baptism - if not infants, then when? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 22 Old 08-22-2011, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I know there are a lot of protestant denominations that do no baptize babies but  not every one is real clear on when (although I know some are very specific about age) they do it if not then.

 

When I joined the Orthodox church I decided to promptly get my children baptized.  I assumed their dad would have no objection based on age since they were all older.  My oldest was 11 (almost 12) and my youngest was 5.  In the tradition I was raised in we did not practice infant baptism but if they could give their testimony they were allowed to be baptized.  Some articulate youngsters were baptized as early as 3.  I was shocked to discover that he thought that they were ALL to young for baptism.  He could not give me an age where he thought it would be appropriate. I was pondering this today.

 

which leads me to my question (and I am not looking to judge anyone here or start a debate.  I am just trying to explore what other people do.  While so many denominations huddle under the umbrella of "not infant baptism" who is eligible to receive the gift seems to vary greatly and for may different reasons).  If not babies then when?  If not a specific age what do you look for as a sign of readiness?  What signs?  What indicates readiness/worthiness?  Who gets to decide if they are ready/worthy?  What if a person is unable to reach adult thinking do to a mental disability?  If you go by age a lone does mental ability play any role in it.  Who gets to decide who does and does not get baptism?  How do your beliefs on baptism (what it is and why we do it and what it does for us) effect who gets to be baptized?  Do you allow someone who is unbaptized to receive communion?  If so at what age can they receive communion and what age can the receive baptism?  What is the gap there?  Do they need to be able to "understand" communion  like they need to be able to "understand" baptism  before they are allowed to have it?  Anything else you can think of that will explain how you/your church does it.  Do you follow a church teachings or just your own beliefs for your family (for example we have many people who do not baptize their infants but will baptize their children when they are older for their own reasons.)


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#2 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 12:55 AM
 
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Lylika, as someone most would consider to be of the protestant tradition, I believe that baptism is meant to be an outward sign of one's personal committment to Jesus. So as a parent I didnt baptise my babies (I have three kids ages 12, 12 and 10). My dd's made the decision for themselves when they were about 10. It was something *I* didnt want to take from *them* as their responsibility, priveledge and personal decision to be commmitted followers of Christ. I think its an individual's responsibility to choose to be baptised, it goes along with a personal committment to follow Christ and that was something I could tell them about, teach them about, nurture and encourage but I couldnt make that decision for them. I feel its a very personal thing. I dont think a person can be too young or too old tho! We actually did it as a family, apart from my son, who was about 8 at the time and wasnt ready to make the decision. I had been 'baptised' as an infant into the Catholic church, but that was my mom's decision, not mine and it didnt mean anything to me. The day I was baptised by full water emersion was one of the best days of my life. I was 32 years old and it felt like my wedding day. My dh was baptised on that day too, he was 40. 

 

Imho, you cant be too young or too old to make that decision, but I believe its a personal choice to be made by the individual. I know the Orthodox and Catholic traditions are completely different than my own personal beliefs on the subject. We're singing from very differnt hymn books, lol. ;)

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#3 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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Jesus himself was baptisted at 30 or so. He was circ. on the 8th day. If we look to Jesus as the example we would wait until we feel the call of The Lord on our hearts.

 

I believe that you as a person know when you are ready. For some it is right away for others it maybe a long time. Most of the people in ACTS were right away. I think that is because they were raised in the faith. (Jewish/finding the Messiah) So they were already going in that direction.

 

As far as people mental disablies I do think about this. I strongly believe faith is simple faith. Following Jesus as GOD and Messiah is very simple. So if that person really does believe then nothing should stop baptism from happening. We make thing complex.

 

If you believe that Jesus died and is risen from the dead then you are saved. Saved from seperation from God. So anyone that believes this can and should be baptised. It does not matter age or what anyone else thinks. It is your personal witness to your walk with a living God.

 

Communion is the same as baptis If you believe and follow the new covenant then you can recieve the Lord.

 

Sorry for spell my 2yr old is trying to help. maybe I can come back

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#4 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 11:56 AM
 
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Some denominations believe that you can't be 'Saved" unless you are baptized and that isn't a decision you can make as a child. There are some protestant churches that do allow infants to be baptized. (The Methodist church is one of them.)  In that denomination, they see it as a vehicle for extending God's grace and that isn't limited to adults. 

 

Many churches do practice infant dedication.  Where the parents stand before the church and the congregation and parents commit to raising the child in Christian beliefs. (There is usually a prayer of blessing for the child and parents)

 

I do not have children yet but I will probably have my children dedicated as infants and let them make the decision to be baptized. But I would suggest sitting down with your husband and children and discuss with the kids and see if they desire to be baptized.

