GCSE RS Coursework
Referring to the types of baptism you have outlined, explain its meaning and importance in the life of believers
Baptism is important to all Christians as it is how they enter the church and the church community, whether they are baptised as an infant or as an adult. Many Christians see Baptism as a sacrament. A sacrament is more than a symbol that reminds people of something. It is an action which Christians believe is a channel for Gods presence, which through the outward action an invisible happening takes place. Christians see either infant baptism or adult baptism as what they prefer, but both are very important. Christians find infant baptism because they believe that baptism states the start of eternal life and that at baptism the child is born as a child of God, as a new beginning. Because baptism welcomes people into the family of God, many Christians would like their child to be in the family of God from an early age. In the infant baptismal service, parents and godparents promise to provide a Christian upbringing for their child and to persuade the child to make a personal dedication to God at a confirmation ceremony when they are about eleven or twelve.
Many Christians believe that when a human being I born they already have a sin called original sin, as it is arduous to envisage an infant, so young, to be capable of sin. At such a young age, children do not know the distinction between right and wrong, but many Christians believe that when a human is born they are capable of sin, and to go against the wishes of God. The water in the font, when blessed, is seen as the Holy Spirit entering the life of the new-born child, giving him or her strength to fight these primitive instincts of future years.
In the case that a child is born weak and is struggling to survive, Christian parents may request the child is baptised at the hospital, but on the condition that if he or she were to live, they would be welcomed into the family of God at a later date.
In the days of the Early Church, adults who came to believe in Jesus as Saviour and Lord were baptised. Those who follow the practise of Believers baptism say that Jesus was baptised as an adult and therefore they should too.
The word baptise comes from the Greek word baptizo meaning to dip. Christians who follow the practise of Believers baptism believe that total immersion follows the way in which Early Church Christians were baptised.
In Baptist churches, the adult(s) are baptised in a small pool, or baptistery, which is placed at the front of the church, to symbolise the importance of baptism. Christians wish to identify themselves with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
In the service, they enter the pool by a set of steps, which shows that they wish to leave their old sinful life behind. When they are immersed, it shows their old life has died, and that the Christian is buried in the same way as Jesus was buried in the tomb. As they leave the pool, it symbolises them entering their new life as a Christian, like Jesus rose from the dead.