Why the Baptist Preacher's Baby was not Sprinkled
By J. B. Jeter
J. B. Jeter’s* wife was a Presbyterian. A baby was born in that home. His wife said something like this: "Mr. Jeter, you knew I was a Presbyterian when you married me. As an honest Presbyterian I believe that our baby ought to be baptized." He consented on condition that she would consent to his holding the baby while the ceremony was performed. She thought it would be a feather in her cap to have the most prominent Baptist preacher in Virginia and one of the best known Baptist editors in the South to hold their baby, while a Presbyterian preacher baptized it.
So she consented. J. B. Jeter announced in his church in Richmond, that he would be out of his pulpit to be present at the Presbyterian church and why. That church was jammed and packed. The scholarly and dignified Presbyterian preacher preached and then announced that those who had babies to be baptized would please bring them forward. Bro. Jeter and his wife arose and he took the baby in his arms and they walked to the front. He was careful to get at the end where they were to begin. Quite a number of other parents had children present for that purpose. Just as the honoured pastor of that Presbyterian Church raised his hand to say the baptismal formula and baptize Bro. Jeter's baby, Bro. Jeter said something like this "My brother, you and I have been good friends for many years. My wife has been a member of your church and I have never tried to proselyte her to my faith, but as a Baptist I believe that we ought to be able to give a 'Thus saith the Lord' for all that we do. This is my baby as well as my wife's. Before you sprinkle my child, I want you to take your Bible and read out of the Book your authority for what you are about to do." The scholarly, old-school Presbyterian preacher slowly raised his hand and pronounced the benediction. Mrs. Jeter soon became a Baptist. She said that her pastor was one of the most scholarly Presbyterian preachers in the South. If he could not find infant baptism in the Bible then it must not be there. If infant baptism was not in the Bible, she had never been baptized, for infant baptism was all she ever had. With an open Bible she soon was led to the truth and obeyed her Lord in baptism.
* Jeremiah Bell Jeter (1802-1880), editor of The Religious Herald, author of Campbellism Examined and a number of other books, was born in Bedford County, Virginia, July 18, 1802. Jeter was ordained as a Baptist minister in May, 1824. He died February 18, 1880.
From Why Be a Baptist by H. Boyce Taylor (1932) as quoted in The Baptist Waymark, August 1986, Vol. 1 No. 3, p. 4. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
Baptist History Homepage