Our Readers Ask . . .
Should Infants Be Baptized?
▪ “I was afraid that my little brother, John, was doomed to Limbo,” relates Victoria. Why did she have that fear? “John died before he was baptized,” she explains, “and a Catholic priest said that for this reason, John would remain in Limbo forever.” Such a notion is certainly frightening, but is it Scriptural? Does the Bible teach that children who die without being baptized are forever doomed?
The Bible does teach that Christians should be baptized. Jesus instructed his followers: “Make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) Note that those who are baptized must be disciples of Jesus. That is, they are individuals who have learned about Jesus and have chosen to follow him—a choice that no infant, of course, can make.
Even so, many insist that Jesus’ command applies to small children. “Everyone is to be baptized, including infants,” asserts Lutheran pastor Richard P. Bucher. He adds: “To keep them from baptism is to keep them from forgiveness and to endanger them with damnation.” In fact, though, such comments contradict Jesus’ teachings in at least three ways.
First, Jesus did not teach that infants should be baptized. Why is that fact significant? Consider: Jesus earnestly taught his disciples about God’s requirements. At times, he repeated key teachings. Why? To ensure that his disciples grasped the point. (Matthew 24:42; 25:13; Mark 9:34-37; 10:35-45) Yet, not even once did he teach that infants should be baptized. Did Jesus somehow forget to mention the requirement? Impossible! Surely, if infants must be baptized, Jesus would have said so.
Second, Jesus never taught that anyone suffers after death. He believed the Scriptures, which clearly state: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Jesus knew that the dead do not languish in purgatory, Limbo, hellfire, or any other location. Rather, he taught that they are unconscious, as if asleep.—John 11:1-14.
Third, Jesus taught that “all those in the memorial tombs” will come back to life. (John 5:28, 29) Undoubtedly, these will include many millions who were never baptized. Upon being resurrected, they will have the opportunity to learn God’s requirements and live forever in Paradise on earth.*—Psalm 37:29.
Clearly, then, the Bible does not teach that infants should be baptized.