What do various Christian denominations believe about the requirement of baptism, and situations that impede it?

For a personal example, it has been more than 3 years since I converted to Christianity; as I'm living in Iran and leaving Islam is a crime punishable with slashes and death, I tried to keep my faith hidden.

There is no church where I live and a few open churches are in other cities very far from where I live and "restricted". I'm not in contact with any other Christian communities in Iran; I can't trust them.

What if a Christian is not baptized? Is it a ceremony that must be done?

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    Like any library, Christianity Stack Exchange offers great information, but does not offer personalized advice, and does not take the place of seeking such advice from your pastor, priest, or other trustworthy counselor. It is impossible to give advice to you in your particular situation. When baptism becomes possible, then take that opportunity.
    – Nigel J
    May 8, 2023 at 14:31
  • @NigelJ But I'm not seeking personal advice and I don't have access to any "local" pastor/priest. I think this question can be applied to many who live in a situation like me. back to the question, what if I never had the chance to get baptized? May 8, 2023 at 14:34
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    If it is essential for someone to be baptised then I believe that God, who is Almighty, will arrange it.
    – Nigel J
    May 8, 2023 at 15:00
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    @NigelJ Amen to that. May 8, 2023 at 15:00
  • It's worth mentioning that a baptism doesn't have to be public. You and someone to baptize you (preferably but not always a church leader), meeting somewhere secret, can perform a valid baptism in virtually all Christian groups I know. May 8, 2023 at 22:49

2 Answers 2


I'm not baptized, what now?

I recall how the French missionary Fr. Evariste Régis Huc was able to make a single convert in Lhasa, Tibet in 1848. Having fear that a single convert might possibly abandon the faith, he thought it best not to baptize him until Catholic missionaries were able to stay freely in Lhasa.

Instead of baptizing him he chose to instruct him the best he could about Jesus Christ as best he could and taught him to recite the Jesus Prayer of the Orthodox tradition. This would aid him in being united to Jesus Christ and give him peace of mind at the same time.

Some time later Fr. Huc was expelled from Tibet by the Chinese government and we do not know whatever happened to this lone convert, other than he kept the faith hidden for fear of being persecuted.

We must collectively pray for better times in many countries, where being a Christianity is a danger of being martyred or persecuted, for those who believe.

Catholics believe that even if one can not get baptized, there is what we call a baptism of desire, which I believe you are actually fulfilling, until an actual baptism may be performed on you.

Anyone could validly baptize you in an emergency, even a non-Christian as long as he or she employs the Trinitarian formula (I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) and baptizes one with water.

Many Christian denominations permit emergency baptisms to be performed by anyone. Nevertheless, whatever you choose must be done with extreme prudence.

Latin Church

In the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, the ordinary minister of baptism is a bishop, priest, or deacon (canon 861 §1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law), and in normal circumstances, only the parish priest of the person to be baptized, or someone authorized by the parish priest may do so licitly (canon 530). "If the ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or some other person deputed to this office by the local Ordinary, may lawfully confer baptism; indeed, in a case of necessity, any person who has the requisite intention may do so (canon 861 §2), even a non-Catholic or a non-Christian.


In Lutheranism, liturgical books such as the Lutheran Book of Worship provide the rite of emergency baptism. If a pastor is not available, "anyone who is baptised can perform the baptism."


Similar provisions exist throughout the constituent churches of the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church in the United States of America is one example as below.

For the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer states that "Holy Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil, on the day of Pentecost, on All Saints' Day or the Sunday after All Saints' day, and on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord . . . It is recommended that, as far as possible, Baptisms be reserved for these occasions or when a bishop is present. If on any one of the above-named days the ministry of a bishop or priest cannot be obtained, the bishop may specially authorize a deacon to preside. In that case, the deacon omits the prayer over the candidates, page 308, and the formula and action which follow." The Book of Common Prayer also specifies under the heading "Emergency Baptism" the following:

In case of emergency, any baptized person may administer Baptism according to the following form.

Using the given name of the one to be baptized (if known), pour water on him or her, saying

I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord's Prayer is then said.

Other prayers, such as the following, may be added

Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed on upon this your servant the forgiveness of sin and have raised him to the new life of grace. Strengthen him, O Lord, with your presence, enfold him in the arms of your mercy, and keep him safe forever.

The person who administers emergency Baptism should inform the priest of the appropriate parish, so that the fact can be properly recorded.

If the baptized person recovers, the Baptism should be recognized at a public celebration of the Sacrament with a bishop or priest presiding, and the person baptized under emergency conditions, together with the sponsors or godparents, taking part in everything except the administration of the water.

— Emergency Baptism, pp 313-4, The Book of Common Prayer

Baptisms in your circumstances should be performed in secret.


First of all, you should consider the fact that not all Christian denominations have the same beliefs about baptism. These differences sometimes are basis for separation between churches. Therefore I cannot give you one answer that is correct for all churches.

I can try to give you an answer for the Roman Catholic Church, as I am a deacon there.

First of all, it would be good to know that baptism is very important but not the only way to salvation. In a (very) short, and not in my native language, so my apologies for the way I try to formulate my answer, the Catholic Church believes that:

  1. God is absolutely free to accept the soul of anyone, also if not baptised.
  2. If you die as a catechumen “on your way to baptism”, you may trust your soul to be seen as if baptised.
  3. Baptism under normal circumstances is administered by a priest or a deacon. But under extraordinary circumstances anyone may administer baptism. As soon as possible afterwards, the church has something as a “baptism if the extraordinary one wasn’t correct, otherwise affirm the actual baptism”.

So I would say that “must” is a bit too strong, but it is very, very close. And if needed, you can get baptised by any Christian if flowing water is used, AND if you are baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I am not sure if a non-christian could baptise you, maybe someone else knows this.

I hope it helps.

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    > §2. When an ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or another person designated for this function by the local ordinary, or in a case of necessity any person with the right intention, confers baptism licitly. Pastors of souls, especially the pastor of a parish, are to be concerned that the Christian faithful are taught the correct way to baptize. vatican.va/archive/cod-iuris-canonici/eng/documents/….
    – Peter Turner
    May 8, 2023 at 15:38

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