This is a discussion on Infant baptism between Annamma, a normal House wife and a Pentecostal Pastor, who came to Annamma’s house for influencing her to Pentecostalism. Please read and understand the Truth.. This is an English translation of the book “Annammaammayum Pastarum” originally written in Malayalam, by Late Fr Geevarghese Anchal.God bless you all.
[Annamma’s house; Pastor enters the house]
Annamma: Hi, How are you? Come on in and take a seat. Hope all of you are doing fine.
Pastor: I am fine with the blessing of Christ. Praise the Lord.
Annamma: How is your pastoral work going on?
Pastor: Everything is going on fine in God’s grace. I have come to ask you to get baptized and receive the Holy Spirit anointing and be saved.
Annamma: I have been baptized and anointed long back.
Pastor: Praise the Lord. That was infant baptism. That is not enough. The sons of God have to believe, baptize, and receive the Anointing. This is the baptism according to the Bible.
Annamma: Oh I see. Let me explain. The church instructs that all its members be baptized, and be anointed in the Holy Sprit. We submit to it. That is what we practice.
Pastor: What you have in the church is infant-baptism. This is not according to the Bible. Believers should believe and be baptized, not the other way. Salvation is only for those people. Therefore, you should believe and be baptized and then you will be saved.
Annamma: Bible does not say that ‘infants should not be baptized or only mature adult believers only can be baptized’. Then how could you say that infant baptism is not according to the Bible?
Pastor: Yes, I can show. Refer to Mark 16:16 “Who ever believes and is baptized will be saved” This is the word of God. That is why we say that we should do as per these versus. We, sons of God, live according to the word of God and nothing else.
Annamma: Dear pastor, this is the only verse that is quoted by people who reject infant baptism. These verses i.e. from Mark 16:9-16 is not in the earliest manuscripts and was added later by some one. This is a universally accepted fact. These verses are added in brackets to understand this fact. Take any Bible and refer. So your case against infant-baptism fails.
Pastor: Yes I see the brackets.
Annamma: Yes, in this Bible that fact that these versus have been added in later is added as a note. Probably you may quote Mathew 28:19:20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.“. Here also we can see that the order is to first ‘Baptize and then teach the faith’.
Pastor: So you are saying ‘adult baptism is wrong?’
Annamma: No. The Holy church has both infant baptism and adult-baptism. Adult-baptism is for the grown up people who wish to join the church. Infant-baptism is for the infants born to the faithful believers of the church.
Pastor: It is easier said than proven. Show the proof from the Bible.
Annamma: You have to understand that faith and practices of the church will not be seen exactly as is, in the Bible. Even the Bible is not written as an authoritive guide for that purpose. This can be inferred from the following verse.“Therefore, brothers stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by oral statement or by a letter of ours” (2Tess 2:15)“keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me” (Philippians 4:9)“Hold the beginning of this reality firm until end.” ( Hebrews 3;14)”What you have heard from me should be taught to the faithful, should be taught to the others too.” ( 2 Timothy 2:2)
Pastor: That is all agreed. But don’t you think that the basis of all our practices should be from the Bible?
Annamma: Before we go further, we need to understand a couple of things. We discussed this before. But as a reminder:The church is the body of Christ. ( Colo 1:24)
The church of Living God is the pillar and foundation of truth. ( 2 Timothy 2:2)
“If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” ( Matthew 18:17)
Pastor: I agree to all those. Praise the Lord. How does all this help the infant baptism practice?
Annamma: You believe that fruits of baptism are salvation and eternal life and that one becomes sons of God by baptism. You also believe that infants cAnnammaot receive the blessing of God, as they have no wisdom nor faith. Therefore, if infants are to be baptized it is useless and meaningless.
Pastor: There you are. Infants have no knowledge nor have agreed to accept Jesus as savior because they are infants. So in this situation how some meaningless acts can cause salvation on them? At least the people who perform these acts should understand what they are doing. Other wise isn’t it meaning less?
Annamma: The infants may not talk, they may not have great wisdom or knowledge or any ability to grasp the faith. But still they can receive the gifts from God. There are evidences of it in the bible. If infants can receive gifts of God, they should also be getting all gifts associated with baptism too.
Pastor: I say that the infants don’t have the ability to receive gifts of God. And therefore, baptizing them will be of no good.
Annamma: Let us see what the Gospels say. Jesus Christ blessed the infants. If infants did not have ability to receive the blessings, our Lord would not have done it. Don’t you think so?
Pastor: I am not talking of just blessings. We receive the gifs of the Holy Spirit. And there is no evidence in bible on this.
Annamma: Ok. Refer Gala 1:1. “ But when [God], who from my mother’s womb has set me apart and called me through his grace was pleased“. This verse tells us that not from infancy, but from the birth itself, God has blessed. So even from the birth one can receive the blessings from God.
