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William

Is sprinkling a proper mode of baptism?

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Question:

 

I've seen the case for the Reformed view of the proper mode of baptism and find the article Is Immersion Necessary for Baptism? very helpful. I wonder about the validity of sprinkling if the water does not touch the skin/scalp of the person being baptized because of the thickness of his/her hair. A Roman Catholic website has this to say about such a situation.

It is to be noted that it is not sufficient for the water to merely touch the candidate; it must also flow, otherwise there would seem to be no real ablution. At best, such a baptism would be considered doubtful. If the water touches only the hair, the sacrament has probably been validly conferred, though in practice the safer course must be followed. If only the clothes of the person have received the aspersion, the baptism is undoubtedly void. (
)

 

 

Do Roman Catholics view the administration of baptism in this way because they believe in baptismal regeneration? What is the Reformed response?

 

 

Answer:

 

Thank you for submitting a most interesting question. I've never heard this Roman Catholic view before, and have never even thought about the issue. I consulted A Christian Directory, by the famous Puritan pastor Richard Baxter. It contains responses to hundreds of perplexing questions about what is right and wrong (or wise and unwise) in the Christian life (these are technically called "Cases of Conscience"), but there is no mention of this question. You may be the first to have asked it within the Protestant and Reformed community! Baptism, as our confessional standards (which are doctrinal formulations of what the Scriptures say) state, is:

  1. Is to be with water as the outward element, cf. WCF 28:2.
  2. "Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary" (i.e. the common Baptist view is that it is necessary), "but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person." (WCF 28:3).

The biblical basis for these is that

  1. Many biblical references to the act of baptism make specific reference to the use of water (e.g. Acts 8:36, 38; 10:47); and water, as an element, is perfectly suited to the symbolism of baptism as a cleansing or washing (e.g. Acts 22:16, Tit. 3:5).
  2. New Testament baptisms, like the various Old Testament washings or cleansings (which are called "baptisms," Mark 7:2-4, Luke 11:28, Heb. 9:10), were invariably done by sprinkling or pouring the ceremonial cleansing element (usually water or blood) on the person or object being "baptized," cf. Heb. 9:13, 19, 21. This is most clearly illustrated in Acts 16:33, in which the "washing away of the stripes" that Paul and Silas had received as punishment from the Philippian city magistrates (Acts 16:23) is coupled with the baptism of the newly converted Philippian jailer and his family. Water was applied to them by sprinkling (or, more likely, pouring) even as it was to Paul and Silas.

Now, in no case is water applied to the whole body of the person baptized, but the biblical texts are clear here and elsewhere that the whole person is baptized, i.e., "he and all his family were baptized" (Acts 16:33). In other words, the ceremonial cleansing (baptism) of a part of the person is taken as the baptism of the whole person. And the Bible in no place raises the very fine point made by the Roman Catholic website, i.e., whether a certain part of the body is actually touched by the water and whether the absence of such touching by water may invalidate the baptism. We must not be wiser than God. If the Scriptures do not even raise such an issue, neither should we raise it or be bothered by it. Hair is part of a person's body. In fact (and most interestingly, given your question), the Bible even speaks of a person's hair as part of the glory of the person (1 Cor. 11:2-16). So, there can be no doubt that even if only the hair is touched by the waters of baptism, because we (and the Bible) customarily speak in terms of "part for the whole," the person is truly baptized.

 

It is also interesting that in Psalm 133:2, the anointing of the head of Aaron (who, we assume, had hair) is clearly connected with the anointing of the whole person. While this anointing is not, technically, a baptism, the principle is the same: Blessings that flow from heaven begin with our heads (usually covered with hair) and proceed to the whole person.

 

So, don't let this question vex you. The Gospel liberates us from, among other things, the "doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to [God's] word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship" (WCF 20.2, in the chapter "Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience," a section I strongly urge you to study). I hope that you are looking, in faith, to Christ alone as your Savior and your Lord. That issue is infinitely more important than any particular questions about the administration or mode of baptism. If so, I also trust that you have been baptized with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and by a Christian minister. I also trust that you have publicly professed your faith in Christ and are a member in good standing of a church that sincerely believes the Bible and faithfully ministers it as our final and sufficient authority for all faith and life (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Under the ministry of a church like that, you will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus and also be increasingly freed from unnecessary speculation about minor matters that in no way contribute to our godliness or usefulness in the service of Christ (1 Tim. 1:3-4).

