A question that often comes up when talking about baptism is:
“Can babies have faith?”
This post will build on concepts and theses presented in previous posts on Baptism and Faith. Specifically, I recommend reading the following before going forward if you’re unfamiliar with the topic:
The Bible does in fact teach that Babies can have faith. This actually isn’t a Biblical debate at all. Those who assert otherwise usually rely on philosophy or an unbiblical understanding of faith.
“And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” Matthew 21:15-16 KJV
One has to have faith in the first place for praise to be “perfected” as the only ones that can be counted perfect in any capacity are those covered by the blood of the Lamb.
“And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” Luke 18:15-17 KJV
If a “little child” cannot have faith how can an adult if the above passage is taken seriously? Is not a baby also a “little child”?
“But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.” Psalms 22:9 KJV
I like how the ESV renders “make me hope” in the above verse as “you made me trust you”. In this case the psalmist is talking to God and referring to the hope / trust given to him as a baby. We know from other passages that such things are to be expected when faith is present.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1 KJV
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Cor 13:13 KJV
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15 KJV
“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” 2 Tim 1:5 KJV
So I would answer that yes, the Bible does teach that Babies can have faith. Just as important, there is nowhere in scripture teaching that Babies cannot have faith.
Are the above passages clear? If you read my post on clarity you know how important it is to me. I have to be honest and say though they all work together the only passage I would say is clear specifically for babies is Psalm 22:9. So if you disagree I would like to see how you disregard a connection between “hope” and “faith”. In addition to that I would like to see some clear passages for the age of accountability.
What helps clear this up even more though is a Biblical understanding of faith which is why I made a post on it some time ago. Please take a look if you have not already. To summarize though, faith is a noun placed in you by God. It is not a verb performed by man to reach God as many seem to teach these days without realizing it. But rather, verbs like hope, love, belief, and trust seem to pop out of the noun of faith.
Since God is the one performing the work of creating faith, it logically doesn’t matter how old the recipient is. An adult is just as helpless in obtaining faith as a Baby is, and that is the power of the gospel. It is what Jesus did and what he does to you. You can’t help him in this, not even a little bit.