INFANT BAPTISM and INFANT DEDICATION
One of the expressions of our Free Methodist “via media” is to bring together both Infant Baptism and Infant Dedication giving the parent(s) the opportunity to choose for their own child(ren). To do this the Study Commission on Doctrine created this educational document expressing the support of each theological position.
Study Commission on Doctrine
In the Free Methodist Church, both divine grace and personal decisions are considered integral to the Christian life. The practice of two seemingly contradictory rituals in the church is a witness to this reality. While infant baptism highlights divine grace infant dedication emphasizes personal decision.
The two rituals share much in common. In both, families present their children to the Lord in the presence of the community of faith. Prayers are offered for these children, especially as concerns their spiritual development and personal salvation. The families and the church acknowledge their responsibilities and make commitments as regards the bringing up of these children ‘in the Lord’s discipline and instruction’ Prayers are offered for the families as regards their special role in this process.
Both rituals reflect a prayerful expectation of the children’s role in personally experiencing and affirming God’s grace in their lives “at an early age.” God’s help and blessing are invoked.
The Scriptures do not state explicitly whether infants should be dedicated or baptized, or whether baptism should be reserved until one is able to respond personally in faith to God’s grace (as a mature child,