside. But that is only the half of it.

        The Catholic Church is also beleaguered by people on the inside constantly trying to embellish her with non-essential ornamentation and liturgy. And this makes it difficult even for some on the inside to see her beauty. So the Roman Church is constantly engaged in defending her honor against the mudslingers, throwing out all the unnecessary embellishments while hanging onto those that have proven effective and doing exactly what you are attempting to do to capture the spirit of what she was in the beginning.

        But it is understandable with so much work involved that at any given moment in history she would not be perfect. Her latest problem as I see it (and I think you see it too) is in her lack of spontaneity. You will sadly never see in the current Roman Catholic Church an instance where a priest will spontaneously baptize a person as Philip did the Ethiopian. The Bishops in their efforts to secure the Truth have taken to much control of their priests. They have turned the Sacrament of Baptism into an occasion of so much pomp and ceremony that they have greatly stifled the workings of the Holy Spirit in the process. This is the area you need to focus on in your search for the Church that Christ established, not on the liturgy. Just nurture an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit can work unhindered and everything else will fall into place.

        “Be not afraid” is the message from Christ to His Church and the latest Popes have been saying much the same thing so that too is a hopeful sign.

        This is how I see it and along those lines, whenever I read the Scriptures and I come to a passage about Peter I see it in context of the Roman Catholic Church with which he is associated. But there were three Apostles that constituted Christ’s inner circle and whenever I read about John (another member of that circle) I see his Scriptures in context with the Protestant church. John is the youngest Apostle and he is also the Apostle that Jesus loved and I’d guess it is not so much for what he said, but for the spirit in which he said it. I further believe if it had been solely up to Jesus, He’d have picked John to be the Rock upon which He’d build His Church. But the Father chose Peter with all of his faults, not John. And Jesus respected that, as do I.

        Yes you are correct, Jesus is the Rock, He is the cornerstone (according to Ephesians 2:19-21). But in that same Scripture the Apostles are also included as the foundation of the Church and Peter is the Rock upon which it is built (according to Matthew anyway). Now I certainly don’t expect you to see it that way since by necessity you have to see it alternatively. But this is the way I see it and from my study of the writings of the early Christians I believe they saw it that way too.

        And since you questioned it, Irenaeus, for instance, in his 2nd century treatise, “Against Heresies” lauded all the great churches of his time that could trace their roots back to the Apostles. But he focused on … “the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority …” (Ireneaus 3.3.2).

        Such writings pointing to the primacy of Peter are not rare but prevalent amongst the early Church fathers. So much so that in a recent (2007) statement by the Eastern Orthodox Church it was admitted that the Roman Church did have Primacy! Their argument was not with that but with how much authority Primacy meant.

        So why am I a Catholic you ask? I thought I had addressed that in the last post but I will state it again now with greater clarity.

        I am a Catholic because I believe their stance Sola Dei Verbum (the Word of God alone) is vastly superior to Sola Scriptura (the Bible Alone). And I believe this because the Word of God embraces all of Creation including the sciences. And, as you know from your linguistic studies, the Word is translated from the Greek, Logos, which is also where we get our word logical. It ia a word, therefore, that has two edges (one rhetorical and one logical and reasonable). And simply stated I find the beliefs of the Catholic Church to be far more reasonable than those of any other denomination.

        I find it far more honest and reasonable, for instance, to take Matthew 16:18 the same way as the early church fathers did and the Eastern Orthodox do today. And anyone who proposes the contrary Petros/Petra argument is burdened to show one instance where the early Church fathers did the same. Given that Jesus actually used the word Cephas (which is Aramaic and unambiguously means “Rock”), it is doubtful any of them would.

        I find it far more honest and reasonable to take the 6th chapter of John literally where it says we must eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His blood if we want to have life and abide in Christ. This is the Sacrament that brought me to Christ and His Church and I’ve not found any Church that holds the same reverence toward other than the Roman and Eastern Catholic denominations.

        I find it far more honest and reasonable to believe (as per John 20:22-23) that Jesus gave His Church the authority to forgive sins outside of Baptism. And again I don’t see a lot of other churches that practice that today either.

