The Misconception of Baptism

For all the accusations leveled at the Roman Catholic Church, I believe there is really only one error that is fundamentally at the core of all other problems. It is this: that babies can be baptised.

Almost all additional issues, which some call faults or heresies or mistakes, can be traced back to this one topic. It causes the Roman Catholic Church (and any other denomination that baptises infants) to be inaccurately representing the Gospel and misguiding the masses. Let me explain.

The Bible tells us that the human race is stained with original sin. Therefore, the primary message of Christianity to every person in every generation is thus: Repent and be born again. (John 3:3) Without this step, there is no salvation and no heaven. Therefore, it is crucial that people hear this, and as often as possible. I like to say that the most important human right, is the right to hear the call to repentance in Jesus.

Throughout history, for all those people who really did repent in Jesus, the most common method for demonstrating repentance, has been water baptism. Certainly, John baptised people at the very beginning; and Christians have been baptising converts ever since. Baptism follows repentance. You can’t have baptism without repentance.


So, “you must be born again.” When Jesus said this, he was talking to a grown man. As far as we know, he never taught this notion to children. Why is that important? Because for most kids, they can’t be born again. Such young people frequently do not understand sin nor have a chance to own their own sin. Therefore, they can’t repent. And if they can’t repent, they can’t be baptised.

However, if an infant is baptised and they grow up being taught that their sins were forgiven when baptsied, then theoretically they never need to repent of their sins as an adult, right? This is exactly how many faithful Catholics never hear the call to repentance. What they should hear as adults is that baptism does not remove sin or assure salvation. As the chart above shows, repentance is the necessary element.

In some healthier circles it is explained this way: Children can be dedicated to God at any age, but they can’t be baptised until they have reached an age where they can make their own rational decision. What age is that? 10? 5? 15? It depends on each child.

The problem is since the Bible teaches that there is “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins,” people who “baptise” their babies sometimes erroneously think that all the child’s sins (which are only future sins at that point) are immediately forgiven at the moment of baptism. But if the infant has not had a chance to repent, then baptism means almost nothing. That is to say, baptism does not lead to forgiveness; repentance leads to forgiveness. And baptism can only come after repentance.


But what happens if the child dies at the age of two or three? Well, believing parents would want to make sure that that child’s soul goes to heaven, right? So what do you do in that case? Well, this question is why we today have infant baptism. But here is another way of thinking about it that does not perpetuate the error:

If a parent (or parents) is a born-again believer in Jesus, he or she can dedicate the child even as early as day one or two. If the child should then die before having the chance to repent on their own, the faith of the parents shall save the child’s soul.

Well there you have it. With this basic understanding, parents can dedicate their infants if they want to. But they must know that at some point in the future, that child will still have to repent of their sins, and likely be water baptised at that time.

If the Roman Catholic Church would simply change this one word, then scores of people would have the chance hear the most important message of Jesus— to repent of their sins (as adults), and then be baptised. As it is now, many leaders in the Catholic Church never issue the call to repentance since they erroneously assume that all of their listeners in the pews are already forgiven. Preposterous! Jesus never said that. With this error in place, hordes of grown ups are wandering the planet assuming that their sins are currently and forever forgiven because they were baptised as a child. Therefore, they shockingly never hear the most important message of Jesus, and of his Church, which is to repent and be born again. The tragedy is that the Church should be the carrier of this very message, but frequently fails.

That is why so many nominal Catholics who wander into a non-Catholic church, and for the first time hear the call to repentance, actually respond. It makes rational sense for every human to do so when you look at our chart below:


An open letter to Rome: Please specify that babies are “dedicated” but never “baptised.” Baptism comes when a person can understand the need to repent and does so. After a person repents, they shall be given the chance to publicly demonstrate their repentance through water baptism.

© 2019, Alignment Life

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