Why Infant Baptism?

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Why do Catholics practice Infant Baptism? Some say there is no supportive scripture of this? Is there?

-- Matthew (muse21@hotmail.com), June 03, 1999


This Catholic understands infant baptism as follows: The inherent sin passed on from Adam adn Eve is to be erased thus allowing a full chance of a full spritual life. Wea of course due to fear continue to accumulate further stains.

Peace And Well Being.

Jean Bouchard

-- jean bouchard (jeanb@cwk.imag.net), June 03, 1999.

Very good Jean, but many non_catholics see baptism as just a public statement of a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ"

Also many believe that INFANT baptism is not scriptural at all..... what do you think?

-- Matthew (muse21@hotmail.com), June 03, 1999.


While infant baptism has been the majority practice of the historic church, it is one of those issues where the scriptures neither explicitedly command infants to be baptized nor explicitedly prohibits them from being baptized. In short, it is a matter of tradition, not scripture.

Those who oppose infant baptism believe that the sacrament of baptism is reserved as an expression of faith, which an infant is obviously incapable of doing. This is mainly due to the fact that NT examples of baptism were the first generation of believers, so we see adult baptisms along with their household (which may or may not have included infants). In addition, 1 COR 7:14 states that children who have at least one believing parent are made holy and therefore made a part of the covenant family of God based on the faith of the parent (at least until they reach an age of accountability). This indicates that baptism for infants is not necessary for them to be a part of the church.

That said, the first direct mention of infant baptism in church documents (I believe) is recorded in the middle of the 2nd century. The way it is expressed seems to indicate that infant baptism is the universal practice of the church. Logic assumes that if the church was practicing infant baptism as early as the second century, then it was likely also the practice of the first century church.

In my view, from a theological standpoint, I do not see infant baptism as a necessity; however, since scripture does not prohibit it and church tradition upholds it AND it in fact functions as a "welcome" of the new born into God's family, it's seems silly to protest such a beautiful event.

Personally, we had our children dedicated to the Lord in the Christian assembly much as Jesus was dedicated in the temple. Later, when they are able to express their own faith, they will be baptized (much like Jesus was).

It's really not all that different from the Catholic practice at it's core.

-- David (David@matt6:33.com), June 03, 1999.

Post infant baptism is a very good thing indeed. Again as a Devout Catholic I see the wisdom of the Church for it involves the adult in the direct responsibility of raising the child.

If we are to beleive in a spiritual life then the spirit of a child after baptis is pure. We project onto them and they absorb our fears and weaknesses. Strong spirits in adults produce strong spirits in children which we hope will produce saints to follow.

Peace - Jean

-- jean bouchard (jeanb@cwk.imag.net), June 04, 1999.

in catholic teaching the sacraments are sources of grace. therefore if scripture doesn't prohibit infant baptism why deprive our chil- dren of divine grace?


-- ENRIQUE ORTIZ (eaortiz@yahoo.com), June 04, 1999.

I agree with much of what David said, although the big difference in our views is that we believe in baptismal regeneration and I doubt that he does.

We hold that water baptism actually brings about spiritual rebirth and regeneration (Titus 3:5). Baptism is the birth "of water and Spirit" (John 3:5); this is the true meaning of being "born again". Note that in the Greek of John 3:5 there is only one definite article that governs both "water" and "Spirit", showing that our Lord meant only a single birth, a "water-Spirit" birth. The earliest Christians unanimously understood John 3:5 to be a reference to baptism and they also unanimously believed in baptismal regeneration.

As David points out, evidence for infant baptism reaches all the way back to the beginnings of the Church's existence. Simply put, Christians have always baptized their babies. Certain groups not doing so is a rather recent innovation.

-- David Palm (djpalm64@yahoo.com), June 04, 1999.

The Church solemnly teaches that: (403) "Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination toward evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam's sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the "death of the soul."[Trent] Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.[Trent] ( the Universal catechism)

(404) How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man."[St. Thomas Aquinas] By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.[Trent] It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act. " ( the Universal catechism)

We are conceived with original sin on our souls because Adam sinned as the representative of the human race not as an individual. His sin was a sin of pride manifesting itself in an act of disobedience. Every human born in the ordinary course of nature, except the blessed virgin alone, is from the first moment of existence (conception) "in the state of sin". It is through Baptism that original sin is washed away.

Therefore the Church strongly encourages parents to have their children baptized as soon as possible. For our Lord states "Unless a man be born again of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (Jn 5:3) In Matt 19:14 , Jesus say's "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me; for the kingdom of heaven is for such;" Just as the old law required parents to present their children on the eighth day in the temple for circumcision, the "baptism" of the old testament, we are required to present our children in the Church, for the baptism of the new testament. It is through Baptism that we are brought into the universal society of the saints. Baptism and the remission of original sin is so important to eternal salvation that the Church clearly teaches that in necessity (danger of death) ANYONE can baptize.

