Did the early church baptize infants? - Mondays with McMaken

Time for another appetite-whetting installment of this wonderful new series. Don’t forget to tell your theological librarian to order a copy of the book. Also, Christmas is right around the corner and nothing makes a better stocking stuffer than a theological treatise on baptism! Better yet, it's a healthy and uplifting alternative to candy as an option for handing-out on Halloween...

W. Travis McMaken, The Sign of the Gospel: Toward an Evangelical Doctrine of Infant Baptism after Karl Barth, Emerging Scholars (Fortress, 2013), 16.
Taken together, one must conclude that the church both did and did not baptize infants in the early Christian centuries. It did baptize infants in situations where death threatened; it did not as a standard practice baptize infants who were not threatened by impending death. This state of affairs meshes well with Tertullian’s comments above, as well as those of Gregory the Theologian who argued that parents should wait until their children achieved three years of age before bringing them forward for baptism, since “at that time they begin to be responsible for their lives” and they can “listen and . . . answer something about the Sacrament.” In other words, baptism was to be conducted when the candidate had reached a responsible age, barring unfortunate and dangerous circumstances.

Such practice reveals something important about infant baptism in these early centuries as well, namely, that . . .
To learn more about the evidence that lead me to this view, and to discover just what important point about infant baptism all this reveals, buy the book!



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