Baptism, the Early Church, and the Continuing Church

By COGwriter

What do you know about baptism? What was form of baptism was the early practice of the Christian Church? Was it by immersion or sprinkling?

Was the original practice changed? And who changed it? Who should be baptized? What is an appropriate baptismal ceremony?

There currently are major differences between the Greco-Roman Catholic Churches and the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) in this area. Which is the church that is most faithful to the teachings of the early church?

If you are called to be a Christian (see our free, online, booklet: Is God Calling You?), do you need to be baptized?

This article will attempt to answer those questions from the Bible, early literature, Greco-Roman Catholic-approved sources, and Church of God writings. A related sermon video is titled Baptism: What is it and how should it be done?

What Was the Original Practice?

The idea of being cleansed by water is shown in various parts of the Old Testament.

Here are comments from the Jewish Encyclopedia:

The natural method of cleansing the body by washing and bathing in water was always customary in Israel (see Ablution, Bathing). The washing of their clothes was an important means of sanctification enjoined on the Israelites before the Revelation on Mt. Sinai (Ex. xix. 10). The Rabbis connect with this the duty of bathing by complete immersion ("ṭebilah," Yeb. 46b; Mek., Baḥodesh, iii.); and since sprinkling with blood was always accompanied by immersion, tradition connects with this immersion the blood lustration mentioned as having also taken place immediately before the Revelation (Ex. xxiv. 8), these three acts being the initiatory rites always performed upon proselytes, "to bring them under the wings of the Shekinah" (Yeb. l.c.).

According to rabbinical teachings, which dominated even during the existence of the Temple (Pes. viii. 8), Baptism, next to circumcision and sacrifice, was an absolutely necessary condition to be fulfilled by a proselyte to Judaism (Yeb. 46b, 47b; Ker. 9a; 'Ab. Zarah 57a; Shab. 135a; Yer. Kid. iii. 14, 64d). (Kohler K, Krauss S. Baptism. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906)

Here is one view of the origin of baptism from a Protestant source:

What is the origin of baptism?

Concerning the origin of baptism, Christian theologians suggest that although Christian baptism may have been widely used by John the Baptist, baptism itself did not originate with Christians or, for that matter, with John. Jews practiced baptism as a traditional act of purification and the initiation of converts to Judaism long before the coming of the Messiah. The origins of baptism might be found in the book of Leviticus where the Levite priests were commanded to perform a symbolic cleansing in water before and after performing their priestly duties. Leviticus 16:4 tells us, “He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.” Scripture also states in Leviticus 16:23-24, "Then Aaron is to go into the Tent of Meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there. He shall bathe himself with water in a holy place and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people.”

Although the act described in these Old Testament passages was not specifically called “baptism,” it does highlight how important and holy ceremonial (and practical) cleansing is to God. John’s “baptism of repentance” (Luke 3:3; Acts 19:4) followed this paradigm of cleansing, although the final cleansing from sin is only available through Christ, and John’s baptism was the foreshadowing of that. The significance of baptism as a New Testament ceremony is that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are baptized into His death (Romans 6:3) and raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4 KJV). The Lord taught the significance of baptism to the extent that He Himself was baptized by John the Baptist at the start of His ministry (Mark 1:9). ( accessed 09/15/16)

Consider also, that in addition to the various washings, we find this in the Book of Ezekiel that ties water cleansing and some type of conversion:

24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. (Ezekiel 36:24-29)

John the Baptist was the first person shown in the Bible to baptize. (Although the New Testament also discusses a type of baptism that happened in a sense in the Old Testament, see 1 Corinthians 10:1-2, it was not quite the same type of baptism.)

Notice that the Bible shows that repentance was necessary, as well as a lot of water, for this practice:

... the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Luke 3:2-3).

After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized (John 3:22-23).

If sprinkling was how baptism was done, there would be no reason to go to a place that had a lot of water. Having any water container would do. Immersion, and not sprinkling, was the practice.

Jesus of Nazareth was baptized. Jesus never sinned! He did not NEED to be baptized as a repentant sinner, but only because "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus' baptism, then, was an EXAMPLE to all true Christians.

Furthermore, the use of water for baptism was continued by the apostles after they received the Holy Spirit. Notice the following:

46 ... Then Peter answered, 47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (Acts 10:46-48)

Water baptism was also practiced by the successors of the apostles.

Who should be baptized?

Those called to be real Christians (see also Is God Calling You?).

Notice what the Apostle Peter taught:

38 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 (Acts 2:38-39).

The repentant adults were to be baptized, partially so that later their children could be done. Young children were not being baptized.

Notice also the following:

34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, "I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?" 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" 37 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:34-38)

Infants cannot believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Hence, they are not eligible for baptism.

After the Apostle Paul taught:

8 And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized (Acts 18:8).

The original practice in the New Testament was immersion after belief and repentance. It was essentially considered as the process to wash new Christians of the sins/faults of their past. Notice:

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, KJV).

Baptism was mostly done out-of-doors, but sometimes inside, but always by immersion. And clothed.

Notice that the Roman Church admits that immersion was the original practice, without the use of baptismal fonts (like it now uses):

In the Apostolic Age, as in Jewish times (John 3:23), baptism was administered without special fonts, at the seaside or in streams or pools of water (Acts 8:38); Tertullian refers to St. Peter's baptizing in the Tiber (De bapt., iv); similarly; in later periods of evangelization, missionaries baptized in rivers as is narrated of St. Paulinus in England by Bede (Hist. Eccl., II, xiv-xvi). (Peterson JB. Transcribed by the Cloistered Dominican Nuns. Baptismal Font. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The word Baptism is derived from the Greek word, bapto, or baptizo, to wash or to immerse. It signifies, therefore, that washing is of the essential idea of the sacrament...The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion. This is not only evident from the writings of the Fathers and the early rituals of both the Latin and Oriental Churches, but it can also be gathered from the Epistles of St. Paul, who speaks of baptism as a bath (Ephesians 5:26; Romans 6:4; Titus 3:5). In the Latin Church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as the sixteenth century. Infusion and aspersion, however, were growing common in the thirteenth century and gradually prevailed in the Western Church. The Oriental Churches have retained immersion (Fanning, William H.W. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J. Baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature" (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 342).

Notice that The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that immersion was the biblical practice, the practice of the early Church, and was slowly dropped in the Latin/Western Church. Hence it admits that it is not faithful to the original practice of baptism. Also notice that the Catechism of the Catholic Church admits that baptism is a plunging/immersion that shows a burial and resurrection, but this certainly is not the ceremony that they use of infants (which most likely are the majority of those baptized by Roman Catholics).

In the 20th century Franciscan Jean Briand reported:

Authors of old only described adult baptisms. (Briand J. The Judeo-Christian Church of Nazareth.  Translated from the French by Mildred Duell. 1st edition, Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1982, p. 54)

After reviewing documents and other evidence, Roman Catholic scholar and priest Bagatti correctly concluded that Judeo-Christians did not baptize infants, “following the example of the Lord” (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 239).

Rebaptism & Counseling?

What about rebaptism or counseling?

Although, John the Baptist is not shown to have had baptismal counseling, he also did not teach about the Holy Spirit, as the following confirms:

1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"

So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."

3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?"

So they said, "Into John's baptism."

4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all. (Acts 19:1-7)

Now, some wonder today if they need to be baptized again. Well, notice the following from Jesus, as recorded by Luke:

28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (Luke 7:28)

John the Baptist also baptized Jesus (Matthew 3:13).

Yet, John's baptism was not consider sufficient for Christians--they needed hands laid upon them.

Anyway, I personally was baptized as an infant by the Church of Rome and as a teen by Salem Bible Church. But, I realized that I did not truly understand sin or Christianity until learning more from the old WCG, which baptized me over four decades ago.

Furthermore, Jesus taught that people should "count the cost" (Luke 14:28), and baptismal counseling helps with that. Since Jesus said all sins, except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can be forgiven (Matthew 12:31; see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?), we do not want any to commit that sin.

Notice what the Apostle Paul told Timothy:

22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22)

Hence, Christian ministers tend to counsel with people before baptizing them. We try NOT to rush baptism.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that Philip counseled with the Eunuch before he was baptized (cf. Acts 8:29-38).

The old Worldwide Church of God told ministerial trainees the following about baptismal counseling:

How much knowledge is required before baptism?

Repentance is not based on knowledge. Satan has knowledge but he’s not ready for baptism.

