Infant Baptism and Christian Parenting

Johnathan Arnold and David Fry discuss the long tradition of infant baptism in early Methodism, the Reformers, and the church fathers, its scriptural basis, and what it means for Christian parenting. See also the follow-up discussions on “The Salvation and Nurture of Children” and “Practical Ways to Nurture Children in the Faith.”

Topics Discussed

  • Infant baptism
  • Church membership
  • Early Methodists
  • Church fathers and Reformers
  • Christian parenting
  • Lif community
  • Covenant

Quotes from Johnathan Arnold

  • Behind the issue of infant baptism is a deeper debate about the nature of the church, as a covenant community, and salvation as something not only personal but also corporate.
  • We talk about the early Methodist and church fathers’ thoughts on infant baptism, but we’re not talking about arbitrary beliefs of the church. We’re not talking about little “t” tradition, we’re talking about big “T” Tradition, the church’s consensual interpretation of the Bible.
  • The possibility that a baptized infant will grow up to reject Christ and the church does not invalidate infant baptism any more than the possibility that a baptized adult will go on and backslide. They need to be restored to repentance. None of this undermines the need for personal conversion.

Quotes from David Fry

  • What’s the difference between a baby dedication and infant baptism?
  • The bigger picture here is covenant theology and understanding salvation as our entrance into the covenant people of God.
  • Being a person means living in community.
  • Once you begin to think of salvation as something that is not only personal but also corporate, we can begin to understand why the sacraments are so important for Christians and so important for what we do as the church.
  • We have to understand salvation in terms of the covenant. God makes a covenant with a people.
  • Your children that you bring into this world have received the atonement of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, they have been welcomed into the covenant people of God. Raise them as Christians. It’s not your education that makes them Christian, it’s the blood of Jesus Christ. It is your education that will help them understand themselves as part of the community of Christ.
  • This is a more hopeful, grace-filled understanding of children that is consistent with what we are told about God from Scripture.
  • Children are born into the believing community, so we are referring to the corporate nature of faith, which comes first and leads them to personalize and appropriate the faith for themselves.
  • At our local church, we talk about membership using these words: (1) Believe; (2) Belong; (3) Become.

Resources Mentioned

David Fry
Senior Pastor at the Frankfort Bible Holiness Church. PhD in Systematic Theology (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School). MDiv in New Testament Theology (Wesley Biblical Seminary).