All Christians believe in the role of baptism in the life of the
Christian. The differences which exist are differences of emphasis - of
the necessity of baptism--and not of the call to be baptized. Roman
Catholic Christians believe that in the sacrament of baptism all the
individual is (as follows)
1. regenerated through water and the Holy Spirit and
2. truly incorporated into the Church of Jesus Christ.
Jo 3:5 Jesus replied (to Nicodemus); "I
solemnly assure you, no one can enter into God's kingdom without being
begotten of water and the Spirit." (NAB)
Mt 28:19 Go, therefore, and make disciples
of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. (NAB)
Mt 3:11 I baptize you in water for the sake of
reform, but the one who will follow me is more powerful than I. I am not
even fit to carry his sandals. He it is who will baptize you in the Holy
Spirit and fire. (NAB)
Gal 3:25 But now that faith is here, we are no
longer in the monitor's charge. Each one of you is a son of God because of
your faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who have been baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with him. (NAB)
1 Cor 12:12 The body is one and has many members,
but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with
Christ. It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave
or free, were baptized into one body. (NAB)
Acts 2:37 When they heard this, they were deeply
shaken. They asked Peter and the other disciples, "What are we to do,
brothers?" Peter answered: "You must reform and be baptized, each one of
you in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven; then you
will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (NAB)
Acts 10:44 The circumcised believers who had
accompanied Peter were surprised that the gift of the Holy Spirit should
have been poured out on the Gentiles also, whom they could hear speaking
in tongues and glorifying God. Peter put the question at that point: "What
can stop these people who have received the Holy Spirit, even as we have,
from being baptized with water?" So he gave orders that they be baptized
in the name of Jesus Christ. (NAB)
Acts 8:12 Those who followed him (Simon Magus)
had been under the spell of his magic over a long period; but once they
began to believe in the good news that Philip preached about the kingdom
of God and the name of Jesus Christ, men and women alike accepted baptism.
Even Simon believed. He was baptized like the rest ... (NAB)
Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds
we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy, by the washing
of regeneration (baptism) and renewing by the Holy Spirit. (NAB)
1 Pet 3:20 When the patience of God kept waiting
in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few,
that is eight persons were brought safely through the water, and
corresponding to that, baptism now saves us. (NAB)
Rom 6:1 Are you not aware that we who are
baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Through baptism
into his death we were buried with him, so that just as Christ was raised
from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life ...
Col 2:12 In baptism you were not only buried with
him but also raised to life with him because you believed in the power of
God who raised him from the dead. (NAB)
The teaching authority of the Church, the Magisterium, has clearly
stated the role of baptism in the life of the Christian.
Lateran Council IV, 1215 : Infallibly defined that baptism was a
sacrament of the Church.
Council of Lyons II, 1274 : Infallibly redefined that baptism was
one of the seven sacraments.
Council of Trent, 1545 - 1563: again infallibly defined the
seven sacraments listing baptism as the opening gateway and foundation of
Roman Catholic Christians among other denominational Christians, e.g.,
Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc., believe in the efficacy and
practice of baptizing infants.
Acts 2:39 Peter answered: "You must reform and be
baptized, each of you in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be
forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was to you
and your children that the promise was made ... (NAB)
The New Testament speaks of the baptism of "whole
households" which in the normal Greek usage of the time included children.
1 Cor 1:16 Oh, and I (Paul) baptized the
household of Stephanas. (NAB)
Acts 11:13 He (the man who had seen a vision)
informed us that he had seen an angel standing in his house and that the
angel had said: "Send someone to Joppa and fetch Simon, known also as
Peter. In the light of what he will tell you, you shall be saved, and all
your household." (NAB)
Acts 16:15 She (Lydia of Thyatira) already
reverenced God, and the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was
saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she extended us an
invitation ... (NAB)
Acts 16:31 After a brief interval, he (the
jailer) led them (Paul and Silas) out and said, "Men, what must I do to be
saved?" Their answer was, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be
saved, and all your household." They proceeded to announce the word of God
to him ... then he and his whole household were baptized. (NAB)
Acts 18:8 Crispus, along with his whole
household, put his faith in the Lord. (NAB)
To the Colossians, Paul paralleled baptism and circumcision.
Circumcision was normally administered to children eight days after birth.
Col 2:11 You were also circumcised in him, not
with the circumcision administered by hand but with Christ's circumcision
which strips off the carnal body completely. In baptism you were not only
buried with him but also raised to life with him ... (NAB)
To the Corinthians, Paul recalled that just as all the Jews of the
Exodus (including children) were baptized into Moses by passing through
the Red Sea, they were actually being blessed by Christ.
1 Cor 10:4 Brothers, I want you to remember this:
our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; by
the cloud and the sea, all of them were baptized into Moses ... they drank
from the spiritual rock that was following them, and the rock was Christ.
In Mark's Gospel, we have Jesus' own teaching on children.
Mk 10:13 People were bringing their little
children to him to have him touch them, but the disciples were scolding
them for this. Jesus became indignant when he noticed it and said to them:
"Let the children come to me and do not hinder them. It is to such as
these that the kingdom of God belongs." (NAB)
It is frequently asked by non-believers how an infant is capable of
making an act of faith in order to receive baptism. The response of the
Catholic Church is to follow the Biblical example of Christ. Jesus
accepted the faith of others as an occasion of salvation, forgiveness and
healing of another. The Church has always done likewise. In infant
baptism, the faith of parents and sponsors is required.