Christ's redemptive merits are not actually applied to a new-born child until, in baptism, he is incorporated with Christ. Being born without grace and subject to the universal effects of the fall of Adam, he is born a citizen of the natural kingdom only. That means that until it's rebirth in baptism, the child is subjected to and influenced by Satan! This is again the reason the church say's that children should be baptized as soon as possible, to put them beyond Satan's power.

On the subject of children who die with out baptism the church is silent for the most part. Some of the fathers have addressed the issue but their opinions are not in unified or infallible teaching. The Council of Florence (1439) stated "the souls of those who depart this life, either in actual mortal sin or in original sin only, go down at once into hell, there however to suffer disparate penalties." Pope Pius V in 1567, condemned writings that said that an "unbaptised child will hate God." Pope Pius VI In 1794 condemned errors by the Erantian synod that rejected that "the lower regions in which the souls of those dying in original sin alone are punished with the pain of loss without the pain of fire"

However without any ecclesiastical authority, it is almost universally accepted that unbaptised children are deprived of the beatific vision of God, but it is most probable that the state of unbaptised children in the next world is one of peace and natural happiness.

The following must be clearly understood; that the child who dies without baptism is definitely excluded from the kingdom of heaven is the opinion of the majority of the Church Fathers. They are not in some middle state between heaven and hell. We are made to be united with God as our final end. Failure to reach this end, either by our own fault or by someone else's fault, results in the eternal loss of union with God!

Br. Rich S.F.O.

-- Br. Rich S.F.O. (repsfo@prodigy.net), June 04, 1999.

Brother Rich,

The point of view you presented, while accurate historically, completely contradicts 1 COR 7:14 which clearly states that children are made "holy" by the faith of at least one believing parent. "Holy" meaning without sin (even original sin). It is the faith of the parents that preserves a child's place in Heaven until such time as they personally choose to accept or reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

I do not want to enter into a debate over this, but this is one of those issues where I clearly disagree with Catholic doctrine. While I highly value traditions, I must reject those that contradict scripture based on Galatians 1:8.

-- David (David@matt6:33.com), June 04, 1999.

Thoughts on unbaptised children not seeing God: I had thought on this many moons ago and came to this point in myself. All children who have died in preparation of the coming of the Messiah surely reaped their reward when upon Christ's death the Temple veils were torn asunder thereby unifying man with the Father through Chrsit. This was the purpose of the Passion And Death.

Herod's terrible slaughter of the innocents comes to mind also for surely that was baptism by blood. If we believe we must be aware an act is sinfull to be deemed sin then what are we to say of an infant who is totally unaware by our human standards.

The Father's full mercy is beyond this man's comprehension.

Peace - Jean B.

-- jean bouchard (jeanb@cwk.imag.net), June 05, 1999.

Sorry but this is ridiculuos:

"The following must be clearly understood; that the child who dies without baptism is definitely excluded from the kingdom of heaven is the opinion of the majority of the Church Fathers. "


-- Jamey (jcreel@hcsmail.com), June 05, 1999.

Jamey: it is not only ridiculous, it is UNJUST. how could God send to hell someone who "through not fault of his own" did not recieve baptism.

the theologians of the middle ages looking for a solution to this proablem invented LIMBO, a notion that today is rejected by most catholic scholars.


-- ENRIQUE ORTIZ (eaortiz@yahoo.com), June 05, 1999.

Some one asked in the beginning why Infant Baptism? All I did was try to explain why the Catholic Church insists on infant Baptism.


The teaching of the Church does not contradict 1 Cor 7:14. The Church has since the beginning interpreted 1 Cor 7:14, to be about the Marriage bond "Two become one". The word Sanctified was always accepted as meaning an external sacredness brought about by the closeness of the family unit. It did not address the individual soul. As with the Jewish family the children were accepted and dedicated to God as infants and circumcised on the 8th day and would be raised in the Jewish faith. Because that was the faith in the marriage. The Church sees this with Christian Marriage. Even though one partner is un-believing as (1 Cor 7:12-15) the marriage is considered externally Christian and the children will be raised in a Christian enviroment. Holy does not mean without sin. Acceptable to God externally but not Sanctified internally. No one has a place in Heaven until one is Baptized, incorporated "into Christ". No ones place is preserved until one is judged after death. I realize to debate against what the Catholic Church has taught for 2000 years is a hard task. I accept that you may not agree with Catholic Doctrine because you are not Catholic. But it is not a new Gospel it is what has been taught and preached from the beginning of Christianity.


