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THEOLOGICAL STATEMENT BY THE UNITED FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
We are grateful to the UFC for permission to publish the following paper in full.  We believe readers will find it an immensely valuable theological and practical document.  It was prepared for their General Assembly in 2001.

UFCOS website is www.ufcos.org.uk 

THE BAPTISM OF CHILDREN


New Testament evidence   

Our starting point should be to recognise that there is no direct evidence in the New Testament for or against the baptism of children. The New Testament is silent on the matter. Some have concluded from the silence that only adults were baptised and not children. It goes without saying that the United Free Church of Scotland together with all the churches of the Reformation has always subscribed to and practised the baptism of adult converts, i.e. converts not previously baptised.   Given the circumstances of the early church and the large numbers of men and women turning from paganism to Christ it is hardly surprising that adults were baptised in large numbers.  G W Bromiley has pointed out that "whenever the church has seriously discharged its ministry of evangelism, it has baptised the adults who constitute the first generation of Christian converts".Children of Promise , Wipf and Stock Publishers 1998, p 2.   Bearing in mind the increasing secularisation of our society, the decline of the church in the west, and the ever-increasing number of families who see no necessity for baptism at all, we ourselves face the situation whereby any significant turning back to God will inevitably see again a significant increase in the baptism of adults. That is something for which we should pray and work. We are wholly for the baptism of adult converts.

The question we have to face is whether it is correct to conclude from the silence of the New Testament that only adults were baptised and not children. It would be equally valid to conclude from the silence that the baptism of children is simply taken for granted. Indeed, given the pattern of belief and practice both in the Old Testament and in contemporary Judaism it is difficult to conceive of children being excluded. The lack of any explicit statement in support of the baptism of children is far from conclusive. There are other elements of Christian faith and practice which lack explicit statements in support. Our belief in the Trinity is one. Another, directly related to the sacraments, is the inclusion of women at the Lord's table. The only occasion when Jesus administered  the Lord's Supper and instructed those present to "Do this in remembrance of me" was in the presence of twelve men. There is no explicit text for the inclusion of women and no explicit statement that women were present at any celebration of the Lord's Supper in the New Testament era. The inclusion of women however is on the ground of, what Bromiley calls, "legitimate inference".  Taking into account other statements in the New Testament it is inconceivable that women should not be included. If the argument at this point seems trivial it all the more emphasises the futility of arguments from silence and the problem of requiring an explicit statement (a proof text) in support of the baptism of children. The inclusion of children may be determined on other grounds, as may the inclusion of women at the Lord's table.

Is there any evidence at all in the New Testament for the conclusion that the early Christians would have taken for granted the baptism of their children?

  1. little children (Mark10.13-16 and parallel verses: Matthew 19.13-15; Luke 18.15-17)

The words of Jesus most frequently quoted in connection with the baptism of children are those from Mark 10.14: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." They are to be found in most paedobaptist service manuals and on most baptismal fonts. They seem, for some, to offer the final authoritative word for the practice of infant baptism. Forbid Them Not, SPCK 1972. See also O Cullmann, Baptism in the New Testament, SCM pp 77ff. Cullmann concludes, "this story -without being related to Baptism - was fixed in such a way that a baptismal formula of the first century gleams through it" (p 78). The truth is, of course, that they do no such thing. The argument that because Jesus invited children to come to him we should baptise them is false. It would be more convincing if Jesus himself had baptised the children. He didn't. Neither did he dedicate them. He blessed them, but even with the blessing of the children there is no indication whatsoever that he was instituting an ordinance for his church. Baptism in the New Testament, pp 71ff, and A Richardson, An An Introduction to

The fact that Jesus' words here may not be used as a command to baptise children does not mean that they are irrelevant to the baptism of children. We are in danger of being so concerned to point out what Jesus does not say that we fail to notice what he does say, i.e. that "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these". The following should be noted.

(a) The children brought to Jesus included "babies". Matthew and Mark have "little children", Luke has "even babies" (kai  brephç). Luke is the only evangelist to use brephos. In addition to the passage under consideration he uses it twice of a baby still in the womb (1.41,44; Jesus and John) and twice of a newly born baby (2.12,16;Jesus). He also uses it when referring to the exposure of newborn babies by Pharaoh in Acts 7.19.

