Infant baptism - Open to opinion?

Have you heard of this noun, 'theologoumenon'? I hadn't the first time I came across it either (bad joke):

A theologoumenon is a theological opinion. This word is often applied to opposing arguments in a theological debate, where both sides are rigorously orthodox. This happens because we possess sufficient knowledge to assure our salvation, but we do not possess all knowledge, and we cannot satisfy our curiosity about every matter. For example, scripture does not teach us precisely what demons are, so theories about demons are theologoumena (
After posting an article Where to draw the line, about when the Bible calls for disunity, I was asked this question:
"What about things which fall into the category of 'theologoumena' (Something that is neither a teaching that all orthodox believers are expected to adhere to, nor something that they must avoid at all costs)?"
Do you think there are theological positions or practices in the church today that fit into this category?For example, would you say as some do that infant baptism falls into this category?

Differences in understanding

There are some practices by Christians and even in the church which may not neccessarily be against the gospel or out-of-line with it and they come from legitimate differences in understanding and belief. And here this diversity within the church is a display of the power of the gospel in allowing human difference in undestanding while still controlling the way we relate to one another in love.

There are examples of abstaining from things, other examples of practicing extra things. Three significant passages to consider which bare weight come to mind: Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 and 14 (not an exhaustive list). Whether abstainence from food and drink or observance of special days and seasons, or speaking in tongues: not everybody knows as much as everybody else (1 Cor 8:4-7).

The 1 Corinthians 14 example is of particular significance. Here Paul clearly regards their practice of tongues to be something quite different to what had been given on the day of Pentecost, and not a 'desirable' practice for and in the church. Yet he still regards is as a good gift from God if constrained in its use by love as powered through gospel-thinking. And he says, significantly, “do not forbid speaking in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:39). Something that helps Christians maintain a focused adoration on God and brings no mutual or individual harm is a good thing. However, this is not reason enough for a theological position teaching that 'every' body should follow suit. More here on that here.

Infant baptism

Infant baptism fits into this category I think. It cannot be justified from Scripture. It is a tradition that has been brought into the church and grown and institutalised and incorporated into denominational doctrinal systems. And unfortunately it is not uncommon to begin 'thinking' and consequently corruptly practicing infant baptism in a way that is counter-scriptural, unspiritual and against the gospel. And if Apostle rebuked Apostle when behaviour misaligned with the understanding of the truth (Galatians 2:11) then we should be doing it with one another.

However, that need not necessarily be the case. Many Christians think with respect to this and baptise their infants in a God-glorifying way that does edify the church. In a similar way even the Corinthians were able to speak in tongues in a way that could achieved the same. Though I personally would not baptise my children and do not understand baptism this way, I realise that “not everybody has this knowledge.” And so I do not and would not 'preach against' infant baptism, but only teach for understanding with the spirit of 1 Corinthians 8: "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up".

Recommended reading

If you're interested further in my understanding of baptism and what I empirically believe about infant baptism beyond this (baring in mind these comments above), refer to Beasley-Murray's excellent book, Baptism in the New Testament (Paternoster, 1972).
His treatment of the subject of baptism generally reflects my own understanding closely as does his final chapter “The rise and significance of Infant Baptism.” He's also got a postscript at the end on “Baptismal reform and Inter-church Relationships.” Would strongly recommend this book to be more widely read and understood.

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