“Original Sin” and Infant Baptism

“Sunday Sermon”


A. Foundational Fallacy: Children are born in sin, having inherited sin and guilt from the fall of Adam and Eve.  Therefore, they are at risk of eternal damnation from birth.

B. Logical Extension #1: Since baptism is necessary for the remission of sins and for salvation, infants must be baptized or else face damnation.

C. Logical Extension #2: Since baptism of newborns by immersion is risky, it is safer if they are baptized by sprinkling.

D. Logical Extension #3: Since infants lack the mental capacity to have faith and repent, godparents act as their proxies.

The Fallacy of Original Sin and Inherited Guilt

Infant baptism is the logical extension of the “doctrine of original sin,” which holds that “children are born in sin.”

Original sin” is not biblical.  Instead, it is based on a philosophical fallacy by Augustine (354-430), and a misinterpretation of Romans 5:21. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” (“Children Born in Sin: The Heart of Augustine’s Error: His Greek, 2 Dec 2020)

This fallacy was based, in part, on Hellenism – Greek philosophy. Plato and others taught that the physical temporal material world is base and corrupt. Only the immaterial is sublime and pure. This widespread Hellenistic view influenced the early Christian theologians. This philosophy led to (1) infant baptism, (2) the notion of the Trinity, (3) the belief that God is an immaterial spirit, and (4) the believe that Jesus was resurrected spiritually, not physically.

Augustine taught that because of the sin of Adam and Eve, original innocence is lost, and all human beings are born into a physical state of sinfulness. Human beings do not commit this sin, but rather “inherit” sin from Adam and Eve.  Augustine was the first to teach the concept of inherited guilt from Adam whereby an infant would be eternally damned at birth. 

Even more Christians are ignorant of its [“original sin”] history and origin, that it had its roots in a heathen philosophy, that it has evolved, and that it was made a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church in the fifth century A.D., primarily by the influence of Augustine…. It is probably shocking for the Christian who has been taught these theories as Bible truths to be told that not one word of any of them can be found in the Bible. Christians believe these theories to be Bible doctrines because theologians, preachers, and Sunday school teachers teach them as if they were Bible doctrines… and give them a semblance of credence …However, these theories are not Bible doctrines.” (Aflred Overstreet, “Are Men Born Sinners?: The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Original Sin.” The Gospel Truth, Chapter 3, http://www.gospeltruth.net)

Early Christianity had no specific doctrine of original sin and inherited guilt prior to the 4th century.

Justin Martyr (100-165), was the first Christian to discuss the story of Adam’s fall after Paul. In Justin’s writings, there is no conception of original sin and the fault of sin lies at the hands of the individual who committed it, not the “sins of the parents.”

Origen (185-253)  is the first to quote Romans 5:12-21, rejecting the existence of a sinful state inherited from Adam. To Origen, Adam’s sin sets an example that all humanity partakes in, but is not inherently born into.

Joseph Smith condemned the notion of inherited guilt.  He advocated individual accountability.  “Man will be punished for his own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” (Articles of Faith 1:2)

Christ’s atonement overcame the effects of the fall of Adam.  Because of his suffering and death, Jesus overcame sin and death. Because of his sacrifice, everyone will be resurrected. Because of his atonement, children are born innocent, and are accountable only for their own sins, once they reach the age of accountability. (Moroni 8:9-22; Matthew 19:14) The doctrine of original sin ignores the scope and efficacy of Christ’s atonement.

If infants are born in sin, and subject to eternal damnation, they must be baptized in order to be saved.   

Baptism is a Saving Ordinance for the Remission of Sins

When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, accepting him as our Savior and Redeemer, and repent, and are baptized, our sins are forgiven through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Baptism is necessary for the remission of sins and for salvation. (Mark 1:4; Acts 2: 37-38; Acts 22:16; Luke 3: 3; Matt 28: 19-20; Mark 16: 15-16; Luke 7: 28-30; Galatians  3: 26-27; Matthew 3: 13-17; Nephi 31: 5; Acts 10: 47-48; 1 Peter 3: 18-22; John 3:3–5)

Acts 2:37-38: “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren what shall we do? Then Peter said unto the, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

If baptism is necessary to wash away our sins, and if infants are born in sin, they must be baptized.

