Since the Lord Christ has said, “He who believes and is baptised will be saved.” (Mark 16:16), why then are children baptised before accepting faith?
We baptise children because baptism is necessary for their salvation.
The Lord Christ said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5).
We baptise children so that they become members of the church and benefit from Its spiritualities.
They benefit from the church Sacraments, they come to the church and take part in celebrating the Holy Mass and have communion.
Why do we deprive children of such spiritual atmosphere and benefits? Is it because they are young? The Lord Christ says, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven ” (Matt 19:14).
Some may object saying that a child cannot accept faith and faith is necessary for salvation. We reply: Faith is necessary for the grown ups who need to be convinced by reasoning.
The grown up need preaching and ministry of the word to be convinced and accept faith, whereas children believe whatever we say to them. They have no objection to faith: for they have not attained yet the age of doubt and argument. On the other hand, the grown ups should declare their faith before baptism and should learn the rules of faith as the church used to do for the catechumens before their receiving baptism.
Children are baptised according to the faith of their parents.
In the Holy Bible, there are many examples of children who were baptised after the faith of their parents and joined the church as members (among the believers) on the basis of their parents’ faith also. Among those are:
1. Salvation of the firstborn by the blood of the Passover lamb.
The symbol is very clear in this great historical event. The Passover is a symbol of the Lord Christ as St. Paul said, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” (1 Cor 5:7)
and the Passover blood is a symbol of the blood of Christ by which we attained salvation as the Lord said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” (Ex 12:13).
Here we inquire: Had the children who were saved by the Passover blood believed in the blood first?
Of course not, but they were saved because of the faith of their parents who sprinkled the doors with the blood trusting the Lord’s words and trusting that the blood will save their children from perdition and it happened.
Was it necessary to ask every child saved whether he had believed in the Passover blood first or not?
Perhaps some were still babes knowing nothing.
2. The Children who were saved from slavery of Pharaoh by crossing the Red Sea.
The symbol of salvation is very clear here. The crossing of the Red Sea was considered baptism by St. Paul the Apostle (1 Cor 10:2). Most of these children crossed the Sea on the shoulders of their parents not knowing what was going on.
But their parents believed in the Lord’s promise of salvation to Moses and they crossed the Sea in trust. Their faith saved their children with them.
3. The Children who were circumcised on the eighth day:
Circumcision was a symbol of baptism, through which a child becomes a member of God’s people and unless a child is baptised he perishes. What did a child understand from all this? What was his belief on his eighth day from birth? Should we have asked such a child about his belief in the circumcision law as given by the Lord to our father Abraham (Gen 17). Was not he circumcised according to the faith of his parents and this was accounted righteousness for him and he joined God’s people by it?
4. The children who were baptised among their families.
It is written about Lydia, the purple cloth dealer, that “she and her household were baptised.” (Acts 16:15). The children were not excluded. It is said also about the jailer who believed through the preaching of Paul and Silas, “Immediately he and all his family were baptized.” (Acts 16:33). Was there not any child among all those? The same is said about Crispus the official of the Synagogue (Acts 18:8). St. Paul the Apostle says also that he had baptised “the household of Stephanas.” (1 Cor 1:16) without excluding the children.
In General, no verse in the Holy Bible prohibits baptising children.
However, when children grow up, their faith will be tested. If they were steadfast they will continue in their faith, if not they will not benefit as in the case of grown ups who were baptised but were not steadfast, no difference.