Last updated: 05/02/2019


Baptism—What Does It Do, and is it Important?

 One of the oldest and greatest disagreements between denominations centers around the rite of baptism. Most mainline churches believe that everyone should be baptized, even at birth.  But, going back 2,000 years when the Christian faith was forming there was disagreement about who should be baptized, and when. The Western Church (Roman Catholic) believed that everyone in a family should be baptized, including infants. The Eastern Church (Orthodox) disagreed. They believed it should be up to each individual to decide for themselves.

The second disagreement was the manner in which the baptism is done: Should it be full emersion into water, by sprinkling, or by the pouring on of water.

Regardless of all that, probably the first question that should be addressed is:


Q. Does baptism do anything, or mean anything? 

A. There is no proof, but there does appear to be evidence that I have seen.  So, all I can do in this regard is give you my point of view, which is this: Yes, it does. I truly believe that if I had not been baptized as a child I would have ended up in jail. The Holy Spirit kept hounding me and I couldn’t escape.  If that was all, I would not have any reason to believe.  However, I’ve known too many other men like me who verged on criminality, but couldn’t escape the grasp of God's call.  And, the only thing we had in common was that we were baptized as babies.  We all agreed that we couldn't seem to escape what one poet termed, "the hound of heaven," meaning God's relentless pursuit of wayward souls.


Q. Does being baptized mean you will go to heaven? 

A. All I can say to that is, “Heavens no!”  Being baptized doesn't strip us of our free will.  Having free will means we can reject the whole thing at any time.  That doesn’t mean, however, that the Holy Spirit won’t keep trying until you flat reject all attempts (or die).


Q. Is infant baptism Biblical? 

A, Yes—read this from Peter in the Book of Acts: 38. Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39.  “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.'” (NKJ) (Emphasis is mine.)  Then there's this from Acts 16:30: 30. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'' 31. So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.'' 32. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. (The Book of Acts makes several references to, "All in a household," which usually includes babies.)


Q. What happens during baptism?

A. In baptism the Holy Spirit enters into your life and begins drawing you to himself.  If you are sensitive enough and respond to the Holy Spirit's magnetic pull, as you grow and age you tend to become more “spiritized” (my word).  God is spirit; man is entirely animal, but with spirit potential.  The way the Presbyterian Church put it is, "In baptism God seals us and claims us as His own." I like that wording.


Q. Are spirit and soul the same thing?

A. No. I think of the soul as our battery pack that will slowly drain itself as the years progress.  Humans are electro-chemical beings, as are other animals, and the soul is what provides the electro part of the chemical aspect.  However, a human's soul becomes more 'spiritized' by the life it leads, it can be conjoined with the Holy Spirit and become wholly spiritual. When that happens—normally at death—every aspect of you except your body continues on unencumbered by any physical hindrances.  The "You" who feels, laughs, loves, thinks—your personality—lives on.  It is this that was demonstrated by the resurrection of Jesus.