Baptism (derived from the Greek noun baptizein, meaning a dipping in or under water, or washing in general) is defined by the Baltimore Catechism No.2 as the following:
“Baptism is the sacrament that gives our souls the new life of sanctifying grace by which we become children of God and heirs of heaven.”
(Balt. Catechism No. 2 Question No. 315)
A sacrament is defined as:
“A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.”
(Balt. Catechism No. 2 Question No. 304)
The CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) defines Baptism as:
“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.’ ” (No. 1213)
The CCC also says:
“Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord’s will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.” (No. 1277)
The common Protestant argument is that, first, Baptism does not remit sin; second, it is only an ordinance, it has no spiritual effect on the recipient; and third, infants should not be baptized, because Baptism is for those who have professed their faith in Jesus Christ.
To judge the effects of Baptism, we will look at the sacrament from a Biblical, and historical aspect, and refute the Protestant claims.
First, we must discuss the subject of Original Sin. It is a very important part of the meaning of Baptism.
Original Sin is defined by the CCC as the following:
“Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing freedom, disobeying God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.” (No. 397)
Original Sin was the first sin ever committed by man. This was a horrible occurrence, because through man’s first sin, evil entered the world.
“To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.” (Gen. 3:16-19)
For listening to the serpent in Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:6), Eve was punished by painful child birth and she was to be subject to her husband. For listening to Eve, Adam was punished by having to toil and work over the earth for food, and they were both doomed to die. Through their sin, Adam and Eve lost all of the gifts God had bestowed upon them.
Mankind today endures the lasting consequences of Original Sin. All mankind is punished by painful childbirth, hard labour for food, and also death.
Man is also born into this world with Original Sin on his soul. His soul is thus disfigured and in need of cleansing. The CCC states:
“All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. ‘Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.’ ” (No. 402)
We read in Paul’s Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians the following:
“Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed to all men, in whom all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22)
Paul is saying through Adam’s sin, all humanity after him (with the exception of Jesus Christ and his mother Mary) are born into the world in sin. The effects of our inherited Original Sin are as follows.
The effects on the soul:
Deprivation from God’s grace, which without, we cannot obtain Heaven.
Ignorance of the intellect.
Weakness and malice in the will.
Concupiscence in the heart, by which we are inclined to sin.
The effects on the body:
The need to work to survive.
The worldly effects.
The ground is composed of unfruitful soil, which must be tilled.
Some animals are ferocious and beyond control.
Adam’s descendant’s souls are born dead in Original Sin, but through the grace of Christ, they are made alive. Our original parents, through their fall in Original Sin, could not pass Sanctifying grace onto us. They lost grace through their first sin, and were in need of a Redeemer. If our first parents lost God’s gift of grace, then how could they pass this gift on to us, their descendants?
Original Sin is something we are conceived with on our soul. King David speaks of how he was conceived in sin.
“For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 50:7)
If mankind is not born under the chains of Original Sin, then why do people die? Why are there such things as pain and suffering? Why, for instance, do infants and young children, who have not committed sin of their own die? Death is the outcome of sin, yet beings such as these have not sinned. Effects of sin are apparent here, so the existence of inherited Original Sin is obvious.
All subsequent humanity is born with Original Sin on their souls and Baptism is necessary to was away this sin, as we will soon find out.
The Necessity of Baptism
Baptism is necessary for salvation
“Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
This passage is part of a discourse between Jesus and Nicodemus, a certain ruler of the Jews. Nicodemus says that he knows that Jesus is a teacher from God (John 3:2), and Jesus replies by saying: “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Upon further discussion, Jesus tells Nicodemus that “unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
In Baptism, we are born again through it’s regenerating waters, and receive the Holy Spirit.
We see from this passage that, under the Law of the New Covenant, Baptism is necessary for someone to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Fundamentalists believe that Baptism is merely an “ordinance.” This “ordinance” is only a public action showing that the person has “accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.” They do not believe that Baptism itself remits sin and bestows the Holy Ghost upon the recipient. This common Fundamentalist belief clearly contradicts both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Jesus Himself says that Baptism is necessary in order to enter into Heaven. Also, the first Christians (those closest in time to Christ and His Apostles) testify that Baptism is necessary.
