Infant baptism vs infant communion

2

Comments

  • If parents don't "impose" their worldview on children, someone/something else will. What matters is how parents behave when their children start asking questions and making their own decisions.
    When I was a child, I asked questions, but as far as God was concerned, there were no answers other than the CofE, cultural background of the early 1940s ones. Even if there had been alternatives around, they were non-existent in my life.

  • Anselmina

    I have no disagreement with any of your post, but would add that I think there should be an awareness of the need (that is not quite the right word but can't think of a more appropriate one) not to inculcate personal faith beliefs as being the only right ones. Do you think it is fair and sensible that there should be clear awareness of non-belief too?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @Colin Smith and @SusanDoris my apologies but what you are saying is that everybody else shall and must bring up their children the way you would want to bring up yours. Irrespective of their beliefs about life, the universe and everything, whether they like it or not they shall seek to instil into their children what you don't believe rather than what they do.

    If parents believe that Christian faith is the greatest treasure that they can pass on to their children, then they will want to do all that they can to enable their children to receive both it, and what they believe to be the best version of it. You don't believe this, but people who do believe in the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven will want their children to find it, and in due course join them there.

    From what you've said, it doesn't sound as though for either of you, that was what your parents believed. Particularly,@Colin Smith, it sounds as though your mother thought of Methodism as just part of the furniture, something she wasn't much bothered about, didn't have that much belief in, and didn't really care whether you ended up believing or not. If that's the case, you could say that that was what she succeeded in passing on to you.

    To digress, what's actually odder is not that both of you don't believe, but that the whole subject niggles you so much that you come and argue the case with people who do. It's almost as if you're hoping either that what we say is so unpersuasive that it will leave you confident you're right, or that you secretly wish it were all true, that after all,
    "... God was man in Palestine
    And lives today in Bread and Wine."
    Christmas by John Betjeman
  • Sounds to me as if, previously, there was a lack of joined-up thinking somewhere down the line. Did the "baptism" rubric get revised without anyone thinking of the need to revise the "communion" one?
    The "baptism rubric" committee and the "communion rubric" committee didn't talk to each other.
    Not really. As @cliffdweller says, the previous Directory allowed for baptized children to take communion, but also (reflecting long-standing practice) said that "[T]he invitation to the Lord's Supper is extended to all who have been baptized . . . ."

    The baptismal portions of the Directory never, as best as I can remember, explicitly affirmed the idea that parents might choose not have their children baptized, but would instead wait until the child could decide for her- or himself. Rather, we simply practiced both infant baptism and believer baptism of those not baptized as infants. In my experience, it was assumed that children of parents in the church would be baptized as infants. The Directory did charge Sessions with "encouraging parents to present their children for Baptism . . . without undue haste, but without undue delay." (Similar language is still in revised Directory.)

    But what we started seeing in the late 20th C was an increase in children who had not been baptized as infants because (1) their parents came to a Presbyterian church from another tradition (or traditions) that didn't practice infant baptism, and the parents weren't comfortable with it or accustomed to it; (2) only one parent was involved in the church, and so the parents decided to leave the decision for the child; or (3) the family only became involved in church at all once the children were older. So really for the first time, we couldn't assume being a child in the church meant having been baptized, and congregations had both baptized and not-yet-baptized children.

    Starting in 1998 and for some years thereafter, a number of presbyteries regularly overtured General Assembly to amend the Directory in light of this new situation. (For some but not all, general concerns of hospitality were also an issue.) General Assembly's response was to set up a Sacraments Study Group to explore the issue and make recommendations. That study group engaged in a fair amount of activity designed to invite congregations into deeper understanding of the sacraments and their place in the life of the church.

    Following all of this, the Directory as a whole was rewritten, and that revision was approved by General Assembly in 2016 and ratified by a majority of presbyteries after that. The change on this particular point was directly related to the conversations that had been ongoing since the 1990s. So the position now is that being baptized before taking communion is seen as the norm, but not an unwaivable requirement. No one is to be turned away from the Table, and if someone not baptized receives communion, that should be seen as an opportunity to enter into conversation about seeking baptism.

  • It's the principle of it. The imposition of one person's beliefs onto another against their will or without their permission is wrong.

    I impose beliefs on my kids all the time. I teach them to be kind and considerate. I teach them to be honest, and not to steal. I teach them to treat people wiht respect. Are you objecting to those things, or is it just me teaching them about my belief in God that you're objecting to?



  • BabyWombat wrote: »
    In my current setting I have a young child who, since birth, had been held in his grandmother's arms while she served as Lay Assistant at the altar. He is now 3 and stands with her. He does not understand why he cannot "have a cookie" as he puts it. Just recently he helped himself to the breadbox on the credence table, took out an unconsecrated wafer, then knelt by the rail and consumed his "cookie" with all due reverence.

    If an adult behaved in that way we would strongly suspect they did understand about communion. I have seen children on that age kneel when the woman, I assumed was their grandmother and had brought them to church, did not. I have seen someone go straight in front of the blessed sacrament and kneel before it when they have never been in church before. I am at the moment trying to help a student explore Christianity who is drawn to eucharist and exposition. I know from my own experience that there is something intangible that is there that goes beyond my eucharistic theology*. I do not know where I stand but I know a heck of a lot of people worship devoutly without understanding.

