Baptism is a religious practice that dates back to the time of Jesus and has since been considered the first step in Christianity. Even with the rite being a standard ceremony for Methodists and Christians, many may not know what the Methodist Church believes about baptism. With different denominations having different baptism beliefs and customs, some may ask themselves: why do Methodists sprinkle in baptism?
The Methodist Church uses sprinkling as the infant baptism method because it’s the safest way. Babies and infants are too young to be completely immersed in water, as is the practice for adults, so Methodists opt to sprinkle or pour the water when baptizing them.
What are the Methodist beliefs around baptism? How do they baptize children? And what about adults? Is there any difference between the baptism in the Methodist Church and that in the Baptist Church? Find out all the answers to these intriguing questions in the article below.
How Do Methodists Understand Baptism?
Baptism is an initiation rite in nearly all denominations of Christianity, and the Methodist Church is no different. Through baptism, one is admitted into the Holy Church. It is a rebirth through water and the Holy Spirit. Methodists consider baptism a sacred gift and order from the Lord (Matthew 3:13-17) hence the terms ‘ordinance’ and ‘sacrament.’ Baptism is an initiation that replaced circumcision, which was the rite prior (Colossians 2:11-13).
The baptism ceremony also acts as a symbolic rite of washing away the Original Sin. Original Sin is the innate inclination to evil borne in every man as a consequence of the Sin committed by Adam and Eve. Methodists use Ephesians 5:25-26 explain the cleansing qualities of baptism. It reads, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”
Finally, Methodists believe baptism is a rebirth where the person receiving the sacrament obtains new life in Jesus Christ. They leave their life of darkness and now walks in the light as a member of the Church and as a child of God. John 3:5 says, “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” Galatians 3:26-27 reiterates, “So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Methodists take baptism as the means through which we may gain eternal life. Romans 6:3-4 confirms this. It reads, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
How Do Methodists Baptize Children?
Children and infants can undergo baptism in the Methodist church. They are believed to be heirs of God’s Kingdom and, therefore, eligible for the rite. In Acts 11:14, which says, ‘He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved,’ Peter baptized the entire household in Cornelius, showing that children should also receive the sacrament. Mark 10:14 also supports the baptism of infants. It reads, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
For the baptism ceremony, Methodists do not require godparents for the infant, but they may be chosen if desired. Godparents act as guardians to help the child walk their spiritual journey. Typically, the ceremony takes place on Sunday before a congregation. It is important to the Methodist Church and Christianity in general that baptisms be public to bring a level of accountability and to show fellowship in the Church as they welcome the new member.
At the baptism, the pastor will call the infants’ parents and godparents in front of the congregation, where he will give an examination of faith. The child will then be baptized with water sprinkled on their forehead. Afterward, they will be presented to the Church and returned to the parents. Usually, the congregation will have some form of celebration after.
How Do Methodists Baptize Adults?
Many people get baptized in adulthood. From new converts to the Methodist faith to people who had just never gotten baptized. The good news is that all adults of any age are welcome to get baptized in the Methodist church. Acts 2:38 clearly shows that baptism is intended for all, regardless of age. It reads, “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The Methodist baptism process for adults is essentially the same for children. Still, the difference comes at the beginning, where the person does it for themselves instead of having parents/guardians profess their faith. The adult will denounce Sin and profess their faith in Jesus Christ. Ideally, water will not be sprinkled on them. They will get immersed in water unless other factors hinder them from doing so. This is symbolic of the cleansing they are undergoing. According to the Methodist faith, there is no significant difference between sprinkling, pouring, and immersion during baptism. Dipping the feet in water can also be sufficient.
The baptism must be in public too. Either in front of the congregation or with representatives present. It is also important that the adult receives counseling before the baptism to prepare them for membership in the Church, which is automatic upon baptism. Since this is an initiation into the universal Church, the adult will not have to be baptized again. They may, however, rededicate themselves to the Lord if they so wish.
How Is Methodists Baptism Different from Baptist Church Baptism?
A significant difference between the Methodist Church baptism and the Baptist Church baptism is that the Baptist Church does not believe in baptizing infants, while the Methodist Church does. The Baptist Church believes baptized people must willfully consent and choose to follow Christ and join the Church. They argue that baptism only happened to His willing followers in Christ’s time. Methodists allow for the baptism of both infants and adults. They use Acts 16:33 to support this. It says, “At that hour of the night, the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.” Further, the sacrament of Confirmation is how children of age can confirm and accept the covenant made at baptism.
Another stark difference in the baptism rites of these two churches is that Methodist churches baptize with immersion, sprinkling, and pouring. In contrast, immersion is the only proper baptism technique for the Baptist Church. They rely on the fact that the disciples baptized people by immersion (Acts 8:36-39 reads, “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. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”)
As well, the Baptist Church does not accept baptism from other denominations. Meaning that a convert to the Baptist faith that was baptized in another church type will have to be baptized again in the Baptist faith. Methodists, on the other hand, accept people baptized in other Trinitarian faiths to join their membership without undergoing an additional baptism.
The Baptist Church also believes baptism is symbolic and not sacramental, unlike Methodists. They view baptism as a symbol of God’s forgiveness as opposed to actually washing away Original Sin. They do not view baptism as a crucial element of salvation.
- Baptism and Confirmation
- Renewing Waters: How United Methodists Understand Baptism
- Baptists: Believer’s Baptism
- What Do I Need to Know About Baptism in the UMC?
- To Be United Methodist: ‘I Can’t Remember My Baptism.’
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.