Credobaptists believe that infants should not be baptized, and often practice baptism by immersion.
The Anabaptists regard their ideas as being based on the teaching of Jesus Christ, who invited to make disciples in all nations and to baptize them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 28. According to some theologians, it is natural to follow the order thus suggested, either to baptize someone who has become a disciple before, which is not possible with a baby or a child. They contend that in the New Testament, references to the baptized relate only to believers who have experienced a new birth.
Many early Christians such as Augustine and John Chrysostom believed in infant baptism instead of believer’s baptism. Tertullian discouraged the baptizing of children who have not yet been instructed in the faith.[non-primary source needed] The Didache has also been claimed to have assumed believer’s baptism.
For the first 300 years of the church, the common requirement for baptism was a profession of faith following a conversion to Christianity. Advocates of believers' baptism argue that this implies infants would not be baptized since they could not profess faith for themselves. Beginning with Augustine, the Catholic Church solidified the practice of infant baptism and there is little mention of competing practices until the 1500s. Augustine held the view that baptism was a requirement for the washing away of sins. He was faced with the issue of whether an unconscious or unwilling individual on their deathbed should be baptized; he felt it was better to err on the side of caution and baptize such a person.
In the early 16th century, the Anabaptist movement began demanding that baptismal candidates be able to make a freely chosen confession of faith, thus rejecting the baptism of infants. This, and other doctrinal differences, led both Catholics and Protestants to persecute the Anabaptists, executing them by fire, sword, or drowning. Anabaptist groups spread across Europe and later to Russia and the Americas. In 1641, the Baptist movements began adopting baptism by immersion. Some of them may have insisted on credobaptism by affusion a few decades earlier.
Advocates of believer's baptism contend that non-Biblical records are not authoritative, and that no evidence exists from the Bible or early Christian literature that infant baptism was practiced by the apostles.
Arguments for credobaptism
Advocates of believer's baptism argue that the New Testament does not describe instances of infant baptism, and that during the New Testament era, the early church required converts to have conscious, deliberate faith in Jesus Christ.
Advocates for believer's baptism use Acts 2 to support their view, where Peter commanded to believe before Baptism took place. Credobaptists also argue that because Jesus was baptized as an adult, and not as an infant, that is an example for us.
Age of accountability
Believer's baptism is administered only to persons who have passed the age of accountability or reason, which is based upon a reading of the New Testament that only believers should be baptized. Some claim that it is also based upon the Jewish tradition of Bar Mitzvah at the age of 12 or 13, at which point Jewish children become responsible for their actions and "one to whom the commandments apply." This analogy is not very helpful since a Jew who is not bar mitzvah is nonetheless considered to be fully a Jew—whereas the notion of an "unbaptized Christian" is more problematic. However, many (pedobaptist) Christian theologians, including Calvin and Zwingli, regard baptism as analogous to the Jewish practice of circumcision, rather than analogous to the bar mitzvah ceremony, although there are no explicit sections of the New Testament that support this idea.
It is common for churches which practice believer's baptism to administer the ordinance to children aged eight or nine, following some training in the rudiments of the faith. Seventh day Adventists generally consider that around age 12, young people are equipped to make reasoned decisions and may choose to be baptized. There is no stated lower age limit, however, and when a young child voices a desire for baptism, it is strongly encouraged that they enter an instructional program that may lead to baptism.
Believer's baptism is one of several distinctive doctrines associated closely with the Baptist and Anabaptist (literally, rebaptizer) traditions, and their theological relatives.Among these are the members of the Restoration Movement. Churches associated with Pentecostalism also practice believer's baptism.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints completely rejects infant baptism. Little children are considered both born without sin and incapable of committing sin. They have no need of baptism until age eight, when they can begin to learn to discern right from wrong, and are thus accountable to God for their own actions. People completely incapable of understanding right from wrong, regardless of age, are also considered as not accountable for their actions, and are not baptized.
In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, immersion baptism is not required again for Seventh-day Adventist membership. However, if a person feels that he has received new information that makes a difference and/or has experienced a reconversion, it is available if he wants it.
Statistics based on membership totals reported by various denominations state that churches that practice infant baptism represent about 80% of Christians.