Matthew 28:19 - 20

The doctrines and commandments and way of life are to be taught after baptism. However, they must know what sin is and they must understand the sacrifice of Christ. Hebrews 11:6 Are they totally convinced God does exist, that the Bible is His inspired Word and that this is God’s Church? Have they really proven it for thems elves? Spend time on this with second - generation Christians who grew up in the Church. Romans 14:1 - 6 They don’t have to be perfect. The Sabbath is the test commandment though. There’s only one reason anyone would begin keeping the Sabbath — to obey God. Mr HWA has baptized people who were smoking and eating unclean meats, but whom he knew from their attitudes, would yield to the truth when they came to understand it.

There is no set routine for Baptism counseling, but the following guidelines should help:

Find out why they want to be baptized People want baptism for various reasons — to be accepted by the Church, to salve a guilt conscience, “because God commands it”, “because it’s necessary for salvation”, “so I can receive God’s Spirit”. Make sure they unders tand the right reason for baptism and that they want it for the same reason the Bible says they should want it.

Acts 2:37

These men realized they were under a penalty of death — that they had God’s blood on their hands. They needed salvation from death forev er. Are they throwing themselves on God’s mercy? Is this the reason they want baptism?

Acts 2:38

Baptism is for the remission of sins. The purpose of baptism is not so we can get God’s Holy Spirit. It’s to wipe away our guilty past, remove the penalty of e ternal death. The gift of God’s Spirit doesn’t even come at baptism. It comes with the laying on of hands following baptism. Unless an individual understands the purpose of baptism, they probably aren’t ready yet. Invariably, they will express a desire for God’s Spirit which is a good desire. Explain to them that God can’t place His Spirit in an unrepentant mind.

Help them understand the role of the minister

Make them realize that the purpose of coming to the ministry is not to ‘get checked out’ for baptism . Help them to understand that only three people know what they’re thinking and whether or not they’ve repented — God, Jesus Christ and themselves. Show them why God and Christ won’t make the decisions for them — that the ultimate decision to be baptized is theirs! They must decide, because only they can correctly analyze their minds to see if they’re repentant.

The purpose of the ministry is to help them correctly analyze their own mind. We can ask them questions, expound the Biblical passages dealing with baptism, use analogies so they can search their own minds — but the ultimate decision must be theirs. If we see they’re not ready, we’ll do them the service of telling them, explaining why and what they’ve got to do about it. But we don’t decide for them. Get t hem away from the idea that somehow they’ve got to convince us they’re ready. Explain that they are responsible for their own salvation — that we are there to help, serve and advise — that no minister is ever going to make the most important decision in their lives for them. Have them explain what repentance means to them personally Most people’s understanding of repentance is superficial. Unless the minister fully understands it and has deeply repented himself, he won’t be able to really help another individua l see it and understand it.

Matthew 12:34 “Out of the abundance of the heart...”

Get them talking, explaining, expressing themselves. Don’t look for pat answers — look for understanding. Repentance is not knowledge, it is an attitude of mind. People need to know they’ve sinned and had an attitude of hostility towards God’s Way. Has the rebellion against God and His Laws gone? Has he a completely submissive attitude? Does he abhor himself? Is he willing to change in accord with the instruction of the Bible? ...

What about fruits?

Matthew 3:8

With brand new people, where you doubt their repentance, you may want to give them time to bring forth the fruit of repentance. The Sabbath is the number one test commandment. You can also use any of the other commandments they may not know about if there is any doubt. Never let them leave you without their fully understanding why you think they need more time. If there is any doubt in your mind or theirs as to whether or not they’re ready, have them wait. Baptism is an act of faith.

Have they counted the cost?

Luke 14:25 - 30

Take them through this. Make sure they have counted t he cost. Do they realize they have been bought with a price and their life will not be their own? Explain the meaning of Romans 6:1 - 15 — that baptism is a burial and so far as the Law is concerned, they die with Jesus Christ at baptism and the penalty of the Law is satisfied. After that Christ lives His life in them and they must follow whatever His Spirit and His Word directs.

Help them to understand why they’re being called now

Show them that this is a worldwide Work with the greatest commission ever given to a group of human beings. Teach them that God isn’t calling people now just to give them salvation. If they don’t see and understand their responsibility to support this great Work mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally — if they want baptism j ust so they can have personal salvation — if they don’t want to be a part of what God is doing — they’re not ready for baptism.

Let them make the final decision

Don’t take the decision out of their hands at the end by telling them they’re not ready. Ask them if they think they’re ready. If it’s obvious they are, say to them that you can’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be baptized. Ask them for their decision. This will help them to realize salvation is between them and God and that they can’t play games wi th Him — that no minister is going to make decisions of faith for them.

Explain the Laying on of Hands to them. Help them to see that the act of baptism also represents their total willingness to submit to God and His personal rule over their lives and that the Laying on of Hands represents the first extension of the government of God through human instruments into their lives — that if they are going to be a part of God’s government forever, they must be willing to live under the government now. Show them how the Laying on of Hands invests them personally with the responsibility of doing a job through that government — of being a part of this Work. (Morton R. Preparing for the Ministry. WCG, 1975)

The laying on of hands is the connection/means of granting the Holy Spirit (see also Laying on of Hands).

Irenaeus Condemned the One Who Came Up With a Baptismal Practice Like One Now Utilized by the Latin Church

From a "Christian" perspective, it appears that a heretic named Marcus may have come up with a version of the Catholic eucharistic and baptismal sacraments/ceremonies. Notice that Irenaeus (a Roman, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican Catholic saint) condemned mystical consecrations and non-immersion baptismal practices:

1. But there is another among these heretics, Marcus by name, who boasts himself as having improved upon his master. He is a perfect adept in magical impostures, and by this means drawing away a great number of men, and not a few women, he has induced them to join themselves to him, as to one who is possessed of the greatest knowledge and perfection, and who has received the highest power from the invisible and ineffable regions above. Thus it appears as if he really were the precursor of Antichrist. For, joining the buffooneries of Anaxilaus to the craftiness of the magi, as they are called, he is regarded by his senseless and cracked-brain followers as working miracles by these means.

3 ... Others, again, lead them to a place where water is, and baptize them, with the utterance of these words, "Into the name of the unknown Father of the universe -- into truth, the mother of all things -- into Him who descended on Jesus -- into union, and redemption, and communion with the powers." Others still repeat certain Hebrew words, in order the more thoroughly to bewilder those who are being initiated, as follows: "Basema, Chamosse, Baoenaora, Mistadia, Ruada, Kousta, Babaphor, Kalachthei." The interpretation of these terms runs thus: "I invoke that which is above every power of the Father, which is called light, and good Spirit, and life, because Thou hast reigned in the body." Others, again, set forth the redemption thus: The name which is hidden from every deity, and dominion, and truth which Jesus of Nazareth was clothed with in the lives of the light of Christ -- of Christ, who lives by the Holy Ghost, for the angelic redemption. The name of restitution stands thus: Messia, Uphareg, Namempsoeman, Chaldoeaur, Mosomedoea, Acphranoe, Psaua, Jesus Nazaria...

4 ... But there are some of them who assert that it is superfluous to bring persons to the water, but mixing oil and water together, they place this mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated, with the use of some such expressions as we have already mentioned (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book I, 13:1; 21:3-4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

More on Marcus and his influence can be found in the article: Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist?

The Roman Catholic sacrament of baptism seems to bear a strong resemblance to the type of ceremonies that Irenaeus condemned. Yet, the Greco-Roman churches adopted them within a century or two:

The use of holy water in the earliest days of the Christian Era is attested by documents of only comparatively late date. The "Apostolic Constitutions", the redaction of which goes back to about the year 400, attribute to the Apostle St. Matthew the precept of using holy water. The letter written under the name of Pope Alexander I, who lived in the second century, is apocryphal and of more recent times; hence the first historical testimony does not go back beyond the fifth century. ... As, in many cases, the water used for the Sacrament of Baptism was flowing water, sea or river water, it could not receive the same blessing as that contained in the baptisteries. On this particular point the early liturgy is obscure, but two recent discoveries are of very decided interest. The Pontifical of Serapion of Thumis, a fourth-century bishop, and likewise the "testamentum Domini", a Syriac composition dating from the fifth to the sixth century, contain a blessing of oil and water during Mass. The formula in Scrapion's Pontifical is as follows: "We bless these creatures in the Name of Jesus Christ, Thy only Son; we invoke upon this water and this oil the Name of Him Who suffered, Who was crucified, Who arose from the dead, and Who sits at the right of the Uncreated. Grant unto these creatures the power to heal; may all fevers, every evil spirit, and all maladies be put to flight by him who either drinks these beverages or is anointed with them, and may they be a remedy in the Name of Jesus Christ, Thy only Son." As early as the fourth century various writings, the authenticity of which is free from suspicion, mention the use of water sanctified either by the liturgical blessing just referred to, or by the individual blessing of some holy person. ...

