To Mormon understanding, “infant baptism (pedo-baptism) is the practice of performing what is considered to be the ordinance of baptism for children, ordinarily for babies, who have not arrived at the years of accountability” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 379).
Difference in Beliefs and Why
- Baptism is for Remission of Sins
Mormons believe that baptism is the process of washing away sins, among other things. They believe that to sin, a person has to know what a law or commandment is and then deliberately go against it. They don't believe that an infant understands spiritual laws, man's laws, or even family rules for a long time, so they can't sin. Since they can't sin, they don't need baptism. Mormons believe that the age of accountability—when children understand enough to be accountable—is the age of eight, so no children are baptized into the Church before that age. They also believe that if children under that age are baptized, it will have no effect because there are no sins to remit or forgive, but that it is offensive to Christ since all little children are alive in Him through His Atonement.
- No Original Sin
One reason other Christians baptize children is because of their belief in original sin. This is another important difference between them and Mormons. Original sin is the belief that all children are born in a sinful state. These Christians believe Adam and Eve brought sin to all their descendants by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden them to eat. Certainly they disobeyed, but Mormons don't believe that Adam and Eve sinned but only transgressed, as Paul told Timothy (1 Tim.: 2:14). Again the belief that to sin a person must first understand a commandment or law and choose to go against it—have both the knowledge and the power to choose—is central. Mormons believe that Adam and Eve only transgressed—disobeyed, but without the full knowledge and understanding to sin. The Church's Second Article of Faith says that “we believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.” That this is one of only 13 Articles of Faith shows that this belief is indeed important Mormon doctrine. Wilford Woodruff, a great prophet in the Church, said that children “are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and when they die, whether of Christian, Pagan, or Jewish parentage, their spirits are taken home to God who gave them, and never go to suffer torments of any kind” (Journal of Discourses 23:126).
- Christ's Counsel
Christ loved little children because of their purity and innocence. Paul in First Corinthians 14:20 counseled Christ's disciples to “in malice be ye children” or, in other words, when it comes to wickedness to follow the example of children. Christ said to be perfect like Himself but he also said to be “as little children, [or] ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). To Mormons this is a clear statement that children are already worthy to enter heaven.