Baptism vs. Christening: How are they different?

Having been in the ministry for over 15 years, I am familiar with the different ceremonies performed by different Christian denominations. I have experienced some of them, like being dedicated to God and being baptized as I was born in a Christian family, and later chose the Christian faith for myself. However, it was not until in my Theology school that I became familiar with the term christening. It was quite an interesting concept to understand, know its origin, and why it is being practiced. And because most people mistake christening for Baptism, one might struggle to understand what sets the two apart. So, how does Baptism vs. Christening compare? How are they different?

Christening is a celebration that involves sprinkling a child with water and giving them a Christian name. Its concept originated from the fact that some theologians saw it important to set infants apart from the original sin. On the other hand, Baptism is a Christian rite of passage that admits one to the Christian faith and fellowship. It is a command from Jesus and symbolically illustrates Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. It is important to note that Christening is not mentioned in the Bible.

Join me as I dig deeper and discuss Baptism and Christening. I will talk about their differences and whether it is necessary to be christened and baptized. Keep reading to learn more.

What is Baptism?

Baptism is perceived as a rite of admission into the Christian fellowship. It happens when one publicly confesses their discipleship and profession of faith. Christian Baptism dramatically illustrates the death, burial, and Jesus’ resurrection. In simple terms, Baptism can be simply understood as an outward testimony of the change in the inward life of a believer. Through Baptism, there is the cleansing of our sins and identifying oneself with the Christian faith. Furthermore, Baptism is important as it has a biblical basis, and Christ commanded us to be baptized and baptize new disciples (Mathew 28:19-20).

What is Christening?

Baptism vs. Christening
Christening. Image source: Pixabay

Though people often mistake christening for Baptism or use the names interchangeably, the two names refer to have a slight difference. Christening refers to the ceremony of giving an infant a Christian name. It involves sprinkling water on his head and welcoming the child to be part of the congregation. Therefore, Christening is often described as a Christian sacrament that signifies spiritual rebirth and cleansing. It mostly happens in Episcopal churches and Catholic, and it is a ceremony done for small babies and children. This ceremony can also be done in the church in public or can just be a small gathering of friends and family only.

Christening is a Christian concept that has developed over the years, with its main purpose being to bring the child to child to Christ. This concept originated from the fall of the first man. Because the entire human race has sinned due to the sin of the first man, some theologians came up with Christening as a way to cleanse little children from the original sin of Eve and Adam. And though the Bible does not condemn Christening, it does not even talk about it.

However, it is important not to confuse christening with Baptism, as it is not the cleansing of sin. Many people might be left believing that they are right with God since they underwent Christening, and this may lead to them not recognizing their sin and the work done on the cross by our savior Jesus Christ.

Differences between Baptism and Christening





Found, and Christians are instructed to perform this act in the Bible.

It is not found in the Bible.

The occasion when it takes place

Associated with the cleansing of sin. This happens even when someone who is not a Christian accepts Christ and is being initiated into Christian Faith.

Christening is done to infants. A ceremony involves sprinkling water on the kids and giving them a Christian name.

Performed on who?

Performed mostly on young adults and adults who understand the concept of sin.

Often performed on infants and babies who do not understand the concept of sin.

Christian churches

Recognized by many Christian denominations.

Mostly recognized by Lutheran, Catholic, and Episcopal alone.

Can you be Christened and Baptized?

Baptism vs. Christening - How are they different?
Can you be Christened and Baptized? Image source: Pixabay

Yes, you can be christened and baptized. As mentioned above, though some people use these two names interchangeably, they do not refer to the same thing. Christened, first, is not recognized by all Christian denominations and happens when a baby is young when their parents accept the commitment of the baby to God. The baby is thus given a Christian name.

On the other hand, Baptism is a rite of passage in Christianity and is viewed as submitting yourself to God, being cleansed of sin, and being part of the Christian Faith. Baptism often happens to young adults or adults who can understand the concept of sin because it is an activity that focuses on cleansing sin. Therefore, one should not mistake being christened for being baptized.

Can you give a Christening Card for a Baptism?

No, this is because Christening and Baptism are not one and the same thing. Baptism is more of a traditional sacrament where a person is immersed in water (or water sprinkled on them, depending on the denomination) as a sign of atonement for one’s sin. On the other hand, Christening mostly happens to infants and majors on kid naming rather than forgiveness of sins.

Should you christen or baptize a baby?

Since babies are not aware of sin and presenting them to God is a decision made for them by their parents, the best ceremony to be performed on them is Christening. However, some people view christening as the Baptism of a baby, where essentially, it is more of just giving a baby a Christian name and accepting their commitment to God. When the baby grows and understands sin, it will make a decision on whether to be a part of the Christian fellowship by being baptized.

Can you be christened and not baptized?

Baptism vs. Christening
Baby being christened. Image source: Pixabay

This all comes down to what your personal beliefs are. However, it is important to know some biblical facts before deciding on this. First, it is important to note that Christening is not recognized in the Bible, yet Jesus instructs us to be baptized with Baptism. Jesus in the Book of Mathew 28:19-20 instructs us to make disciples and baptize them in the Father’s name, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus also emphasizes the need to teach those baptized his commands. These instructions imply that churches are responsible for spreading Christ’s commands and baptizing disciples. Therefore Baptism is important because it is a command from Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, Christening comes down to giving a baby a Christian name. In contrast, it is through Baptism that one is admitted into the Christian church fellowship. The book of 1 Corinthians 12:13 notes that it is through Baptism by the spirit that we form the body, the church. Therefore, though choosing between being christened or baptized boils down to personal beliefs, Baptism is important for any Christ as the Bible instructs us to be baptized.

Do Catholic babies get baptized or christened?

Catholic babies get christened. Catholic is among the few denominations that observe the ceremony of Christening. As mentioned above, this ceremony aims to set young children apart from the original sin and give them a new name. When a baby grows up in the catholic denomination, they go through baptismal classes and are baptized.

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