In the first instance
because Jesus commanded it: Go
therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
Baptism did not begin
with Jesus, it was something which marked out the ministry of
John the Baptist (as his name implies) and which was used before
the time of Jesus too.
Jesus did not baptize anyone himself (see John 4.2) but his disciples
Is baptism necessary?
Yes, because Jesus
commanded it. Also ordinarily baptism is part of the way
in which God works to redeem his people. So Jesus taught
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who
does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16.16)
Neither this verse
nor the rest of the Bible teaches that baptism is absolutely
necessary for salvation. The thief on the cross (see Luke 23.43)
was clearly saved, but there is no reason to think he had been
Does baptism do anything?
In Anglican teaching
the two sacraments (Baptism and the Lord's Supper) are more than
just signs or symbols. Rather they are sure witnesses and
effectual signs of God's grace and good will towards us. Through
them he works invisibly within us, both bringing to life and
also strengthening and confirming our faith in him. (Article
Does it always do
However Anglicans do
not teach an ex-opera ex-operato view of the Sacraments
as the Church of Rome does. This latter view is that
sacraments have power in an of themselves. Rather the sacraments
are only effective in those that receive them worthily.
What is necessary for baptism to be effective?
Article 25 teaches
that baptism must be received worthily. The Articles do
not expand on this. However, the baptism service does in
that the congregation are exhorted to pray that God will receive
'these present persons, truly repenting, and coming unto
him by faith'.
The condition for
baptism to be effective is that it is accompanied by repentance
Why baptize children?
Children are baptized
on the same basis. The Anglican church like all the mainstream
reformers retained infant baptism as being something which was
consistent with Scripture (though not directly taught in it)
and an ancient practice.
In the Book of Common
Prayer it is the child who is expected in due course to repent
and believe and the child's godparents make promises on the child's
after this promise made by Christ, this infant must also faithfully,
for his part, promise by you that are his sureties (until he
come of age to take it upon himself,) that he will renounce...
Because those being
saved are predestined from before the foundation of the world
it is not a problem for God to know whether at baptism the promises
made are genuine, whether they be made by an adult or by a godparent
on behalf of a child. Undoubtedly, infant baptism
is a difficult idea for many.
Other reformed Christians focus particulary
on the covenantal view of baptiism; that children of believing parents are
baptiised believing them to be children of the covenant. This view is
consistent with the Anglican formularies but is not explicitly taught in them.
From the anglican formularies
we are compelled to say that if a child is baptized but does
not come to real repentance in due course then they did not receive the sacrament ' worthily'. Instead the sacrament
acts to confirm that they are not of the elect: they
that receive them unworthily purchase to themselves damnation,
as Saint Paul saith (Article 25).
See J Stafford Wright : The Child's Right to Baptism
does baptism do or signify?
It is the sign of belonging
to Christ, becoming part of His body. Thus the believer
is baptized into Christ (see
Rom 6.3). Baptism is thus the sign of belonging to the
covenant people of God. It is therefore similar to the
sign of circumcision although by no means the same since baptism
is not an enduring physical sign and circumcision was only performed
on boys and men.
is about repentance. All
four Gospels record that John the Baptism preached ‘a baptism
of repentance for the remission (forgiveness) of sins’. On
the day of pentecost Peter preached : 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. For the promise is to you and to your children,
and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will
call. (Acts 2.38,39)
is not simply the sign, but part of the way in which God acts
to remit sins for those who truly repent and believe.
The quotation from
Acts also shows a link between baptism and the giving
of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is about dying
to sin and rising to new life. The Apostle Paul writes
buried with Him in
baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith
in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Notice here that though
baptism is spoken of it is also through faith. Confirming
the fact that baptism is only effective when accompanied by genuine
Some of these things
are brought together in Romans 6.3-10.
In the Book of Common
Prayer the congregation are urged to pray for those baptised
and to believe that God will
grant them remission
of their sins, and bestow upon them the Holy Ghost; that he will
give them the blessing of eternal life, and make them partakers
of his everlasting kingdom.
This is a sovereign
work of God, we pray that He will do it, but in the sovereign
purposes of God He has given baptism as a sign and as a means
by which he works.
to this issue available to buy.
relevant to this issue
Infant Baptism. Cross†Way article (2013) by Lee Gatiss.
Revising the Baptism Services. Cross†Way article (2011) by David Phillips.
Evangelical Doctrine of Baptism. Churchman article by John Stott (112/1 1998)
Baptism: A Sacrament of the Covenant of Grace. Churchman article by
J. I. Packer (1955).
The Doctrine of Baptism. Churchman article by Donald Robinson (1962).
Regeneration and Baptism. Church Association Tract by J. C. Ryle.
The Unity of the Testaments and its Significance for Infant Baptism. Churchman article (1951) by W. Leathem.
Why Baptise Infants? Cross†Way article by Richard Sherratt (2007).
Circumcision and Baptism. Churchman article (1956) by J. A. Motyer.
The Elizabethan Puritans and Indiscriminate Baptism. Churchman article by G. W. Bromiley (1948).
Two Reformers and Baptism. Churchman article by G. W. Bromiley (1941).
The Doctrine of the Sacraments in the Thirty-Nine Articles. Churchman article (1991) by Roger Beckwith.
Tyndale's Use of the Blood of Christ in the Meaning of Baptism. Churchman article by Ralph Werrell.