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The Becoming Course
You are invited to our monthly Becoming Course. The Becoming Course is a 60 minute class in which you meet our pastors, get to know the vision and mission at Saint James, and learn about your place in the world.As you walk away, you will know the answer to what the most important thing about you is, you will have a much better idea about the person that you are becoming, and you will know what your next step is in your faith journey.Make sure to register today and we look forward to seeing you there!Register For The Next Class
Baptism is an outward public sign of what God has done in our lives.Upon placing our trust in Jesus, we become part of God’s family. Baptism celebrates this as we symbolically die to ourselves and live for Christ.When we baptize children and infants, we are declaring that they are part of God’s family as well as they live within a household of faith. As they come to age they will have the opportunity to claim the faith of their parents as their own.Sign Up To Be Baptized
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Here at Saint James Church we are practicing the way of Jesus together.That means we follow Jesus side by side through every high and every low. Our classes are great ways to get connected, learn more about Scripture and our faith, and get connected into deeper accountable relationships.View Our Classes & Groups
Next Steps FAQs
Saint James Church has Mission Partners. Mission partners are those that have committed themselves to living out the mission of Saint James Church to “practice the way of Jesus together” with other mission partners at Saint James.
You become a mission partner by attending the Becoming Course and afterwards, the Practicing Retreat. You will learn more about the practicing retreat at the Becoming Course.
The Becoming Course is the recommended first step for everyone at Saint James. The class is a 60 minute class in which you meet our pastors, get to know the vision and mission at Saint James, and learn about your place in the world.
Why does Saint James Church baptize infants and children who have not yet made a public profession of faith in Christ?
The simple answer to this question is that (1) while we firmly believe this is not an issue over which Christians should divide, yet (2) we are convinced that both the Bible and early church history support the practice of household baptism, which includes infants and young children. Following are some of the factors that have led us to this conclusion.
It is the belief of Saint James Church and all churches of a Wesleyan heritage that God’s covenant of grace (His promise to be our God and have us as His people), in a mysterious way that we cannot quite grasp, extends to the children of believers. Such children, we believe, therefore have a right to the covenant sign, which in the New Testament is baptism (in the Old Testament the sign was circumcision). Following is a detailed reasoning of why we, at the request of those who share our beliefs on this matter, will baptize infants, as well as other children in a believing household who have not yet made a profession of faith.
In the New Testament, baptism replaces circumcision as the sign of the covenant.
- Colossians 2:11-12 teaches that baptism is the full expression of circumcision. The covenant of circumcision required that the infant male be circumcised as a newborn infant (Genesis 17:12), and this covenant was to be an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:13). Physical circumcision is clearly no longer in effect (Galatians 6:11-18), but the covenant it represents is still in effect (Romans 2:29). The new outward sign of this “everlasting” covenant with believers and their children is baptism (Colossians 2:11- 12). Therefore, we believe it follows, then, that baptism is to be administered to the children of believing parents.
- Acts 2:38-39 describes baptism with virtually the same language and terms with which Genesis 17:9-14 describes circumcision. The promise connected with baptism in Acts 2:38-39 explicitly includes the children of believers, as did the promise connected with circumcision in Genesis 17:9-14. No mention of a required age or profession of faith is made with respect to such children.
- As circumcision was a requirement for the Old Testament household (Genesis 17:10, 12- 13), so, we believe, was baptism for the New Testament household (Acts 16:15, 31-33; 1 Corinthians 1:16). Never once are children said to be excluded from a household baptism, except in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, who obviously had no children.
- There is no biblical command given for believers to cease the application of the covenant sign with their children.
In the New Testament, believers’ children were regarded as members of the covenant community.
- In Luke 18:15-17, Jesus said that God’s Kingdom belongs to little children (from the Greek brephe, which literally means “baby” or “infant”).
- In Ephesians 6:1-4 and Colossians 3:20-21 Paul addresses children (from the Greek tekna, meaning “child”) as believers in Christ. He speaks to them as he would any saint, regardless of age.
- In 1 Corinthians 7:14 Paul refers to the children (tekna) of believers as “holy” (meaning set apart for God). The word translated “holy” (hagia) is the exact same word used elsewhere by the apostles in reference to believers (translated “saints” – see Ephesians 1:1, for example). The New Testament assumption, then, is that children of believers should be regarded and treated as believers unless or until they prove themselves to be covenant breakers.
- In 2 Timothy 3:15, Timothy is said to have known the Scriptures from infancy (brephe).
- In Luke 1:15, John the Baptist is said to have been filled with the Spirit, “even from his mother’s womb”.
- The New Testament suggests nowhere that the sign of the covenant (previously circumcision, now baptism) is to be withheld from the children of believers until they make an informed profession of faith in Christ.Our position on infant baptism does not reflect a belief that baptism itself saves a child (Justification). In order to be saved, a child must possess his / her own personal faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. The initial seeds of faith may or may not be in chronological union with the time of baptism. When a child professes faith at some point after baptism, that is the time in which the baptism and all that it signifies takes full effect. Until that time, the child’s baptism is regarded as the sign of the child’s inclusion in the church community (and all its benefits, except the Lord’s Supper) by virtue of his / her parents’ faith and the promise of God to be “their God and the God of their children.”Historical RationaleWhile the Scripture does not speak specifically to the baptism of infants in the early church, there is Biblical suggestion as well as historical evidence that household baptism was practiced at that time.
- Irenaeus (a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John) speaks of infant baptism as a universal practice in the early church.
- Tertullian (end of 2nd century) acknowledged the universal practice of infant baptism.
- Origen (2nd and 3rd centuries) spoke of infant baptism as the common practice of the early church.
- These things being the case, were household (and consequently infant) baptism not the New Testament church practice, then the conclusion must be made that a full reversal of the early church’s practice occurred immediately following the death of the last apostle. Because there is neither biblical nor extra-biblical evidence indicating so much as a debate about this issue in the first or second centuries, such a reversal is extremely unlikely. We conclude this in large part because there is a wealth of documentation about virtually every other theological debate and/or alleged “heresy” in the early church.
Our Attitude about Household and Infant Baptism
We encourage household and infant baptism at Saint James Church, but do not require it of those who cannot accept it. To us the biblical and supporting historical teaching seems clear, so we do encourage Saint James parents to have their children baptized. However, parents who are not convinced of our position are not required to have their children baptized in order to be fully active and fully received church members, and will not in any way be pressured to do so. This is an issue about which we are happy to disagree without it being any hindrance at all to full Christian fellowship. We will under no circumstance make this “non-essential” issue an essential one.
What does child baptism signify?
- An outward sign of God’s promise to the children of believers. According to Scripture, baptism signifies the promise of God that He will give His Spirit to believers and their children. We take this to mean two things: First, that the child will be exposed to the work of the Spirit as he/she is raised in a Christian home and church where the Word of God is taught and lived. Second, that the child’s parents can look expectantly to God for the salvation of their child, as the child is brought up in the ways of God.
- An outward sign of the child’s inclusion in the community of faith. Like circumcision, in Scripture baptism represented the child’s inclusion in the church community. By virtue of his/her baptism, the child becomes a “baptized member” (not a full member) of the church.
- An outward sign of Jesus’ heart for children. Through child baptism the entire church community acknowledges Jesus’ statement that the kingdom of God belongs to little ones. Jesus regularly included little children and babies in His fellowship.