An infant who dies before the age of reason (about 7) does not have the responsibility of personal sin. Anyone of any age who is killed because the killers hatered for God or their refusal to reject God, receives grace sufficient to that of Baptism. But all persons (excepting Mary)are born with the stain of Original Sin, this is not personal sin. But it is sin, and no sin can enter Heaven, this Original sin is removed only by Baptism (Old or New testament) or martyrdom.


I accept that you think this is ridiculous. But you have not shown me why you do not think that the majority of the Early Church Fathers held this opinion.


How do you show that this is unjust. God provided all mankind with the means to Salvation. If we do not use them it is not God's fault. The Church nor I have ever said that they are sent to Hell, eternal punishment. Some Early Fathers did hold to this, that un-baptized infants were condemned to Hell and they were corrected by the Church. Limbo is a name given to the majority opinion of Fathers and Doctors of the Church. It is not a Doctrine of the Church and can be debated by theologians today. All must however hold to the Church Teaching "No sin can enter Heaven", "All persons are born with Original sin", "Baptism is necessary for Salvation" Whether God provides the Grace necessary for Salvation to the unbaptized, we don't know. See CCC. # 1250, 1257-1258, 1261.

-- Br. Rich S.F.O. (repsfo@prodigy.net), June 05, 1999.

Br Rich,

"I accept that you think this is ridiculous. But you have not shown me why you do not think that the majority of the Early Church Fathers held this opinion. "

Yes I have. This is a discusion I had more "directly" with Chris than you, but it still holds.

Also, I don't realy see the relevance of what "the church fathers" say if it does agree with or isn't even in the Bible.

I believe that Jehovah, being a loving God, is not going to sentence His creations to "hell", especially infants whom have have no chance of making their own decision to the effect. Jehovah know we inherit sin, the reason why and that we are made from DUST. Jesus Christ did not come to earth to give His Life for "all" (1 Tim 2:6), just so those infants who never had a chance would be "tormented" in hell.

Let me give an example: My mother-in-law's third child was born but died within 30 minutes. Do you honestly believe that The God is that unjust to sentence her child to hell? Would you teach or tell her this? What kind of god do you worship, if so? If you do then you and I worship two gods and I can't follow yours.


-- Jamey (jcreel@hcsmail.com), June 06, 1999.

Again I point out that the Catholic Church condemns the view that un- Baptized infants are condemned to the torments of Hell. I have never nor has the Church ever said this. I could Baptize 60 infants in 30 min. Why could no one have Baptized her child in that time? I ask: is it God's fault that no one made use of his Gift of Baptism in that time for that child? No, it is us humans that try to insist on God doing it our way.

-- Br. Rich S.F.O. (repsfo@prodigy.net), June 07, 1999.

Bro. Rich:

This subject is most interesting. I went to seek advice with a priest about the question of sending the unbaptized children to hell, and he showed me a book by Denzinger-Schoenmetzer, where in number 858 reads in latin as follows: "illorum autem animas, qui in mortali peccato vel cum solo originali decedunt, mox in infernum descendere , poenis tamen disparibus puniendas". That's from the Lugdunense II oecumenical council.

the rough transaltion he gave me: "the souls of those who die in mortal sin or with only original sin, soon go down to hell but they will be punished with different pains" (??????)

i would like to hear a commentary on this by a theologian.


-- ENRIQUE ORTIZ (eaortiz@yahoo.com), June 07, 1999.


I don't think that you can find any instance of the word hagiazo, "to sanctify", with the meaning "to make completely free from sin, even original sin." That's just loading the word way too hard; no Greek lexicon will have that definition. Sanctification is presented primarily as an ongoing process in Scripture, therefore it can't mean what you claim it means in 1 Cor 7:14. So you really have not given adequate evidence that there is any contradiction here and I think Br. Rich's explanation makes excellent sense.

I guess the question I continue to have is, why would you (or any non- Catholic, I'm not just picking on you) continue to accept the early Christians as trustworthy witnesses on issues like the authorship and canonicity of the books of the New Testament when (according to your views) they are so obviously untrustworthy in their views on baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the Eucharist as New Covenant sacrifice, the nature of justification/salvation, the canon of the Old Testament, Mary as the Second Eve, and on and on and on.

Again, I'm not trying to pick on you. But you obviously have a healthy respect for "tradition", i.e. the perennial beliefs and practices of Christians down through the centuries. It looks like a double standard to me. How can they be trustworthy in one specific area but so untrustworthy in so many others. And how do you decide?

-- David Palm (djpalm64@yahoo.com), June 07, 1999.

You do like this question David P.


-- Jamey (jcreel@hcsmail.com), June 07, 1999.

