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Come Be Baptized. Let Your Heart Be Circumcised[1]

be Baptized

Water is in every culture. Water in religions takes on many representations.  It can represent Ritual washing as in Christianity, Mandaeism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Islam, the Baháʼí Faith, Shinto, Taoism, and the Rastafari movement. The cleansing is done through immersion in water.

In addition, a ritual bath in pure water is performed for the dead in many religions including Judaism, Mandaeism and Islam. In Islam, the five daily prayers can be done in most cases after completing washing certain parts of the body using clean water. In Shinto, water is used in almost all rituals to cleanse a person or an area.

Then there is Immersion of deities. In Hinduism, statues of Durga and Ganesh are immersed in rivers at the final stages of the festivals Durga Puja and Ganesh Chaturthi respectively. In Christianity, the baptism of Jesus is an important moment in Christian theology and is celebrated in Western Christianity as Epiphany. In the Christian East this feast is celebrated as Theophany on January 6.

Some cultures even have gods that are made from water and are over the water.  Water deities are usually a focus of worship at specific springs or holy wells, but there are also more abstract ocean deities, and deities representing "water" as an abstract element, such as Aban in Zoroastrianism.

Example for local tutelary water deities include Celtic Sulis, worshipped at the thermal spring at Bath, or Ganges in Hinduism, personified as a goddess. The Hindu goddess Saraswati originated as a personification of the Saraswati River in the Rigveda, but became a more abstract deity of wisdom in Hinduism. African examples include the Yoruba river goddess Oshun, the Igbo lake goddess Ogbuide (Uhammiri), the Igbo river goddess Idemili and Agulu Lake.

The most common through in cultures and world religions is that of Holy Water. Some faiths use water especially prepared for religious purposes (holy water in most Christian denominations, mambuha in Mandaeism, amrita in Sikhism and Hinduism). Many religions also consider particular sources or bodies of water to be sacred or at least auspicious like the Lourdes in Roman Catholicism, the Jordan River in some Christian churches and Mandaeism called Yardena, the Zamzam Well in Islam and the River Ganges (among many others) in Hinduism. As Christians we see water in so many ways and baptism is one of them. Let  listen to biger understanding and let God speak to us as we open our heart to maybe a new and wider understanding of Baptism.

Baptism is “(from the Greek noun βάπτισμα baptisma; see below) is a Christian sacrament of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally.”  I love that word adoption.  I know there are many of us who have colorful families and desire to see another way of doing family.  With baptism we show our admission and adoption into on other way of doing family and for some us a family altogether. We now have a family to be a part of , the family of God. That family is not perfect but has a perfect father that loves us and shows us the way.

Here is A Little Bit of Jewish and Christian History and Word study Into and On the Word Baptism: “The usual form of baptism among the earliest Christians was for the candidate to be immersed, either totally (submerged completely under the water) or partially (standing or kneeling in water while water was poured on him or her). While John the Baptist's use of a deep river for his baptism suggests immersion, "The fact that he chose a permanent and deep river suggests that more than a token quantity of water was needed, and both the preposition 'in' (the Jordan) and the basic meaning of the verb 'baptize' probably indicate immersion. In v. 16, Matthew will speak of Jesus 'coming up out of the water'. The traditional depiction in Christian art of John the Baptist pouring water over Jesus' head may therefore be based on later Christian practice" pictorial and archaeological evidence of Christian baptism from the 3rd century onward indicates that a normal form was to have the candidate stand in water while water was poured over the upper body. Other common forms of baptism now in use include pouring water three times on the forehead, a method called affusion.”

Both of the nouns that mean baptism are derived from the verb baptizō (βαπτίζω, "I wash" transitive verb), which is used in Jewish texts for ritual washing, and in the New Testament both for ritual washing and also for the apparently new rite of baptisma. The Greek verb baptō (βάπτω), "dip", from which the verb baptizo is derived, is in turn hypothetically traced to a reconstructed Indo-European root *gʷabh-, "dip". The Greek words are used in a great variety of meanings.” In this understanding we can be washed when we need to and the ceremonial washing is a way of signifying a new start. 

Thiswashing was done in the ritual of Tvilah, a Jewish purification ritual of immersing in water, which is required for, among other things, conversion to Judaism, but which differs in being repeatable, while baptism is to be performed only once. (In fact, the Modern Hebrew term for "baptism" is "Christian Tvilah".)” Now I know we have to fulfill the rituals to be clean in the sight of God because The blood of Christ has cleansed us for eternity, but we are human and live in a physical world.  We have the sense of touch and that touch is a strong sense for this world.  Sometime we as humans need to have that physical washing so that our mind can let go of what was already washed away. 