    * please note I am not saying my eucharistic theology is undeveloped, I have been working on it for probably the best part of forty years; it is just not there yet and I suspect it will not be there this side of judgement day and then I will not need it. As that is the case it is descriptive, not prescriptive.
  • The idea that we must understand God, the eucharist, etc., before partaking is unreasonable. In this life we will never understand. In this life we will never know as we are known. There is a danger in Christianity of making the faith entirely about the mind -- ideas, understanding, assent to propositions. I think Anselm and both his influences and influencees have a lot to do with this. But it's misplaced. Christianity isn't a set of propositions it's a set of relationships, a set of actions. If we wait until someone's understanding of this or that is complete, they will never be able to participate in the life of the church.
  • CharlesReadCharlesRead Shipmate Posts: 7
    edited October 2019
    The early Church has one unified rite of initiation - which they called baptism and which included anointing with oil, laying hands on the candidates, clothing with a white garment, giving a lighted candle etc. - not all these things happened in all churches and not in the same order in the service. What was common was the washing with water. (Though in parts of Syria it appears that for a time even that was not common tom all churches.)

    When the number of converts increased after Constantine, the was no longer a possibility that the bishop could baptise all the candidates. The eastern and western churches solved the problem in different ways. In the east,they just got presbyters to do what the bishop had always done. Advantage: the rite remains intact. Disadvantage: the bishop is no longer central to initiation. In the west, they detached a few minor ceremonies from the complex rite and said the presbyters could do the baptism but the bishop has to do the (now detached) other stuff whenever. Advantage: keeps the bishop involved. Disadvantage: you have chopped up a unified rite. Further disadvantage: the detached bits become confirmation, but not really until much later. (The word is first used about the 12th century.) Hence no-one knew or know what to make of confirmation as it arose as an historical accident.

    Even then, in the west, people received communion on the basis of their baptism and did not need the later rite (eventually called confirmation) in order to receive. Indeed, in most of Europe, most people were never confirmed as you never saw a bishop...

    The idea that you must be confirmed to receive communion was embedded at the Reformation. It is not the ancient practice of the Church - how could it be, given that it did not exist in the early Church?

    Confirmation is not the same as chrismation - there is no confirmation equivalent in the East.

    19th century Anglicanism often thought confirmation completed baptism. This is historically and theologically nonsense.

    Late twentieth century practice / belief in many churches has been to reaffirm baptism as initiatory of itself and entirely sufficient to receive communion, even for infants.

    There is no evidence in the early (or mediaeval or Reformation)m Church of peoole receiving communion with being baptised. That practice is very modern.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    @Colin Smith and @SusanDoris my apologies but what you are saying is that everybody else shall and must bring up their children the way you would want to bring up yours. Irrespective of their beliefs about life, the universe and everything, whether they like it or not they shall seek to instil into their children what you don't believe rather than what they do.
    No, that is not at all what I would advocate, and by the time my children were asking about going to Sunday School etc, I did not 'instil' into them a belief that was mine; there was also conversation and they could choose whether to go or not. At the time, my belief in the force/power that 'must be' out there somewhere was still firm.
    If parents believe that Christian faith is the greatest treasure that they can pass on to their children, then they will want to do all that they can to enable their children to receive both it, and what they believe to be the best version of it. You don't believe this, but people who do believe in the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven will want their children to find it, and in due course join them there.
    I think the best situation here would be that when children ask questions about whether it, i.e. the God or Bible stories, heaven, etc, is true, then the parents would be better advised not to close off further questions by replying with a definitive yes, but to add 'we believe that' which gives the child the opening to know s/he has the opportunity to disagree.
    From what you've said, it doesn't sound as though for either of you, that was what your parents believed.
    My father believed absolutely in God, but the rest of religious belief was allegory. His strong belief did not allow for any disagreement or for the question, 'But why...' and that was that. My mother was sure my father was right. Actually, looking back, I wonder if later in life she had changed her mind, but she was not the sort of person who would have said!
    To digress, what's actually odder is not that both of you don't believe, but that the whole subject niggles you so much that you come and argue the case with people who do. It's almost as if you're hoping either that what we say is so unpersuasive that it will leave you confident you're right, or that you secretly wish it were all true, that after all,
    "... God was man in Palestine
    And lives today in Bread and Wine."
    Now there you are completely wrong in my case. The subject does not in any way 'niggle'; I have always found reading about all aspects of belief, origins of stories, stories of supernatural experiences, etc very interesting and have always looked for both sides of topics that come up. I simply and gennuinely enjoy discussion about such things. There are no underling agendas. There is noother simple reason why I am so pleased there are the few forums I can go to on line because so many other hobbies are closed to me.
  • Between preview and posting something went wrong with software and I could not edit and correct the two typos near the end which I'd heard. Sorry about that/
  • Jengie Jon wrote: »

    BabyWombat wrote: »
    In my current setting I have a young child who, since birth, had been held in his grandmother's arms while she served as Lay Assistant at the altar. He is now 3 and stands with her. He does not understand why he cannot "have a cookie" as he puts it. Just recently he helped himself to the breadbox on the credence table, took out an unconsecrated wafer, then knelt by the rail and consumed his "cookie" with all due reverence.

