Q & R: “Do I need to be rebaptized?” Greg Albrecht
I was baptized when a baby in the Catholic Church. I came to see that many of their teachings and practices left a lot to be desired (and I still feel that way). So later, as an adult, I was baptized in the Worldwide Church of God. I later came to see that many of their teachings and practices left a lot to be desired (and I still feel the same way). Do I need to be baptized again?
No, you do not need to be baptized again. If you wish to, that’s entirely up to you, but you are not obligated to. If you wish to, I strongly advise that you consider your motivations – being baptized again is not like taking out another or an additional insurance policy because
the physical representatives of God who administered a previous baptism are now seen as suspect, in terms of a better and higher perception of Father, Son and Holy Spirit that a child of God might have now.
Some believe that as they migrate through churches, and as they grow in grace and knowledge, that at each level they need to be re-baptized because prior baptisms “were not valid.” The “validity” of a commitment to Jesus does not depend upon a church or denomination, or the failures or imperfections that later come to light about the officiant or the denomination he or she represented. “Validity” is not about what a person may understand or know of God – baptism is simply a commitment. Baptism is of the heart and it is all about God and the individual being baptized. If we all waited until we were “perfect” in our own faith and if we waited for what we considered to be a “perfect” church and religious professional, no human would ever be baptized.
Baptism is not about who performs the ceremony, what church they represent, what baptismal formula they use (some look back and worry if the person baptizing them used the right words!) – validity of baptism is not about how much water is used (immersion, pouring or sprinkling) or how old the person may be when they are baptized. Some think they were not properly “ready” to be baptized because they had not been through a pre-baptism counseling and course of instruction (catechism). I realize that tens of millions of people and their denominations, their pastors and priests, would not agree with me. But there is nothing in the Bible about all these details. Some churches insist that “new members” who were previously baptized by another church be re-baptized in this “new” and “better” and “superior” church. I strongly object to such teachings and burdens laid on people on the grounds of the gospel. This is a absolute perversion of faith – Christ followers follow Jesus, not a denomination or a bunch of esoteric and unique dogmas, doctrines and practices.
Let’s suppose you were stranded on a desert island, somewhat like Tom Hanks in the movie “Castaway.” Let’s suppose you came to believe that you needed to be baptized. Could you baptize yourself? Of course. Would it matter is you knew “the right words” or if you wore the right clerical clothing or if you said the right prayers? Of course not. Would it matter if you just splashed some water on yourself or if you allowed a huge wave to cascade over you? Of course not. What is the only water available was salt water from the ocean – no fresh water – would that be a deal breaker? What if you had come to this commitment to be baptized because you were reading some literature that washed up on the shore that was published by a church that you, years later after being rescued from the island, realized were inadequate and even taught misleading ideas about God – would that matter? No, of course not.
When God transforms us we are spiritually reborn, and thus become his children. We are spiritually reborn as “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:13). The physical individuals, organizations, creeds, baptismal formulas, restrictions and regulations regarding the ceremony itself in terms of the amount of water, the age of the individual and their “readiness” as determined by a physical religious professional do not re-birth us spiritually.
I hope this helps. Thanks for allowing Plain Truth Ministries to be of service