“He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)
Here, after His resurrection, Jesus proclaims that the person who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He does not merely say that whoever believes and only believes shall be saved. Jesus say that belief and baptism are necessary to salvation. The Church Fathers comment by saying:
Tertullian of Carthage (lived 155-220 AD)
“When, however, the prescript is laid down that ‘without baptism, salvation is attainable by none” (chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, “Unless one be born of water, he hath not life).‘” (On Baptism, 12:1, A.D. 203).
St. Cyprian of Carthage (lived 210-258 AD)
“It behooves those to be baptized . . . so that they are prepared, in the lawful and true and only baptism of the holy Church, by divine regeneration, for the kingdom of God . . . because it is written ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ ” (Epistles 72 : 21 [A.D. 252])
Baptism is Commanded
Baptism is commanded to all nations by Christ
“Go therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 28:19)
This here is part of Jesus’ last instructions given to the Apostles that is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. He commissions them by commanding them to baptize all nations, and tells them to teach everyone everything He has taught them, and promises to be with them always, even to the consummation of the world.
It is here, after His Resurrection that Christ makes Baptism mandatory for “all nations”. He says to teach all nations, AND to baptize them, invoking the Trinity’s name. Baptism is commanded to be received by everyone, since it is necessary for salvation (John 3:5, Mark 16:16).
Baptism Remits Sin
Baptism remits all sin (Original and Actual), and also bestows the spiritual life of grace upon the recipient’s soul.
“And now why tarriest thou? Rise up, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, invoking his name.” (Acts 22:16)
“Whereunto baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also: not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience towards God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21)
“Know you not that all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death? For we are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”
By these Bible passages, we see that Baptism cleanses the soul from sin, and bestows the life of Christ (grace) upon it. There is no alternative “symbolic” meaning. The Fundamentalist view of Baptism is here refuted by both the Holy Scriptures and the Early Church writings.
The Early Christian writings show that the remission of sins and bestowal of grace was believed by the Early Church.
The Letter of Barnabas (written 70 AD)
“Regarding [baptism], we have the evidence of Scripture that Israel would refuse to accept the washing which confers the remission of sins and would set up a substitution of their own instead [Ps. 1:3–6]. Observe there how he describes both the water and the cross in the same figure. His meaning is, ‘Blessed are those who go down into the water with their hopes set on the cross.’ Here he is saying that after we have stepped down into the water, burdened with sin and defilement, we come up out of it bearing fruit, with reverence in our hearts and the hope of Jesus in our souls.” (Letter of Barnabas 11:1–10 [A.D. 74])
St. Justin Martyr (lived 100-165 AD)
“As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, and instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we pray and fast with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father… and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19], they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ ” (First Apology 61 [A.D. 151])
St. Irenaeus (lived 130-202 AD)
” ‘And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ [John 3:5]” (Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]
Baptism is when the Holy Ghost becomes operative in the recipient’s life
“Do penance and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38, emphasis added)
We see that by Baptism we are born again of both water and of the Holy Ghost. We cannot have just one or the other. By being baptized we are born again of water, and of the Holy Ghost.
St. Clement of Alexandria (lived 153–217 AD)
“Thus also we who are baptized, having wiped off the sins which obscure the light of the Divine Spirit, have the eye of the spirit free, unimpeded, and full of light, by which alone we contemplate the Divine, the Holy Spirit flowing down to us from above.” (The Instructor 6)
Baptism grants membership into the Church
“For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
By being baptized, St. Paul says that we are all baptized into one body. This one body is the Church, the Mystical body of Christ. Race, color, and previous religion do not matter; those who are baptized are admitted into the Body of Christ.
St. Ambrose of Milan (lived 340-397 AD)
The Church was redeemed at the price of Christ’s blood. Jew or Greek, it makes no difference; but if he has believed, he must circumcise himself from his sins [in baptism (Col. 2:11-12)] so that he can be saved . . . for no one ascends into the kingdom of heaven except through the sacrament of baptism….’Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ ” (On Abraham 2:11:79-84 [A.D. 387])
Sons of God and Heirs of Heaven
By being baptized, we become sons and daughters of God and heirs of Heaven.
