Does John the Baptist Prove that Fetus’ Know Good and Evil?
BY Terry Wayne Benton
While it is true that John the Baptist, while yet unborn (what people call fetus stage), leaped in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:41) when Mary came and greeted Elizabeth, it is not true that this means that all infants are aware of sin, Jesus, Mary, and what Jesus will mean for them. It does nothing to prove that this means all babies are aware of why a man in funny garments is dunking them or sprinkling water on them and wanting to have their sins removed.
In the case of John leaping in the womb at the presence of Jesus' mother, it would be a sign from God that John and Jesus would bring great joy to the world in their future programs of adulthood. It is not a sign that all babies are aware of sin and that they are excited about Jesus. John as an unborn gave a strong kick at this moment and this was likely a providential reminder from God to Elizabeth that “your baby has Holy Spirit assistance even now” (Luke 1:15). So, this “leap” was a sign of the Holy Spirit, not a proof that all babies are aware of sin, Jesus, and coming redemption even in the womb. Without the Holy Spirit special sign, John would not have kicked at this moment and if he did, it would mean nothing about what he was aware of in that moment, especially not aware of the implication of Jesus.
God told Moses that little children today “have no knowledge of good and evil.”(Deut.1:39). To imply that John knew that Mary was bringing the good Savior and He would conquer evil and sin in the world is to imply that he and all unborn are knowledgeable of good and evil. That means that they know God was wrong in His statement to Moses. No! God is not wrong about babies not knowing good and evil. In John’s case, the Holy Spirit was specially involved to make a reminder to Elizabeth surface to her attention.
Again, the Holy Spirit testifies that there is a time, even for the Messiah-Child, that there is no awareness of good and evil. Isa 7:15-16 says concerning the virgin’s child,
15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. NKJV
In other words, this child would be like all human children in a human state of “not knowing” and therefore not refusing or choosing good and evil. To say that John the Baptist in his unborn state knew what even Mary’s baby would have yet to grow to know, is to say that John was the exception to the rule, and that shows that you cannot use John as proof of anything about babies.
The practice of force-dunking babies is falsely justified by implying from John’s case that they can believe in Jesus even as a man in strange garments is dunking them or sprinkling them and saying strange ritualistic words as they do this to these babies. If John was aware of Jesus, the text does not say it or actually imply it. What it shows is that the Holy Spirit was already with John and urged the kick at the moment to remind Elizabeth of great things ahead for her child and through Mary’s child. That is all that proves. It proves nothing about how scriptural it is to force-dunk all babies.
Who is to be baptized? Jesus said it works this way! Preach the gospel, let the gospel bring about belief, and let the believer be baptized (Mark 16:15-16). There are no exceptions to this. Baptism is always and only to convicted, penitent believers. Every case of “households” being baptized was after that household first heard the word, understood their need of Jesus, and expressed their own desire to be united with Jesus in baptism. Not one exception!
Baptism is not forced upon anyone, and no person was ever baptized who did not first believe. Infants have no knowledge of good and evil, and have no guilt that needs to be removed, and there is no benefit they get from being force-dunked or sprinkled in some ritual of men. When they grow and come of age to know good and evil, and come to know guilt and what Jesus can mean toward the removal of sin and guilt, then they will let you know like all others, “what hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36). The answer will always be, “IF you BELIEVE you may!” John’s kick is not proof that they already know and is no proof that force-dunking is what needs to be done while they can’t know to refuse the evil and choose the good. Do not let the doctrines and traditions of men trump the clear teaching of God’s word, the scriptures. -Terry W. Benton