SPECIAL TOPIC: HOUSEHOLD BAPTISMS

There are several "household baptisms" in the NT.

1. Acts 10:2, Cornelius

2. Acts 16:15, Lydia

3. Acts 16:33, Philippian jailor

The theological question which this verse raises is, "Were children involved in these examples of household conversions in Acts?" If so, then there is a biblical precedent for infant baptism in those "family salvations." Those who assert this as evidence also point toward the OT practice of including children into the nation of Israel as infants (i.e., circumcision at eight days of age, see James D. G. Dunn).

Although it is surely possible that faith in Christ immediately affected the whole family (cf. Deut. 5:9 and 7:9) in this societal setting, the question remains, "Is this a universal truth to be practiced in every culture?" I would assert that the NT is a revelation about personal volitional choices related to the awakening sense of guilt. One must recognize his need for a savior. This leads to the further question of, "Are people born sinful in Adam, or are they sinful when they choose to disobey God?" Judaism allows a period of childhood innocence until a knowledge of the Law and a commitment to keep it; for males, age 13, for females, age 12. The rabbis do not emphasize Genesis 3 as much as the church does.

The NT is an adult book. It asserts God's love for children, but its message is directed toward adults! However, we must admit that we live in a democratic, individual-focused society, but the culture of the Bible is a tribal, clan, family society!

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