It is believer’s baptism, however, that provides the most significant reason to affirm the “age of accountability.” Believer’s baptism is a core belief of Baptists (there’s a reason that we are called Baptists!). The early Baptists were called “Anabaptists” because they believed that the infant baptism they had received was unscriptural, and they were baptized again upon their profession of faith in Christ. The denial of infant baptism has been a defining issue for Baptists throughout their history… Baptist confessions tend not to use the term “original sin” (it is in none of the versions of the Baptist Faith and Message), and two early Baptist confessions explicitly deny it. Baptists do believe that we children of Adam “inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin,” but it is not until we become “transgressors” ourselves that we come under guilt and condemnation (Baptist Faith and Message, Article 3). So while we believe in an inherited sin nature, we do not believe in inherited guilt. It is the belief in inherited guilt that leads those in the Reformed tradition toward the necessity for infant baptism (Lemke, 2010).
As the Bible sees it, baptism is not primarily a sign of repentance and faith on the part of the baptized. It is not a sign of anything that we do at all. It is a covenant sign (like circumcision, but without blood-shedding), and therefore a sign of the work of God on our behalf which precedes and makes possible our own responsive movement (Harrison, Bromiley, & Henry, 1999).
Additionally, there are several reports in scripture where people bring their children to Christ to have him touch and bless them. Jesus warns against the danger of offending against little ones that believe in him, and in the same context says that to be Christians we have not to become adults but to become as children (Harrison, Bromiley, & Henry, 1999). One such passage is in the Gospel of St. Mark:
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10: 13-16).
He came to save all persons by means of Himself – all, I say, who through Him are born again to God – infants, children, boys, youth, and old men…Even to the greatest sinners and to those who have sinned much against God, when they subsequently believe, remission of sins is granted. Nobody is hindered from baptism and from grace. How much more should we shrink from hindering an infant. For he, being lately born, has not sinned – other than, in being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth. For this reason, he more easily approaches the reception of the forgiveness of sins. For to him are remitted – not his own sins – but the sins of another. Therefore, dearest brother, this was our opinion in council that no one should be hindered by us from baptism and from the grace of God…Baptize your infants also and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of God. For He says, “Allow the little children to come unto me and do not forbid them,” (Bercot, 1998).