    If an adult behaved in that way we would strongly suspect they did understand about communion. I have seen children on that age kneel when the woman, I assumed was their grandmother and had brought them to church, did not. I have seen someone go straight in front of the blessed sacrament and kneel before it when they have never been in church before. I am at the moment trying to help a student explore Christianity who is drawn to eucharist and exposition. I know from my own experience that there is something intangible that is there that goes beyond my eucharistic theology*. I do not know where I stand but I know a heck of a lot of people worship devoutly without understanding.

    * please note I am not saying my eucharistic theology is undeveloped, I have been working on it for probably the best part of forty years; it is just not there yet and I suspect it will not be there this side of judgement day and then I will not need it. As that is the case it is descriptive, not prescriptive.

    This is precisely the sort of behavior that would get a person of any age invited to have instruction immediately in our congregation, and fast-tracked for communion (by which I mean, we're not going to make them wait three years to get through the traditional youth confirmation cycle before communing). In fact, under some circumstances, I could see the instruction taking place immediately with admission to the sacrament right after.

    But I must repeat that I don't think everybody is there, at any age. There are people in my experience who go forward to communion purely because "everybody else is doing it" and it would look odd to stay in the pew. They neither want nor accept instruction--they just want to go through the social niceties. Given my church's understanding of communion, this is not a safe thing to encourage.
  • SusanDoris wrote: »
    To digress, what's actually odder is not that both of you don't believe, but that the whole subject niggles you so much that you come and argue the case with people who do. It's almost as if you're hoping either that what we say is so unpersuasive that it will leave you confident you're right, or that you secretly wish it were all true, that after all,
    "... God was man in Palestine
    And lives today in Bread and Wine."
    Now there you are completely wrong in my case. The subject does not in any way 'niggle'; I have always found reading about all aspects of belief, origins of stories, stories of supernatural experiences, etc very interesting and have always looked for both sides of topics that come up. I simply and gennuinely enjoy discussion about such things. There are no underling agendas. There is noother simple reason why I am so pleased there are the few forums I can go to on line because so many other hobbies are closed to me.

    ... And yet you show up on a thread which is explicitly about coordination (or lack of it) between baptism and communion participation, and throw a hard left turn into the discussion:
    I saw this title yesterday, but have only now read the posts. I see how convention and practice of baptism and confirmation function, but I think the mildest way to express my views is to say that I hope that, if people would like to have a celebration of the naming of their children, one without religious attachment is more rational.

    Why must you pop in to every thread to announce that atheism is a better deal, even those threads that are dealing with issues wholly internal to Christianity? It's like me popping into a thread on tap-dancing to announce that actually, you'd be far better off if you went sky-diving instead.
  • How can one make an informed without experiencing it.

    In time everyone does make an informed decision, sometimes more than once in a lifespan.
  • AravisAravis Shipmate
    Why the claim that SusanDoris’ plea for a neutral naming ceremony, rather than infant baptism, promotes atheism?
    The Baptist church, in which I grew up, didn’t baptise babies; it believed that baptism should be something a person freely requested as an expression of their commitment to their faith. Although I’ve now been Anglican for over 30 years, I have some misgivings about baptism of babies. It makes faith seem cultural, almost hereditary; imposed rather than encouraged. And when it’s done mainly for reasons of social conformity and keeping older relatives happy, I’m unsure what it achieves.
    There you go. Someone can rant at me instead; I think Susan Doris is making some valid points which it wouldn’t hurt the rest of us to consider.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    It depends how you view baptism. In Baptist theology considerable weight is put in the idea of baptism as an expression of personal commitment.

    The theology of those who baptise infants tends to put the weight more on baptism as an effectual sign of God’s covenantal love to be appropriated by faith in due course.

    In both traditions the tendency is to bring their children up as Christians with varying degrees of emphasis on personal decision later in life.

    (I’m conscious this is all a bit broad brush, but I’m trying to keep it within reasonable post length.)
  • SusanDoris has form on this behavior. She is by no means advocating delayed baptism--she is advocating for the replacement of religious actions altogether. Ask her. She has every right to do so, but it becomes annoying when repeated for the umpteenth time under the circumstances I described in my previous post.
  • Aravis wrote: »
    The Baptist church, in which I grew up, didn’t baptise babies; it believed that baptism should be something a person freely requested as an expression of their commitment to their faith. Although I’ve now been Anglican for over 30 years, I have some misgivings about baptism of babies. It makes faith seem cultural, almost hereditary; imposed rather than encouraged.
    Is that Anglican as in Church of England, or another Anglican body? I ask because I think the situation in the CofE—where as I understand it anyone living in the parish can seek baptism for their children, regardless of personal faith or connection to the church—presents a different set of issues from those faced by other churches that baptize infants.

    As to “imposing” faith, I’ve seen that done (if “impose” is the right word, which I’m not sure of) just as effectively if not more so in Baptist and other believers baptism churches; paedobaptist don’t have a monopoly on that. As @BroJames says, there are different understandings of baptism at play.

    How can faith be imposed, anyway? At some point, one has to accept or reject the faith one has been taught, or it’s not real faith.
    And when it’s done mainly for reasons of social conformity and keeping older relatives happy, I’m unsure what it achieves.
    I would readily agree that reasons of social conformity and keeping older relatives happy is not a reason to seek baptism for one’s children.

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Interestingly, in those parts of China of which I have some knowledge the ban on baptising under 18’s doesn’t seem to be having a negative impact on church growth.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Baptized children can take communion in churches of my (Presbyterian) tribe, for many of the reasons you put forward, as well as others.

