Paedo Baptists: Is the SBC Abandoning a Doctrinal Cornerstone? (by Andy Hynes)

Andy Hynes is a PhD candidate at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Follow him @ABHYNES on Twitter.

This is a question I continue to have concerning the plethora of extremely young children being led by parents or church staff to “ask Jesus into their heart,” or “make a decision to follow Jesus.”  To be honest, what young child that is raised in a “Christian” home and church environment wouldn’t say yeah, “I want to do that?” The problem does not lie in the decision making of the child but the overeager, self-reliant parents and pastoral staff.

Infants have historically been baptized for covenant purposes and to remove the guilt of original sin.  The thought or desire was guarantee that the infant would come to a genuine full salvific faith later in life.  However, the purpose behind baptizing the infant was a “safety” measure for the parents.  Logically the infant has no concept of need for Christ.  It was such a big deal for the 1st generation American Puritans that they later developed the half-way covenant.  The method used to allow concerned grandparents to have their grandchildren baptized as infants, to ensure the covenant promises and blessings.

I see parents today leading young children, who do not have a proper biblical understanding of essential concepts, into a “moment or decision,” that has more ownership by the parent than the child.   Something like this happens…

Child: I want to ask Jesus in my heart.
Parent: Great, why do you want to do that?
Child: I want to be a Christian and go to heaven.
Parent: Okay, let’s pray to ask Jesus to come into your heart.
Parent: Repeat after me…

At that moment absolute RELIEF fills the parent, with the “assurance” that their child is now saved! They come down front, talk for a brief moment with a staff member, and then, to a standing ovation, they are presented as having been saved.  We run them through the baptismal waters to symbolize death and new birth…something a young child can comprehend?

What’s Biblical?

As I read Scripture, two concepts are associated with salvation, repentance and faith.  Without a PROPER understanding of these two ideas, true biblical salvation cannot exist.  Jesus ALWAYS encounters adults when discussing and talking about new birth.  Paul reasons in the temple and synagogue with adults. (I know, what about the passages where Jesus talks about child-like faith, or reserve Him like one of these. Out of context!)

Biblical repentance means a fundamental change from the inside out.  A vital understanding of sin before God, that points one to seek faith in Christ’s atoning work.  Do our young children even have a familiarity with these ideals?  No child or preteen will have the fullness of understanding that a PhD student in Theology possesses, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t demand strong comprehension from our kids! So what is with so many young children being led to ask Jesus into their heart, instead of teaching them what it means to REPENT and TRUST!

I had to get over MYSELF

There was indescribable relief that came over my heart when I grasped the depths of the above truths.  My focus was turned toward pointing my sons to biblical ideas and not traditional concepts.  God removed from my hands the burden of convincing my oldest son who is now 6 to “get saved.” I cannot make my sons pursue repentance and faith.  What I can do is confuse them, and after all it is not about me.  Pointing my sons to Christ comes through spending time teaching them what the Bible actually says, and not what has traditionally been thought.  I am no less a “witness” for Christ to my sons than I am the tribal chief in the bush of Africa!

Instead of asking our kids, “Do you want to be saved, or do you want to ask Jesus into your heart,” let’s not ask them anything, but rather teach them all the truths of the scripture, and specifically those relating to repentance and faith.

Comments

  1. Jon says

    Thanks, Andy, for this very insightful post. I totally agree with what you said. The matter of salvation in Scripture is noticeably associated with repentance and faith, which in turn require a certain level of understanding not present in very young children.

  2. says

    Andy,

    According to Dave Rogers – in 2006 118,741 of 364,826 baptisms were age 11 or under;

    4,179 were children age 5 or under!

    This insanity is driven by the applicaiton of one a dimensional metric = bigger is better and biggest is best. The SBC absolutley refuses to repent of this lie that we have 16.3 million members. Worse, we refuse to repent of the utterly flawed and dangerous soteriological practice which this kind of conduct evidences. God help us! We are more concerned about numbers than we are about genuine regeneration measured not by mere profession but rather by the evidence in ones life of on-going transformation into the image and likenes of Christ.

    Tom Fillinger
    803 413 3509

    • says

      Tom,

      What is the “dangerous soteriological practice” to which you refer? From the reading of this article and your response we are not supposed to present the life changing truth of the Gospel?

      • Andy says

        Tim,

        I think there may be a misunderstanding concerning the point of the post. My suggestion is that we actually present the Gospel of repentance and faith instead of superstitious traditions. This is done over a period of leading and instructing our children. I am by no means implicating that we do not “present the life changing truth of the Gospel.”

        • says

          Andy,

          Let me help with expounding what I am speaking of in referencing the “life changing truth of the Gospel”.

          Your scenario:

          Child: I want to ask Jesus in my heart.
          Parent: Great, why do you want to do that?
          Child: I want to be a Christian and go to heaven.
          Parent: Okay, let’s pray to ask Jesus to come into your heart.
          Parent: Repeat after me…

          HOGWASH!! HOGWASH!! HOOOOOOOOOGWASH!!! What you described is not “dangerous soteriology” (Brother Tom’s words) but just plain HOGWASH. Any preacher that allows that to take place and allow parents to believe their children are saved is guilty of, and should be sued for, ministerial malpractice. That is what liberals do and your position is not even relevant with conservative bible believing churches. Children that tell me they want to get saved because they “love Jesus” are told we celebrate their step to Jesus. They are encouraged to continue praying and speaking to Jesus about this love they have for Him. I tell the parents, in a private conversation with them separate from the child, that I cannot in good conscience baptize their little Sally, or Johnny, simply because they do not see themselves as sinners. No one needs salvation unless they see themselves as a sinner.

          If the parents bring to me their child and, after speaking with the child myself, I find that the child begins to grasp that their desire is based on their lack of pleasing Jesus, then I take another step. I speak to the child about his/her desire to please Jesus and the reason they do not believe Jesus is please with them. I move from that point to speak about the things that may cause them to believe that Jesus is not pleased. Once I inquire and have a sense of understanding that the child believes they are separated from Christ then I move to a question of helping them understand Jesus loves them and can forgive them. It is His work on the cross that provides the forgiveness for their sins and it is Jesus’ love that placed Him there. They have something that separates them from God and it is called sin. It is the sin that separates them that must be forgiven. They are responsible for that sin in their life and if they want to be forgiven they should ask Jesus to forgive them of their sins and release control of their lives to him. I will then ask them if they want to pray asking Jesus to forgive them and to surrender to Him? If they want me to help them with the prayer then I will tell them there is nothing magical in the words. However, if they will take the words I provide and make them theirs as they pray to God, then they will be forgiven of their sins and Jesus will save them.

          So, there you go. The “dangerous soteriology” that Tom speaks about and others want to make fun of is the same practice that W.A. Criswell used.

          • Andy Hynes says

            Tim,

            Unfortunately the notion that this practice doesn’t take place in what may be considered “conservative” churches is just plan naivety. It happens all the time. The scenario I displayed for posting purposes, could be agreed upon is not a “verbatim” conversation. but the implication of the “malpractice” as you call it of today.

            Just because your practice doesn’t line up with what I am saying happens regularly, doesn’t negate the fact that it does. I am grateful your practice doesn’t fit the mold of which I spoke. But with a significant number of the others who have spoken here show me, that it is all to common and concerning.

            Lastly, I do want anyone to see this post as a “making fun of” anyone else. My desire is to see the genuine truth of Scripture taught and preached. I am MANY others I know personally are the products of such faulty Gospel practice.

            I do appreciate your insight, and ministry and faithfulness to the Gospel.

      • says

        Tim,

        The ‘dangerous practice’ that I refer to is the utter and unrelenting drive to crank up numbers; baptisms, members, dollars, etc. Sorry if I was unclear. I agree with Andy – we present the gospel – repent and believe and let the Holy Spirit produce what only He can repentance and faith. Hope this clarifies my post.

        In Grace,

        • says

          Tom,

          The use of the word “soteriology” does not go with “numbers, baptisms, members dollars,etc.” That is what threw me. However, it looks like it also threw Bill Mac.

          • cb scott says

            I do not know every person on this comment thread personally. However, I do know Tim Rogers. No one on this thread has argued over the last seven years on blog threads with Tim Rogers more than have I. We first crossed blog swords during the IMB wars.

            However, I will venture to state here that no one on this thread (or any other thread) preaches the gospel more biblically than Tim Rogers, teaches the gospel more biblically than Tim Rogers, or maintains a practice toward sharing the gospel in biblical clarity to people of all ages than does Tim Rogers.

            Frankly, if every Southern Baptist pastor took as much care in dealing with children, youth, and adults in regard to the biblical gospel as to how an individual is born from above by God as does Tim Rogers, there would be a great number less among the ranks of Southern Baptists who have been baptized, yet are not children of God.

      • cb scott says

        Andy Hynes,

        I have read your post and the comments here a couple of times. For the sake of clarity, I have a question of you based on a statement in your post. You stated:

        “Infants have historically been baptized for covenant purposes and to remove the guilt of original sin. The thought or desire was guarantee that the infant would come to a genuine full salvific faith later in life.”

        For the sake of my personal understanding the content of your post, would you state whether or not you:

        1). Accept the practice of infant baptism as being biblical and therefore a permissible practice for Southern Baptist churches?

        2). Deny the practice of infant baptism as being biblical and therefore should not be a permissible practice for Southern Baptist churches?

  3. says

    I suppose the whole “Bigger is better” thing might come in to play, but I think the bigger problem is a false understanding of saving faith and saving repentance. As long as we think a simple “decision” for Christ saves, we will continue to welcome hordes of lost people.

