A Question for Paedobaptists…


Been reading some outstanding blogs that have tackled the issue of paedobaptism (the baptism of infants and toddlers) and find much of what they say to be worth considering.

Suffer the Little ChildrenBut one thing bothers me. As someone who has been a part of both churches that practice paedobaptism and churches that abhor it, I have always had a question for paedobaptists that none has ever been willing to answer: If you baptize infants and toddlers, why do you not allow them communion?

That seems like an oxymoron to me. To deny communion to baptized members of the Body of Christ flies in the face of the Lord’s admonishments to us concerning communion (when seen through the same logic used in support of paedobaptism.) If we want the little children to come to Jesus through baptism, why would we not let them come to him through communion?

I say this because the paedobaptist churches I was a part of refused young baptized children communion until they had completed some sort of catechism or were considered to be of the age of accountability. But if we are not willing to allow young children to commune with their households (and have the biblical injunctions to make a case for not doing so), then how can we make the case for paedobaptism using household analogies?

I really want to hear a good justification for this odd dichotomy in belief. So please comment!

{Image: Detail of Henry Holiday’s “Suffer the Little Children”}

8 thoughts on “A Question for Paedobaptists…

  1. You are right, there is a contradiction in those churches that allow paedobaptism and not paedocommunion. I have not yet heard a convincing argument that is pro paedobaptism and against paedocommunion…though it was the stance of Calvin and other Reformers. I attend a PCA church and my little 3 year old brother can’t have communion…which is hard for my family, as we have definate convictions about this. My dad would like to start a CREC (http://www.crechurches.org/) church in our area eventually, and most CRE churches do believe in paedocommunion.

  2. stan

    At what age do you think children should start to receive communion? Although I am sympathetic to the arguments for infant baptism, I think that the doctrine’s main problem is not whether or not 3 yr olds can take communion but rather will they ever become Christians at all. How many folks are running around thinking they are saved because they were baptized as infants in Lutheran, Presby, Episcopalian or Catholic churches? Although we’ve attended and been members of several PCA churches, all have clearly stated at the baptism that the parents have the ultimate responsibility to bring the child to a genuine faith in Christ.
    Regarding only the age question, I think that a child should have a pretty good knowledge of what communion really is before partaking. Whether or not a 3 yr old can understand it is problematic.

  3. “How many folks are running around thinking they are saved because they were baptized as infants in Lutheran, Presby, Episcopalian or Catholic churches”

    Huh? What a silly and false statement. How many people are running around rejecting God’s ability to save them through baptism, regardless of their age? How many people think that they can save themselves by deciding to come to God. God reached out to us, not the other was around. God comes to us; we cannot come to God without the Holy Spirit already working in our hearts. This is accomplished by the saving waters of baptism and/or by God’s Word. The rest of our lives should be lived in utter and complete thankfulness…desparate thankfulness for Him loving us so much that He provided a Savior for us. On the matter of Holy Communion, it is mostly a matter of tradition. I wish my 13 year old could take communion, but his faith won’t be harmed by waiting another year.

  4. Carol

    Since the earliest times, Baptism has been administered to children, for it is a grace and a gift from God that does not presuppose any human merit.This has been true from at least as early as the 2nd century, but probably earlier. “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household,” St. Paul declares to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer “was baptized at once, with all his family.” Pobably some babies and little children in that household, and Sacred Scripture does say “all his household.” That’s good enough for me. And oh yes, The Eastern Rite Church does confer the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist at the time of infant Baptism. A matter of tradition…

  5. Anonymous

    Revelations 3:20-21
    Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

  6. Dan

    Like Stan,I used to think it was vital that someone have a minimum understanding of what the Supper is all about. I still belive that we have a commitment to grow in our understadning to the limit of the capaicty God has given us. But what started my thinking in a different direction was the presence in our congregation of a young woman who had suffered brain damage through radiation (treatment for a brain tumor). Her understanding was very rrestricted, though she clearly loved the Lord (with whom she went to be at home a couple of years later). Because of her understanidng, would she be excluded? And if not, then what level of understanding “qualifies” you for participation in the Lord’s Supper?
    What does Paul mean by “an unworthy” (or would “inappropriate” be a better translation?)manner (1 Cor. 11)?

  7. Dan,

    I think that an inappropriate taking of communion means making light of it and having the wrong attitude in one’s heart concerning it. Paul was addressing people who viewed the whole thing from a totally self-centered and selfish perspective. I don’t think that comprehending the depths of the communion event has all that much to do with it or else all of us fall short!

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