Soon after endorsing a 10,000-word affirmation of covenant infant baptism on Monday night, Synod 2011 continued its work on faith formation in the Christian Reformed Church by voting that pastors should “refrain from leading rituals of infant or child dedication in public worship services.” Such rituals are “not required by the Bible” and “not consistent with the Reformed confessions,” delegates decided.
Rev. John Luth: “The Bible teaches infant baptism and this is our practice.”
A request to Synod 2007 had led to calls for careful reconsideration of new questions surrounding infant dedication. A study committee examined the whole spectrum of Protestant churches and found a wide range of dedication practices, from ceremonies resembling “dry baptisms” to rituals chiefly focused on parents and their role in instructing their children.
But the CRC will stick with baptisms administered with water in the name of the one triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Delegates voted that CRC pastors who are asked to facilitate infant dedications should—while appropriately celebrating the child’s birth or adoption, and pastorally encouraging faithful upbringing in the Lord—instead focus on expressing a biblical understanding of the meaning and benefits of covenant baptism.
“This principle is not forcing infant baptism on anyone,” said Rev. Jacob Van de Hoef, reporter for the committee that brought the motion to the floor. “We’re just not going to have two practices, infant baptism and infant dedication.”
The proposal to discourage infant dedication passed easily. Rev. John Luth, Classis Alberta North, described the CRC’s position as “sensitive, positive, and helpful. It’s OK and it’s healthy to say that this is what we as a church believe—the Bible teaches infant baptism, and this is our practice.”
For more coverage while synod is in session, including webcasts, photos, a discussion forum, reports, and more, see the Synod 2011 website.