Question:

A Catholic and I debated the topic of infant baptism. He used the argument of "household" referring to babies as well. When I told him that households could mean teens or servants he said that he would rather follow the practice of infant baptism followed by earlier Christians 2000 years ago.

He then argued that the Bible is alone not sufficient. He asked me to prove "Where, in the Bible and the Bible alone, does the Bible teach the Bible alone?" When I quoted Timothy "All scripture is inspired by God....", he said "scripture" refers to the Old Testament.

How can I prove to him that infant baptism is nonsensical, even after talking to him about the household topic, etc.?

Answer:

Christians are required to teach the gospel. It is up to the ones listening to decide whether to accept the message or not. Keep in mind that Jesus, the Master Teacher, was not able to convince everyone he taught; therefore, don't expect to be able to convince everyone you teach. You are not greater than the Lord.

You did get the person to indirectly acknowledge that "household" does not necessarily include children. This is why he shifted his argument. He knows the Bible doesn't support his claim so he states that tradition trumps the Bible.

Honest Roman Catholics will admit that infant baptism did not appear in the church until the second or third century. Consider these Roman Catholic sources:

  • “There is no express mention of the baptism of infants in the New Testament” [Question Box, page 23].
  •  “It is difficult to give strict proof from the scriptures in favor of it” [Catholic Dictionary, page 61].
  •  “There is no express precept or rule given in the New Testament for the baptism of infants” [Bishop Burnet].
  •  “Catholic controversialists soon proved to the Protestants that to be logical and consistent they must admit unwritten tradition. Otherwise by what right did they rest on Sunday and not on Saturday? How could they regard infant baptism as valid, or baptism by infusion?” [Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XV, page 7].

In other words, according to the Roman Catholics, the practice of infant baptism is based solely on their traditions and is not found in the Scriptures. The earliest mention of infant baptism is by Irenaeus in c. AD 180: “For he came to save all through means of Himself – all, I say, who through Him are born again to God – infants and children, and boys, and youths, and old men” [Against Heresies, vol. 1, p. 391]. Origen (185-c. 254) also mentions infant baptism: “Baptism according to the practice of the church is given even to infants.” This is not something that was always done, but it was a very early innovation.

I suspect the initial impulse to baptize infants was to imitate the Jews and have a ritual that would keep children in the church as they grew up. Later, a justification was sought for that practice that was already being done. “Ecclesiastical custom with regard to the administration of Baptism has undergone a change in the course of history. Whereas the early Church baptized adults only, the baptism of children soon became the usual practice” [Pastoral Medicine, pages 32-33]. What developed was a belief that sin was inherited from Adam. “Where in the fourth and fifth centuries the doctrine of original sin became better known, the practice of infant baptism progressed rapidly” [Legislation on the Sacraments in the New Code of Canon Law, page 72].

This is why the person you are talking to insists that infant baptism is necessary. From his view, to not baptize an infant places the child at risk of going to hell if he dies early. Therefore, you won't make much progress on infant baptism until you address the issue of original sin.

But all of this will be difficult because he doesn't accept the authority of the Bible. Without a common foundation, it will be hard to prove points.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Timothy 3:16-17).

"Scripture" means sacred writings. All Scripture is sacred because it comes from the mouth of God. But do only the Old Testament writings come from God? Paul claimed that he wrote as guided by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:10-13). Peter stated that Paul's writings were Scripture in II Peter 3:15-16. Therefore, the New Testament is just as much Scripture as the Old Testament.

According to Peter, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust" (II Peter 1:2-4). "Everything" doesn't leave out much. In fact, when the man you are debating goes to his traditions, he is stating that God didn't give knowledge of everything pertaining to life and godliness and that the Scriptures aren't able to make a man complete. In other words, his position contradicts the statements of Peter and Paul.

In reality, he should be proving how traditions written by men can add to the Scriptures that come from God and still be right. People who have done this in the past have been condemned for it. "... you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Matthew 15:6-9).

Response:

Wow, you are so good at explaining things. Thanks a lot!

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