“Enjoy your time with them now, because these years won’t last long.”
Older people say that to me when I’m at the grocery store with my three kids and I have a haggard look on my face.
“You don’t realize it now,” they’ll say, “but these are the best years of your life. They grow up so fast!”
That’s true. Daphne, Zane, and Scout are growing up fast. Realizing that gave me an insight into the issue of infant baptism.
Have you ever heard the argument that it’s Biblical to baptize infants because there were household baptisms in the NT? Here is an example:
And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household (Acts 16:33).
Notice, the whole household was baptized. So people who believe in infant baptism reason like this:
The household was baptized.
The household included infants.
Therefore, infants were baptized.
The problem with that argument is the second premise. It is pure speculation. The Biblical texts do not say there were infants in the household. As Ben Witherington comments,
“It is improbable that one can extract a theology of ‘household’ baptisms from a text like Acts 10, if by household one means including infants and very small children…it is an argument from silence, since infants and small children are not specifically mentioned…” (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 155, n. 94).
I have three kids. My eldest is five. She can understand and believe the saving message. The other two, not so much. But in a few years, they will. My point is, my household has children, but the window for a household having infants is small. Just a few years. After that, everyone in the family will be capable of believing in Jesus for eternal life, and therefore be proper subjects of baptism.
What are the chances the household baptisms mentioned in Acts included infants? Small.
The argument from household baptism is not only an argument from silence, it is improbable, too, because chances are there wouldn’t have been infants and small children in those households. They grow up so fast, after all.
The argument for infant baptism from household baptisms doesn’t hold water.