¶712.1 Guidance Regarding Requests for Infant Baptisms/Dedications
The Nature of the Baptism and Dedication of Children
The presentation of a child to the Lord for baptism or dedication is a significant act for the
parents, for the church and for the child. This is to be a community of faith event done in the
context of the worship service when God’s people are gathered. The covenant calls for the
church to make promises to the family which are not possible if the baptism/dedication is
performed in a private setting.
The presentation of a child is a mark of belonging to the community of faith and a celebration of the fact that God’s grace is already at work in the life of the child as part of a Christian family and as part of the family of God. This aspect is particularly emphasized by parents who choose infant baptism.
It is also a moment of public covenant (by family and church) to be good stewards of a precious gift from the God we worship – in the care and training of the child. This is particularly emphasized by parents who choose infant dedication.
An article that more fully explains the history of the two traditions and the truth embraced by
both is found in a discussion paper in ¶713.
Blessing the Children of Unbelieving and Non-Attending Families
The church must always respond with warmth and pastoral concern to seekers who are prompted to think about spiritual matters when a child is born into their family.
At the same time, if the parents are not committed to Christ and a congregation of His church, it would be rash for them to stand before the Lord and the church and take the covenantal vows of an infant baptism/dedication when clearly their hearts are not yielded to Christ and they do not participate in the life of His Body, the church.
Yet, this request can be seen as a wonderful pre-evangelistic opportunity for a pastoral person to meet with the family in their home and talk openly with them out of the Scriptures about the things of God and the wonderful privilege of living life in relationship with him. He/she could impress on them how wonderful it would be if this little baby grew up to be a person who knows God personally and lives with the knowledge of how much God loves him/her and then take the baby in his/her arms and pray a prayer for the baby asking the Lord to bless him/her and the parents and to open the way for him/her (and the parents) to come to know greater spiritual blessings through a personal relationship with the Lord.
In this way, the parents are not making a covenant with God that they are not in a place spiritually to keep, they are not given false security that their baby has been “done”, and they are not given a certificate (a legal document) certifying to a ceremony that they could not spiritually participate in.
At the same time, they are responded to lovingly and, we hope that follow-up visits will result in them eventually opening their hearts to the Lord.