There is a growing trend among some churches of Christ to have what is known as “Baby Dedication Ceremonies.” In these ceremonies, a baby is brought forward before the church assembly by his or her parents, and the parents promise to raise the child in the Lord. I have heard of one congregation of the church of Christ do this in a town close to my hometown, and I wonder how many more are having these ceremonies also. No doubt the parents of these babies have very good intentions in “dedicating” their child to Christ before their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but it is important to look at this from a Biblical standpoint.
Everything we do must be done with all authority from God. These baby dedication ceremonies where parents come forward and “dedicate” their children to the Lord have many similarities to the practice of “infant baptism” that the Roman Catholic Church performs. The practice of infant baptism is unscriptural because babies are completely innocent and without sin. They do not inherit “original sin” which is the false doctrine that the Roman Catholics have that we are all born with sin, since that time that Adam and Even sinned against God. This is simply not true. Babies have no capability to follow the Plan of Salvation which would lead to a scriptural baptism. Babies cannot hear and believe the Word of God (Romans 10:17;Mark 16:16), and they cannot repent of their sins, because they do not have any (Acts 2:38). Also, they are not able to talk and confess that Jesus is the Son of God, which is another step to the Plan of Salvation (Matthew 10:32). Since babies cannot follow the first four steps to the Plan of Salvation, then they are certainly not qualified to be baptized (Acts 22:16; I Peter 3:17-22).
Of course, “baby dedication ceremonies’ do not require the infant to be sprinkled with water like the Catholic ceremony, which is not actually baptism at all, however, both ceremonies require that the parents come forward with their babies and profess their belief in Christ and “dedicate” them to the Lord.
In an article from Simply Catholic called “Why Baptize Babies,” John Salza says, “Parents bring their babies to the waters of baptism by professing a belief in Christ on behalf of the child, and promising to raise him or her in the faith.” Besides the actual act of sprinkling the baby with water, both the church of Christ ceremony and the Catholic ceremony are identical. Not only that, but various Baptist churches have baby dedication ceremonies which are identical to the ones that some churches of Christ are having. According to an essay written by R. Scott Clark called “A Contemporary Reformed Defense of Infant Baptism,” the author talks about these “baby dedication ceremonies” held in the Baptist church. Regarding these ceremonies, Clark says;
“Many Baptistic churches also allow the practice of baby dedication. It would appear that this rite substitutes for baptism of the children of believers. Why? Because believers instinctively know that they need to present their children to God. Like the altar call this is a human substitute for divinely instituted covenant signs and seals of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is the sign of entrance or initiation into the visible Covenant assembly (church). Baby dedication fulfills this function.”
If members of the church of Christ still want to set themselves apart from the denominational world, then participating in baby dedication ceremonies is a step in the wrong direction!
But a person might say “If the baby isn’t baptized, then what is wrong with having the dedication ceremony.” One thing we must consider is why are churches of Christ having “baby dedication ceremonies” in the first place? Everyone who becomes a Christian is required to raise their current or future children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). No ceremony is needed for parents to raise their children in the Lord, it is a commandment from God. Secondly, a person cannot “dedicate” any other person to the Lord, especially babies who are completely innocent. “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).” Baby dedication ceremonies are just one tiny step away from the infant baptism ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church, and that is a step too close!
If we want the youth in our congregations to be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, parents, and all members of the church of Christ can pray for the youth to be trained as they should and become faithful Christians. This can be done in private, and it can also be done during the worship services of the church. Our youth are the future of the church, and we need as many faithful members of the church as we can to carry on the service of the Lord’s church!
By looking at these points, it appears that “baby dedication ceremonies” are foreign to the New Testament, and they show how some congregations of the church of Christ want to infiltrate some denominational ideas into the church while still wanting to appear separate and apart from denominations at the same time. Fellow Christians, we cannot do both! “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
We have to either stand with God and only do what the Bible commands us to do, or we stand with mammon (the world) and follow any “popular” trend that some brethren in the church try to implement without Biblical authority. In cases like these we need to make sure that we are studying our Bibles enough to know when wrong is being done, and have the courage to stand against it!