    • cb scott says

      Clark Dunlap,

      Men serving as pastors of Southern Baptist pastors, who are of a competent understanding of the gospel and the horrible consequences of dying lost, do not “think a simple ‘decision’ for Christ saves.” Nor do they practice the use of the “sinner’s prayer” in the manner that your comment might imply.

      However, any and all sinners must, without exception, ask God’s forgiveness of their sin and believe the biblical gospel to be saved.

      Repentance and faith are inseparably and absolutely necessary for salvation and all sinners who are saved pray prayers of repentance and they place their faith in the atoning work of Christ and Christ alone to be saved. Otherwise, they are not saved and never will be.

  4. Debbie Kaufman says

    Tim: I swear you can rewrite an entire post with just one comment faster and better than anyone I know.

  5. William Thornton says

    Good news here. There are no baptisms reported in the SBC under the age of five these days.

    There was a simple fix. Change the Annual Church Profile so that the youngest category is under ten. Presto! No one can say we are baptizing X amount of under five kiddies.

    Some states may still ask for this data. If so, I would like to hear about it. My state does not.

  6. Dave Miller says

    I think it is important that we exercise care in sharing with Children. They are eager to please.

    With our kids, we proclaimed the gospel from their births and tried to surround them with fertile gospel soil. But we avoided putting any pressure on them to “make a decision.” We spoke the story and told them how they could come to Christ.

    But we then waited for the Spirit to create conviction and the desire to come to Christ.

    I’m not an opponent of (some forms of) the sinner’s prayer, but I think we have to be incredibly careful. The truth comes from God’s Word through us, but the desire to trust Christ must come from them, moved by the Spirit.

  7. Jess Alford says

    Andy,

    Truth-you can’t add to it or take away from it. I never thought that in my lifetime I would see a PhD write something like this. SOMEONE NEEDS TO BUY YOUR DINNER! I have been preaching this for many years. I have had parents to get mad at me for not going through the motions of confession and Baptism. The little children had no idea of what repentence and faith was. All they would say, dad or mom told me to. Andy thanks for the truth.

  8. William Thornton says

    I’m almost afraid to ask it but would my wonderful colleagues here mind saying what the youngest is that they have baptized?

    I think 7 is as young as I ever baptized.

    • Doug Hibbard says

      7.

      My own child, who had started asking to be baptized at 5 and who we talked through at great length the implications of the Gospel and what she was doing. It took a while before I was convinced she was actually saved and not just repeating the facts that she was hearing.

      Given a repeat, I would keep the same delay. In fact, doing so with my son, who at 6 started saying he wants to be baptized and can clearly explain the Gospel. But, since he (usually) follows up with asking if his favorite stuffed animal also needs baptized, I’m thinking he’s not there yet.

        • Doug Hibbard says

          Just 1. Harvey’s a good pup, but he’s got no soul. And he’s supposed to be surface-washed only, so he’s doomed to be a Methodist.

          I am taking oldest daughter’s stuffed bunny to baptize in the Jordan, though.

          And I am really inclined to count pregnant ladies attending church as 1 for them, 1 for the baby. But I don’t. I think the numbers are artificially inflated enough.

        • Doug Hibbard says

          Oldest daughter used to always take her bunny to church. He’s the most Baptist Bunny around…which is why I have avoided baptizing him until I get him to the River :)

          • Christiane says

            I love it!
            My daughter had hundreds of stuffed animals . . . beautiful ones.
            And yes, ever Easter, another cute stuffed bunny. Many bunnies.

            I rather liked them myself. :)

        • Doug Hibbard says

          And all the stuffies have church on Sunday.

          The life-size emperor penguin preaches. You think you know pastors with a Napoleon Complex? Think about what those little fuzzies are going through.

  9. says

    This is a difficult issue, but one that must be addressed seriously, soberly, and with much fear. Thanks Andy for doing just that. I am also encouraged by the positive responses thus far. The ramifications of this failure have confused an unknown multitude and have done great damage to our churches.

    There are many causes ranging from prideful ministerial misconduct to naive well-meaning eagerness. If this is going to change we will first need to repent and the diligently battle sentimentality and superficiality in order to propagate the gospel truthfully and disciple our children intentionally. Programs and formulas will never be a faithful substitute for “making disciples and teaching them to obey all that He has commanded…”

    • says

      Pastor Bill,

      I agree to a certian point. We are responsible for discipleship and should implement it in our churches. However, I also agree with David Brainerd; “I never got away from Jesus and him crucified in my preaching. I found that once these people were gripped by the great evangelical meaning of Christ’s Sacrifice on our behalf, I did not have to give them many instructions about changing their behavior.”

      • says

        I would definitely agree with that… and I think we are saying the same thing. The very fact that you spoke of not needing “many instructions” as opposed to not needing “any instructions,” I think indicates that you also agree that instruction is still necessary. Along with that, I would add that this “teaching” is best handled in the context of organic relationships in the body of Christ formed around the Word. Obedience is learned and encouraged most effectively in the context of fellowship and community.

  10. Christiane says

    Some people brought infants to Jesus to have Him hold them.
    When the disciples saw this, they told the people not to do that.

    • Dave Miller says

      Has anyone suggested that anyone ought to prevent any child from being led toward Jesus? The question, of course, is how old a child needs to be before they are able to make a firm profession of faith in Christ and be baptized.

  11. William Thornton says

    I do not recall a time in my 30 years as a pastor when this was not a troublesome issue, so there’s nothing new here. If anything, I think there has been more awareness and scrutiny given to baptizing younger preschoolers the past decade or so than before, partly because (in my wild conjecture of an opinion) SBC Calvinists have talked about it a good bit.

    SC did an analysis a few years ago that showed that about half of SBC church baptisms in that state were RE-baptisms. One presumes that many of those were teens or adults who were baptized at such a young age that they had no credible salvation experience to recall.

    As a pastor, I’ve been beaten up by parents (and grandparents) because I was too slow to baptize their kiddie-poos and also because I was too fast in baptizing them.

    • says

      I’ve written on this before. I believe that baptism immediately follows profession of salvation. So, I will baptize anyone of any age who can give a credible profession of faith.

      Obviously, with young children a little more work is warranted to make sure that they are understanding things. But I have found that some of these young kids have a pretty amazing understanding.

      • says

        I actually preached about Baptism yesterday, and this would fall pretty much in line with what I said about age. I don’t like the idea of setting a certain age as a rule because everyone is different. I think we can agree that we are not going to baptize an infant or a child that cannot make a profession of faith so using the term “paedo baptist” seems a little alarmist to me. If you are not going to baptize someone unless they make a profession of faith, then you are a credo baptist.

      • David Rogers says

        Dave,

        I think, for me, this issue hinges on what we understand by “credible profession of faith.” Whenever this issue is brought up, almost inevitably people begin talking about how their child (or some other child) was able to explain the gospel perfectly, i.e. that they had an intellectual grasp on the mechanics of the gospel. However, when I study the Bible, I do not find an intellectual grasp on the mechanics of the gospel as a criterion for validating faith and repentance. I can see how, perhaps, a lack of any intellectual understanding at all may well be a hindrance, but faith and repentance imply something beyond intellectual comprehension.

        As I have brought up various times in the past, studies in cognitive development have demonstrated that the last part of the brain to develop is the part that has to do with independent moral decision-making. I think the key here is on two words: independent, and moral. A child under the age of about 12 may well make moral decisions, but they are not truly independent decisions. They may also make some independent decisions that are not truly moral decisions. As I understand it, the decision to become a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ is the most transcendent independent moral decision anyone will ever make.

        So, for me, a credible profession of faith means evidence that someone has truly made an independent moral decision to become a lifelong disciple of Jesus.

        • Frank L. says

          I guess it comes down to who or what we trust: a Sovereign, pursuing, loving God, or “cognitive studies.”

          To say that a child under the age of “about twelve” cannot make “independent moral decisions” does not seem to square with the many, many observations of children under twelve doing exactly that.

          And why pick “about 12?” Have the “cognitive studies” now become so accurate as to pinpoint an age? Also, what about the problem of tying the “will” to “brain function?” Mind/Body debates continue to try to isolate “essence” from “structure.”

          As far as I know, no conclusive study has shown that the “essence of man” is equivalent to “brain structure and function.”

          I’m absolutely certain–as much as humanly possible–that my five years old son, and seven years old daughter made “independent moral decisions to give themselves freely and fully to Jesus Christ.

          Now, I did not autopsy their brains, but I’m still confident of their independent, moral decisions.

          And, I would question whether salvation is a “moral” decision at all. Moral action, in my understanding of the gospel, do not equate to faith.

          • David Rogers says

            Frank,

            I want to be careful not to be argumentative, and I realize there are sensitive emotions involved in this discussion, as it affects most of us very personally. But why 5 and 7? Why not, for example, 2 and 3? Would you be more skeptical about the “independent moral decisions” of a 2- or 3-year-old? Is there something qualitatively different between a 2- or 3-year-old and a 5- or 7-year-old? If so, what is it?

            You say, “To say that a child under the age of ‘about twelve’ cannot make independent moral decisions does not seem to square with the many, many observations of children under twelve doing exactly that.” So it is the observations of many people as over against the observations of other people: brain scientists, in this case.

            If you are not familiar with my entire argument, you should probably read my post on this (especially the suggestions at the end):

            http://sbcimpact.org/2008/07/09/semi-infant-baptism-in-baptist-churches/

            I am NOT saying you should not teach young children to love Jesus, to believe in Jesus, to trust in Jesus, to confess and repent of their sins, etc. I AM saying that you should wait before determining that a child has made an independent moral decision to be a lifelong follower of Jesus before baptizing them.

          • Frank L. says

            “”So it is the observations of many people as over against the observations of other people: brain scientists, in this case.””

