Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Infant Baptism

On Sunday our son Joshua was baptized. We are so blessed that "our Lord Jesus has of His goodness called this child to holy grace and blessing, and to the fountain of baptism."

It was also very special to me that Joshua's uncle, Pastor Williams read the baptismal liturgy and that he was baptized by his great-grandfather, Pastor O'Connor. What an incredible privilege!

Why baptise infants? The Bible teaches that infants are born sinful and like everyone else, desperately need forgiveness. (Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.")

This past week I've been thinking about Matthew 18 in a baptismal context. "Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." When Jesus spoke these words he was not referring to age or ignorance but to the defining characteristic of a baby. Babies are unable to do anything for themselves. They can't take care of themselves. They are are totally needy and completely dependent on something outside them self. That's how we are. We can only receive from God. Simply believe and receive. Trusting God to do what we cannot do for ourselves.

But infants can't make a decision? Without faith there is no baptism. When an infant is asked, "Do you wish to be baptized?" the infant answers through the mouth of his sponsors, "Yes"... Faith in which one stands in for another. Just as in the healing miracle recorded in Mark 2; according to which a lame man is brought to Jesus by his friends and Jesus forgave him his sins "when he saw their (his friends') faith"! For faith always comes to me by other people who stand in on my behalf and make intercession. (Oswald Bayer,  Martin Luther's Theology)
How can baptism do such great things? It is certainly not water that does these things but the Word of God which is in and with the water; for without the Word of God the water by itself is simply water and no baptism; but with the Word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life. (Martin Luther, Small Catechism)

Preaching is baptism. The preacher is the one who, in service to the church, strikes the rock and brings forth water in dry places. The promise of baptism call to us, "Come forth, be washed, and you shall be odd". Through baptism we are given a radical, peculiar, distinctive identity and vocation. (William Willimon, Peculiar SpeechBaptism is not just a one time thing. It's once begun and ever continued; daily. Through the washing water of God's Word we are baptized each day.
Joshua's sponsors, Daniel & Joan Scamman


  1. A baby is the ultimate receiver. He has no resources of his own to keep himself alive. So are we, dead in sin, unless baptised and raised into a new life. And that life we receive is completely outside of us and our own resources. We are now "moochers" off the life of Christ... Forever! BWe are his "clingers-on." And what a great life it is!

  2. Dear Grace, I just found your blog through your comment on Leah's blog. Thank you for these quotes, and for posting the entire baptism video. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it, even though I saw it in person last Sunday! Watching the video version, I am overwhelmed by how you and Joan, both young mothers, look absolutely radiant as you gaze at little Joshua. The peace of God and the joy is evident in your countenances. What unspeakable gifts we have been given, to cause that kind of fruit. P.S. I really like your past posts also--like Bombin Omelets, and Paper Bag Fire, and all of them. Thanks

  3. Cathy, glad you enjoyed my blog. I'm so blessed to have a baptized son; the words of the liturgy are so powerful I like to read & listen to them again and again. As Leah's comment said, We're now moochers off the life of Christ- what a great thing to be!