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Featured Baptism: How necessary is it?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by adrian009, Jan 30, 2019.

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  1. Unique to Christianity

    12.5%
  2. Some aspects are unique to Christianity, others more universal

    29.2%
  3. Its essential functions are part of other faiths

    20.8%
  4. I don't know

    12.5%
  5. This poll doesn't reflect my thinking

    25.0%
  1. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Baptism appears to be a uniquely Christian practice, and part of the process of admission into the Christian Faith. It involves the use of water. The synoptic gospels recount Jesus being baptised by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:9-10. Luke 3:21). It is considered a sacrament in most Churches. The ritual can involve sprinkling of water on the head or full immersion. Water can be a symbol of purity.

    Baptism - Wikipedia

    To what extent is baptism a necessary part of the Christian Faith? What purpose does baptism serve and is its purpose unique to the Christian Faith?

    Perhaps its function in part is integral to other religions. Muslims and Baha'is for example have ablutions where they wash certain parts of their body in prayer before turning to their respective Qiblih each day in prayer.
     
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  2. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    These don't have the same purpose do they?

    Baptism is a kind of initiation ceremony, whereas ablutions are ritual purification.

    Many religions have initiation rites or practice some form of ritual purification so in this sense they are quite common, although the specific will vary significantly between religions and may be unique/rare in this regard (I don't really know though).
     
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  3. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I grew up Christian and was baptised as an infant and latter went through a full immersion baptism when I reconnected with my Christian roots as an adult.

    At first glance Salah and Obligatory prayer appear very different to Baptism, I agree.

    One aspect of Baptism that Christians would consider unique is their relationship with the Holy Spirit upon baptism. But then that raises more question than it answers....
     
  4. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

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    For Catholics baptism in Christ is necessary to enter our communion. The Church recognizes one baptism whether or not in the Catholic church.
     
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  5. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion rituals have their value, especially when you are not Self Realized yet. It is symbolic. Water is quite clean/pure and able to cleanse. Even with dirty water you can cleanse other things (I am not a germophobe).

    It can not be a necessary part of the Christian Faith, else Christians who don't follow this ritual would be wrong. And we are talking "belief system" NOT "fact system", so there is no right or wrong in my opinion. Jesus did not even judge the woman committing adultery. Just advising her not to sin.
     
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  6. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

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    And also the power to destroy.
     
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  7. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Baptism is the essential perquisite for both admission into the church and salvation in the Christian faith. It can be effected either by physical immersion or, in the case of this being impossible on account of water not be available, by desire or if a person is of a different religious confession (or an atheist), by implicit desire in spirit, according to Catholic doctrine.

    A type of baptism first emerged as a rite of purification for admission into the new Israel, in the renewal movement led by a prophet who preceded Jesus called John the Baptist (of course).

    Josephus describes John as "one who exhorted the Jews to practice virtue and act with justice toward one another and with piety toward God, and so to gather together by baptism" (Josephus, Ant. 18.117; cf. Luke 3:10-14). John was calling his Jewish audience to gather together into a new religious group, and baptism was the means by which the group was gathered.

    The Baptist movement was an offshoot of Second Temple Judaism. John taught his disciples to pray in a certain way, fast and baptise. His baptism was an adaption of Tvilah, a Jewish purification ritual of immersing in water, which is required for, among other things, conversion to Judaism, but differs from Christian baptism in being a repeatable phenomenon and isn't as important to Judaism as, say, circumcision.

    John made baptism the central ritual of his eschatological sect. Of John the Baptist Professor E.P. Sanders (Jesus and Judaism) writes:


    That John himself was an eschatological prophet of repentance is clearly implied in Josephus’s account. Further, the depiction of John and his message in the Gospels agrees with Josephus’s view: the preaching in the desert; the dress, which recalled Elijah; the message of repentance in preparation for the coming judgment. These features correctly pass unquestioned in New Testament scholarship... [Josephus] writes that Herod had him executed because he feared that trouble would result. Baptism and piety do not account for that reaction, and a message of national redemption is thus made probable (p. 92)​


    John's baptism functioned as an alternative to the temple sacrifices commended as the central rite of Judaism in the Torah and by the first century Sadducees. Thyen thus describes John's baptism as "a polemic substitute for temple-sacrifice." Kraeling (John the Baptist, 15-27) attributes John's wilderness existence to "some bitter experience" (p. 16) that, as a rural priest, had alienated him from the temple establishment.