Many churches that baptize infants, such as the Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran, Moravian, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox denominations, previously functioned as national, state-established churches in various European and Latin American countries. Defenders of infant baptism have attempted to trace the practice to the New Testament era, but generally acknowledge that no unambiguous evidence exists that the practice existed prior to the 2nd century. During the Reformation, the relationship of the church to the state was a contentious issue, and infant baptism was seen as a way to ensure that society remained religiously homogeneous. As a result, groups that rejected infant baptism were seen as subversive and were often persecuted.
Among the Churches of Christ, for example, baptism is seen as a passive act of faith rather than a meritorious work; it "is a confession that a person has nothing to offer God." While Churches of Christ do not describe baptism as a "sacrament," their view of it can legitimately be described as "sacramental." They see the power of baptism coming from God, who chose to use baptism as a vehicle, rather than from the water or the act itself, and understand baptism to be an integral part of the conversion process, rather than just a symbol of conversion. A recent trend is to emphasize the transformational aspect of baptism: instead of describing it as just a legal requirement or sign of something that happened in the past, it is seen as "the event that places the believer 'into Christ' where God does the ongoing work of transformation." Because of the belief that baptism is a necessary part of salvation, some Baptists hold that the Churches of Christ endorse the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. However, members of the Churches of Christ reject this, arguing that since faith and repentance are necessary, and that the cleansing of sins is by the blood of Christ through the grace of God, baptism is not an inherently redeeming ritual. One author from the churches of Christ describes the relationship between faith and baptism: "Faith is the reason why a person is a child of God; baptism is the time at which one is incorporated into Christ and so becomes a child of God" (italics in the source). Baptism is understood as a confessional expression of faith and repentance, rather than a "work" that earns salvation.
- Slick, Matt (2009-06-12). "What is credobaptism?". Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
- Mark Dever, Jonathan Leeman, Baptist Foundations: Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age, B&H Publishing Group, USA, 2015, p. 108
- Mark Dever, Jonathan Leeman, Baptist Foundations: Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age, B&H Publishing Group, USA, 2015, p. 93
- Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, USA, 2000, p. 528
- "What the Early Church Believed: Infant Baptism". Catholic Answers. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
- Florens, Tertullian. On Baptism.
the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children. For why is it necessary — if (baptism itself) is not so necessary — that the sponsors likewise should be thrust into danger? Who both themselves, by reason of mortality, may fail to fulfil their promises, and may be disappointed by the development of an evil disposition, in those for whom they stood? The Lord does indeed say, Forbid them not to come unto me. Let them come, then, while they are growing up; let them come while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ.
- "Did the Early Church Practice Infant Baptism or Full Immersion?". Zondervan Academic. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
- Taylor, Justin. "17 Statements that a Paedobaptist and a Credobaptist Can Both Affirm".
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The Bogomils repudiated infant baptism, and considered the baptismal rite to be of a spiritual character neither by water nor by oil but by self-abnegation, prayers and chanting of hymns.
- "What are the historical origins of infant baptism? | Bible.org". bible.org. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
- Wright, David (2007). Infant baptism in historical perspective : collected studies. Milton Keynes, UK ; Waynesboro, Ga: Paternoster Press.
- Fitzgerald, Allan; Cavadini, John C. (1999). Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 87. ISBN 9780802838438.
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- "Does the Bible teach believer's baptism/credobaptism?". GotQuestions.org. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
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- Calvin dedicated a whole chapter of his Institutes of the Christian Religion to the matter of infant baptism (Institutes, IV, 16), in which he states that " baptism succeeds circumcision " as a sign of belonging to the People of God and as a promise of salvation, resulting from the Covenant between God and humankind ; reference in French : Jean Calvin, Institution de la religion chrétienne, livre IV, chapitre XVI "Que le baptême des petits enfants convient très bien à l'institution de Jésus-Christ et à la nature du signe.", p. 488 .
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- Malone, Fred (2003) The baptism of disciples alone: A covenantal argument for credobaptism versus paedobaptism. Founders Press, ISBN 0-9713361-3-X.
- Nettles, Tom J; Pratt, Richard L Jr; Armstrong, John H; Kolb, Robert (2007), Understanding Four Views on Baptism, Zondervan, ISBN 978-0-310-26267-1, 222 pp.
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- Early Church Fathers on Baptism
- "Baptism", The threshold, Monergism Many articles about Infant Baptism and Believer's Baptism from a Reformed, Protestant Perspective.
- Adult Baptism in the Early Church: Some evidence from Ireland