Actually, that's an easy question for me David. In my view, tradition is unacceptable when it violates scripture. Yes, scripture canon was established by the tradition of the early Church Fathers, but the letters have the authority of the Apostles and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Just as Paul recognized that not all of Peter's teachings were accurate (i.e. when he strayed from the Truth regarding circumcision), I also recognize that the Catholic Church has on many issue strayed from the Truth. My basis for such a determination is when church doctrine is in contradiction to scripture.

-- David (David@matt6:33.com), June 07, 1999.

Oh and I did look up the word in a Greek Lexicon. The word in 1 COR 7:14 that I was referring to is Hagios, meaning "holy". From the lexicon (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, Net Testament, Zodhiates), it means "Morally pure, upright, blameless in heart and life, virtuous, holy. Spoken of those who are to be in any way included in the Christian community." In fact, the word used to describe these children is the root word for saint (hagios) and saints (hagioi).

My conclusion remains the same. Based on the faith of at least one believing parent, children are considered saints without the guilt of original sin. You cannot be "holy" and at the same time guilty of original sin.

-- David (David@matt6:33.com), June 07, 1999.


Denzinger The Sources of Catholic Dogma Documents of the Roman Pontiffs and of the Councils

Paul III 1534-1549 Council of Trent 1545-1563

791 4. "If anyone denies that infants newly born from their mothers' wombs are to be baptized," even though they be born of baptized parents, "or says they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which must be expiated by the laver of regeneration" for the attainment of life everlasting, whence it follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins is understood to be not true, but false: let him be anathema. For what the Apostle has said: "By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned" [Rom. 5:12], is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere has always understood it. For by reason of this rule of faith from a tradition of the apostles even infants, who could not as yet commit any sins of themselves, are for this reason truly baptized for the remission of sins, so that in them there may be washed away by regeneration, what they have contracted by generation, [see n. 102]. "For unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" [John 3:5].

Innocent III 1198-1216

410 (For) they assert that baptism is conferred uselessly on children. . . . We respond that baptism has taken the place of circumcision. . . . Therefore as "the soul of the circumcised did not perish from the people" [Gen. 17:4], so "he who has been reborn from water and the Holy Spirit will obtain entrance to the kingdom of heaven" [John 3:5]. . . .Although original sin was remitted by the mystery of circumcision, and the danger of damnation was avoided, nevertheless there was no arriving at the kingdom of heaven, which up to the death of Christ was barred to all. But through the sacrament of baptism the guilt of one made red by the blood of Christ is remitted, and to the kingdom of heaven one also arrives, whose gate the blood of Christ has mercifully opened for His faithful. For God forbid that all children of whom daily so great a multitude die, would perish, but that also for these the merciful God who wishes no one to perish has procured some remedy unto salvation. . . . As to what opponents say, (namely), that faith or love or other virtues are not infused in children, inasmuch as they do not consent, is absolutely not granted by most. . . . some asserting that by the power of baptism guilt indeed is remitted to little ones but grace is not conferred; and some indeed saying both that sin is forgiven and that virtues are infused in them as they hold virtues as a possession not as a function, until they arrive at adult age. . . . We say that a distinction must be made, that sin is twofold: namely, original and actual: original, which is contracted without consent; and actual which is committed with consent. Original, therefore, which is committed without consent, is remitted without consent through the power of the sacrament; but actual, which is contracted with consent, is not mitigated in the slightest without consent. . . . The punishment of original sin is deprivation of the vision of God, but the punishment of actual sin is the torments of everlasting hell. . . .

This last line is the meaning of the one you posted #858

-- Br. Rich S.F.O. (repsfo@prodigy.net), June 07, 1999.

I took me a little while but the one that you refered to as 858 is #464. Many fathers believe that "Limbo" was the upper layers of Hell where there is no Eternal punishment except the "punishment" of the loss of the vision of God but being in a state of natural happiness. Generally today when we speak of Hell we are speaking of "Eternal Punishment"

-- Br. Rich S.F.O. (repsfo@prodigy.net), June 08, 1999.


I think you're digging a theological hole for yourself. But let me say first off that you are correct -- the word in the final sentence of the verse is hagios, "holy", not hagiazo, "to santify/make holy." Hagiazo appears in the sentence preceding. I was at work and didn't have my Greek text with me. Thanks for catching that.

(A side note: I'm not sure I should even bring this up because it's going to sound snooty. But I did issue a "challenge" and you responded, so here goes.... Spiros Zodhiates is not at all respected in scholarly circles. Part of the problem with his work is shown in the "definition" you cited. He takes all the possible meanings of a word and packs them into a single definition, as if a word could possibly mean all of those things in a single context. Words don't work that way; they don't mean everything they can possibly mean in a single useage. Nor is he completely thorough. For example, he does not include a meaning of "holy" in his definition that really has to be there, as I will show below. I would humbly suggest that it would not be fair to consider his work a Greek lexicon in the formal sense of that term. Use with some caution.)

