After I mentioned that my congregation dedicates infants in a special service, a brother in Western Tennessee wrote to ask, “Where is your authority for this dedication? Is it not nearly the same as ‘christening’ babies? Why this special ceremony? Is it because of a new birth? What actually takes place during such a service?”
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Dedicating and blessing one’s child is quite different from “christening” (literally “anointing”), and people who do one generally do not do the other. Informed persons of either persuasion appreciate the fact that faith and baptism go together, and they want their children to have both. Most of them also associate the “new birth” (regeneration) with baptism, either as a means or a sign of that spiritual grace.
For this reason, Christians who practice infant baptism (Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, Wesleyans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Reformed, and many holiness people) do not regard that rite as complete by itself. Instead, they expect children who are “christened” as infants to personally ratify that parental act when they themselves come of age, either by confirmation or by profession of faith.
On the other hand, Christians who practice believer baptism (Mennonites, Baptists, Adventists, and members of Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, Disciples of Christ, many Bible churches and most charismatic churches) might dedicate their babies to the Lord, but they insist that this is not baptism, a separate act which they expect the child to do when he or she comes to faith.