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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 

Remit

Our remit as determined by the General Assembly in 1996 was as follows: "to re-examine the whole issue of Baptism and, in particular, the practice of Infant Baptism." It should be noted that in our response to this remit biblical quotations are in general taken from the NIV except where otherwise stated.

INTRODUCTION

The Panel was aware from its very first meeting that it had been given a challenging remit, which carried with it a weighty responsibility. The more we pursued our remit and examined the subject of baptism the more we came to appreciate how challenging the remit was.

Baptism is a live issue and for various reasons. There are ever-improving relationships between churches across denominational barriers resulting in ever-increasing interaction and activity at local level, including discussion of those issues which separate us as well as the overriding commitments which unite us. There is the presence of a new generation ofyoung people seeking a solid foundation for all that it believes and practises. Baptism is, therefore, a live issue not only for theologians and ministers but also for people in the pew. Not surprisingly many are seeking a better understanding of both the practice of baptism and the theology behind the practice. One practical matter in this search for a better understandings the question of where to begin. Some have begun their search with the origins of the rite of water baptism, some with the practice of baptism as we have it in the Acts of the Apostles, some with the development of baptism within the post New Testament Church. Some have begun with the Great Commission of Jesus as it appears in Matthew's Gospel, and still others with the idea of Covenant, a major feature of Reformed theology including Scottish theology. James Walker has observed that "the old theology of Scotland might be emphatically described as a covenant theology" The Theology and Theologians of Scotland, Edinburgh 1888,p 73.. All of these approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.      

In compiling our report for the General Assembly we too had to decide where to begin. "Where shall I begin?" asked the White Rabbit. The answer of the King of Hearts was appropriately grave, "Begin at the beginning." The advice is sound. But where is the beginning?  

The Paper is divided in 8 parts.  To see any section simply click on the heading below.

Institution of Baptism

Origins of Water Baptism

The Baptism of Children: Old Testament Evidence

The Baptism of Children: New 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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