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Question: Since infant baptism is becoming controversial, why doesn’t the Church abandon the practice or emphasize individualized confirmation for older teens?
—Robert Bonsignore, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Answer - Controversy - Baptism - Church - Protestant
Answer: I am unaware of any recent controversy about infant baptism in the Church. There have been Protestant groups opposed to infant baptism, but their views stretch back more than 200 years. Ironically today, it is the Baptists and their evangelical offshoots that are most opposed to the practice. But for the record, most “mainline” Protestant denominations do baptize infants, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and other Reformed denominations, such as the Moravian Church. The Orthodox Churches also observe this ancient practice. In the Catholic Church we baptize infants because that is what we have always done. While Scripture doesn’t directly mention the practice, the reference to the baptism of “whole households” includes infants.
Further, St. Peter in Acts includes children when he requires baptism: “‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call’” (Acts 2:38-39).
St - Paul - Christ - Circumcision - Hand
St. Paul says: “In [Christ] you were circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism …” (Col 2:11-12). Calling baptism the “circumcision of Christ” links it to a practice performed on the eighth day after birth. The analogy seems far less meaningful or sensible if only adults were baptized.
And, of course, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mk 10:14). But later he...
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