 


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#5 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh my kids were baptized without delay (long story,but i was informing him, not asking his permission.  He actually showed up but walked out half way through).  His objection only registered because the whole age thing never crossed my mind as an objection (I knew he would object because it wasn't his church and because he does not like the Orthodox church, and because it was something I wanted but age wasn't even on the radar).  I would have done it even if they had been babies.  I was just shocked to find out he thought they were too young, even my oldest who was almost 12.  he is a waiter though.  If there is a way to delay something he does (taxes, bills, making decisions) so it might have just been a personality thing.  I know it is not a baptist thing.  My baptist friends were baptized around 3rd to 5th grade.)  But i also realized at that point that even though so many people (up until a point I did too)  who said no babies, could come up with very different rules about who may and may not be baptized (this is one of the reasons I became Orthodox actually).  No one ever said this is the point where baby ends and independent decision making adult begins.    I would consider under 5 to still be infant baptism even and do not feel a child, who's whole world is their parents and who's every idea is their parents as really choosing Christ.  Also some kids just know this is what mom and dad want so I am going to do it because making them happy makes me feel good.  Or they want the attention or the party or what have you.  I was totally like that as a kid and I could see myself making a decision about baptism based on my parents faith and wanting everyone to be happy.  Heck, I did it for the gift once..... Especially in an environment where there is a right and wrong answer.   Just like my children, most small children are just choosing to accept their parents beliefs as their own.  They are not really making any decisions for themselves. The only difference is when the parent consents to the baptism.   i know my kids did not choose Christ and I am comfortable with that,  Now all they have to do is choose not leave the goodness of God.  

 

I was baptized as a baby (i remember it.  I was 2 1/2 or 3.  My dad was baptist and my mom was methodist, so she baptized us as soon as they got divorced)  as a child (4th grade i think?  I knew you got a bible if you got baptized and wasn't sure if you got anything for confirmation so I went with baptism.  It was weird they allowed it as it was the same church and only about 6 years after my first baptism), then i got baptized again when I was about 16 because someone told me the first 2 didn't count since I wasn't a Christian then....but I was, just not an Evangelical, and because I did not get dunked.  Gotta say they made a valid point point on that front.  However when I converted to Orthodox it was the first one they accepted as baptism and almost did not accept any of them LOL So I was almost baptized a 4th time).  So I have every which kind of baptism.  


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#6 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 07:24 PM
 
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lilyka- I'm glad they were able to be baptized.  It is odd though that your husband thought 11 and 12. 


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#7 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 10:51 PM
 
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So when you got your children baptized at 12 and 5, is it you having it done on their behalf, or was your 12 year old making the decision for herself?  I don't know what you call it exactly, but in my church, parents present their children for baptism, but once a child hits a certain age, I'm assuming at the point a child could be confirmed, she would be able to be baptized on her own behalf.  But I guess if one does not believe in infant baptism, you would always see it as a child having to make the decision to accept the faith and the responsibilities of it.  Of course things are probably different anyway, since I'm in a Protestant church and although baptism is considered a sacrament, baptism has a different meaning than it probably does in the RC and Orthodox churches.  I'm guessing it does in your children's father's church too.  So I wouldn't think that 12 was too young to be baptized, but if baptism includes a profession of faith, which is separate in my church, then I might be a little more questioning about it.

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#8 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 10:54 PM
 
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Well, lilyka, you are well and truely covered for every eventuality on the baptism front, lol!!

 

Aside from that, Lilyka, I do believe it is very possible for a child to be very aware of their standing before God and their need for salvation. Also, a child's love for Christ can be just as real as an adults and their desire to be baptised can most certainly come from a genuine desire to live for Him. Im not having a go at ya, I can see its not been your experience but I just wanted to let you know that it is most definately possible, absolutely! In our situation, in a way I do wonder if my kids should have waited. I was the one seeking baptism. I can share pics, lol, it was the BEST day!! I was SO giddy with love for Jesus and excitement to be experiencing something that I KNEW Jesus experienced, a real shared experience. I can remember getting water up my nose and wondering if Jesus got water up his beautiful nose too (hehe)... Now, my girls did make the decision when I did, and in a way I do wish they had waited but I wasnt going to deny them that experience bc they were so young. Same thing with communion. I have always included them in communion from a very early age. I wasnt going to turn them away from experiencing that bc they hadnt been 'confirmed'. They knew christian fellowship, I was in no way going to exclude them... Which is one reason why I couldnt fellowship in a congregation that doesnt allow children to experience communion on account of ... tradition (is the best way I can put it). The thing with my kids at that time in their lives, they were taken aside and asked without me being present whatever they were asked about being followers of Christ. I know one of the women came out wiping tears from her eyes she was so touched by their simple faith.

