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It gives the following instruction:. Concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water [that is, in running water, as in a river]. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm.

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But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. During the second and third centuries and beyond, immersion continued to be the normal method of baptism. However it was usually not administered immediately upon conversion, as in the cases described in the Book of Acts. Instead, a period of study was usually required, in which a covert would become a candidate for baptism, known as a catechumen. Baptism played a somewhat different role in certain so-called heretical sects.

For example, Jewish Christians such as the Ebionites continued to practice Jewish traditions of handwashing and ritual bathing, not only upon conversion, but throughout their lives as Christians. Gnostic sects rejected the idea that baptism represented the believer symbolically sharing in Christ's death and resurrection, since they denied the idea that Jesus was physically raised from the dead.

Some Gnostics practiced baptism as a first stage of initiation and followed it later with a ceremony known as the bridal chamber, in which believers entered into a mystical union with God. Other controversies soon emerged concerning baptism regarding such questions as whether women could administer the rite, whether post-baptismal sins could be forgiven, when a baptism received from a heretical priest was valid, whether one could be saved without baptism, and what exactly baptism accomplished in relation to salvation.

Major treatises on baptism were soon written by Christian writers like Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage , Augustine of Hippo , and others. Throughout the Middle Ages, there was considerable variation in the kind of facility required for baptism, especially in the Western Catholic tradition. Some churches had baptismal pools large enough to immerse several adults simultaneously while others had smaller baptismal fonts.

During the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries, Western Christianity shifted from the tradition of immersion to that that of pouring, and finally to sprinkling. During the Protestant Reformation , new traditions of baptism and its significance began to emerge. Some reformers saw baptism as a symbolic act rather than a transforming sacrament, while others accepted the traditional view that it is through baptism that the believer is "buried" and "reborn. Instead, they posited a waterless "baptism in the spirit," citing Jesus' statement on the day of his Ascension in Acts 1: Later, the Anabaptists developed the concept that since baptism was an act of faith, the recipient must be old enough to confess his or her faith directly, and not through a god-parent as in the Catholic tradition.

This led to the practice of believer's baptism, later adopted by the Baptist churches and other denominations. In the nineteenth century, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints instituted a tradition of being baptized on behalf of one's ancestors, while in the twentieth century the Unification Church made its baptismal holy water ceremony part of it marriage blessing ritual, in which a couple together is thought to be adopted into God's direct lineage.

Today, most Christian groups practice some form of literal water-based baptism and agree that it is important. However, there are many disagreements regarding such issues as the method of baptism, who is qualified to give or receive this sacrament, and what exactly baptism means or does to the believer. Today, Christian baptism takes many forms among Christian denominations, but the three basic forms are as follows:. There is debate among Christian churches as to who can administer baptism.

The examples given in the New Testament only show apostles and deacons administering baptism, and the ancient Christian churches interpret this as indicating that baptism should be performed by the male clergy except in extremis , that is, when the one being baptized is in immediate danger of death.

Many Protestant churches, however, see no specific prohibition in the biblical examples and permit any believer to baptize another. The traditional churches also require that a candidate for baptism be familiar with Christian doctrines. Catechumens must be able to express their faith either by answering certain doctrinal questions during the baptismal ceremony or reciting a formal creed.

In the case of infant baptism, the child's godparent fulfills this role and takes responsibility as the child's spiritual guardian. Many Christian groups assert that baptism is a key requirement for salvation. This view is shared by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, by numerous Protestant churches. Martin Luther , for example, said: For Roman Catholics and many others, baptism is a sacrament of initiation into the life of the children of God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, However, the Catholic tradition holds that there are actually three types of baptism by which one can be saved: Sacramental baptism with water , baptism of desire explicit or implicit desire to be part of the Church founded by Jesus Christ , and baptism of blood martyrdom. The liturgy of baptism in the Catholic , Eastern Orthodox , Lutheran, Anglican , and Methodist traditions makes clear reference to baptism as a symbolic burial and resurrection, and also an actual supernatural transformation. In other words, baptism is literally and symbolically not only cleansing, but also dying and rising again with Christ.

