Are Baby Dedications Biblical?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Thousands of churches have baby dedications every year, so are baby dedications biblical? Does the Bible support this?

Baptizing Babies

The Catholic Church and several denominations still practice infant baptism, so where did infant baptism originate since it’s not found in the Bible? Is infant baptism even biblical, and if not, where did it start? Why did the early church never practice infant baptism but then, just a few hundred years later, they practiced it extensively? Even in the ancient church there was the concept that baptism was an initiation rite into the community of faith, and even though infants are born into that community, most understand that their children will not be saved by infant baptism. First of all, infant baptism and believer’s baptisms are not the same thing. A person who has been brought to repentance and faith in Christ is generally baptized afterward, but how can an infant repent? Does an infant even know what sin is so that they can repent of it? The answer is no on both accounts.

Infant Baptism

During infant baptism, the child or infant is typically sprinkled with water or pouring water over the head of the child, but either way, infant baptism does not appear in the Bible, and its practice does not seem biblical, so should parents baptize infants? From at least the 3rd century onward, Christians baptized infants as standard practice, although some preferred to postpone baptism until later in life, so as to ensure the forgiveness for all their preceding sins, [1] however, this is clearly not taught in the Bible. Some infants were baptized during the Black Plague in the dark ages in the event the child died, and if they were baptized, they believed that their baptism would keep them from God’s judgment, so even though infant baptism is not sinful…it’s just not taught in the Bible, and it has no effect on the child’s standing before God as an adult.

Do Babies Go To Heaven

Infant baptism is not found in the Bible.

Samuel’s Dedication

Our own church denomination does practice baby or infant dedications, and even though it’s not found in the Bible, parents want to follow the practice of having their baby dedicated to the Lord, much like Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord after he was weaned from childhood. In 1 Samuel we read that Hannah “vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head” (1 Sam 1:11). Of course, there is no record of Samuel being involved in a baby dedication, but Samuel’s mother did dedicate him to the Lord’s use when he would be grown, and God did use Samuel in a mighty way, using him to lead Israel before the nation had a king, being a prophet and guiding the nation until King Saul was installed as their first king, but Samuel continued, even after that point, to serve the Lord in the capacity of a prophet and advisor to the king and the nation.

I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life.

Baby Dedications

Even though thousands of churches around the world practice baby dedications, most of these churches acknowledge that it’s not a salvation issue, realizing that a person must be brought to repentance by God and then put their trust in Christ, and of course, no infant has the capacity to understand all that, so even though it’s not related to salvation, many parents want their child dedicated to the Lord. Even though parents understand that this doesn’t save their child, they still want God’s blessing on their children, but there is actually some precedence on having children blessed. On one occasion, when some brought children to Jesus to lay hands on them and pray for them and bless them, His disciples rebuke them, trying to keep the children from Jesus, but this made Jesus angry. He said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Luke 18:16-17). Jesus wanted them to know how precious children are to God, and so “children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray” (Matt 19:13), so we see that there is nothing wrong with bringing children forward and have the church leadership (pastor, elder, or deacon) lay hands on them and ask God’s blessing upon them and praying for them. This is just what Jesus did, so baby dedications, although not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, does align with what Jesus did when children were brought to Him, therefore baby dedications are fine, as long as the parents understand that this does not secure their child’s salvation.

Conclusion

Infant baptism is not something that the Bible teaches, but that’s an argument from silence in a way, so most people feel there is nothing wrong with baptizing infants, but baby dedications are more biblical than infant baptism, and baby dedications are something that parents, grandparents, foster parents, and caregivers can do without worrying about it being sin. There is nothing wrong with having a baby, infant, or child be dedicated before the Lord and have the blessing of God on them, and praying for them. We should be praying for one another anyway, and not just for our children, but for all who are in the Body of Christ, the church, but we should also be praying for those who don’t yet know Christ. Pray that they might repent, be saved, and baptized. This is the Lord’s will…that none should perish (2 Pet 3:9). I hope it’s our will too.

1. “Infant Baptism: Scriptural and Reasonable”. Archived from the original on March 11, 2008; What does the Bible teach about the subject of baptizing of infants? by Don Matzat Archived 11 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.; Infant Baptism in Early Church History Archived 8 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.; Christian Heresies of the Sixteenth Century. (Accessed, March 21 2018).

Here is some related reading for you: 15 Bible Verses About Baptism

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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