"I’m not welcomed at this Church!"
How did it come to this? Imagine for one second, you have visited a church for a few months and have decided to join. There are not many churches in your town, but you need to be around the preached Word of God. You do the walking to the front of the church routine to publicly show you want to be a member—many in my tradition do not understand this practice, but it's normal in the evangelical land. Everyone is happy. They give you full on and side hugs as church comes to an end.
Then you go to the office. It looks quite shabby. There are degrees and pictures everywhere. There is even a Billy Graham photo next to Michael Bolton ... wait, nevermind that's supposed to be Jesus. Still, you talk to the leaders and they ask you a few questions. You inform them “Yes, I am baptized.” They ask if it was full immersion and what the status is for your kids. You answer, “We are all baptized. We were sprinkled in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit some as adults and others as infants. As our Lord commanded in Matthew 28:19-20.”
The tone changes, a look of puzzledness appears in their eye. They regretfully inform you that your baptism does not count and you are in rebellion to God. Okay, they might not say rebellion, but from their view, baptism is an act of obedience and you sir/madam are disobedient! And so they ask you to enroll in their 6-week new members class that ends with baptism to welcome you to the family of the Lord (as a symbolic gesture to represent your new life and being buried with Christ).
At first, you are puzzled, befuddled, and then angered because in all your studies you have never heard of this stance. You have studied the Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, Reformed/Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic church and never once have you heard that your baptism was "invalid."
In Holy Writ, there are serious passages about taking the Lord Supper incorrectly. If this hypothetical church which stands against church history is correct, then you and your family have been taking the Lord's Supper wrong for decades:
28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself (1 Cor 11:28-29)
This passage is not directly about a non-baptized believer partaking in the Lord's Supper. But it would be hard to say that an unbaptized believer—in purposeful rebellion—should not be viewed in the same light. One stance universally and historical agreed upon throughout Christendom is that baptism is a sign of entrance into the new covenant and is required to be viewed as a member. (I would not be me if I did not tell you baptism is much more than that!)
In Holy Writ, people are baptized as soon as possible. Thus, the concept of a person in the faith that is not baptized is unfounded. They are basically saying I am not a Christian or that I am not in good standing as a Christian. So in the previous example, my family and I cannot officially be one with this visible church until I stop my rebellion and get really baptized (in my view re-baptized).
It is an un-argued fact, that since the 2nd century, church history states the universal church practice was infant baptism and sprinkling was not forbidden. But I am convinced by Scripture as well. A passage in Luke shows that it is possible for an infant to have faith and be moved by the Holy Spirit:
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41)
If this was in modern times little Johnny would be denied baptism and viewed as outside of the body of believers. When Scripture cites "bring the little children to me," do they think Jesus wanted to play peek-a-boo with the kids or hide-and-seek? Nowhere in any part of the bible has a child of a believer been viewed as a pagan or outside of the covenant of God because the promise is for the parent and their children:
“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Acts 2-38-39)
To think that a church body would dis-fellowship and deny the majority of historic Christians from fellowship is appalling and offensive. Martin Luther one of the reformers credited with starting the Protestant Reformation would be denied membership because he was baptized as a baby. John Calvin’s father was close to the Rome Catholic Church, so it is safe to assume he was baptized as a baby too. He too would be denied. And a host of others from 100 A.D. til about 1800 A.D. would be told “you are not welcome or able to join our church body” by some churches. Let's look at a few.
"He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age" (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]).
"What the universal Church holds, not as instituted [invented] by councils but as something always held, is most correctly believed to have been handed down by apostolic authority. Since others respond for children, so that the celebration of the sacrament may be complete for them, it is certainly availing to them for their consecration, because they themselves are not able to respond" (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:24:31 [A.D. 400]).
"The custom of Mother Church in baptizing infants is certainly not to be scorned, nor is it to be regarded in any way as superfluous, nor is it to be believed that its tradition is anything except apostolic" (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 10:23:39 [A.D. 408]).
"Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them" (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215]).
"Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. . . . In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous" (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]).
"The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit" (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]).
Cyprian of Carthage
"As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born" (Letters 64:2 [A.D. 253]).
"If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he [an infant] approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another" (ibid., 64:5).
I have come to realize that I am not welcomed in many Baptist, non-denominational, or Pentecostal churches. Yes, all church bodies throughout history acknowledge that a member of a church should be baptized. But for these sects (!) that have requirements not accepted or practiced in the majority of the 2000 year history of the church (or forbidden in scripture), I wonder if they realize the weight of their stance?
It's just a minor doctrinal point in their eyes and it truly shows how ignorant they are to the weight of their stance. I contend that they should at least acknowledge the full weight of their stance and deny complete fellowship with every other tradition. If a person is not baptized, should a church body really welcome them into fellowship? Draw the line in the sand and stand by your choice to cast out most of the Holy Saints that have ever lived! Truth be told, most of these church bodies would rule me (and the Saints quoted) a heretic anyways, once I informed them what biblically happens in baptism. So maybe the mode or age isn't even of real importance.
This hypothetical example is the reality for many people. Teaching or requiring someone be re-baptized doesn't just mean their first baptism was invalid. It means they are not true members of the church. Please consider the full impact of the doctrines you and your church body hold.