 

I personally also dont believe a person NEEDS baptism in order to experience salvation/sanctification. Ive known a few people who came to know Christ at one point, never knowing they needed baptism and by the time they got to their old age there is no way they could get into a baptism pool, they had bad knees or some other ailment (I do wonder if they'd experience healing if they did so tho;)).

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#9 of 22 Old 08-24-2011, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Viola - That is a very interesting question and one  have never given any thought to.  Thanks for asking it! I would say  I would definitely consider all of them to be an 'infant" baptism, just late, although if they had refused i would not have forced them and neither would my priest.  it was less her choice than mine.  I asked them if they wanted to do it and they said yes.  My oldest  had been asking to be baptized for a while but she had never really been exposed to anything else and in her mind the options were now or later....not now or never.  It hadn't crossed her mind that one day she might grow up and not want to be a part of the church.   It hadn't crossed her mind that anyone would grow up and not be a part of the church.  For now she loved God and accepted my teaching and the churches teaching and wanted to be a part of the church like everyone else.  Choice or not, even as an adult we are presented by our sponsors.  They vouche for our sincere desire to be a part of the church.   Even with newborns (you can baptize a baby on the 41st day but most people wait until the they are eating solids since communion is given immediately after baptism.  Even though it is only a tiny amount we believe in the real Body and Blood of Christ and wouldn't want a baby to spit it out.)   they are "confirmed" (Chrismated)  immediately after  baptism.  It is not a separate rite.  The only instance when it is a separate sacrament is when someone has been baptized properly (In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit) but outside the Church.  You do not need to be re-baptized, only submit to the teachings, doctrines and athourity of the Church.  This is how I was received.  Another reason this would be done is if someone intentionally excommunicates them self, they would not need to be baptized again but would have to rejoin the community of believers as if they were converting from another faith.  So there is not a point at which my children will have to choose to accept Christ.  Their only option is to walk away from Christ and His Church.  Just like they have no choice about being in our family but once they are older they can choose ton walk away from it and not speak to us again.  At baptism they are born into the family of God.  We see it as a really big deal.  It is not magical though and does not seal the deal for eternity.  that is a daily decision to walk with Christ.  But baptism is a gift of Gods grace that cannot be taken away even if you choose to walk away from God at some point.  And I believe that that gift will continue to work in a persons life even after they walk away.  

 

Their dads church doesn't really have a doctrine on baptism.  They are intentionally (.I am not judging them, they would proudly say this of themselves.  They see it as a benefit).  wishy washy on all things doctrinal and theological.   They are officially reformed but try to hide it. (seriously...they are covert reformed.  It is a program of this branch of the reformed church...RCA I think.)   So they baptize babies and this is the pastors preference or they will dedicate or you can wait  it doesn't really matter.   and they do not make a big deal about communion so anyone can take it even the unbaptized so there is no rush with the baptism.....and the take a semi-sacramental approach to baptism officially, but my xh sees it as nothing more than a symbol and something un-need but symbolic and fun.  It usually only takes a few seconds and is generally not a huge deal.

 

 

Genifer - I am not saying kids do not genuinely love God or believe in Him.  But if they know no different, if believing in Him and loving Him is all they have ever been taught how can they not?   if they have not been presented with options, they are not really making a choice.  They are just going with the flow just as much as someone who was baptized as an infant.  Its just a different norm.

 

You mentioned communion.  Did you wait for your kids to be baptized before allowing them to receive communion.  How does your church view communion?  How does that compare to how they view baptism.  Are the two linked at all?  why or why not?  What was your kids understanding of these two things when they received them for the first time or did they have an understanding of their significance and meaning?

 

In the churches I grew up in there was little to no meaning to either.  They were both just symbolic rituals.  A reflection point.  So the two were not at all tied together and indeed most people were taking communion long before they were baptized.  Since it was just a symbol, obedience, or thinking point it was easy for a child to have a grasp on these things.

 


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#10 of 22 Old 08-24-2011, 04:14 PM
 
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I really believed at 4yrs old. BUT I did not want to be baptisted and my parents were not Christians so they could care less. It was all me. I did when I was 21. Again all me.

 

My friend that took me to church was baptisted at 6yrs old and is now away from his faith.

