In Catholic and Episcopal churches, infants and small children often go through a christening ceremony, during which they are given their "Christian" name and welcomed into the congregation of the church. Sometimes the ceremony is a private one, including only close friends and family; other times it happens in front of the entire congregation, at the church.
Does the Bible talk about christening?
Christening is not in the Bible, and depending on how the ceremony is perceived, it is not scriptural. If parents and friends use the christening ceremony as a naming ceremony, and the symbolic inclusion of the infant into his new community, there is nothing unbiblical about it. However, christening is usually thought of as a spiritual cleansing, and a sacrament that baptizes the child from original sin. All of us are born sinful (Psalm 51:5) and must turn to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing (Romans 5:12-21; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16-21). Infants are not able to understand sin. They cannot repent of sin or even understand why they should. A parent cannot go through the process of repentance and salvation for their child; it is something the child must come to terms with on his own once he is old enough to understand.
Baptism is an obedient action that believers takes after they have repented of sin and self-effort and trusted Christ as their only hope of salvation (Acts 4:12). Jesus told His disciples to make other disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20). Baptism is not a means of salvation (even Jesus was baptized by John) but it is an important symbol of new spiritual life, of leaving the old way of sin and belonging to God (Matthew 3:14-16; Mark 1:5). It is also a symbol of the believer's union with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8; Mark 16:16).
Because of the spiritual importance of baptism, it is not something to be taken lightly. Christening an infant is a tradition of the church, and is not found anywhere in the Bible. It is not necessarily sinful to christen, but it should be accompanied by the understanding that christening does not make a person right before God, nor does it bring about salvation. If a person believes they are saved because of their christening, they might neglect to realize the eternal consequences of sin later in life, and therefore fail to trust Jesus Christ for salvation.
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