A “Lutheran” Case Against Infant Baptism ?

Let me be perfectly clear. I an not interested in a long discussion about infant v. believer baptism. I was just in one of those. I heard folks on both sides of the fence become rather ‘animated’ in defense of their positions.

Although I might have even spent too much time in the discussion, my only real point was that one type of baptism had specific examples and one did not. Also,  As good Lutheran baby I was sprinkled, however years later, after a long time as a prodigal, I started reading my Bible again, God got hold of me for REAL and I wanted to know what the source book really had to say about baptism. All I could find that was explicit was believer baptism, so I was baptized as a believer.

During the discussion I became interested in learning more about infant baptism from the Lutheran perspective because the most animated of the pro-infant baptism crowd in the discussion were Lutherans. I don’t even think the covenantal Reformed position was debated one way or the other. In all my researching, I found a lot of material produced by Lutherans that only presented the same arguments I already knew. Likewise, the material from Protestants (mostly Baptist) presented very familiar arguments.

I did however find one very interesting article called “A Lutheran Case Against Infant Baptism” that really caught my attentions. It’s a lengthy but fascinating article and you can find it online here. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Because the doctrine Luther championed was nothing other than what the Bible says, he “freely admitted that infant baptism is neither explicitly commanded or explicitly mentioned in Scripture. There are no ‘specific passages’ referring to infant baptism. The direct witness of scripture is by itself not strong enough to provide an adequate basis for beginning infant baptism were it not already practiced.” (The Theology of Martin Luther, by Paul Althaus, page 361)

However, because infant baptism had been the universal practice of all churches from ancient times, Luther felt that He could not abandon it in good conscience. Nevertheless, once certain radical sects (known collectively as Anabaptists) began to attack infant baptism for all of the wrong reasons, he was forced to defend it. While some of those sects were moderate, others could hardly be called Christian. In addition, they disagreed among themselves and had little in common other than an emphasis on works, and a commitment to adult baptism. Furthermore, instead of helping the cause of the Gospel, they tried to discredit Martin Luther, while using their attack on infant baptism to justify doctrines that were clearly contrary to God’s Word.

. . . even though Martin Luther had been baptized as an infant, he did not claim to be saved until he came to faith in Christ. In describing that moment he said, “I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.” (Here I Stand, by R. H. Bainton, page 49) He later described true repentance this way, “That a man do first acknowledge himself by the law, to be a sinner and that it is impossible for him to do any good work… The second part is: If thou wilt be saved, thou mayest not seek salvation by works, ‘for God hath sent His only–begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.’” (Commentary on Galatians, page 68) By coming to baptism we do nothing to earn salvation, we simply accept God’s offer of forgiveness in Christ. At the same time, God uses baptism to tell us, and all who repent, that He has washed away our sins (Acts 22:16, 1John 1:7-9).

There is much more to the article than the above excerpts, and if you are interested in the history and current practice of infant baptism, I highly encourage you to ready it in its entirety. If you just want to be armed with more points against infant baptism for the ‘great debate’ don’t. I’m filing it away. If I ever end up in an objective discussion concerning Luther’s views and stance, it would be quite useful.

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