            Precisely. I don’t immediately sanction everything that attaches “scientifically proven” to it. This was a major part of my Master’s Degree Thesis.

            So, you an I stand on different sides of the issue. I trust what Jesus said more than I trust what a “brain scientist” said. And, what “brain scientist” has conclusive proof of what the “mind” and “will” is from and essentialist position, rather than a “functionalist?”

            You see, your argument really goes to the issue of “what is man?”

            As far as “why not a 2 or 3 year old,” I suppose you are being sarcastic. I think this is so obvious as to be a rhetorical question so I’ll not try to answer that. As to the difference between a “2 years old” and a “7 years old,” I will defer again to my experience. Everyday I have about a hundred kids running around our campus from two years old to high school.

            You must assume that because I do not bow to “brain scientist” in regard to understanding the soul, that I also disregard developmental psychology. I’ve never made that statement nor conclusion.

            You are confusing issues.

            Here is a major difference in the “Bible approach” versus the “Brain Scientist” approach:

            “”” I AM saying that you should wait before determining that a child has made an independent moral decision to be a lifelong follower of Jesus before baptizing them.”””

            Other than religious hypocrites (Pharisees who were adults), please show me a Scripture where Jesus teaches that baptism should not immediately follow a persons willful decision to believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior.

            I’ve read the Bible many times, but perhaps I missed this verse and it would have a significant impact upon my views of baptism.

          • Frank L. says

            Follow-up:

            How do you respond to the “scientific data (sampling)” that has shown numerous times that somebody that 85% of all people who are baptized into the faith do so before the age of 13 or so?

            If one has to become a Bible scholar of sterling, flawless character and of sufficient age in order to be a proper candidate for baptism, then it seems to me we should close down most of our churches.

            Very few of our churches are growing by focusing on the 15% who are past the age of 13.

            The “too young for Jesus” theology seems to fly in the face of the clear teaching of Jesus, as well as fly in the face of the evidence from experience.

            I do really get emotional when I see so many people who feel called to cast doubt on peoples’ salvation. It is a revival of sorts — a Bailey Smith kind of revival. As much as I embraced his enthusiasm, I would distance myself from his methods.

          • David Rogers says

            Frank,

            I am not just being sarcastic with the 2- or 3-year-old vs. the 5- or 7-year-old question. It is really a serious question, and has a great deal to do with my thinking on this. I would really like to know what is, specifically with regard to the possibility of making an independent moral decision, the difference between them.

            And no, I don’t think that so-called “scientific studies” prove anything in the theological realm. That is why, in my article I link to, I only mention this particular argument several points down the list. But I do think the information learned from scientific studies is interesting, and, in this case, perhaps relevant. And I do not see where the Bible teaches anything that would directly contradict the results of these studies. If it did, that would definitely trump the studies, from my perspective.

            You say: “Other than religious hypocrites (Pharisees who were adults), please show me a Scripture where Jesus teaches that baptism should not immediately follow a persons willful decision to believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior.”

            I say, at the risk of sounding sarcastic (which is not my intention), would this argument not apply to 2- and 3-year-olds as well? If it doesn’t apply to 2- and 3-year-olds, then why to 5- and 7-year-olds?

          • David Rogers says

            Frank,

            RE: your follow-up comment:

            1. I am not sure you really meant to say “baptized into the faith.” As I understand it, that phraseology works better with a belief in baptismal regeneration than with a standard Baptist view of baptism.

            2. The fact that 85% are baptized before the age of 13, in my opinion, has very little to do with what percentage make independent moral decisions to become lifelong followers of Jesus before the age of 13.

            It is my theory that one of the reasons many of our churches are floundering is precisely because we focus most of our evangelistic efforts on getting children to make a profession of faith and baptize them before they are truly ready to make a mature decision for Christ and turn from their sins on the basis of their own decision, not just because it is the thing to do, or because they thing it will make Mom and Dad happy. And if they think they are already saved because they walked the aisle at age 7 or 8, it is much more difficult to confront them with their need to truly believe and repent later on when they have a better moral comprehension of the implications of doing so.

            3. I am not saying “too young for Jesus.” Not at all! I am just saying too young for lifelong assurance, and too young for baptism.

            4. I think the Bailey Smith phenomenon has a lot to do with the fact that so many in our churches were baptized before they had a true faith/repentance experience based on an independent moral decision. The way to prevent more of this from happening is to wait to baptize them until they really do have a true faith/repentance experience based on an independent moral decision.

          • David Rogers says

            5. Also, I never said anything about either being a Bible scholar, or having a sterling, flawless character. That is missing my point altogether. It is independent moral decision-making, which is something very different from either of the above.

          • Frank L. says

            David,

            There is not likely going to be any meeting of our hearts on this matter.

            My goal is to be a fruit harvester, not a fruit inspector. If you are correct in your view, then 85% of all Southern Baptists (and others) are lost and going to hell, or are already there.

            I cannot tell you how troubling that thought is for me spiritually and emotionally.

            My only hope is that when asked for a Biblical response from you, you answer with a question. This is typical of a political or philosophical approach to truth.

            I’ll stick with Jesus. If a child comes to me in response to the preaching or teaching of the gospel and wants to fall in love with Jesus and follow Him in obedience, including baptism, I’m going to do just that.

            I have no desire to “categorize” or set a “caste” for who is a proper candidate based upon “age.” I just don’t see “age” as the appropriate measure and I certainly don’t trust “neuroscience” to describe the soul.

            As I said, should I continue in this vein, the only increase would likely be in my blood pressure.

            I respect your right to your opinion.

          • says

            Frank,

            I don’t want to be responsible for raising your blood pressure, so I’ll make this short and sweet. If you don’t want to respond further, I perfectly understand. I have enjoyed our discussion thus far, as it has caused me to further think through my own view, and question myself as to if I am justified or not for what I believe.

            In any case, I do think I need to make clear that I do not believe that 85% of Southern Baptists are lost and going to hell. I do believe that many Southern Baptists came to a point of mature faith and repentance after their baptism, but that doesn’t mean to me they are therefore lost. Whether they should be re-baptized at this point is a different question that I am not sure we need to get in to at this stage.

            Secondly, I am perfectly willing to discuss this issue from a strictly biblical perspective. If you, or someone else, wants to present some specific verses (or even a line of reasoning defending a general biblical motif) that contradicts what I am saying, I will definitely take that into consideration. If what I am saying contradicts what the Bible teaches, then I need to change my perspective. Up to now, I am not convinced, however, that it does.

    • Sam says

      As mentioned earlier, the SBC is too obsessed with numbers and has failed to repent of continuing to misrepresent their total membership numbers of 16 million.

      In many SBC churches, this is how it plays out with regards to children and baptisms throughout their lives:

      Age 5-7 Child says a sinner prayer often at a VBS event and often through some sort of coercion or wanting to please others. I have seen one VBS personally where they had a man dress up as Jesus and the had him knocking at a door and they misused Rev 3:20 and they had “Jesus” walk through the children and wouldnt you know it…20 out of the 30 children ages 5-9 made a “profession” And this was just 5 years ago. Then these young children are baptized. Baptism #1

      Fast forward to the child becoming a teenager and going to a summer camp. They come back to their church and say that they really werent saved when they were younger and now realize they are now saved and want to be baptized again. Baptism #2

      Fast forward into college….child goes away and engages in some sinful practices but then realizes that they were wrong and want to rededicate their life to Christ…so here we go again, Baptism #3

      In this SBC church, all THREE of these baptisms are reported through the years. Another example of misleading and false numbers.

      Multiple baptisms are not biblical. It is a shameful practice that should not occur at SBC churches.

      • Dave Miller says

        I have been ministering in SBC churches for 31 years. I have not observed the scenario you raise. It may happen, but if it is any kind of pattern, I have not observed it.

        • Doug Hibbard says

          I had a roommate in college that went through that pattern, but I would not say it is normative.

          It is possible, but what are you going to do? Tell a person that you will not baptize them as an adult?

        • Sam says

          Have you ever baptized a person more than once?

          Have you in your 31 years, heard of people in SBC churches being baptized more than once? Once as small child and later in life?

          Do you think there is biblical support for baptizing people more than once?

          • Dave Miller says

            You presented a scenario as if it were common practice. Of course I’ve known people who got baptized twice. Rare. Not the common practice you came down off the mountain condemning.

            I think your proud pronouncements and condemnations are based more on a fantasy than reality. There may be people who do this kind of thing, but to accuse the whole SBC of the practice us unfair.

          • Dave Miller says

            Do you really believe that this is common and approved practice from which we must all repent?

          • Dave Miller says

            Your original comments didn’t say just that this happens. You called all of us to repent over a sin that you listed against all of us. If you are going to throw accusation bombs, you ought to have some statistical support or something, to buttress your harsh accusations.

          • Dale Pugh says

            I was baptized twice. Once at the age of 12 and once again at 17. The fact is that, at 12, I was baptized as a matter of course when I made a “profession of faith.” That was a hollow and insincere profession on my part, but how was anyone to know? I said the right things, followed the preacher in prayer, and got dunked.
            When I was 17, I was truly convicted of sin and sincerely repented. It was my conviction that I needed to be baptized to give witness to my faith. That first baptism meant nothing to me. The second one was a powerful and meaningful experience in my life.
            Each church counted each baptism. The first had no way of knowing what was going on in my heart and life. The second one was well aware of my first baptism. There was a hesitancy to “re-baptize” me, but they did it at my insistence.
            If baptism is, as we teach, a meaningful symbol and not, as others teach, a step in salvation, then I think the protest over multiple baptisms (and I will admit that there are a few of those out there) is wrongly asserted.

