Why are infants baptized?

To become a Catholic requires three experiences: baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist. Seven is considered the age of reason, whereby a child may be confirmed and accept the Eucharist. Baptism, however, may be performed during infancy (at which moment the candidate becomes Catholic) because it is considered a sacrament that remits original sin and children are considered incapable of committing actual sin of their own will and knowledge. Proof of this supposedly comes from Acts 2:38-39, "Repent and be baptized... for the forgiveness of your sins... The promise is for you and your children," and 1 Peter 3:21, "and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also." John 3:5, "no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit," combined with Luke 18:15-16, "People were also bringing babies to Jesus... 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,' " then seems to grant the right for infant baptism. Because of Colossians 2:11-12, where Paul explains that baptism has replaced circumcision, Catholics then point to the Jewish tradition of circumcising potential Jewish converts before they have accepted God and attribute the same opportunity to baptism of potential Christian converts. They also point out the baptism of entire households, such as those recorded in Acts 16:15, 33, and 1 Corinthians 1:16. Early Church fathers, including Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Origen, and Augustine, taught infant baptism, the only debate being whether or not to wait at least eight days after birth.

The primary arguments against infant baptism include the right of the individual to choose to be baptized and the time of baptism in relation to confession. Obviously, the Catholic Church believes that baptism may come before acceptance of Christ, however, many New Testament scriptures indicate that baptism comes after believing, which includes the acts of confession and repentance (Matthew 3:6, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 41, 8:13, 18:8). According to 1 Peter 3:21, baptism is a pledge, or response, of a good conscience toward God, the decision of which comes from the individual.

        "All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 'Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.' So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." (Acts 10:43-48)

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Reference sources: Catholic Answers (http://www.catholic.com); ReligiousTolerance.org - Early Christian History as Viewed by Roman Catholics (http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_hirc.htm); Fast Facts on False Teachings - Roman Catholicism (chapter 14, pp 211-232), by Ron Carlson and Ed Decker, ©1994 by Harvest House Publishers; New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/); Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/)