(b) The blessing of the children took place on Jewish territory in the region of "Judea beyond Jordan", i.e. in Peraea. Peraea was occupied by Jews, ruled by Herod Antipas, and formed part of the Jewish route from Galilee to Judea, by-passing the territory of the Samaritans. Those who brought their children were members of the Jewish community within the Jewish covenant.

(c) There was nothing unusual in Jewish parents taking their children to a rabbi for them to receive the rabbi's blessing. The Expositor's Bible Commentary We know that such a practice was associated with the Day of Atonement. RT France observes: "It was a Jewish custom to bring a child to the elders on the evening of the Day of Atonement 'to bless him and pray for him' (Mishnah Sopherim 18.5)."Matthew Jeremias has argued that the incident "must have happened on the evening of a Day of Atonement".Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries

(d) While it is often popularly assumed that those who brought their children to Jesus on this occasion were women the text does not tell us that. Matthew simply tells us that children were brought to Jesus; Mark and Luke tell us that they brought the children to Jesus. In each of the Gospels, however, we are told that the disciples rebuked "them" (autois, v 13). In view of the Greek masculine pronoun here it is not unreasonable to conclude that the children were brought by parents, i.e. fathers and mothers. It adds weight to the idea that the bringing of the children to Jesus was a planned rather than a spontaneous happening and supports, therefore, the Jewish custom referred to under (c).

(e) Jesus insisted that the children be brought to him for the simple reason that "of such is the kingdom of God" or, as most translations have it, "to such belongs the kingdom of God". The term such  (toioutôn) refers to a class of people. As DE Nineham puts it, it may mean these and other (literal) children, or these and others who share the characteristics of children. St Mark John Murray prefers the first option, Christian Baptism  I H Marshall the second. The Gospel of Luke Either way the kingdom belongs to the children brought to Jesus. They are included in the kingdom. Sinclair Ferguson helpfully comments, "Sometimes this statement has been read as though Jesus had said, 'The characteristics of these children have a spiritual parallel. If that spiritual parallel is present in your life, then the kingdom of God belongs to you.' But that is not what Jesus is saying in verse 14.It is what he says in the next verse (v 15). In verse 14, Jesus is saying,'I am the King in the kingdom of God. I belong to these children and all those who are like them.' These children should not be held back from him precisely because Jesus and his kingdom belong to them!" Let's Study Mark

As Ferguson observes we have often misinterpreted and devalued Jesus' words here because we fear one possible implication of taking them at face value, i.e. that children are guaranteed salvation just because they are children, irrespective of personal faith in Christ, irrespective of the operation of God's grace in their lives, and irrespective of their relationship with and their attitude towards God in subsequent years. The truth is that we are all by nature dead in trespasses and sins and children of God's wrath and we all by nature follow the course of this world and the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2.1-3). How then do we square, on the one hand, Jesus' inclusion of  little children, even babies, in the kingdom of God with, on the other hand, the fallen condition of every living person with its accompanying necessity of grace on the part of God and of personal faith and commitment on the part of the person? One thing is sure, not by denying either. The message of the Bible is full of such tensions and we do no justice to its message by taking it upon ourselves to remove the tensions. We must live with them and seek understanding for them, but we must not remove them. To do that is to distort the message.

There is one way of coming to terms with thisparticular tension in Mark 10.14 which flies in the face of the excessive individualism characteristic of our modern western culture but which is thoroughly biblical. It involves taking on board something we have already touched on under Old Testament Background, i.e. the role of the family in Jewish life and the importance of the family in God's covenantal dealings with his people. In God's economy the children of God's people were included in the household of faith until they excluded themselves. The reverse, i.e. that they were excluded until they included themselves, was not the case. Hence the approach of Jesus on this occasion, which Hendriksen describes as "this distinctly positive approach". Matthew Hendriksen also observes that "in principle all blessings of salvation belong even now to these little ones, a fact which has to be realised progressively here on earth and perfectly in the hereafter". Matthew The modern preference of waiting until children are "old enough to decide for themselves" would simply not have made sense to Jews in Jesus' day. Indeed, it would have been an abrogation of their responsibility both to God and to their children. One of the major concerns that the Church should face today is the failure on the part of professing Christians to take seriously their responsibility under God for the upbringing of their children, children of the covenant, in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord". Nowadays such responsibilities are left largely to others, e.g. the church or school.

