WCG/GCI Now Baptizing Infants

Worldwide Church of God Transformed from Truth to Fairy Tales


The online version of The Journal just reported the following:

Former Worldwide Church of God
now baptizing infants

GLENDORA, Calif.–Grace Communion International, formerly the Worldwide Church of God, now practices infant baptism, according to a posting on the church’s The Surprising God blog.

Information posted by blogmaster Ted Johnston explains that the GCI “finds support” for baptizing babies in a “Trinitarian, incarnational understanding of Holy Scripture.”

The only way to come to that conclusion is to ignore scriptures about repentance–and infants are not capable of repentance.  But, of course, since GCI (which had been WCG before it started to change, then changed its name) often seems to be relying on human reason/worldly traditions and not the Bible, they frequently come to odd doctrinal conclusions.

Of the 100 or so times the terms Baptist, baptize, baptized, etc. are used of those in the New Testament, there is never one time that infants or young children are specifically mentioned as being baptized.

The Catholic Encyclopedia clearly admits that infant baptism was a practice that eventually became customary–in other words it was not part of the original faith. Notice:

Further, when infant baptism became customary, confirmation was not administered until the child had attained the use of reason. This is the present practice, though there is considerable latitude as to the precise age (Scannell T.B. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney. Confirmation. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Perhaps it should be mentioned here that “confirmation” did not become an issue until after infant baptism was accepted. Notice this admission:

Before the time of Tertullian the Fathers do not make any explicit mention of confirmation as distinct from baptism. The fact that the two sacraments were conferred together may account for this silence (Scannell T.B. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney. Confirmation. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Actually, since baptism was not done for infants, there was no need to have a separate confirmation. Nor does the Bible anywhere explicitly teach about the need for properly baptized individuals to be later confirmed. The idea of a separate confirmation is clearly another tradition of men–and is not even truly claimed to be a “tradition for the apostles” by any early writer.

The Eastern Orthodox admit that infant baptism is not based upon scripture:

I myself must admit that I did not always feel comfortable about the Orthodox Church baptizing infants. I asked myself several other questions as well: “How can an infant ‘believe and be baptized’?” “Where in Scripture does it show an infant being baptized?” (Bajis J. Infant Baptism. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. http://www.goarch.org/en/our faith/articles/article7067.asp 8/21/05).

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that infant baptism and other practices are simply based upon tradition:

The designation of unwritten Divine traditions was not always given all the clearness desirable especially in early times; however Catholic controversialists soon proved to the Protestants that to be logical and consistent they must admit unwritten traditions as revealed. Otherwise by what right did they rest on Sunday and not on Saturday? How could they regard infant baptism as valid, or baptism by infusion? How could they permit the taking of an oath, since Christ had commanded that we swear not at all? The Quakers were more logical in refusing all oaths, the Anabaptists in re-baptizing adults, the Sabbatarians in resting on Saturday. (Bainvel J. Transcribed by Tomas Hancil. Tradition and Living Magisterium. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is true that most of the traditions mentioned above are practices that most in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches accept. Since those traditions do contradict the biblical accounts (and even The Catholic Encyclopedia admitted that on most of them), those practices should be rejected and should not be part of the traditions of either of those groups (as well as GCI which is Protestant and not COG).

In the Bible it is clear that the Apostle Peter taught,

38 Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)

And the Bible shows:

42 Then those that gladly received his word were baptized (Acts 2:42).

Christian baptism cannot include those who cannot repent or truly receive the word, like infants.

In the 20th century, Herbert Armstrong (a COG leader of the old WCG) wrote:

Should Children Be Baptized? One cannot be baptized until after he has fully REPENTED. Only those who BELIEVE, both the true GOSPEL (the Message Jesus preached, which is the Kingdom, or Government of God) and on JESUS CHRIST as personal Saviour, can be baptized (see Acts 2:38; 8:37; 16:31). Children have not reached that maturity where they have the self-discipline to truly repent, and believe (Armstrong H. All About Water Baptism. 1948, 1954, 1972 edition).

