Saint Augustine remains one of the most influential authors of Western thought. His works examine the Christian life by confessing his own faults, ceaselessly questioning God and searching for life’s answers with constant curiosity. The deeper meanings found throughout his books still puzzle many readers today, despite the centuries of difference. His followers come from many backgrounds, not only from his own Catholic faith, but also reformed theology. His supporters admire the intellectual beauty found throughout Augustine’s works, especially Confessions, where he writes of his own conversion, criticizing his old earthly views. Many statements of his are absolutely correct although some seem questionable. But his critiques on the issue of baptism are totally relevant and worth full commendation. This paper will reveal the problems with baptism as practiced during Augustine’s time, explain Augustine’s refusal of it, and extensively prove the legitimacy found throughout Augustine’s report.
In Augustine’s time, men would receive their baptism as soon as possible before death. This was because baptism was viewed as the cure to stop any more sins. People were baptized right before their deaths, leaving no chance for any possible future sins to occur. During Augustine’s childhood, when he was suffering and close to death, Augustine was almost baptized, but when he started getting better, he wasn’t. Augustine remarks on this situation: “How much better for me if I had been quickly healed and if, thanks to the diligent care of my family and my own decisions, action had been taken by which I received the health of my soul and was kept safe under the protection which you would have given me. Certainly much better.” (Augustine, Confessions, Book 1, Chapter 18) His criticism of late baptism continued. Augustine felt that by being neglected of baptism, he was being “encouraged” in sin, for the “reigns were slackened”. In other words, Augustine felt that if he had been baptized while in his childhood state, he would have been spiritually healed much sooner and born again, rather than be encouraged to continue participating in an ungodly, worldly life.
The Genesis account of Adam and Eve speaks about the commission of original sin as man first tried to disobey God’s command. It was when they first gave in to evil temptations that they sinned against their creator. From the very beginning, God said to Adam that He allows them to eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden but never from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (New American Bible). The ...
If, however Augustine had been baptized at such a time during his life, he would have found been in the safety of his Creator, no longer sinning simply because he wasn’t baptized yet. He would have found out what it is to follow Christ earlier, but he postponed that thought until he was in his thirties. Just think of what more could have come from Augustine’s faith if it had come much earlier to him.
If a child was refused to be baptized due to his age and health, he might commit a number of crimes, for he could believe that God was there for him; he would let the world conform his life whichever ways it would. This person would grow up as a child of the world, not of God, living immorally, for the Christian faith was never there to transform him. Although it was his own fault that he never followed God, a baptism may have had him consider Christianity, and if been allowed, he could have been molded by God throughout his life.
Baptism can be seen as a medicine to someone who is sick. Would it not be better to give medication to the sickly without delay for their recoveries? Augustine muses:
“But if someone’s physical health is in danger, we do not say: ‘Let him suffer a little more; he has not recovered yet.’” We must “administer” baptism to children, to give them recovery. The sick people are like all of us sinners on the earth, who need Christ’s salvation even just after we are born. Now, if people are made to wait for the end of their life to be baptized, then there would be many people sinning, doing whatever pleases them, and not caring about God because they haven’t been baptized yet. If many people start not caring about God because they haven’t been baptized yet, Christianity will fall less and less from God. Therefore, if people are made to wait for the end of their lives to be baptized, there would be ruin, which by definition, is bad. Also, if young children are baptized and confirmed, there would be many benefits. These benefits are good for Christianity; therefore baptism in childhood is fine.
Parents are an integral part of any child’s life. They are his safe haven, his stepping stones and his personal cheerleaders. They are the people who create a person in the first place hence he/she owes their existence to them (Laura, 11). They give a child his name, his characteristics and his personality. They also give him both his negative and positive traits. So, in my opinion it is a ...
Jesus says to the disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Christians should not stop children form being baptized or following Christ, like Augustine was. Peter commands in Acts 2:38-39, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Clearly, the baptism and acceptance of children is allowed with all spiritual authority
Augustine was correct in swimming against the tide on the issue of baptism; it would have been better if he had been baptized in their early life, and he should be given full credit for that discovery.