Isn’t it ironic that
Why doesn’t a church that is named after something not believe in what it is named after?
Have you ever wondered why?
The reason is because the baptist church was named after a practice that has since changed over the last several hundred years, mainly since the time of the Reformation. You see, up until the time of the Reformation, baptism was always “for the forgiveness of sins”. Up until the time of the Reformation, there was no other practice of baptism except baptism for the removal of sins. That was the reason behind the practice of infant baptism. The practice of infant baptism arose because of the false doctrine of “Original sin”—the idea that if a baby dies without first being baptized it will be lost and go to hell. Before modern medicine, infant mortality rates were extremely high. In order to supposedly prevent infants who died from going to hell, the Catholic Church baptized them. This whole idea came about because of the false belief that infants are in a “lost” state to begin with. On the contrary, the Bible teaches infants enjoy a “saved” state to begin with. The Bible teaches babies are born into the world in an innocent state. For example, Jesus said, in reference to little children, the “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
The bible teaches faith and repentance are prerequisites to baptism
The concept of infant “baptism” is totally foreign to the Holy Scriptures. This practice stems from the erroneous teaching of “original sin.” The Bible does not give one single example or command of any baby being baptized anywhere. The Bible does not teach babies are born separated from God.
To explore the topic of infant baptism we must also look into the erroneous teaching of “original sin.” The idea behind baptizing a baby is to remove “original sin”, i.e., the sin of Adam and Eve.
But if humans are “born in sin” and separated from God, then Jesus would not have been sinless. Jesus was not 50% God and 50% man. He was 100% God and 100% man. And “He committed no sin…” (1Peter 2:22; See also Hebrews 4:15) Sin is something we commit. Sin is not something we are born with or “in”.
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law:
for sin is the transgression of the law. - 1John 3:4
The process of falling is a step-by-step process in which we turn away from God and commit acts contrary to His will:
but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away
and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is
full-grown, gives birth to death. – James 1:14-15
Notice in the above verses nowhere does it even imply we are born in sin.
Paul taught that we fall short because we sinned-
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”-Romans 3:23
The word “sinned” is an active verb. It means we did something. We sinned. Although we have a disposition to sin, we are not born lost and separated from God. How can babies who can’t even yet speak, sin?
Paul reiterates this idea again:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—Romans 5:12
Notice this does not say men were born into sin. It says death comes because we all sin. The word “sinned” is an active verb. This means we have an active hand in our own demise. It is something we do to ourselves. Sin is an act. We commit sin; We are not born condemned.
But since the false doctrine of “Original sin” was so rampant and widespread and had invaded so much of the church, the only “solution” to high infant mortality rates was to “baptize” babies so they wouldn’t “go to hell”. But in God’s Truth, there was no need because the Bible teaches infants who die go to be with God:
"Why didn't I die from the womb? Why didn't I give up the spirit when my mother
bore me? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breast, that I should suck?
For now should I have lain down and been quiet. I should have slept, then I would
have been at rest –Job 3:11-13
The Bible often uses the term “sleep” and “rest” to describe a person who has died and gone to heaven. See 1Cor 15:6,18,20
The reasoning behind the error of baptizing babies and infants is to remove “original sin” so that if they die they will go to heaven. But the Bible teaches each man is accountable to God for his own sins, not the sins of others. Ask your Jewish friends. The concept of “original sin” is foreign to Judaism.
Yet say you, Why does not the son bear the iniquity of the father? when the son has done that which is lawful and right, and has kept all my statutes, and has done them, he shall surely live. The soul who sins, he shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be on him. –Ezekiel 18:19-20
"Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin," --Deuteronomy 24:16
We are not held responsible to God for Adam’s sin. Babies are not born separated from God. Therefore there is no need to remove “original sin.” Baptizing an infant is an attempt to remove sin that is not there. Sin is disobeying God’s commands. Sin is falling short of His laws. What command has a baby disobeyed? Babies are not lost.
So once the “problem” of infant mortality is “solved” (because infants who die go to heaven), there is no need for infant baptism. But this was not the case for the erring Catholic Church. The Catholic Church did mistakenly believe (and still does) babies who die end up in hell if they are not baptized.
So now, enter the Reformation—men were starting to get a hold of translations of the Bible they could read in their own language and, through careful study of the Scriptures, came to understand baptism was for people who had faith. This gave rise to the “Anabaptists”, which meant “re-baptizers”. So the “re-baptism” they were re-baptizing for was the only baptism that was practiced up until then—and that was baptism for the forgiveness of sins. The difference for the “re-baptizers”, most appropriately, was that this “re-baptism” was the same baptism for the forgiveness of sins, except that it was administered only to adults or to those who were old enough to have faith and believe the gospel—something an infant could not do. It was also immersion and not sprinkling or pouring. Nonetheless, the reason and purpose of the baptism was the same as it was for infants—for the forgiveness of sins. This was where the practice and term “believer’s baptism” came from. “Believer’s baptism” became a core belief to all variations of baptist churches. A lot of effort went into trying to “save” those who were not lost to begin with (infants), while missing out on trying to save those who were now lost (adults).
So when the baptist church started out, it practiced a different baptism then what is practiced today in most modern “baptist” churches. Then, in the very early days, baptist churches practiced a baptism for the forgiveness of sins because they were trying to correct the erroneous practice of infant baptism with believer’s baptism. The difference was not in the reason and purpose of baptism, the difference was in who the baptism was administered to (infants vs. adults, i.e. believers). So to put in it other words, both baptisms were for the forgiveness of sins, but the difference was that one was administered (wrongly) to infants and the other was administered (correctly) to believers—those old enough to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Sadly today, the “baptism” that is administered in most modern “baptist” churches is not the ONE baptism in the New Testament (Ephesians 4:4-5). It is a man-made tradition that is not found in the Bible. The “baptism” administered today in most modern baptist churches is a baptism to “show” you’ve “already been saved”, a “public confession of faith” as is sometimes called. But is it not to “wash your sins away” (Acts 22:16) It is not “for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38), it is not to “save you” (Mark 16:16, 1Peter 3:21), it is not to “rise to new life” (Romans 6:3-5) and it is not to be “born again” (John 3:3-5). It is nothing more than a man–made tradition and practice that is contrary to sound Biblical doctrine.
Although both Baptists and Catholics
share the same false belief in “original sin”, the Catholic Church had a “solution”
to save babies—infant baptism. But, using Baptist doctrine, the
For Further Study:
How baptist churches got from where they were then to where they are today: Ulrich Zwingli Repudiates the Biblical View on Baptism