Gregory of Tours (De gloria confess., c. 82) tells of a recluse named Eusitius who lived in the sixth century and possessed the power of curing quartan fever by giving its victims to drink of water that he had blessed; we might mention many other instances treasured up by this same Gregory ("De Miraculis S. Martini", II, xxxix; "Mirac. S. Juliani", II, iii, xxv, xxvi; "Liber de Passione S. Juliani"; "Vitae Patrum", c. iv, n. 3). It is known that some of the faithful believed that holy water possessed curative properties for certain diseases, and that this was true in a special manner of baptismal water. In some places it was carefully preserved throughout the year and, by reason of its having been used in baptism, was considered free from all corruption. This belief spread from East to West; and scarcely had baptism been administered, when the people would crown around with all sorts of vessels and take away the water, some keeping it carefully in their homes whilst others watered their fields, vineyards, and gardens with it ("Ordo rom. I", 42, in "Mus. ital.", II, 26). (Leclercq, H. (1910). Holy Water. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 4, 2015 from New Advent:

The use of 'holy water' seems to have been adopted by some of the Greco-Romans in the fourth century and became more widespread later.  

I should probably add that while I do not know if any oil is used with Roman Catholic baptisms, that oil is placed in the baptismal fonts when they are blessed (normally by a bishop or priest). The Bible mentions water and the laying on of hands only (Acts 8:36; 19:5-6; see also Laying on of Hands).

Justin and Others Utilized Pagan Practices

Justin, known as Justin Martyr, is a Greco-Roman and Protestant saint, though truly an apostate (see Justin Martyr: Saint, Heretic, or Apostate? ).

Justin had practices that were similar to those employed by the followers of the sun-god Mithra (see also Do You Practice Mithraism?):

For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water ... And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings (First Apology 61).

Lest anyone think that he did not have ties to Mithraism, notice what the historian and scholar K. Latourette observed:

One of the earliest descriptions of the Eucharist, that by Justin Martyr, not far from the middle of the second century, recognizes the similarity to what was seen in one the mystery cults, has been repeatedly asserted that in baptism and the Eucharist Christians borrowed from the mysteries and that Christianity was simply another one of these cults ... The similarity is striking ... baptized, which Justin calls "illumination" (Latourette KS. A History of Christianity, Volume 1: to A.D. 1500. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1975, pp. 198,200).

Of course, true Christianity could not "borrow" from the sun-cults, but Justin and those that follow his examples apparently have.

It should be understood that while Justin calls the newly baptized "illuminated" the Bible does not.

Are you aware that one of the objectives of mystery religions like Mithraism was to become illuminated? Notice the following:

FOR more than three centuries Mithraism was practised in the remotest provinces of the Roman empire and under the most diverse conditions...the promise of complete illumination, long withheld, fed the ardor of faith with the fascinating allurements of mystery...The gods were everywhere, and they mingled in every act of life; the fire that cooked the food and warmed the bodies of the faithful, the water that allayed their thirst and cleansed their persons, the very air that they breathed, and the light that illuminated their paths, were the objects of their adoration. Perhaps no other religion ever offered to its sectaries in a higher degree than Mithraism opportunities for prayer and motives for veneration (Cumont, Franz. Translated from the second revised French edition by Thomas J. McCormack. The Mysteries of Mithra. Chicago, Open Court [1903] pp. 104,120,149).

I suspect that some who had some connection with Mithraism professed Christ and that those ceremonies got picked up by apostates who Justin apparently came into contact with. And even though Justin is attempting to state that Mithraism copied "Christian" ceremonies, the fact is that the Mithra ceremonies were in existence prior to Jesus coming (see also Do You Practice Mithraism?).

Another bizarre practice that some claim used to be involved with compromised"Christianity" was nude baptism. Notice the following:

In at least some churches ... the candidate was baptized naked, the children first, then the men, and finally the women. No one was to take into the water anything except his body (Latourette KS. A History of Christianity, Volume 1: to A.D. 1500. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1975, p. 194).

As the Bible in no way endorses (nor records) nude baptism, the above demonstrates that pagan practices were used for people who professed, but apparently did not understand, Christ. Hippolytus of Rome and some in Egypt seemed to endorse around the third century, but Rome eventually distanced itself from this (for more information, please see Did Real Christians Practice Nude Baptism?). The Old Testament prohibited various ones from seeing naked relatives (Leviticus 18:6-18).

Hence, sadly, at a relatively early stage, between calling baptism "illumination", having mass naked baptisms, and including children, there were heretical practices that many who professed Christ adopted--though thankfully not all of those have been retained by the mainstream religions (Do You Practice Mithraism?).

Baptism of Infants/Children

Of the 100 or so times the terms Baptist, baptize, baptized, etc. are used of those in the New Testament, there is never one time that infants or young children are specifically mentioned as being baptized.

There is no recorded instance that baptism not allowed unless there was some type of repentance or professed belief. The Roman Catholic Church (as well as other churches, like the Eastern Orthodox) understand that, but they change the practice for infants.

Notice what a 16th century Roman Catholic named Jodocus Tiletanus admitted related to 'holy water':

Thus Jodocus Tiletanus of Louvaine, defending the doctrine of "Unwritten Tradition," does not hesitate to say, "We are not satisfied with that which the apostles or the Gospel do declare, but we say that, as well before as after, there are divers matters of importance and weight accepted and received out of a doctrine which is nowhere set forth in writing. For we do blesse the water wherewith we baptize, and the oyle wherewith we annoynt; yea, and besides that, him that is christened. And (I pray you) out of what Scripture have we learned the same? Have we it not of a secret and unwritten ordinance? And further, what Scripture hath taught us to grease with oyle? Yea, I pray you, whence cometh it, that we do dype the childe three times in the water? Doth it not come out of this hidden and undisclosed doctrine, which our forefathers have received closely without any curiosity, and do observe it still." This learned divine of Louvaine, of course, maintains that "the hidden and undisclosed doctrine" of which he speaks, was the "unwritten word" handed down through the channel of infallibility, from the Apostles of Christ to his own time. But, after what we have already seen, the reader will probably entertain a different opinion of the source from which the hidden and undisclosed doctrine must have come. And, indeed, Father Newman himself admits, in regard to "holy water" (that is, water impregnated with "salt," and consecrated), and many other things that were, as he says, "the very instruments and appendages of demon-worship"--that they were all of "Pagan" origin, and "sanctified by adoption into the Church."(Harvet, Gentianus. Review of Epistles, PP. 19B, 20A, London 1598, as quoted by Hislop A. Two Babylons. Originally 1853, expanded 1858. Loizeaux Brothers, Inc.; 2nd edition, 1959)

Hence it is known that infant baptism is not from scripture and that somehow it entered Greco-Roman Catholicism from a secret ordinance. Furthermore, the Roman Catholic Church itself teaches that following about baptism:

Baptismal Vows The name popularly given to the renunciations required of an adult candidate for baptism just before the sacrament is conferred. In the case of infant baptism, they are made in the name of the child by the sponsors (Delany J.F. Transcribed by Janet Grayson. Baptismal Vows. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

1427    Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” In the Church’s preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 398).

However, since a baby cannot repent nor confess belief in Christ, any statement by an adult sponsor cannot be imputed to the baby. That is one of the most important reasons why infant baptism is not appropriate. The Catechism of the Catholic Church sort of even admits that when it states:

1231...By its very nature infant baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth...

1254 For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism...

1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents help is important. So too, is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized--child or adult--on the road to the Christian life. There task is a truly ecclesial function (officium) (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, pp. 342,351).

What is a required post-baptismal catechumenate? The statement does not make logical sense (as the dictionary definition of catechumenate does not seem to mean "godparents", it seems to mean one new to the faith instead, which is about the same definition of a catechumen). More importantly, an infant does not have any faith to begin with, hence does not the have faith that grows after baptism. An infant is incapable of repentance and no one can repent for someone else (the Bible, in Philippians 2:12 teaches, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling").

In addition, there is nothing in the entire Bible that suggests that any "godparents" are assigned to either children or adults after baptism (there also is no example of infant baptism in the entire Bible). How can "the role of the godfather and godmother" be an important and ecclesial function if it is not even mentioned in the Bible? It is also not mentioned in any early Christian writings.

