Tuesday, September 05, 2006

When should a child be baptised?

Serious canvassing of opinions needed here:

On the subject of believers' baptism: at what age should a child be baptised? As soon as they ask? When they're 12? 15?

Theological arguments/personal opinions: all welcomed........

6 comments:

  1. Just do them as a baby. :-)

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  2. So ...the leadership positions you hold talkrhubarb....is that in...what kind of church is it again?? :-)

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  3. hi Lynn. My background is as a minister in a believers baptism church and I'm big on the freedom of people to choose - hence not keen on infant baptism. But at what age? When children asked for baptism by that I mean folks as young as 11 and 12 we would talk with them and talk with their parents and if it seemed that they were loving Jesus and appreciated that this was something that being a follower meant - we went with it. Some folks would say - but what if they then fall away - well I've seen older folks baptised and fall away. For me believers baptism was both a confession of faith and a sign of God's welcoming love and grace not an either or. In so far as we could, however, check out the first part - personal confession I wanted to do so. I was always uneasy about baptising folks under 16 without talking with their parents - the main reason being that they could verify in terms of life lived whether or not the person was living it out - just as important as them saying or being able to say the right words! I also used every baptism service as an occassion to remind everyone present of their own baptism giving them an opportunity as it were to re-visit their own baptisms so that in a sense it never aged. Was this right - seemed like good practice at least to me that is all I will claim. My own daughter was 11 when baptised. Had asked to be baptised earlier but we told her that if she still felt the same way at 11 she would be baptised then - and was.

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  4. Thanks for those comments, Stuart. Very helpful :-)

    I posed the question because in March I attended a conference at a Canadian church and witnessed the very moving baptism of children aged 4, 8, 9 and 11.

    Yes, their parents were present and not only had been consulted, but they assisted the children's pastor in the baptism itself.

    They also testified in their own words as to why they wanted to be baptised and what Jesus meant to them.

    Powerful stuff.

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  5. Hi, realise I am visiting an old post, but anyway.....I was baptised at age 12 and I was able to say all the right things to the elders who 'interviewed' me. Having been brought up in a Christian home (brethren!) I had a reasonable head knowledge of what was expected.

    However, fast forward to age 37 where I realise I now have a heart knowledge of Jesus, my first thoughts were it's not fair my baptism was a false testimony.....so I am considering being baptised again.

    I wouldn't recomend anyone under 16 - 18 being baptised, I'm sure as an adult the commitment is more meaningful.

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  6. TC (top cat?) doesn't matter that it's an old post, your contribution is very welcome!

    Thanks for your thoughts. They provide much food for thought.

    I'd just throw in that, alongside Stuart, I've observed many adults who get baptised and then fall away - being an adult doesn't necessarily prevent such a slide. Most interesting is the research by George Barna (www.barna.org) and also in Lausanne Occasional Paper 47 (www.lausanne.org) that says that children who love and follow Jesus are MORE LIKELY to remain active and alive in their faith. The highest rates of "falling away" are amongst those who become Christians at age 18+

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