Grounds for Accepting Both Believer and Infant Baptism

The Westminster Reformed Church practices believer baptism. As a Reformed church, this places us at odds with a majority of Reformed churches. However, we believe that we can, in good conscience, accept persons who have been baptized as infants into membership without requiring them to be baptized as adults. In this case, confession of faith would be required for membership.

This view of acceptability is supported by the following three principles.

· The Objective Word of God in Baptism

When a baptism is performed in the name of the triune God by a duly authorized minister of the gospel in order to carry out the commission of Christ, then the gospel word is being reiterated by God. Peter states in Acts 2:38 that the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit are promised by baptism. This is objective and not altered by our subjective experience.

· New Covenant Ritual Simplicity

Rituals under the new covenant are simplified. There is no longer a long list of ritual requirements specifying amounts of water, proper mixtures, detailed procedures and extreme sanctions.

· Convergence of Infant and Believer Baptism

The differences between believer baptism and infant baptism are eventually eliminated as confession of faith by the children is added to their baptisms as infants, and baptism is added to the nurture of children in those churches that practice believer baptism.

We believe that these three principles can allow Christians, in good conscience, to subordinate their personal views of ritual detail regarding baptism to local church practice. As such, baptism should not be an issue which divides Christians or prevents them from seeking out a good diet of teaching on the whole counsel of God.

Click here for more development of the three principles of acceptability.

Click here for a sermon on covenant nurture (John’s Baptism, the New Israel, and Covenant Children (Lk 3.1-20)