Basically "holy" has two broad meanings. It can mean "to set apart" or "consecrate", without any moral dimension. So if, for example, an Israelite sets aside an animal for sacrifice it is "holy for the Lord"; obviously it has nothing to do with any ethical quality of the animal, it must mean "consecrated" to the Lord's service or use.

Or "holy" can have an ethical dimension, as you noted. This comes into play when we speak of Christian santification, the process by which God makes humans holy, ethically good and pure. So which meaning do we have in 1 Cor 7:14?

IMO, there's a real show-stopper for your view in the preceding sentence: "the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband." The word for "sanctified" or "made holy" is the verb hagiazo. Obviously hagiazo and hagios share the same root, "holy." So if the children are rendered free from all actual and original sin by one parent's faith (because they are "holy"), then you would have to be consistent and argue that an unbelieving spouse is also rendered completely without sin based on his or her spouse's faith (because they are "made holy"). I don't think you want to go there.

There's another big problem with your view. I'd illustrate this with a question: Can a person be sanctified without being justified? I think all the biblical evidence would say no, a person can't be sanctified apart from being justified. Sanctification is closely tied to justification in Scripture (see e.g. 1 Cor 6:11). I've never heard of any Christian group or individual who has ever said that a person can be sanctified without being justified.

But then let's say you say, "Alright, the child is both sanctified and justified by the faith of the parent." The problem here is that the Protestant view of justification sees it as a one-time event, never to be repeated. According to view, justification takes place by faith alone and it is a one-time decree of God, declaring the individual to be righteous in His sight. If the child is justified by the parent's faith then there would be no need for them to be justified by their own faith; justification can't be repeated, according to every Protestant group I've ever heard of.

So on two counts I think your insistence that hagios in 1 Cor 7:14 means "without any sin, even original sin" is untenable.

On the other hand, if it means "set apart, consecrated to God" it makes perfect sense, without the added theological difficulties. It's the very reason that St. Paul wants believing spouses to stay with unbelievers. God gives special graces to families in which even one spouse/parent is a Christian; they are "consecrated" to Him in a special way. If that Christian parent/spouse leaves, that family loses that special avenue of blessing. I see this even in my wife's family. Her mother is a Christian, married to a man who is quite antagnostic to the Christian faith. And yet five out of their seven children are walking with the Lord and the other two are "on the way." That comes, I would argue, from their special "consecration to God", their status as "set apart" for God because of Nora's faithfulness to stay with Jim. But that's a far cry from saying that those children (and Jim of course, if we're going to be consistent) were rendered free from all sin on the basis of Nora's faith.

What do you think?

I want to address your comments on tradition, but I'll do it in a separate thread. It may take a couple of days.

God bless.

-- David Palm (djpalm64@yahoo.com), June 09, 1999.


I didn't perceive your comment regarding Zodhiates as snooty in the least. I was unaware of any questions regarding his scholarship. In fact, just the opposite. I had heard that he is one of the leading Greek scholars today. Oh well. Guess it's all in the perspective. I know his lexicon has sold well over a million copies, so his work is definitely well read evenif scholastically weak.

If you have some suggestions for better references, I would genuinely appreciate it. I'm always in the market for improving my resources.

Just to clarify, his book does in fact distinguish the differences in "holy" as in "morally pure", versus "santified" as in "set apart for God". It's just that he notes differences in the tense and the context in which each word is used in 1 COR 7:14. Hagiazo, referring to the unbelieving husband/wife, means to sanctify or set apart. And hagios, referring to the child, means holy or morally pure. Same root, but the differences in meaning are derived from context and tense.

So I see no inconsistency in applying that the two different words have two different meanings. Indeed, the unbelieving husband/wife cannot be made "holy" by another's faith. But a child, who is most likely incapable of faith, can be.

You asked, "Can a person be sanctified without being justified?" I may hold a view contrary to what you might think. My answer is 'yes'. Santification is applied to both people and objects (as in the objects in the temple) and does not require faith. Justification requires faith. If there is no faith, as in an unbeliever, there can be no justification. As 1 COR 7:14 clearly states, an unbeliever can be sanctified by the faith of a believing spouse (which you yourself stated). But, as you have also asserted, that unbeliever is not justified and I agree.

As to justification being a one-time event based on Protestant view, I've never heard that apart from traditional Calvinism (the "once saved, always saved" view). It may indeed be more widespread as you state, it's just that I have not encountered it.