    ETA: I should note it was not always thus. This is a change that has happened in recent decades.

    Yeah, as a Presby pastor (PCUSA) my issue is the flip side of this. Our Book of Order is all inclusive and kumbaya when it comes to baptism-- affirming both infant and believer baptism, making a good argument for both, leaving it up to the parents. All good vibes and we can be a big tent and Christians agree to disagree and all that.

    ... And then we slam the door shut and say communion is open to baptized children only, which doesn't fit with our fuller understanding of both sacraments and how they fit together. I can't find any justification to support that from a Reformed pov, and I'm not doing an interrogation to figure out which kids have been baptized and which haven't.
    Not anymore—not as of the adoption of the revised Directory for Worship a few years ago. Now the Directory says: “ The opportunity to eat and drink with Christ is not a right bestowed upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the undeserving who come in faith, repentance, and love. All who come to the table are offered the bread and cup, regardless of their age or understanding. If some of those who come have not yet been baptized, an invitation to baptismal preparation and Baptism should be graciously extended.” (W–3.0409)

    So while there is a presumption of baptism first, and of an invitation to baptism to those unbaptized who commune (though nothing is said about cases where an affirmative response to that invitation is slow in coming), the Directory is clear that “[a]ll who come to the table are offered the bread and cup.”

    This revised language was motivated in part by the concerns you expressed.

    OH, good to know. I've recently returned to the fold after serving elsewhere for a decade. I've got the new BoO but haven't had a chance to go thru it. Thanks!
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    OH, good to know. I've recently returned to the fold after serving elsewhere for a decade. I've got the new BoO but haven't had a chance to go thru it. Thanks!
    Glad to have you back!

    And if you’ve been away for a decade, you’ll find that there has been some significant revisions in the BoO.

  • RossweisseRossweisse Hell Host, 8th Day Host
    I think you missed my point. ...
    No, I did not miss your point. I corrected your mistake.


  • RossweisseRossweisse Hell Host, 8th Day Host
    ... And yet you show up on a thread which is explicitly about coordination (or lack of it) between baptism and communion participation, and throw a hard left turn into the discussion:
    I saw this title yesterday, but have only now read the posts. I see how convention and practice of baptism and confirmation function, but I think the mildest way to express my views is to say that I hope that, if people would like to have a celebration of the naming of their children, one without religious attachment is more rational.

    Why must you pop in to every thread to announce that atheism is a better deal, even those threads that are dealing with issues wholly internal to Christianity? It's like me popping into a thread on tap-dancing to announce that actually, you'd be far better off if you went sky-diving instead.
    Agreed. @SusanDoris seems to be back to her old bad habits in this regard.

    Both she and @Colin Smith have chosen the wrong thread for their opinions on this. Both of them seem to feel that parents have no right to pass on their beliefs to their children, at least when it comes to religious beliefs - there is, as yet, no indication as to whether it's permissible to teach them table manners, good grammar, family recipes, or whether or not to support a particular sports franchise.

    It would be helpful if one or the other of them were to start a thread on whether or not it's bad to raise children in a faith, and leave this one alone.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    Aravis wrote: »
    Why the claim that SusanDoris’ plea for a neutral naming ceremony, rather than infant baptism, promotes atheism?
    The Baptist church, in which I grew up, didn’t baptise babies; it believed that baptism should be something a person freely requested as an expression of their commitment to their faith. Although I’ve now been Anglican for over 30 years, I have some misgivings about baptism of babies. It makes faith seem cultural, almost hereditary; imposed rather than encouraged. And when it’s done mainly for reasons of social conformity and keeping older relatives happy, I’m unsure what it achieves.
    There you go. Someone can rant at me instead; I think Susan Doris is making some valid points which it wouldn’t hurt the rest of us to consider.
    Neatly put … … and thank you.

  • SusanDoris wrote: »
    Aravis wrote: »
    Why the claim that SusanDoris’ plea for a neutral naming ceremony, rather than infant baptism, promotes atheism?
    The Baptist church, in which I grew up, didn’t baptise babies; it believed that baptism should be something a person freely requested as an expression of their commitment to their faith. Although I’ve now been Anglican for over 30 years, I have some misgivings about baptism of babies. It makes faith seem cultural, almost hereditary; imposed rather than encouraged. And when it’s done mainly for reasons of social conformity and keeping older relatives happy, I’m unsure what it achieves.
    There you go. Someone can rant at me instead; I think Susan Doris is making some valid points which it wouldn’t hurt the rest of us to consider.
    Neatly put … … and thank you.
    Except that the points raised—which could be worth discussing, I’ll agree— have little to do with the topic of this thread. (Or if they do, you failed to connect the dots to show how.) That being the case, making those points in this thread comes across as just another occasion of you reminding us that you think acting on religious beliefs is irrational to start with—an opinion we all know very well you hold without being told again.

  • Anselmina wrote: »
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    @Colin Smith, one is baptized into the Body of Christ and the Christian faith, not into a specific denomination.

    Baptized children are welcome at the altar rail in my Episcopal parish.

    I think you missed my point. I don't object to Methodism. I object to my forced participation in ritualistic nonsense.

    Leave church and belief until a child is able to make an informed choice.

    So, as a young child you sat there in church with your adult's rational head upon your shoulders scorning the 'ritualistic nonsense'? Unless your church was wildly different from 99% of every other shack, you sang songs, heard stories and hung about with other people. Oh my, however did you survive the horror?!