 

Just my story

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#11 of 22 Old 08-24-2011, 05:11 PM
 
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I have to say, to start with, that baptism is not an matter of "being worthy" for it.  That phrasing got under my skin a little, though I'm sure it was not meant in a bad way.  Christianity is not about "being worthy" enough for God's favor, in any respect.

 

We lean towards adult baptism.  Because we believe baptism is a sign, and not an act that is involved in actual saving of a soul, I am not worried for my children's souls in the meantime.  I was baptized at 17, dh at 20-something.  If we have a child who expresses a desire to be baptised in their teens, and demonstrates a serious and mature understanding of the meaning of this symbolic act and the reason for it, we'd be fine with that.  For us, baptism isn't what saves someone or "makes" them a Christian.  It's a public, outward acknowledgement of belief in Christ, and a public statement of one's intent to be part of the Church as a whole and accept the responsibilities of being a member of the Body of Christ. Communion is a serious and weighty business for us, and as such it is for after baptism and committment to Christ.  Even those who are baptised ought not to take it for granted or as a matter of course, in our beliefs.  It needs to be taken after self-examination, repentance, and the attempt to reconcile if there is any issue between ourselves and another.

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#12 of 22 Old 08-24-2011, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The reason I used the word worthy is because it seems children are often deemed unworthy of it.   For whatever reasons.  I think no one ever is unworthy of it but i feel when someone says "no they cannot  because....." it all boils down to because they are not worthy of this great gift.   and when they agree to baptize someone they are deeming them worthy.  Everyone is worthy.   We are after all created by God and bear His image and likeness.  He died for mankind and freed us from the grips of Satan.  We have all been saved and merely need to receive the grace he offered.  we need to walk in the door.  I believe we can bring our children in but that they are free to depart once they become rational judging beings able to chose for themselves.  but the sacraments are gifts that will always keep giving.  

 

I find it refreshing that you connect communion with baptism.  I have not seen many protestants that do except for those that also practice infant baptism and then it seems most Christians (Catholic and protestant) make their children wait until some kind of conformation to receive communion.  

 

Our church takes communion very seriously but also think it is too beneficial to wait until one has an understanding of it.  Both baptism and communion are huge and holy and mysterious and more than even I as an adult can fully wrap my head around.  If I had to wait until I really understood it I would never be able to receive.  Receiving the Eucharist is central to our worship.  We do not go to church on Sundays to sing or hear a sermon.  we go to receive the Eucharist and to pray.  However one is warned sternly to only approach the chalice if they have properly prepared and to approach "in fear of God, with faith and love draw near" (i love that part)

 

Do any Christians believe that baptism "saves" you?  I know a lot of people think that is what Catholics and Orthodox and anyone who takes a sacramental view of baptism believe or what anyone who baptizes infants believes.  I think that is largely a misconception of sacramental life by people who have no experience with it. (To be honest Catholic and Orthodox have a completely different view of salvation that looks nothing like Evangelical Protestant salvation...and when it comes to baptisms role in salvation a different view from each other...but that is a whole 'nother thread. )   We Orthodox,  tend to see it as a great and glorious gift from God not to mention a direct commandment from Christ.  And if it is good, why wouldn't we want it? If God is offering us help in our life why wouldn't we take it (huge oversimplification of sacraments but never the less...)  Sacraments don't save us and we aren't unsaved if we miss something.  They are divine vehicles of Gods awesomeness.  They are channels through which he feeds us and spurs on on towards Him.   

 


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#13 of 22 Old 08-25-2011, 04:44 AM
 
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We do child dedications as toddlers sometimes, where the parents are devoting their own bringing the child up to God. Sometimes it coincides with weaning like Samuel, which in our group is often about 2-3. Baptism we wait on til about 7 or later, when the child can confess his or her faith and decide to be baptized. It's a public announcement of faith and a thing of obedience.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

Do any Christians believe that baptism "saves" you?  I know a lot of people think that is what Catholics and Orthodox and anyone who takes a sacramental view of baptism believe or what anyone who baptizes infants believes.  I think that is largely a misconception of sacramental life by people who have no experience with it. (To be honest Catholic and Orthodox have a completely different view of salvation that looks nothing like Evangelical Protestant salvation...and when it comes to baptisms role in salvation a different view from each other...but that is a whole 'nother thread. )   We Orthodox,  tend to see it as a great and glorious gift from God not to mention a direct commandment from Christ.  And if it is good, why wouldn't we want it? If God is offering us help in our life why wouldn't we take it (huge oversimplification of sacraments but never the less...)  Sacraments don't save us and we aren't unsaved if we miss something.  They are divine vehicles of Gods awesomeness.  They are channels through which he feeds us and spurs on on towards Him.   

