SAO PAULO, Brazil — Plans to introduce baby baptisms were discussed at “Imagine the Possibilities,” an international Adventist Church Growth Conference held today. Baby baptism supporters at the conference promoted the potential move as “steroids for church growth.”
“It is just wrong that a baby can be born into a perfectly wonderful Adventist family but that we can’t count this baby as a member on our books,” said “Imagine the Possibilities” keynote speaker, Ken Barrington. “Babies are perfect membership candidates because you don’t have to spend as long on agonizing Bible studies and answering objections — just dunk ’em!”
Although there was widespread agreement on the merits of baby baptism, some conference delegates raised health and safety concerns about conventional immersion baptismal techniques. “A safer baptismal method could come in the form of a gentle sprinkling or a thorough misting,” said Julio Vergara, a representative from the North American Division.
There was some push-back from conference attendees who felt that baptism should only take place if candidates understand and give their consent to the practice. In response, Barrington said that the Adventist church already dedicates babies without their knowledge and that baptism “is just taking one more step in the right direction.”
Theologian Keanan Thonson added that the church “allows very young children to get baptized before they are fully aware of what is going on. Why be so against lowering the age even further?”
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