The Protestant Church of Christ believes that a person cannot be baptized before she believes / has faith.
Your group has developed a soteriological formula that applies to all people, and it must be performed in the proper sequence: hear the gospel, believe the gospel, repent of past sins, confess faith in Jesus Christ, be baptized, and be faithful unto death. Though the formula is meaningless for your group’s infants and young children, it applies to all people once they have reached the “age of accountability”.
The formula1 is derived from Bible passages that, again, address adult conversion—not how infants enter into the New Covenant. So again, do you believe it is reasonable to bind infants to a formula that is based on passages that address adult conversion?
I have already illustrated the clear parallels that St. Paul referred to when he called Baptism the circumcision of Christ, which alludes to an element of faith that is present at every Baptism. However, your group insists that the recipient of the rite must also be the person who possesses faith—a result of, again, binding infants to a formula that is derived from passages that address adult conversion. In other words, your group’s model is based on passages that do not address the topic, and the Catholic Church’s position is scripturally and theologically consistent (both contexts complement each other); she acknowledges the fact that Jesus allows people of faith to intercede for others.
An example of intercession is found in the eighth chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel:
There came a man named Ja’irus, who was a ruler of the synagogue; and falling at Jesus’ feet he begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying … (Luke 8:40-42). While he was speaking, a man from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more” (v. 49). Then Jesus went to the ruler’s house, and said, “Child arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once (v. 55).
Did Ja’irus’ daughter have faith? We do not know. What we do know is that a man of faith interceded for his daughter, and that Jesus healed her.
There are other examples. Did the Canaanite woman’s daughter of Matthew 15 have faith? We do not know, but what we know is that a woman of faith interceded for her daughter, and that Jesus healed her. Did the centurion’s servant of Luke 7 have faith? We do not know. Did the paralyzed man of Mark 2 have faith? We do not know. Did the wedding party at Cana have faith (cf. John 2)? Again, we do not know.
St. Paul’s lessons on marriage reveal how sanctifying grace is communicated through a believing spouse to an unbelieving spouse: For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband. Other wise, your children would be unclean, but as it is they are holy (1 Corinthians 7:14). Is it not, then, reasonable to consider that, in some way, an infant becomes holy—set apart—by the sanctifying grace that is communicated by a believing parent’s intercession—a faith that brought her to Jesus through the waters of Baptism?
There were no “cradle Catholics” in the early Church—it was built through conversion, and the Bible’s evangelical passages address its initial audience (and like-audiences today): candidates for conversion and Baptism who, of course, had the capacity to believe. The Bible also reveals the character of the gospel, and the Catholic Church of Christ has always recognized its character in regard to covenanted families, and its character shines through the Catholic Church’s practice of not hindering its infants from receiving initiation into the Church.
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1 The formula, although based on Scripture (verses strung together that may or may not represent Jesus’ intent), is not found in the Scriptures as a formula per se; it is developed by splicing portions of Scriptures together. Human wisdom (not the “Bible only”) developed the formula from passages that A) were not provided by the biblical writers in the sequence insisted upon by the group, B) never indicate that its contents should constitute only a portion of a formula, and C) never indicate that infants are bound to its contents, which only adults are able to obey. In other words, contrary to the group’s claim, the “Bible only” is not the “sole authority” regarding the group’s soteriological formula, but rather, the Bible is placed under human interpretation; humans are the group’s “sole authority” regarding the proper means of attaining salvation.
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