Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Are we doing baptism right?

"Many institutions and elements of institutions which have sometimes been thought to belong to primitive Christianity belong, in fact, to the Middle Ages"  Edwin Hatch 19th century English Theologian

The good news is total immersion water baptism is Biblical and was preformed all the time in the New Testament!  Most Protestant churches today practice this type of Baptism.  The bad news is, they often do not practice it at the correct time. In fact, when you got "saved", chances were you probably weren't baptized until a later date, weeks, months, possibly years from the point of your conversion. If you were led to your baptism moments after your salvation, then you were following in the correct traditions laid down by God in the New Testament.  Personally, however, I've never seen this. In fact, I was baptized years after my conversion.

In the first century, water baptism was the outward confession of a person's faith. In fact, the writers often used the word baptism in place of the word, faith, because to them, baptism was the one action that portrayed one's initial confession of faith in Christ.  Without baptism, the person's salvation was not complete.  See (Acts 2:41, 8:12, 35-37 and Acts 16 as examples)

Today, however, the "sinner's prayer" has replaced the act of Baptism as the outward expression of a person's salvation. Anytime anyone "gets saved" we have them repeat some form of prayer which declares they've repented of their sins and now believe in Jesus as their "personal" savior.  This, however, was never done in the early church.

The separation of baptism from receiving Christ began in the early 2nd century when certain influencial Christians taught that a person could not be baptized without having a period of instruction, prayer, and fasting. This legalistic view of baptism only grew worse with time when young converts had to wait up to 3 years to be baptized! During that time, their lives were put under microscopic scrutiny and they had to prove themselves worthy of being baptized.  The act of baptism became an embellished ritual complete with blessing the water, full disrobing, uttering of a creed, anointing with oil, exorcism, giving the convert milk and honey.. etc    (How sad all of this must have made Jesus)

But it got even worse!  Many believed that if you committed a sin after you were baptized, you could not be forgiven!!   For this reason, many people, including Constantine, were not baptized until they were on their death beds.

So, although total immersion baptism is correct, we seem to be doing it at the wrong time. I'm sure God is pleased either way, but for me, the New Testament way makes a lot more sense!


  1. Tuesday, July 24th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Short, sweet and simple: I totally agree, that the "New Testament way" of baptizing makes a lot more sense !
    Thanks for sharing.
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. I am glad you mentioned that the sinner's prayer was not done in the early church. That is sure to ruffle a few feathers. People hold onto that prayer as if that prayer is what saves us, but it isn’t even found in the Bible, as you said! What is found is true repentance and true faith in Christ!

  3. Hello Ladies! Yes the sinners prayer didn't come about until Moody in the 19th century (I think.. I have to check) I suppose we humans always want some ritual or ceremony to go through to guarantee our salvation.. when it's all a matter of the heart.

    Good to see you both! Have a great day!

  4. How interesting! Especially about the sinner's prayer.

    The timing of my baptism was kind of weird...I was raised in the church, and accepted Jesus long before I was brave enough to go in front of others and be baptized (I was only 10 at the time, so I didn't really understand anything about baptism other than it was a mandated ritual). But I didn't really understand what it means for Jesus to be *Lord* until I was 15, and that's when I got the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even though I know it's stupid and a very backward way of thinking, a small part of me wishes I had gotten saved when I was older just so my baptism could have been what it is supposed to mean. But I'm obviously still totally thankful I've been saved as long as I have. :-)

    I have known some people who had some really cool baptism experiences, though. One time, we were attending a small congregation that rented a room at the YMCA, so when somebody wanted baptized, we had to use the swimming pool! Another time, our pastor was running a marathon in the park and started talking about faith with the runner next to him; the guy said that he had become a Christian recently and wanted to be baptised, so they stopped running, went over to the lake, and baptized him then and there. Gotta love that spontanaeity! :-)

  5. Most people aren't baptized right away, Sapphire. I was baptized nearly 10 years after I met the Lord! Yes.. I'm slow. I don't think it really matters.. and it certainly isn't a prerequisite for salvation, but it would be nice to do it like they did in the New Testament.. I loved your stories of the YMCA and the pool and the one about the pastor and the marathon. Those sound like they came right from the Bible!

  6. I know I'm a male but I still appreciated your article. I think the big problem is that no one nowadays is that knowledgeable about the Scripture to even rightly discern it. In the feedbacks, I saw one comment made that was, "I don't think it really matters..." Why things that matter to the Lord don't matter to us is always a mystery to me. I like what one blogger said, "baptism was like a shotgun wedding." Yes, we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, but baptism was the "sinner's prayer" that the Lord established for His church. And it does matter when it takes place, for it is the full expression of our new repentance, turning in faith, to the Lord Jesus Christ and announcing to ourselves and the Lord that we are now a new creature in Him and identify with Him. One is reminded of the Lord Jesus when He began His ministry right after His own baptism. Thanks again for you insights.