Are Children Qualified Subjects for Baptism?
Keywords:baptism, child baptism, maturing age, mature for baptism
The origin and development of the New Testament baptism is considered in determining the
meaning of the rite of baptism. This theological study concentrated on the common practice
of child baptism. It compared the biblical meaning of and qualification for baptism to the
level of maturity among children to determine whether they are qualified subjects for
baptism. The study (a) connected “accountability” and “true repentance” as manifestations of
a believer and major factors for qualification and (b) examined Jewish traditions as well as
legal treatment of children with regards to these concepts.
Combined with theologies derived from the meaning of baptism, this paper utilized a
systematic review of findings from various researches and sources about moral development
in children to determine an age range when children transition from childhood to
considerable adulthood and be qualified for baptism. Historical, theological, and
psychological approaches were considered.
The findings presented in this study indicate that children need to be capable of building an
internal moral code, a “spiritual coming of age” before their salvation turns to be at jeopardy
and be required to make their decision for baptism. In a general sense, this age appears to be
12 to 13 years old.
When children come to age where they are aware or conscious of what is right and wrong,
then, it indicates that they are capable of responding in the criteria of believer‟s baptism.
Baptism requires maturity and ability to make independent, decision for which one can be
held accountable for. It appears that between the ages 12 to 14 a child experienced a major
change in spiritual and moral perception. For that reason, pastors should consider delaying
baptism at this age and give room for maturing.
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