What is baptism?
What is baptism?
Baptism is one of the three sacraments of initiation. “Baptise” comes from a Greek word “Baptiso” meaning to dip. Baptism began in Jesus’ time when people came to John the Baptist to ask for god’s forgiveness of their sins and then to be dipped in the water of the river Jordan as a sign of turning pint in their life’s in which they would follow and live by God’s way from then on. Jesus also came to John to be baptised, but as he was sinless he therefore didn’t need John’s baptism of repentance, but was baptised in order to show his solidarity with us sinners who are in need of forgiveness of god. Christians are baptised today as they see baptism as new life, to turn to Jesus, to believe in Jesus and to follow his ways.
Some Christians believe in infant baptism where babies are baptised just after they are born. They believe that it is the babies right not to be excluded from being a member of god’s family. Godparents are chosen for the child. The parents and godparents at baptism make promises on behalf of the baby and encourage the child in their Christian faith as they grow up, until they are able to make promises of their own.
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The ceremony of infant baptism begins when the priest welcomes the parents and godparents at the church entrance. Here the priest asks the child’s name and what the parents want for the child from the church. The priest, parents and godparents trace the sign of the cross on the forehead as a sign that the child now belongs to god and is a sign of the saving power of Jesus’ crucifixion. During infant Baptism the priest anoints the child twice. Firstly with the oil of Catechumens, as a sign of strength against temptation, sin and evil. Then with the oil of chrism, which is, the royal oil used in the past to anoint kings and it signifies that the child is special to God and now shares in Jesus’ role as priest, prophet and king. At Infant Baptism parents and godparents renew their baptismal promises and make promises on behalf of the child. These promises include affirming that they reject Satan and all evil and that they believe in God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. When the baby is being baptised the priest pours water over the baby’s forehead saying, “I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.” These words are the most important words said at the ceremony, as the Christian faith in the Holy Trinity is expressed. After Baptism the child is a child of God the Father, he shares in the new life of Christ who is God the son and belongs to a family of love in the Holy Spirit of God. Godparents are chosen by the parents as they promise to help the parents bring the child up in the Christian faith and therefore are very important. After baptism the new Christian is clothed in a white garment, as a sign of purity and new life and a candle is then lighted from the paschal candle, as a sign of life and knowledge. Near the end of the ceremony the Our Father is said by all, as a sign of a family joining together with god. The ceremony then concludes with three prayers, one for the mother, one for the father and one for all who attended the ceremony.
Some Christians believe in believer’s baptism, when they are baptised later in life when they are old enough to make a personal commitment to express their faith. Unlike infant baptism, there are no godparents, as the candidate is able to make promises of their own.
Believers Baptism usually takes place in a river or a place where the candidate can be fully immersed or dipped into the water. Candidates are expected to be at least teenagers. When adult baptism is the custom, children usually go through a service of dedication. They are brought to a public service so that the minister can give thanks for the baby’s birth and bless the child. Both parents and the congregation are asked to help bring the child up in the Christian faith. At believers baptism candidates normally give a public testimony, which includes talking about why they are being baptised. They must be sorry for their sins and have faith in Jesus Christ. Unlike infant baptism there are no sponsors at believers baptism. The baptismal candidate usually asks a friend to hold a towel and may have some close friends who may pray for them during the service. The minister or pastor does the baptising and in independent churches an elder, or anyone who has had a significant role in the candidate’s spiritual life may do it. During the service those wishing to be baptised are usually asked three questions. They are asked if they turn to Christ, if they repent their sins and if they renounce evil. This is different as here the candidates make their own personal promises to God. The candidate is then immersed into the water by the ministers, as a symbol of dying to their own life and raises them back up again, as a symbol of their desire to live a new life, with Jesus as lord.
Overall the ceremonies of infant baptism and believers baptism are relatively the same. In each, baptism represents a new life to do god’s will and represents the turning away from our sins and rejecting all evil. The main difference between Believers and Infant Baptism is that at infant baptism promises are made on behalf of the child, but at believers Baptism the candidates make their own personal promises to god.