        In fact I agree with the Roman Church in her stance on all her Sacraments. And it is through these Sacraments, especially Communion, that I have come to know and to love Christ. My only argument here is in the restrictive way she currently administers some of them. But the Church is constantly changing the way she administers so there is hope that this may change soon.

        And I further do not believe that Jesus would create a Church that would rely so heavily upon the personal interpretation of Scripture as it would be prejudicial against the poor and the illiterate whom Jesus loved so much. It makes far more sense to me that the Church Christ established would provide the laity with all that is needed for salvation. And that includes an infallible interpretation of Scripture.

        And although it is acknowledged that the Roman Church has been weak and even corrupt in the past, which is partially to blame for the splintering and sifting of the Church that we see today I do not see this as a permanent situation. Rather, I see Luke 22:32 as a prophesy. And now that Peter has become strong again (through a renewed devotion to the Eucharist) he will help his brother churches and we will all be stronger for the separation. Imagine no religion? No, that’s not the answer. Imagine instead a united 7 Sacrament Church infused with Protestant zeal where there is no confusion about the Scriptures and the infighting has ceased. Such a Church will finally be freed to finish the evangelization of the world and to defeat those diabolical forces that have been set up against all of us.

        That is my hope. It is what I’ve been fighting for and it is the reason (amongst many others) I am and will remain Catholic.



  4. J. Victor says:

    What you fail to recognize is Matthew 16:19 wherein the Church is given the power to bind and loose. In other words they have the authority make rulings on matters that are not covered explicitly in the Bible and we have the assurance in doing it that heaven will abide by decision. and it is fully understandable that exercising this authority given by Jesus to the church might be scary to you simply because you recognize that Jesus did not give this authority to you. He gave it to Peter, that is the Catholics.

    So if they say that sprinkling is an acceptable for a valid Baptism we have it by Jesus’ own words that heaven will concur. And what exactly is your problem with that? The water is simply an outward sign of what is going on underneath. In reality it is the heart that is being circumcised and infused with life through the sacrament. And it is hard to imagine a God so legalistic that the outward sign has to be performed to some exact ritual. Are we to assume that in your belief in full immersion if someone accidently didn’t get his little finger dunked that God is going to reject him? OF course not. We believe in a merciful God who is not going to be hung up if the ritual is not performed exactly as prescribed. Your attitude about rubrics strikes me more of witchcraft than real Christianity. And you certainly must realize that God being omnipotent can Baptize anyone any time He wants with or without the outward sign. Ew I know this is scary stuff since that too is not in the Bible but its true. The outward sign is simply there for our benefit that we may have the assurance that the Baptism has taken place. And again, God is not a legalist. Legalism is the realm of His adversary. If the intent to Baptize in the approved fashion is there and it is done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit we have to assume that the person is Baptized. Intent is the key. We have the assurance from Scripture that God, who knows are hearts and gave us the authority to alter rituals will accede to our requests.

    Mark 16:16 incidentally does not say emphatically that faith is a requirement of baptism. Another interpretation is that Faith and Baptism are simply listed together as the bare essentials for salvation, the order being irrelevant. It is understandable why you would want to interpret it such that it supports your position but I accept my Church’ interpretation since she was given the infallibility to provide the correct interpretation (Matthew 16 again). Without that infallibility the Church would teach error and the gates of hell would prevail against her. And there would be as many interpretations of Scripture out there as there are people to interpret it. Can you imagine? Tens of thousands of churches all butting heads with each other and preaching their own conceited interpretation of Scripture. It would be a nightmare, Nobody would know who to believe. And Jesus’ prophesy of Satan desiring to sift us like wheat would have become a reality. Whoops I guess under the Sola Scriptora doctrine you Protestants came up with to replace the Church’s teaching authority that reality did come true after all didn’t it?

    As to the reason Catholics Baptize babies the main reason is because Baptism is not the only Sacrament given us by God. If it were we might be inclined to hold off baptism until the very end of our lives to make sure all our sins were forgiven. And in fact many in the very early Church did just that out of a misunderstanding of the sacrament. But baptism is merely the first step in the Sacramental life that includes regularly partaking of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion. Through these Sacraments we are recharged and reinvigorated with the Holy Spirit throughout our lives as we grow to be one with Christ.

