B A P T I S M
Baptism, as taught by the Roman Catholic Church, is the Sacrament of spiritual rebirth by which one becomes ‘born-again’ and cleansed from all sins. This Roman Catholic teaching is in contradiction with the Roman Catholic Bible, which shows that Baptism was never administered to make a person a true believer, but was always something that was performed on those who were already born-again believers. The concept of baptismal regeneration, along with many other Roman Catholic teachings such as the Rosary and Purgatory, does not originate from within the Roman Catholic Church, but emanates from the bowels of Paganism.
WHAT IS BAPTISM? - THE ROMAN CATHOLIC VIEW
Baptism, according to the Church of Rome, is the first of seven Sacraments. The Roman Catholic Catechism teaches that a Sacrament is "...an external sign or action chosen by Christ to give grace."1
The Roman Catholic Church teaches, in total contrast with her own Bible, that Baptism "Cleanses us from original sin by giving sanctifying grace, and so we become the children of God, and members of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church."2
Vatican II reaffirmed this teaching by insisting that "By the sacrament of Baptism man becomes truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ, and is reborn to a sharing of the divine life."3
Romanism’s baptismal rites are performed upon infants as soon as possible after birth, for Roman Catholics are taught to believe that the soul which is not baptized is eternally lost. Baptism in the Roman Catholic Church is administered by the priest, who sprinkles ‘holy’ water on the head of the infant whilst saying, ‘I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’
So absolutely vital is this sacrament that, according to Rome, one cannot enter heaven without it. However, there are two exceptions to this rule, as Roman Catholic Bishop Hay explains. The first is: "The case of an infidel converted in a heathen land, where it is impossible to get baptism"; and the second: "The case of a martyr ‘baptized’ as it is called, ‘in his own blood’; but in all other cases, whether of young or old, the necessity is ‘absolute.’"4 It is also the teaching of Romanism that an act of perfect love toward God can replace the sacrament of baptism.
The Trent Catechism states the following: "Infants, unless regenerated unto God through the grace of baptism, whether their parents be Christian or infidel, are born to eternal misery and perdition." This doctrine was so horrific, that a ‘better place’ needed inventing for infants who died without baptism. Limbus Infantum is its name; Roman Catholics know it as ‘Limbo’.
This is truly one of the most oppressive, non-biblical doctrines to have come out of the Roman Catholic Church. Roman Catholic Catechisms now inform followers that, "Infants who die without baptism go to a place of happiness (Limbo), BUT THEY WILL NEVER SEE GOD IN HEAVEN!"5 Adding to the grief of the parents, the dead unbaptized child is even refused burial by a Roman Catholic priest in ‘consecrated’ ground.
"The primary purpose of the Church of Rome in excluding unbaptized infants from heaven is to force parents to commit their children to her as soon as possible. The long range design is to bring all people into subjection to her, to put her stamp of ownership on every person possible. And the pressure put on Roman Catholic parents to see to it that their children are baptized early is almost unbelievable—a commitment which once she receives she never relinquishes."6
It is baptism into the Roman Catholic Church, rather than salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, alone, that is taught by Romanism as the means to salvation. It is the effects of the sacrament of water baptism that the Roman Catholic Church speaks of when she talks of being ‘born again’, or ‘born from above’. Baptism is also commonly referred to by Roman Catholics as the ‘second birth’.
Roman Catholicism contends that, in baptism, a miracle is performed by the priest who ‘charges’ the water with the grace of God. "Their phrase is that they work ‘ex opere operato’. In other words, it is no longer just water, it is charged with the grace of God, and therefore when it is put upon that child a miracle is worked in the child."7
However, as with all the Roman Catholic sacraments, doubt is placed upon the absolute certainty of baptism being administered truly, because of the little known Roman Catholic ‘Doctrine of Intention’. This is a fact "...since the Sacrament is not formed without the intention of the minister, and no one can see the intention of another. Intention makes the priest master of the Sacraments. He can dispense or withhold grace at his will and consequently salvation. He leaves his flock in uncertainty as to whether they have ever truly been baptized, confirmed or absolved, or of ever partaking of the Lord’s Supper or Extreme Unction! Nor on the same hypothesis can he be sure he is a priest himself, or the Pope truly the Pope."8
Clearly, the most serious claim made by Rome in regards to baptism is that baptism is the means to justification! It is taught that original, as well as any actual sin or guilt including all punishment due to them, is forgiven at baptism. The infant is infused with righteousness. Not the righteousness of Christ, however, that is imputed/charged, to every true believer—the baptized infant is simply made righteous in the sight of God. The true Biblical teaching of justification by grace alone is denounced as dangerous heresy by the Roman Catholic Church, and a curse is placed upon any who believe it!
