Letting some orthodox doctrines in the bible stay as mysteries instead of dogmas

Not sure this verse really supports infant baptism, though it is indicative of the family and their servants and slaves being considered as a unit in their faith, something we have gotten away from in our individualistic society.
In any case, you inspired me to consult the final authority, Wikipedia, :wink: which has a pretty good article about it. Indeed, it appears it did precede Augustine, but was not in common practice until the church matured around his day. Infant baptism - Wikipedia
There is some indication that it was thought to replace circumcision (much to the relief of the male infants) but I wonder, since circumcision was deemed unnecessary, it seems odd to place another requirement in its stead.
I really don’t feel strongly about it, as I see it as just another form of the baby dedications that most evangelical type denominations have, and agree with you and N. T. Wright about final judgement.

Not that it wasn’t a common practice, but it was not mentioned much. It was not a big deal to be talked about or discussed in church. or in the area of theological discussion, it was not an issue that people would disagree with.

Circumcision is always important for the Jews. It is also important for us as Paul mentioned about the circumcision of the heart. Baptism is important for us because it is God’s way of commanding us to be in covenant with Him though the mode of baptism is unimportant for most christians today.

That is of course the privilege of living in the now where we don’t see baptism like the reformers did and you are of course entitled to your feeling. People had died in vain for arguing about baptism and mode of baptism and that is sad. But we can not overlook the command that is well and clear commanded in the scripture. So whether we are baptised by immersion or sprinkling or bannering, we as believers need to be baptised.

Not sure what that means for infants, or people baptized as infants in your eyes. Do they count? I would say that if the individual was fine with it, that is good enough. Some grow up in a Christian home and never believed anything else since childhood.
We are told to “Repent and be baptized”. That sort of implies being of an age capable of repenting, In any case, makes you wonder.

You have raised an important point there and after thinking about it, I want to propose a different angle looking at baptism. What if “repent and be baptised” are two different things even though the rite of baptism definitely followed the repentance of the heart. I always think like that previously.
Then a question might be raised about Jesus’s baptism. Why did Jesus get baptised? He was sinless and no need to repent. What was His baptism meant? Aren’t our baptism follow the baptism of Jesus?

(Matt 3:13-17)Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

We know the Gospel that Jesus preached was about availability of the Kingdom of God to all who believe. Jesus is the King and the Way of that Kingdom. When Jesus was baptised (not because of sin), but as membership of the Kingdom where we dwell in the reign of triune God. (see the holy spirit descend and the voice of the Father). I am now inclined to see baptism as the membership of that Kingdom or the membership of the covenant (in N.T. Wright language). Therefore, Jesus baptism is not about repentance, but about membership in the kingdom/covenant community. Jesus was/is the King and it is appropriate that He was also baptised.

Look at what John said to Jesus …
John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Even John realised that Jesus was the King and the Way to the Kingdom and He (John) need to be baptised by Jesus for the membership to that Kingdom.

That is why infant baptism make a lot of sense to me because it fits in the whole jigsaw puzzle of the plan of God. It was about membership, not about repentance. I know this might be a new way of looking at baptism, but perhaps this is the angle that we have not seen before.

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Circumcision shows that children have always been included in God’s covenants.

It’s about both, I think.

Not in Jesus’s baptism. it was not about repentance for Jesus.

Membership in Jesus’ adoptive family requires repentance.

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True for the adult believers. For infant baptism however, it is the faith of the parents.

Here is an example of how our expectations and the tradition of interpretation affects what we see in the scriptures. The baptism of the ‘household’ does not in any ways tell whether infants were baptized or not. It does not tell if there were small children in the household. It does not even tell whether all adult members of the household became believers or not. It seems that in the biblical scriptures, it is not rare to use generalizations - exceptions may be mentioned in some places, otherwise ‘all’ was something. For example, David always served God faithfully (except …). Postponing someones baptism would be an exception that does not need mentioning.

All interpretations are based on the color of the spectaculars we are using - eisegesis instead of exegesis, if someone wants to use theological terms.

Almost(?) all churches baptize children. The only question is what is a suitable age for baptism. I am not an expert of old writings from the second or third centuries, have read only a very small fraction of these. Yet, it seems that there were differing opinions. In some places, it is likely that also very small children were baptized, children that needed others to speak for them (parents or godparents as advocates). Some apparently considered that the baptism should be postponed until the child was somewhat older. In the diversity of opinions, it becomes important to understand why someone is baptized? Do the very small children need baptism? That is a theological question where interpretations of scriptures becomes influential.
The writings of Augustinus have been influential in this respect but he wrote almost 400 years after Christ. Some consider Augustinus a great man of the church, others would rather call him a great man of misleading error. Again, a matter of interpretation.

Circumcision of infants was indeed used by some as a justification that infants can be baptized. An association of circumcision and baptism only tells that the person did not understand why circumcision was done in the hebrew world. Circumcision was a visible sign of belonging to Israel, the genetic descendants that had a covenant with God; circumcision was a sign of this covenant. The criteria needed to fulfill before circumcision was belonging to Israel (genetic heritance) and the child fulfilled this by being born to the ‘correct’ family. I hope that none of us think being born in the correct family is a criteria of salvation in the new covenant.

