Church

Big Questions

Q A few years ago the CRC synod warned against replacing infant baptism with dedication. Since then, has the denomination lightened up at all and at least considered giving parents of newborns the option?

A No, we haven’t. Synod 2012 called on us to “refrain from leading rituals of infant or child dedication” in part because they are “not required by the Bible” and “not consistent with the Reformed confessions” (Acts 2012, pp. 774-75). I agree entirely. Question and answer 74 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks whether infants should be baptized and answers with a definitive yes.

Since I signed the Covenant for Officebearers, I am bound by that. Delegates to synod rise each year to indicate that in their decision-making they will stay true to the church’s creeds and confessions. The only thing that can change this situation is for someone to file a request (called a gravamen) seeking to revise Q&A 74 or declare it no longer binding on us and have synod approve that request.

I do understand that many evangelical churches offer folks the option of infant dedication and that they and our culture generally want us to move away from “rigidity” in this matter. But I experience our adherence to baptism as liberating. Dedication speaks of our believing approach to God. That’s all. Infant baptism goes far beyond that to speak also of God’s faithfulness and promises to us. It is a sacrament that celebrates the comforting mysteries of God’s sovereign grace. As such it is not just a family event but a people-of-God event. It profoundly blesses our congregations with regular assurance every time a child is born.

Let’s not rob our membership of these experiences. And let’s sensitively persuade parents to share in the joy.

About the Author

Henry De Moor is professor emeritus of church polity at Calvin Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich. He’s the author of Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary

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