Baptism: Outward Sacrament after Inward Conversion
Baptism: An Outward Sign of an Internal Conversion
Baptism is the sacrament, or ritual, of initiation into the Christian faith. This is one of two sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ Himself. (The other being the Sacrament of the Eucharist). Baptism marks the repentance of a believer of his or her old ways, his or her death to sin and being resurrected in life with Christ.
In the Anglican Church, the view is this: Baptism is an outward expression (sacrament) of an inward expression (conversion). Baptism, where our doctrines are concerned, can be administered to both adults and to infants. Only one baptism is needed in a person's life time. After that baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the person is baptised for life.
Pedobaptism, or Infant Baptism, is a practice in the Anglican Church as well as most mainline churches such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Orthodox Churches, and the Lutherans. (Not all of the Protestant denominations accept it, though.)
During infant baptism, there are three witnesses who must be present. Either the father or the mother, and two other people other than the parents. These two - one man and one woman - are also known as the child's godparents. In the event that the parents fail to discharge their obligations towards the child, the godparents must step in.
What form of obligations? The child must be brought to know of God through the proper Christian education and fellowship in church. That is, attending Sunday School, following to Sunday Mass, and attending Confirmation class.
Of course, there is the baptism vows which the child must be taught and learn to keep.
Biblical Basis of Infant Baptism
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16 NIB)
In the Anglican Church, baptism is seen as a way to bring children to Jesus. By being baptised, a child is received as a member of the Church. However, full communion is only attained through the Sacrament of Confirmation. Therefore, it is only prudent that the Anglicans bring their young to baptism.
At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptised. (Act 16:33 NIB)
An instance where a family was received through the sacrament of baptism is the Phillipian Jailer. He and all his family, possibly including his children, were baptised by St. Paul.
Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptised. (Act 18:8 NIB)
Later, we also have the example of Crispus and his entire household. Technically, this would include the children therein - those of his own blood as well as that of his slaves.
One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.
When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.
(Act 16:14-15 NIB)
Lydia's household baptism also becomes the basis for the infant baptism doctrine.
Credobaptism is the combination of the words "credo-" and "baptism". Credo means I believe. This is usually used to denote adult baptisms where the baptised confesses or believes in the baptism at that time. He or she knows what is baptism and why he or she is being baptised.
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Act 2:38-39 NIB)
An important element is to repent. A child who cannot reason and has not committed sin is not capable of repenting. Thus, unable to be baptised. This is the doctrine held by many Protestants including the Baptists, the Borneo Evengelical Mission (BEM) (Sidang Injil Borneo - SIB).