In addition, Catholics believe that baptism cleanses the taint of original sin. By contrast, Baptist and Calvinist groups espouse baptism as a worthy practice of initiation into the Christian faith, but generally hold that baptism has no sacramental power in itself. Rather, it testifies outwardly to the invisible and internal operation of God's power, which is separate from the rite itself. In some cases a person may be "saved" first by repentance and forgiveness, with the baptismal ceremony representing a confirmation of this process.

The Roman Catholic , Lutheran, Anglican , Presbyterian and Methodist Churches accept baptism performed by other denominations as valid, subject to certain conditions. Believing that it is only possible to be baptized once, these traditions hold that people with valid baptisms from other denominations may not be baptized again upon conversion or transfer. Such people are accepted upon making a profession of faith and—if they have not yet validly received the sacrament of confirmation—by being confirmed.

In some cases it can be difficult to decide if the original baptism was in fact valid. If there is doubt, conditional baptism is administered, with a formula on the lines of "If you are not yet baptized, I baptize you…" Some Protestant denominations require a new baptism upon joining their church even if one has been previous baptized in another faith, and some Christians get re-baptized in the same church after a serious spiritual "fall. The ecumenical paper Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry , prepared by representatives across a spectrum of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestants traditions of Christianity, attempts to express a common understanding of baptism:.

Similarly, in what may well be a baptismal pattern, 1 Peter testifies that proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and teaching about new life 1 Peter 1: This, in turn, is followed by eating and drinking God's food 1 Peter 2: At the beginning of 1 Peter the writer sets this baptism in the context of obedience to Christ and sanctification by the Spirit 1 Peter 1: So baptism into Christ is seen as baptism into the Spirit cf. In the fourth gospel, Jesus' discourse with Nicodemus indicates that birth by water and Spirit becomes the gracious means of entry into the place where God rules John 3: New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards.

This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. In the East, St. Harkins, Ancient Christian Writers , ed. A similar form is also found in the Apostolic Tradition 21; B.

Botte, La Tradition aposolique de saint Hippolyte; Essai de reconstitution 48 — However, ancient Christian tradition until the 4th century Western-Roman tradition until the 8th shows that the baptismal formula was spoken as questions that the candidate answered. It was natural to expect the candidate for Baptism to make a profession of his Christian faith — all the more necessary in view of the fact that at that time other groups had a baptism, e.

The Ethiopian chamberlain, for instance, had first to make a profession of his faith: The profession could be more or less explicit. As a matter of fact, the Christological part of the apostles' creed came into use first 1 Cor Trinitarian formulas, however, also spread at an early time, and they could have appeared as an extension of Christological formulas see the formula Paul uses for the greeting at the beginnings of his letters. Around the 3rd or 4th century there is evidence that this profession of faith was the baptismal formula.

Thus, the Apostolic Tradition reports that the minister places his hand on the candidate's head and asks: The minister asks again: The minister once again asks: This baptismal formula in question form is found again and again in the West until the Gelasian Sacramentary [1. But then a change occurs.

In the East, a 5th-century Syrian adaptation of the Apostolic Tradition , the Canons of Hippolytus , adds that the minister says each time he immerses the candidate: This is the first time that a declarative formula accompanied the threefold immersion. Apparently in reaction to arianism a single immersion was adopted in Spain, Gregory the Great, Epist.

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The first Western books to report the declarative formula were the Gallican Sacramentaries [e. Bannister, Henry Bradshaw Society 52 London 17]. From among the books of the Roman rite, the Hadrian recension end of 8th century of the Gregorian Sacramentary was the first to reproduce it [ Das Sakramentarium Gregorianum While these documents do not indicate the number of times the immersion and formula were repeated, some manuscripts of this period seem to vacillate between the threefold interrogatory formula and the single declarative one.

A Sacramentary written in Prague shortly before contains the threefold interrogation and immersion but adds that the minister may say: On the other hand, other books, such as the Sacramentary of Gellone end of 8th century , insist that the formula is spoken only once P. A consideration of these historical facts forces us to conclude with De Puniet ibid. The baptismal act has from ancient times been enlarged with preparatory and concluding rites.

