Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Around the time I was born, my parents were going to a Lutheran church. As such, I was baptized as an infant. In most cases in the Bible, baptism is connected with receiving the Holy Spirit. If so, then that may explain why I don't remember when I became a believer. However, there ARE verses such as those in Mark and Luke (below) that make a reference to believing as well, which I couldn't have done as a baby.

Mark 16:16 (NLT)
Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.

Luke 3:3 (NLT)
Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.

(Emphasis mine.)

As such, I am considering being baptized again as an adult. After all, I can now say that I believe and that I have repented, but there is little or nothing in the Bible about being baptized twice. Also, infant baptism doesn't seem to have become widespread until at least a century after Christ (Wikipedia).

I consider myself non-denominational on the side of Wesleyan, but I'll take answers from any viewpoint.

share

locked by David Stratton Aug 1 at 19:27

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: help center.

7 Answers 7

up vote 9 down vote accepted

What you are describing is Anabaptism, or Re-baptism, and has been a well accepted practice, and even the basis of an entire movement shortly after the Protestant reformation. Today, Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites, and a few other smaller groups, that grew out of this original Anabaptist movement, still exist.

Historically, these groups held to the belief of re-baptism as an adult. Today, most people in these groups grow up in these groups, and therefore are not baptised as infants, so when they get baptized as an adult, it is no longer a re-baptism. However, re-baptism of new members is still often (but not always) practiced.

As a Mennonite myself (I'm a member of a church in the Mennonite Brethren denomination, and have in the past been a member of the General Conference Mennonite denomination--now called the Mennonite Church USA denomination), I can tell you that within these circles, the common approach is to leave the decision of whether to be re-baptized up to the individual.

In other words, re-baptism is not considered a requirement for a Catholic, Lutheran, or someone from another infant-baptism-believing denomination, when they join the Mennonite church. But when the new member desires re-baptism, it is fully supported.

I am sure there are some Mennonite and other Anabaptist churches/denominations that do require re-baptism.

There are some (even in modern day Anabaptist circles) who consider re-baptism to be completely ridiculous, along the same lines as re-marrying your spouse, if you realized you weren't truly in love when you got married, and have since fallen in love. Whether that (either re-baptism, or re-marriage) is actually ridiculous, I would leave as a decision for the parties involved.

share
3  
The word anabaptist was originally an epithet, btw. The original anabaptists didn't want to baptize again, rather baptize properly. –  dancek Aug 29 '11 at 3:35
    
credobaptist is a less provocative name. –  gmoothart Sep 28 '11 at 18:28
    
Your answer here gives a reassuring "well, it happens" & who is doing it, but doesn't really answer the "what is the sense" part of the question. –  bruised reed Jun 11 at 7:26

I'm Catholic, but I think this is sort of normal Christian advice, let me know if it doesn't make sense (logically at least).

Canon IX of the Seventh Session of Trent teaches that baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul of the faithful that cannot be removed:

If any one shall say that in the three sacraments, Baptism, to wit, Confirmation, and Orders, there is not imprinted on the soul a character, that is, a certain spiritual and indelible sign, on account of which they cannot be repeated; let him be anathema.

But, if for whatever reason you had reason to believe that your original baptism was not valid (not just insufficient), then you'd probably want to get baptized (you don't need to call it re-baptized) because baptism is necessary for salvation and justification of the sinner (ibid. Canon IV):

If any one shall say that [any or all of the] the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous, and that without them, and without the desire thereof, men, through faith alone, obtain of God the grace of justification; though all [the sacraments] be not necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.

(the same logic is applied to Marriage and Annulment of Marriage)

But, the best advice is to follow the advice of your spiritual advisor. Don't go into baptism for the 'feeling' of it.

share
    
By all means, he should apply the same logic as used in Marriage, as Marriage is a sacred rite entered into by rational adults freely (i.e. their own will) and without impediment - but I'm not sure you quite meant it like that ;) –  bruised reed Jun 11 at 7:29

There is a vast difference between an infant baptism and the baptism of a child. An infant is baptized as the result of someone else's belief, not their own. At age 5 1/2, I had a true understanding that Christ was the Son of God, lived, died and arose for me, and was asking for my repentance and a home in my life, my heart. That is when I accepted Him as my personal Savior. It took much more growth in understanding to give Him His place as Lord. I was baptized at age 7 as a result of my own faith and obedience to Him. I believe that, according to the Scriptures, the only true baptism by water must stem from one's own faith, not that of another.

To expand: Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. . ." Repentance was to precede baptism. Belief in Christ came first.