Interestingly, Irenaeus says that the Valentinians had heretical views regarding baptism:

But there are some of them who assert that it is superfluous to bring persons to the water, but mixing oil and water together, they place this mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated, with the use of some such expressions as we have already mentioned. And this they maintain to be the redemption (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book 1, Chapter 21, Verse 4).

Yet is this not close to what is done today within Roman Catholicism, as well as other groups like the Eastern Orthodox, that practice infant baptism? (See also Blessing of Children or Infant Baptism?)

Eastern Orthodox use of Sponsors (Godparents)

It is not just the Church of Rome that used unbiblical traditions related to infant baptism. Notice the following related to their use of sponsors, which the Church of Rome and Eastern Orthodox tend to call godparents related to infants:

On behalf of the infant, the sponsor makes the renunciation of the Devil. He/she promises that the child will grow later to renounce the Devil, both in word and in deed and to repudiate his tempting influence.

The Sponsor is called upon to answer questions put to him/her by the Priest. The same question is asked three times and three times the sponsor must reply. ":Dost thou renounce Satan, and all his angels, and all his works, and all his service, and all his pride".

The Sponsor replies: "I Do" three times.

Then the Priest will ask the Sponsor again three times: "Hast thou renounced Satan?" The Sponsor again replies: "I Have".

The renunciation of Satan is followed by these words stated by the Priest: "Blow and spit upon him." The Sponsor replies by blowing three times into the air away from the sanctuary in the direction of the rear of the Church and also spits three times into the air. This is the customary way of expressing contempt for the Devil, as well as banishing him from one's presence.

The sponsor then turns and faces the Sanctuary and responds to the second series of the questions: "Dost thou unite thyself unto Christ?" Sponsor replies "I Do". "Hast thou united thyself unto Christ?" Sponsor: "I Have". Both questions are asked three times. Then the Priest continues with: "Dost thou believe in Him?" The Sponsor replies: "I believe in Him as my King and as my God."

Then the Sponsor recites a confession of Faith, the Nicene Creed. It is a serious violation when the Sponsor is not prepared to recite the Creed of Faith. The practice of having the Cantor or someone else recite it is definitely not permitted. Knowledge of the Creed and familiarity with it constitutes the most important pre-requisite for becoming a Sponsor. It is the height of mockery of Holy Baptism when the Sponsor is unable to recite the Creed, which is the symbol of the Christian Faith.

After the Creed the Priest once again directs the question to the Sponsor: "Hast thou united thyself unto Christ?" The answer which is given is: "I Have". This question and answer are again repeated three times. Then the Priest directs "Bow down also and adore Him." The Sponsor blessing himself/herself responds: "I bow down before the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, one in Essence and undivided."

The Sponsor pledges himself \ herself to do whatever is necessary to educate his or her Godchild in the Christian Faith and that he or she will set a good example of a Christian to the Godchild.

What Is Expected Of the Godparent?

It is a gross misunderstanding to think that the only duty of the Godparent is to buy a new outfit for the infant. Certainly this is a beautiful tradition, when possible, but the emphasis must not be on the material but rather the spiritual. The Godparent should make a faithful commitment of love and that he will join the struggle with the parents, guided by the Church, to bring the infant carefully and prayerfully along the difficult road to heaven. The essential articles for the Baptism include:

  1. A small bottle of olive oil.
  2. A bar of soap.
  3. A large washable sheet.
  4. One (1) large towel.
  5. One hand towel.
  6. A white suit or a white dress for the infant.
  7. A baptismal cross (cross must be an Orthodox cross).
  8. Three (3) white candles, one can be traditionally decorated.
  9. Sponsor must be prepared to recite the Nicene Creed in Greek or English.

(Holy Baptism. Saint Eleftherios Greek Orthodox Church. accessed 07/04/15)

There is nothing in the Bible about blowing or spitting on Satan to get baptized nor does it require the wearing of white or the use of candles. Much of this sounds like some type of pagan practices that the Greco-Romans have adopted. As far as the Nicene Creed goes, it was NOT all from the Bible and was not the 'creed of the apostles' (see also What Was the Original Apostles' Creed? What is the Nicene Creed?). The early Christians also did NOT use crosses (see What is the Origin of the Cross as a 'Christian' Symbol?).

Infant Baptism is Simply a Tradition of Men Without A Solid Early Foundation

Some claim that because the New Testament records that some households were baptized that this proves that infants were also baptized. But this is reading something into the Bible that is not there. Let's look at the first example of this in the Book of Acts:

1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. (Acts 10:1-2)

13 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, 'Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.' 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" (Acts 11:13-17)

Thus, since the household was also fearing God, and infants obviously cannot do that, the term household should not be concluded as proof that infants were baptized. Using passages like Acts 11 is not a solid foundation; and few would insist that infants started speaking then. Furthermore, if that was the case then early Christians would have accepted infant baptism and there would not have been controversies associated with it. Thus, early Christians did not understand that the baptism of households in the New Testament authorized infant baptism.

If infant baptism was a New Testament need or practice, why, then, does the Bible nowhere command us to baptize children? While circumcision was required for infant boys in the Old Testament (Genesis 17:12), there is no similar requirement for the baptism of infants in the New Testament. In those days infant mortality rates were high, one would expect Scripture to mandate infant baptism if it was essential to a child's salvation.

To the contrary, there is not a single clear example of a child being baptized in the New Testament

There are many admitted traditions that the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and others follow, including infant baptism. But one amazing one is a false conclusion about Polycarp of Smyrna (a church leader in the second century). Notice the following false tradition that supposedly proves infant baptism.  Note: Any bolding is in the sources:

St. Polycarp, who was the disciple of the Apostle John himself (as well as an associate of the Apostle Philip). And, in AD 155, St. Polycarp said this at his execution:

"Polycarp declared, 'Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me injury. How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?" (Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp 9 c. AD 156)

Now, it is well documented that "The Martyrdom of Polycarp" was written the year after the saint's execution; and so the quote above is extremely reliable. It is also well documented that Polycarp was 86 years old at the time of his death. Therefore, if the saint claims to have served Jesus for 86 years, it therefore follows that he was Baptized as an infant. And, in another place, we are told that Polycarp was Baptized by none other than the Apostle John! :-) Therefore, at least in the case of St. John, we can show conclusively that the Apostles Baptized infants (Bonocore MJ. Infant Baptism.  Apolonio’s Catholic Apologetics. viewed 10/06/08).

Polycarp stated at his martyrdom (167/8 A.D.) that he had been in the "service of Christ" for eighty-six years. Other recorded dates from Polycarp's life make it likely that eighty-six years was his age from birth. Joachim Jeremias, in The Origins of Infant Baptism, concludes the following from these facts: "This shows at any rate that his parents were already Christians, or at least were converted quite soon after his birth. If his parents were pagans at his birth, he would have been baptized with the 'house' at their conversion. But even if his parents were Christians, the words 'service of Christ for eighty-six years' support a baptism soon after his birth rather than one as a child of 'mature years'...for which there is no evidence at all." (Bajis J. Infant Baptism. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. viewed 07/04/15)

Now while the above may sound plausible, the truth is that Polycarp never claimed to have been baptized as an infant. Nor did he claim he was 86 years old when he died. An ancient manuscript called the Harris Fragments shows the following with one addition from me in {}:

Polycarp...He was… {an} old man, being one hundred and f[our] of age.  He continued to walk [i]n the canons which he had learned from his youth from John the a[p]ostle.(Weidman, Frederick W.  Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to Literary Traditions.  University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame (IL), 1999, pp. 43,44).

So, if Polycarp lived to be 104, then he was baptized at age 18, and thus was not baptized as an infant (more on Polycarp's age can be found in the article Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter).  Hence, the Harris Fragments are one other way to help disprove mythological traditions that are simply not biblical. No early true Christian advocated, nor practiced, infant baptism.

Polycarp had to have been older than 86 when he died to have possibly been appointed a bishop by any of the original apostles, especially if this happened when Polycarp was around age forty. Notice what Coptic Orthodox Bishop Youssef has claimed:

Polycarp...Appointed to be Bishop of the See of Smyrna by the Apostles themselves, at the age of 40, he provides us with an important link in our long historical chain of Orthodox tradition clasping together the Apostles and the Second Century Church. (Youssef HG, Bishop. St. Polycarp the Blessed Peacemaker. Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States. viewed 12/01/2012.)