Pastor: Oh you doesn’t understand. I said anointing of the Holy Spirit and subsequent blessing is all that we are talking about.
Annamma: I understand. Read Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I [God] formed you in the womb I knew you . “ Here God has blessed Jeremiah even in the womb. Read Isaiah 49:1 “The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name“. So if a child [Isaiah] has the ability to be blessed and anointed even in the womb, then how is that ability lost when the child is born. It is so clear here, and then how come you have a doubt on it?
Pastor: This is not enough. Prove to me that an infant is able to receive the Holy Spirit?
Annamma: Do you think that the Holy Spirit and God are separate? They are one and the same. Any way read Luke 1:15
Pastor: (This is angel talking to Zechariah regarding the birth of John the Baptist) “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb“
Annamma: What do you think now? Do you accept that infants can receive the Holy Spirit?
Annamma: You don’t have to answer immediately. Think it over
Pastor: I don’t understand how one is saved not by his own belief, but with the faith of others?
Annamma: It is possible. Here are examples from the Bible.Mark 2:5 “ When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven’ “.Mathew 8; 5-13. Because of the faith of the Centurion, his servant was healed.Mathew 17:15 –21 . A lunatic boy was healed because of the faith of his father.Acts 2:39 “For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off whomever the Lord our God will.” Children here also includes infants. The Greek word used is ‘techna’ which means children including infants.
Pastor: See, Baptism is not only receiving the gifts of the Lord, but also is a contract or a mutual agreement. By this agreement, we are joined to our Lord’s body. Since the church is His body, it means getting a membership in the church. If a person is infant and cAnnammaot understand the contract, how can he/she be a partner in mutual agreement? I don’t understand?
Annamma: This is one of the arguments by the people who deny infant baptism. Please read…. “You are now standing before the LORD, your God-your chiefs and judges, your elders and officials, and all of the men of Israel, together with your wives and children and the aliens who live in your camp, down to those who hew hood and draw water for you-that you may enter into the covenant of the LORD, your God” So what do you think? God invites all, including infants to participate in the covenant.
Annamma: Why do you think circumcision was given to the Israelites?
Pastor: As a symbol of God’s covenant with God.
Annamma: Did God command to do circumcision on the 8th day itself?
Pastor: Yes, Praise the Lord.
Annamma: Would you read 1 Cori. 10:2 for me?
Pastor: “And all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea”
Annamma: Was the bath mentioned in this a symbolic representation of the Christian baptism? And were there infants in that group?
Pastor: Yes. The infants were also baptized. Praise the Lord
Annamma: Dear pastor, now I hope you understand that age and knowledge do not matter for entering into a covenant with God. If infants were also given bath in the red sea, we can include infants in baptism also? Did you get this?
Pastor: yes, yes, I agree. But how do I believe that there was infant baptism in the early church? Any proof?
Annamma: Was the epistles written to the church members or to the gentiles?
Pastor: Apostles have written the epistles to the church members not to the gentiles.
Annamma: Ok, In that case,Colo 3:18-22- these versus have been addressed to Husbands, wives, and children.1 John 2:12-14- Address to servants and infants and writes to them.Ephesians 6:1-3 “ Children obey your parents [in the Lord], for this is right “ – Addressed to the children.John 21:15 – here he asks Peter to tend his male, female and infant flocks.All these versus prove that infants were church members. That is why they are addressed to while writing the epistles. Isn’t it so?
Annamma: Since you agreed that infants were church members, they should be baptized too.
Pastor: Hum.. No That is not enough! This is logic. I need better evidence.
Annamma: Why you are refuting it? Being intelligent and the ability to think is not bad. You agreed that the epistles were written to the church members. Epistles were addressed to the infants also. So we can infer that infants were also baptized. Because only those who are baptized become church members. Look at folloing versus,In 1 Cori 1:2 – Paul describees the church of Corinthians as ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy’In Ephesian 1;1 Paul calls the faithful in that church as ‘holy ones’.The same way believers are called holy-one in Philip: 1:1; Colo 1:1; 2 Cori 2:1. The salutation ‘holy ones’ is only for the people who are baptized. Keeping this in mind, read 1 Cori 7:14 “For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the husband. Otherwise you children would be unclean, where as in fact they are holy. “ In other words since the parents are baptized and have be sanctified, their infants are also baptized and sanctified. This is a bible verse, not logic.
Pastor: I wish to see a little more clear biblical verse.
Annamma: There are certain practices that the church follows which are not written in Bible verbatim. But these are practices, which the church followed from the apostolic times, and there are evidences for these practices in the Bible. One of the evidence for infant baptism is that, the epistles written to the church members were also addressed to the infants.