(f) We may legitimately ask, "Why is it that the kingdom belongs to such as those brought to Jesus by their parents? "It cannot be because of subjective or spiritual qualities in the children. That would result in salvation being dependent on inherent qualities in us, i.e. salvation by works. The Biblical Doctrine of Baptism It must be because God in his love and mercy has determined to give his kingdom to those who have no claim upon it and make no claim upon it. As Cranfield puts it, it has to do with "their objective littleness and helplessness".St Mark Inclusion in the kingdom is a gift of grace, not a reward for character. That is the consistent testimony of Scripture both in the Old and New Testaments. The words of Jesus to Nicodemus are relevant here. ibid. Nicodemus' personal qualities would not gain him admission into the kingdom of God. He had to be "born again", he had to become as a little child.

(g) When the disciples attempted to keep the children from Jesus he was indignant and insisted that the children be allowed to come to him. He told his disciples, "Do not hinder (kôluete ) them." The use of the verb kôluein is interesting because it has associations with baptism both in the New Testament and in the post-apostolic Church. The following are examples in the New Testament.

Acts 8.36: "Look, here is water. What     prevents (kôluei) me from being baptised."    

cts 10.47: "Can anyone forbid (kôlusai) these people from being baptised with water."  

Acts 11.17: Peter explaining his baptism of the Gentile, Cornelius, "If God gave them the same gift as he gave us…who was I to think that I could hinder (kôlusai ) God."   

Matt 3.14: "John tried to deter (diekôluen) him, saying, 'I need to be baptised by you. and do you come to me?"

Jeremias draws attention to the use of what he calls "the kôluein formula" in reference to baptism in a number of non-canonical writings. Baptism in the NT   While the argument here, by itself, is tenuous it remains a possibility that the early Christians in their approach to baptism were influenced by the words of Jesus on the occasion recorded in Mark 10 and that they made a connection between Jesus' action with respect to little children and the practice of baptism generally.

The question is often asked, "How can we baptise children who are not able to express their own personal faith in Jesus Christ?" That is to put the emphasis in the wrong place. The more relevant question is this, "How can we refuse baptism for those children whom Christ has indicated are in his kingdom.?" Or, "How can we refuse baptism for those children who are within God's covenant?" The Biblical Doctrine of Baptism

  1. for you and your children (Acts 3.39)

After Peter had preached his sermon on the Day of Pentecost those listening cried out in great anguish, "What shall we do?" Peter's response is relevant to our discussion and is given here in full (vv 38f): "Repent and be baptised, 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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call."

  1. Questions

That the promise is "for you and for your children" raises a number of questions. (a) Are the children referred to the actual children of those adults whom Peter is addressing, i.e. to you and to the children already yours? (b) Or does the word 'children' refer to future generations? (c) If it refers to future generations, does it refer exclusively to adults of future generations or does it include children of future generations? (d) If it refers to orat least includes children (whether current or future) are the children only those capable of making responsible choices or may the children be infants?

  1. Preliminary observations

The following observations are worthy of consideration.

(1) There is evidence that the early Christians lived in expectation of an early return of Christ, a return which would bring the present age to an end.T hey expected it in their life-time. It was an expectation that was particularly strong in the earliest days. 1 & 2 Thessalonians That being the case there is at least a question as to whether a promise for "future generations" would have had much meaning for them. The Study Document of the Church of Scotland puts this rather more firmly, "If the Early Church held widely the expectation of an early Parousia ending the present age…, the only descendants to whom this promise would appear to be relevant would be those who were actually children on the Day of Pentecost." The Biblical Doctrine of Baptism

(2) It is difficult to imagine that parents listening to Peter would not assume the inclusion of their children. Baptism, Cross Publishing 1973, pp 12-18: "…let us place ourselves in the position of a Jew who has been saved in the early Christian era. He is a Jew, and now he has put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. His mind has not changed overnight, and certain great truths which his people have known and believed for two thousand years are much in his thinking…First of all, a Jew saved in the early Christian era would realise that even as he had been justified by faith alone, so also Abraham had been justified by faith alone two thousand years before. Romans 4.1-3 makes this abundantly clear… Secondly, the Jew saved in the early Christian days would realise that the Covenant made with Abraham is immutable, that is, unchangeable. Hebrews6.13-18 is very definite that, first, the Covenant made with Abraham is unchangeable, and that, second, it includes us who are saved in this dispensation." Romans 4.13 tells us definitely that God is here speaking of the promise to Abraham,and yet verse 16 is equally clear that we, the Gentiles saved in this present era, are the fulfilment of that promise (cf. Galatians 3,7,8,13,14,25)…The Jew living in the early New Testament days would know something further. He would know that in the Old Testament there were two great ordinances –the Passover and Circumcision. 1 Corinthians 5.7,8, as well as the fact that Christ instituted the Lord's Supper at the time of the Passover meal, makes it plain that the Lord's Supper took the place of the Passover. Colossians2.11,12 and the other facts which we have considered make it evident that baptism took the place of circumcision. These things all being so, it would be impossible for the saved Jew not to expect that, as in the Old Testament the Covenant sign was applied to the believer's child, so also the sign ofhis faith, baptism, should likewise be applied to his child. Why should he expect less in this dispensation of fullness than he would have possessed in the Old Testament era?" Why should they not assume their inclusion? No restriction is indicated. Most commentators, in whatever way they interpret 'children', are agreed that the reference to those "far off" is to those living away from Palestine, i.e. it has to do with geography rather than time.  In other words for the people listening to Peter on the Day of Pentecost it had to do with the present and the immediate future. It is at least reasonable to assume that the same was true with respect to "your children".

