Paedobaptism (pedobaptism) is the practice of baptizing infants. The Greek word pais means "child." There are differences of beliefs among churches that practice paedobaptism on what happens to the child when it is baptized. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that baptism removes original sin and strongly urges parents to baptize infants. It teaches that such baptism saves the child.
There are Reformed groups such as the Presbyterian Church in America which practice infant baptism but unlike the Roman Catholic Church does not teach that such baptism saves the child. Instead, it teaches that infant baptism is a covenant sign and does not save--just the same as Old Testament circumcision was a covenantal sign that did not save.
The Lutheran Churches, like the Roman Catholic Church, practice infant baptism and maintain that such baptism saves the child.
There is no explicit command in the Bible to baptize infants, but some hold that it is prefigured in the Old Testament circumcision of infants by which God commanded them to be entered into the Abrahamic covenant. This Abrahamic covenant spoken of in Genesis 12:3 was quoted by Paul in Galatians 3:8 as being the gospel. Therefore, some hold that the Abrahamic Covenant which included infants is still in effect. Therefore, infants are said to be worthy of such covenantal participation in the present-day (Col. 2:11-12 relates circumcision and baptism which now includes both males and females). Also, as the Old Testament taught that entire households were circumcised (females obviously excluded) as were entire households baptized in the New Testament.
- Acts 16:15, "And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.' And she prevailed upon us."
- Acts 18:8, "And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized."
- 1 Cor. 1:16, "Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other."
Christian denominations that oppose infant baptism would include the Baptists, Churches of Christ, and Pentecostal groups. They would deny infant baptism by saying that belief must precede baptism and that infants cannot believe. 1The non-Christian groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and the Christadelphians also deny infant baptism.
- 1. A common response to such a claim is to cite Psalm 22:9, "Yet You are He who did bring me forth from the womb. You did make me trust when upon my mother’s breasts."