GW Truett on Infant Baptism (big B)

July 3, 2014

George W. Truett on infant baptism as part of his Baptists and Religious Liberty speech on the steps of the National Capitol on Sunday, May 16, 1920 (in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention held in D.C.)


It follows, inevitably, that Baptists are unalterably opposed to every form of sponsorial religion. If I have fellow Christians in this presence today who are the protagonists of infant baptism, they will allow me to say frankly, and certainly I would say it in the most fraternal, Christian spirit, that to Baptists infant baptism is unthinkable from every viewpoint. First of all, Baptists do not find the slightest sanction for infant baptism in the Word of God. That fact, to Baptists, makes infant baptism a most serious question for the consideration of the whole Christian world. Nor is that all. As Baptists see it, infant baptism tends to ritualize Christianity and reduce it to lifeless forms. It tends also and inevitably, as Baptists see it, to secularizing of the church and to the blurring and blotting out of the line of demarcation between the church and the unsaved world.

And since I have thus spoken with unreserved frankness, my honored Pedobaptist friends in the audience will allow me to say that Baptists solemnly believe that infant baptism, with its implications, has flooded the world, and floods it now, with untold evils.

They believe also that it perverts the scriptural symbolism of baptism; that it attempts the impossible tasks of performing an act of religious obedience by proxy, and that since it forestalls the individual initiative of the child, it carries within it the germ of persecution, and lays the predicate for the union of church and state, and that it is a Romish tradition and a corner-stone for the whole system of popery throughout the world.

I will speak yet another frank word for my beloved Baptist people, to our cherished fellow Christians who are not Baptists, and that word is that our Baptist people believe that if all the Protestant denominations would once for all put away infant baptism, and come to the full acceptance and faithful practice of New Testament baptism, that the unity of all the non-Catholic Christians in the world would be consummated, and that there would not be left one Roman Catholic church on the face of the earth at the expiration of the comparatively short period of another century.

Surely, in the face of these frank statements, our non-Baptist neighbors may apprehend something of the difficulties compelling Baptists when they are asked to enter into official alliances with those who hold such fundamentally different views from those just indicated. We call God to witness that our Baptist people have an unutterable longing for Christian union, and believe Christian union will come, but we are compelled to insist that if this union is to be real and effective, it must be based upon a better understanding of the Word of God and a more complete loyalty to the will of Christ as revealed in His Word.


Ed.’s note: Does anyone think GW Truett was a “baptist with a small ‘b'”?

Our thanks to Ron Hale for bringing this excerpt to our attention.

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Ben Stratton

Great quote! Truett was also pretty strong on the Lord’ Supper as seen from these quotes from his book “The Supper of our Lord.”

“Since the Supper is an ordinance of the church, it must inevitably follow that whatever would debar a man from the church must also debar him from the Lord’s table in that church. It is logically inconceivable that one should be deprived of membership in the church and yet not also be deprived of coming to the Lord’s table in that church, since the first privilege is the source and foundation for the second. ” George W. Truett (The Supper Of Our Lord, p. 19)

“That the local church is the custodian of this ordinance, and must judge of the qualifications of those desiring to partake of it, is shown by the fact that the command to observe it was given, not to individuals, but to a company (Luke 22:29,30). Manifestly, this table is inside and not outside the church. The church alone can, therefore be charged with the responsibility of its government. The local church is the only body known to the Scriptures which has any competency or jurisdiction in the government of her two ordinances.” George W. Truett (The Supper Of Our Lord, pp. 20-21)

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