“For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be Christ’s, then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:27-29)
“For we ourselves also were some time unwise, incredulous, erring, slaves to divers desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared: Not by works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation by the Holy Ghost; Whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior: That being justified by grace, we may be heirs, according to the hope of life everlasting.“ (Titus 3:3-7)
We see that by being born again through the waters of Baptism, we become “heirs according to the promise.” All sin is remitted, Sanctifying Grace is bestowed, and as long as we have Sanctifying Grace, we are heirs according to the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Form of Baptism
The form of Baptism consists of the words:
“I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
(these words are to be said as water is being poured or sprinkled over the head of the recipient, or as they are immersed in water)
If it is doubtful that the person has been baptized at all, then the words “If thou art not baptized” are said before the form.
If it is uncertain that the person needing to be baptized is alive, then the words “If thou live” are said before the form.
The Early Christian document the Didache states the form for Baptism.
The Didache (70 AD)
“After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water. If you have no living water, then baptize in other water, and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Before baptism, let the one baptizing and the one to be baptized fast, as also any others who are able. Command the one who is to be baptized to fast beforehand for one or two days.” (Didache 7:1 [A.D. 70]).
The Remote Matter of Baptism
The remote matter of Baptism is pure, natural water according to Acts 8:36.
Any liquid that cannot be regarded as retaining the quality of water would not suffice. In conferring Baptism solemnly, that is, with all the prescribed ceremonies, baptismal water blessed on Holy Saturday or the vigil of Pentecost is used.
The Proximate Matter of Baptism
The proximate matter of Baptism is the application of the water by immersion, aspersion, or infusion. Immersion is applied by dipping the person in the water; aspersion is applied by sprinkling the person with water; and infusion is applied by pouring the water over the head of the person. Baptism by infusion is the most commonly used method of the Church.
When baptizing by aspersion or infusion, the water must flow across the skin, in even the smallest way, or else there is no washing or ablution. For the same reason, the water must reach the skin of the person and flow; moistening the hair or clothes would not suffice.
The Ordinary Minister of Baptism
The ordinary minister of the sacrament of Baptism is the bishop or priest. An extraordinary minister may be allowed to baptize, such as a deacon. In extreme emergency, such as if the person is in danger of death, anyone can baptize. Even a heretic or pagan can baptize validly, if using the correct matter and form.
Baptism of Desire
The CCC states the following:
“For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance of their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.”
Baptism of desire implies fervent love for God, regret and repentance of one’s sins committed, and the desire to receive the sacrament and to cooperate with God’s plan for salvation. Those who die before being baptized by water and the Holy Ghost, if they desire to be baptized, are baptized by their own fervent want for Baptism.
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)
St. Ambrose of Milan (lived 340-397 AD)
“But I hear that you are distressed because he did not receive the sacrament of baptism. Tell me, what attribute do we have besides our will, our intention? Yet, a short time ago he had this desire that before he came to Italy he should be initiated [baptized], and he indicated that he wanted to be baptized as soon as possible by myself. Did he not, therefore, have that grace which he desired? Did he not have what he asked for? Undoubtedly because he asked for it he received it.” (De obitue Valentiniani consolatio)
Baptism of Blood
The CCC states the following:
“The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings forth brings about the fruits of Baptism without it being a sacrament.” (No. 1258)
Baptism of blood refers to martyrs who are not baptized with water, but with their own blood, when they die for their Faith. They confess their Christian beliefs, and do not relinquish them, and as a consequence, are killed.
Jesus Himself says:
“Everyone therefore that shall confess me before men, I will confess him before my Father in heaven.” (Mt. 10:32)
“He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me shall find it.” (Mt.10:39)
We see that Jesus speaks of himself being baptized in blood.
