I have the hardest time accepting the Orthodox view on Baptism at infancy. I think the requirements and benefits of Baptism can’t apply to infants. I think it is rash to assume that the term "household" (as in Paul baptized the household of Stephanas) must include infants since not every household contains infants. Holy Book of Mark 16:16 states, "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." Again, how infants are baptized if belief must precede it? All Scriptural examples of baptism show an individual decision to follow our Lord Jesus Christ.
The household in the Old Testament and in the time of Christ was much larger than in our time today. Household was a term used to include children and infants as well as servants. The apostolic Church baptized whole "households" (Acts 16:33; 1 Cor 1:16) While these texts do not specifically mention, nor exclude infants, the very use of the term "households" indicates an understanding of the family as a unit. Even one believing parent in a household makes the children and even the unbelieving spouse "holy" (1 Cor. 7:14).
Baptism is the Christian equivalent of circumcision, or "the circumcision of Christ": "In him you were also circumcised with...the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col 2:11-12). Thus, like circumcision, baptism can be administered to children as well as adults. The difference is that circumcision was powerless to save (Gal. 5:6, 6:15), but "baptism...now saves us" (1 Pt 3:21).
The first explicit evidence of children from believing households receiving baptism comes from the early Church-where baptizing infants was uniformly upheld and regarded as apostolic. In fact, the only reported controversy on the subject was a third-century debate whether or not to delay baptism until the eighth day after birth, like its Old Testament equivalent, circumcision. In this regard, St. Cyprian writes, "As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born" (Letters 64:2 [A.D. 253]).
The Council of Carthage, in 253, condemned the opinion that baptism should be withheld from infants until the eighth day after birth. Later, Augustine taught, "The custom of Mother Church in baptizing infants is certainly not to be scorned... nor is it to be believed that its tradition is anything except apostolic" (Literal Interpretation of Genesis 10:23:39 [A.D. 408]).
Others early fathers wrote on this subject:
Hippolytus: "Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them" (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215]). None of the Fathers or councils of the Church claimed that infant baptism was contrary to Scripture or tradition. They agreed that the practice of baptizing infants was the customary and appropriate practice since the days of the early Church; the only uncertainty seemed to be when-exactly-an infant should be baptized. Further evidence that infant baptism was the accepted practice in the early Church is the fact that if infant baptism had been opposed to the religious practices of the first believers, why do we have no record of early Christian writers condemning it?
Origen: "Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin... In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous" (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]).
"The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit" (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]).
Gregory of Nazianz: "Do you have an infant child? Allow sin no opportunity; rather, let the infant be sanctified from childhood. From his most tender age let him be consecrated by the Spirit. Do you fear the seal [of baptism] because of the weakness of nature? Oh, what a pusillanimous mother and of how little faith!" (Oration on Holy Baptism 40:7 [A.D. 388]).
"'Well enough,' some will say, 'for those who ask for baptism, but what do you have to say about those who are still children, and aware neither of loss nor of grace? Shall we baptize them too?' Certainly [I respond], if there is any pressing danger. Better that they be sanctified unaware, than that they depart unsealed and uninitiated" (Oration on Holy Baptism 40:28).