We Lutherans believe our theology is Biblical. Infant baptism is probably the biggest of the hangups we will encounter as we affirm this Biblical faith. These five truths should help us both understand and witness to God's great gift to us and our children.
We begin with Romans 3:23, "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." We believe that all means everyone. No one is excluded. Our nationality, our gender, our economic status, our age does not matter. We are all sinners and separated from God. If we want to be in fellowship with God, then we all need to be forgiven and saved.
We believe that one of the means by which God forgives us is Baptism, that God brings us into fellowship with Himself through Baptism. Baptism is not something we do. It is what God does. It's God inviting us into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:1-4). It's God clothing us with Jesus (Galatians 3:26-27). Peter definitively declared, "Baptism now saves you!" (1 Peter 3:21). It's not the washing of dirt from our bodies, but it is the washing of our consciences to give us a new conscience. Baptism is God acting upon us sinners to bring us into fellowship with Himself.
We believe that faith is absolutely necessary for salvation, but faith must be properly understood. We don't have faith in us by nature because we are dead. We are dead in our trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). We are dead from the moment of conception as David confessed in Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, / And in sin my mother conceived me." We don't have faith in us. We can't cultivate it. It's not something we can grow. It's not something we can use to make some kind of decision. Faith is a gift from God. We read in Romans 10:17, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." As we hear God's Word, God creates faith in us. In Ephesians 2:8 we are reminded that the package we call salvation which is gifted to us because God is gracious, which is ours when we believe, the whole package of salvation by grace through faith is a gift from God. Because it is a gift, it is not something we have but something we need to be given.
Fourth, we believe that infants can have faith. David wrote in Psalm 22:10, "Upon You I was cast from birth; / You have been my God from my mother's womb." In Matthew 18:6, Jesus condemns us adults who would lead the little ones astray. Notice that He described the little ones as those "who believe in Me." To believe is to have faith. Jesus warns us to be careful that we not lead astray the infants who have faith.
Finally, as we put it all together we must conclude that God can give the gift of faith to anyone at any age. We do not deny God's gift of faith to our children who are sinful, who need faith, who can have faith. We baptize our infants, in faith, believing that God invites them into fellowship with Himself, that God puts to death their old nature, that God raises to life a new nature and gives that new nature the gift of faith. We believe that as they are nurtured in the Word of God, they will at some point come to understand what it is that God has done for them.
We are thankful, then, for a gracious God who gives this wonderful and incredible gift. We are thankful for a God who invites us into fellowship with Himself. We are thankful that this gift is indeed for all of us.
Next: Three Views on Free Will
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB1995 (New American Standard Bible) Copyright by The Lockman Foundation: http://www.lockman.org/