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Holy Baptism at
Saint Luke's Church


Sampzen

The Ministration of Holy Baptism

Baptisms take place at the Sunday Masses throughout the year. When contemplating the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, it is good to examine the rite, as contained in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, beginning on page 273. If you do not have a copy available, one can be purchased HERE, or a PDF of the rite can be download at the following URL:

www.episcopalnet.org/PDF/Baptism1928.pdf

The Baptism liturgy we use came into its present form serveral hundred years ago, and the following is offered as an explanation not only for some of the marvelous words used, but also in order to portray to you what the Church believes about the Sacrament of Marriage. The italicized questions and answers that follow are taken from an old classic book entitled "THE PRAYER BOOK - REASON WHY" by the Rev. Nelson R. Boss. (Note: the reader should have a copy of the service in your hands while you read the following.)

The Prayer Book, Reason Why
by
The Rev. Nelson R. Boss
(prayer book, pages 273-282)

What is Baptism?
(1) An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us. (2) A covenant or agreement whereby one is made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven.

What does the first rubric at the beginning of this office direct the Minister to do?

Admonish the people that they do not neglect to bring their children to Baptism as soon after their birth as possible.

Why is this direction given?

(1) In order that children may be brought into covenant relations with God, as He commanded in the Old Testament, Gen 17:10-23. (2) Lest through sudden sickness the child die unbaptized.

What do we learn from this rubric?

That the Church looks upon Baptism as a matter of exceeding importance, and therefore takes every precaution to guard against its neglect.

Why does the Church look upon Baptism as a matter of such great importance?

Because Christ has declared that none can enter the Kingdom of Heaven without it. St. John 3:5.

What does the rubric Next provide?

That, except for urgent cause, parents procure not their children to be baptized at home in their houses, but that they shall be brought to the church?

Why is this rule laid down?

(1) Because the Church is God's house, the place especially set apart and consecrated for the public ministration of His Sacraments; (2) In order that others seeing this sacrament publicly administered in the Church may be instructed by the service and be led to follow this Christian example; (3) Because greater decency and solemnity may be had then in any private house.


On what days does the rubric say that this service for baptism is to be used?

On Sunday or some Holy Day or Prayer day, or, if necessity require, on any other day.

At what time in the service is the Baptism to be administered?

Immediately after the Second Lesson, at Morning or Evening Prayer, or at such other time as the Minister may appoint.

How many Sponsors are required by the rubric?

Three, where they may be had.

Why does the Church require Sponsors for infants to be baptized?

(1) Because infants are not able to act and answer for themselves. (2) In order that children may have the benefit of Christian care and training.

May persons who have not themselves been baptized act as Sponsors?

No; the nature of the transaction is such that no one but a Christian believer could consistently fulfill the obligations.

What three promises are the god-parents required to make on behalf of the child?

A promise of renunciation, a promise of obedience, and a promise of belief.

Are the Sponsors or God-parents required to see that the children fulfill their promises?

Yes; so far as they reasonably may; but if children refuse to do so in spite of care and admonition, the Sponsors are not to be held accountable.

What does the rubric require when the persons to be baptized are older, and able to answer for themselves?

That they be instructed and prepared.

In what does the rubric at the beginning of this service say that people are to be instructed before they are baptized?

In the principles of the Christian Religion.

Where are these principles of the Christian Religion laid down and explained?

In the Catechism.

How are people directed by this rubric to prepare themselves for Holy Baptism?

By prayer and fasting.

Why by prayer and fasting?

Because prayer and fasting are both spoken of in the Bible as means of Christian grace.

Why does the Minister first ask whether the candidates have been already baptized?

Because no person may be baptized more than once.

Why may a person never be baptized more than once?

(1) Because Baptism is our new birth into the Church and family of God, and as there can be but one natural birth, so there can be but one spiritual birth; (2) To repeat it would imply that God had not fulfilled His promises at the first.

What is done if there is a reasonable doubt of the fact of the person's Baptism?

He is baptized conditionally. See Prayer Book p. 282.

What does the Minister Next do?

He bids the congregation to pray for those about to be baptized.

What follows this prayer?
A lesson from the Gospels.

Why are there three different Gospels provided for Baptism?

The first (St. Mark 10:13) assures us of the right of children to a place and share in the Kingdom of God, and is therefore more appropriate for use when all the candidates are infants. The second (St. John 3:1) is more appropriate when those to be baptized are adults.

What does this passage teach?

(1) The necessity of a new birth by water and the Spirit. (2) The necessity of an humble faith.

What does the Saviour say to Nicodemus in regard to the necessity of being baptized?

Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Do we infer from the language of this text that all heathen people and those who die unbaptized shall be lost eternally?