Acts 18:8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corintians, hearing believed and were baptized." Again believing in Christ Jesus came first.

Although Acts 16:33 as pointed out says ". . .he and his family were baptized." however, this too is prefaced by believe as stated in Acts 16:31 "So they (Paul and Silas) said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." For each, believing was the prequisite to being baptized.

An infant is simply not capable of his/her own belief. Infant baptism in one denomination is much the same as infant dedication in another. It is a public committment made by the parent(s) to "train up a child in the way he should go". It is not a guarantee of that child's salvation or acceptance into heaven. That must come from the child's own confession of need and acceptance of Christ gift of the sacrificial spanning of the gap between man and God. Thus, although it may be a physical re-baptism, spiritually this would be the initial baptism, the outward profession of an inward committment to Christ.

share
    
Welcome to to Christianity.SE! Would you be willing to expand on this answer to cover the tricky issue of being re-baptized if you already were as an infant and show what scripture you base your beliefs here on? –  Caleb Sep 27 '11 at 20:16

See Acts 19, where it makes it clear that if baptism is performed incorrectly or without the person having a correct understanding of what's going on, the baptism is invalid and needs to be done again. This applies here as infants are incapable of understanding baptism.

Acts 19:3-5 (KJV)

3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

share
3  
Gotta disagree with infants being unable to be baptized. When Cornelius and his family were baptized, do you think his children were rebaptized once they reached the age of majority? –  Peter Turner Aug 25 '11 at 19:44
3  
@Peter: You're assuming that he had young children. I don't believe it actually says that anywhere. Does it? –  Mason Wheeler Aug 25 '11 at 20:06
4  
@Peter: If it actually said that he had young children and they were baptized, then yes, that would make the baptism of young children a biblical doctrine. But as long as we have no record of that ever having actually happened, it's valid to regard it as a non-biblical doctrine. And as we have several scriptures which would seem to indicate that there are qualifications for baptism which young children do not meet, it's justifiable to regard it even as an anti-biblical doctrine. –  Mason Wheeler Aug 25 '11 at 20:20
3  
How about Silas or Lydia's families (Acts 16:15;33)? How many families would have to be baptized in the bible before one can safely assume that there were children being baptized? I'm genuinely curious, I don't mean to harp or criticize, I just don't look at the bible (or any writing) that way. –  Peter Turner Aug 25 '11 at 21:31
2  
However, I must disagree with your position, as baptism, marriage, communion, and life in Christ in general are mysteries beyond understanding of infants, children, and adults. –  Robert Haraway Aug 28 '11 at 0:36

There are two different ways to look at this. I've lived in both: I grew up in the Campbell-Stone "Restoration" Movement, which practices believers' baptism, and I was baptized as a teenager. Now I'm Eastern Orthodox, which practices infant baptism, and I had both of my children baptized as infants.

Consider these two verses (taken from the NKJV in both cases)

Acts 2:38

Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Romans 3:23

...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...

The anabaptist side would say, looking at scriptures like Acts 2:38, that it makes no sense to baptize infants because infants can't repent. Of course, scriptures like Romans 3:23 say that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Anabaptists would say that that scripture obviously doesn't refer to infants, because infants can't sin.

The paedobaptist side would turn the logic the other way. All have sinned, as Romans 3:23 says, and therefore all are in need of baptism for the forgiveness of sin. But when Acts 2:38 says to repent, it's obviously not referring to infants, since infants can't repent.

In other words:

Anabaptists:

  • Acts 2:38 means all must repent
  • Romans 3:23 means only those who can have sinned, have sinned

Paedobaptists:

  • Romans 3:23 means all have sinned
  • Acts 2:38 means only those who can repent, must repent

Clearly this is something of a simplification and only looks at two verses, but I hope it helps to explain how Christians of good will can hold two such contradictory positions. It's not always possible to determine one clear theological position on an issue using scripture. This is why, throughout history, there have been other means for settling these matters, from the Pope to the ecumenical councils to confessional documents to the "brotherhood journals" that were popular in the Campbell-Stone Movement.

share

I was surprised to find that nobody here mentioned authority. In many denominations, authority is not a big deal, mostly because they believe that the faith/action of the individual being baptized is enough to validate the baptism.

As far as I know, many denominations accept baptisms from other religions based on this assumption.

For other denominations, however, authority is all-important. They will ask you from whom the person who baptized you received their authority. If this is brought into question, then proper baptism is necessary (assuming you believe that the next baptism will be done with the proper authority).

There is a reason certain people baptized while others did not. John was chosen to baptize, so we can assume that he was given authority (the present Bible doesn't make this absolutely clear). Because of this, Christ went to him to get baptized before He started His ministry.

