Romans 10:9 & Baptism
It may be that you are reading this because you are curious. Please read on.
It may be that you've come here because you clicked on a link. Maybe you saw our ad in the paper. Please, keep reading.
You may be here with a purpose. Maybe someone pointed you to this site. Members of our congregation often talk to people about Holy Baptism, and sometimes other Christians bristle - especially when the subject of INFANT baptism comes up. Christians sometimes point to Romans 10:9 as if it were some kind of proof against infant baptism. If that is why you are here, please - read on!
This is the first of several pages that are intended to explain Romans 10:9 in a proper light, especially given how often people use it against infant baptism. These pages don't attempt to be scholarly. If you'd like a more scholarly treatment of the text, please email us. If you'd like to reply or ask for further clarification of our position, we'd be happy to talk with you.
You may already have your mind made up about Romans 10:9. There, the Holy Apostle says, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
You may be of the opinion that this is somehow evidence that infants shouldn't be baptized. May we ask: WHY?
Is it because you think that babies can't believe? Then how can they be saved?
Is it that you think babies cannot make a confession? What about someone who is mute and not capable of speaking? Can't such a person make a confession in other ways? Doesn't even an infant confess that it recognizes its mother when it cries in someone else's arms, and yet grows quiet when returned to Mom?
Are you willing to look at what St. Paul is saying in Romans 10:9 before denying that the Lord Who called light out of darkness, and breathed life into lifeless clay, can actually work faith in babies through His Water and His Word? I mean, St. Paul DOES give us our confession, doesn't he? Jesus is Lord! Well, we Lutherans actually believe that! We say that such a Lord Who made the universe by speaking and Who raised Lazarus from the dead with just His Word can certainly create faith in a little baby. We Lutherans believe in our hearts and confess with our lips that Jesus is such a Lord. Do you?
Of course, St. Paul has established in Romans 1-9 that salvation is God's Gift, given freely for Christ's sake. In chapter 6, he speaks of Baptism as God's work whereby He crucifies us with Christ Jesus, burying us with Him and then raising us to life again. Baptism is GOD'S work to save!
Can you show us from Scripture where God says something different? Can you show us where the Lord says He will not or cannot work faith in someone simply because that person happens to be an infant? Do you really want to argue that the Lord can walk on water, turn water into wine, feed 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two small fish . . . but when it comes to a baby, He's completely stumped?!
Surely, you don't believe that a baby is the one thing the Lord can't handle! Even Adam being lifeless clay didn't stop God. Even Eve being a bloody rib didn't mean that the Lord could not make a living, breathing human being. The fact that someone is a baby cannot mean God isn't able to work faith. If it is, please show us from the Scripture that this is so.
If you click here, you will go to an essay that carries this line of reasoning a bit farther. Again, it isn't scholarly, but it may be longer than you're used to reading.
Maybe we've already given you enough to think about. Sadly, we find that a lot of Christians don't actually want to think that much about God's Word. They throw a text like Romans 10:9 around, without asking whether they are even using it the way Paul means. They also don't seem to realize that if Romans 10:9 IS an argument against infant baptism, and IF the Lord can't work faith in infants . . . THEN HOW ARE BABIES SAVED?
Most Christians simply assume that babies get a free pass, and by that, they confess the opposite of Romans 10:9! Really!
Romans 10:9 speaks of the necessity of faith in Christ. Apart from faith, no one is saved. So, if you're the type of Christian who believes babies can be saved (as we are), either the Lord IS a Lord Who can work faith in an infant, or faith can't be necessary for EVERYONE to be saved. We Lutherans believe that Jesus is a Lord Who can even work faith in a baby, and we would ask you to show us from Scripture where God teaches anything different.
Click here if you want to read some more from us on Romans 10:9. Email us if you have some evidence from God's Word that people may be saved apart from faith in Christ, or that the Lord cannot work faith in little babies. Our Lord pointed to little children as examples of faith. The Psalmist confesses that he trusted in God from his mother's breasts (Ps. 22:9). John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit and lept for joy inside his mother's womb - simply at the sound of the Blessed Virgin Mary's voice, who was carrying the Christ-Child. But all of these are discussed on the next page.
And, if you happen to be the kind of person who wants proof from God's Word that babies WERE baptized, please consider this . . .
St. Paul specifically refers to the Red Sea crossing as a baptism. Check it out. Read I Corinthians 10:2. We Lutherans believe that ALL of Israel were rescued out of bondage by the Lord, and that included men, women, even children.
Men, women and even children died in the flood of Noah's day.
Men, women and even children came out of the wilderness and crossed the Jordan River. Years later, John the Baptist went across the Jordan River and started baptizing "all Jerusalem, Judea and all the surrounding countryside" (Matt. 3:5-6; Mark 1:5) at the very spot where Joshua led Israel into the land of Promise. There's no reason from Holy Scripture to deny that men, women and even children were among "all Jerusalem and all Judea" that went out to be baptized by John. After all, God was fulfilling what had happened when Joshua led all of Israel (Joshua 3:17) into the promised land - only, now it wasn't just a dry run. It was happening for REAL - in Jesus!
We Lutherans find it odd that anyone would argue that the Lord Who saved ALL Israel - including children - through water at places like the Red Sea and the Jordan River in the Old Testament, would now - in Jesus - be LESS complete with His saving work at the point of John's Baptism or the Baptism Jesus gives. We simply find no sound argument from Scripture to say that the shadows and types given us in the Old Testament are LESS encompassing than their reality, namely, the work of Christ through Holy Baptism.
If you can show us from the Scripture where we should consider God's grace, which even rescued babies through water in the Old Testament no longer does that in the New, we will listen.
If you can show us where the Scriptures say the Lord, Who could even make a living human being out of clay cannot breathe His Spirit into little babies through Holy Baptism, we will listen.
As for us, we will continue to believe and confess that Jesus is Lord, and that He is Lord enough to do MORE with His Word and Water now that Christ has come than He did before, when He was rescuing ALL Israel - men, women and even children - through the waters of the Red Sea and the Jordan River!
For any of our own people who are troubled that other Christians try to use Romans 10:9 against infant baptism, please tell them to prove that Jesus isn't Lord enough to give faith even to a child.
Demand that people who say babies can't believe produce evidence from Holy Scripture saying anyone is saved apart from faith in Jesus.
Finally, be sure that Romans 10:9 is no proof at all against infant baptism. It speaks of the necessity of faith - which God Himself works through the preaching of Christ Jesus. He works that even in infants, who - at a most rudimentary level - believe and confess far better than those who deny that Jesus is such a Lord that He can even save babies through faith in Christ Jesus!
Call Pastor Sawyer at (601) 992-4752, or email him. He'd be glad to speak with you about the Historic Christian Faith.