    Actually, all you did was what a majority of people in your experience do, which is grow up and become sceptical. Which only goes to prove that baptising an infant child is hardly the crippling, human-rights-denying 'infliction' you're making it out to be. And indeed as few parents and godparents keep their promises, most baptised children grow up completely outwith the Church anyway. So unless you believe in some kind of ontological change or spiritually indelible effect of the baptismal moment (which would be very strange indeed) your anxiety over its effect seems illogical and misplaced.

    Perhaps your beef, then, is with the tiny minority who bring their kids to church with them. So long as there is not abuse or assault, it seems perfectly reasonable for a parent with a belief which they live out (whether theist or atheistic) to share that with the children under their guardianship. In fact it's impossible to envisage any healthy child's upbringing being carried out without parental sharing of philosophical and moral teaching, guidance, and the establishing of basic behavioural mores. Even should it simply be a choice between: we don't murder people because we are to respect each other's humanity or we don't murder people because God teaches we are to respect each other's humanity.

    Unless you'd like to posit that only atheists are fit to bring children up, or only atheists should be allowed to share their worldview and lifestyle choices with their growing families? I rather think you would.

    The child will soon reach its own age of reason, and will have a choice to select or reject. If the growing person has decided that baptism is 'nothing' to them, then 'nothing' has happened, and they're hardly the loser, beyond having had to do what every kid has to do until they can pay their own rent, which is put up with Mum and Dad's rules.

    So far as I recall, I have attended a regular church service precisely once in my entire life and that was part of a bet. I did go to Sunday school at one point but that was only for a few months when my brother was born so my parents could have a break.

    And no, I would regard bringing a child up with an atheist worldview as equally mistaken.
  • Anselmina wrote: »
    My view is that if by baptism we are welcoming someone (of whatever age) into the household of faith, or family of Christ, how long should we expect them not to join in with family meal-times? We don't expect our growing children to learn the deep significance of the food we give them for their nourishment, or give them lessons in how to appreciate their fish and chips appropriately. We guide them in their feeding, alongside them at the table, so they get age-appropriate help to get the most out of their food. And hopefully they grow into a real and healthy relationship with what's happening. That's how I see it.
    Yes - although I wouldn't say that the "welcome" needs to include baptism.

  • Anselmina wrote: »
    And indeed as few parents and godparents keep their promises, most baptised children grow up completely outwith the Church anyway.
    Which is a very good argument for only baptising the children of committed Christiasn believers, rather than all-comers. (Of course my tradition doesn't baptise young children anyway!)

    However I fear this is a bit of a tangent (or even a Dead Horse) ...

  • Anselmina wrote: »
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    @Colin Smith, one is baptized into the Body of Christ and the Christian faith, not into a specific denomination.

    Baptized children are welcome at the altar rail in my Episcopal parish.

    I think you missed my point. I don't object to Methodism. I object to my forced participation in ritualistic nonsense.

    Leave church and belief until a child is able to make an informed choice.

    So, as a young child you sat there in church with your adult's rational head upon your shoulders scorning the 'ritualistic nonsense'? Unless your church was wildly different from 99% of every other shack, you sang songs, heard stories and hung about with other people. Oh my, however did you survive the horror?!

    Actually, all you did was what a majority of people in your experience do, which is grow up and become sceptical. Which only goes to prove that baptising an infant child is hardly the crippling, human-rights-denying 'infliction' you're making it out to be. And indeed as few parents and godparents keep their promises, most baptised children grow up completely outwith the Church anyway. So unless you believe in some kind of ontological change or spiritually indelible effect of the baptismal moment (which would be very strange indeed) your anxiety over its effect seems illogical and misplaced.

    Perhaps your beef, then, is with the tiny minority who bring their kids to church with them. So long as there is not abuse or assault, it seems perfectly reasonable for a parent with a belief which they live out (whether theist or atheistic) to share that with the children under their guardianship. In fact it's impossible to envisage any healthy child's upbringing being carried out without parental sharing of philosophical and moral teaching, guidance, and the establishing of basic behavioural mores. Even should it simply be a choice between: we don't murder people because we are to respect each other's humanity or we don't murder people because God teaches we are to respect each other's humanity.

    Unless you'd like to posit that only atheists are fit to bring children up, or only atheists should be allowed to share their worldview and lifestyle choices with their growing families? I rather think you would.

    The child will soon reach its own age of reason, and will have a choice to select or reject. If the growing person has decided that baptism is 'nothing' to them, then 'nothing' has happened, and they're hardly the loser, beyond having had to do what every kid has to do until they can pay their own rent, which is put up with Mum and Dad's rules.

    So far as I recall, I have attended a regular church service precisely once in my entire life and that was part of a bet. I did go to Sunday school at one point but that was only for a few months when my brother was born so my parents could have a break.
    Well, this additional information leads me to ask again, exactly how did your mother “inflict [her] religion” on you? If she wasn’t religious and all she did was take you to be baptized, and if you’ve attended one church service since being baptized (and that one time was on a bet, not because your mother made you go), plus a few months of Sunday school, why was that one act worth decades of resentment (your word)?