No. It only applies to those who have heard the Gospel and understand it and yet from sinful motives of pride or stubborn self-will refuse to obey it.

What are we taught in the exhortation preceding the questions to the candidates?

That a persons coming rightly to Holy Baptism receive three great benefits: (1) The remission of their sins; (2) The gift of the Holy Ghost; (3) the blessing of eternal life.

What must persons promise to renounce before they can be baptized?

The devil and all his works, and vain pomp and glory of the world, etc.

What do you mean by the devil?

The spirit of evil, by whom we are enticed to do wrong.

What are some of the works of the devil?

Pride, malice, lying, blasphemy, slander, cruelty, hypocrisy, unbelief, and whatever is contrary to God's Word.

Why are these called the works of the devil?

Because it is the evil spirit who entices men to do them.

What do you mean by the pomp and glory of the world?

Ostentatious display of dress or wealth or equipage calculated to draw away our hearts from God.

Is all pomp and display sinful?

No; only such as fosters human pride and selfishness.

What are some of the sinful lusts of the flesh?

See Gal 5:18-21.

What else is required of persons to be baptized besides this vow of renunciation?

That they shall believe all the articles of the Christian faith as contained in the Apostles' Creed.

Why does the Church make this Creed the standard of belief for all persons desiring Baptism?

(1) Because it is the briefest and simplest statement of the fundamental truths of the Christian religion; (2) Unless we accept these truths we could not be baptized in this faith.

What else does the person baptized promise to do?

To keep God's holy will and commandments.

Where do you find a summary of God's holy will and commandments?

In the Church Catechism.

How can infants be asked to make such promises?

Their Sponsors make the promises for them.

Is not this unfair to the children?

No; nothing is given up but what is definitely harmful, and in exchange the children receive the great benefits coming from Baptism.

What promises do the Sponsors make in their own name?

To see that the child is properly taught the Christian religion, and that as soon as he is sufficiently instructed they will take heed that the child is brought to the Bishop to be confirmed by him.

Why do not the witnesses make a similar promise at the Baptism of an adult?

Because the Minister, if he obeys the Prayer Book, will already have instructed the candidates sufficiently to entitle them to Confirmation.

What is the duty of the witnesses or God -parents to the persons baptized?

To call upon them to use all diligence to be rightly instructed in God's Word, and to put them in mind of their baptismal promises.

Why does the Minister bless the Water?

Because the gift of Baptism comes not from water but from God, and this prayer asks God to ratify and make effective our act of obedience.

Why does this blessing contain the command "Lift up your hearts," etc.?

Baptism is of equal importance with Holy Communion in the Christian life, and it is fitting that the outward sign should be dedicated to its purpose with equal devout recollection and attention.

Why is the person's name pronounced?

Because he is entering into a personal relation with God in Christ.

What is the essential part of Christian Baptism?

The application of water to the person baptized, and the use of the words, "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

Where does Christ enjoin the use of these words?

St. John 3:5; and St. Mat 28:19.

How does the rubric say the water is to be applied?

By pouring or dipping.

What sign is used by the Minister after he applies the water, and why?

The sign of the cross, to symbolize our allegiance to Christ.

What does the Minister say respecting the person after he is baptized?

That he is regenerate.

What does regenerate mean?

Re-born, or born a second time.

In what two senses may the baptized be said to be re-born or regenerate?

(1) As he is brought first by natural birth into the world to live and move among men, so by this Sacrament of Baptism he is brought into the Church, which is in a special sense God's family, to live and move among the children of God; (2) As children receive from their human parents their physical endowments, so through this second birth they receive from God spiritual endowments.

After the candidate is baptized, for what does the Minister return thanks?
That it hath pleased God to regenerate this person with His Holy Spirit, etc.

What right have we to suppose that God has done this?

Because this is what we asked Him to do in the prayer used just after the selection was read from the Gospel. If we believe what Christ says in St. Mat 7:7-11, we cannot doubt that the person baptized has received the blessing which we prayed for, i.e., the gift of the Holy Spirit.

What is directed by the rubric following the blessing?

That every adult thus baptized should be confirmed by the Bishop as soon as conveniently may be.

PRIVATE BAPTISM
(Prayer Book, page 281)

What does this service consist of?
The absolute essentials of Baptism, with no further ceremonies.

Why are the questions considered essential in the case of an adult?

Because anyone capable of doing so should express his faith and his penitence before being baptized.

By whom may this office be used?

By any baptized person, if an ordained clergyman cannot be procured in time.

What further duty has a layman performing such a Baptism?

To report the fact to the Minister, or if there be none to the Wardens or other parish authority.