I believe that justification occurs or is initiated by faith (as Romans 10:9 clearly states) and is made complete by lifelong action or works (as stated in James). Surprised? I thought so :-))

In other words, we are "in Christ" the moment we believe in Jesus and embrace Him as Lord and Savior. Upon faith in Jesus, one is justified by faith or "clothed in Christ Jesus" and His holiness is imparted to us allowing us to be reconciled to the Father and to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit. To me, justificaton starts with our faith and continues as long as we remain in the faith. We have to remain "in Christ" throughout our life obeying His commands and walking with Him everyday. The first command to obey is to be baptized. Fully immersed in water representing our full immersion in Christ.

This was the pattern for Cornelius's household. Upon hearing Peter proclaim the gospel, the Holy Spirit filled them in response to their faith. Their faith in Jesus initiated their justification which cleansed them and allowed the Holy Spirit to fill them just as the 120 were on the day of Pentecost. Afterwards, Peter ordered that they be baptized in obedience to the Lord's command.

Regarding a child who is raised "in Christ" based on their parent's faith, they come to a place where they begin exercising their own faith and enter into Christ for themselves. Catholics call this confirmation, true?

To clarify my definition of what 1 COR 7:14 is saying, I believe that the faith of the parent places the child "in Christ" until such time that the child can express his/her own faith. If that child dies, he/she is treated in Heaven as any other saint who is in Christ.

Are those who are justified and in Christ without sin? Of course not. And James confirms that. It's just that our sins are covered by the Blood of the Lamb. Do we need to stop sinning and to ask forgiveness as we slip up? Indeed! That is part of our walk with the Lord. On one hand, He imparts His holiness as justification for our sins so that we can have access to the Father in relationship and in prayer. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit continues working with us to be dead to the sinful nature and to live for Christ everyday. This process of sanctification is separate from the work of justification.

I probably didn't express myself very well. My apologies.

-- David (David@matt6:33.com), June 09, 1999.

There's a lot of good commentary there, especially on justification. Suffice it to say that your view of justification is considerably closer to the Catholic view than it is to the original Protestant view (and suffice it to say too that both Luther and Calvin would consider you a heretic for your view of that doctrine. Literally. That's fine, though, you're in good heretical company -- namely, MINE! ;-D). I will try to comment on your other thoughts on justification but here I'll just focus on 1 Cor 7:14.

<< Just to clarify, his book does in fact distinguish the differences in "holy" as in "morally pure", versus "santified" as in "set apart for God". >>

I'm relieved.

<< It's just that he notes differences in the tense and the context in which each word is used in 1 COR 7:14. Hagiazo, referring to the unbelieving husband/wife, means to sanctify or set apart. And hagios, referring to the child, means holy or morally pure. Same root, but the differences in meaning are derived from context and tense. >>

I have a huge problem with this. First, I don't know if you are using his terminology or your own, but this explanation makes no sense grammatically. Verbs have tense, nouns have case, number and gender. So nothing at all can be made from comparing the "tenses" since only the verbs here have tenses. But you said,

"and the context in which each word is used..."

This is precisely my point! The context for the use of the word "holy" at the end of the verse IS the immediately preceding sentence, where the words clearly cannot mean "morally pure". So you are arguing against the immediately context if you want to switch the meaning of hagios at the end of the verse.

Imagine how this would read to an actual Greek reader (close approximation, anyway):

"The unbelieving husband has been made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been made holy through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they (too) are holy."

How do you detect a shift in meaning between "made holy" and "holy" here? It's sort of easy to envision a change of meaning because in English we say "sanctified" and "holy", but that distinction is not in the Greek.

Also, the context works against your view in another way, namely, in the juxtaposition of "unclean" and "holy." Akathartos, "unclean" is used primarily of ritual uncleanliness; for example, a menustrating woman is said in the OT to be "unclean" which obviously does not mean "morally sinful." This, then, fits perfectly with my contention that hagios at the end of 1 Cor 7:14 means "consecrated to God" and not "morally pure."

<< So I see no inconsistency in applying that the two different words have two different meanings. Indeed, the unbelieving husband/wife cannot be made "holy" by another's faith. But a child, who is most likely incapable of faith, can be.

When you first put forward this interpretation of 1 Cor 7:14 I was flabbergasted. I had never heard it before. With good reason, I think. That the interpretation forces you to flip meanings of closely related words within the same verse, without any good indication that such an inversion of meanings was intended by the author, makes it very suspicious. The burden of proof is clearly on you, David, but I'm not sure what else you could bring to the table to discharge that burden.

I wonder, though, at your very strong insistence that the Catholic Church "completely contradicts" Scripture in its view of baptism because it runs afoul of this peculiar interpretation of 1 Cor 7:14. I guess this is a good illustration of what I have been trying to say elsewhere in this forum. Personal, innovative interpretations of Scripture are so prone to really whopping errors (they have been all down through Church history) that they are a flimsy foundation upon which to build one's faith. Another alternative is for me to build my faith on the interpretation of Scripture put forward by the very pillar and foundation of the truth. That, according to the Apostle Paul, is the Church.

