(The third season of ST:VOY arrived a few days ago. I’ve watched pretty much all of the episodes and now it’s my family’s turn to catch up. My little brother has gotten his first real job this week. After closing last night, he is supposed to work the grill at lunch today. I’m proud of him. As for me, trying to pick up the excercise thing again after a month off. )
There are some things that a person has to decide for themselves. Most importantly, who will be their salvation and how they will be saved. I can understand how a person might want to ask for some protection over their children, but no matter what they do they cannot decide their salvation for them. One Methodist church I visited often baptized babies because the Jews would circumcize their sons. One Lutheran church I’ve heard of not only baptizes babies, circumcizes sons, but offers confirmation as well. My question is do these traditions really mean anything?
In the New Testament, the issue of circumcision created a few problems for the gentile believers. The heart of the issue was whether or not a person had to be a Jew to be a Christian. If they accepted circumcision, then they would be accepting the law. Jesus, however, gave himself as the last sacrifice to fulfill the law. The elders of the churches met together and decided not to force circumcision.
In the centuries since, perhaps the baptism of babies was to provide comfort to their parents. In the middle ages, young children did not have the highest chances of reaching age one, let alone age five. The truth is that we live in a fallen and unfair world. Little children should not precede their parents in death, but it still happens even today. I wish I knew whether there was an age of innocence. Perhaps the hope that there is one is comfort enough.
As I said, a person must decide the matter of salvation for themself. If you baptize a baby and confirm him or her at the age of thirteen, you miss out on something in-between. One guest at church shared his story of salvation: One day as his mother was driving him and his brother about, he told his mother that he knew he was a sinner and that he wanted to be saved. His brother started saying that he wanted to be saved, too. They were both around the age of four. If these two recognized their need for salvation, then there are likely others who have never been to church, never heard the name of Jesus outside of a swear word, who need to know Him as something more.
Do these traditions mean anything? If you circumcize your son, you are promising to raise him according to OT law. If you baptize your child, you are promising to raise him according to NT teachings, but you cannot confirm their salvation. It is something they must decide for themselves once they are old enough, be it four, fourteen, or fourty.