“Raccoon” John Smith lived from 1784-1868. He was a very colorful and influential preacher in Kentucky. Louis Cochran wrote a novel entitled “Raccoon John Smith,” which was based upon Smith’s life. I want to give you an excerpt which provides a powerful point to be considered about infant baptism.
“In passing a Methodist camp meeting one day in September he stopped to watch a young Methodist preacher baptize a howling, rebellious infant by sprinkling water on the squirming body. When the service was concluded, he stepped to the front of the crowd and identifying himself, took the preacher firmly by the arm and attempted to lead him toward the creek a few yards away.
“‘What are you trying to do, brother Smith?’ the young preacher protested. ‘Are you out of your mind?’
“‘What am I trying to do?’ John affected deep surprise. ‘Why sir, I am going to baptize you by immersion into the death, resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to his commandment.’
“‘But I have no desire for such baptism. I know of you; you are called ‘The Dipper.’ But you are not going to dip me. I am a Methodist; let me go!’
“John tightened his hold on the man’s arm while the crowd watched, some in apprehension, others in amusement. ‘That is a scoffer’s blasphemy of the holy ordinance,’ he said sternly. ‘Are you a believer?’
“‘ Of course I’m a believer,’ the preacher said indignantly. ‘But I’m not willing to be immersed. It would do no good for you to baptize me against my will. It would be wrong!’
“‘I don’t understand,’ John said. ‘Only a few minutes ago you baptized a helpless baby against its will, although it screamed and kicked. Did you get its consent first? Come, come along, sir, we will have no more of this foolishness.’
“The crowd broke into open laughter, and John gave the young preacher a quick pull toward the creek, and then suddenly released him. He waved to the people for silence.
“‘ Brethren and friends, I shall be in the neighborhood for a little while visiting among you; let me know if this poor, misguided man ever again baptizes another without his consent. For you have heard him say it would do no good, that it would be wrong.’
“…’Let me tell you something of the Lord’s plan of salvation’ …For almost an hour he talked, the people listened closely, only a few of them seeming to note that the young preacher had stalked toward the hitching rail and mounted his horse, riding away in a cloud of dust. When John extended the invitation, seven young people, all from Methodist families, responded requesting baptism by immersion” (pp 324-325).
Note: The issue is not strictly one of the infant’s will. The issue is what does the Bible teach? Moises Pinedo has written, “Some well-meaning people who disagree with infant baptism have opposed it strictly because they see it as an imposition of one’s will on someone who is incapable of making his or her own decisions. While making one’s own choice is critical in regard to salvation, the argument against imposing the wishes of others on someone else should not be the determining factor in whether or not infant baptism is practiced. The only determinant should be whether God authorizes or requires it.” (What the Bible says about the Catholic Church, p. 144). Remember that God once instructed the descendant of Abraham to circumcise their children.
What Does The Bible Say?
1. The need for belief. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). “When they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12).
2. Never is infant baptism mentioned in the New Testament. It is “those who gladly received (the) word” who were baptized (Acts 2:41). “Many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8b).
3. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the Kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). Yet, the Bible also says, “No fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5).
I wonder if there were any infants or young children in the families of Lydia or the Philippian jailer? I do know that the early church baptized infants and that this has been the continuous practice of the majority of churches worldwide since Christ.
One cannot prove, by the Bible, that infants were baptized during NT times. Moreover, one cannot prove, from the Bible, that they are the proper candidates for baptism.
Concerning Lydia’s and Philippian jail’s household I refer you to my article on the subject: Household Baptism. You may find it on my site bryanhodge.net.