Being born in the correct family can be a criteria of salvation if we think that the correct family is the family of God. Being born above, to the family of God, is a criteria that need to be fulfilled for the believer’s baptism. Those supporting infant baptism naturally interpret the scriptures in a different way.

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Just in case you missed my earlier post, I do associate baptism as membership of the covenant just as circumcision did for the Jews.

There were of course cases where people from other ethnics wanted to be converted to Jews. Then circumcision for the adult was applied for that person and he was adopted to the Jewish community.

Therefore, baptism is more a membership of the covenant (or The Kingdom of God) with God, not a sign of repentance.

I agree that baptism is not a sign of repentance. I would rather call it a burial. The dead life/person is buried in the grave of baptism, the new rises from the water.

Do you believe that being born in a correct human family (a Christian family) is a criteria for baptism or salvation?

Yes, it is by grace that an infant of christian parents can be accepted as members of the Kingdom of God just as an infant is born as a Jews. Now, salvation is of course part of the package of being members of the Kingdom of God and an important part of it. However, being a member of the Kingdom of God is not an guarantee for our salvation. There is such a thing of being a good or a bad member. I believe that our whole life will be judged in the end times. Not all descendant of Abraham is the son of Abraham, but only those who walk in the footsteps of faith.
Romans 4:12
and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

a circumsised Jews might have a physical seal in his body, but without faith in God, there are no salvation for him.

In this we disagree.

It is pity that only part of children are born in a Christian family. Pity for those children who had the bad luck they were born in a ‘wrong’ kind of family. It would be terrible if that difference would determine which small children are saved and which doomed. Luckily, I do not believe that family is the criteria that determines the salvation of small children, even if one would receive infant baptism and the other not. This is where our interpretations differ.

By the way, if baptism would be a necessary rite (‘sacrament’) for a small child to be saved, all children born in Christian families that do not practice infant baptism would be in a bad situation. The opposite viewpoint is that all Christians that have only received an infant baptism are not baptized in the sense that Jesus and the apostles were teaching. One way or other, not a nice situation.

You do raise a good point that I have not thought before. I did say that it is by grace that the infants were baptised. I guess grace is not against fairness. Is it fair that one is born in a good christian God fearing family while another child is born in a druggie family and being sexually abused since childhood? Though I don’t know the answer to that question, i can just say that it is by grace if one can be born in such good family.

I agree that it could be called ‘grace’ that someone is born in good conditions. Atheists would probably express it as ‘good luck’. Life is not fair. I believe that God equally loves both, those having been born with ‘a silver spoon in mouth’ and those born in powerty and mistreatment.

Where we grow affects many things in life. The children of poor tend to have less opportunities and less wealth as adults. Nutrition during childhood affects the health and IQ as adult. The children of ‘ungodly’ or serving other kind of gods receive different kind of role models and may not hear the gospel when young. This kind of background may act like a curse in life, a curse that lasts more than one generation.

All curses may be ended in Jesus. That is one reason why we should strive spreading gospel, even within so called ‘Christian’ nations.


No, of course not.

I would really like the Mennonites here to please point me to some Mennonite web sites. I don’t want to assume anything.

Of course, that is a question, but I think the real major question is “What is the purpose and meaning of baptism?” In my tradition, is is a symbol of obedience, and while we do not baptize infants, if your tradition does, I see nothing wrong with doing so, as a symbol of obedience to what you feel you are called to do. If you think the water has some magical properties, I might object, if I could do so in such a way as to not offend.

I agree that ‘What is the purpose and meaning of baptism?’ is the real major question.

It seems that there are different answers to this questions even within the same church.
I know people within the lutheran church who disagree with the ‘official’ doctrine that a child is born again and saved in baptism but support infant baptism. Within those churches that practice believer’s baptism, some think that it is just an act of obedience, others think that it has a greater symbolic value. The word ‘mystery’ is not favored in the circles I usually attend but some may have mystery-like ideas about baptism. Not in the sense that the water would have any magical properties but in the sense that the baptism may have a greater importance in the ‘unseen’ world and in the eyes of God than we understand.

Having the ‘correct’ doctrine does not save. I strive to do what I think is right in the eyes of God, which makes me a bit ‘doctrinal’ person when discussing about interpretations, for example baptism, as you may have noticed. Yet, I stress a wholehearted drive towards living according to the will of God and truth, rather than having the ‘correct’ interpretation about all matters. Probably there are still points where my current interpretation is not fully correct but the attitude is more important - there is always the possibility to change the direction when you notice that your belief or interpretation about something is not quite correct. That is true in matters of both faith and science.

I hope that my comments have not offended anybody. IMHO, telling your idea or interpretation is fully ok even if others do not agree with it or do not like what the interpretation suggests about our world and worldviews. Linguistic challenges (English as a foreign language) may sometimes make the opinions sound a bit rude but that is just a linguistic/cultural/personal handicap that I hope you can forgive.