“And Jesus said to them: You know not what you ask. Can you drink the chalice I drink of: or be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38)
“And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized: And how am I straightened until it be accomplished?” (Luke 12:50)
The Church Fathers speak of Baptism of blood
Tertullian of Carthage
“We have, indeed, a second [baptismal] font which is one with the former [water baptism]: namely, that of blood, of which the Lord says: ‘I am to be baptized with a baptism’ [Luke 12:50], when he had already been baptized. He had come through water and blood, as John wrote [1 John 5:6], so that he might be baptized with water and glorified with blood. . . . This is the baptism which replaces that of the fountain, when it has not been received, and restores it when it has been lost.” (Baptism 16 [A.D. 203])
St. Cyprian of Carthage
“[Catechumens who suffer martyrdom] are not deprived of the sacrament of baptism. Rather, they are baptized with the most glorious and greatest baptism of blood, concerning which the Lord said that he had another baptism with which he himself was to be baptized [Luke 12:50].” (Letters, 72:22 )
Baptism of Infants
Some Protestant denominations, the Baptists for example, refuse to baptize infants born into their families. They believe that a person must make the choice to become Christian; “acceptance of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior”. Baptism is only a public way of showing that they were “saved” by accepting Christ as their Savior. Baptism does not actually remit sin or bestow grace, it only shows that a person has been saved. So, for them, it would be a waste of time to baptize children who cannot realize that they must be “saved”. They say that, if the infant was to die without being saved by asking Jesus to be their Lord and Savior (let alone being baptized), then they would go straight to Heaven. The Baptists are not the creators of this Protestant belief. It was brought to light first in the Middle Ages, by the Waldenses and Catharists. Later on, the Anabaptists followed suit, saying that infants cannot be validly baptized without a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. We will see why this belief contradicts the Bible and Sacred Tradition.
First of all, we see that Baptism is necessary for salvation. (John 3:5) If Baptism is necessary, then why are we to withhold it from infants? If an infant was to die before being baptized, he could not go to Heaven, yet he had not committed sin, being below the age of reason, and would not go to Hell. Where do their souls go? God has not revealed this, but theologians commonly refer to a place called the “Limbo of the Children.” Though they cannot enjoy the supernatural happiness of Heaven, those in this place are thought to experience perfect natural happiness, free of pain and suffering. God would surely not send a child’s soul to the everlasting fires of Hell on account of not being able to be baptized, especially through no fault of their own.
Baptism replaces Circumcision
“In whom also you are circumcised with circumcision not made by hand, in despoiling the of the body of the flesh, but in the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, in whom also you are risen again, by the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him up from the dead. And you, when you were dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh; he hath quickened together with him, forgiving you all your offences: Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross: And despoiling the principalities and powers, he hath exposed them confidently in open shew, triumphing over them in himself.” (Col. 2:11-15, emphasis added)
Circumcision was performed upon infant boys, eight days after their birth, when they were clearly incapable to make the choice for themselves, let alone know what was going on, or desiring it. Their parents made the choice for the children, as do Catholic parents with the baptism of their children. Through the parents’ decision, the child is washed of sin, and receives the divine life of Sanctifying Grace.
Biblical examples of blessing, forgiveness, and healing on a person due to the faith and spiritual diligence of another person:
(Mt. 8:5-13) The Centurion from Carpharnaum shows his faith in Jesus and asks Him to heal his servant sick with palsy. Jesus heals the servant on account of the Centurion’s faith.
(Mt. 15:21-28) A woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter, who was troubled by a devil. Jesus heals the woman’s daughter on account of the woman’s faith.
(Mark 2:1-12) Jesus heals a paralytic on account of his friend’s faith, when they presented the paralytic to Jesus.
We see that a person can benefit from another person’s act of faith, not necessarily needing to act on their own faith. This is the same with infant baptism. The infant receives all the graces of Baptism, even though his parents baptize him without his consent.
In Acts 2:37-39, St. Peter says:
“Now when they had heard these things, they had compunction in their heart, and said to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles: What shall we do, men and brethren? But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call.” (emphasis added)
Though St. Peter does not give an age distinction for the children’s Baptism, it appears that, remission of sin and the gift of the Holy Ghost through baptism is not to be withheld from ANY children.
There are passages in Sacred Scripture that speak of whole households being baptized.