There are 2 Words in the original text to mean baptism:

1.“baptismos (βαπτισμός) refers in Mark 7:4 to a water-rite for the purpose of purification, washing, cleansing, of dishes; in the same verse and in Hebrews 9:10 to Levitical cleansings of vessels or of the body; and in Hebrews 6:2 perhaps also to baptism, though there it may possibly refer to washing an inanimate object.” (Hebrews 12:24, 1Peter 1:2)

2. "baptisma (βάπτισμα), which is a neologism appearing to originate in the New Testament, and probably should not be confused with the earlier Jewish concept of baptismos (βαπτισμός), Later this is found only in writings by Christians. In the New Testament, it appears at least 21 times: 13 times with regard to the rite practised by John the Baptist; 3 times with reference to the specific Christian rite (4 times if account is taken of its use in some manuscripts of Colossians 2:12, where, however, it is most likely to have been changed from the original baptismos than vice versa); 5 times in a metaphorical sense."

I suggest that we need to do baptismos (βαπτισμός) throughout our lives as we change and move from one stage to another.  Our bodies need to be incorporated into that change and lead through a time of transition with baptismos (βαπτισμός) being a way of starting in to the new and honoring the past. 

"Baptism is considered to be a form of rebirth—"by water and the Spirit"[Jn 3:5]—the nakedness of baptism (the second birth) paralleled the condition of one's original birth. For example, St. John Chrysostom calls the baptism "λοχείαν", i.e., giving birth, and "new way of creation...from water and Spirit" ("to John" speech 25,2), and later elaborates:

For nothing perceivable was handed over to us by Jesus; but with perceivable things, all of them however conceivable. This is also the way with the baptism; the gift of the water is done with a perceivable thing, but the things being conducted, i.e., the rebirth and renovation, are conceivable. For, if you were without a body, He would hand over these bodiless gifts as naked [gifts] to you. But because the soul is closely linked to the body, He hands over the perceivable ones to you with conceivable things. (Chrysostom to Matthew., speech 82, 4, c. 390 A.D.)"

So now what are the ways Baptism is administered. For myself I was immersed.  After giving my life to God as a child my father baptized me in front of our church.  I was about 3 years old and was so short I had to stand on a stool to be seen.  Later in life after living, loving, making so many mistakes, walking away from God, and then walking back into the arms of my savior I was re-baptized as a n adult at about the age of 22 years by immersion. There are several different ways of doing baptism and no one is better than the other. There is Aspersion and Immersion.

“Two passages in the Gospels indicate that the verb baptizein did not always indicate submersion. The first is Luke 11:38, which tells how a Pharisee, at whose house Jesus ate, "was astonished to see that he did not first wash (literally, "be baptized") before dinner".

The other Gospel passage pointed to is: "The not eat unless they wash their hands thoroughly, observing the tradition of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they wash themselves (literally, "baptize themselves")" (Mk 7:3–4).

Scholars of various denominations claim that these two passages show that invited guests, or people returning from market, would not be expected to immerse themselves ("baptize themselves") totally in water but only to practise the partial immersion of dipping their hands in water or to pour water over them, as is the only form admitted by present Jewish custom.

“The Roman Catholic Church considers baptism, even for an infant, so important that "parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks" and, "if the infant is in danger of death, it is to be baptised without any delay." It declares: "The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church.”

By contrast, Anabaptist and Evangelical Protestants recognize baptism as an outward sign of an inward reality following on an individual believer's experience of forgiving grace. Reformed and Methodist Protestants maintain a link between baptism and regeneration, but insist that it is not automatic or mechanical, and that regeneration may occur at a different time than baptism.

The Church of Christ consistently teach that in baptism a believer surrenders his life in faith and obedience to God, and that God "by the merits of Christ's blood, cleanses one from sin and truly changes the state of the person from an alien to a citizen of God's kingdom. Baptism is not a human work; it is the place where God does the work that only God can do. Thus, they see baptism as a passive act of faith rather than a meritorious work; it "is a confession that a person has nothing to offer God".

Methodists contend that infant baptism has spiritual value for the infant. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, held that baptism is a means of grace, but it was symbolic. Methodists view baptism in water as symbolic and believe that it does not regenerate the baptized nor cleanse them from sin.

Presbyterian and Reformed Christians believe that baptism, whether of infants or adults, is a "sign and seal of the covenant of grace", and that baptism admits the party baptized into the visible church. a member of the visible church does not guarantee salvation; though it does provide the child with many benefits, including that of one's particular congregation consenting to assist in the raising of that child in "the way he should go, (so that) when he is old he will not turn from it". Elect infants (those predestined for salvation) who die in infancy are by faith considered regenerate on the basis of God's covenant promises in the covenant of grace.” Lutherans practice infant baptism because they believe that God mandates it through the instruction of Jesus Christ, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)", in which Jesus does not set any age limit: The command is general. It includes infants, women, men, and teenagers, even though none of these groups is specifically named. Each of these groups is included in "all nations."”

I was raised under the theology of Believer's baptism where a believer is sowing the world that they have made a decision to follow Christ and become a Christian, but threw the years I have come to see the value and difference in both.  In the tradition I grew up in we dedicated our children to the Lord and promised to raise them in the ways of God. In a infant baptism that child is making a covenant with the church, their family, and the people in their lives to be brought up in the ways of God.  And then they decided when they are older if they want to follow God with their whole life or not. 