Perhaps it may be of interest to mention that in 1821, “Cler. Gloc.” wrote that Polycarp was placed in charge of the “See of Smyrna” for around seventy years, that he calculated that Polycarp probably lived around 100 years based upon other historical records, and that the idea Polycarp died at age 86 was a “misconception”(Gloc. C. Letter to the Remembrancer, August 1821. As shown in Scott W. Garden F. Mozely JB. The Christian remembrancer. Printed for F.C. & J. Rivington, 1821. Original from the New York Public Library, Digitized Nov 21, 2007, p. 454).

Where Did Infant Baptism Originate Among Early Professors of Christ?

Actually, Origen, a third century Alexandrian who was later condemned as a heretic by the Roman Church, was one of the first to declare that infant baptism was a tradition (many odd traditions were claimed to have apostolic origin in Alexandria--see the article Apostolic Succession). Other third century Greco-Romans did as well.

Some Greco-Roman Catholic-accepted leaders raised questions about infant baptism. If infant baptism was strongly encouraged by the Bible, it is not likely Tertullian would have written (late second/early third century):

But they whose office it is, know that baptism is not rashly to be administered...God's approbation sends sure premonitory tokens before it; every " petition " may both deceive and be deceived. And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children...The Lord does indeed say, "Forbid them not to come unto me." Let them "come," then, while they are growing up; let them "come" while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the "remission of sins?...If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay: sound faith is secure of salvation (Tertullian. On Baptism, Chapter 18. Translated by S. Thelwall).

Infants are incapable of possessing a sound faith. Hence it is clear that infant baptism was not widely understood to be a biblically encouraged practice as late as the beginning of the third century. The only thing that seems to be realized is that Jesus blest little children (which is what that passage related to "Forbid them not" is related to).

Also notice what Eastern Orthodox Archbishop Gregory Nazianzen taught in the fourth century:

Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for Baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children, and conscious neither of the loss nor of the grace? Are we to baptize them too? Certainly, if any danger presses...But in respect of others I give my advice to wait till the end of the third year, or a little more or less, when they may be able to listen and to answer something about the Sacrament; that, even though they do not perfectly understand it, yet at any rate they may know the outlines; and then to sanctify them in soul and body with the great sacrament of our consecration (Oration 40: The Oration on Holy Baptism, Chapter XXVIII. Preached at Constantinople Jan. 6, 381).

In other words, unless some child was about to die, even into the late fourth century, baptism of infants and small children was not a universal practice, nor requirement. And actually what was still advocated is that the person (even if a small child) should be able to "be able to listen and to answer something about" baptism.

The Catholic Encyclopedia clearly admits that infant baptism was a practice that eventually became customary--in other words it was not part of the original faith. Notice:

Further, when infant baptism became customary, confirmation was not administered until the child had attained the use of reason. This is the present practice, though there is considerable latitude as to the precise age (Scannell T.B. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney. Confirmation. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Perhaps it should be mentioned here that "confirmation" did not become an issue until after infant baptism was accepted. Notice this admission:

Before the time of Tertullian the Fathers do not make any explicit mention of confirmation as distinct from baptism. The fact that the two sacraments were conferred together may account for this silence (Scannell T.B. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney. Confirmation. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Actually, since baptism was not done for infants, there was no need to have a separate confirmation. Nor does the Bible anywhere explicitly teach about the need for properly baptized individuals to be later confirmed. The idea of a separate confirmation is clearly another tradition of men--and is not even truly claimed to be a "tradition for the apostles" by any early writer.

Notice that one associated with the Eastern Orthodox admits that infant baptism is not based upon scripture:

I myself must admit that I did not always feel comfortable about the Orthodox Church baptizing infants. I asked myself several other questions as well: "How can an infant 'believe and be baptized'?" "Where in Scripture does it show an infant being baptized?" (Bajis J. Infant Baptism. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. faith/articles/article7067.asp 8/21/05).

It should be clearly stated that there is not one verse in the Bible that says that any infants were baptized or are to be baptized. It should also be understood that since the fourth century Archbishop of Constantinople Gregory Nazianzen advised against infant baptism unless there were life threatening issues, that obviously automatic infant baptism was not a practice of the Eastern Orthodox.

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that infant baptism and other practices are simply based upon tradition:

The designation of unwritten Divine traditions was not always given all the clearness desirable especially in early times; however Catholic controversialists soon proved to the Protestants that to be logical and consistent they must admit unwritten traditions as revealed. Otherwise by what right did they rest on Sunday and not on Saturday? How could they regard infant baptism as valid, or baptism by infusion? How could they permit the taking of an oath, since Christ had commanded that we swear not at all? The Quakers were more logical in refusing all oaths, the Anabaptists in re-baptizing adults, the Sabbatarians in resting on Saturday. (Bainvel J. Transcribed by Tomas Hancil. Tradition and Living Magisterium. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is true that most of the traditions mentioned above are practices that most in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches accept. Since those traditions do contradict the biblical accounts (and even The Catholic Encyclopedia admitted that on most of them), those practices should be rejected and should not be part of the traditions of either of those groups. This rejection is consistent with the previously cited writing by Irenaeus, who is accepted as a Saint by the Catholics, the Orthodox supporters, and many of the Protestants. It is also consistent with the Sola Scriptura position publicly taken by Martin Luther and most of the Protestant followers. Most importantly, rejecting those practices is consistent with the teachings of Jesus that we are not to accept the traditions of men above the commands or other words of God.

It is of interest to note that those in the Churches of God (which are not Protestant--though there are some Protestants who use the name Church of God) do rest on Saturday instead of Sunday, do not regard infant baptism as valid, do not baptize by infusion, do refuse swearing by oath, do only baptize adults, nor do they hold to a long list of non-biblical doctrinal traditions that most in those groups hold.

Infant Baptism Became Important Centuries After Christ, But Was Disputed

Infant baptism probably did not become widely practiced until the third or fourth centuries (and not universally done in the Roman/Orthodox faiths until even later). If infant baptism existed from the beginning, then there would have not been various controversies. And once infant baptism became the norm, throughout history, those associated with the Church of God have opposed it.

In his book titled God's Church Through the Ages, John Ogywn (a COG leader) makes the following comments:

In the eighth and ninth centuries, many Armenian Paulicians were forcibly resettled in the Balkans by Byzantine emperors. They were placed there as a bulwark against the invading Bulgar tribes. Relocated to the Balkans, the Paulicians came to be called Bogomils.

What did these Bogomils teach? "Baptism was only to be practiced on grown men and women… images and crosses were idols" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., "Bogomils").

The Catholic Encyclopedia noted:

Infant baptism has, however, been the subject of much dispute. The Waldenses and Cathari and later the Anabaptists, rejected the doctrine that infants are capable of receiving valid baptism, and some sectarians at the present day hold the same opinion (Fanning, William H.W. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J. Baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Some affiliated with the Waldenses, Cathari, and even the Anabaptists were part of the Church of God (please see the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3).

Furthermore The Catholic Encyclopedia also recognizes:

Persons rejecting infant baptism are frequently mentioned in English history in the sixteenth century (Weber N.A. Transcribed by Robert H. Sarkissian. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Some of the most important Protestant reformers embraced infant baptism and condemned those who opposed it.

Martin Luther taught:

"Why are babies to be baptized? A. Babies are to baptized because they are included in the words ‘all nations’ (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.202).

Martin Luther also got these statements confirmed:

Article IX: Of Baptism. Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children (The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530. by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 37-95.)

Thus Martin Luther not only encouraged infant baptism, his supporters condemned those who opposed infant baptism.

Nor was he the only one. Sadly, notice the following account:

Calvin, who could smile with complacency over the tortures of those who refused to be governed by his own opinions; and Zuinglius, who, when questioned regarding the fate of certain Anabaptists, replied, 

"Drown the Dippers" (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 106).

Yet, the Bible shows that those who received John's baptism had to be "re-baptized" (Acts 19:3-5) and that those baptized needed to repent--that is something that infants simply cannot do.

Recall that the Apostle Peter taught,

Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)

And the Bible shows:

Then those that gladly received his word were baptized (Acts 2:42).

Christian baptism cannot include those who cannot repent.

In the 20th century, Herbert Armstrong (a COG leader) wrote:

Should Children Be Baptized? One cannot be baptized until after he has fully REPENTED. Only those who BELIEVE, both the true GOSPEL (the Message Jesus preached, which is the Kingdom, or Government of God) and on JESUS CHRIST as personal Saviour, can be baptized (see Acts 2:38; 8:37; 16:31). Children have not reached that maturity where they have the self-discipline to truly repent, and believe (Armstrong H. All About Water Baptism. 1948, 1954, 1972 edition).

In the 21st century, the Continuing Church of God, which does not baptize infants, teaches:

Baptism of Christians was by immersion and did not include infants. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, 2013).