(3) No distinction is made between children who are and who are not capable of an intelligent and genuine repentance. If it is argued that the context of Peter's response requires such a distinction, e.g. the command to repent, surely that is to beg the question, namely, "Are children included with their parents in the covenant which God has established?"

(4) In Jerusalem, for the celebration of Pentecost, and listening to Peter's sermon were God-fearing Jews from all over "the Graeco-Roman world situated round the Mediterranean basin, indeed (from) every nation in which there were Jews" The Message of Acts (Acts 2.5-11). These God fearing Jews included proselytes (v 11). While we cannot be sure when proselyte baptism began Jewish Proselyte Baptisms we do know that the children (including infants) of those converting to Judaism were baptised along with their parents. If baptism into Judaism included children would proselytes have expected less when baptised into Christ? A Case for Infant Baptism

  1. Context

To answer the questions raised above we must turn not only to the immediate context of Peter's response but to the context of the covenant established by God with Abraham in Gen 17.7 and confirmed by Moses in Deut 10.10-13: "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and your descendants after you…to be your God and the God of your descendants."  As Calvin observes, commenting on Acts 2.39,"The addition of their children derives from the word of promise (found in Gen 17.7)." It would be difficult to improve on John Murray's succinct statement with respect to the significance and relevance of the Abrahamic covenant for our understanding of Acts 2.39:

  "We are not in a position to appreciate the significance of this (that the promise is to the children as well as to the parents) unless we bear in mind the covenant relationship established by God and clearly revealed in the Old Testament. It is in the light of Gen 17.7…that this word of Peter is to be understood. It is this principle, institution, or arrangement alone that gives meaning to Peter's appeal… What does this imply? It demonstrates that Peter, in the illumination and the power of the Spirit of Pentecost, recognised that there was no suspension or abrogation of that divine administration whereby children are embraced with their parents in God's covenant promise. It is simply this and nothing less that Acts 2.39 evinces… Nothing could advertise more conspicuously and conclusively that this principle of God's gracious government, by which children along with their parents are the possessors of God's covenant promise, is fully operative in the New Testament as well as in the Old than this simple fact that on the occasion of Pentecost Peter took up the refrain of the old covenant and said, 'The promise is to you and to your children.' It is the certification of the Holy Spirit to us that this method of the administration of the covenant of grace is not suspended. It is because there is such evidence of the perpetual operation of this gracious principle in the administration of God's covenant that we baptise infants. It is for that reason alone that we continue to baptise them. It is the divine institution, not, indeed, commended by human wisdom and not palatable to those who are influenced by the dictates of human wisdom, yet commended by the wisdom of God. It is the seal to us of His marvellous goodness that He is not only a God to His people but also to their (children)…" Christian Baptism

  1. Household Baptisms (oikos is translated by both 'household' and 'family')
  1. General considerations

When we read through the Acts of the Apostles we discover that whole households received baptism. It is true that the number of reported instances of household baptisms is not large.  There are two for certain, those of Lydia and the Philippian jailer (16.14f; 34), and the possibility of Cornelius (10.44ff).In addition there is the certain instance of Stephan as recorded in 1 Cor1.16.The following observations are worthy of note.

