Baptism is, in the eyes of many denominations, the rite of 'entry into the Church'. Many churches practise infant baptism, in which the children of Christian parents are received into the Church on the basis of the overwhelming grace of God and the promises of the parents that the child will be nurtured in the Christian faith. Other churches reject this practice, viewing Baptism as a public declaration of someone's faith. In either case, the context of baptism is always faith.
An anonymous contributor to this page wrote:
- "Because being a Christian is such a fantastic thing, people should want loads of people to know, and what better way, than doing something incredibly out of the ordinary, and effectively 'having a bath' in all your clothes in front of loads of people. God has some cool ideas!"
One possible problem with infant baptism is that it has become more of just a cultural practice instead of a statement of faith, i.e. parents are having their children baptized because it's customary.
An Anglican and a Baptist were arguing about baptism (again). The Baptist said that baptism must be by 'full immersion' or it didn't count. The Anglican said that 'sprinkling' was plenty...
Anglican: "So what if someone were baptised up to their neck?"
Baptist: "No good. Full immersion is the only thing that counts."
A: "So how about if they went under as far as their nose?"
B: "Still no good."
A: "What if the water went as far as their eyes?"
B (irritated now): "I've told you - it's no good."
A: "But if they go right under..."
B: "That's a proper baptism!"
"There you are," said the Anglican. "I told you it was only the bit at the top that mattered!"
But immersion was the universal practice of the early church. Why change it? It also best pictures the significance of baptism which is death to the old life and resurrection to the new life (see below).
The symbolism of baptism is that of dying to the old self, the self that was rebelling against God and going its own way; and rising to live for Christ.
Speaking of baptism, this passage immediately comes to mind:
- Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
- If we have been united with Him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
- Romans 6:3-7 (NIV)
Baptism, therefore, can be said to be the public demonstration of a private commitment to God.
The word "baptism" means "immersion" in Greek; hence those who insist that it's full immersion or nothing. They do have Scripture on their side. Of course, if we are to follow the example Jesus set, we'd need to all be baptized in the River Jordan...
For those whose tradition only requires sprinkling, or partial immersion, rest assured that the only real agent for baptism is the Holy Spirit. Without Him, it's just a bath.
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Views on the necessity of baptism for salvation
The simple answer to this question is yes. You can read our Lord's exhortation concerning baptism in Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:16. Acts 2:38 is just one example of baptism being referred to as necessary for the forgiveness of sins. I hope this helps you! God Bless you. --Anthony 00:15, 31 December 2005 (EST)
I disagree with the above. The simple answer is no. The verses that were given do not support in any way the idea that baptism is needed for salvation. Think of the thief on the cross as an example. He was already on the cross and was unable to be baptized before death, and yet he received salvation. Try this... Is water baptism necessary for salvation?. Below is a quote from this site.
...adding any other requirement to salvation by grace becomes "works" in disguise.
Even though numerous Scriptures speak of the importance of water baptism, adding anything to the work of the cross demeans the sacrifice of the Savior. It implies that His finished work wasn’t enough. But the Bible makes clear that we are saved by grace, and grace alone,
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
I also think the answer is no. Baptism is something that is good and right for a person to do when he becomes a Christian, but it is a outward sign and public declaration of ones Christian faith, and does not itself have special requirement or power for salvation. Of course, I recognize many Christians would disagree with me - perhaps the vast majority of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, and probably a lot of Lutheran and Anglican Christians also.
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