Yesterday, I had the privilege of baptising my son. He is only 8. We have been very careful not to push, or even suggest, that he might want to get baptised. The requests have come solely and wholly from him.
I have made sure I was not involved in any of the discussions or decisions in our process. So, as per usual, he had an initial interview with a member of the church (in this case, one of our elders). We then asked another person to interview him – this time a former elder who is now a member – who was also happy to affirm him. For good measure, we then asked our third elder – who had only recently become an elder – to meet with my boy to talk things through further. Each person was happy to affirm his faith based on his testimony.
It is our usual practice to have one member interview followed by an eldership interview before the application is announced to the whole membership who are also given opportunity to assess the candidates faith. In this particular case, I was involved in none of that except the whole church vote. I was of the view my son was a believer, but I didn’t want to push anything nor be the one to determine next steps.
Whilst I respect the position of churches that do not feel it appropriate to add children to membership at all, it is our conviction that we ought to welcome those who can give a clear and credible profession of faith and understanding of the gospel they claim to believe. Not only do that, but do so to the satisfaction of the majority of church members too. We do not recognise an age of consent or accountability, just the biblical command and pattern of baptising believers on profession of faith. So, that is exactly what we have done.
Below is the testimony my son gave in front of the church yesterday. It is hard, based on that, to reckon him ineligible. Here is what he said:
These are all my own words. My dad asked me questions, I answered the questions and I wrote my answers down. We took the questions out and wrote my answers into full sentences.
Most of my family are Christians. My great grandparents were Christians, all of my grandparents are Christians and my mum and dad are Christians too. I am eight years old and I have been to church all of my life. I have always read the Bible and prayed with my mum and dad. But none of those things made me a Christian.
I think I became a Christian when I was around 5 or 6. I remember praying to Jesus and asking for forgiveness for my sin. Sin was never meant to be there because God created a perfect world. But when Adam & Eve listened to Satan and ate fruit that God said not to eat, sin entered the world. Our sin means we can’t be friends with God. But Jesus died for us so that instead of us being punished for our sin, he took it instead, so we could be friends with God.
I realised that Jesus only died for certain people. He only forgives the sins of people who believe in him. I didn’t want to be punished by God, so I prayed to Jesus and asked him to forgive me and to give me a new heart. And I believe he has done that for me.
God is now my Father and I am his child. It means he loves me in a special way and I now love him. The Holy Spirit has come into my heart. He has made my heart kinder, he helps me to do what is right and he helps to make me more like Jesus. I still sometimes sin, but the Spirit helps me not to do it as much, but I also know that Jesus has forgiven all the sin I have done and all the sin I will ever do. I now know I am going to Heaven because my sin has been forgiven by Jesus and sin is the only thing that keeps people out of Heaven.
On that basis, it was my privilege to baptise my boy. He was welcomed into full church membership and we look forward to him serving alongside us and growing in his faith with us.