    Jesus was originally, according to a consensus of scholars, a close disciple of John and underwent baptism at his hands by full-body immersion in the river Jordan. In other words, Jesus was one of the people 'gathered' into the new movement. Prior to being baptized, Jesus had lived the life of a peasant carpenter in the Galilean town of Nazareth. Something drew him south to the Jordan to join John's new community. And this was the turning point of his life, encouraging him to start his ministry.

    After John's death, Jesus was recognised by some Baptists as the greater figure John had prophesied, whereas a smaller group refused to recognise him as the successor and went into schism. This group existed contemporaneously with the early church, as can be seen from the Book of Acts references to those who "knew only the baptism of John", but soon died out and lingers on today only in the Mandaean community of Gnostics (the Sabeans, as Muslims call them).

    The texts that describe John's expected figure (Mark 1:7-8; Matt 3:11-12 = Luke 3:16-17) include the following elements: (1) his activities include judgement and restoration of Israel; (2) he is coming; (3) he is mightier than John (4) he will baptize with holy spirit and fire, as opposed to just water like John, and (5) his judgement and restoration are portrayed using imagery of a threshing floor, which implies gathering 'wheat' (the righteous) and eliminating chaff (the wicked).

    The subsequent Christian baptism was distinct from the Johannine baptism in two ways: firstly, like John predicted, Christ taught that the most important aspect of baptism was not just the outer washing (although this was essential) but the inner purification brought on by the Holy Spirit, which accompanied Jesus's water immersion, and therefore (essentially) made all who were baptised in his name 'prophets', no longer consigned to a special class favoured by God to share his message with the world.

    Secondly, Jesus's baptism was not intended only for Jews like its Jewish and Baptist precursors. It was open to everyone, Jew or Gentile, therefore becoming the universal admission rite of a properly universal creed.
     
    #7 Vouthon, Jan 30, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
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  8. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    If we consider that both of them were borrowing from Judaism, then baptism and wudu/ghusl might very well be related. They are both reasons for ritual immersion in Judaism.
     
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  9. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    In mystic religions, such rites bring together the beings of all three worlds, and you're informing the beings of of the three worlds. So it's like an announcement, a proclamation.
     
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  10. Muffled

    Muffled Jesus in me

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    I believe Christians are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. No other religion is going to do that. John's baptism was a precursor but incomplete.
     
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  11. Muffled

    Muffled Jesus in me

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    I believe some churches practice it as such but baptism has to be believers baptism to be the real thing.
     
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  12. Muffled

    Muffled Jesus in me

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    I believe that is true but it is the only authentic baptism. So a person can believe a lot of things about Jesus as my granddaughter did when I asked her before she was baptized but later she became an atheist and after I talked to her a bit an agnostic. That means she never received the Holy Spirit.
     
  13. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    I got oil on forehead when the ceremony came my way....

    ok......fine

    I see display of full immersion now and then
    and I wonder if John the Baptist made that practice
    and again....If Jesus went under

    I think of it as a ritual recognition of a pending burial

    you are laid down on your back
    to breathe no more

    of course the ritual allows you to arise
    and breathe again

    so it leans to the belief of resurrection.

    not so much the washing away of sin.....but the intent of it's decline
     
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  14. DavidMcCann

    DavidMcCann Well-Known Member

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    As an initiation rite, it's obviously Christian. As a symbolic cleansing, such as John's baptism of Jesus, it's naturally common. I always wash my hands before prayer.
     
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  15. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Thank you all for your contributions. There is a great deal to consider.

    My Baha'i reflection on the matter is based in part on what Abdu'l-Baha said here:

    Bahá'í Reference Library - Some Answered Questions, Pages 93-96

    It is interesting that two Hindus, two Catholics, one non-Catholic Christian, an orthodox Jew, an Hellenic polytheist and two of religiously unaffiliated members have all made contributions. RF is truly a remarkable place for the diversity of views on offer. I hope I don't disrespect anyone's views here.