 


I have know many Catholics in my family who claim that that you aren't really saved unless you are baptized.  One of the reasons my grandma left the Catholic church was because she was told that her two children who died as infants were in hell because they weren't baptized.   And on the protestant side of the fence, I've known baptist who claim that baptism as being an essential part of salvation. I do realize that these individuals do not speak for the entire denominations and that they may be speaking out of misunderstanding or ignorance. 

 


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#15 of 22 Old 08-26-2011, 08:28 AM
 
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I think our concept of baptism and communion varies hugely.  Dh and I don't attend a sacramental church, nor view these things as sacraments in the way Catholics and Orthodox do.  To us they are very important symbolically, and acts of volitional obedience, but not as hugely mystical as what you are describing.  So we are not depriving our children of a spiritual gift by waiting until they are old enough to make that volitional act on their own, with knowledge and deliberation.

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#16 of 22 Old 08-31-2011, 09:10 AM
 
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Just a question.....does anyone know when/where infant baptism began?

 

 

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#17 of 22 Old 08-31-2011, 12:10 PM
 
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A person is "old enough" to be baptized when they are familiar with basic bible truths, live in harmony with them, share the good news with others, and express a desire to be a full-fledged member of the congregation.  There is no upper or lower limit to that.  My 9yo is ready and asking, my 16yo is still taking his time to decide.  I am proud of them both.  :)


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#18 of 22 Old 08-31-2011, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The question really ought to be: "When did it stop?"

 

 

In The Church, infant baptism has always been.  Early church documents going back at least as early as 140AD prove this and there is clear archeological evidence that shows even earlier date.  

Quote:
And, finally, archeological discoveries in the Roman catacombs have long-ago proven that infant baptism was common in the primitive Roman Churches. Two clear examples, among dozens of similar inscriptions, are all that we really need to support this claim. A man with the resounding Roman/Latin name of Murtius Verinus placed on the tomb of his children the inscription: “Verina received Baptism at the age of ten months, Florina at the age of twelve months.” The date of this tomb has been firmly established by radio-carbon dating of the children’s bones as being 105 AD +/- 4 years. Another tomb, not far away from this one, has the inscription: “Here rests Achillia, a newly-baptized infant; she was one year and five months old, died February 23rd....” and then follows the year of the reigning emperor, which dates her death to 91 AD. [see W. Wall, “History of Infant Baptism”, 2 Vols., London, 1900. and other related articles in various archeological journals from early this century.]  quoted from here

 

Here is a good list of documents on baptism.  Hippolytus refers specifically to infant baptism as well as several others. 

 

The early church was far more organized and there is far more historical documentation than most protestants recognize.  I was horrified to find out how much I did not know  :o  .  

 

 

 

 Adult baptism started after the protestant reformation (and thus is still practiced only in some splinter groups.  Most protestants practiced infant baptism until recently and most older denominations still do - Reformed, Methodist, Lutheran, Covenant, Anglican, maybe Presbyterian.  Infant baptism is what is practiced by the majority of Christians in the world).  According to my research the Antibaptist look like the first to reject infant baptism and they formed around the 16th century.   Some sources trace it back to a time when taxes were configured based on baptismal records so people put it off to delay taxes and gradually this gained steam and doctrines were built around it to justify the practice.


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#19 of 22 Old 09-01-2011, 04:57 AM
 
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lilyka- Thanks. I will read it and try to understand.

 

Are the parents doing this in replacement of circumcision? I'm not fighting just asking.....

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#20 of 22 Old 09-01-2011, 10:55 AM
 
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Nazsmum-  I never thought about it in that manner but it could be.  I don't think people see it that way but that makes sense.


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#21 of 22 Old 09-01-2011, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In a sense I guess.

 

 In our church we bring the babies into the temple on the 40th day to dedicate them to the Lord.  (until then mom and baby do not come to church).  Then any time after that they may be baptized.  There is no fear of innocent little ones going to hell.  Baptized or not.  So there is no rush and some people wait years.

 

There is no official church statement on the medical need of circumcision but it is certainly not a part of our religion.  We are under the covenant of baptism not circumcision.  There is a verse somewhere....so to answer your question....yeah, kinda.  But at the same time it stands alone.


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#22 of 22 Old 09-06-2011, 06:23 AM
 
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The Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that the Lord has revealed that 8 years old is the time when children may choose to be baptized if they are ready and understand the basic doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children so that they are ready to be baptized at this point. The basic beliefs of baptism of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may be read here http://mormon.org/faq/#Baptism

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