I harp on this point a lot (no apologies to Jamey, ;-D) since it played a big role in me taking a serious look at the claims of the Catholic Church. See my story at: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/djpalm

I'll get back to you with a list of the best Greek lexica.

-- David Palm (djpalm64@yahoo.com), June 09, 1999.


First, I need to apologize for my poor understanding of grammar. The choice of words were mine, not Zodhiates. I wrote that response from memory as I am not at home where I could refer to it.

You make some good points which I will need to consider. I've always based my understanding of that scripture on the differences as expressed in English between sanctified and holy. There must be some contextual reason that most translators choose to use two different words within the same sentence, I just need to do the right digging to figure it out :-)

If the difference between hagios and hagiazo is simply "holy" versus "made holy", why is the word "sanctified" most often used by translators for "made holy" and "holy" is used for "holy" (a little confusing, but I think you know what I mean).

I'll get back to you, but it may take some time. I'm heading out soon for vacation for a week or so. Will do my research when I return.

Also, just to announce that I'm changing my signon to my real name and email so that folks will know me by more than just "David". With both of us posting, I thought it might be easier. And having my real email will help in case you'd like to use that to give me the list of lexica or anything else "off the forum".

Catch you later.

-- David Bowerman (dbowerman@blazenet.net), June 09, 1999.

The verb "sanctify" comes from the Latin for holy, sanctus. It has become convention to use that verb when translating the Greek verb hagiazo. I suppose it is considered less awkward in English to say "sanctified" than "made holy."

Hey David, have a great and relaxing vacation. We'll look forward to hearing from you when you get back.

-- David Palm (djpalm64@yahoo.com), June 10, 1999.

What a hoot reading all this stuff. I wonder what Our Holy Mother (remember Her?)would comment as she is holding a dead infant in Her arms.

Jean B.

-- jean bouchard (jeanb@cwk.imag.net), June 12, 1999.

As has been clearly pointed out by Catholics, all humans are born with Original Sin (Job 14:4; Ps 50:7; Wisdom 2:24; Ecclus 25:33; etc). Original sin refers to the absence of God's grace in the soul. In order to be justified and sanctified we are in need of baptism. In fact, these are the results of being baptized or washed (1Cor 6:11). It brings about inner sanctification (Acts 2:38). Because it justifies/sanctifies a person it has the power to "save" (Titus 3:5; 1Peter 3:21).

For Paul, baptism took the place of circumcision (Col 2:9-12). This was done to infants at the age of eight years old. Is Paul making a connection here? I think so. He was the main proponent of Original Sin. Children where to be baptised first then raised to follow Christ. At the Great Commission, Jesus told his followers to baptize first then teach people to observe all he had commanded (Matt 28:20).

Tradition does approve of infant baptism. Polycarp, who was a hearer of the Apostles, stated that he had served Christ for 86 years (Martyrdom of Polycarp 9,3). It follows that Polycarp must have been baptised as an infant. Justin Martyr seems to also make an allusion to infant baptism speaking of disciples since childhood (First Apology 15,6). Irenaues clearly attest to this Apostolic practice (Against Heresies II, 22,4). Tertullian (On Baptism 18), Hippolitus (Apostolic Traditions), Origin and Cyprian all directly speak of infant baptism as an Apostolic teaching of the Church.

In short, since baptism brings about justification and sanctification, a child with original sin should rightly be baptised.

-- Jorge (jtrujillo7203@hotmail.com), June 20, 1999.

Being baptized is NOT essential for salvation. This is very clear when reading the scriptures. We are only saved by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism is a way to express our faith. The Lord ask us to do 2 thing. 1) Remeber him by taking of the Bread and of the cup. 2) To be baptized. Both of these acts are a way to express our faith. Obviously an infant cannot decide right from wrong so therefore how can that infant accept the Lord Jesus Christ as his/her savior? Was the theif on the cross baptized? If he was then the scriptures surely would of had said so and he would of been baptized after he believed in the Lord Jesus. Here are just a few scriptures to back up what I am saying.

(Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Chris, both men and women were baptized.)

It is clear that after they believed they were baptized.

(Acts 8:36-38 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.)

Here is is clear that if you believe in the Lord Jesus then you may be baptized. How can an infant believe?

There is not one example in the entire bible of an infant being baptized. I don't think it is going to hurt a child to be baptized but then again it does nothing to that child, so then why do it? I do believe it is a major problem when people believe that in order to be saved you must be baptized. This is not what the gospels teach us. Below is some versus that tells us on how we become saved.

