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Case not Proven
Not to be out-done, Roger Godin felt compelled to down-rate the evidence!

Come back Tertullian!
Like the indefatigable Michael Sward (24th August) and the inimitable Colin Buchanan (17th August) I, too, made many Synod speeches on the subject of Infant Baptism.  So perhaps I may join this debate now - always conscious that lay folk who dare take on the Buchanan / Saward combination run the risk of being theologically or patristically stampeded!.

 In his article, Colin gave a very balanced statement of the supposed evidence including Tertullian speaking against the practice! In his honesty Colin includes the words “strong possibility” “may have suggested” “likelihood” “almost unimaginable”“do not quite say” “almost of themselves determinative”. 

Is not such uncertainty in evidence by itself evidence that we can only look to scripture?  Here I think I can agree with Colin that “ it appears reasonable to suggest that everything that is involved in being Christian at all is symbolised in baptism”.  But that does not mean scripture requires baptism of infants who are unable to express their opinion on the subject! 

 Although Michael provides fascinating history, I just cannot see that evidence of the practice in the early church means it is necessarily the correct interpretation of scripture.  After all scripture itself includes many examples of practices that were definitely NOT models for today’s church!

 I can, and do, rejoice when young people are baptised – however limited may be their understanding – but where is the scriptural base for adults speaking on behalf of the (sometimes asleep or rebelling) baby?  Whilst I accept the integrity of those who argue “covenant theology” – there is surely an alternative construction. Those circumcised children were born into Jewish families:  there was no doubt of their heritage. The parallel for baptism breaks down totally where neither parent is Christian.  And whilst I again accept that some argue I Cor 7.14 points to a special spiritual relationship through a believing parent, saying they are “holy” does not mean they are born again – but in a special position.  And I can see no OT evidence that an equivalent sign was given to girls?  Proselytes were clearly Yahweh believers.

 Yes, paedobaptists will always differ from what Colin calls the “phalanx” of the majority of other non Roman Catholic Christians. But I urge a far more positive approach.  More and more in a secular society, I find both parents and Christian young people who are sorry about having been baptised before they believed.  Without faith, the sign of baptism seems empty.  With faith, and being able to testify of the love of Christ personally, dramatically reinforces the sacrament.  It’s sad that many such pass on to other denominations.

 So if there are some Christian parents out there who are hesitating, let’s be clear.  Since all but ex opere operato believers agree that baptism does NOT make a baby a Christian, what is lost through making a powerful sign of commitment through a well planned Thanksgiving service releasing the child for the wonderful moment of being baptised as a believer?   Boldly go where Tertullian led!

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