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »

    Well, this additional information leads me to ask again, exactly how did your mother “inflict [her] religion” on you? If she wasn’t religious and all she did was take you to be baptized, and if you’ve attended one church service since being baptized (and that one time was on a bet, not because your mother made you go), plus a few months of Sunday school, why was that one act worth decades of resentment (your word)?
    I probably overstated it when I said 'resentment'. An ongoing source of mild irritation would be a better way of putting it. Although my parents meant well, their upper-working class values and attitudes were not a good fit for me. Philip Larkin's "This Be The Verse" sums things up.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    Interestingly, in those parts of China of which I have some knowledge the ban on baptising under 18’s doesn’t seem to be having a negative impact on church growth.

    BroJames

    Would you say there are a lot of clandestine infant baptisms within China?

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    I only know about the official church where, to the limited extent of my knowledge, the answer would be no. I suspect that the house churches would tend towards believer’s baptism so it wouldn’t be an issue in the same way. I don’t know about Catholics.

    My strong impression is that it is as sensible to generalise about ‘China’ as about ‘Europe’ or ‘American — things can vary greatly from one locality to another in those regions.
  • My understanding is that the Three Self movement (official PRC Protestant church) includes congregations that do infant baptism as well as those that do believer’s baptism.
  • BabyWombat wrote: »
    The lad's mother does not want him to recieve "until he understands what it is" to which one of my more outspoken colleagues noted that we do not deny children breakfast, lunch or dinner "until they understand the basics of nutrition" -- we feed them and then instruct, and communion might well be handled in the same way.

    On that note as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA with all at the table in community without small children knowing the history or the meaning of what we do, yet still they receive food which nourishes their body in the company and fellowship of family. Then should they not also come to the table for, The Great Thanksgiving, to be nourished in their soul in the company and fellowship of the body of Christ.?
  • Colin SmithColin Smith Suspended
    edited November 2019
    The comparison with food is bizarre.
    Almost no one has ever denied the necessity for food and it has not ended well for those who have done so. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inedia
    Not feeding a child results in its death. Therefore it is essential, to feed children from the moment they are born, regardless of whether the child understands the role of nutrition.

    On the other hand, lots of people do not believe in God and even deny the possible existence of God and to the best of our knowledge they suffer no ill-effects whatsoever from this denial. Therefore comparing the effect of not giving something that is essential with the effects of not giving something that seems to make no difference is a false comparison.

    Let the child make its own decision.
  • Just out of curiosity, do you get this annoyed about people who have their baby's ears pierced?
  • I've never understood "let the child make its own decision." This is never said about anything that really matters--for instance, dentistry, school attendance or how late one is allowed to stay out at night, and in what company. It applies only IME to things the speaker regards as of minor importance.
  • Just out of curiosity, do you get this annoyed about people who have their baby's ears pierced?

    Even more so. Ditto circumcision.
    There seems to be a law in the UK that piercings can only be done with the recipient's consent but it's not clear how that applies to the very young.

    I don't believe I'm getting annoyed about infant baptism. I simply object to baptising children too young to understand what it's about.

    I am an individualist and think the individual should have as much autonomy over their life as possible at all stages of their life. That includes, where necessary, protecting children from a parent's desire that their child conform to their beliefs and values.

    Would you be happy with a racist parent instilling racist views in their child?
  • I've never understood "let the child make its own decision." This is never said about anything that really matters--for instance, dentistry, school attendance or how late one is allowed to stay out at night, and in what company. It applies only IME to things the speaker regards as of minor importance.

    Precisely. All of the things you cite result in a provable increase in risks to the health and well-being of the child and its future prospects therefore it is reasonable to guide a child in those matters. Unless you can prove that lack of baptism and failure to attend church results in a provable risk to any aspect to the child's current or future health and well-being then it is of minor importance.
  • Just out of curiosity, do you get this annoyed about people who have their baby's ears pierced?

    Even more so. Ditto circumcision.
    There seems to be a law in the UK that piercings can only be done with the recipient's consent but it's not clear how that applies to the very young.

    I don't believe I'm getting annoyed about infant baptism. I simply object to baptising children too young to understand what it's about.

    I am an individualist and think the individual should have as much autonomy over their life as possible at all stages of their life. That includes, where necessary, protecting children from a parent's desire that their child conform to their beliefs and values.

    Would you be happy with a racist parent instilling racist views in their child?

    There's a whole lot of weight resting on that "where necessary". I don't want a racist parent teaching their child to be racist because racism is vile, not because I want them to be kept a blank slate and allow them to decide whether they should be racist or not when they get older. I want my child to grow up to be a Christian because I think Christianity is true and points towards the right way to live. Why would I choose to hold off on teaching her that any more than I would telling her it's wrong to hit people?

  • There's a whole lot of weight resting on that "where necessary". I don't want a racist parent teaching their child to be racist because racism is vile, not because I want them to be kept a blank slate and allow them to decide whether they should be racist or not when they get older. I want my child to grow up to be a Christian because I think Christianity is true and points towards the right way to live. Why would I choose to hold off on teaching her that any more than I would telling her it's wrong to hit people?

    There's the difference between us. I don't believe my variety of atheism is right. I believe it is right for me. No one has the right to impose their beliefs on another.

    As for 'the right way to live' that right way is not exclusive to Christianity and can be taught without any requirement to believe in the supernatural.

