Maybe you were baptized as a child and don’t remember. Maybe you were baptized but really didn’t believe in God at the time. Maybe you were Roman Catholic or Lutheran, or even *gasp* Episcopalian. Maybe you were sprinkled instead of dipped. Maybe you were in a cult! These are but few of the many reasons that one may say you need to be re-baptized.
This line of thought is not new. During the reformation, there was a group called the “Anabaptists.” The name Anabaptist is derived from the Greek term anabaptista, or “one who baptizes over again.” This name was given them by their enemies in reference to the practice of “re-baptizing” converts who “already had been baptized” (or sprinkled) as infants. Anabaptists required that baptismal candidates be able to make their own confessions of faith and so rejected baptism of infants. The early members of this movement abhorred the name “Anabaptist”, claiming that since infant baptism was unscriptural and null and void, the baptizing of believers was not a “re-baptism” but in fact the first baptism for them.
As a result of their views on the nature of baptism and other issues, Anabaptists were heavily persecuted during the 16th century and into the 17th by both Magisterial Protestants and Roman Catholics. Some were even tortured and killed.
I think today’s Christians just might be a little more lenient. Just a few days ago, I was in a remote town that’s had quite a bit of Roman Catholic influence. I was sharing the Gospel with a family and telling some biblical stories. This was my 4th visit with this particular family. In the course of this visit, they told me that “they believed in God.” Great! Awesome in fact. But then…
Another person in our group of three “evangelists” said, “Okay, you believe in God, but are you a disciple of Jesus?” I suddenly understood the BIG BANG THEORY. The couple then asked, “what’s a disciple of Jesus?” After a lot of scripture and as much explaining, they said, “no, we are not disciples of Jesus.” Then I asked them if they wanted to be. They said yes.
We talked for a little bit more and then the woman asked, “we were baptized as children in the Roman Catholic Church, should we be baptized again?”
I’m not going to tell you what I said, but I would love to know what you would have said. And, I’ll do that through a few questions:
If someone was baptized in a state of unbelief, should they be re-baptized when they believe?
If someone was baptized into a wrong belief, should they be re-baptized when they believe correctly?
If someone is unsure about the validity of their first baptism, should we encourage them to be re-baptized?
If you’ve been baptized more than once, could you tell us why?