I remember exactly how I felt while watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding, particularly during the baptism scene: awkward. Wanting to impress his fiancée and her family, the groom-to-be volunteers to be baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church, his fiancée’s religion. The Greek Orthodox Church normally baptizes infants. So, when this adult male wanted to be baptized, there was no basin big enough to accommodate him, thus setting off a series of hilarious attempts to baptize the over 6-foot tall fiancé.
And while the scene was entertaining, it reflects the ambivalence people have towards baptism.
I wondered about my own baptism. My first… and my second! (More on that later…)
Is there a specific type of baptism that is correct? And if there is, how do you know what type of baptism counts and what doesn’t?
What is Baptism and are there different types of baptism?
A quick Google search explains that baptism is “the religious rite of sprinkling water onto a person’s forehead or of immersion in water, symbolizing purification or regeneration and admission to the Christian Church. In many denominations, baptism is performed on young children and is accompanied by name-giving.”
Caption: On the left, a baby is baptized by infusion or a sprinkling of water on a person’s forehead. On the right is a young man’s baptism by immersion, or baptism when an individual is completely immersed in water.
I was born Catholic and was baptized as an infant. I don’t remember anything about that day, but my photos are cute.
Later on, when my family joined the Church Of Christ, I was baptized once again at the age of 14. At that age, I understood the importance of baptism as taught to me by the Minister:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matt. 28:19 NIV
Do both of my baptisms count?
So, did my second baptism cancel out my first one? Or was I baptized twice? Well, this is the answer I received from the minister:
The Apostles taught only one type of baptism, which is baptism through immersion, as described in Acts 8:36-38 (NIV):
“As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.”
During my infant baptism in the Catholic Church, the priest poured water on my head, which is the practice of infusion. So, if the Bible teaches only baptism by immersion, my first baptism did not count. How did the world end up with different types of baptisms?
Well, do you know how many churches are out there today? Thousands. And, unfortunately, not every church stayed true to what the Bible says. So, it’s really important to find out what the Bible teaches about the true baptism.
Why is Baptism even needed?
When my parents and I were introduced to the Church Of Christ in the late 1970s, we went through a series of Bible studies.
We learned about the importance of the Bible, about the Messengers of God, about the true nature of Jesus Christ, and about other teachings that helped us grasp what God wanted us to do next. And so when it came time to be baptized, my family and I prayed to be ready.
In Acts 2:38 NKJV the purpose of baptism is explained:
“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.”
The purpose of baptism is the forgiveness of our sins.
Who should be baptized?
Logic would dictate that if you have sinned, you should be baptized. But can anybody who wants to be baptized just be baptized? Can they be baptized without meeting any requirements? I quickly learned the answer was a big no.
We learned that we need to be taught the words of God in order to be baptized. After being taught God’s words, we have to believe in them. And once we truly believe in the teachings, we have to repent and turn away from sin.
The Bible states in Mark 16:15-16 NIV:
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
I remember having a light-bulb moment: my baptism as an infant could not possibly count. I had not learned much about anything at that point. I was too young to believe in any teachings and too young to repent from wrongdoing.
Understanding the value of true baptism
Light-bulb moments were just happening left and right for me and my family. And once we understood the value of the true baptism, there was no way we would miss ours inside the true Church Of Christ.
Our eagerness to receive the true baptism resonates with every new member in the Church Of Christ.
Like Arjie Rojas, who braved Canada’s extreme winter weather to make it to her baptism in 2018:
“This is a very important day, being a member of the Church Of Christ. I really prepared for a long time for this day. So, I’m not going to let anybody or the weather to stop me to be here. I just prayed so much that someone will be there to pick us up and bring us here safe.”
Naeemah Waleed also remembers her life-changing baptism in 2013:
“My baptism was extremely special. The experience was something I would never…I can’t even describe it. I think for the first time I felt at peace. Everything that I had concerns about, had worried about went away, and it was time for me to be the person that I was born to be.”
So, what’s your baptism type? Was it an unforgettable comedy? Or was it forgettable because you were too young to remember anything at all? Or maybe reading this blog has left you confused on where you stand when it comes to baptism?
If you’re beginning to wonder whether your baptism counts, we encourage you to study what the Bible says about true baptism and set up some time to speak to a minister of the gospel about what the Bible says about baptism.
Over forty years have passed since my family and I learned the importance of baptism in the true Church Of Christ, and not a day goes by that we are not thankful for receiving the true baptism.
About the Writer
This blog was co-written by Theda Pilar-Pineda with Biblical support by Jeffrey de Guia, a minister of the Gospel of the Church Of Christ.
Theda Pilar-Pineda was born and raised in the Philippines. At the age of 14, her family was introduced to the Church of Christ. She currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and two daughters. She’s a part-time staff writer for incmedia.org.
Jeffrey de Guia has been an ordained minister in the Church Of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo) since 2015.