Thursday, November 8, 2012

Infant Baptism and Wild Living

I was discussing baptism with a Baptist and one of the objections against infant baptism that he brought up was the fact that he had friends who were baptized as infants and were now engaged in "wild living." What he meant exactly by "wild living" wasn't clear from the rest of the conversation but I'm guessing that he means they are engaged in some kind of sinful lifestyle. However, it's not too difficult to find people who have been baptized as adults and are also engaging in "wild living." The typical Baptist approach to such people is to conclude that they were never really "saved" to begin with and to try to convert such people to Christianity and perhaps even have them baptized again. In 1 Corinthians 6 and elsewhere, Paul instead calls people back to their baptisms. He doesn't say, "You had some water poured on you but you must not really be Christians because of how you're acting." Instead he appeals to their baptism. Instead he says, "You're all living like unbelievers but you were washed in the waters of baptism, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of Jesus Christ. So stop acting like unbelievers, Jesus paid for all your sins."

What stands behind the "wild living" accusation is very dangerous. It's an attempt at self-justification. It involves the person making the accusation placing their good works before God in an attempt to justify themselves. They convince themselves that although they may make mistakes from time to time, they aren't like those people over there who are engaging in these sinful lifestyles--regardless of whether the lifestyle is something actually condemned by God or only condemned by the person making the accusation. We are all sinners. Every day we commit acts that are worthy of God's temporal and eternal punishment. But God has washed us in the waters of holy baptism and united us to Christ. Our sins are washed away in baptism. We are forgiven in baptism. We are regenerated in baptism. Jesus paid for all of our sins on the cross, even those we commit after baptism.