Baby baptism is probably one of the most widely misunderstood rituals in the Christian (and many other) faiths. Almost all Christian churches practice Baptism in some form or another. Baptism comes from a Greek word baptizo which loosely translated means to dip, a washing or immersion. However baptism for babies is not a practice that was performed by the churches in the first century.
According to various chapters in the New Testament as you come into faith with Christ then the next few steps would be confession and then baptism. The process of baptism symbolizes the dying, burial and rising of Christ. Through baptism the symbolism of these acts are reenacted.
Baptism is done for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), it washes away our sins (Acts 22:16). We are baptized so that will God will resurrect us from death (Colossians 2:12, Romans 6:3-6).
So when should someone be baptized?
In order to answer this question properly we will need to refer to the scriptures. The Bible clearly tells us that children are considered to be pure in the eyes of the Lord. The scriptures teach us that in order to enter God’s kingdom we need to become more like children and open our hearts (Matthew 18:3, Mark 10:15).
The baby baptism advocates interpret passages such as Psalm 51:5 as saying that we are born sinners. However with proper interpretation would say that we are just born into a sinful world. A close look at a couple of passages tells us that children do not have sin as a result being born and that sin is a result of lust and therefore turns into sin. See Ezekiel 18: 20; James 1:14-15. As children grow older they are filled with secular knowledge and through this process their hearts become hardened. This is when the blood of Christ is needed.
Being able to recite the word of God is very different to comprehending it properly. Whilst young children might mean well when they ask if they are ready to be baptized they do not know any better. The choice to become a Christian is one of the gravest and most serious decisions you can make; is your child really ready for that kind of commitment?
So who are the real candidates for baptism?
Anybody who is prepared to hear the word of God confess their sins, and ready to live a life committed to Christ can be baptized. Another place to learn who can be baptized is searching through the book of Acts. It is known as “the book of conversions.” The reason why is it shows how several people were told how to be saved and become a member of the church.
Children should be introduced to the word of God at the earliest possible stage in their lives. Parents will need to take care to strike a balance between guiding their child and supporting the child’s spiritual development. Any commitment they make to Christ is their own and should be something which they would have independently chosen for themselves.
It’s common for parents to push their children to agree with their religious beliefs. However well-intentioned it is sad because in the end this undermines the child’s spiritual development. To baptize someone who is not ready is to do them a grave disservice.
By waiting until they are ready to really understand the commitment they are agreeing to; the ritual becomes more meaningful for everyone involved, thus also approved of by God.