    I would also add that no faith has any value unless it is freely entered into and it's difficult to be enter into anything freely if it has been inculcated into you from an early age.
  • Damn that's a lot of unsupported assertions. More from me will have to wait till I get to a keyboard.
  • I would also add that no faith has any value unless it is freely entered into and it's difficult to be enter into anything freely if it has been inculcated into you from an early age.
    Agreed, and none of the other comparisons put forward requires a belief totally reliant on faith.
    As I have quite often said, I think all children should learn as much as possible about faith beliefs, but not committed to any one.
  • Just out of curiosity, do you get this annoyed about people who have their baby's ears pierced?

    Even more so. Ditto circumcision.
    There seems to be a law in the UK that piercings can only be done with the recipient's consent but it's not clear how that applies to the very young.

    I don't believe I'm getting annoyed about infant baptism. I simply object to baptising children too young to understand what it's about.

    Most shops have a minimum age policy so they will not do infants.
  • I've never understood "let the child make its own decision." This is never said about anything that really matters--for instance, dentistry, school attendance or how late one is allowed to stay out at night, and in what company. It applies only IME to things the speaker regards as of minor importance.

    Precisely. All of the things you cite result in a provable increase in risks to the health and well-being of the child and its future prospects therefore it is reasonable to guide a child in those matters. Unless you can prove that lack of baptism and failure to attend church results in a provable risk to any aspect to the child's current or future health and well-being then it is of minor importance.

    Okay, let's start in on the assumptions. You are going on the assumption that the faith being taught is not true, I the opposite. Therefore I am certainly going to teach my child the faith, because not to do so is in my understanding a clear risk to the child's future and present well-being (and no, I'm not talking about hell, Christianity is for here and now too.) I believe I know the omnipotent and yet caring God, and I get the ability to make it through the days from him--why would I shut my child out of this? It is the best thing in my life. As with all other good things, I intend to share him with my child.

    And no, I am under no obligation to "prove that lack of baptism and failure to attend church results in a provable risk to any aspect to the child's current or future health and well-being"--certainly not to you. I am under no obligation to prove a fucking thing. It is enough that I believe it to be so, and that there is no clear and overwhelming evidence in the opposite direction which might force the state to step in to guard child welfare. You have a logic issue if you think leaving something unproven means that the thing left is therefore minor. It is far more likely that I am leaving it unproven because I recognize in you a man who will not be satisfied with any level of evidence, and I have decided it is a waste of time to engage with you.


  • There's a whole lot of weight resting on that "where necessary". I don't want a racist parent teaching their child to be racist because racism is vile, not because I want them to be kept a blank slate and allow them to decide whether they should be racist or not when they get older. I want my child to grow up to be a Christian because I think Christianity is true and points towards the right way to live. Why would I choose to hold off on teaching her that any more than I would telling her it's wrong to hit people?

    There's the difference between us. I don't believe my variety of atheism is right. I believe it is right for me. No one has the right to impose their beliefs on another.

    As for 'the right way to live' that right way is not exclusive to Christianity and can be taught without any requirement to believe in the supernatural.

    I would also add that no faith has any value unless it is freely entered into and it's difficult to be enter into anything freely if it has been inculcated into you from an early age.

    Now let's try these assertions. You put out as an axiom that "No one has the right to impose their beliefs on another." It sounds noble. But would you say the same about (say) vaccination, particularly in the middle of a pandemic? What about various legal requirements such as fire and safety codes? In the case of a minor, there are even more "beliefs" that are being imposed on him or her by the entire surrounding world. "You must wear pants and not wander bare-assed down the road." "Brush your teeth." "Learn to read." "Eat your vegetables." "Don't get into a car with a strange man." "Keep your mitts off that fire alarm unless there's a real fire." And so forth.

    All of these exhortations are based on specific beliefs, many of which are not shared by the child. What child believes that vegetables or tooth brushing are really necessary? Let alone trips to the dentist or flu shots? And yet we impose those beliefs upon them, in the hopes that when they finally leave the home and are independent, they will have absorbed those beliefs and live happier, safer lives as a result (and not scar us forever by walking bare=assed down the road. My eyes! My eyes!).

    There's also the delicious irony that your assertion " No one has the right to impose their beliefs on another," is itself an example of a belief you intend to impose on others, children and adults alike. Uh huh.

    Try another assumption: you speak of teaching "the right way to live" as if that were the primary purpose of Christianity, and specifically, of Christian education and training. It is not. It is a byproduct of that training, but the true purpose of Christian education is to produce Christians--that is, people who know, love, and rely on Jesus Christ their Savior. Mere morality is (as you correct point out) something that can be taught without reference to Christianity. But mere morality has never been the purpose of the Church-at-large. (Individual congregations can get some weird bees in their bonnets, so I'll not say every congregation has this straight.)

    Now this one. "I would also add that no faith has any value unless it is freely entered into and it's difficult to be enter into anything freely if it has been inculcated into you from an early age." Wait a minute. Most of what we believe, we take on faith--usually faith in an authority who knows more than we do. That includes the doctor, the dentist, the man who fixes the toilet, and so forth. In many cases it is absolutely necessary for us to "have faith" in what they say in order for them to do any good. My son lacked saving faith in the wisdom of the nurse who gave him his fussy after-extraction tooth care regimen, and as a result has suffered an infection. He's learned better now. I have faith inculcated in me from an early age that the doctor knows best, and as a result I freely now (well, with grumbles, but still) instill prescription eye drops with the hope of healing the hole in my retina without surgery. I do this in the faith of the evidence known to me, which is that the visual disturbance is becoming more visible, not less, and also the fact that the eye drops cause a certain fuzziness of vision in and of themselves. Dr. X is an MD and I am not. I will maintain my faith in her therefore, instead of bailing and trying ground alligator eyeballs or some such.

