By David Pyles
There is neither precept nor precedent for the modern practice of infant baptism in all the scriptures, and indeed, this practice is in violation of the scriptures. The historic record apparently offers no clear proof of such practice prior to about 256 A.D., when it is known to have been observed in North Africa. The practice was perpetuated and finally dogmatized by the Roman Catholic church. This unscriptural rite is also seen in many Protestant churches, who inherited it from their Roman ancestors. While the leaders of the Reformation can generally be credited with a zeal toward scriptural compliance in matters of doctrine, their tendency was to neglect scriptures in matters of church practice, opting instead for the vain traditions of men.
The crime of some Protestants now surpasses that of their Roman progenitors in that, whereas the Catholics generally admit there is no scriptural basis for this practice, but justify it on the premise of church authority, some Protestants have sought ingenious ways to justify the practice from the scriptures. But the scriptures are so uncooperative to their designs that the best they can generally offer is the following text:
And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. - Col 2:10-12
They claim this text teaches baptism to be a replacement of the Old Testament practice of circumcision, and that whereas circumcision was administered to infants, the same may be said of baptism. Further, they assert their argument would be even stronger had it not been for what they claim to be an erroneous translation in the King James version. They would typically prefer a translation such as that of the NIV, which reads:
and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. - NIV, Col 2:10-12
It will be claimed that the words having been places the baptism at equal time with the circumcision, thereby proving that one answers to the other.
We are convinced no one would have ever seen such thing in this text had they been reading it through unsoiled glasses. Their argument is manifestly erroneous at several points:
1) Even if the circumcision and baptism in this text were contemporaneous, this would not prove they are the same. If baptism replaced circumcision, then why are they both still of force in this text?
2) An examination of the full context shows that the timing of the circumcision and baptism are relative to the words, And ye are complete in him. That is, they were circumcised and baptized as of the time they were complete in him, but they were not circumcised and baptized at the same time.
3) The NIV weakens the argument for infant baptism when it says, ...raised with him through your faith in the power of God, because one cannot prove that an infant has faith in the absence of special Divine revelation, and most of the paedobaptists would deny that an infant has faith even in the face of this.
4) Their practice of sprinkling the infant is clearly condemned by this scripture because it speaks of being buried with Him in baptism, thereby demanding immersion.
5) If baptism replaced circumcision, then why baptize women?
6) The circumcision of this text is made without hands, yet a baptism involves human hands to the same extent as a fleshly circumcision. The circumcision here clearly represents regeneration or the new birth. It is a circumcision of the heart and is performed by the Spirit (Rom 2:29). 7) This circumcision puts off the body of the sins of the flesh, yet Peter claimed in 1Pet 3:21 that baptism was not the putting away of the filth of the flesh (by which he clearly means moral filth). Obviously, circumcision and baptism are not the same thing, nor is one a replacement of the other. We are amazed that even Protestants who denounce baptismal regeneration will advance this interpretation in support of infant baptism.
Jesus told his Apostles, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Mt 28:19). This text shows who is to be baptized: It is someone who had been taught. We are to teach first, then baptize next. Jesus also said, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mk 16:16). Again, a person is to believe first, then be baptized next. Accordingly, those converted on the day of Pentecost gladly received the word and were then baptized (Acts 2:41). Further, Philip gave the Ethiopian eunuch the condition for being baptized: If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest (Acts 8:37). Philip obviously presented this as a necessary condition. If the eunuch had not believed with all his heart, then he could not have been baptized.
Paul told Timothy, And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (2Tim 2:2). We should all understand the meaning of the word same. Infant baptism is not the same with the teachings of Christ, Paul, or any other scriptural writer. It is our hope and prayer that God's children will withdraw themselves from that which is disorderly and not after the tradition of the scriptures (2Thes 3:6). We are sure their greatest peace and joy can be discovered only in Christ's simple command, Follow me (Jn 21:19).
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