Annamma: What do like to have? Tea? Coffee, coke?
Pastor: Coke. (Annamma gives the drinks)
Pastor: Any more evidence that infants were baptized?
Annamma: Bible mentions many families who were baptized.Jailer and his family were baptized. Acts (16:33, 34)Lydia and here household has been baptized Acts: (16:14,15)Stephanas and his household were baptized (I Cori: 1;16)
Crispus along with his entire household were baptized. Acts : Acts 18:8
“Greet those belong to the family of Aristobulus (Romans 16:10.)
Greet the church of their [Prisca and Aquila] home .Since it is said that the whole family had been baptized, it is fair to think that even infants were also baptized. Actually, the Greek word used to represent family is used to describe a family that includes infants also.
Pastor: We cAnnammaot for sure say that those families had kids. They may not have kids.
Annamma: True. If Acculos and Priscilla are father and mother, the church of their home should be referring to their kids.
Pastor: If a family has husband and wife alone and no one else, they are still called a family.
Annamma: Why would you want to believe that none of the family above had any kids? When you say family, we should think the family has infants also.
Pastor: If you prove that the Bible defines family as one that contains infants I will agree.
Annamma: If I prove from the Bible that family includes infants, would you believe that the families above had infants and that they were all baptized?
Annamma: As a Christian we should talk, think, and act truthfully. Accepting the truth is the Christian way.
Pastor: If you show me from the Bible that the word family includes infants, I will agree. Praise the Lord
Annamma: I will read Genesis 45:18,19 Pharaoh told Joseph to go to Canaan and “There get your father and your families, and then come back here to me; Take wagons from the land of Egypt for your children and your wives and to transport your father on you way back here.”
Again Genesis 45:10-11 Joseph said to his brothers “you will be near me-you and your children and grandchildren your flocks and herds…. I will provide for you there, so that you and your family…. “
Pastor: So you think that adult-baptism is wrong?
Annamma: Why did Jesus say that we must all must be baptized?
Pastor: Unless you are born of water and Spirit, no one will enter the Kingdom of God.
Annamma: That means?
Pastor: If you are not baptized in water and Spirit, no one will enter into the Kingdom of God. That is certain.
Annamma: Let me ask you something off the subject. How is your family?
Pastor: They are all fine with the blessings from God.
Annamma: How old is your youngest child?
Pastor: He is 15
Annamma: Good. Has he been baptized yet?
Pastor: No, not yet. He is learning the Lord’s words. He will probably be baptized within the next two or three years. Praise the Lord.
Annamma: Pastor, if your loving son dies today, will he enter the kingdom of God?
Pastor: Yes. Because salvation is a gift of God.
Annamma: But you just told me that unless one is baptized in water and Spirit you would not be saved. Now you are saying salvation is a gift of God. You are contradicting yourself. You are also contradicting what Jesus said.
Pastor: This is not fair. You are too cunning. We, Sons of God will not answer these kinds of cunning questions.
Annamma: Cunning? Me? You say two conflicting things. First you said baptism in water and Spirit is required for salvation. Then you said it is not required for salvation. Mark 10:14 “Let children come to me; do not prevent them, for kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. ”Amen, I say to you, who ever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it”. Jesus said this. Two things are obvious:
1) Jesus says – let children come to me, do not prevent them. You say ‘ we will not let children come to Jesus. We will prevent them’
2) Jesus says ‘You have to accept the kingdom of God like a child, otherwise you will not enter the Kingdom of God’. But you say. “Children do not accept the kingdom of God and so we will not accept the kingdom like a child.”
You preach exactly opposite of what Jesus taught. I am asking you again. You tell me. As per the Bible will your son be saved?
Annamma: I did not want to put you on the spot. I want your son to be saved. Actually I want your whole family to be saved. There were infants in the church at all the time. They are in the church now and they were also in the early church. If there are no infants in the church then the church is incomplete.
Annamma: The birth of infants, does it occur with their knowledge or because they agree to it?
Pastor: Of course not.
Annamma: Because they are born without their agreement and knowledge we baptize them without their agreement or knowledge. To do so and to bring them up as members of the church is, as parents, our duty and responsibility. Even if your son dies today, don’t you wish that he should go to heaven? Can anyone be saved without baptism? “This pre-figured baptism saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). Therefore, we have to make our kids eligible for the Kingdom of God by baptizing them. For the gentiles who accepts Jesus as savoir and wishes to join the church, we have to give adult baptism. That is what God commanded. That is why we have to obey the church canon, as it was made by people who heard from the apostles or learned from what the apostles practiced.
Pastor: Praise the Lord. I have to get going. Thank you. See you later.