A lot of churches don’t seem to take Baptism seriously. They baptize with no questions asked. I have seen churches re-baptize those who are already validly baptized “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.
– That additional baptism is playing around with water. Baptism should be seen as entry into the Kingdom of God, an act that confers graces by obedience. The power of baptism comes from the name of the Trinity and the grace of God, not the amount of water used or the number of times it’s done. It is entering into the Christian faith and should be treated as a promise to God and to the faith. Many see this as an empty “symbol”
Here is what your standard, secular source (www.wikipedia.com) will say about baptism:
“In Christianity, baptism (a word derived from Greek baptizo: “immersing”, “performing ablutions”) is the ritual act, with the use of water, by which one is admitted as a full member of the Christian Church and, in the view of some, as a member of the particular Church in which the baptism is administered. The most usual form of baptism among Early Christians was for the candidate to stand in water and water to be poured over the upper body. Baptism has traditionally been seen by many as necessary for salvation.”
The article continues:
Baptism makes the person share in the Trinitarian life of God through “sanctifying grace,” the grace of justification that incorporates the person into the body of Christ and his Church), also making the person a sharer in the priesthood of Christ. It imparts the “theological” virtues (faith, hope, and charity) and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and marks the baptized person with a spiritual seal or character that indicates permanent belonging to Christ. Baptism is the foundation of communion between all Christians.”
Even those who aren’t Christian at all realize the history of how Christians have viewed baptism and how they have held it to be a most-sacred sacrament.
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “ – John 3:5
This also matches the wording of Jesus when stating another point central to Early Christianity: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” – John 6: 53.
The Apostles baptized and broke bread…and they took it very seriously. They believed that the act of consuming communion gave them life! What does this have to do with anything? Jesus states that baptism and communion are central to the faith. They are incorporating the faithful into His life. When Jesus’s side was pierced, blood and water poured out. These things are the life of Christ. – And the apostles knew it.
“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of
God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by
water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy
Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” – 1 John 5:5-8
Baptism and Communion in particular is what made Christians distinguishable from many of the early pagan sects. Sure these pagan sects had ceremonies similar to Christian baptism and communion but it was precisely the action of Christ that distinguished them. These previous things were just symbols and ceremonies, for the Christian, these are sacraments, actual manifestation’s of Christ’s promises!
Baptism is mentioned in the ancient Apostle’s Creed as a definition of faith “We believe in one baptism” (“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” -Ephesians 4:4-5 ). The creed and Paul’s letter to the Ephesians both state one baptism. It is one baptism that gives us re-birth in Christ, not two or three or four. One baptism is all that;s needed!
I think that in order for churches to be more unified and strong, they need to stop reducing Christ’s sacraments to symbols. These were teachings held dearly by the Apostles, given by Christ. They need to partake in the blood and water…and be nourished.