Versus on Salvation:

Luke 7:50 Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

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.

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on Him."

John 5:24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life."

John 6:40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

John 6:47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heat will flow rivers of living water

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

John 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.

Acts 16:30-31 And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31)So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."

Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your hear that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

-- Derek (d.hagen@excite.com), March 11, 2003.

Dear Derek, If you look at this question in historical perspective, you will see that no Christian on earth thought baptism was merely "a way to express our faith" until one renegade Catholic priest in the 16th century thought he knew better than 1,500 years of the greatest theological minds who ever lived. The wrtitings of the earliest Fathers of the Church unanimously and absolutely uphold infant baptism. These were second and third generation leaders of the Christian Church, who received their teaching directly from the apostles. Could the apostles have taught them false doctrine?? You have to face the fact that Christianity and infant baptism were inseparable until your recent tradition began. How then can we accept these modern ideas of yours as Christian teaching? We cannot.

The Bible tells us that a person cannot enter the kingdom unless he is born of water and the spirit. Living in the kingdom is synonymous with being saved, is it not? And being born of water is synonymous with baptism. Some people, desperate to validate their traditions, try to deny the necessity of baptism by claiming that "born of water" is a reference to natural birth. However, that idea is plain silly. Why would Jesus tell people that they had to EXIST if they wanted to be saved? Especially people who already existed (were already born). Kind of self-obvious, isn't it? Besides, John 3:5 is an explanation to Nicodemus of John 3:3, which deals only with being "born again". Being "born of water and the spirit" are the required means of being "born again". Being "born again" is necessary for salvation. Therefore the only reasonable conclusion is that baptism is necessary for salvation. Which is why all Christians accepted that teaching until recent manmade traditions began.

Naturally, in speaking to adult sinners, Jesus told them they had to repent and be baptized. "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38) This important passsage provides a lot of information. First, it demonstrates that repentance is a necessary prerequisite for baptism, for adults. Secondly, it reveals that baptism is not merely something we do to express our faith. Baptism forgives sins. Is that something we have the power to do? Baptism endows us with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Can we do this for ourselves? By the effects of baptism desribed in the Word of God we know that baptism must be a work of God, not something we do; and so has the universal Christian Church believed for 2,000 years.

Why do adult sinners need to repent before being baptized? To regain some of the spiritual purity they have lost through sin. To return to a state of spiritual innocence. That's the purpose of repentence. Another way of expressing this idea is "becoming once again like little children". Jesus said "Truly I say to you, unless you become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3) So, if adults must become like children as a prerequisite to baptism, it should be obvious that persons who already ARE little children are fully qualified for baptism, and do not require repentence first. Thus, Jesus said "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Mark 10:14) Jesus says the kingdom belongs to little children. And, he says that no-one can enter that kingdom without baptism. It would therefore be completely inconsistent and illogical if He also said that little children cannot receive that which is necessary for entering the kingdom which is already theirs!

Both scripture and other early Church writings make it clear that it was the common practice of the early Church to baptize the entire families of new adult converts ...

And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay." (Acts 16:15)

"And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household" (Acts 16:33)

Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized" (Acts 18:8)

"Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other" (1 Corinthians 1:16)

What does "ALL his household" mean, if not "He, his wife, and ALL their children"? Since this was clearly the common practice of the early Church, undoubtedly many hundreds, if not thousands, of households were baptized in this way. Is it possible that none of them had small children?

If the early Church did not baptize young children, and the Church later decided it would start baptizing them, surely there would have been some faction, perhaps even a majority, who would have protested such a radical change. There is no historical record of any such protest within the Church - one more clear indication that infant baptism was universally accepted by Christians from the very beginning.

In fact, scripture, tradition, and history ALL conclusively reveal that infant baptism is an integral part of Christianity, and was from earliest times. Nothing but modern manmade tradition claims otherwise. Can you really hold up that new tradition against such overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), March 11, 2003.

Paul, when it says and his whole household, we cannot assume that the household included infants, let alone young children.

With the whole bible, we can only take what words God has provided us with. We cannot assume anything, we can only take evidence as proof.

-- Oliver Fischer (spicenut@excite.com), March 11, 2003.


The stories recounted in scripture reveal patterns of Christian living. Do you think that the few examples of Jesus preaching described in the Bible are the only times He preached? Do you think the few healings described are the only healings He performed? Those few examples reveal a pattern - Jesus went from place to place, preaching constantly, and healing people virtually every day. Likewise, the FOUR separate instances described of entire households coming into the faith and being baptized together reveal the common practice of the early Church. It was a normal way of receiving families into the Church, and a great many of those families had small children and infants. It could not be otherwise. And, the rest of the evidence I cited likewise stands.

-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), March 11, 2003.

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