Paedobaptism, christening or infant baptism is a common practice in many christian branches including the catholic church.
Infant or child baptism stands out from normal baptism of older Christians (called believer’s baptism), not just because of age, but because babies cannot possibly confess their faith.
So, is it proper to baptize a child and what does the bible say about unbaptized babies? Can I baptize my child myself? Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
Infant Baptism In The Bible
There are plenty of biblical verses that explicitly state the importance of baptism. Here’s one from Acts 2:38;
And Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And here’s the command from Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 28:19;
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
However, there isn’t a single bible verse that calls for the baptism of infants or children. There’s also no verse that says children cannot be baptized.
In fact, the catholic church and many christian denominations say there are many scriptures that infer to the importance of baptizing everyone, infants and children included. They point out to cases of disciples baptizing entire households, though the scriptures don’t make clear how old the children were.
One of the reasons the church says it is essential to baptize children is to get rid of the original sin. Babies have no actual sin, but they are still tainted by the original sin that descends from Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience.
Here’s Romans 5:12;
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[a] because all sinned.
Baptising infants saves them from the original sin. This makes them ready to receive the holy spirit and become part of the body of christ. As John 3:3 says;
Unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
This applies to everyone, babies included.
So what happens to unbaptized babies?
Well, according to the bible, they are living in sin. Not actual sin – babies are incapable of that – but the original sin. In other words, they are not yet born again.
What if an unbaptized child dies? Where does it go?
Again, the bible is not clear on that. But the latest doctrine from the Vatican, states that unbaptized babies go to heaven instead of being stuck in limbo.
- Read also: My Husband Is Catholic And I Am Not
What About Faith And Confession?
Those who oppose child baptism base their arguments primarily on the inability of babies to confess their faith. They say there isn’t baptism without faith in the church and Jesus.
But Christians refute this by arguing that baptism is not about our statement about God or faith; rather, it’s about God’s forgiveness of our sins. It’s the gateway into salvation and the body of Christ.
So whether a child professes their faith or not doesn’t matter.
Can I Baptize My Child Myself?
In the catholic church, only an ordained minister such as a bishop, priest or deacon can administer baptism. In most cases, your parish priest, or someone deputized by the priest, will perform the baptism.
In normal circumstances, you cannot baptize your child yourself at home or anywhere else.
That said, the Code of Canon Law has specific exceptions. If there is danger of death, anyone who is baptized can perform an emergency baptism and it’ll be valid.
You have to pour water over the head of the child and repeat the proper words:
“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.
But this is only acceptable if the child is in danger of death. Otherwise, you may not administer the sacrament yourself. Read also our article on whether both parents need to be Catholic to baptize their children.