    Now I know that you do not recognize wither of these Sacraments but surely you must recall that after commissioning His Apostles at the end of John’s Gospel He breathed on them and gave them the power to forgive sins? Well that power was handed down from apostle to apostle throughout the ages such that the Church maintains that authority to the present day. Do you forgive sins? If not why not? Is it once again that you recognize correctly that you were not given that authority? And don’t confuse that with Baptism, Jesus told us in John 13 that having bathed once we have no need to bathe again. But our feet will still need to be recleansed from time to time, especially before partaking of Communion (that we might be made worthy in accord with 1 Corinthians 11). Jesus also told us at the time of the foot washing that the Apostles wouldn’t understand what He was doing at the time. But they would understand it later. And later they did as the practice combined with the James 5:16 and John 20:23 and evolved by about the 3rd century into the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And Jesus again granted the Church the authority to transform in Matthew 16. You might even recognize that in giving it to us originally in the self acknowledged mysterious form of foot washing that Jesus wanted the Church to exercise its authority in this case.

    Anyway that is the reason the Church Baptizes infants. It is in accord with the Jewish rite of infant circumcision which prefigures the Sacrament. It removes from the child the blight of original sin which Mark 16:16 tells us is essential for all Christians and it prepares them for the Sacramental Life And yes you are correct, repentance is not a requirement for infants to receive the Sacrament since babies have nothing personal to repent. As they grow they will have plenty of other opportunities to repent and receive absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    And finally you are incorrect in saying that in the early church immersion was the only way to baptize. The Didache a Christian document written in the first century AD references Baptisms by sprinkling as do many of the earliest Christian mosaics that portray Baptism (which is often depicted by one individual pouring water on the head of another with a shell.

    Hope that clears things up for you. and by the way. The Catholic encyclopedia is a horrid place to get answers on Catholic doctrine. The writing is bad and it is not authoritative anyway. Similarly the doctors of the church, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, et all. as profound as they are still only proffering their opinions on theological matters. Those opinions are also not authoritative. If you want to find an authoritative Catholic answer to your questions your best bet is the Catholic Catechism, the proceedings from Church ecumenical councils and Papal encyclicals. but if you want a friendlier resource I recommend you try the Catholic Answers website. They provide excellent feedback on just about every bone of contention you can think of. Pertinent to your article check out what they have to say in link below.




    • The Catholic Encyclopedia is imprimatur being official and authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic church.

      The Didache does not teach sprinkling or pouring over someone’s head. If you read the Didache, you will get an exact representation for which Christ’s disciples, His Church, believes with the only exception of the non-scriptural practice of pouring water over the whole body three times to baptize the sick. I am very familiar with these writings and you apparently have been given these proofs.

      Also, we recognize the authority of the Apostles to instruct and forgive as here as in Heaven. The Church of Christ followed the Apostles’ doctrine in Acts 2. That is the simple plea of the Church now. We must go to Christ and His words first and then to the words that He gave to His Apostles (John 6:63, 17:8). These words were written to the Church, all Christians, and we can understand them (Eph. 3:3-5). Listen, Christ’s words are infallible as Christ is infallible being sinless, and so are His words from His Apostles and prophets. Christians must follow the words of Christ. Why consider that the infallible Christ failed to communicate His words so as to need a church chosen by one’s private interpretation? Why listen to the Roman Catholic church’s interpretation over the Eastern Orthodox churches? Most of the denominations agree that the Orthodox existed before the Great Schism from which the Archbishop of Rome gained his independence and power. Why legalistically follow the Law of the Roman Catholic church as infallible and yet set aside Christ’s words? Read His words in Luke 9:26.

      The essential question for you and the salvation of your soul is this: How does Christ as we know Him in the Gospels and all Apostolic scripture lead you to the Roman Catholic church and its head without your private interpretation? How do get from Christ and the origin of His Church to the Roman Catholic church? May God bless you and me to have the boldness and honesty to reconsider.


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