 

Source: https://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=467

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Question:

 

I've seen the case for the Reformed view of the proper mode of baptism and find the article Is Immersion Necessary for Baptism? very helpful. I wonder about the validity of sprinkling if the water does not touch the skin/scalp of the person being baptized because of the thickness of his/her hair. A Roman Catholic website has this to say about such a situation.

It is to be noted that it is not sufficient for the water to merely touch the candidate; it must also flow, otherwise there would seem to be no real ablution. At best, such a baptism would be considered doubtful. If the water touches only the hair, the sacrament has probably been validly conferred, though in practice the safer course must be followed. If only the clothes of the person have received the aspersion, the baptism is undoubtedly void. (
)

 

 

 

Do Roman Catholics view the administration of baptism in this way because they believe in baptismal regeneration? What is the Reformed response?

 

 

Answer:

 

Thank you for submitting a most interesting question. I've never heard this Roman Catholic view before, and have never even thought about the issue. I consulted A Christian Directory, by the famous Puritan pastor Richard Baxter. It contains responses to hundreds of perplexing questions about what is right and wrong (or wise and unwise) in the Christian life (these are technically called "Cases of Conscience"), but there is no mention of this question. You may be the first to have asked it within the Protestant and Reformed community! Baptism, as our confessional standards (which are doctrinal formulations of what the Scriptures say) state, is:

  1. Is to be with water as the outward element, cf. WCF 28:2.
  2. "Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary" (i.e. the common Baptist view is that it is necessary), "but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person." (WCF 28:3).

The biblical basis for these is that

  1. Many biblical references to the act of baptism make specific reference to the use of water (e.g. Acts 8:36, 38; 10:47); and water, as an element, is perfectly suited to the symbolism of baptism as a cleansing or washing (e.g. Acts 22:16, Tit. 3:5).
  2. New Testament baptisms, like the various Old Testament washings or cleansings (which are called "baptisms," Mark 7:2-4, Luke 11:28, Heb. 9:10), were invariably done by sprinkling or pouring the ceremonial cleansing element (usually water or blood) on the person or object being "baptized," cf. Heb. 9:13, 19, 21. This is most clearly illustrated in Acts 16:33, in which the "washing away of the stripes" that Paul and Silas had received as punishment from the Philippian city magistrates (Acts 16:23) is coupled with the baptism of the newly converted Philippian jailer and his family. Water was applied to them by sprinkling (or, more likely, pouring) even as it was to Paul and Silas.

Now, in no case is water applied to the whole body of the person baptized, but the biblical texts are clear here and elsewhere that the whole person is baptized, i.e., "he and all his family were baptized" (Acts 16:33). In other words, the ceremonial cleansing (baptism) of a part of the person is taken as the baptism of the whole person. And the Bible in no place raises the very fine point made by the Roman Catholic website, i.e., whether a certain part of the body is actually touched by the water and whether the absence of such touching by water may invalidate the baptism. We must not be wiser than God. If the Scriptures do not even raise such an issue, neither should we raise it or be bothered by it. Hair is part of a person's body. In fact (and most interestingly, given your question), the Bible even speaks of a person's hair as part of the glory of the person (1 Cor. 11:2-16). So, there can be no doubt that even if only the hair is touched by the waters of baptism, because we (and the Bible) customarily speak in terms of "part for the whole," the person is truly baptized.

 

It is also interesting that in Psalm 133:2, the anointing of the head of Aaron (who, we assume, had hair) is clearly connected with the anointing of the whole person. While this anointing is not, technically, a baptism, the principle is the same: Blessings that flow from heaven begin with our heads (usually covered with hair) and proceed to the whole person.

 

So, don't let this question vex you. The Gospel liberates us from, among other things, the "doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to [God's] word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship" (WCF 20.2, in the chapter "Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience," a section I strongly urge you to study). I hope that you are looking, in faith, to Christ alone as your Savior and your Lord. That issue is infinitely more important than any particular questions about the administration or mode of baptism. If so, I also trust that you have been baptized with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and by a Christian minister. I also trust that you have publicly professed your faith in Christ and are a member in good standing of a church that sincerely believes the Bible and faithfully ministers it as our final and sufficient authority for all faith and life (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Under the ministry of a church like that, you will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus and also be increasingly freed from unnecessary speculation about minor matters that in no way contribute to our godliness or usefulness in the service of Christ (1 Tim. 1:3-4).

