About Pacific Hope
Baptism of Children
Baptism of Children
"We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel underground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor I believe any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with the government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men." - Charles Spurgeon (From The New Park Street Pulpit, Vol. VII, Page 225).
Our brethren in the reformed world who adhere to paedobaptism understand the church to be a mixed multitude of saved and lost people. They believe the church to be made up of believers along with their “covenant children.” In this view, baptism is seen as the functional replacement and sacramental equivalent of the rite of circumcision and symbolizes the internal cleansing from sin. The children of believers are viewed as being included within what is referred to as the 'Covenant Community' and therefore, they too (according to this reasoning) ought to receive this sign of the covenant (baptism). As adherents to credobaptism (confessor’s baptism), we do not see the same continuity of the covenants.
We believe paedobaptism to be inconsistent with the nature of Christ’s church, and a practice that actually creates confusion as to the identity of the true body of Christ. It is our conviction that the Scriptures teach that the true church is made up only of regenerate believers. There is no parallel that can be made to the covenant community of Israel in the Old Testament and the covenant community under the New.
We postpone the baptism of our children until the work of God, in election and calling are made visible in and through a faith that God alone births into the soul of His divinely chosen people, according to His sovereign grace, as the New Covenant declares.
Scripture does not state a specific minimum age requirement for baptism, however it is made very clear that baptism is reserved only for those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone. Among those who practice believer’s baptism, there is some debate as to when a believing child should be baptized. Some advocate that a child should be baptized immediately on any profession of faith regardless of age, while others believe that it is wise to wait until the child is old enough to stand on his or her own profession of faith apart from the care, guidance, and direction of their parents. Proponents of both views intend to obey the Scriptures and adhere to the same teachings about the significance and role of baptism. The most notable difference between the two viewpoints is the perception of whether the greater danger is in the unwitting discouragement of young believers, or in aiding the deception of false converts. Those who are concerned more with discouraging a young believer would tend to baptize at an earlier age, while those more concerned with the possibility of aiding in the deception of a false convert would defer baptism until maturity. Regardless of when baptism occurs, it is agreed upon that salvation at the earliest ages of responsible action and repentant faith is possible and valid, and that is indeed our sincere desire for all the children of the church. 1
After searching the Scriptures and careful study, the Elders of Pacific Hope Church share the conviction that the most prudent approach is to withhold baptism until a child has reached maturity. Waiting in this manner reduces the chance of “nominalism and false conversions. It emphasizes the importance of baptism and clarifies that it is faith, not baptism, that saves. It allows time for the child to be better taught, to emphasize humility while waiting, to mature, and to better remember, cherish and use the experience of his or her baptism. True conversion manifests itself over time. Children are childlike and trusting for a reason. To ask a pastor to try to separate out the tightly knit strands of affection for parents and for God, and to discern which is primary in a child is to ask more than may be best for the child. Time allows the child’s faith to mature and evidence itself consistently.”2 We agree fully with Capitol Hill Baptist Church statement regarding the baptism of children that can be found here.
In summary, we believe baptism is an ordinance for those who understand what is being done, and why. There must be evidence of the ability to understand and respond to the gospel as well as the maturity to relate to the church as an individual, rather than being primarily under the authority and leadership of his or her parents.
Finally, we believe children are vitally important in the life of the body. They should be included and engaged in service to the church alongside their parents, as well as age appropriate Bible studies, prayer, and fellowship. As Mark Dever wisely states, “A refusal to baptize is not intended as a statement asserting that the child is not regenerate, but simply as a reluctance publically to affirm that which has not yet been maturely evidenced. Parents can hold a baptistic position and still love and spiritually care for their children. The children of believing parents do not need baptism to be taught the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the gospel in all its fullness.”3 Above all, we desire to bring glory and honor to Christ in our observance of His command to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
For more information or for questions in this regard, contact the church office.
For a full discussion on these topics see chapter 10, “Baptism in the Context of the Local Church” found in “Believers Baptism – Sign of the New Covenant in Christ” (Available on Amazon.com)
2 Mark E. Dever, Believers Baptism – Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, 349-350
3 The excerpt above was quoted, unedited, from Capitol Hill Baptist Church and can be found at the following URL: http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/ministries/children/baptism-of-children/