Blessing of Little Children is Scriptural

On the other hand, the Bible does enjoin the fact that infants/toddlers can be prayed for and blest. Notice what Jesus said and did:

14 "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." 16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them (Mark 10:14-16).

15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." (Luke 18:15-17)

13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. (Matthew 19:13-15)

It is likely that the worldly churches, who had read the accounts in the gospels and perhaps heard of it performed in the early COG, may have used that as part of their justification.

In fact, when I researched this further, I found that the Roman Catholic Church does refer to this passage in Luke 18 & Matthew 19 as part of its justification for infant baptism (see article Baptism in The Catholic Encyclopedia).  But sadly, they are confusing a blessing ceremony with baptism. 

None of the children that Jesus laid hands on are recorded to have been immersed into water or sprinkled with water prior to Jesus blessing them (which is part of why I thought I should list all the accounts in the gospels on this).

Hence what Jesus did WAS NOT a form of infant baptism, but instead a ceremony that is retained by relatively few today, like those of us in the Continuing Church of God. But oddly, those groups that embrace infant baptism do not seem to have kept this. The Continuing Church of God generally does this in the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar when the people are gathered for the annual Feast of Tabernacles.

It may also be of interest to note that there is a Jewish tradition to bless children in the seventh month, sometime before a prayer they call Kol Nidre, which happens at the beginning of the Day of Atonement--they do it so they will "inspire their sons and daughters to faithfully keep the path of the Torah" (Gelbard SP. Rite and Reason: 1050 Jewish Customs and Their Sources. Feldheim Publishers, 1998, p. 519). Presumably, this is related to the idea that parents are to always teach their children to God's commandments as set forth in places like in Deuteronomy 6:6-7.

Click the following link to watch a video of the blessing of little children: The Blessing of Little Children Ceremony.

Those Who Held to the Teachings of the Early Church Have Been Unjustly Condemned

In spite of the fact that infant baptism was not done originally, eventually those who opposed infant baptism were considered heretics by Roman, Orthodox, and Protestant leaders.

The Bogomils, who opposed infant baptism were condemned by the Catholics. Notice this from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The heresy of the Bogomili was started in the tenth century...followers called themselves Christians and considered their faith the only true one (Klaar K. Transcribed by Joseph E. O'Connor. Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Notice that a pope also condemned the Bogomils and Paulicians:

The pope in 1096 described the Valley Louise in Dauphiny, France, as infested with "heresy." It was a result of Paulician and Bogomil evangelization of the Alpine regions. About 1104, a man from this valley, called Peter of Bruys, began at Embrun to preach REPENTANCE throughout Languedoc and Provence...One of the definitions of the Greek word Thyatira is "sweet savor of contrition," in other words, "real repentance." Peter of Bruys taught that infant baptism was useless. He only baptized persons old enough to know and mean what they were doing -- that is, only AFTER REAL REPENTANCE. He further rejected the Catholic MYSTERY teaching that the priest in the Mass produced the literal flesh of Christ...For "nearly twenty years" Peter preached. Then the false church would no longer stand for this open rejection of its authority. He was taken and burned alive at the stake... (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place ..." Rev. 12:6).

Around the time of the "Reformation," Anabaptists repeatedly stood up for the fact that infants should not be baptized. But they were not listened to.

Furthermore, the so-called early "Protestant Reformers" were so supportive of the non-biblical practice of infant baptism, that they had opponents of it killed. Notice the following:

An example of the Reformers’ intolerance toward Anabaptists is the trial and execution of Felix Manz, a Swiss leader of the movement. At his trial in January 1527, Felix Manz freely confessed to being a teacher of adult baptism, forbidden in Switzerland: “We bring together those who are willing to accept Christ, obey the Word, and follow in His footsteps. We unite them by baptism, and leave the rest to their present conviction.”

The Clerk of the Courts wrote this explanatory comment in the records: “They do not allow Infant Baptism. In this way they will put an end to secular authority.” This revealing comment shows the concern of the local government to preserve the practice of infant baptism in order to ensure the commitment of the people to secular authorities that controlled the state church. Being baptized as an infant into the state church meant being loyal and committed to the state for the rest of one’s life.

Even more extraordinary is the outburst of Manz’s accuser, Ulrich Zwingli, one of the leading Swiss Reformers. Speaking at the trial of Anabaptist Manz, Zwingli shouted: “Let him who talks about going under [the water by immersion] go under.” What seemed to be poetic justice was carried out literally by the local authorities who condemned Felix Manz to death by drowning.

“Led into the boat, he was forced to sit up and his arms were passed around his bent knees and bound at the wrists. Next a stick was pushed between the knees and elbows to secure him in this position. The boat was rowed to the center of the [Limmat] river, and the helpless prisoner was thrown overboard, to choke in the dark, deep waters.”

One wonders, How could Protestant spiritual leaders kill fellow Christians for the crime of obeying their understanding of biblical teachings regarding baptism or other doctrines? How could Calvin influence the Geneva’s Council on October 24, 1553 to sentence to death by burning Michael Servetus for denying the Trinity and infant baptism? Regarding infant baptism, Servetus said: “It is an invention of the devil, an infernal falsity for the destruction of all Christianity.” Servetus was well-known not only for his theological treatises, but also for his scientific discoveries. He was the first European to describe the function of pulmonary circulation of the blood–a discovery that was largely rejected at that time.

One wonders, how could such outrageous criminal acts happen just few years after the beginning of the Reformation in Europe? An answer is to be found in the prevailing misconception that fighting and suppressing “heretics” was more important than loving them. As the church of Ephesus in Revelation lost its first love in the process of fighting those “who call themselves apostles but are not” (Rev 2:2, 4), so Christians with a passion to fight perceived heretical teachings, often became heartless and brutal in the suppression of alleged heretics (Bacchiocchi S. ENDTIME ISSUES NEWSLETTER No. 198 . “INFANT BAPTISM: Part 1, April 2008).

And the truth is that these “Protestant Reformers”, simply were not true Christians. True Christians do not kill (Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare?).  Nor do they endorse infant baptism.

Also notice what the Roman Catholics, in the Council of Trent ("the nineteenth ecumenical council opened at Trent on 13 December, 1545, and closed there on 4 December, 1563") declared as heretical:

Infants, not being able to make an act of faith, are not to be reckoned among the faithful after their baptism, and therefore when they come to the age of discretion they are to be rebaptized; or it is better to omit their baptism entirely than to baptize them as believing on the sole faith of the Church, when they themselves can not make a proper act of faith (Fanning, William H.W. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J. Baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus, the Council of Trent actually seems to be condemning (or at least minimizing) infant baptism.

Strangely, it does not seem to matter to Catholics/Orthodox (and many Protestants) that since infants are not able to make an act of faith, they should not be baptized.

Sadly as history shows, those who have remained faithful to the biblical practice of not baptizing infants have been clearly condemned by Catholic and Protestant leaders.

Insert: Baptism for the Dead?

What about baptism for the dead?

Before a person may be baptized, one must first REPENT (Acts 2:38) and BELIEVE (Mark 16:16).


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." (Acts 2:38-39)

16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)

The dead cannot believe:

5 For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. (Ecclesiastes 9:5)

So, where did the idea of being baptism for the dead come from? Well, an incorrect understanding of 1 Corinthians 15:29. Let's see it in context:

27 For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. 29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:27-29)

So we see Jesus came to destroy death. People are to be baptized for the hope of the dead, not for others.

People must work out their own salvation:

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Others cannot do it for you:

20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. (Ezekiel 18:20)

Even pious believers cannot save you:

12 The word of the Lord came again to me, saying: 13 "Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. 14 Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness," says the Lord God. 15 "If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they empty it, and make it so desolate that no man may pass through because of the beasts, 16 even though these three men were in it, as I live," says the Lord God, "they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; only they would be delivered, and the land would be desolate. 17 "Or if I bring a sword on that land, and say, 'Sword, go through the land,' and I cut off man and beast from it, 18 even though these three men were in it, as I live," says the Lord God, "they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but only they themselves would be delivered. 19 "Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, 20 even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live," says the Lord God, "they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness." (Ezekiel 14:12-20)

1 Corinthians 15:29 needs to be understood in light of other scriptures, like we have seen, that do not allow for someone to be baptized for the salvation of others. It also should be understood in the context of 1 Corinthians 15 where Jesus is shown to be the one to destroy death and that the Christian hope of the dead is the resurrection, not someone being baptized in their place.

Consider the 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 have the following:

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." 55 "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:42-55)

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18)

The truth is comforting.