 

Source: https://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=467

 

Some good information. I was baptized as an infant in the RCC. I am in the process of looking for another church but I am holding church/Bible Study in my home each week in the mean time. Based on the Nicene Creed and Peter's word I think that baptism should suffice and I don't need to be re-baptized.

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Some good information. I was baptized as an infant in the RCC. I am in the process of looking for another church but I am holding church/Bible Study in my home each week in the mean time. Based on the Nicene Creed and Peter's word I think that baptism should suffice and I don't need to be re-baptized.

I agree, but not on account of the "Nicene Creed" or the professed orthodoxy or heterdoxy of the baptizer, but because of the name "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" in which the baptism was done. In scripture there is only one incomplete form of Christian baptism recorded, and it is not being baptized into the name of the Lord. Acts 19:1-6.

 

If you have been baptized into his name, then you have been baptized. The question arises, what happens if the baptizer falls away, or is deluded about their own faith, which amounts to the same thing, possibly. It must have arisen countless times throughout history. The answer must surely be that it is inconsequential. As long as the baptizer knew what he was doing, and it was sincere at the time, i.e. not a blasphemous invocation, then it can stand. Otherwise people would forever be being re-baptized on account of some defect in the baptizer.

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I agree, but not on account of the "Nicene Creed" or the professed orthodoxy or heterdoxy of the baptizer, but because of the name "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" in which the baptism was done. In scripture there is only one incomplete form of Christian baptism recorded, and it is not being baptized into the name of the Lord. Acts 19:1-6.

 

If you have been baptized into his name, then you have been baptized. The question arises, what happens if the baptizer falls away, or is deluded about their own faith, which amounts to the same thing, possibly. It must have arisen countless times throughout history. The answer must surely be that it is inconsequential. As long as the baptizer knew what he was doing, and it was sincere at the time, i.e. not a blasphemous invocation, then it can stand. Otherwise people would forever be being re-baptized on account of some defect in the baptizer.

 

Good point regarding the Scripture. I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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Some good information. I was baptized as an infant in the RCC. I am in the process of looking for another church but I am holding church/Bible Study in my home each week in the mean time. Based on the Nicene Creed and Peter's word I think that baptism should suffice and I don't need to be re-baptized.

 

I disagree. The RCC is a twisted authoritarian church. They made salvation their way and took personal decision and confession out of the equation. I had a friend had to hospitalized some day for he died of mersa We got to talking about baptism and like you he was under the delusion that he was saved by his infant baptism .I explained that one must understand stand sin and desire to be baptized for the remission of sins. His name was Doug and having this explained he said I want to be baptized right away. Doug was bed ridden unable to get out of bed. I had no choice. I got a bowl of waster and baptized him in the name of Father , The Son, and the Holy Ghost for his sins . One week later doug was gone.

 

Now do you see the need to be taught right knowing why

Edited by mitchel

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We got to talking about baptism and like you he was under the delusion that he was saved by his infant baptism.

The RCC is obviously a highly controversial organization, and will baptize anyone, irrespective of faith, or the faith of parents. If unbelieving parents take their child in for baptism having no intention to bring him up as a Christian, the baptism is probably blasphemous, and yes, such an unbelieving child who grows up and eventually finds Christ may want to be re-baptized, and if so it should be allowed. Yet that is an extreme case, where the re-baptized is making serious aspersions against his parents. I could identify with that myself, but on the other hand, I know I was given a lot of opportunity to become acquainted with the faith by my possibly unbelieving mother.

 

In the majority of situations the child is brought up in a christian education, of sorts, and choses voluntarily to leave the faith, possibly having never really understood it, but possibly having tasted it. He then may repent at a later date. That is really an issue of faith as much as baptism. One can't continually be being re-baptized everytime one discovers and repents of sin. Some sins are very grave, very prolonged, very deep rooted. What is going to count is the sincerity of the repentance from them Ps 51;17, and not the decision to be, or not to be, re-baptized.

 

I think re-baptism is a very serious issue, and is not to be untaken lightly. One cannot make aspersions against others for lack of faith if oneself is primarily to blame.