Notice that the Roman Church admits that immersion was the original practice, without the use of baptismal fonts (like it now uses):

In the Apostolic Age, as in Jewish times (John 3:23), baptism was administered without special fonts, at the seaside or in streams or pools of water (Acts 8:38); Tertullian refers to St. Peter’s baptizing in the Tiber (De bapt., iv); similarly; in later periods of evangelization, missionaries baptized in rivers as is narrated of St. Paulinus in England by Bede (Hist. Eccl., II, xiv-xvi). (Peterson JB. Transcribed by the Cloistered Dominican Nuns. Baptismal Font. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The word Baptism is derived from the Greek word, bapto, or baptizo, to wash or to immerse. It signifies, therefore, that washing is of the essential idea of the sacrament…The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion. This is not only evident from the writings of the Fathers and the early rituals of both the Latin and Oriental Churches, but it can also be gathered from the Epistles of St. Paul, who speaks of baptism as a bath (Ephesians 5:26; Romans 6:4; Titus 3:5). In the Latin Church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as the sixteenth century. Infusion and aspersion, however, were growing common in the thirteenth century and gradually prevailed in the Western Church. The Oriental Churches have retained immersion (Fanning, William H.W. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J. Baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature” (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 342).

Notice that The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that immersion was the biblical practice, the practice of the early Church, and was slowly dropped in the Latin/Western Church. Hence it admits that it is not faithful to the original practice of baptism. Also notice that the Catechism of the Catholic Church admits that baptism is a plunging/immersion that shows a burial and resurrection, but this certainly is not the ceremony that they use of infants (which most likely are the majority of those baptized by Roman Catholics).

In the 21st Century, the Living Church of God, which does not baptize infants, teaches:

Baptism by immersion
After God calls us and brings us to repentance, and we accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, the next vital step to salvation is water baptism. One should be baptized (Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; 9:1-18) as a sign of total surrender to God and of a willingness to bury the old self (Romans 6:3-6). (Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs. Living Church of God, 2002).

I was baptized as a helpless little infant — unable even to discern my left hand from my right hand, let alone able to grasp the enormity of sin and deeply REPENT of my sins and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. Was I, then, a true Christian?Of course not! (Meredith RC. Christian Baptism. LCG Booklet, 2005).

On the other hand, the Bible does enjoin the fact that infants/toddlers can be prayed for and blest. Notice what Jesus said and did:

15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.  17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”  (Luke 18:15-17)

And that is the practice of the Living Church of God. We ask for God’s protection and blessing of our children. The ceremony is typically referred to as “the blessing of the little children” and the minister(s) lays hands upon the child and prays.  It is likely that the worldly churches, who had read the account in Luke 18 and perhaps heard of it performed in the early COG, may have used that as part of their justification.

In fact, when I researched this further today, I found that the Catholic Church does refer to this passage in Luke 18 as part of its justification for infant baptism (see article Baptism in The Catholic Encyclopedia).  But sadly, they are confusing a blessing ceremony with baptism.  None of the children that Jesus laid hands on are recorded to have been immersed into water or sprinkled with water prior to Jesus blessing them–hence what Jesus did WAS NOT a form of infant baptism, but instead a ceremony that is retained by relatively few today, like those of us in the Living Church of God.

The old Worldwide Church of God used to realize the truth about the blessing of children and not baptizing infants, but sadly, apparently in their efforts to conform to doctrines of men, has changed on this point as well.  WCG/GCI’s fall on infant baptism is simply one more proof that it has abandoned the Bible for non-biblical traditions.

Some articles of related interest may include:

Baptism and the Early Church Was it by immersion? Did it include infants?
Did Real Christians Practice Nude Baptism? This is not a joke. Find out what was taught in the second and later centuries.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Living Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja viva do deus? Tambien Español: Cuál es fiel: ¿La iglesia católica romana o La Iglesia del Dios Viviente? Auch: Deutsch: Welches zuverlässig ist: Die Römisch-katholische Kirche oder die lebende Kirche von Gott?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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