Are children being baptized just to claim growth?




I appreciate your words on the subject of "accountability." I have met brother Al at Sycamore and receive his paper "Think......." While I am considered of the "traditional" camp, I am also searching to make sure that I am not just accepting the traditions of men.

In the past year, I have been studying the subject of "accountability," trying to draw some conclusion as to what it should be. I understand that everyone develops at their own pace, but I'm of the opinion that anyone under the age of 12 is too young, therefore, not accountable.

I believe that we have jumped on the band wagon of denominationalism in the way that we evangelize. It is my belief that the reason we want to baptize children is so that we can claim growth without having to actually go out into the world and preach the gospel. Our children were both baptized at the age of 13, and are now in their 20's, yet after talking to them about it, they both believe that they didn't really know what they were doing, and that they did it because we wanted it.

Thank you for your thought provoking questions and articles on this subject.

Thank you for your kind words. What I've noticed over the years is that the realization of good and evil generally comes about the time puberty hits. Usually I try hard to hold off preteens from being baptized by helping them understand that they need to learn more before they are ready. Often times the simple question of "What sins are you guilty of?" will stump a child. Most children see baptism only as a way to guarantee entrance into heaven, not as a means of forgiveness of sins. For the same reason they will get very upset if you ask them to wait because it appears, from their view, that you are denying them heaven. I try really hard to explain that until they are old enough, God doesn't hold them accountable and that they are going to heaven anyway. Once they can answer my questions, and appear to understand that they are making a permanent choice, then I go ahead and baptize them. I think the youngest I have ever baptized was nine, but he seemed to know what he was doing (and continues so to this day). Most are in their teenage years.

But in regards to baptizing children, let me recommend Connie Adams' article, "Saving Our Own." We should never look at baptizing children of members as second-class citizens or cheap ways to inflate numbers.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding the Age of Accountability
Articles on the Age of Accountability
Topical Scripture Index on the Age of Accountability