What are the origins of infant baptism, and is there any Scriptural basis for it?

  Infant Baptism is an issue that has divided the Christian community for centuries. Surprisingly this was never an issue in the early church; it is only an issue of churches in more recent history.

   During the first three centuries, the church was in an evangelistic mode and we see only adult baptism being administered only upon a person’s conversion. There was also the concept that baptism washed away all pre-baptismal sins.  It has been in more recent history that infant baptism has been practiced by the church to wash away “original sin.”  Another practice followed this of even postponing baptism until a person’s deathbed in order not to commit post-baptismal sins which would have to be dealt with through penance.

   As the church absorbed the pagan world, infant baptism became a common practice.  In part, this was based on the fact that even in the ancient church there was the idea that baptism was the initiation rite into the community of faith, and infants are born into that community so they are baptized.  Another contributing factor was the rise of the understanding of original sin and the belief that baptism washed away the stain of original sin.

   The earliest mention of infant baptism was by Tertullian around A.D. 220. Tertullian mentions the practice in conjunction with sponsors who would aid in the child’s spiritual training (as Godparents today). Bu ...

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