Unlike Catholics and Orthodox, or Anglicans for that matter, usually Baptists baptise adults, or at least teenagers. It is, for most of them, a mere external sign, kind of a a semiotic devise pointing to the much more important spiritual reality of conversion and new birth.
Because of this conviction, for Baptists, the proper ordo salutis is first new birth, then baptism. That is why most baptists re-baptise as adults people who have been baptised as infants, even if this was done in the name of the Holy Trinity. At the same time, it is true that many Orthodox priests, for instance, re-baptise Baptists and other evangelicals, if they convert to Orthodoxy, although, according to the principles established from Patristic times, baptism performed in the name of the Trinity should be considered as perfectly valid. But, of course, that is not sufficient enough for fundamentalists.
Being a former Baptist, turned Anglican, I am fully comfortable with the covenantal, and sacramental, theology of infant baptism, although I am aware of its limitations, which made, for instance, one of the greatest theologians of the 2oth century, Karl Barth, to prefer adult baptism, in spite of him being a member of the Reformed Church, which practices paedobaptism. At the same time, adult baptism has its own problems, both theologically and practically. No form, however perfect that might be, is safe when touched by human hands.
For many theological and hermeneutic reasons, and in spite of the strong convictions of Baptists, and others, the issue of the proper age for baptism cannot be decided by quoting Bible verses. Nor could such quotations decide the proper form of baptism: by immersion – a simbol of death to sin, and rebirth for new life in God (strongly advocated by many evangelicals and by the Orthodox), by pouring – symbol of the coming of the Spirit over the disciples at Pentecost, or by sprinkling – symbol of the later rain of the same Spirit over believers.
The Bible simply does not prescribe explicitly a certain age or form of baptism. There are biblical differences even concerning the liturgical formula used for baptism: ‘in the name of Jesus’ (the earlier practice) or ‘in the name of the Trinity’ (as the established later formula in virtually all fully Christian traditions).
These may have been the reasons why, in spite of his own established denominational practice, a Baptist pastor in Ohio decided to respond positively to the request of a family to baptise their infant.
You may read below this unusual story, as reported by Jeff Brumley for Baptist News Global.Read More »