          • Dave Miller says

            Yes, when this happens, I counsel with care. There is a lady in our church who was baptized as a kid, strayed into sin and then came back. She’s not sure if she was saved young or later, so we wait. If we do ever baptize her, it will be with great rejoicing over what His has done.

          • says

            These four reply comments together are hilarious because it looks like you are talking to yourself. Which is something I’ve been suspecting for quite some time now. LOL.

          • says

            Dale,

            I had a similar experience though mine was 3 times.

            But just to clarify something you said,

            “If baptism is, as we teach, a meaningful symbol and not, as others teach, a step in salvation…”

            The Reformed paedobaptists do not believe nor practice that baptism is a step in salvation…like the RCC. Not sure you meant it that way, but just clarifying.

          • Dale Pugh says

            I was referring to those who teach that baptism is a necessary part of the salvation experience. If the Reformed paedobaptizers don’t teach that, then I wasn’t referring to them. I had in mind my own experience with some of our local Church of Christ folks (not all of them believe this, by the way).

          • Dale Pugh says

            Obviously, theoldadam would fall into that same category of those who believe baptism is a step in the salvation process. Read his/her comments below.

          • says

            There is Biblical support for baptizing people after their profession of faith.

            So, if someone gets put under water by a pastor in a church service following something that is not a profession of faith, then there is reason to actually baptize them when they make that profession.

            There is certainly a challenge on the opening end of the chain you describe: do all that can be done before the first time–but you cannot always be 100% certain.

          • Dale Pugh says

            Les, you say that not all Reformed paedobaptists believe that salvation is an essential step in salvation. That would then lead me to ask why they practice paedobaptistm and not credo baptism. Seems rather illogical on top of being completely unscriptural.

          • says

            Dale,

            “That would then lead me to ask why they practice paedobaptistm and not credo baptism. Seems rather illogical on top of being completely unscriptural.”

            I realize that all SBs believe that paedo baptism is unscriptural and really no baptism at all. So I expect that charge on here and other SB sites. I expect people to say paedos don’t take obedience to the bible seriously (CB). So no problem. I get that and no hurt feelings here. That last one might come as a surprise to someone like RC Sproul and that late Jim Boice and Jim Kennedy.

            But as to your question, why practice it? Suffice it to say that paedos believe that infant baptism is obedience to placing the covenant sign (Abrahamic covenant) on the members of the covenant community.

            That’s all I’ll say now. I respect that this is a SB site and I never want to be seen as trying to push paedobaptism on anyone here. I try to be very careful about that.

            Now if Dave wants to allow that rabbit trail, well…

            Les

  12. says

    I baptized my daughter at age 6. She had been asking about salvation for months, seemed to have a grasp of her sin and need for forgiveness, the work of Jesus, etc. I was satisfied, but wasn’t sure if I was just being biased so I took her to another pastor I trust and had him talk with her. He was also satisfied with everything she said. Both of us expressed reluctance about age, but if I had the same conversation with an older person I would baptize without hesitation, so I went forward with the baptism.

    Talked with someone else not much older than her a few months later, it was pretty clear he wasn’t ready so I encouraged his parents to keep sharing with him and teaching him but I told them he didn’t seem to display a real understanding of sin and salvation so I couldn’t baptize him.

    My next oldest daughter has talked some about baptism but it is quite clear she isn’t ready so we’ve not even begun to think about that with her.

    I’ve done one other under-ten, if I recall correctly, again after a clear demonstration of understanding sin and salvation.

    All that to say, I don’t set a hard age limit. I know some pastors do and I see the value of setting age requirements, but I’m hesitant to do that. I believe God can save even children, and that such children should not be withheld from baptism. At the same time, extra care should be taken with children to ensure what has been mentioned again and again in this post: that we are not baptizing children who are delightful and charming and know the right answers but otherwise unsaved.

    As an aside, what about baby dedications? As a general rule I don’t do them unless specifically asked – and even then I lean toward encouraging parents away from them. A baby dedication always strikes me as little more than infant baptism without the water.

    • Doug Hibbard says

      I have done them but used the term Parent Dedications instead. The whole of the focus is that the parents are committing themselves to raise their children according the Word; to live out their marriage according to the Word; and asking the church for support in prayer and help with teaching, according to the Word.

    • Donald R. Holmes says

      “A baby dedication always strikes me as little more than infant baptism without the water.”

      Chris,
      I’m not really following you here. In your baby dedications do you believe the dedication to wash away original sin? Do you believe it to, somehow, demonstrate infant faith? Please explain.

      Donald

    • Dave Miller says

      The difference is significant.

      No one seems to believe that the baby dedication washes away sins or guarantees a place in heaven. But around here, when I attend funerals in churches that practice sprinkling infants, the focus seems to be on how the deceased’s place in heaven was won by the (so-called) baptism.

      There is a real difference.

    • cb scott says

      Paedo-Baptists are like Unicorns.

      They are mythological creatures who have received much attention and ink to paper, but they have never taken into their lungs the air of this planet, for on this planet, they do not exist. . . nor do they exist in Holy Writ.

  13. Andy Hynes says

    My intentions with this post were not to create fights or discord. I think as a pastor or a parent, if you are LONGING to please the Lord with this area of your life, concerning your kids, or others, then He will guide you. I am not putting an age to the issue. However, the issue isn’t over baptism, but a biblical understanding of repentance and faith. I will always go back to that issue.

    I appreciate the feedback, and critique. You all are iron sharpening me!

    • says

      I did a couple of things last year that I intend to do regularly…

      I had a “Helping Children Understand the Gospel” class. Spoke of patiently and diligently teaching children toward a biblical understanding of sin, repentance, and faith. I also made some helpful resources available for family worship, family discipleship, books on parenting… pretty much anything I could find that could be helpful.

      I also had a baptism class for those interested in baptism – this particular one was directed specifically at children and their parents. In it I introduced three conversations I wanted the parent (or other adult) to have with the child. (1) What is the gospel? (2) What is salvation (and why they need to be saved)? (3) What is baptism (what it symbolizes)?

      Those were the gist of the questions/conversations. I then left the ball largely in the parents’ court. Clearly not looking for perfect understanding, but a reasonable demonstration. Another major intention was to establish (or reinforce or help facilitate) a discipling relationship with a meaningful adult in their life.

  14. Randall Cofield says

    During the preaching hour yesterday morning I noticed a young mother, about 30 years old, weeping profusely. As is my custom, I invited anyone with whom the Lord was dealing to join me in my study after the service.

    She burst through the study door immediately after the closing prayer. Said she had made a “decision” and was baptized at 11 years old. And the pattern of her “conversion” was eerily similar to that which Andy lays out in this article.

    She informed me that she had never realized she was a sinner, and had never understood the gospel until that very morning. She was devastated to discover the she was still lost in her sins.

    After carefully confirming that she understood the gospel, I prayed for her and encouraged her to sequester herself for the rest of the day and beg God to have mercy upon her and save her.

    I received a phone call from her at 5:15 pm. At 4:45 pm., while on her knees in her back yard, this dear young wife and mother was radically converted to Jesus Christ.

    No “repeat-after-me” prayer, no “decide to follow Jesus” appeal, not even an “invitation” song. Just the omnipotent, convicting, convincing, converting power of the Holy Spirit.

    Our churches are full of “members” who are, even now, as this young lady was–duped by a conscienceless pastor and headed for hell….

    • Frank L. says

      “”I prayed for her and encouraged her to sequester herself for the rest of the day and beg God to have mercy upon her and save her.””

      I have a couple questions: is the “rest of the day” a sufficient amount of time? Where does it say we must “beg God” to do what He said is his heart to do?

      It seems your approach is at least as man-centered as helping someone put into words what God has put into her heart. It seems to me that your approach was one focused on the “emotion” not the will.

      I just don’t see where this approach is anymore of a guarantee that someone is saved than other methods. I’m missing the great improvement.

      What if she hears another sermon in another thirty years and decides she did not really understand everything this time — that is likely to be the case if she continues to grow.

      It seems much easier to me to help people to believe their doubts rather than trust their belief. I don’t think you story particularly clears anything up. It certainly does not bolster the idea that a person must have a “grown up” understanding to be truly saved, as you story could imply.

      • Randall Cofield says

        Frank L,

        “I have a couple questions: is the “rest of the day” a sufficient amount of time?”

        It appears that in this case it was. The Spirit was clearly convicting her, she understood her sinfulness before holy God, and she understood the gospel. I had every reason to believe that if she genuinely called upon the Lord she would be saved. I even told my wife privately that I fully expected the young lady would be saved before the sun went down.

        So, what is your point?

        “Where does it say we must “beg God” to do what He said is his heart to do?”

        I find that question astounding, but this is my response:

        Luke 18:10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
        11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
        12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
        13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
        14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.
        For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

        If that’s not begging God for mercy I’m not sure what is.

        “It seems to me that your approach was one focused on the “emotion” not the will.”

        I’m not sure how to respond to that other than to ask if you’re sure you read the account of the matter thoroughly. My focus was neither on her emotion or her will, but on the mighty working of the Holy Spirit.

        “It seems much easier to me to help people to believe their doubts rather than trust their belief.”

        It seems much “easier” (and biblical) to me to point people to repentance and faith in Lord Jesus, get out of the way, and watch the Holy Spirit sovereignly birth them from above. That way they are not “trust(ing) their belief,” but are embracing the faith newly-created in them by the operation of the omnipotent Spirit.

        But that’s just me. ;-)

    • Jess Alford says

      Randall Cofield,

      That was beautiful. I believe you were under the power of the Holy Spirit when you told this lady what to do. The Holy Spirit was
      convicting her in a major way. This is what I love to see.

