From Abraham onwards, for a period of twenty centuries, children were expressly received into the Church from the time of their birth if they were born of Jewish parents or as minors if they belonged to families of which the father had been converted to Judaism. Through twenty centuries not only tradition and ritual, but religious and theological thought fashioned by the promises and prescriptions of the covenant of grace, which is the foundation doctrine of the Old Testament, confirmed in all points in the New, owed their organic character to this covenant. Has the force and vigor of this conception according to which children ought to receive the sacrament of the covenant been truly represented? In reality, the silence of the New Testament regarding the baptism of children militates in favor of rather than against this practice [infant baptism]. To overthrow completely notions so vital, impressed for more than two thousand years on the soul of the people, to withdraw from children the sacrament of admission into the covenant, the Apostolic Church ought to have received from the Lord an explicit prohibition, so revolutionary in itself that a record of it would have been preserved in the New Testament. Not only, however, does the eternal covenant remain intact in the New Testament, but in Jesus Christ it reaches supreme fulfillment. Had our Lord wished the reception of children into this ever valid covenant to be discontinued He would have said so in order that no one might be any doubt. (Pierre Marcel in The Doctrine of Infant Baptism)
The legitimacy of infant baptism depends entirely on the question of the manner in which Scripture regards the children of believers and wishes us, consequently, to regard them. If Scripture speaks of these children in the same way as of adult believers, and if the promises which are made to them and the benefits of grace received by them are the same, then the legitimacy and, still more, the duty of infant baptism are securely established; we cannot withhold from children that which is granted to adults. (Pierre Marcel, Doctrine of Infant Baptism)
One of the lies we tell ourselves is that the stage of parenting we are at is the hardest stage. If our kids are little we think that is the hardest stage. If we have middle-schoolers stuck somewhere between 6 and 16 that is the hardest stage. No one has it as hard as parents of high-schoolers say parents of high-schoolers. Even parents whose children have left home claim they have it harder than anyone else.
The truth is that no stage of parenting is harder or easier than any other stage. Each stage brings its own difficulties. Changing diapers is hard. But so is teaching your teenager to drive, teaching your six year old to read, marrying off your 23 year old daughter, and teaching your 13 year old how to manage his computer time. Continue reading
One last set of quotes from Pastor Danny Hyde’s book, The Nursery of the Holy Spirit. In this section of the book he is explaining how a liturgy, that is an order of service, catechizes, that is teaches us. Here are some quotes on why having fixed forms in the liturgy are so helpful for a child’s growth in Christ.
Most of us understand that to become skillful in any aspect of life we must repeat something over and over again…In a word, repetition is the mother of skills.
“Liturgy” or the order, act, words, and ceremonies in public worship, are a key instructor of us and our children…the liturgy of every church catechizes its worshipers.
Life skills are learned by repetition. This is also the case with religious skills such as learning to worship with the people of God. Repetitiveness is a virtue, not a vice.
Worship requires practice over time, as well. The liturgy should be heard from cradle to grave, from birthing bed to deathbed. In times of great joy, what better words to sing than those of the Reformed Doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” In times of great sorrow, is there anything so comforting as praying, “Our Father, who art in heaven?” In times of doubt, the words, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty are fitting to help bolster failing faith. In times of repentance, the liturgy has taught us to cry out, “Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us.”
By including the corporate participation of the entire church, including children, liturgy teaches us that all, young and old, belong to the church. Liturgical worship is active, participatory worship. Children can hear it and learn it even before they read, and see it later with their own eyes upon the pages of the hymnal or bulletin as they begin to be able to read. For example, a four year old can recite the Apostles’ Creed with the local church and the church universal even before being able to read it in the hymnal or bulletin. Christianity is not a religion of adults for adults. Christianity is a churchly religion.
The point is that fixed forms in worship where we say and do the same things every week teach us the central parts of the Christian faith, are excellent tools for training our young children in doctrine and piety, and make our children a part of worship. I would encourage churches to use the Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ Creed, Doxology, Gloria Patri, and other fixed forms to aid our children and make them feel apart of God’s people. It also helps the aged. As they get older and their memory falters these fixed forms can be easily recalled.