Edited by outlawState
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I disagree. The RCC is twisted authoritarian church. They made salvation their was and took personal decision and confession out of the equation. I had a friend had to hospitalized some day for he died of mersa We got to talking about baptism and like you he was under the delusion that he was saved by his infant baptism .I explained to one must understand stand sin and desire to be baptized for the remission of sins. His name was Doug and having this explained he said I want to be baptized right away. Doug was bed ridden unable to get out of bed. I had no choice. I got a bowl of waster and baptized him in the name of Father , The Son, and the Holy Ghost for his sins . One week later doug was gone.

 

Now do you see the need to be taught right knowing why

 

I agree the RCC is a twisted church. I was baptized though which meets the Nicene Creed requirement.

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The RCC is obviously a highly controversial organization, and will baptize anyone, irrespective of faith, or the faith of parents. If unbelieving parents take their child in for baptism having no intention to bring him up as a Christian, the baptism is probably blasphemous, and yes, such an unbelieving child who grows up and eventually finds Christ may want to be re-baptized, and if so it should be allowed. Yet that is an extreme case, where the re-baptized is making serious aspersions against his parents. I could identify with that myself, but on the other hand, I know I was given a lot of opportunity to become acquainted with the faith by my possibly unbelieving mother.

 

In the majority of situations the child is brought up in a christian education, of sorts, and choses voluntarily to leave the faith, possibly having never really understood it, but possibly having tasted it. He then may repent at a later date. That is really an issue of faith as much as baptism. One can't continually be being re-baptized everytime one discovers and repents of sin. Some sins are very grave, very prolonged, very deep rooted. What is going to count is the sincerity of the repentance from them Ps 51;17, and not the decision to be, or not to be, re-baptized.

 

I think re-baptism is a very serious issue, and is not to be untaken lightly. One cannot make aspersions against others for lack of faith if oneself is primarily to blame.

 

I was baptized as an infant in RCC, I attended Catholic High School, made communion and confirmation,.... I left the church a few years ago and I was considering re-baptism but it appears that may not be necessary. I was raised by Catholic parents.

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I agree, but not on account of the "Nicene Creed" or the professed orthodoxy or heterdoxy of the baptizer, but because of the name "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" in which the baptism was done. In scripture there is only one incomplete form of Christian baptism recorded, and it is not being baptized into the name of the Lord. Acts 19:1-6.

 

If you have been baptized into his name, then you have been baptized. The question arises, what happens if the baptizer falls away, or is deluded about their own faith, which amounts to the same thing, possibly. It must have arisen countless times throughout history. The answer must surely be that it is inconsequential. As long as the baptizer knew what he was doing, and it was sincere at the time, i.e. not a blasphemous invocation, then it can stand. Otherwise people would forever be being re-baptized on account of some defect in the baptizer.

 

I agree,

  • Notice John 3:22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing.22
  • And now John 4:1-3 4 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.3

Jesus was not baptizing Himself, but no distinction is made between being baptized by a disciple or Jesus Christ. I think even if Judas was baptizing (and as far as we know he could of been) it wouldn't matter so long as the baptism was done in the name of the Triune God.

 

God bless,

William

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I disagree. The RCC is a twisted authoritarian church. They made salvation their way and took personal decision and confession out of the equation. I had a friend had to hospitalized some day for he died of mersa We got to talking about baptism and like you he was under the delusion that he was saved by his infant baptism .I explained that one must understand stand sin and desire to be baptized for the remission of sins. His name was Doug and having this explained he said I want to be baptized right away. Doug was bed ridden unable to get out of bed. I had no choice. I got a bowl of waster and baptized him in the name of Father , The Son, and the Holy Ghost for his sins . One week later doug was gone.

 

Now do you see the need to be taught right knowing why

 

So you think Credo-baptism is necessary for salvation? Do you believe that salvation cannot occur without baptism?

 

BUT, this thread isn't to do with whether baptism is necessary for salvation or that grace is so annexed to baptism that salvation cannot happen without it. It's about the acceptable modes of baptism.

 

God bless,

William

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Not to downplay the need for baptism but the thief at the cross next to Christ was not baptized and he was saved. Also, Paul said to the Roman guard, believe in Jesus and be saved. I think this shows a person can be saved without baptism but baptism is very important.

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