  15. says

    We love to Baptize infants because it gets the order right; God’s grace before our faith.

    When faith comes, then Baptism is complete.

    God’s promises, made in Baptism (it is God who does the Baptizing) are always good, no matter the capacity of the Baptized at the time. And the Holy Spirit is quite capable of speaking to that infant (or anyone) in “sighs too deep for words”.

    I know this is not popular here, but it is very popular with us Lutheran types, who love to Baptize anyone, but infants most especially…and then teach that child as it grows the great things that God has done for them in their Baptism.

    Thanks.

  16. Jess Alford says

    Not too many years ago you could look up Baptist in the dictionary and it would say the following, a member of any various Prostestant demoniations believing that the sacrament of baptism should be given to adult members upon profession of faith and usually by immersion.
    This is what my American Heritage dictionary says that I purchased back in the early 70’s.

    I have said this several times and I will say it again. Kids are being baptized at three and four years old. To me that is a baby. It will not be long before we will be joining our Catholic friends.

    Something needs done about bringing children in to early, they already belong to God. If a child doesn’t understand business meetings they shouldn’t be Baptized. They are full members after baptism and allowed to vote in business. Friends we are doing something wrong, and we know what it is.

    • Christiane says

      Hi JESS . . .
      your Catholic friends do baptist their babies (I did) . . . and then, when the child reaches the APPROPRIATE AGE ( somewhere between seven and sixteen), the child is confirmed in their faith by a bishop of the Church. Confirmation is a formal ceremony involving chrismation. It cannot be done without full preparation on the part of the candidate (Christian formation).

      Now, the Eastern Christians do Baptism and Chrismation all at one time and they dip the baby three times in the water (has to do with the Holy Trinity).

      I suspect strongly that mirrors the concept of ‘dedication’ of an infant and much later, the ‘confession of faith’ before a baptism,
      but, of course, we see the two processes in a very different way, I know.

      • Jess Alford says

        Christiane,

        You are putting the cart before the horse, Conviction, repentence, profession, baptism. This is scriptural.

  17. says

    Do you meant to tell me that the Bible says no infant Baptism?

    It does not.

    It does not say to Baptize infants, either. But Jesus said “go…baptize and teach (ponta ethane – all peoples)…”.

    Whole households were baptized, according to Scripture. Your smugness about it not being biblical belies a dishonesty that the Bible prohibits it.

    • Dave Miller says

      Every instance of Baptism in the NT is of someone who has previously made a profession of faith.

      There is absolutely no biblical support for sprinkling infants. I do not call it baptism, because biblically, it is not a baptism until the candidate professes faith in Christ.

      • says

        I am going to work on fleshing this out more and would welcome any comments that would help if I am mistaken, but I have noticed that the NT makes a distinction between “sprinkling” and “washing” (and cites the two together as distinct and separate things). Sprinkling is tied to talk of purification, which would mean that the apostles were referencing the use of the water mixed with the red heifer as in Numbers 19. Washing would be references to baptism, which is always done by immersion and has different connotations. Baptism wasn’t invented by the apostles after all. Simply put, sprinkling is not baptism according to the New Testament.

    • says

      “all peoples” in context means all people groups. Jesus was sending His disciples with the the gospel “to the nations” and not just to Israel.

  18. says

    John the Baptist did cartwheels in the womb (at the mere nearness of Jesus) did he not?

    So much for your theory about infants being incapable of being moved by the Holy Spirit.

    Grace before faith. It’s places God at the center…and not us.

    • Dave Miller says

      That is a pretty amazing hermeneutical stretch there. John’s movement in the womb at the nearness of Jesus justifies sprinkling children? In violation of every single teaching on baptism in the NT?

      • says

        It means to say that God can certainly quicken the trust (of Himself) in some children, if He wills so.

        Please name for me one verse that states that children or infants should not be baptized.

        When they baptized “whole households” there were certainly little ones who were baptized.

        Almost all the Reformers of the church were baptized as infants, and none were re-baptized, that I am aware of. Was God not at work in those baptisms?

        For almost 1,000 years, virtually every Christian that came down the pike was baptized as an infant. Are you telling me that there weren’t any real Christians during that time?

        • cb scott says

          “For almost 1,000 years, virtually every Christian that came down the pike was baptized as an infant. Are you telling me that there weren’t any real Christians during that time?”

          The question, “Are you telling me that there weren’t any real Christians during that time?” is not the right question.

          The right question is; For any period in the history of the Christian Church was the practice of infant baptism by Christians a biblical practice?

          The answer is and always will be: No.

  19. Bruce H. says

    Usually, when a child “accepts Jesus in their heart” the soul winner seals their fate by instructing them in “once saved always saved” doctrine. That is one thing I had on my mind till I was 25 years old and the Spirit revealed to me what was missing. Had not the Spirit opened my eyes I would still be lost in sin.

  20. Jess Alford says

    The Scripture tells us that we are buried with him (Jesus) in baptism.
    I submit to you that the entire body of Jesus was in that tomb with a large stone rolled over the entrance of that tomb. This is what scripture means to be buried. No part of the Saviours body was sticking out of the tomb.
    Complete immersion in water after salvation is Biblical.

  21. Sam says

    SBC pastors need to repent of baptizing the same person multiple times. The irony is lost on them that they decry the practice of infant baptism as being unbiblical but they will not find scriptural support for baptizing people multiple times. Often in the form of:

    First Baptism: Child at young age
    Second Baptism: Child in the teens
    Third Baptism: Child grows older and wants to “rededicate” his life

    The SBC has no higher ground on this over the paedobaptist that they like to deride. Many SBC churches as mentioned baptize very young children. Functionally, little difference from infant baptism. And changing the ACP report to children under the age of ten is just laughable.

    The SBC must take the LOG out of its own eye in regards to their attacks on the practice of infant baptism. The SBC is responsible for more false professions of faith and false assurances than the practice of infant baptism is.

    The altar call and sinner’s prayer have become sacred cow man made traditions within the SBC.

    Repent first, SBC, before you get on you moral high horse about paedobaptism

    • Dave Miller says

      There is a HUGE difference between baptizing a young child and sprinkling infants. One has made a profession of faith in Christ and the other has not. I will never apologize or repent of baptizing anyone who makes a clear profession of faith. To do otherwise, I believe, would be to shirk my duty and disobey God.

      • Sam says

        Not much functional difference at all if the young child has as much understanding of what is happening than an infant does.

        A false profession of faith made through means of coercion, guilt, peer pressure, fear, manipulation, etc….is not a profession of faith at all.

        And would you baptize that child again as a teen if they came to you and said their profession at the time was made for the above reasons BUT now they have come to faith?

        And of course, you should not apologize for your rightful administration of your duties, but sad thing is that many SBC pastors are not as responsible as you are when it comes to small children and professions of faith.

        However, I feel it is delusional to deny that it is a problem within the SBC at the current time. And until the SBC changes their practices, they have no moral or biblical high ground in the debate against infant baptisms.

        • Dave Miller says

          If course there are instances where this happened. But tour accusation was not that it happened, but that it was a common strategy in the SBC from which we must all repent.

          • Sam says

            Because it happens far too often within SBC churches. I have seen it growing up in an SBC churches and different SBC churches I have attended in adulthood.

            Every SBC church that I have attended in my lifetime would baptize children as young as 4-5 years old and baptize the same person multiple times.

            I do think it is a matter of repentance for the SBC as it is basically an extension of the wide spread adoption and legacy of Charles Finney practices that are widely followed in the SBC today.

          • Dave Miller says

            Be careful, though, about extrapolating your experience into a general condemnation if all Southern Baptists.

          • says

            I don’t condemn anyone. I judge no one.

            I’m just trying to let you in on a more excellent way that is Christ (grace) centered and not man centered. Grace before faith. It’s biblical and it is liberating from the ‘religious project’ which so many Christians around the world are engaged in.

            Thanks, very much.

          • Joel Hunt says

            Once you grasp the concept that that the salvific grace which comes through baptism is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (which occurs upon regeneration), and that the water baptism is merely that act of obedience we undergo to symbolize our acceptance in faith of the grace which God has freely bestowed upon us, the arguments about the mode become remarkably unimportant.

            In my understanding (and in my church), we treat our children as covenant members of the body, considering in faith that they are elect members of the true Church, until such a time in life that they should, of their own accord, demonstrate that they are not. This does not however translate into a need to baptize infants. While we do baptize young children, we do so only after a period of examination in which both the parents and the church leadership evaluate the child for evidence or fruit of genuine conversion. I would say that 10-14 is perhaps the average age at which children submit themselves for baptism, although we are preparing to baptize my daughter at age 6, after a yearlong period in which we have sought to make sure she is showing true signs of a heart repentant before the Lord.

            As to the mode, I have studied both side of the baptism debate, paedo and credo, for the past 20+ years, having been born and baptized in a PCA environment, spent 12 years in an A/G church, then a homechurch which practiced according to the beliefs of the parents, and for the past eight years in a variety of baptist denominations. We are currently in a Founder’s SBC congregation, which is confessionally reformed, but strongly credo.

            I am convinced that water applied in any form is an adequate expression of the symbolic washing away of sin (which as aforementioned, is a mere act of obedience to an act already accomplished by the Spirit), though I must admit that I am heavily prejudiced to the act of immersion for all sort of convincing reasons. That being said, I am not (nor do I feel Scripture is) dogmatic about immersion over sprinkling, and I do not view a sprinkling to be a false baptism as long as it is righteously undertaken in true obedience by the confessor. I’ve seen enough debate over the years by those who are of the sprinkling persuasion to know that there are legitimate arguments to be made for its case, though there are many more that are silly, theological gymnastics, which remind me more of petulant frathouse squabbles than those of a learned seminarian. While I do not personally do not choose to condemn the practice outright, I am as firmly set in my understanding of immersion as the more correct mode as I am in the credo mindset over the paedo.

