The rite of initiation in which we are welcomed into the family of Christ as adopted sons and daughters is called Baptism. As followers of Christ, we obey his mandate to be baptized just as He was baptized by John before He started His public ministry. The following is the biblical exhortation in which baptism is based on;
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.Mattew 28, 19-20
The above is the only thing Protestants and Catholics agree on when it comes to defining Baptism. For Catholics, Baptism is a sacrament (makes visible an invisible reality; physical signs and rituals are used to express our experience of God and his grace in our lives.) and for Protestants, Baptism is a symbol. It’s meant to show the world that you love, trust, and have put your hope in Christ.
To baptize (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the baptized burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.” Colossians 2:12-14
Let’s unpack their views on Baptism a little further!
Some extras that make a difference: Catholic vs Protestant Baptism
The sacrament leaves a permanent spiritual mark on our soul that makes us holy and opens us to salvation and eternal life with God.
Infant baptism: “We are born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also need the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God”(CCC 1250)
After baptism, there is a period of preparation/ study of the Christian life to further understand the faith and continue with the other sacraments ( Holy Communion, Confirmation… etc.)
As part of the celebration, the Priest will use Sacred oil to signify that the Holy Spirit dwells within the heart of this new Christian. It’s also a sign of being anointed to a mission to live and love as Jesus lived. White garment reflects that in Baptism we “put on Christ,” taking our new and truest identity as a son or daughter of God. The baptismal candle is lit from the Easter candle, represents the one true light of Christ, a light to guide the new believer throughout his or her life.
Lastly, Godparents and parents vow before God and the church that they will safeguard the unfolding of the grace of Baptism by being active role models on practicing the Christian life.
Protestants require that the baptized can profess the faith in Christ and have a desire to be baptized.
“Baptism declares that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. It is a public confession of your faith in, and commitment to, Jesus Christ. It is the next step after salvation through repentance and faith and is an important foundation for Christian life”.(Hillsong.com/Baptism)
They also believe that the symbol of Baptism does not cleanse original sin, but your sins are forgiven. Therefore, it is just a physical sign of a “Yes” you have given Christ in your heart. No one decides for you, but you alone. Protestant baptism is usually performed by immersion only and the new convert will wear a white garment. The ceremony is celebrated by the Pastor of the community of faith.
There are clear differences from what it represents to the way that it is celebrated, however, this is the only sacrament or symbol that is shared between the two because Jesus Christ mandated and received it Himself. To be valid, it must involve water, believers, and performed in the Name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.