(1) The number of actual instances of Christian baptism recorded throughout the New Testament is itself small. There are eleven in total.  It is significant that in three out of the eleven there is an explicit reference to the baptism of households and, as G Bromiley points out, there is no reason to believe that these three were exceptional. Children of Promise Three out of eleven is more significant when we take into account that in two of the eleven baptisms personal circumstances ruled out the possibility of household baptisms, i.e. those of the Ethiopian eunuch travelling alone on official business and of Saul at the home of Ananias after he had been led there blind by his fellow persecutors. In the remaining instances there is nothing to rule out the baptism of families.

(2) There are references in the New Testament where the household or family clearly includes children, e.g. 1 Tim 3.4-5,12; 5.4).The Message of Acts

(3) It is useful to bear in mind that oikos is used much more frequently in the New Testament in its literal and original sense of 'a house'. The fact that it is also used in a metaphorical and derivative sense of the people who live in the house has some relevance to our theme. When we are told that Lydia "and the members of her household" were baptised and that the jailer" and all his family" (literally, all his) were baptised, it is unnatural to exclude children on the basis that they were not of an age to exercise personal faith. That is especially so in the cases of both Lydia and the Philippian jailer where there is no indication that members of the household, apart from the head of the household, exercised personal faith. It is much more likely that children would be included as they were in Jewish families under the Old Covenant.

(4) To claim, a priori, that there would necessarily be no children present in the families baptised, either of the head of the house or of servants is a claim too far. It does not reflect the reality of family life among the people in that part of the world at that time and, more particularly, the reality of family life among the people of a covenanting God. It can neither be proven nor justified. On the contrary, as the Church of Scotland's Special Commission states, "It is in accordance with Biblical usage to speak of households as including children (Gen 17.12ff; Exodus 12.16-27; 1 Samuel1.21ff; John4.53)…" The Biblical Doctrine of Baptism  The same Report further observes, "they would be most unusual households for the Levant if none of their members had young children. "Op. cit.

While we cannot prove conclusively that there were infants in the households referred to above, we concur with the conclusion of J Murray: "Every consideration would point to the conclusion that household baptism was a frequent occurrence in the practice of the church in the apostolic days. If so, it would be practically impossible to believe that in none of these households were there any infants. It would be unreasonable to believe so. The infants in the households belonged to the households and would be baptised. Presumption is, therefore, of the strongest kind, even though we do not have an overt and proven instance of infant baptism". Christian Baptism

The response of those who hold to a contrary position is, very often, to take each instance of a household baptism and seek to prove that children were not baptised. Such is to attempt the impossible. Moreover, the approach is wrong. We begin not with the examples of household baptism in the Book of Acts but with the inclusion of children within the covenant .As C Buchanan points out, "The occurrence of household baptisms is exactly what we would have expected from our survey of both the antecedents of Christian baptism and the New Testament theological matters. And, sure enough, herethey are – we ought to feel like the astronomers who discovered Neptune first of all by plotting it from the statistics of its 'pull' on Uranus, and secondly by turning their telescope to the part of the sky the calculations indicated. The two fitted – the object they found could not but be the new planet. So with us – the case is strong even before we look for the actual phenomenon, it is vastly increased when we find it where we would calculate it should be." A Case for Infant Baptism

  1. Particular instances

A closer though brief look at each of the household baptisms will be useful in that each of the accounts has something to tell us that is relevant to our study.

(1) The case of Lydia  and her household (ho oikos autos); Acts 16.14-15. A significant emphasis in this account is that of God's initiative with respect to Lydia's conversion. As I H Marshall has it, "Her conversion is attributed to the fact that the Lord opened her heart… Lukeunderlines that conversion is due to the action of God who opens hearts…This view of things is exactly the same as we find in Paul who says that people do not believe because their minds have been darkened by the god of this world(2 Cor 4.4), but that they are converted when the gospel comes to them…inpower and in the Holy Spirit… (1 Thes 1.6)." The Acts of the Apostles   Interestingly there is no pre-requisite for a confession of faith. The factthat Lydia was subsequently regarded as a believer does not negate this point.We are simply told that after the Lord opened her heart "she and themembers of her household were baptised" following which she invited Paul and his companions to stay with her at her own house. The fact that she was the head of the house does not mean that she had not married and that she did not have children. She may well have been a widow and a mother, or even a grandmother with children and grandchildren.The Acts of the Apostles