Jesus said:

37 Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice. (John 18:37)

The truth is that some being baptized for someone who is dead will not make that dead person a believer who will be part of the first resurrection.

Insert: Ecumenical Baptism?

In the 21st century, the Church of Rome pushes the acceptance of a common baptism among itself and many other groups that claim Christianity as part of its support of the ecumenical agenda.

The Catholic News Agency reported the following:

Vatican City, Jan 25, 2018 / 10:51 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At an ecumenical Vespers service Thursday, Pope Francis told members of several Christian communities that the grace of Baptism creates a unity in the family of God.

Even when differences separate us, we can recognize that we have the same Baptism, and we belong “to the same family of brothers and sisters loved by the one Father,” the Pope said Jan. 25.

“This is our experience as believers. As we grow in spiritual life, we increasingly understand that grace reaches us together with others and is to be shared with others. So, when I raise my thanksgiving to God for what he has done in me, I find I do not sing alone, because other brothers and sisters have my same song of praise.”

Francis spoke during a Vespers service in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to mark both the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which this year focused on the theme: “Powerful is your hand, Lord.”

In his homily, the Pope reflected on our common Baptism using imagery from the story of the rescue of the baby Moses from the river by Pharaoh’s daughter. …

“But like the Israelites of Exodus, Christians are called to safeguard together the memory of what God has accomplished in them.”

Led by Pope Francis, the Vespers service was attended by representatives from various Christian churches and communities in Rome, including Metropolitan Gennadios of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; Most Reverend Bernard Ntahoturi, personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury; students from the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey; and members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, and various Protestant groups claim to have a common baptism with each other and that they are all part of the same faith, despite other differences.

Notice something from April 2014:

Swiss Catholic and Protestant churches have signed an agreement to recognize each other’s baptisms in part of a growing trend in European and American churches.

The World Council of Churches said on its website some people are a calling the rise of European and North American church body baptismal agreements an “an ecumenical harvest.”

Baptism is the Christian rite of admission that invariably involves the use of water.

The day after Easter, a day on which many Christian traditions receive people getting instruction on the rite of baptism, major Swiss churches (Roman Catholic, Reformed, Methodist, Old Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran) signed an agreement on the mutual recognition of baptism.

The April 21 signing ceremony followed an ecumenical interchange sponsored by the Council of Christian Churches in Switzerland.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) added the following information also in 2014:

Earlier this year, during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, several Portuguese churches entered a similar pact. The Anglican Church of Portugal (the Lusitanian Church) hosted the signing, which also included Portuguese church leaders from the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Methodist and Presbyterian churches.

In the prior year, major U.S. denominations of the Reformed tradition, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Reformed Church in America, the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the United Church of Christ, signed an agreement in Austin, Texas, with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops recognizing the validity of each other’s practice of baptism.

Few people realize how fast the ecumenical movement is moving.

Having been to Rome many times, I have noticed an inscription, that is shown in numerous places, on the outside of St. John’s Lateran church in Rome:

(Photo by Joyce Thiel)

The inscription from Latin above translated into English means, “Sacred Lateran Church Mother and Head of All Churches of the City and the World.”

That suggests a commonality. That would be consistent with recognizing baptisms of groups that the Church of Rome claims have descended from her.

Notice the following biblical warning against a worldly “mother” church associated with seven-hills:

1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written:


6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement…

9 “Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. (Revelation 17:1-6, 9)

There are many warnings about Roman Catholicism and ecumenism in the Bible.

Now, having been to John’s Lateran several times, I can attest to it being within the seven hills of Rome. While Vatican City itself is outside of that ancient boundary, its most ancient basilica in the area is. Interesting, perhaps it also should be mentioned that Vatican City is believed to have been named after a pagan goddess (Vatika) whose name also was associated with wine. Furthermore, it is actually St. John’s Lateran and NOT St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City that the Church of Rome claims to have its ‘cathedra’ (chair of succession).

The Bible clearly warns against the final Babylonian system which the ecumenical movement is trying to form:

4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast…
6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear. (Revelation 13:6-9)

3 And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.

9 Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.

18 And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:3-6, 9, 18).

2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”

4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Revelation 18:2-5)

That is the system that the ecumenical movement trying to prop up.

In the future, the movement will also be propped up through economic intimidation and terror (Revelation 13:15-17), as well as signs and lying wonders that will deceive all but the very elect who have the love of the truth:

24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. (Matthew 24:24-25)

9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

While there have been many signs and lying wonders throughout history, the time will come when they will become even worse (2 Timothy 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12). The world will be deceived (Revelation 12:9, Mark 13:22).

The time to stand up for the truth is now and not to wait until the signs and lying wonders appear–they will be very persuasive. Those who wait too late to truly live like a real Christian will be deceived by what is going to come (Matthew 24:24).

Furthermore, let me add that infant baptism (which is practices by the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, and some others) was NOT a practice of the original Christians. Nor is how many churches perform baptisms consistent with the practices of the original apostles and the other faithful followers of Jesus.

Consider that common Greco-Roman baptismal practices have ties to pagans and heretics (see, also, Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism).

Ecumenism is dangerous and prophesied against (watch also Ecumenism and the ride of the White Horse of the Apocalypse).

Baptism and Statements

Laying on of hands is part of the Christian baptismal ceremony:

 From the books of Moses to the book of Revelation, we find the laying-on-of-hands ceremony used in a wide variety of circumstances.

It was performed as an official ceremony, generally by an individual ordained or commissioned by God.

The ceremony centered around God's servant praying aloud as he placed his hands on the recipient of his petitions. It was a formal request to God, usually for a specific blessing, gift or authority as in ordination. Usually a simple, short ceremony, but filled with meaning. ...

Of course, the leaders' hands had no magical or mystical qualities. They merely symbolized and formally emphasized that God, not man, gave them authority and set them apart for a particular job. God commissioned them and issued them authority and jurisdiction to do His work. This again demonstrates one of the great lessons of the laying on of hands--that God works through man -- even in ordaining His own servants. ... Along with the physical act of baptism is promised the Holy Spirit -- through the laying on of hands. Millions have supposedly been baptized, but very few have had hands laid on them for the receiving of the Holy Spirit after baptism. (Bradley A. Laying On of Hands. Good News, February 1974)

The clergy (or one properly authorized) beseeches the Father to give the person His Holy Spirit via prayer and the laying on of hands. The Holy Spirit is given by the Father, if the Father answers that prayer, which is mainly dependent upon the sincerity/repentance of the person being baptized. Therefore, even if the specific person who performed the ceremony has issues or falls away from the truth, the procedure is still valid. The Holy Spirit comes from God, not one's hands.

The person doing the laying on of hands should be an ordained minister or one commissioned by one to do this (cf. John 4:2; 1 Corinthians 1:14-17; Acts 8:14-23). One should not baptize oneself (see also Laying on of Hands).

Although the Bible does not precisely record all the statements used in a Christian baptismal ceremony, the Bible teaches:

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." (Acts 2:38-39)

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 19:5-6).

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

What has been more or less used in the baptismal ceremonies of the old Radio Church of God, Worldwide Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God tends to include the following statements (the following was originally provided to the Continuing Church of God by Aaron Dean, a minister who probably spent more time with the late Herbert W. Armstrong than any other minister in the latter years of his life):

As a result of your repentance of your sins, which are the transgressions of God's holy and righteous and perfect law, and your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal saviour, Your Lord and Master, your High Priest and soon coming King, I now baptize you, not into any sect or denomination of this world, but I baptize you into the name of the Father and the Son and through the Holy Spirit, by and through the authority of the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Amen.

These statements are consistent with not only Matthew 28:19 (see also Is Matthew 28:19 in the Bible?), but the other passages in the New Testament about clearly being baptized in Jesus' name--under His authority.

After those statements, the baptismal candidate is immersed under the water. Hands are then laid upon the person and the baptizer prays and asks God to impart His Holy Spirit.

Some groups, like CEG and many Protestants, improperly believe you should not mention the Holy Spirit.  As far as what to include in the ceremony, here is what Herbert W. Armstrong taught in his booklet All About Water Baptism:

Notice Matthew's version of the Great Commission:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations ... " surely the disciples were to teach these nations that which Jesus had taught them -- the Message God had sent Him to deliver and proclaim to the world -- the Good News of the government of God -- a Message that has not been preached for 1800 years or more! "... Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20).

Here again, in the final Great Commission for preaching the Gospel in this age, Christ commanded BAPTISM. And here He specifically stated "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost [Spirit]."

