A Storied History of Baptism & Christening
Baptism is a Christian ritual that dates back centuries; in some cases, it predates Jesus Christ himself. Christians tend to view baptism either as the means of salvation and entry into the church or as a sign of Christ's redemptive work in the converted. In both cases, the new believer is considered regenerated, and baptism seals this spiritual rebirth.
Water as a symbol of salvation can be traced back to the Old Testament and the theme was even more featured in New Testament books and parables. As John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan, he was ushering in the messianic fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The substance of Baptism is the blood of Jesus Christ removing our sinfulness. As water cleanses the outer man from soil and sweat, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses the inner man from the stain of sin. Read more about baptism’s early roots here.
Christening or infant baptism is the practice across many faiths, including Catholicism. As the church conquered the pagan world infant baptism arose. This appears to be based upon the fact that even in the ancient church there was the concept that baptism was the initiation rite into the community of faith. A second factor appears to have been the rise of the understanding of original sin and the belief that baptism washed away the stain of original sin. Learn more about infant baptism and christening here.
Ancient Roots, Modern Application
Baptism has undergone a lot of changes since it first appeared as an Old Testament means of salvation. Historically, baptism has been used across many religions, most popularly in Christianity, as a way to purify the spiritual self and absolve from sin.
Long ago, baptism tended to be performed outdoors and the supplicant was fully immersed in a river or lake. Today, many churches have indoor immersion tanks, and some churches simply pour or sprinkle water over the head.
This rendering of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan shows the simplicity of an ancient ceremony in nature. Read more about this painting on yardenit.com.
This next photo shows a baptismal tank inside a church which is how many faiths choose to celebrate the rite of ceremony in modern times. Read more about “Baptism Rebooted” and see additional photos here.