Are Children Qualified Subjects for Baptism?
AbstractThe origin and development of the New Testament baptism is considered in determining themeaning of the rite of baptism. This theological study concentrated on the common practiceof child baptism. It compared the biblical meaning of and qualification for baptism to thelevel of maturity among children to determine whether they are qualified subjects forbaptism. The study (a) connected “accountability” and “true repentance” as manifestations ofa believer and major factors for qualification and (b) examined Jewish traditions as well aslegal treatment of children with regards to these concepts.Combined with theologies derived from the meaning of baptism, this paper utilized asystematic review of findings from various researches and sources about moral developmentin children to determine an age range when children transition from childhood toconsiderable adulthood and be qualified for baptism. Historical, theological, andpsychological approaches were considered.The findings presented in this study indicate that children need to be capable of building aninternal moral code, a “spiritual coming of age” before their salvation turns to be at jeopardyand be required to make their decision for baptism. In a general sense, this age appears to be12 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 beheld accountable for. It appears that between the ages 12 to 14 a child experienced a majorchange in spiritual and moral perception. For that reason, pastors should consider delayingbaptism at this age and give room for maturing.
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