“As Long as They’re Christians”
Do Denominational Differences Really Matter? Part III: Holy Baptism & Faith
In Part II we continued our discussion of Holy Baptism by showing the difference between the Biblical/Lutheran doctrine of original sin and the unbiblical teaching of mainstream American Evangelicalism (AE) of an “age of accountability.” Part II ended with, “The Bible says that all are sinful and are destined for hell apart from God’s gracious washing away of sin(s) through faith.” In this article we will examine the Biblical answer to the problem of “all are sinful.” In short, the answer is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” AE’s actually agree with the preceding verse; but we will see that they are not only operating with a totally corrupted definition of original sin, but also believing/faith.
AE’s believe that faith is a conscious choice to believe or accept Christ. As stated by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, “Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior…There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.” 1 For them, faith is necessary for salvation, yet only those old enough and able to reason can make a decision to believe. What about sinful babies? So, not only do they teach that babies aren’t sinful until they are old enough to choose to sin, but they also teach that there is not salvation apart from faith; and that babies can’t have faith until they are old enough to rationally choose to believe in Jesus. When you deviate from the clear words of the Bible, messy inconsistencies arise and you have to create doctrines not found in Scripture.
Those of us who uphold Biblical (infant) Baptism properly confess that a sinful baby needs and can have faith. Faith is not an adult, conscious, and rational decision. As we confess in the Small Catechism, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel…” 2 Also, as it says in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” The Holy Spirit in the Word of God creates faith in sinful man by grace alone – no man-made decision/work is willing or able. But is this true for babies too? The Bible says yes, that infants need and can have the miracle of faith, just like a dead-in-their-trespasses adults.
One example of an infant having faith is John the Baptist in the womb. 3 Biblically, faith is more than a correct adult understanding of God, which even the demons have (James 2:19 and Luke 4:41). Faith is not exclusively an adult belief and understanding of the doctrines found in the Bible. Jesus teaches that children are the example of faith and adult fallen logic is actually an obstacle to believing. Mathew 18:2-4 says, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Hear Jesus dealing with children on another occasion in Luke 18:15-17, “Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” The Greek word used here is brefe, which precisely means infants. Faith of a helpless infant is the example Jesus uses, not that of a reasoning adult. In fact, it is a miracle that the Holy Spirit in the Word of God creates faith in spiritually dead adults and infants. Is Baptism (God’s Word with water) then a means of grace that the Holy Spirit uses to create faith in cute little sinners? To be continued…
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mark 16:16
P.S. Home Devotional Resources: http://mlchouston.org/about-us/memorial-moment & http://steadfastlutherans.org/2017/02/lambs-at-pasture-daily-devotions-for-the-family/
2 Luther’s Small Catechism Triglota Electronic Version p.245
3 Luke 1:15, 41-44.
Share this Post