Baptism is by Immersion

The only correct and authorized mode of baptism is by immersion. In fact, “baptism” comes from a Greek word literally meaning “immersion.” (Romans 6:3-5;  Matthew 3: 16; Mark 1: 5-10; John 3: 23; Acts 8: 38-39. See also: “Immersion Baptism,” Wikipedia; “Baptism,” Bible Dictionary; “What is the History of Infant Sprinkling?” Christian Courier, http://www.christiancourier.com.)

Baptism by Sprinkling or Pouring

Five generations after the resurrection of Jesus, a man named Novatian lay ill upon his death bed in Rome. Believing that baptism by immersion was necessary for salvation, but unable to leave his bed, a local bishop allowed dousing him in water in lieu of immersion. (235 A.D.; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, VI. xliii. 14, 17).

This practice became known as “clinical baptism.”  It was only to be used in deathbed emergencies when no other alternatives were available. (Cyprian, Epistle 75:12)

This deathbed exception to “real” immersion baptism was condemned by the Christian writers and scholars at the time. 

  • Tertullian: “Baptism itself is a bodily act, because we are immersed in water.” (On Baptism, 7.)
  • Origen: “the evil spirits seek to overtake you, but you descend into the water [in baptism] and you escape safely.” (Homilies on Exodus, V:5.)
  • Basil of Caesarea: “We imitate the burial of Christ through baptism. For the bodies of those being baptized are as it were buried in water.” (On the Holy Spirit, XV:35)
  • Cyril of Jerusalem: “For as he who plunges into the waters and is baptized is surrounded on all sides by the waters, so were they also baptized completely .” (Catechetical Lectures, XVII:14)

Though strongly opposed, even as an “exceptional” measure, pouring and sprinkling continued to gain more and more acceptance as substitutes for immersion. It was inevitable that these alternative modes would ultimately become acceptable and normal.  

  These exceptions became the rule and general practice. In the 8th century, Pope Stephen authorized baptism of infants by sprinkling “in cases of necessity.” In 1311, the Roman Catholic Church the made baptism by sprinkling as part of Canon Law. (Wayne Jackson, “A History of ‘Baptism’ Apostasy,” http://www.truediscipleship.com)

In short, since baptizing newborn infants by immersion is problematic, baptism by sprinkling became acceptable.  

Baptismal Covenants Require Faith in Jesus and Repentance

Since both faith and repentance are conditions leading to New Testament baptism, naturally infants are excluded. Infants have not the mental capacity to believe in Christ, and they cannot repent for they “have no knowledge of good or evil.” Hence, the practice of “infant baptism” is unknown to Holy Scripture…. The practice of baptizing infants is a human tradition, utterly void of biblical sanction. It instills a false sense of confidence in youngsters as they grow up, and is a hindrance to genuine obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Wayne Jackson, “A History of ‘Baptism’ Apostasy,” http://www.truediscipleship.com)

Faith and repentance are prerequisites for baptism. Since infants lack faith and repentance, the Roman Catholic Church introduced godparents to act as “sponsors” of the baptismal candidate and to “vocalize the confession of faith,” on the infant’s behalf.

Later, “confirmation” emerged as a separate ordinance in the 8th century. At this time, the baptized infants have the mental capacity to enter into covenants. (“Godparent,” Wikipedia)

In short, infant baptism, baptism by sprinkling, and godparent “sponsors” are the logical extensions of the fallacy of original sin and the doctrine that children are born in sin.

The Great Apostasy

The notion of infant baptism was the result of the Great Apostasy which took place after the foundation of Twelve Apostles was removed from the church. (Eph. 4:11-14; 2:18-19) The church was no longer guided by prophetic revelation. “Surely, the Lord will do nothing, but he revealeth l his secrets unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7)

The apostate practice of infant baptism infected: Roman Catholics, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, and among Protestants denominations: Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and other Reformed denominations, Methodists, Nazarenes, Moravians, and United Protestants. (“Immersion Baptism,” Wikipedia)

Jesus Set the Example – “Follow Him”


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