    Any Faith has its laws, rituals and practices. However as a universalist I'm also concerned with the essential nature of reality. Abdul-Baha gave an example of heat being an inseparable reality of fire as humidity is for water. In like manner we have our spiritual reality that is inherent to our existence.

    As time progresses our relationship to the phenomenal world and our spiritual reality changes. For example, during the time of Moses, laws that best enabled harmony between these worlds reflected the social reality of the day. When Christ came societal conditions had profoundly changed to the extent that some Mosaic Laws were no longer suited to the needs of the people. Some laws were therefore abrogated. Examples in the New Testament include when Christ broke the Sabbath and forbade divorce.

    After Christ, the apostles including Peter and Paul, permitted the use of animal food forbidden by the Bible, except the eating of those animals which had been strangled, or which were sacrificed to idols, and of blood. They forbade fornication. Afterward, Paul even permitted the eating of strangled animals, those sacrificed to idols, and blood, and only maintained the prohibition of fornication. So in Romans 14:14 , Paul writes: “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” Also in Titus1:15 Paul writes “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”

    This alteration of laws reflected the radical change needed for the dispensation of Christ compared with that of Moses. Former laws were, therefore, abrogated.

    Abdu'l-Baha goes on to say:
    "The existence of the world may be compared to that of a man, and the Prophets and Messengers of God to skillful doctors. The human being cannot remain in one condition: different maladies occur which have each a special remedy. The skillful physician does not give the same medicine to cure each disease and each malady, but he changes remedies and medicines according to the different necessities of the diseases and constitutions. One person may have a severe illness caused by fever, and the skilled doctor will give him cooling remedies; and when at some other time the condition of this person has changed, and fever is replaced by chills, without doubt the skilled doctor will discard cooling medicine and permit the use of heating drugs. This change and alteration is required by the condition of the patient and is an evident proof of the skill of the physician."

    John the Baptist used baptism to awaken and admonish the people to repent from all sin, and to watch for the appearance of the Kingdom of Christ. But in these modern times in many churches when a newly born child has clergy sprinkle the water of baptism on the head what is the spiritual benefit? Unlike the baptism by John the Baptist it is neither the cause of the spiritual awakening of the child, nor of its faith or conversion. It appears only a custom which is followed. So there comes a time when some laws, rituals and customs are no longer suitably adapted to conditions. The requirements of the first century were very different to modern times.

    How about the appropriateness of a law in the Pentateuch that if anyone break the Sabbath, he shall be put to death? Should this still be applicable today? I would hope not. So should the law of baptism that served such a vital function in the days of John the Baptist be essential today?
     
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  16. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    My first thought is "Yes very much needed for Christians; they still preach they are born in sin and are sinners. Then they need tons of water IMO"
     
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  17. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    We don't want our Christians brothers and sisters drowning! I do wonder if its benefit today is little more than carrying a rabbits foot round for good luck!:D
     
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  18. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    Strange verse. Easily to interpret "If I belief nothing is unclean of itself then to kill (in Gods name) is also not unclean"

    (I did ask a preacher once "You condemned Boedhists/Muslims/etc just now. So you believe you can kill someone IF you use the Bible?". He said YES. This is a true story, it happened to me 2 years ago. So I told him "I never talk to you again". He tried for one year to talk to me, then he gave another talk on Islam and he changed 180 degrees. Not 1 bad word [I was even thinking "hey man I didn't mean you should go so soft on them"]).
     
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  19. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    "Their fear" of "being born a sinner and being a sinner" is for sure "their reality". A rabbits foot won't work in these cases.

    Probably they prefer "cooling":cool: by drowning IF it saves them from "heating" in Hell.:japanesegoblin::imp::japaneseogre::alien::smilingimp::skull:
     
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  20. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I've had some good experiences recently with Christians that have developed a much more positive atitudes towards of others of different faiths. Still plenty of hardliners though.

    The biblical phrase is about having a clean heart inwardly rather than outwardly. An another example is when Christ criticises the Pharisees saying they are like a cup clean on the outside but dirty on the inside. Matthew 23:25
     
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