There are obstacles members of the Protestant Church of Christ must hurdle for what I have shown you to take root—obstacles that are not anchored to the ancient Church, but rather, are merely theories that are relatively modern—some as young as plastic, yet presented by your group as “true” Christianity.
(1) 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 elusive and biblically-absent “age of accountability”.
The formula8 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 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 from Matthew 15 have faith? We do not know, but what we know is that a woman of faith interceded for her daughter, and Jesus healed her. Did the centurion’s servant from Luke 7 have faith? We do not know. Did the paralyzed man from 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 her infants from receiving initiation into the Church.
(2) The Protestant Church of Christ objects to a concept of original sin.
The Protestant Church of Christ uses Ezekiel 18:20 as a proof-text, which reads: The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father. Ezekiel was not arguing against the idea of original sin; he was addressing sin in accordance to the Law—it was a legal point. So when balanced with the full corpus of Scripture, the historical (= Catholic) understanding is most reasonable, and your group’s theology is based on one verse that is forced to be incongruous with the remainder of Scripture.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8), and the Catholic Church of Christ has always maintained an acknowledgement of how people are brought forth in iniquity (Psalm 51:5), and that by nature we are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Protestantism’s denial of original sin is modern—even the original Reformers recognized that the Scriptures support the historical teaching, but of course, most of the original Reformers also recognized the validity (and necessity) of an infant’s Baptism. But of course, you are not Catholic, you are not “Protestant”, you are, as you say, simply [your own and even more modern definition of] “Christian”.
But I must ask, on what grounds are your ministers’ interpretation of the Bible more credible than the Catholic Church’s or any other Protestant group’s interpretation regarding Baptism or sin? Why do you default to saying we have no sin, to believing that most of Christian history was less informed than your restorers?
It is clear that the recognition of original sin does provide a reason for infants to be washed in Baptism, so it is equally clear as to why a group, such as yours, prefers the showmanship of public conversion to trump the quietness, and in-house characteristics of an infant’s Baptism. Your apologists often suggest that the Catholic Church developed the idea of original sin to justify its “unbiblical” practice of granting Baptism to infants, but it is clear that from even the earliest days the Church has acknowledged that the imagination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21), and even some of the Catholic Church’s most staunch enemies have concurred, and agreed with St. Paul, who taught, For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22), and that sin came into the world through one man, and then spread to all men (Romans 5:12). But your group believes we have no sin, and that infants have somehow, without the grace of Baptism, been made alive.
St. Paul taught, For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19). Was St. Paul not speaking of the Fall, of Adam’s sin? Is there a reasonable exegesis of the entirety of Scripture that can deny the existence of original sin? I know of none, and the vast majority of Christians throughout history have known of none, but your group denies it and has determined that it knows best. Your group does not bring its infants to Jesus to be made alive and made righteous, it hinders, and it waits.
(3) The Protestant Church of Christ denies that the history of Christianity is Catholic.
Instead of considering history and how the Christian Church has always understood Baptism, many of your members decide that the paper trail of the Catholic Church’s presence throughout history does not reflect the true Church or Christ, but rather, an apostate organization; and your members are so certain of their prejudice that they sense no need to honestly consider the Catholic Church’s understanding of Baptism. In my experience, however, those who in fact honestly consider the merits of the Catholic position come to love the Catholic Church, but your group’s collective and unfounded hate for her prevents most of your members from experiencing the joy of finding out that one’s family is much, much larger. Therefore, any document other than the Bible that illustrates the Catholicity of the Christian Church from any century is either denied as a hoax or written off as irrelevant; and any interpretation of the Bible that supports the Catholic Church is labeled as heresy—deemed heresy by the authority your group has granted itself. So what argument can be made to convince you that you are wrong if you refuse to allow history (reality) to inform your opinions?
Your group’s only argument(s) for having any presence in history is, “Our group believes [insert any belief], so therefore, the early Church believed it too!” or “We interpret the Scriptures as XYZ, so therefore, the early Church interpreted the Scripture as XYZ too!” Are you not tired of excusing your group’s absence from history, of blaming your nonexistence on a make-believe Great Apostasy, or any other Grand Nemesis or Boogeyman theory? Have you not considered that your group’s nonexistence in history indicates that your group never existed until it was established in Kentucky?
Is it reasonable to believe that your group has properly deciphered the correct “pattern”, which is supposedly (though erroneously) intended to be imitated? (“X” does not become “Y” by imitation; it becomes an impostor.) Is it reasonable to believe your restorers were more successful at “restoring” what the Apostles were only ordered to maintain? Is it reasonable to believe your group is more informed about the Bible than any other Protestant group, or more than the Catholic Church, which A) wrote the New Testament, B) added it to the [complete] Old Testament, and C) created the Bible for the worldwide Church? And does your recognition of the [abridged] Bible’s inspiration not indicate that the Catholic Church is as authoritative as the Scriptures—did a body beget a greater body? Is it more reasonable to believe Jesus said He would give your ministers the Spirit of truth that would guide them into all truth, than to the body Jesus was in fact speaking? Is not Matthew 22:37 a command to love your God with all your mind?
The historical Church of Christ is Catholic; an intelligent argument cannot be made against that fact. It recognized various modes of Baptism. It baptized its infants. It understood that original sin is real. Baptism is important; you should reconsider your understanding of this most important Sacrament of initiation. Your family is much larger than the handful of members within your defensive fold—the majority of whom reside in only two of our United States. Your first Baptisms are valid, and Catholics from all generations and time are your brothers and sisters; your reciprocal acceptance would be to your benefit, and your children’s benefit.
I have asked for you to evaluate which Faith is more reasonable. The Bible does not explicitly reveal the Church’s acceptance of Baptism for infants, but it does implicitly reveal the Church’s acceptance of the practice, and the historical record reveals that the whole of Christianity accepted it as orthodox.
Within historical Christianity, as taught by Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and revealed by other historical documents, Baptism washes away an infant’s original sin, and it washes away both original sin and actual sin (volitional sin) for adults. The Protestant Church of Christ’s method washes away original sin even though the group does not realize it, and it also washes away the actual sin of its members who have attained the (biblically-absent, yet NI-forced) “age of accountability”.
The Catholic Church of Christ believes her infants share in the New Covenant, and, by the faith of our infants’ parents, we joyfully carry them to Jesus—even if such faith might only be the size of a mustard seed.
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8 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.