The debate is strong and, I believe, worthwhile about whether or not to vaccinate children, and how mandatory such vaccination should be. While the two sides make their case, they share a common goal: the health and well being of children.
There is also loving debate among Christians about whether or not to baptize infants. The goal is similar: the spiritual health and well being of children.
I believe babies should be baptized, and they benefit from the blessings of baptism. Here are two reasons why.
1.) Baptism is a gift from God for sinners.
The Bible teaches repeatedly how baptism is an act of God. It is his work, not ours. Jesus coined the phrase “born again” (John 3:7) when talking about baptism.
All of us entered this world through a physical birth process. But we did not decide to be conceived, or decide to have brown hair, or decide which birthing center to use when we were born. Neither do any of us decide to be spiritually born, or “born again.”
That is God’s choice, adopting us in his love and claiming us in grace as his children. This he does in baptism. This he does even for babies, who are sinful and need God to save them. Babies cannot save themselves, but God can and does save them.
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).
Baptizing babies means we are celebrating the true gift and blessing of baptism. It is a work of God promising salvation!
2.) Baptism is an act of the church from early Christian times.
In the book of Acts, after Jesus ascended into heaven we observe that entire families are often baptized (Acts 16:33).
The church father, Origen (born 185 AD), tells us the practice of baptizing infants was handed down to them from the apostles. “In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants” (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]). “The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants” (James Quaw, Bible Baptism: Or, the Immerser Instructed, from Various Sources, p.332).
I love that God has included in his plan of salvation specific saving practices for babies! It brings me comfort that, even as an adult when I’m not always as spiritually mature and responsible as I should be, God’s saving grace still claims me as his child. Just as he did when I was baptized.
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, in baptism you claim sinful people as your own dear children. You unite us with Jesus Christ and send your Holy Spirit to live in us forever. Bring these “born again” blessings to many more, and strengthen the baptized to live as dearly loved children. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read Ephesians 2:4-9. It is helpful to believe and apply the same salvation principles to babies as to adults. We are sinful. We cannot save ourselves. God’s gospel power is able to save us all by grace.