According to the Apostolic Tradition 20 — 21; B. Essai de reconstitution 42 — 53 , besides fasting and renunciation of Satan, there were also a preliminary anointing with oil that was exorcized beforehand later, oil of catechumens and an anointing after Baptism with oil over which a thanksgiving prayer had been spoken later, chrism. The baptismal water was supposed to be blessed ahead of time Tertullian, De baptismo 4; Patrologia Latina 1: A special practice, which lasted for but a few centuries, was the offering of a drink of milk and honey to the newly baptized before the reception of the chalice in the first celebration of the Eucharist on the part of the neophyte [Tertullian, De corona militis 3 Patrologia Latina 2: Essai de reconstitution 56 — 57 ; Jerome, Adv.

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Luciferianos 8 Patrologia Latina This drink harkened back to the promise made to the Chosen People in the desert that they would inherit a land flowing with milk and honey, an inheritance that the candidate was now to enjoy. From the 4th century there is evidence of the white clothing received by the newly baptized to symbolize the innocence of his new life Ambrose, De mysteriis 7; Monumenta eucharista et liturgica vetustissima About the same time a presentation of a burning candle to the neophyte is reported Pseudo-Ambrosius, De lapsu virginis 5; Patrologia Latina The anointing of the head of the newly baptized [ Apostolic Tradition 21 La Tradition apostolique de saint Hippolyte: Essai de reconstitution 51 ; Ambrose, De sacramentis 3.


The early Church took great care to bring out the fact that Baptism was the great event by which one is initiated into the Christian life. For this reason it was linked with the celebration of the Easter Vigil. The whole community, therefore, took part in it, not by being present during the baptismal act which took place in the form of an immersion in the baptistery, but by fasting beforehand with the candidates, and by bringing them into the church immediately after Baptism to celebrate the communal Eucharist. It was because reception into the Church is sealed with the Eucharist that the Communion of newly baptized infants was retained even as late as the 12th century.

While infants were baptized either immediately or on Holy Saturday without any preparation Cyprian, Epist. The Apostolic Tradition calls for a period of instruction lasting three years, but does allow for a lesser time if the candidate proves especially zealous and trustworthy. The catechumens' instruction often preceded the community's celebration of the Eucharist, of which they could attend only the liturgy of the Word, and then in an area apart from the already-baptized.

Because "their kiss is not yet holy" Apostolic Tradition , 18 , they could not exchange the kiss of peace either with the faithful or among themselves.


This symbolic and physical separation continued until the day they were baptized. At an early date the administration of the Sacrament was normally restricted to the Easter or Pentecost Vigil. Those catechumens who were ready to make the step were enrolled in the ranks of the competentes, those "seeking" Baptism; and exercises, called scrutinies, were held for them. The candidates on these occasions received many exorcisms, the exsufflation or blowing out of the devil, the imposition of hands, salt; they were taught and had to repeat the Apostles' Creed and Our Father, the essential part of the rites for the competentes.

The competentes would fast on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, their last days as catechumens. On Saturday, the bishop called them together and imposed his hands on them, exorcising them of foreign spirits. An additional exorcism — the rite of exsufflation — would follow, as he breathed upon their faces. After making the sign of the cross on their ears and nose, he exhorted them to spend the entire night watching, listening to readings, and hearing further instruction. The celebration resumed at dawn. A prayer was said over the water which the Apostolic Tradition says should, if possible, be running or fountain water , and the bishop prayed over the oil of exorcism oil of catechumens and the oil of thanksgiving chrism.

A priest took each of the candidates aside and instructed them to face the west — the place of the setting sun and so, symbolically, the realm of darkness and sin. There they proclaimed, "I renounce you, Satan, and all your undertakings and all your works.

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Women and men were separated at this point. They removed their clothes and were brought to the bishop or priest standing near the baptismal waters. A deacon accompanied the men, a deaconess the women, as they proceeded into the water.

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  7. A specific mention of one in the "office of deaconess" performing this function is found in the Didascalia Apostolorum , "The Teaching of the Apostles," written in North Syria circa The Apostolic Tradition 's baptismal formula consists of three questions, led by the one baptizing as he imposed his hands on the candidate's head: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary , was crucified under Pontius Pilate , died, and on the third day rose from the dead; who ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the living and the dead?

    Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Church and the resurrection of the body? Apostolic Tradition specifies the order in which the baptisms occur: Emerging naked from the water, the neophytes "newly enlightened" were anointed by the priest with the oil of thanksgiving. They then dressed and entered the church. The bishop would impose his hands upon them, pray, anoint them again with the oil of thanksgiving, and mark their foreheads with the sign of the cross. Now one of the faithful, they would receive the kiss of peace from the bishop and would participate for the first time in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

    This second postbaptismal anointing by the bishop, taking place immediately after Baptism, was the sacrament of confirmation. As Christianity began to spread into rural areas and as infant baptisms increased in number — and, because of the danger of death, began to be practiced throughout the year — bishops were not always available to celebrate confirmation immediately after the child's baptism.

    The Eastern Churches maintained the original unity among the sacraments of initiation by allowing her priests to confirm and communicate infants and children when they are baptized. The Latin Church, preferring to preserve the notion that the bishop seals or completes the baptism through his anointing with chrism, allows infants or young children to be confirmed at their baptism only in emergency situations.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that "The practice of the Eastern Churches gives greater emphasis to the unity of Christian initiation.

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    That of the Latin Church more clearly expresses the communion of the new Christian with the bishop as guarantor and servant of the unity, catholicity and apostolicity of his Church, and hence the connection with the apostolic origins of Christ's Church" CCC Baptismal instruction and catechesis did not conclude with the celebration of baptism. The neophytes continued to receive instruction about their faith and their new life in Christ for some days afterward. In many places they returned to the Church daily during the Easter Week to receive further instruction and exhortation by the bishop.

    Many of these post-baptismal instructions, known as Mystagogical Catecheses, have survived; among the more important are those of Ambrose d. In addition, some pre-baptismal instructions of Theodore of Mopsuestia d. These works may be considered among the first "textbooks" of sacramental theology, for they explained to the neophytes the significance of the complex of symbols and ritual gestures they had just experienced, as well as instructing them further about other mysteries of the faith. From a pedagogical point of view the timing of these catecheses was effective in that they followed one's actual experience with the sacraments.

    Listening to the sacred mysteries being explained, the newly baptized could reflect upon what they had experienced, rather than attempting to fit an explanation onto a rite in which they had not yet participated and about whose details they knew little. When at the start of the Middle Ages adult Baptism became more rare, the rites of the catechumenate were adapted somewhat clumsily for infant candidates. Although infant Baptism has been the usual form of Baptism for the majority of Christians since at least the eighth century, the first rite of Baptism designed specifically for infants was the post-Vatican II Rite of Baptism for Children Such a transfer to infant Baptism of customs designed for adults was impossible without abbreviations and loss of meaning.

    The ritual for infant Baptism in the Middle Ages comprised a reception into the catechumenate by means of the sign of the cross, and exsufflation, the imposition of hands, and the giving of salt; the exorcism with the oration Aeternam coming from the catechumenate Ordo Romanus There follows the threefold renunciation of Satan separated from the confession of faith, as was often done in ancient times, by the anointing with oil of catechumens.

    The threefold immersion, bound up in earlier times with the three baptismal questions, left its vestige in the triple pouring of water that now accompanies the single indicative Trinitarian formula. The ritual for Baptism of adults is basically nothing else but a more prolix rite for infant Baptism that originated in the later Middle Ages.

    Instead of the single exorcism a whole series of them was introduced. The ceremony for reception into the catechumenate was lengthened by mere repetition of already existing rites. An insufflation breathing the Holy Spirit into the candidate was added to the exsufflation. Finally the whole ritual was outfitted with an introduction consisting of psalms. Defending the Church's teaching against the Protestant Reformers, the Council of Trent — 63 retained much of the medieval Baptism rite. The Roman Ritual , of established a theology and liturgical celebration of Baptism and the other sacraments that would remain essentially unchanged until the revisions called for by the Second Vatican Council three and a half centuries later.