In Name of Jesus Only

Since some today are being baptized over again "in the name of Jesus ONLY" in order to eliminate the Father, and the Holy Spirit, this should be considered here. The contention of these people is that this passage in Matthew 28:19 is the only place in the Bible where the names of the Father and the Holy Spirit are commanded. They argue that a thing must be established "in the mouth of two or more witnesses," and since they claim there is but this one witness to this command, it must be rejected. All other passages mention only the name of Jesus.

The explanation is that two or more witnesses are required only in the case of HUMAN testimony -- where one accuses another. That instruction does not apply to the divine Witness, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, and to assume it does is surely close to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit! On the contrary, "ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable ...." And, THE SCRIPTURE CANNOT BE BROKEN! If you can break, disprove, reject, or throw out this one scripture, you can reject all the rest!

In this passage, the word translated "in" should properly be translated "into." The meaning, then, is that repentant believers are baptized INTO God the Father, and into Christ the Son, and into the Holy Spirit. But the one who plunges the new believer under the water performs the act IN THE NAME OF -- that is, by authority of, JESUS CHRIST. Why? Because Jesus said "ALL POWER" -- and that includes all authority -- "is given unto me in heaven and in earth." He has ALL authority! Either we do it by His authority, or else we are doing it without any authority.

Herbert Armstrong also taught the following in a Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 10:

The baptism today is a baptism into the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is a public expression of your faith in Christ after you’ve repented.

Yes, the Holy Spirit is part of the ceremony.

Although some groups allow multiple forms of baptism (e.g, see What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God? ), notice what the Bible teaches:

4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

We utilize one consistent ceremony in the Continuing Church of God and do not have the person being baptized select the version he or she wants. Remember that the Apostle Paul taught:

10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

We in the Continuing Church of God strive to teach the same things. Having people start off with the same baptismal ceremony is a step in that direction.

Meaning of Baptism: Not Into a Denomination

The late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

The Meaning of Baptism

Baptism is a BURIAL, and a RISING from a grave. Notice Colossians 2:12. "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are RISEN with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Neither sprinkling nor pouring is a burial, and one rises up out of neither. They do not picture the symbolic meaning of baptism, and therefore are meaningless.

When one is plunged INTO the water, he is in a watery grave. He would not live ten minutes unless brought up out of the water -- unless RISEN from this watery grave. Therefore a person immersed in water is in a literal grave.

Notice further: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom. 6:3-5).

There is the beautiful symbolism -- the real meaning of baptism.

It pictures, in symbol, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

But it is a DUAL picture, as all things in God's Plan are DUAL in operation. It also pictures the crucifixion of the old self (verses 6-7), or of the sinning life, the burial of this sinning self, and the coming up out of this watery grave, symbolic of a CHANGED person resurrected to a new, righteous, spiritual life in Christ Jesus.

Going down into the water pictures the DEATH of Christ, and of the old self.

Burial in the water pictures the BURIAL of Christ, and of the old self.

Coming up out of the water pictures Christ's RESURRECTION, and a spiritually resurrected person walking henceforth "in newness of life."

Water baptism is the ordinance ordained of Christ by which we express our FAITH in Christ as Saviour -- our ACCEPTANCE of His death, burial, and resurrection for us, and our repentance of the old life and burial of it, rising to new and higher life henceforth. It is a beautiful ordinance, full of meaning!

Not Baptized Into a Denomination

Notice carefully, too -- we are "BAPTIZED INTO JESUS CHRIST" (verse 3, above), or, as Jesus expressed it in Matthew 28:19, into the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- NOT INTO SOME CHURCH ORGANIZATION OR DENOMINATION.

In many sectarian churches today the minister will refuse to baptize one except into his church -- his group or organization of human beings. That is not proper baptism. We are to be baptized into the DIVINE FAMILY -- the family of God. And it is to be done "in the name" -- by the authority -- of Jesus Christ.

Baptism has degenerated in many churches into a rite or ceremony of entrance into the fellowship of that sectarian organization -- nothing more than a rite by which one joins a lodge or social club!

Note well these facts: One may "join" a lodge, social club, or organized group of MEN (and most churches today have degenerated into social societies). But ONE CANNOT JOIN THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD! You cannot GET in of your own accord! No, GOD MUST PUT YOU IN -- no man can do it -- you cannot do it yourself!

How does one gain entrance into the true CHURCH? "By ONE SPIRIT are we all baptized into [PUT INTO] one body" -- the Body of Christ, the true Church of God. "Baptize" means "PUT INTO." When we receive the Holy Spirit of God to change us -- to make us as new creatures in Christ -- it is the impregnation of eternal LIFE from God. It is the very life-germ from God the FATHER. It is the Spirit of sonship whereby we become HIS CHILDREN, and may call Him "FATHER" (Rom. 8:14-15). The CHURCH OF GOD is the Household of God- -composed of GOD'S CHILDREN. We do not become His children until begotten of Him -- until we receive His Spirit -- His Nature -- His Life. When we receive His Spirit, therefore, we are automatically PUT INTO His family -- HIS CHURCH! Joining one of the social clubs called churches does not put one into GOD'S Church!

Now water baptism is a required CONDITION to receiving the Holy Spirit. At Samaria, and again at Ephesus, they did not receive the Holy Spirit until after they were baptized in water (Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-6). True, at Cornelius' house they did receive the Holy Spirit, and thereby were baptized BY the Spirit into the CHURCH before water baptism -- but Peter immediately commanded water baptism. This was a rare exception to the rule.

BUT THERE IS NO PROMISE THAT ANYONE WILL RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT UNTIL BAPTIZED IN WATER -- even though God in His wisdom and love may on rare occasions make an exception. The command is, "Repent, and be baptized" -- and THEN "ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Armstrong HW. All About Water Baptism. 1948, 1954, 1972 edition)

Baptism is something that Christians are to do. Not to 'join a church,' but to demonstrate that they really intend to change their lives.

Baptism by Fire

Hebrews 6 tells of baptismS--plural:

1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2)

So, there is a baptism by water, so what is the other one?

Should a Christian seek it? What did John the Baptist prophesy and teach concerning it?

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:7-12)

The populace came in great crowds to see John — mostly out of curiosity. But John was speaking in particular to the unrepentant religionists, as well as those who did repent. Notice carefully that some of those to whom John spoke — the repentant — were to be baptized with the Holy Spirit later. But the others present — among them many hypocritical, unrepentant Pharisees and Sadducees — were going to be baptized with fire — immersed in the lake of fire — unless they repented. They would be burned up as chaff (Matthew 3:12) (Sedliacik R. MINISTUDY: The BAPTISMS of the Bible. Good News magazine, April 1979).

This fire is the ultimate fate of all the incorrigible wicked:

14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15)

8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

1 "For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,"
Says the Lord of hosts,
"That will leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
3 You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
On the day that I do this,"
Says the Lord of hosts.
(Malachi 4:1-3).

Surely no one will seek the baptism with fire once he or she understands what it really is!


There is no doubt that the New Testament supports baptism by immersion for Christians. Also, the New Testament does not have any clear recording of the baptism of infants or small children. Jesus blest little children, but did not have them baptized prior to (or immediately after) that blessing.

There is no doubt that the early post-apostolic Church practiced baptism by immersion. There is no doubt that non-immersion forms of baptism were condemned.

Yet sadly, many who have adopted these condemned practices have a history of condemning those who have held to the teachings and practices of the Bible.

Sadly, the Roman Church (as well as those that have followed her example), simply changed that practice and adopted practices that were condemned and/or questioned by early leaders. Despite that, Pope Francis embraces that as part of the common baptism that his church and many ecumenical churches share.

We in the Continuing Church of God are not in support of the Vatican's ecumenical plan. We still practice only baptism for adults, and that by immersion. The Continuing Church of God is NOT Protestant. We are a church faithful to apostolic practices on this and many other doctrines (while some Protestant sects agree with the COG baptismal doctrines, they have adopted other Catholic accepted practices--please see the list on the History of Early Christianity page or the article Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs From Protestants).

Immersion baptism of repentant adults was clearly observed by the early church. Should you rely on the Bible or tradition?

Is the real Church of God for you?

(For more details, see also Where is the True Christian Church Today? and the Continuing History of the Church of God)

A related sermon videoon baptism is titled Baptism: What is it and how should it be done?

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Thiel B. Ph.D. Baptism and the Early Church. (c) 2007/2008/2009/2011/2012/2013/2014/2015/2016/2017/2018/2019/2020 /2022 /2023 0117

Two items of related interest may include Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church: Could a remnant group have continuing apostolic succession? and All About Water Baptism.