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 Issues | Infant Baptism | Introduction

The Child's Right to Baptism

J. Stafford Wright

Church Book Room Press Ltd, 1951, 1957 & 1970


After his conversion the writer of this booklet was persuaded that his Baptism as an infant was not valid, and he was therefore immersed at a Baptist Church. A fuller study of the Scriptures convinced him that he had misinterpreted the evidence, and had done wrong in being baptised a second time.

Since then he has known of other young Evangelicals who have been lost to the Church of England through taking the same step as he took. This booklet was written some years ago to help them, and is now sent out in a second edition with certain small revisions.

No attempt has been made to discuss the problem of indiscriminate Infant Baptism, which has done so much to bring the Church of England doctrine into disrepute. On every side there are signs that our Church is waking up to this, and is seeking to remove this abuse of the Sacrament. But the Baptism of a child of truly Christian parents is one of the finest Services in our Prayer Book, and the writer has no hesitation in using the language of the Prayer Book on this occasion.

The Child's Right to Baptism

At the Reformation the Church of England retained Infant Baptism for the children of Christian parents. Many people have blamed her for this, and have maintained that here she has followed a Church tradition rather than the teaching of Scripture. Moreover, even those who accept Infant Baptism have sometimes felt that the language of the Prayer Book ascribes too much virtue to the rite of Baptism. This is the problem that faces us: Has the child a right to Baptism, and, if so, what exactly is conveyed by that right?

What is the answer of Scripture ?
In considering this question, three points must be kept quite distinct.
1. The manner of Baptism.
2. The subjects of Baptism: should infants be baptised?
3. If we decide that it is God's will that infants should be baptised, what language are we to use at the Baptismal Service and in reference to their Baptism?

Although the three points must be considered separately, they ultimately hang together. If, for example, Scripture shows that total immersion is necessary for a valid Baptism, it is highly improbable that infants arc fit subjects for Baptism. Again, it is no use beginning with the third point, and arguing about the language used in the Prayer Book unless we are first convinced that infants are proper subjects for Baptism.

>> 1. The Manner of Baptism

>> 2. The Subjects of Baptism

>> 3. Prayer Book Statements




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