Infant Baptism, Age of Accountability, Dedication of Children
This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.
What is the Assemblies of God position concerning the baptism of children, their security in the Kingdom, and the practice of dedicating them to the Lord?
According to the Bible, everyone (adult or child) who recognizes his or her need of a Savior and then repents and believes in Christ should be baptized (Acts 2:38,41; 8:36-38). But in the Scripture there is no record of infants or very young children being baptized. This is because they are not yet able to understand the need of a Savior.
Yet God places a high priority on children. When asked who is the greatest in the kingdom of God, Jesus responded, "Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Gods love for children is also shown in the Old Testament. In Leviticus the Lord specifically prohibited the people of Israel from offering their children as a sacrifice to the pagan god, Molech (Leviticus 20:1-5). It seems fair to conclude that if God forbade children from being sacrificed, He would not order those same children to be placed in the eternal fire of hell. From these Scriptures the Assemblies of God believes that children are loved by God, and until they come to an age of understanding (some call it "the age of accountability"), they have a place in the kingdom of God. This means that should a child die before developing to a point where the knowledge of Christ can be understood and applied through forgiveness, the child would inherit eternal life in heaven as an heir of Gods kingdom.
In Luke 2 we see the parents of the baby Jesus taking Him to the temple "to present Him to the Lord" (Luke 2:22). Later the Gospels tell us that little children and infants were brought to Jesus for Him to touch them and bless them (Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17). In following this practice, Assemblies of God churches encourage parents to publicly dedicate their children to the Lord. This is usually done in a church service. In dedicating their child the parents acknowledge the child as a gift from God and vow before Him and the congregation to set a godly example for the child and a commitment to lead the child to Christ at an early age.
Some who have accepted Christ as adults wonder if the baptism they received as infants fulfills the New Testament mandate of water baptism (1 Peter 3:21). In the Assemblies of God we believe baptism in water is to follow salvation (acceptance of Christ and His forgiveness of our sins) as demonstrated in the New Testament. For this reason we urge all new converts to follow the biblical pattern of water baptism in obedience to Christ.
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.