It is the regular practice at New Hope Presbyterian to baptize two groups of people. The first group consist of men, women, young people, and children who demonstrate a genuine faith in Jesus Christ, have not been previously been baptized, and who desire to join our church family as a member. This form of baptism is called “believer baptism.”
The second group consists of the infants and children of New Hope members. This form of baptism is “infant baptism.” The question is often asked, “Why baptize infants and children who have not yet made a public profession of faith in Christ?”
It is the belief of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) and of New Hope Presbyterian Church that God’s covenant grace (His promise to be our God and have us as His people) exists in a mysterious way that we cannot fully grasp and extends to the children of believers. We do not embrace what some call “baptismal regeneration,” that is; an infant or child becomes a Christian upon his/her baptism. Instead, we believe that baptized children have a right to the covenant sign which in the New Testament is baptism. In the Old Testament, the sign of the covenant was circumcision.
Infant or child baptism signifies three spiritual realities.
One, baptism is an outward sign of God’s promises to the children of believers. We believe this includes two things. It means that children of believers will be exposed to the work of the Spirit and that parents can look expectantly to God for the salvation of their child, as the child is raised in a Christ-centered home.
Two, baptism is an outward sign of the child’s inclusion in the community of faith. Like the Old Testament sign of circumcision, baptism represents the child’s inclusion in the New Testament church community. As part of infant/child baptism, the church promises its spiritual support of the parent/parents and the child. This congregational promise made during baptism gives the church family the opportunity to celebrate and commit to parents.
Three, baptism is an outward sign of Jesus’ heart for children. Through infant/child baptism, the church community acknowledges Jesus’ statement that the Kingdom of God belongs to the little ones.
Baptism does not signify the child’s salvation. There is no magic in this sacrament. The child’s salvation will be secured when the child is converted to Christ through faith and repentance.
In regard to the mode of baptism, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and New Hope Presbyterian practice baptism by both sprinkling (for infants/children) and immersion, as an option for “believer baptism.”
We encourage parents of children to present their infants for baptism, but it is not a requirement. Parents who are not convinced of our view of baptism will not be pressured in any way to have their children baptized against their will. This is an issue we are happy to have disagreement without it being a hindrance to Christian fellowship and church membership.