          • cb scott says

            “. . .the arguments about the mode become remarkably unimportant.”

            Only if you are theologically uncaring as to obedience to the Scripture. Then and only then is the mode of baptism remarkably unimportant.

          • Joel Hunt says

            I didn’t mean that it wasn’t important. I merely meant that understanding that we live by the Spirit of the Law, and not by the letter of the Law makes it to where we can look at things without the legalistic mindset that often hampers us. I DO think the mode has Scriptural significance, but I also think Scripture is less than dogmatic about it. Since immersion seemed to be the cultural norm, and since it was what Christ modeled, I tend to follow along those lines as normative. But there is plenty of room for interpretation, and others interpret it differently.

            I can see legitimacy in the arguments for both modes (not paedo vs credo, but in immersion vs sprinkling/pouring), thus I do not draw a line in the sand about it. For that matter, I do not draw a line in the sand on the paedo issue either, though I would determine it on a case by case basis.

            For instance, many baptist churches fence the Table over the credo/paedo issue. However, I can see room for understanding how someone who was baptized as an infant, and who later came to saving faith (and even concurred with the credo point of view), still might hold to the point of view that being rebaptized would be unscriptural in that it would be crucifiying Christ twice. Even if I disagreed them (as I did, being rebaptized as a believer at age 14), I would not bar them from the Table on the grounds that their baptism was false. If they were indifferent though, or if someone professes Christ, but has no interest in baptism, I would rightfully fence the Table in their regard.

            But even with all that, I still say that the mode is not on which to die over regarding our bretheren in Christ…

    • cb scott says

      If every person who ever called themselves Southern Baptists were suddenly and hopelessly engulfed forever in the flames of hell, paedo-baptism would continue to be an unbiblical practice.

  22. says

    The one thing I find very odd, is that Christians say and believe that Christ Jesus is alive and living in their hearts…but that also say and believe that He could not be present in a bowl of water that His Word is attached to.

    Very odd.

      • says

        You keep saying that without showing me where the Bible prohibits the baptizing of babies.

        St. paul says that “those who have been baptized, have put on Christ”

        That seems to refute what you believe that God could NOT be present in the baptism of which He commanded.

        He is always there for us in that which He commands of us.

        ___

        We are starting to chase our tails here (round and round), so I’ll leave it at that.

        Thanks for allowing me to give our side of the issue.

        You guys have been quite gracious in that way and I do appreciate it.

        • Dave Miller says

          The concept of sprinkling infants was so far from the biblical concept that it would not have occurred to Paul. You are arguing based on a logical fallacy. We are never commanded not to baptize farm animals either. But baptism was an act of public testimony performed immediateky AFTER profession of faith.

        • Jess Alford says

          Scripture tells us in Romans 10 verse 9, that if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.

          I don’t know of any infants that can even talk. I don’t know of any infants that has commited sin to repent of.

        • Frank L. says

          Those who believed were baptized. Also pouring and baptism are two separate words in the NT.

          Finding Jesus “in a bowl” (your words) is pantheistic.

          That’s not chasing any tails but simply reading the Scripture God has given. This is a fundamental fact of faith that many of our forebears gave their lives defending.

    • mike white says

      Very odd indeed.
      He is the Word.
      He became man to share His life with men.
      He never became water.
      He shares Himself with a person through the Spirit.
      Water has no spirit.
      But man does.

      Very odd indeed.

    • cb scott says

      “. . .but that also say and believe that He could not be present in a bowl of water that His Word is attached to.”

      Nor is He in trees, clouds, washing machines, or corn flakes. Frankly Steve Martin, the idea that Christ could be in a bowl of water is very close to pantheism.

  23. Dale Pugh says

    The youngest person I ever baptized was 5 years old. She just turned 20 and is one of the most godly young women you’d want to meet. She has not lived a perfect life, but she has stayed true to her commitment as a little girl. She is now involved in ministry to jr. high kids through her church. While I would now approach such a baptism differently, I think we need to be careful how far we go in our restrictions and prohibitions in regards to baptism. Some kids are ready, others aren’t. It is clear that we must exercise discernment. and godly wisdom in our approach.

  24. says

    We realize that there are problems with Baptism (especially where sinners are concerned).

    My pastor wrote this, this morning:

    “When you were baptized, your history and God’s history were joined in the intimacy of the Spirit. Adoption is one word we use for it. In conformity with the entire trajectory of the biblical witness to Emmanuel, God took the initiative to enter the numbing anonymity of a sinful world and a sinful life – yours. In baptism God entered your story, to claim you as His own by His grace, to be God with and for you, to make you a living member of His body, the Church. But what difference does it make? If living by grace does not in some real, tangible sense become our way of life then are not our claims to life with God nothing but a religious abstraction, a vague, internal ‘spirituality’ which makes no real difference in our lives?”

    An encouragement to live out our Baptisms…in the same grace that God has given us in our Baptisms.

    • cb scott says

      “When you were baptized, your history and God’s history were joined in the intimacy of the Spirit.”

      Find another church where the truth regarding soteriology is taught, lived and preached.

  25. says

    It’s certainly a dangerous practice not to counsel someone, whether a small child or an adult, on the fullness of the gospel. As many adults have been given the “ask Jesus into your heart so you can go to heaven” gospel as small children.

    In Matthew 18, Jesus uses a small child to make some important points about how we should receive and share faith. Verse 6 states that “…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin…” Now, I believe the application is for anyone who is weak in the faith. but I also believe that Jesus is indicating that the child of the age he has with him is capable of believing. Otherwise, the analogy doesn’t work as Jesus spoke it. But as I said, we need to be careful that the gospel the child believes is the full gospel rather than some scaled-down imitation.

    My wife and kids are active in CEF Good News Clubs. My wife and my oldest son are trained in counseling the young children they minister to, and that means helping them understand that they are sinners and need what Jesus did for them on the cross. (My oldest son counseled my youngest son to faith a couple of years ago when they were away helping another chapter with a special event.) Only by trusting in what Jesus has done can they have God’s forgiveness. They can’t count a child as having faith without his or her acknowledgement of these things. The neat thing is that they see some who come to genuine faith and who continue to grow in that faith as they are followed up with and matched with a church, and continue to learn about Jesus week after week in the club.

    So children can come to faith, but we need to make sure it’s not gospel lite.

    • Frank L. says

      “” the fullness of the gospel””

      What does that mean? How many words does it take? Is it dependent upon a certain intellectual capacity? Should we give a written test?

      When I fell in love with my wife, it transcended the need for an explanation.

      • says

        That was brought up on SBC Voices recently:

        http://sbcvoices.com/discussion-forum-imb-version-what-is-a-gospel-presentation/

        You can have knowledge without a relationship, but you can’t have a relationship without a modicum of knowledge. Even a newborn knows the basic things in order to have a faith relationship with his mother. When he’s hungry she will feed him. When he is uncomfortable, she will take care of whatever need. All he has to do is “ask” (by sounding off). The Bible is pretty clear about what the basics are. Unfortunately, what often passes as a gospel presentation trades on the wrong felt needs so faith is placed in the wrong god. That’s why so many kids end up leaving their faith when they get out on their own. They didn’t have faith in the true and living God to begin with.

        But you also make this curious statement:

        “When I fell in love with my wife, it transcended the need for an explanation.”

        Now perhaps you mean what most people don’t, but when most people use the words “fell in love”, they are referring to the initial feelings they have for someone else. This is a romantic concept and not a biblical one. Since science has also been brought up more than once lately in SBC Voices, I’ll start with a scientific appeal. That feeling of euphoria over someone else that most people refer to as “falling in love” is a hormonal pattern that lasts an average of about two years. This has been well-tested, repeated by independent labs, per-reviewed, the whole nine yards. The likelihood is strong that hormones are the cause of “falling in love”. But if that’s the draw that brings people to the altar, you need a foundation of commitment in place by the time that feeling subsides. Many couples get by on a weak relationship for a while, but many marriages fail when the proverbial pillows go flat. But to say that it transcends the need for an explanation ignores the explanation that the Bible clearly gives. That’s troubling. Now you and the missus might have a great commitment for each other, but I have to say it… that’s an explanation.

      • Frank L. says

        Jim,

        I don’t accept you scientific premise that love can be analyzed and peer reviewed, but I know what you mean.

        You make this statement: a modicum of knowledge.

        Exactly how much is a modicum, and exactly what test do we apply to a person to determine if they sufficiently — to an absolute certainty — meet the threshold?

        My guess is you will not be able to answer that question straightforwardly anymore than you can answer the question, “What does chocolate taste like?”

        As with your “even a baby knows it’s mother,” I concur and that is my point. “Even a baby can have a relationship with another.” Why then, can one not assume that a child can have a relationship with another person–that person being God?

        I admit I do not know when that happens with any kind of “scientific certainty.” I suggest, no one, including a “brain scientist,” can have that certainty.

        My point is: nurture, not interrogate. The comment has been made that five years old cannot make a “morally independent” decision which is requisite to being saved.

        I disagree with that position and have given my reasons for it. I understand that you and others do not agree and I’m OK with that. I am only responsible for “my” ministry and how I deal with children in my church.

        I recoil from the thought of ever “hindering one of these little ones.” I think the over-reaction is not on my part, but on the part of those who feel all the problems of the present day church can be laid at the feet of child evangelism.

        To me, that is an ungodly proposition and one that starts the church down a road to a sure and certain death.