Believer's baptism (occasionally called credobaptism, from the Latin word credo meaning "I believe") is the Christian practice of baptism as this is understood by many Protestant denominations, particularly those that descend from the Anabaptist and English Baptist tradition. According to their understanding, a person is baptized on the basis of his or her profession of faith in Jesus Christ and as admission into a local community of faith.

Christians who practice believer's baptism believe that saving grace and church membership are gifts from God by the recipient's faith alone and cannot be imparted or transferred from one person to another (such as from parent to child) by sacraments such as baptism. These tenets render infant baptism meaningless within their belief system. Because infants cannot hear or believe the gospel message, they cannot repent nor profess Christ as the Son of God.

Credobaptists have differing views concerning the status of children who are too young to profess faith (Matthew 19:14).

Infant Baptism is the practice of baptising infants or young children. In theological discussions, the practice is sometimes referred to as paedobaptism or pedobaptism from the Greek pais meaning "child". Based on their understanding of New Testament passages such as Colossians 2:11–12, paedobaptists believe that infant baptism is the New Testament counterpart to circumcision. In the Old Testament, all male converts to Judaism, male infants born to Jewish parents, and male servants were circumcised as ceremony of initiation into the Jewish community. Paedobaptists believe that baptism has replaced Old Testament circumcision and is the religious ceremony of initiation into the Christian community. During the medieval and Reformation eras, infant baptism was seen as a way to incorporate newborn babies into the secular community as well as inducting them into the Christian faith.

This is my understanding and the understanding of living in covenant is all the way through the Bible.  I live in covenant with my God, with my husband, with my friends, and with my child.  A covenant is not just a contract but is something so much more intimate and can be life changing when entered into with eyes wide open. 

Many Reformed Baptists agree with the principles of Covenant Theology and agree that Baptism has, in a sense, replaced circumcision as the sign of covenant.” This is great way of seeing Baptism.  It is a way of entering into a covenant with God eyes wide open.

Presbyterian and Reformed Christians base their case for infant baptism on Covenant theology. According to Covenant theology God makes two basic covenants, or agreements, with humans. The first one, the Covenant of Works is an agreement that bases man's relationship with God on human obedience and morality. The covenant was made with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Adam broke this covenant so God replaced it with a second more durable covenant—the Covenant of Grace. The Covenant of Grace is an agreement that bases man's relationship with God on God's grace and generosity. The Covenant of Works failed because it was based on human performance. The Covenant of Grace is durable because it is based on God's performance. This is the basis for our relationship with God.  Our salvation is built on the Covenant of Grace and no longer depends on us to do the right thing so that we can have a relationship with our creator and father.  That Covenant of Grace opens us up to living fully in the Grace of God even if we make mistakes and fall down along the way.

All the covenants that God makes with humans after the Fall, all extend the Covenant of Grace to its logical conclusion in Jesus Christ. In Covenant theology, however, there is a long-standing understanding that the Mosaic Covenant is also a republication of the Covenant of Works, which required obedience to receive its benefits. The underlying Covenant of Grace extends through the whole Old Testament, which suggests that two covenants are in play throughout the history of Israel. Consequently, Covenant theologians see that the Church, or the people of God, existed in the Old Testament. These are the people who placed their faith in Christ in advance, and they are saved in the same way Christians are. Not every Israelite is in the Church (or elect), many exist under the Covenant of Works and its strict unattainable requirements, but not under the Covenant of Grace. This is why we believe that Christ is the fulfillment of the messianic prophesies.  Because he came and fulfilled the requirements for sacrifice so that we can then live fully in the Covenant of Grace that has been there all the time.  The Covenant of Grace was there so that when the blood of the animals was spirit and the ritual washings were done then the transgressions were wiped clean and pure relationship could happen.  Now that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice the Covenant of works was fulfilled now and forever from this death on and his resurrection assures us life in relationship within only the Covenant of Grace with our God and creator.

The sign of the Covenant was a bloody sign in the Old Testament but because Christ has shed His blood, it has been transformed into a bloodless sign, washing with water. Passover was a bloody form of Old Testament worship and also transitions into the New Testament in the bloodless form of bread and wine. Covenant theologians point out that the external sign of the covenant in the Old Testament was circumcision. Circumcision was performed upon the male children of Israelites to signify their external membership in God's people, not as a guarantee of true faith; the Old Testament records many Israelites who turned from God and were punished, showing that their hearts were not truly set on serving God. So while all male Israelites had the sign of the covenant performed on them in a once off ceremony soon after birth, such a signifier was external only and not a true indicator of whether or not they would later exhibit true faith in Yahweh. In the New Testament, circumcision is no longer seen as mandatory for God's people. However, there is compelling evidence to suggest that the Old Testament circumcision rite has been replaced by baptism. For instance: "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism." (Colossians 2:11–12a)

Ether way you see Baptism, it is a wonderful way of showing our love for our savior, of telling the world what we are and who we are, of making a covenant with God and with each other, and with moving from one time in life to another.  I urge you if you are in any of those places in your life come and be Baptized. 

[1] Wikipedia speaks about the Covenant Theology (My notes through this section will be in italics, in brackets, and in red text.)


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