Should A Christian Be Baptized in Water?
-- The Bible teaches the baptism of believers (see Mark 16:16, Acts 8:36-37).
And in the early centuries, Christian baptism was by immersion. The concept of
infant baptism is not specifically found in the Bible.
The early church began
baptizing infants because of the idea that children are born in sin and need immediate
baptism to ensure their salvation. At the time of the Reformation, though, Martin
Luther rediscovered the biblical truth that spiritual regeneration and justification
are by faith. A baby cannot exercise faith. Nevertheless, because so many of those
who became his followers had already been baptized as infants in the Roman Catholic
Church, Luther did not require them to be baptized again. In fact, he continued
to baptize children of believers.
When John Calvin came on the scene in Geneva,
he taught what is known as "covenant theology." According to covenant theology,
if the parents have entered a covenant relationship with God, then their children
are part of the covenant, too, and are proper candidates for baptism as infants.
In churches that practice infant baptism there is usually some type of confirmation
rite in which a child of ten, eleven, or twelve reaffirms the parental faith expressed
at his or her baptism.
Some Reformation theologians strongly disagreed with
infant baptism. They maintained that people should be baptized only as believers,
because baptism is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (see
Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12). Baptism to them was the end of the old life and
the beginning of a new life in Christ. Since a baby does not have an old life
to deal with, they maintained, if someone has been baptized as an infant, he need
to be baptized again as an adult believer. These people were called "Anabaptists,"
which means "rebaptizers."
Today there is still disagreement about the proper
form of baptism. But, more and more, Methodist, Presbyterian, and some other churches
that have historically practiced infant baptism are looking anew at both the qualification
of a candidate for baptism and the mode of baptism. A number of people, even though
they may have been baptized as infants, are being rebaptized by immersion as adult
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