THE RECEIVING OF ONE PRIVATELY BAPTIZED
(Prayer Book, page 281)

What is provided in the rubric?
That if the child or person privately baptized live he shall be brought to the Church, where the required promises shall be made, and the omitted portions of the service be said as in the office of public Baptism.

CONDITIONAL BAPTISM
(Prayer Book, page 282)

For what is this office intended?
For all in whose case there may be a doubt either of the fact of Baptism or of the sufficiency of the manner by which it was administered.

What procedure is directed?

The same as for public or private Baptism, but with the statement that the sacrament is administered only in case the candidate is not already baptized.

INFANT BAPTISM

What reason have we for knowing that God intends children to be members of His Church?
Because He directed expressly that they should be made members of His Church under the old covenant (Gen 17:10-23); and says the new covenant is for children also (Acts 2:39).

What other reason?

The Apostles were commanded to go and baptize all nations, and children are as truly a part of the nation as older people.

What other reason?

The example of the Apostles, who baptized whole households and families (Acts 16:15,33; 1Cor 1:16). It would not be true to speak of baptizing households unless the children were also included.

Is there any text in the Bible showing conclusively that children as well as adults are to be baptized?

Yes; our Saviour said to Nicodemus, "Except any one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."

Why do you say "any one" here, when in the Bible the language is "a man" ---"except a man be born of water and the Spirit"?

Because the word used by our Lord in the original Greek means "any one," whether man, woman, or child.

Is there anything to guide us in this matter outside of the bible?

Yes; in almost all the writings of the early Fathers, Infant Baptism is spoken of as one of the established customs of the Church.


Why do we look upon the writings of these early Fathers as authority on this subject?

Because some of them had been instructed by the Apostles themselves, and would certainly know what the Apostles believed and practised.

What does St. Clement say upon the subject of baptizing children?

He says, "Baptize your infants, and educate them in the knowledge and admonition of God."

Who was St. Clement?

He was Bishop of the Church at Rome in the time of the Apostles, and is spoken of by St. Paul (Phil 4:3.)

What does Irenaeus say?

"Christ came to save all persons who by Him are born again" (i.e., baptized), "unto God, infants, and little ones, and children, and youths, and elder persons."

Why would Irenaeus be likely to know about this?

He was a pupil of St. Polycarp, who says that he had conversed with St. John. Being so near to the Apostles he would know, of course, what they had taught.

What does Origen say?

He says, "The Church received an order from the Apostles to give Baptism even to infants."

If it was the will of Christ that infants should be baptized, why do we not find some express command on the subject in the New Testament?
Because at the time the New Testament was written it was already the established custom of the Church, and therefore there was no need of any command.

Do you mean to say that the Church existed before the New Testament was written?

Certainly. The Apostles and their co-laborers established the Church in obedience to Christ's instructions (St. Mat 28:20; Acts 1:3); but the writing of the books of the new Testament was occasioned by circumstances which subsequently arose.

Why are the writings of the Fathers accepted as conclusive on certain matters which the New Testament leaves indeterminate?

Because the Christian world receives the books of the New Testament on the testimony of the early Fathers of the Church, who certify that these books had been transmitted to their times by the Churches which had originally received them; thus, in settling the question of the genuineness of the books of the New Testament, all Christendom regards this testimony as conclusive. The same Fathers who testify as to the matter of fact regarding the New Testament also testify as to the matter of fact regarding the Baptism of infants. If their testimony is accepted as authoritative and conclusive on so important a matter as the genuineness of the Bible, it must certainly be accepted as authoritative and conclusive in other matters pertaining to their time.

What great Council of the Church settled the matter of Infant Baptism beyond dispute?

The Council of Carthage, about 264 A.D.

What do we learn from the decisions of this Council?

That infant Baptism was the universal custom in the Church from the days of the Apostles. If that is true, there can be no doubt that it is in accordance with the will of Christ.

SOME OBJECTIONS
TO INFANT BAPTISM

What objections do people sometimes make to Infant Baptism?
They say that according to the words of Christ (St. Mark 16:16) belief is necessary to Baptism, and as infants cannot believe, they should not be baptized.

How do you answer this objection?

If this text teaches that infants cannot be baptized, it also teaches that they cannot be saved; for it says "he that believeth not shall be damned." Another passage (2Thess 3:10) tells us that "if any one will not work, neither shall he eat." It is evident, therefore, that these texts which speak of believing and working do not refer to infants, but to adults.

What other objection is sometimes urged?

That there is no command in the Bible to baptize children.

Is this a valid objection?

No; if the absence of a direct command is equivalent to prohibition, it would be wrong to keep the Lord's Day holy, or to have family prayers, or to admit women to the Holy Communion, for there is no express command to do either of these things.