(Acts 16:15) “And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying: If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.” (emphasis added)
(Acts 16:27-33) “And the keeper of the prison, awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the doors of the prison open, drawing his sword, would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying: Do thyself no harm, for we all are here. Then calling for a light, he went in, and trembling, fell down at the feet of Paul and Silas. And bringing them out, he said: Masters, what must I do, that I may be saved? But they said: Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they preached the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. And he, taking them the same hour of the night, washed their stripes, and himself was baptized, and all his house immediately.” (emphasis added)
It would be unusual if there were no children in these households. Surely, if there were children, they could have been older children; not infants. Though the text does not say explicitly, it is always a possibility. There very well could have been infants in arms in these households.
Jesus Himself says to let the children come to Him
“And they brought unto him also infants, that he might touch them. Which when the disciples saw, they rebuked them. But Jesus, calling them together, said: Suffer children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Amen, I say to you: Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a child, shall not enter into it.”
(Luke 18:15-17, emphasis added)
For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. What is necessary for the children to enter into Heaven? It is Baptism. Who dares to forbid them from entering Heaven? Their souls are disfigured by the stain of Original Sin and are in dire need of the cleansing waters of Baptism.
The Early Christians baptized infants. The Church Fathers testify:
St. Irenaeus (lived 130-202 AD)
“He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age.” (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189])
Irenaeus says that Jesus came to save ALL people, including infants. Infants are saved from Original Sin by being born again through the waters of Baptism.
St. Hippolytus of Rome (lived 170-235 AD)
“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.” (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215])
“The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit.” (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248])
St. Hippolytus says that the Church received the tradition of infant Baptism from the Apostles! There are no other early Christian writings that cry “invention!” or “liar!” at his claim.
Origen of Alexandria (lived 184-253)
“Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. . .In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous.” (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248])
St. Cyprian of Carthage (lived 210-258)
“If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he [an infant] approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another.” (Letters, 64:5 [A.D. 253], emphasis added)
St. Cyprian says that infants are baptized in order to remit the sin of another that they are born with; Original Sin.
St. John Chrysostom (lived 349-407)
“You see how many are the benefits of baptism, and some think its heavenly grace consists only in the remission of sins, but we have enumerated ten honors [it bestows]! For this reason we baptize even infants, though they are not defiled by [personal] sins, so that there may be given to them holiness, righteousness, adoption, inheritance, brotherhood with Christ, and that they may be his [Christ’s] members” (Baptismal Catecheses in Augustine, Against Julian 1:6:21 [A.D. 388]).
St. Augustine of Hippo (lived 354-430)
“The custom of Mother Church in baptizing infants is certainly not to be scorned, nor is it to be regarded in any way as superfluous, nor is it to be believed that its tradition is anything except apostolic” (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 10:23:39 [A.D. 408]).
Council of Mileum II (416 AD)
“[W]hoever says that infants fresh from their mothers’ wombs ought not to be baptized, or say that they are indeed baptized unto the remission of sins, but that they draw nothing of the original sin of Adam, which is expiated in the bath of regeneration . . . let him be anathema [excommunicated]. Since what the apostle [Paul] says, ‘Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so passed to all men, in whom all have sinned’ [Rom. 5:12], must not be understood otherwise than the Catholic Church spread everywhere has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith even infants, who in themselves thus far have not been able to commit any sin, are therefore truly baptized unto the remission of sins, so that that which they have contracted from generation may be cleansed in them by regeneration” (Canon 3 [A.D. 416]).
The first Christians baptized infants, and their writings show that the Protestant ideas about infant Baptism are only recent half-baked heresies.
We see that the Bible does not explicitly say “baptize infants”, but it does not say not to. On the contrary, the Bible is in high favor of it! When read in the context that Baptism is necessary for salvation, we see that infants do need Baptism, just as everyone else. The first Christians spoke of baptizing infants as a necessity, just as the Catholic Church does today.
The Protestant claims are refuted by use of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Baptism is necessary, it remits all previous sin, bestows the life of grace, grants membership into Christ’s Church, and makes the recipient a Son of God and Heir of Heaven. Also, unlike the modern Baptist claim, Baptism is not to be withheld from infants. In conclusion, let us all now view Baptism as the truth the Early Church Father St. Ignatius of Antioch saw it to be.
“Let none of you turn deserter. Let your baptism be your armor; your faith, your helmet; your love, your spear; your patient endurance, your panoply.” (Letter to Polycarp 6, emphasis added)
Yours in Christ,