Would you mind giving me your thoughts on baptism vs. dedication? We are thinking of dedicating our new son instead of baptizing him. Also, his sister who is 16 mos. old has already been baptized and our pastor told us we could dedicate her with her brother. But then people have told us we should not dedicate her when she was already baptized. We’re really confused.
You’ll have a lot of opinions flying around at you on this, and you’re simply going to have to decide who/what to trust, make the decision, and go with it. I have no agenda or personal stake in this, I’m simply going to tell you the Biblical principles, and you decide. But make the decision YOURSELF, not based on the expectations of friends, family and “religious” tradition.
First, Dedications and Baptism are neither the same thing, nor interchangeable. So doing one or the other in order to forego the alternative is NOT a question you should even struggle with.
Second, Dedications are pure tradition held over from the Old Testament and denominational practice. We have examples in Old Testament of babies that were dedicated and consecrated to the Lord’s service but there is NO New Testament directive for the practice. As I point out often, we often practice a tradition so long without the accompanying substantive Biblical teaching, that the tradition becomes some sort of Biblical fact, Church practice or quasi-doctrine that is rarely questioned or examined.
“Dedication” is a voluntary and traditional act of simply stating publicly that you are dedicating that your child will be raised in a Christian household to love the Lord. Period. That’s all. Many people who do it, do it out of tradition and never actually follow up on that public statement… multitudes of people who don’t practice the tradition of “Dedication” still raise their children dedicated to God. Tradition. Voluntary. Nothing more.
Baptism on the other hand is a direct command of Scripture. Every BELIEVER should be baptized. (Note: to all my friends on both sides of the fence, don’t start splitting hairs about whether someone is a “Believer” before or after baptism. All I’m saying here is that someone must be old enough to hear, understand and believe the Gospel before they can make the decision to obey and be baptized.)
Back to my point… Baptism is commanded in Scripture of all those who hear and positively respond to the Gospel. It is not tradition. It is one of the foundational events in the life of a Christian. Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5
So, it cannot be replaced, or skipped over because we “did the dedication” instead. But more importantly, is the topic of infant baptism.
INFANT baptism is not, and cannot be Scriptural or worthwhile in any way because it is meaningless to the baby. Baptism, in the Bible, is always a commanded response following the hearing and believing of the Gospel, hardly an act that a baby is capable of. Infant baptism is a tradition at best, and in reality, a false practice that can lead to a false sense of “salvation security”. A baby cannot understand the Gospel. A baby is not capable “taking up their cross” and following Jesus. A baby is not capable of declaring “having mercy on me, a sinner” and falling to their knees crying out to be rescued by the Savior. A baby doesn’t even have the slightest concept of what a Savior is, much less the need for one.
So your first decision is to decide whether or not you reject the false and useless practice of infant baptism. Think about it… if the ACT of baptism had some sort of saving power, why don’t we forcibly drag every adult in and baptize them? Because we know that baptism is useless for someone who doesn’t believe or understand… unless it’s our babies, then adults gets some warm feeling that we “saved” our children by having some religious cleric pour a cup of water on their forehead. Biblically speaking, it is an empty ritual, and as parents, if we truly love our children, we will be concerned about what GOD says, not what the local “pastor, reverend, father, priest” self-proclaimed religious authority says.
Now, I’m not stupid. I know this is really going to rile up a lot of folks and once you go ask your “Reverend”, or your “Father”, or your Parents who are 15th generation [put your denomination here], you are going to be pressured and bombarded with how you are endangering your babies salvation, and probably yours, and how they cannot be part of the “the church” unless you follow these religious traditions. So get ready for the howling, peer pressure and accusations that you’re becoming a religious nut if you choose to believe only the Bible and not “religion”.
In summary… infant baptism is not Scriptural and not even a useful or meaningful tradition. To the contrary, it is a dangerously deceptive practice that allows parents and children to grow up with a false illusion that salvation has already occurred because of infant baptism. You should reject the practice.
Baby dedication is nice tradition IF celebrated and actually followed up on by raising the child in a home dedicated to the Lord.