What advice would you give for grandparents requesting a grandchild's baptism?
March 21, 2013
Updated March 22, 2013
9 comments 709 views
There is a couple who have a grand child born out of wedlock. Their daughter and male live in fathered this child. The parents have made no profession of faith and do nt attend worship services. Now the grandparent are requesting baptism. What do you advise?
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James Brownston has a book "The Promise of Baptism" where he devotes a chapter to this issue. If you can get your hands on it you might find it helpful.
Thank you for that information. I will investigate that. I thought this would be a simple question since the Scripture says "the promise is to you and your children" not to your grandchildren. There should be some reference in the CO I am guessing.
I found the book. Brownston goes in some detail into the HalfWay Covenant in colonial history, where grandparents who had professed their faith would present their grandchildren on behalf of the parents who had been baptized but not professed their faith, "as long as the immediate parents were not involved in scandal and continued in the fellowship of the church".
After a couple of pages of discussion he says "The church should only baptize infants who have at least one parent who is a believer. By parent I mean someone who has a recognized and final responsibility for the care and nurture of that child. The question of who counts as such a "parent" may vary, depending on the cultural context. Some culturees have much more extended households where grandparents may exercise a significant role in the lives of children. But even in such cases, I believe the final determinant should be whether that "parent" has a recognized and final responsibility for the care of the child. The parent of a child is the person on whom this primary and ultimate responsibility rests. If this most basic parental relationship is not infused with the presence of the Spirit emenating from the life of a believer, then the household in which this relationship exists is not a believing household and the infant born to such a household should not be baptized on the basis of God's covenant promise to believers and their children. This is the essential error of the HalfWay Covenant, which abstracts God's covenant promise from the actual faith life of believing parents."
I am aware of the "Halfway Covenant" history and error. It appears to be resurfacing. I sense the heart break of believing
grand parents whose unbelieving son or daughter produces a grandchild from a "shack-up" scenario. Should we uphold
the principle or make grandparents happy. Church discipline requires withholding the sacraments from those who are
practicing a contra Biblical life-style. Will appeasing the grand parents help a sinful couple come to repentance?
Keep it Simple, Avoid legalistic roadblocks to our Lord. Christ died for the ungodly and all the sinners in this World. We shall be saved by His Life. Go baptize your grandchild with the permission of its parents with the free gift of Jesus. As grandparents you can be instrumental in leading and teaching your grandchildren of Christ Grace and His Love.
If you have it available to you, you might wish to read my answer to this exact question in Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary, pages 311-313.
Just my two-cents worth ..........
Dear Henry, I have been absent for several weeks because of illness, not lack of interest. Thank you for directing me to your book. I do not know any one who owns that book so I have not been able to consult those pages. Please give me your take on this subject. Jerry
Jerry - FYI, the church order commentary is on sale right now through Faith Alive (about 30% off). Here's the link to it. A great resource, and proceeds go to a good cause (i.e. our denomination's publishing efforts).
I'll gladly forward to you the section of my book on Article 56 which includes this question and answer.
I'll use the e-mail in the Yearbook. If that's no longer valid, please e-mail me and give me an updated address.
My book is readily available from Faith Alive Resources or even Amazon.com. Perhaps you can convince your council to have at least one copy in the church library.
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