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WHAT ABOUT SPRINKLING, POURING, AND IMMERSING?

October 15, 2017

L. John Bost
L. John Bost
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Previous: What About Neanderthal?

Introduction

Most religious organizations that consider themselves "Christian" practice some mode of "baptism." It usually, if not always, falls into three main categories: sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. Did you ever wonder when and how these modes of baptism came into being? We will explore the beginnings of these modes of baptism in this article.

Origins of Sprinkling as a Mode of Baptism

According to Carl Mitchell Search for Biblical Truth, sprinkling became a common mode of baptism in some churches for two reasons: 1) The practice of waiting until late in years to be baptized. Some would wait so long that they may not make it to a place where they could be immersed, and were sprinkled instead. 2) The practice of infant baptism. Mitchell quotes the Edinburgh Cyclopedia, Vol. 33, "It was not till 1311, that the legislature, in a council held at Ravenna, declared immersion or sprinkling to be indifferent.”

Origins of Pouring as a Mode of Baptism

According to David Allen, Affusion (pouring) was first permitted as early as the second century A. D., but even then only under extraordinary circumstances if immersion could not be used. In the third and fourth when the doctrine of baptismal regeneration gave rise to the practice of infant baptism. With this practice, pouring for baptism became more common. According to an account by William Wall referenced by Allen, John Calvin was the first to officially adopt the practice of pouring water on infants.

Origins of Immersing as a Mode of Baptism

One must go all the way back to the New Testament to find the origin of immersion as a mode of baptism. There are two lines of evidence to show this to be true. 1) The original language of the New Testament. 2) New Testament passages.
The Original Language of the New Testament.
In the Great Commission, Jesus told the apostles, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19). In Mark's account, He said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). The words, baptizing and baptized are from the Greek word baptizo {bap-tid'-zo}, which means, "To cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean, with water, to wash one's self, bathe," according to Thayer. Strong defines the word, "To make whelmed (that is, fully wet)." Neither Matthew nor Mark use the word for sprinkle (rhantizo {hran-tid'-zo}, or pour, (ekcheo) {ek-kheh'-o}. These words are never translated, "baptized," nor is baptizo ever translated, "sprinkle" or "pour."
Baptizo occurs eighty-six times in the New Testament. It is translated, "baptize" seventy-six times, "wash" two times, "baptist, one time, and "baptized" one time. The words, "baptize" and "baptized" are actually transliterations, of baptizo, rather than translations. That is, the Greek word was given an English-sounding pronunciation. If the word had been translated, it would have made its meaning much less confusing.
(Continued on page 2).

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