Why we practice a childrean baptizm inside the Orthodox Church?
Practicing baptizm on new born babies has been a criticism that many Protestant Churches has on us Orthodox Christians. The protestant arguments point at our Holy Orthodox Church claiming this is wrong, hence I decided to write this little article to explain to protestant as much as I can why their understanding that we should not baptize babies is wrong.
As I’m “conscious” Orthodox Christian since about 8 years, this question was making me wonder and making me distrust the Truthfullness of the Orthodox Christain faith back then.
So why we Orthodox Christian Baptize, if the children is still so young so it can’t understand the faith?
Where this new born babies practice come from? and why we still hold it in the Church? It is due to one and only main reason;
Nobody knows how long he will live! – (maybe the new born will die in birth (God Forbid), maybe a sudden death will strike (God Forbid)!; Plus moreover in early days of the Church, it was a common thing that new born babies die in infancy or in a very young age in less than a year time. Thus seeing this in one spirit in leaded by the Holy Spirit in earlier times the One Holy Apostolic Church / Orthodox Church holy hiearachs lead by the Holy Spirit itself, decided together that baptism is practice on new borns. Back in those days Christian people’s Faith and Hope in God was huge, so it was usual that Christians baptized their kids in order for their kid to receive a higher blessing in very young times of the kid (few months, 40 days) or in the early days of childhood. The children baptizm was practiced with one and only reason to assure salvation of the kid (if it suddenly pass away) and grant him the Grace of the Holy Spirit (received after Christian Baptism) from its baby years. The historical facts on why we baptize kids is broader so anyone deeply interested in his faith and non-Orthodox or even Orthodox Christian might like to check it.
The earliest historical evidence of infancy baptism from histroy dates back to early II-nd century.
We read about it in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus about year 215 A.D.. Little chunk extracted from the text is:
“Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them.” (Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition 21:15, c. 215 A.D.)
It might be shocking for Protestant Christians to find out that even their faith finding collosus (founding fathers) – Martin Luther and John Calvin believed and found baby baptism as something normal and necessery.
Of the baptism of children we hold that children ought to be baptized. For they belong to the promised redemption made through Christ, and the Church should administer it to them. (Martin Luther, The Smalcald Articles, Article V: Of Baptism, 1537)
“If, by baptism, Christ intends to attest the ablution by which he cleanses his Church, it would seem not equitable to deny this attestation to infants, who are justly deemed part of the Church, seeing they are called heirs of the heavenly kingdom.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1559)
For us Orthodox Christians is understand as a sacrament – A Mystery (unexplainable and incomprehensible by human mind and knowled). We firmly believe in Christian Baptism, the priest communicates to us the Grace of the Lord over the baptised and it doesn’t matter if it is over fully grown adult person or a a baby which can’t dogmatically understand the truths of our faith.
Actually we perceive the kids Baptism as a way to enter and become part of the New Covenent given to us and established by the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ spilled on the Cross for our Sins!
We also believe the Old Testamental circumcision practiced by Jewish (even to this day) used to be one other Old Testamental Prophecy about the Water Holy Baptism nowdays practiced in the Church. By Baptising in our Holy Orthodox Church, our hearts are mystically circumcised by the Grace of the Holy Spirit which descends over us and cleanse us from sin and all evil. Making our bodies a dwelling of God.
Baptism is the first thing which opens our doors to the 7 mysticisms of the Church and marks the beginning of our Christian life in Christ.
The link between Circumcision and Baptism is also mentioned by in Colossians 2:11-12 by St. Apostle Paul:
In [Christ] you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)
As Protestant Christians like to quote the Bible and take as a trustful source of information and criteria about truthful Christianity, it is useful to mention following Bible Verses, which also are reference for the Early Age / Baby Baptism:
“… she [Lydia] and the members of her household were baptized…”
“… immediately he [the jailer] and all his family were baptized.”
“… I [the apostle Paul] also baptized the household of Stephanas…”
(I Corinthians 1:16)
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children…” (Acts 2:38-39)
According to Orthodox Christian Traditioan Lydia, The Jailer and Stephanus had children and some of them had even kids in an infancy (baby) age.
It is also useful to mention what was the Lord and Saviour Jesus himself said concerning the kids, as this will make even more clearer what the Lord himself says for childrean and in my believe it answers should babys be baptised in this young unconscious age or not?
Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
I hope my little article will help someone to have a very, very basic clue on why we orthodox baptize our children in a very young age
It is useful to mention that my article is not intended to shed light on specifics on Orthodox Baptism as Holy Baptism includes another mystics which is oilment – A mysticism rejected by Protestant Christians and Roman Catholics. It just aims to give a very basic and simplistic (incomplete answer), I’m not a theologist myself and I’m not a Priest so specifics on Baptism should be always consulted with a Priest or a member of the Priestly spiritual Hierarchy in our Orthodox Church.
I hope this post will be also useful for seeking Christian people with AnaBaptist understanding for Baptism. For those who doesn’t know the AnaBaptists used to be a movement part of Protestant later days reformation who rejected baby baptism and began re-baptizing each other, thinking the baptism as kid was invalid.
Nowdays it is a pity even in Orthodox Christian Countries as Bulgaria, plenty of people who belive in the Lord Jesus Christ reject their infancy baptism (if had so) and think of re-baptizing themselves (even often in heretical protestant or Methodist Churches) – I myself know and heard of cases like this. However lets hope and pray that all this lost sheeps will realize the mistake they did and come back to the one and Holy Apostolic Church – the Holy Orthodox Church.
I myself was baptized and am Orthodox Christian in my 8th months after birth. But Though Glory be to God I was baptized as a kid, I was not exactly in details explained the Orthodox Christian faith in my young years (not having opportunity to learn in detail true Christian faith) due to the severe deliberate attempts of Communists to destroy our Bulgarian Church and faith in God
But obviously my baptism thanks to God has in my later years given its fruit as I little by little started researching Orthodox faith and by God’s Holy Spirit grace in the “set time” I was blessed with the gift of faith and little by little I started understanding the Church teachings and by the Mysticism of confession and taking Jesus’s blood and Flesh in sacraments re-united with our Lord Jesus Christ.