        • says

          Frank, I don’t think you read my first comment very well. That’s the second time this has happened this week. I must not be writing very clearly. I’ll not repeat what I wrote just up there ^ a few comments ago. Go back and read it. You’ll find that we’re even using the same passage of scripture in a similar way.

          “Exactly how much is a modicum, and exactly what test do we apply to a person to determine if they sufficiently — to an absolute certainty — meet the threshold?

          My guess is you will not be able to answer that question straightforwardly anymore than you can answer the question, “’What does chocolate taste like?’”

          This is why I provided the link to the recent discussion. My comment from there has the basics. Since it’s on another page, I’ll do you the favor of copying and pasting it here:

          “God created man (male and female implied).
          Man sinned against God and was separated from God.
          Without reconciliation with God man is eternally dead (hell, judgment).
          Everyone since the beginning sins and needs to be reconciled.
          God became man: Jesus.
          Jesus died so we wouldn’t have to.
          But Jesus, being Creator God, is greater than death and was raised back to life.
          So if we trust in this work, we can be freed from our sin, both in the sinning and the eternal consequence of it. So our bodies may die, but we will be raised up on the last day just as Jesus was and we will live with him forever.

          Now, the tautology can be altered to fit the situation…” (as it often is in different passages of the Bible.)

          This is well attested in scripture. If Paul could admonish the Corinthians not to accept another gospel, it stands to reason that the gospel is explicit. That’s why we must be able to verbalize and recognize it. It is possible to be led astray by a false gospel for not knowing the true one.

          As for the issue of “love”, you need to understand that there is a difference between eros and agape. What the popular romantic philosophy propagated largely by Hollywood calls “love” isn’t biblical love. Eros is physically measurable and testable. Jesus indicates that even agape is somewhat measurable, for he suggests a quantifiable aspect as recorded in John 15:13: the level of sacrifice one gives which , by the way, ties back into the very gospel that even a young child should be able to understand.

          • Frank L. says

            Jim,

            I’ll play your game even with the insults.

            So, if we say it just like you print it above and a person says, yes that is what I believe, then you can give absolute assurance they are saved? Is that what you are saying?

            I’m assuming that you must use the exact wording for it to work.

            I also do not have as low a view of romantic love has you have. I do not think even romantic love can be reduced to chemical processes–but certainly not “agape” love.

            Also, the word, “agape,” does not give meaning to God’s love, but God love gives meaning to “agape.” That is, of course, if you use the colloquial understandining of “agape” as it is commonly used by non-technical linquists.

            Your “out” in your explanation comes at the end, and makes your argument mute. For now, you have changed the modicum by allowing for any number of contextual aberrations.

            That is my point. The gospel is indeed explicit, though not fully comprehensible. I am simply saying that no one can say with any “scientific” certain at what age, or point in time, a person develops a relationship with Jesus Christ.

            My argument is: if I present the gospel in the form you present it above and a child feels the conviction of the Holy Spirit and responds I am doing a great disservice to the child by casting doubt upon there experience.

            I am simply denying the statement above that a child of five years old cannot make an “indepently moral” decision (not my words) and experience salvation.

            So far, no one has given me any Scripture passages that demonstrate that I should take the matter on faith because a “BRAIN SCIENTIST” says so.

            I am not arguing “for” manipulating children and I lead or am at the top of my association in baptisms with over 70 per cent being adults, so I don’t really play the numbers game. I do track the numbers because they represent souls.

            I do see a pattern in these discussions that concern me: anti-Sinners Prayer, anti-child evangelism, being too troubling implications.

            If I am wrong and children cannot be saved at a particular age, I sincerely want to know that limit.

            I would also say that John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit “before” birth. So, I just don’t think we can establish an arbitrary limit.

            I feel your analysis of what the gospel contains is a good one, but not the only one. If I understand you correctly, you allow for differences in the actual presentation. People are saved by a Person, not a presentation.

            This discussion concerns me as being too “intellectual” and analytic, even to reducing “love” to nothing more than chemistry. There are logical fallacies with reducing love to chemistry because romance creates physically measurable artifacts. It is a causal fallacy it seems to me to say Romance involves measurable effects therefore Romance equals chemistry.

            But, I digress. I can appreciate your point of view, Jim, without subscribing to all you conclusions.

          • says

            Frank,

            I don’t find you insulting. I’m sorry you find me insulting. No games; only arguments and observations. However, you are making arguments against things that I haven’t commented on. I don’t know why you are importing those things here. So forgive me if I limit my responses to the arguments you’ve made that directly address what I’ve said.

            “So, if we say it just like you print it above and a person says, yes that is what I believe, then you can give absolute assurance they are saved? Is that what you are saying?”

            Unless I missed your point before, you seem to be moving the goalposts. There’s a difference between having faith in something and knowing whether someone else has faith in something. I was discussing the former, but this statement you make addresses the latter. I don’t believe we can know with perfect certainty whether someone else truly has faith, but the Bible is clear that we are to judge rightly based on a person’s profession. 1 John is a great letter for discussing Christian epistemology. I believe the first part of chapter 4 applies not only to discerning preachers, but also to discerning the profession of any believer.

            These two statements seem to be at odds with each other:

            “I’m assuming that you must use the exact wording for it to work.”

            “Your “out” in your explanation comes at the end, and makes your argument mute. For now, you have changed the modicum by allowing for any number of contextual aberrations.”

            Neither one of these represents my position, although the second comes close. If you look at the various passages in the Bible that express the gospel, you will find different wordings used. If you want to argue that these are aberrations, you have to argue that the Bible itself is aberrant, for the Bible is where I get my pattern. Your argument at this point must be that I’m not truly following the Bible on this. Otherwise I will reject your arguments as holding a low view of the Bible.

            The gospel is expressed abundantly enough in the Bible and a serious student of the Bible will know where these are, so I won’t repeat what should be obvious here: the same gospel is spelled out in many places in the Bible using different words. Therefore, we can express the same gospel in a variety of ways that are culturally and developmentally appropriate. But anything short of that gospel is not the gospel. That’s my argument and it’s as simple as that.

            “I also do not have as low a view of romantic love has you have. I do not think even romantic love can be reduced to chemical processes–but certainly not “agape” love.”

            I think it’s a mistake to over-spiritualize physical processes. We know that God gave us physical processes for our benefit (although we abuse them as much as we do any gift from God). But I don’t place stock in physical processes to determine my love for my wife. As husbands, we are not called to give eros to our wives. We are called to “agapate” them (Eph 5: 25). We don’t need to be told to feel eros. But eros doesn’t last. We need to be told to agapao them, because it’s not natural for fallen men to do that when eros wanes.

          • Frank L. says

            Jim,

            The insulting part is suggesting I don’t know the difference between eros and agape, even though your view uses agape in a way many scholars feel it’s use in Koine Greek is not attested to strongly.

            Be that as it may, I was not just addressing your post but the others that led up to it. I see your point and can appreciate the balance that others are trying to bring to the issue.

            I also see the danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You may or may not, partly or in whole, agree with or disagree with certain posts. My objections is trying to evaluate a person’s eternal destiny using “chemistry or brain science.”

            As above, I see some value in developmental science because it is a matter, in some degree, of simple observations of the state of the matter.

            We disagree and I can appreciate that.

            God bless.

  26. Joe McGee says

    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in the name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
    Is this not a picture of someone who had lived on false hope? It is not a picture of a person once saved and then lost their salvation for the Lord states that He “never knew them.” How many church members within the rolls of our churches are relying on false hope? How many pastors and church leader will have to give an account to God for their involvement in this damnable practice.
    Early Baptist refused to baptized young converts, to do so they claimed was Popery. They promoted “believer’s baptism.” A child was often to young to understand what it meant to believe and what Christ had accomplished on the cross.
    The reformers continued to accept infant baptism. Strangely, Zwingli opposed infant baptism when he met with a group of students. However, after the Reformation and after he became the head of the church in Switzerland he changed since the government insisted on infant baptism as a way to keep up with the census through baptismal records. This way they knew how much to tax each household. Zwingli even had some of his former Anabaptist members executed, often through what the called the third baptism. He had their hands tied and placed them on a pole and dunk them in the river until they drowned. Some of you look upon Calvin as a hero, yet, he was known to have people executed for not baptizing their infant. Luther had agonized over having people suffer for the same and finally came to the conclusion that it was for the best.
    Through out history Baptist have participated in infant dedication, not infant baptism. It has only been within our generation that Baptist began to stress the baptism of children, maybe that has to do with the focus on numeric growth, rather than spiritual.
    That my story and I’m sticking to it.

    • Frank L. says

      “” It has only been within our generation that Baptist began to stress the baptism of children,””

      Both my grandfather and father, as well as my mother, were baptized as children.

      Frankly, I’ve been a Baptist for over 40 years and have always stressed salvation, not baptism, regardless of any age.

      I’d be willing to bet that the problems in the church, and the falling away so often tied to “evangelizing children,” have little to do with evangelism and much to do with follow-up and discipleship, and the general apathy of the church body.

      We are literally throwing the “baby out with the bathwater” to pull back from evangelizing children to somehow “purify” the church.

      Wild claims, straw-men, and red herrings will not solve the problem of the apathy in the church.

    • Jon says

      Well Joe, I think you’re right. Baptism throughout the N.T. relates to believers who have understood and professed Christian faith. Infants and small children can’t do that. Of course several denominations maintained the Roman Catholic practice of paedo-baptism, but I am not convinced it was meant to be done from the start. I think it’s a practice that developed with time, and it doesn’t really benefit the church. It simply blurs the boundary between the assembly and the world.

  27. Jess Alford says

    theoldadam,

    Sir, you need to add a little more to your Grace before Faith.

    Grace, Faith, Baptism, in this order.

