In their view, baptism should be reserved to adults and older children who are capable of having a “born again” experience and accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour. In fact, according to them, baptism plays a secondary role, and what matters more is the acceptance of Jesus and being “born again”. In other words, our salvation is guaranteed even without Baptism. They are called the Anabaptist. The word is derived from the Greek (anabaptismos). “Ana” means “again”, and “baptismos” means “baptism”. Thus, an Anabaptist means a re-baptizer or one who baptizes again (but they do not see themselves as such).
History records that the Anabaptists are a 16th century radical group of Church and civil reformers, who first appeared in 1521 at Zwickau with their initiators as Nicholas Storch (a weaver) and Thomas Munzer, (a Lutheran). Both died the same year, 1525. They maintained the absolute supremacy and sole sufficiency of the canonical scriptures as a norm of faith. Based on this, they rejected infant baptism for having no biblical support, and therefore, vehemently opposed the practice as being null and void. Besides, they expected baptismal candidates to be able to express their faith on their own. Baptism for them therefore should be preceded by teaching and oral confession of faith by the candidates. However, there are other ecclesial bodies that identify with the Anabaptists in rejection of infant baptism. They are the Baptist church, Seventh Day Adventists and many evangelical Churches. But in the modern times, the fundamentalists dominate the scene as objectors to infant baptism. Nevertheless, the consistency, soundness and completeness of their doctrine remain a poser until the end of this piece.
The crux of the matter here is whether there is any need to baptize infants. To answer this, we ask: What is baptism? According to Baltimore Catechism (commonly called the yellow Catechism), “Baptism is a sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and heirs of heaven.” Baptism remits both original and actual sins (CCC 1213). Infants, though they are incapable of actual sins, are tainted by the fallen human nature, on the one hand. They are entangled in the sinful human predicament that cries out for help. For this reason, David confesses: “O see in guilt I was born, a sinner was I conceived… O purify me then I shall be clean, O wash me I shall be whither than snow (Ps. 51:5ff). The unstated assumption in this Psalmist exclamation is that from the moment of our conception, we are unconditionally in need of God’s mercy in order to free us from the human predicament caused by our first parents. Paul shows vividly how the sin of Adam has affected us his descendants. He made this clarification when he addressed the Romans in the following words: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned… (Rom.5:12). By implication, the sin of Adam brought condemnation to humanity irrespective of age, hence, the need for justification. Paul also offered hope to the pitiable situation of man when he exclaimed; consequently, just as the result of one man’s trespasses was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men, for just as through the obedience of one man that many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:18-19). Good enough, Paul shows that man’s situation was not one-sided. That is to say, that human predicament has both restricting and liberating elements; one caused by one man’s disobedience, the other caused by one man’s obedience. Thus, the human person, on coming into the world, comes into a situation that is precarious but equipped with means of safety. It is a world where the depravity or falleness caused by the First Adam is not obliterated; it is also a world where the means of salvation wrought by the second Adam (Jesus Christ) offers itself for the overcoming of the human degeneracy. And it is through baptism that one passes from human degeneracy into the life of grace.
Therefore, contrary to the teachings of the fundamentalists, baptism has salvific value both for the child and later adult under the grace and mercy of God, the Father, whose “universal salvific will” includes all human beings without exception. And so, every Christian parent has a duty to lead their children to Christ (Lk 18L15-17). This responsibility is captured thus, in the Book of Proverbs: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it, (Prov. 22:6).