Mk 2:1-5 He (Jesus) came back to Capernaum ...
some people arrived bringing a paralyzed man to him. The four who carried
him were unable to bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they began
to open up the roof over the spot where Jesus was. When they made a home,
they let the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their
faith, he said to the paralyzed man, "My son, your sins are forgiven."
Mk 8:5-13 As Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion
approached him with this request: "Sir my serving boy is at home in bed
paralyzed, suffering painfully." He said to him, "I will come and cure
him." "Sir," the centurion said in reply, "I am not worthy to have you
under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will get better. ... Jesus
showed amazement on hearing this and remarked to his followers, "I assure
you, I have never found this much faith in Israel. ... To the centurion
Jesus said, "Go home. It shall be done because you trusted." That very
moment the boy got better. (NAB)
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation
after the promulgation of the Gospel for everyone, both children and
Jo 3:5 Jesus replied (to Nicodemus): "I solemnly
assure you, no one can enter into God's kingdom without being begotten of
water and Spirit." (NAB)
The constant teaching of the Church attests to the baptism of infants.
Pope Zosimus (417 - 418): approved a teaching of a local council at
Carthage which condemned those who denied baptism to newborn infants.
Pope Celestine I (422 - 432): taught that both children and infants need
the sacrament of regeneration.
Pope Innocent II (1130 - 1143): and the Council of Lateran IV condemned
those who denied the baptism of children.
Pope Innocent III (1198 - 1216): condemned those who said that baptism of
children was useless.
Pope Clement V (1305 - 1314) in the Council of Vienna,
Pope Eugene IV (1431 - 1447) in the Council of Florence defended the
necessity of baptism of children.
The Council of Trent (1545 - 1563), in a number of related canons, defined
the absolute necessity of baptism for both children and adults.
Baptism by water - Immersion, Pouring, Sprinkling
Jo 3:5 Jesus replied (to Nicodemus); "I solemnly
assure you, no one can enter into God's kingdom without being begotten of
water and the Spirit." (NAB)
All Christians believe that baptism by water is essential to the
administration of the sacrament. The Roman Catholic Church believes that a
"washing of the body with natural water" is what is required for valid
Mt 28:19 Baptize them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (NAB)
Mk 16:16 The man who believes in it and accepts
baptism will be saved. (NAB)
Acts 8:36 As they moved along the road they came
to some water, and the eunuch said, "Look, there is some water right
there. What is to keep me from being baptized?" ... Philip went down into
the water with the eunuch and baptized him. (NAB)
Acts 10:46 What can stop these people who have
received the Holy Spirit, even as we have, from being baptized with water?
Tit 3:5 He saved us through the baptism of new
birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (NAB)
Eph 5:26 He gave himself up for her to make her
holy, purifying her in the bath of water by the power of the word ...
1 Cor 10:2 ... by the cloud and the sea all of
them were baptized into Moses. (NAB)
1 Pet 3:20 You are now saved by a baptismal bath
which corresponds to this exactly. (NAB)
The Apostolic Fathers attested to the practice in the early church.
Following are the earliest directions given to the Apostolic church
regarding Baptism. Baptism by pouring is instructed to be done in certain
The Didache (Syria, 70-110)
Regarding baptism, baptize thus. After giving the
foregoing instructions, 'Baptize in the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Spirit' (Mt 28:19) in running water. But, if you have
no running water, baptize in any other; and if you cannot in cold water,
then in warm. But, if the one is lacking, pour the other three times on
the head 'in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit.' (Ch
7) Justin (Martyr) (Rome, 100-165)
They (those to be baptized) then are brought by
us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which
we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and
Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy
Spirit, they then receive the washing with water ... The reason for this
we have received from the Apostles. (First Apology, Ch. 61)
From the earliest times in the Church, baptism was generally administered
by immersion. The word "baptizain" means to immerse. The question of mode
of using water was addressed in the early Church. Cyprian (Carthage,
You have asked ... whether they are to accounted
legitimate Christians, for that they are not to be washed, but sprinkled,
with the saving water. ... I think that the divine benefits can in no
respect be mutilated and weakened; nor can anything less occur in that
case where, with full and entire faith both of the giver and receiver, is
accepted what is drawn from the divine gifts ... it ought not to trouble
any one that sick people seem to be sprinkled or affused, when they obtain
the Lord's grace. (Letters, No. 69:12)
There are examples in the history of the Church of baptism being
administered by sprinkling. It was probably the mode of baptizing that the
Apostles used on Pentecost in order to baptize three thousand men.
From the Apostolic period to the 4th century: baptism was administered
through total immersion except in cases of necessity; From the 4th century
to the 8th century: baptism by partial immersion in a "baptistery" began,
used with a pouring of water;
From the 6th century to the 11th century: baptism of children was effected
by totally immersing them in a basin or sink; for adults, custom and use
From the 11th to the 13th century: baptism of children horizontally was
the custom in the manner of bath-taking;
From the 13th century to the 14th century: baptism was effected both by
total immersion and partial immersion, and pouring became the custom in
From the 15th and 16th centuries: baptism was effected more frequently
by pouring and immersion became rare;
From the 17th century on: baptism by immersion was hardly used except
in some Uniate churches;
By the 19th century, pouring almost universally prevailed, even among
the Uniate churches.
Today; As always, the Roman Catholic Church insisted on water for baptism,
but the manner of using the water was not a problem: given circumstances
and availability, Catholics can choose the manner of water baptism.