(2) The case of the Philippian jailer and 'all his' (hoi autou); Acts 16.31-34.In this account the jailer is directed to believe in the Lord Jesus, the consequence of which would be that he and his household (all his) will be saved.  Immediately after the wounds of Paul and Silas had been bathed the jailer and his family were baptised. There seems to be little time here for every member of the jailer's household to be personally evangelised or counselled or instructed. According to the NIV Luke's account concludes with the statement that the jailer "was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God– he and his whole family." In fact the NIV is misleading because, as Jeremias and others have pointed out, the text does not lend itself to that translation. Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries That every single member of the jailer's household personally believed is an assumption. Longenecker has to say, " To judge by their actions, the jailer and his family believed in Christ…" The Expositor's Bible Commentary (italics added). A better translation is that of the RSV, "the jailer rejoiced with all his household that he had believed in God." The verbs translated "rejoiced" and "believed" are both in the singular. We may concur with Francis Schaeffer when he writes, "No matter what interpretation we, individually, may hold concerning this passage, certainly God here does show that He deals with families not only in the Old Testament but in the New Testament as well." Baptism

(3) The case of Cornelius; Acts 10.44-48. Again the emphasis here is on God's initiative 44): "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message." Moreover, as with Lydia there is no pre-requisite of faith. It is not faith that enables grace but rather grace that enables faith. Even faith is a gift of God's grace otherwise salvation would be "of works" and those exercising it would be able to boast (Eph 2.8). Baptism is primarily the sign of God's intervening and saving grace, not of our personal faith. As Bromiley observes,  "What calls for attention is the endowment with the Holy Spirit. This, of course, would bring faith into it but plainlydid not lie within the range of human possibilities, whether infant or adult. It was miraculous in character – a mighty act of God."Children of Promise  Although there is no mention of Cornelius' household in the Acts10 narrative John Stott clearly regards this as the first " household baptism" The Message of Acts and not without reason. When Peter subsequently explained his actions to the church in Jerusalem he related how an angel had appeared to Cornelius declaring that he and all his house would be saved through Peter's message (Acts 11.14). The Baptist theologian Kurt Aland in his response to Jeremias' Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries and opposing the baptism of children wrote: "If Acts 11.14 speaks of the salvation of the oikos, this salvation, so far as the slaves belonging to the house or children are included, is understood indirectly; the conversion of Cornelius will have the effect of making theirs to follow, or even embraces theirs: the 'house' is saved when the head of the house is saved". Did the Early Church Baptize Infants? If the salvation of Cornelius in some sense "embraces" the salvation of his household, and if in some sense "the 'house' is saved' when the head of the house is saved" why should the household not be baptised? Is this not exactly the position which pertained under the Old Testament covenant and which is "filled out" in the New Testament covenant?

  1. Household baptisms – in conclusion

Throughout our consideration of infant baptism our approach has been that it is impossible to prove conclusively from the New Testament either that children were baptised or that they were not baptised in the New Testament era. It certainly cannot be decided solely from a consideration of household baptisms. In any case that is not the correct starting place. We have stated previously the necessity of taking into account the evidence of the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments; the importance of circumstantial evidence; the meaning and significance of baptism; that the case for the baptism of children is of a cumulative nature; and that the evidence has to be presented as a consistent whole. Before commencing our study of household baptisms we considered the Old Testament background, the idea of covenant and of family solidarity, the teaching of Jesus, and the significant connection made by Peter on the Day of Pentecost between the promise of the old covenant and the fulfilment of the new. We have taken issue with the excessive individualism that has developed in this part of the world and with the failure to give sufficient weight to the all-pervading, all-prevailing reality of solidarity in the ancient world. In this respect we agree with Michael Green when he says, "We have become so infatuated with individualism that we find this hard to appreciate… The solidarity of the family in baptism, as in all else, is the decisive factor." Baptism   It is in the light of all this that we should have expected the baptism of entire households and that the baptism of these households would have included the baptism of children. Adults brought from darkness to light, whose hearts the Lord opened, on whom the Spirit of Christ descended, would have taken it for granted that their children would be included and would have been nonplussed by their exclusion. So should we! In fact what we ought to have anticipated is what we find in the household baptisms in the Book of Acts and in 1 Corinthians1. Moreover there is nothing in the New Testament to suggest that our anticipation was false or that the children of disciples should not be baptised.  

Other Sections of the Report an be reached by clicking on the following Chapter headings:

Institution of Baptism

Origins of Water Baptism

The Baptism of Children: Old Testament Evidence

The Baptism of Children: Extra-Biblical Evidence

The Proper Subjects for Baptism 

The Mode of Baptism 

The Way Forward

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