    I'm going to question the "freely entered into" thing too. Who among us does anything really freely? It's a rare case where we enter into anything without inducements to do so and pressures pushing us from behind. That is the nature of living in a human society. There is no "freely chosen" in that kind of sense, not even for adults. One may try to withhold religion from one's child, but the rest of the universe will be shouldering in to fill the vacuum you have created with pressures of its own. IMHO the only question is who will do the teaching/influencing--the parents, who presumably love the child and have its best interests at heart, or the rest of the world, which demonstrably doesn't?
  • Ship of fools Friday
    I have copied and pasted the whole of your, as always, strongly worded and interesting post in response to one of Colin Smith’s posts on to a document and have selected the parts I wish to respond to.
    Now let's try these assertions. You put out as an axiom that "No one has the right to impose their beliefs on another." It sounds noble. But would you say the same about (say) vaccination, particularly in the middle of a pandemic? What about various legal requirements such as fire and safety codes? In the case of a minor, there are even more "beliefs" that are being imposed on him or her by the entire surrounding world. "You must wear pants and not wander bare-assed down the road." "Brush your teeth." "Learn to read." "Eat your vegetables." "Don't get into a car with a strange man." "Keep your mitts off that fire alarm unless there's a real fire." And so forth.
    None of those requires a belief relying totally on faith.
    There's also the delicious irony that your assertion " No one has the right to impose their beliefs on another," is itself an example of a belief you intend to impose on others, children and adults alike. Uh huh.
    I did not see a reference in Colin Smith’s post of an intention to ‘impose’ that on anyone, I thought it was simply an expression of opinion.
    but the true purpose of Christian education is to produce Christians--that is, people who know, love, and rely on Jesus Christ their Savior.
    I would agree that is probably the purpose. Again, it relies totally on faith.
    Wait a minute. Most of what we believe, we take on faith--usually faith in an authority who knows more than we do. That includes the doctor, the dentist, the man who fixes the toilet, and so forth. In many cases it is absolutely necessary for us to "have faith" in what they say in order for them to do any good.
    No argument there – but the faith that I personally, for instance, have in such people is based onobservable evidence.
    I have faith inculcated in me from an early age that the doctor knows best, and
    as a result I freely now (well, with grumbles, but still) instill prescription eye drops with the hope of healing the hole in my retina without surgery. I do this in the faith of the evidence known to me, which is that the visual disturbance is becoming more visible, not less, and also the fact that the eye drops cause a certain fuzziness of vision in and of themselves. Dr. X is an MD and I am not. I will maintain my faith in her therefore, instead of bailing and trying ground alligator eyeballs or some such.
    And I certainly most strongly hope those eyedrops continue to work.
    That kind of faith based on reliable evidence is perhaps better expressed as trust, since, although you are aware of the risks involved, the reliability outweighs them.
    One may try to withhold religion from one's child, but the rest of the universe will be shouldering in to fill the vacuum you have created with pressures of its own. IMHO the only question is who will do the teaching/influencing--the parents, who presumably love the child and have its best interests at heart, or the rest of the world, which demonstrably doesn't?
    I think it would be completely wrong to withhold from a child knowledge and/or awareness of religion and probably impossible too, for as you say it is in every society and culture. It is only with knowledge that one can make the best decision about one’s own beliefs in the best way one can For oneself.
  • SusanDoris wrote: »
    None of those requires a belief relying totally on faith.

    I wish you'd stop making this stupid claim. NOBODY has a belief relying totally on faith. (Or almost nobody.) That's not how religious belief works. This claim you keep making over and over relies on misrepresenting either what "faith" means or what "evidence" means. You've never proven it, and I believe have at least once admitted it cannot be proved. And yet it still comes up, tiresomely.

  • Would you be happy with a racist parent instilling racist views in their child?

    Do you somehow imagine that they don't?

  • Mousethief is right. Nobody becomes a Christian thinking they have no evidence for it and going purely on faith (whatever that means). They come to faith on the evidence they possess. You may think it poor evidence, or you may think they have mistaken something else for evidence; but that does not mean they have an evidence-free faith. I doubt such a thing could exist.
  • To bring this into the world of the real and particular:

    The evidence on which my own personal Christian faith is based includes textual and historical evidence (some of which I can vouch for as a very minor scholar in the field) as well as personal evidence (much of which is too personal to put on the internet). However, here is a little that is not: a) the fact that when I trust Christ and follow him and what he says, my life is noticeably richer, healthier and more "human" in a way it was not when I was not a believer; b) the fact that I am still here, which was wildly improbable given the severe longlasting clinical depression I was suffering for the years on both sides of my conversion, and which rationally speaking ought to have led to suicide. There is also the evidence of two miracles and several not-miracle-but-wildly-improbable events which I won't go into here.

    Please note that none of this constitutes proof, which is not to be had this side of the Second Coming. You asked for evidence. This is evidence. You may think it bad evidence, but it is still evidence. And your ability to judge its badness is severely impaired given that you don't know me in real life and therefore cannot form a proper opinion of my circumstances then or now.
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