  28. Greg Harvey says

    I’m a stick in the mud: I strongly prefer a common standard such as the Anabaptists (or at least one group of them) used of emphasizing an age–like 12–that indicates a transition from childhood to the responsibilities of adulthood for baptism. I’m afraid that Dr. Estep succeeded in convincing me that we’re sufficiently like the Anabaptists to appropriate one of their–in my opinion–better ideas.

    Now can there be a profession of faith before then? I wouldn’t necessarily oppose it. Or even putting the child’s name on the church calendar a few years in advance of their coming of age. But I think we do our children a disservice by not letting them actually experience what I’ll call “real sin” prior to baptism.

    Which isn’t to say a child can’t really sin, but I am not so sure that the standard should be “pleasing God” as much as “recognizing our inherent rebellion against God producing death in every facet of our being.” My children all have demonstrated that pre-teen rebellion with enough vigor by twelve that I trust my instinct that such an age would be a good line of demarcation for true “believer’s” baptism also becoming a truly adult decision.

    But I recognize the difficulty of establishing this new, tougher standard. I’ll note all of my children were baptized by age 10 as were my wife and I. My mom has a very specific and memorable testimony of conversion and baptism before age six. But the problem is that once you start allowing that age to lower, there is social pressure both among children and more importantly among parents of children to allow for “social baptism”.

    I appreciate what Tim is saying by the way. It IS professional malpractice to baptize a child simply to please the child or her/his parents. And woe to the man that causes one of these to stumble. I also agree with him that there isn’t a soteriological issue involved. But a determined effort to engage this topic in order to set a change towards higher ages for baptism is certainly something that could be done if we believed it is important.

    But we won’t. Because we are creatures of habit. Will we?

    P.S. One of the arguments both for AND against my viewpoint is the similarity to similar coming-of-age-based age limits in Judaism and among the paedo-baptists (i.e. Confirmation). I’d also note that most of us would be extraordinarily uncomfortable with extending the protection of the “Age of Accountability” doctrine to a specific calendar age especially with precocious children. But precocious children aren’t mature children except by an unusual dose of God’s grace/giftedness. The other key argument against this is Jesus admonishing his disciples not to keep children from approaching him. But I don’t think any of us really believes that means accept a profession of faith of any age child and immediately baptize…

  29. Frank L. says

    “””do not have a proper biblical understanding of essential concepts””

    I have to admit, and will readily do so, that statements like this one above cause a deep, guttural reaction that is not altogether pleasant.

    Is Christianity about a “concept?” Is the gospel about an “idea?” Or, is the gospel about a “relationship?” Most Baptists, I think, would say it is about a “relationship,” until we blog. Then, it’s a battle about “concepts and ideas.”

    To say we should never “ask” a child if they want to embrace Jesus Christ as Lord seems to have no basis in Scripture. We certainly ask them “do you need to go potty” (at least if you are around preschoolers). They sometimes need prompting to make the decisions they know are the right decisions.

    We certainly take proactive actions in regard to other issues: like playing with matches. We are certainly proactive in helping young children articulate other matters that they have difficulty putting into words.

    I disagree that “any child growing up in a Christian home would automatically answer, yes, to the question of accepting Jesus as the Lord of their lives.” I know of several such children at this moment that that is not the case and some of them are in over 12 years old and have been asked many times.

    Now, can we manipulate and browbeat a person to say something they do not believe. Yes, but that is as true for an adult as it is for a child so I do not know what that proves.

    I will stop now before I say something unkind or that is incendiary.

    I cannot imagine there is even a discussion among baptists in regard to infant baptism versus baptizing children who want to have a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

  30. Joel H says

    Once you grasp the concept that that the salvific grace which comes through baptism is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (which occurs upon regeneration), and that the water baptism is merely that act of obedience we undergo to symbolize our acceptance in faith of the grace which God has freely bestowed upon us, the arguments about the mode become remarkably unimportant.

    In my understanding (and in my church), we treat our children as covenant members of the body, consindering in faith that they are elect members of the true Church, until such a time in life that they should, of their own accord, demonstrate that they are not. This does not however translate into a need to baptize infants. While we do baptize young children, we do so only after a period of examination in which both the parents and the church leadership evaluate the child for evidence or fruit of genuine conversion. I would say that 10-14 is perhaps the average age at which children submit themselvesfor baptism, although we are preparing to baptize my daughter at age 6, after a yearlong period in which we have sought to make sure she is showing true signs of a heart repentant before the Lord.

    As to the mode, I have studied both side of the baptism debate, paedo and credo, for the past 20+ years, having been born and baptized in a PCA environment, spent 12 years in an A/G church, then a homechurch which practiced according to the beliefs of the parents, and for the past eight years in a variety of baptist denominations. We are currently in a Founder’s SBC congregation, which is confessionally reformed, but strongly credo.

    I am convinced that water applied in any form is an adequate expression of the symbolic washing away of sin (which as aforementioned, is a mere act of obedience to an act already accomplished by the Spirit), though I must admit that I am heavily predjudiced to the act of immersion for all sort of convincing reasons. That being said, I am not (nor do I feel Scripture is) dogmatic about immersion over sprinkling, and I do not view a sprinkling to be a false baptism as long as it is righteously undertaken in true obedience by the confessor. I’ve seen enough debate over the years by those who are of the sprinkling persuasion to know that there are legitimate arguments to be made for its case, though there are many more that are silly, theological gymnastics, which remind me more of petulant frathouse squabbles than those of a learned seminarian. While I do not personally do not choose to condemn the practice outright, I am as firmly set in my understanding of immersion as the more correct mode as I am in the credo mindset over the paedo.

  31. Jess Alford says

    When Jesus was nailed to that cross and hanging there between Heaven and earth, I’m sure glad he had that thief repeat after him the sinner’s prayer. Or else he might still be lost.

    Excuse me, this is not Bible. How could I make a mistake like that?

    Friends this mistake (dreadful sin), is being made all over this nation
    in every denomination. It has to stop, or in 20 years we will not be able to recognize the church. I’m convinced the Apostles would have to backslide just to be in fellowship with us today.

  32. Mike Woodward says

    …Thankfully when the well meaning Awana Cubbies (children ages 3-4) teacher asked if the kids wanted Jesus to come into their heart (and every single one of them, about 60, raised their hands) the club director wisely stepped in…

    I know I am not the only one who can tell this story. Just for reference, this occurred in a SBC mega.

      • Randall Cofield says

        Frank L,

        Perhaps the wise club director asked these toddlers if they understood why they needed Lord Jesus “to come into their hearts”….

        The point being made here is that if there is no recognition of sin, “asking Jesus to come into your heart” is utterly nonsensical….

        You are consistently over-reacting in your responses on this thread.

        • Frank L. says

          Randall, thank you for the psychoanalysis, but I don’t agree with your diagnosis and will seek a second opinion.

          I do not think it is “over-reacting” at all when a Baptist leader in the blog world states that “brain scientists” have determined that a five year old cannot make a morally independent decision to accept God’s free offer of grace.

          You, and those that hold your view, have made minimum standards for what constitutes saving faith (and therefore, makes one a proper candidate for baptism). I’m sure you think you know exactly what constitutes the necessary minimum understanding.

          I’m suggesting that you do not know, and in fact cannot know, when or if a person of any age is making or has made a faith decision leading to eternal life.

          I believe you are imposing limits on God’s saving grace that are not warranted and are in fact detrimental to the eternal welfare of many children.

          I believe you are basing this on a causal fallacy (mentioned above) that improper baptisms of children are the cause for the ills of the church of the present day. I don’t accept that premise nor any conclusions drawn therefrom.

          My alarm is that there is a growing movement (as in the 70’s) to question peoples’ salvation and to spread doubt among the brethren. I don’t think it was helpful in the 70’s and I don’t think it is helpful today.

          I have admitted that I see nothing wrong with helping a person establish fully an understanding of what their heart is leading them to do. However, I am opposed to approaching this from some kind of “pseudo-scientific brain modality” that is skeptical of everyone or anyone’s abilities.

          Turn this issue around . . . instead of assuming all the kids in VBS over the years were not truly saved, simply ask how many of the most faithful people in your church were saved through VBS or other children’s ministries. The number will be 8 out of 10 in an established church.

          We have heard the horror stories of child-manipulation and counterfeit evangelism. We should not then change a Bible honoring approach because of a counterfeit. Do you throw away good money because someone printed some bad money?

          My amazement comes from how many people are so willing to spread doubt. I preach that Jesus died for our sins and invite people to accept that gift. When they do move to accept that gift, I don’t pull away and say: I’ll have to wait three months for proof.

          Lastly, I can guarantee that an adult can just as easily talk someone out of falling in love with Jesus as they can talking them into making a false decision.

          I’m only cautioning against throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

        • cb scott says

          Randall Cofield,

          I do not think Frank L. is always over-reacting in his responses. I do think some of the comments that draw strong responses from Frank L., me, and others are the comments that are knee-jerk reactions to things that are not as common in SBC life as the commenter might think. (See Sam’s comments for an illustration.)

          That being stated, I agree with you and will stand with you forever on this comment you made:

          “The point being made here is that if there is no recognition of sin, “asking Jesus to come into your heart” is utterly nonsensical….”

          I believe your comment to be absolutely true. There must be recognition on the part of a person that he/she is a sinner before a just and righteous God before true salvation can occur. And the personal recognition of being a sinner before a just and righteous God only comes by the conviction brought upon a lost person by the work of the Holy Spirit. A person cannot be convicted of the reality of his/her lost condition by his/her own accord. That is always the work of the Spirit.

  33. says

    Great Blog on a very important issue.
    Dennis Gundersen has a great book called “Your child’s profession of faith”
    Very helpful and well written. Check it out.