Belief Before Baptism

Before an infant is baptised (i.e., “christened”), the priest requires three Godparents to testify to their belief in the Apostles’ Creed, and then asks them—in their capacity as sponsors for the child—“Wilt thou (ostensibly the child) be baptised in this faith?” And because the child is much too young to reply, the Godparents are required to say, as from the child, “That is my desire.”

In this otherwise meaningless procedure, there is a recognition by the authorities of the Church of England that only believers are eligible for Christian baptism, and that therefore belief must come before baptism, not after it.

For our own part, we are quite unconvinced that the introduction of believing “Godparents” makes it possible to treat an obviously unbelieving infant as a believer. This device (if we may use the term without giving offence) of believing by proxy is in our judgment entirely foreign to the text and tone of the New Testament, and we cannot regard the modern “christening” ceremony as anything but the baptism of unbelievers, and therefore opposed to the intention of our Lord. (The words “suffer little children to come unto me” had no reference whatever to baptism. We are told merely that Jesus “took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”)

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Author: P. H. Adams

Keywords: Water baptism, Baptism, Baptist, Baptized, Baptised, Baptize, Baptise, Baptizer, Baptiser, Sprinkling, Is baptism mandatory, Is baptism essential, Is baptist required, Baptism salvation, Baptized by water, Infant baptism, Infant sprinkling, Christening, Baptizing babies, Baptizing infants, Baptizing children, Baptising babies, Baptising infants, Baptising children, Immersion, Ritual bath, Water immersion, baptizo, baptisma, baptismos, Pouring, adult baptism, believer's baptism, paedobaptism, pedobaptism, anabaptist, anabaptism, rebaptize, rebaptized, second baptism, baptized again, rebaptism, belief before baptism, faulty baptism, Christen, Christened, Christening

Bible reference(s): Matthew 3:6, Matthew 3:7, Matthew 3:11, Matthew 3:13, Matthew 3:14, Matthew 3:16, Matthew 11:11, Matthew 11:12, Matthew 21:25, Matthew 28:19, Mark 1:4, Mark 1:5, Mark 1:8, Mark 1:9, Mark 10:38, Mark 10:39, Mark 11:30, Mark 16:16, Luke 3:3, Luke 3:7, Luke 3:12, Luke 3:16, Luke 3:21, Luke 7:29, Luke 7:30, Luke 20:4, John 1:25, John 1:26, John 1:28, John 1:31, John 1:33, John 3:22, John 3:23, John 3:26, John 4:1, John 4:2, John 10:40, Acts 1:5, Acts 1:22, Acts 2:38, Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12, Acts 8:13, Acts 8:16, Acts 8:36, Acts 8:38, Acts 9:18, Acts 10:37, Acts 10:47, Acts 10:48, Acts 11:16, Acts 13:24, Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, Acts 18:8, Acts 18:25, Acts 19:3, Acts 19:4, Acts 19:5, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:3, Romans 6:4, 1 Corinthians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 1:14, 1 Corinthians 1:15, 1 Corinthians 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:17, 1 Corinthians 10:2, 1 Corinthians 12:13, 1 Corinthians 15:29, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:5, Colossians 2:12, 1 Peter 3:21

Source: “Belief Before Baptism,” The Testimony, Vol. 15, Nos. 170, 172, February, April 1945, pp. 36-8, 73-4.

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