Christ himself brought up this point with the scribes: Mark: 10:30

The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.

Also, it depends on the interpretation of Ephesians 4:5

One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

If we can ascertain that a person has authority (by whatever means we feel is sound), then we must make sure that it is done in the correct way. Someone with true authority will surely perform the ordinance correctly, and this is another way to tell if someone holds the authority.

Here are some resources that detail how we should be baptized:

If we feel we were baptized improperly, then we should seek to be baptized again, because a baptism is of no worth if not done properly. For example, a person has the authority to arrest you if and only if they have jurisdiction in that area as a legal officer of the peace, and if they do it properly (in the US, this means reading of rights for normal arrests).

We all know that we need to be baptized to be saved, so it is our responsibility to ensure that we are baptized correctly, under the correct authority and in the correct manner.

share
    
The Great Commission - Matthew 28:19-20 - can be reasonably interpreted to mean that all disciples of Christ should have the authority to baptize - as Jesus commissioned the apostles to baptize telling them to teach disciples to obey everything he had commanded them - which would include commissioning the next generation of baptizers. –  bruised reed Jun 11 at 7:14

God says infant baptism is wrong. Consider the following passage:

Acts 8.35-37 (KJV)
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

God has made it clear in this passage that before anyone can be baptised, they must meet this prerequisite: they must believe with all their heart that Yahshua is The Son of God. Philip knew this was true in the case of the eunuch, because the eunuch confessed it with his mouth.

In the case of an infant who cannot yet speak, how can we possibly know whether or not they believe with all of their heart that Yahshua is The Son of God? We can’t. Furthermore, in the case of an infant who is not yet old enough to understand spoken or written words, it’s clear that they cannot even understand what the words ‘If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest’ mean, let alone believe them.

As such, we must conclude that an infant does not meet the prerequisite which God has set for a person to be ready to be baptised in water and so if whilst we are seeking to fulfil God’s command to ’[go] … and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…’ (Matthew 28.19), we encounter (as I have many times) someone who says “I have been baptised” and we find out after probing that this was as a baby, we know we have some explaining to do, since this baptism was completely and utterly ineffectual.

To respond to Peter Turner's question about whether the infants in Cornelius' household were rebaptised when they reached the age of majority, I would pose the following question: why do you assume there were any children in Cornelius' household that were so young that they couldn't understand the meaning of spoken (or indeed written) words, hence being too young to believe that Yahshua is The Son of God, hence being too young to be baptised?

Now let's think about the assertion above that John's baptism was invalid. If we examine the scripture quoted (Acts19.3-5), we find that nowhere did Paul say John's baptism was invalid. We actually find that it was a different baptism to being baptised in The Name of The Lord Jesus. There was nothing wrong with it. It was God's will for their lives, as He makes clear in John 7.29-30:

28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist;[d] but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

It was God's will for them to be baptised with the baptism of John before Yahshua had died on the cross, risen from the dead and given the following instruction:

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28.18-20)

Nowhere in The Bible does it say anyone was baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost before Yahshua had died on the cross. I suspect this is because it took Yahshua's death on the cross to make this possible.

If the church wants to regain the favour of God that the early believers enjoyed, we need to examine how they operated and do likewise. You'll find in the book of Acts that when people believed the preaching of the apostles or an evangelist (Philip), they were baptised immediately. Salvation is urgent. People have died and gone to a lost eternity today (unless perhaps someone raises them from the dead and they get some more time in this life), to be thrown into the lake of fire, because they didn't understand the word that was preached:

18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. (Matt 13.18-19).

48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12.48-50).

46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6.46-49).

Make no mistake: if you want to be like the man in the parable of whom The Lord said "the ruin of the house [he built] was great", when you here Yahshua's words, don't do them.

Yahshuas' words:

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16.16).

In response to Affable Geek's comment below, to which counter case do you refer?

In response to fredsbend, thanks for the edit and formatting help.

share
2  
Welcome to the site. We are happy to have you here. I invite you to see the tour and help center pages where you can learn about the site, and also [this meta post]() and many of the linked meta posts there to learn about specific site policies. Generally, we, the community here, prefer quotes from prominent theologians, a doctrinal perspective, and/or quotes from a confession of faith or catechism or something similar. I have also made an edit for formatting. –  fredsbend the Grinch Sep 1 '13 at 15:20
1  
not to pile on, but while this answer may be a great opinion, it's a poor answer to the question. It handles it's own opinions well but does very little in regards to the counter case. –  Yuletide Geek Sep 1 '13 at 16:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.