What other objection do people sometimes make to Infant Baptism?

They say that they cannot see what good it will do, for a little water poured on the child cannot cleanse the soul.

What reply can we make to this objection?

No one claims that the water does this. Water is but the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace given to us through this act of obedience. It was not the water that cleansed Naaman, and yet had he not washed in the water of Jordan, as the prophet commanded, he would not have been cleansed.

What other common objection do people make?

They say that Baptism can do no good, because many persons baptized in infancy grow up to be bad or ungodly people.

What reply can we make to this objection?

(1) If it is a duty which God's Word enjoins upon us, our business is to obey, whether we can see the good of it or not. (2) Many persons born into this world misspend their lives, but that does not prove that the gift of natural life to mankind is useless. If we say it is wrong to baptize children because some of them become bad, we might as well say that it was wrong for God to create mankind because some of the human race become bad.

What other reason do people often give for not having their children baptized?

They say that they wish to leave their children free to choose for themselves when they grow up.


What reply do we make to this?

(1) If it is God's will that children should be made members of His Church through Holy Baptism, parents ought to see that it is done. (2) If parents choose and act for their children in matters of worldly interest, much more ar they bound to choose and act for them in spiritual matters until they come of age to act for themselves. (3) If Infant Baptism was an Apostolic custom, and was universally practised in the Church for the first fifteen hundred years, it seems incredible that any Christian could object to it now as contrary to God's will.

MODES OF BAPTISM

Did our Saviour ordain any particular method of applying the water in Baptism?
He did not.

What may we infer from this?

That the quantity of water used and the method of applying it are matters of indifference.

What different methods have been used?

Pouring, sprinkling, and immersing.

Why is "pouring" the method now generally practised in the Church, instead of other methods?

Because in our climate and other circumstances it is most convenient and it appears to be in harmony with the language of Scripture,and has been the general custom of the Church in all ages.

Why does the Church not insist upon immersion?

(1) Because the Bible nowhere teaches that it is necessary: (2) Because the application of water is a symbolical act, and therefore the quantity of water used is not important; (3) If immersion were insisted on as essential to Baptism, delicate children and invalids who could not be immersed would be excluded from the Sacrament.

What passage of Scripture is often quoted to prove that immersion is necessary?

The passage in Acts 8:38, which speaks of Philip and the eunuch both going down into the water.

Why does not this prove that the eunuch was immersed?

(1) Because one may walk down into a stream without going far enough to be immersed; and (2) Because the Greek word eis, here translated "into," frequently means nothing more than "unto," as in St. John 20:4.

What other passage is sometimes quoted to prove the immersion theory?

St. John 3:23, where it is said that John was baptizing in Aenon, because there was much water there.

Why does not this text apply?

Because it is wrongly translated. In the Greek it is not "much water," but "many waters," i.e., springs.

Does not the expression "buried with Christ in Baptism" (Rom 6:4), imply immersion, i.e., a literal burial in the water?

No; the expression is figurative, like that which speaks of our being "crucified with Christ." It does not mean literal crucifixion, but a mortification of our lusts, which is also the meaning here.

Does our Lord anywhere rebuke this tendency to rely upon the quantity of water used?

Yes; St. John 13:10.

What may we infer from this?

That the use of water in Baptism is symbolical, and outward and visible sign and pledge of what takes place within, and therefore a small quantity answers the purpose as effectively as whole rivers.

Do not the words "bapto" and "baptizo," in the original Greek, mean "immersion"?

The word bapto means in two or three instances to dip or immerse, but when the Saviour speaks of Baptism He almost invariably uses the word baptizo, which means either to pour or dip.

What do we infer from this?

That in administering the sacrament of Baptism it is proper either to pour or dip.

How was our Lord baptized?

We do not know, but the earliest known picture, and all Christian art since the third century represents Him as standing in the River Jordan, and John the Baptist pouring water upon His head.

Is there any place in the New Testament where the act of Baptism is described as to its mode?

Yes; our Saviour promised His disciples that they should be "baptized with the Holy Ghost." When that promise was fulfilled, we read that the Holy Ghost was "poured out upon them" (Acts 10:45).

What then do we infer from these foregoing facts?

That the Church is wise and tolerant in allowing different modes of applying the water in Holy Baptism. It is not the manner which she looks upon as most important, but the matter. So long as one is baptized with the water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, as Christ commanded, she is willing that every one shall exercise his liberty as to the mode.

 

More Questions?
Telephone the church, and talk directly with Bishop McMannes. He can be reached at the Church at: 1.928.282.7366, or via E-mail. [Click HERE for the Baptism Information Form, which will need to be filled out with information regarding the "to be baptized" individual(s)]


[Anno Domini 2002]