Performing a Baptism
The Ritual of Baptism
Baptism in the Christian tradition is defined as a cleansing and blessing ritual ceremony conducted by Christian churches. Baptism uses water immersion or ablutions in order to cleanse the new member of his or her sins. Ablution is the ritual purification of a person by holy water or blessed water. This cleansing is done prior to admitting a new member into a particular spiritual community or church. Ultimately, baptism by water offers the supplicant access to the Kingdom of God. Baptism is only considered valid when performed by a Christian priest or, in a pinch, any other Christian who has been baptized and has accepted Jesus as his or her savior. The other requirement of a Christian baptismal ritual is that water is used and the officiant has followed the Trinitarian formula.
The ceremony of baptism can be performed on any person of any age who has accepted Christ as their savior. Many orthodox Christian religions, including the Roman Catholic Church, maintain the practice of baptizing infants. Older children and adults are also baptized when they accept Christ as their savior and repent of their sins. When a person is ready to be baptized, they would usually request a priest, minister or pastor perform the ceremony. Depending on the church where the ceremony is performed, it may be a private ceremony or performed in front of a congregation.
A Brief History of Baptism
Generally, baptism is recognized by mainstream Christian churches if it is performed according to the Trinitarian formula. This formula was established in the Biblical text in Matthew 28 when Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." However, there are some other Christian churches that prefer to use the formula based solely on Jesus, given in the biblical book of Acts when Peter said, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
The Procedure of Baptism
When babies are baptised they are often dressed in a white christening dress or suit. The color white represents the regained purity of the supplicant once he or she has been baptised. On the day of the baptism, the infant is brought to the church and delivered to the officiate of the church to be cleansed of his or her original sin and receive blessings. The child is either immersed in the baptismal font or the water is poured over the child's head. This procedure is usually performed with the mother and the father present and the godparents as witnesses. Often the child will also have a sponsor. A child or adult who wants to be baptized does not necessarily need sponsors, but the child may need a recommendation from some members of the church before baptism can take place. The particular details of the baptismal ceremony procedures are dependent on the ways of the individual church the family chooses.