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Did the early Christians—maybe even the apostles— practice infant baptism?
This one was more a comment than a question, sent to me by a friend of mine who is a missionary in Mexico. He's an awesome and honest guy. I highly recommend him and his ministry. Read his web site, it's an excellent place to give money.
After David Bercot—author of The Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs and co-elder with me of Tyler Early Christian Fellowship in 1992—joined the Anglican Church and began promoting infant baptism [which he's now rejected, I'm told by a former Society of the Good Shepherd member], I took a good look at it for several months, looking up passages in the early Christian writings and doing a lot of thinking.
Today I read a paragraph in a blog that read:
Everett Ferguson, mentioned in the quote, is a pretty neat early church scholar. He's from a Church of Christ background, so he doesn't have to dodge as many issues as most Protestants would. G.R. Beasley-Murray is probably a Church of Christ person, too. I read a book of his on baptism [apparently out of print, only one available used through Amazon, none on CBD]. He's way too smart for me. The book wore me out. By the end, I thought, "Good thing I agree with Beasley-Murray because he's so smart he could prove anything he wants to me."
So I'm not sure how unbiased either of those guys are.
It's basically not mentioned in the 2nd century writings. Irenaeus is the one (2nd century) exception (c. A.D. 185): —For He came to save all through means of Himselfóall, I say, who through Him are born again to God, infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men— (Against Heresies II:22:4).
On the other hand, Justin Martyr, several decades earlier, gives a purpose for baptism that is opposed to infant baptism. He writes:
Surely Justin couldn't have said that if they were baptizing babies in Rome in A.D. 150!
(Pseudo-)Barnabas has something similar:
The early church did not believe in the modern, legalistic, Roman idea that babies are sinful.
So my thought is that the idea of baptizing babies is a late 2nd century development. It's possible, I suppose that the earlier churches were baptizing infants and there was no reason to mention it, but the reasons given for baptism prior to Irenaeus preclude infant baptism if you look at them.
My newest book, Rome's Audacious Claim, was released December 1. See synopsis and reviews on Amazon.