In fact, the Council of Trent placed a curse, which still remains today, upon any who hold to the Bible’s teaching of justification by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: "If anyone saith that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sin for Christ’s sake alone; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified, let him be anathema (accursed)."
It is interesting to note that, in holding to this non-biblical position, the Roman Catholic Church also rejects the teachings of one of her own church fathers, Augustine, who strongly believed that salvation IS purely by the grace of God.
THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF BAPTISM
The doctrine of baptismal regeneration was originally a Babylonian concept. The idea of infant baptism is noticeably absent from any of the early Apostolic and historical writings and documents.
Mention was first made of child baptism early in the 3rd century and became common by the middle of that century. Both adult and infant baptism co-existed until the 6th century, after which time only infant baptism was practiced in the Roman Church. The two reasons for this were the high infant mortality rate and the belief that one who died unbaptized would never see God.
Infant baptism initially took place in private ceremonies, which occurred outside of church buildings. According to The History of Christianity: "As early as the end of the 2nd century some people had come to believe that baptism had a MAGICAL effect. Tertullian mentions prayer to ‘sanctify’ the water, and from then on it was widely believed that baptism automatically washed away sins. From this period, too, there arose the practice of exorcizing the candidate before baptism, a practice often accompanied with ceremonial anointing with oil."9
It is important to make special note here that the idea of baptismal regeneration is yet another doctrine presented to Roman Catholics as Christian teaching that did not originate within the Roman Catholic Church, and certainly has no connection at all with biblical Christianity. Baptismal regeneration, however, had been a familiar practice of the Hindus of India centuries before Roman Catholicism decided to continue this popular pagan tradition by adopting the practice and calling it ‘Christian’. The Brahmins (priests of the Indian god Brahma), who were also believers in baptismal regeneration, "...make it their distinguishing boast that they are ‘twice-born men’ (or ‘the initiated’) and that, as such, they are sure of eternal happiness."10
Such was also the case in Babylon where the new birth was made possible (achievable) through baptism. It was noted by Tertullian that "In certain sacred rites of the heathen," with particular reference to the worship of Isis and Mithra, "the mode of initiation is by baptism."11
Further to this, Tertullian says that those who were thus baptized, in consequence, were promised "...regeneration and the pardon of all their perjuries."12 In addition, worshippers of the chief Norse god, Odin, also practiced baptismal rites. Originally, it was believed that all "...guilt and corruption of their new-born children could be washed away by sprinkling them with water or by plunging them, as soon as they were born, into lakes or rivers."13
Baptismal regeneration was also found amongst the natives of Mexico at the time of the Cortez invasion of 1532. Later, Spanish Roman Catholic missionaries watched in amazement as a baptismal ceremony was performed by the heathen of Mexico. One such ceremony was performed by a midwife who, in Mexico it seems, was considered a priestess of sorts. It is interesting to note, and far beyond a mere coincidence, that Rome also authorizes midwives to administer this sacrament! Baptism is such an essential and indispensable part of salvation in the Roman Catholic Church that all avenues must be covered to ensure an infant does not die without being baptized.
Upon sprinkling water on the infant’s head, the Mexican midwife proclaimed the following: "...O my child, take and receive the water of the Lord of the world, which is our life, which is given for the increasing and renewing of our body. IT IS TO WASH AND PURIFY. I pray that these heavenly drops may enter into your body, and dwell there; that they may destroy and remove from you all the evil and sin which was given you before the beginning of the world, since all of us are under its power." The woman then addressed her words to any evil presence within the child: "Whencesoever thou comest, thou that art hurtful to this child, LEAVE HIM AND DEPART FROM HIM, for he now liveth ANEW and is BORN ANEW; now he is PURIFIED AND CLEANSED AFRESH, and our mother Chalchwitlyene (the goddess of water) bringeth him into the world."14
Along with its pagan counterpart, it is notable that exorcism also plays an important role in Roman Catholic baptism. The Devil is presumably cast out of the infant by the priest who commands, "Depart from him, thou unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Ghost the Comforter."15 Let it be stated that nowhere in the Roman Catholic New Testament is exorcism performed on the one being baptized before, during or after true Christian baptism. This practice is thoroughly pagan and therefore an abomination in the sight of God.
We see then in this pagan Mexican ceremony the same baptismal regeneration as practiced by the Roman Catholic Church to this day! The origins of Mexican mythology, including the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, which was also held by the Egyptian and Persian worshippers of the Chaldean Queen of Heaven, may be traced back to Chaldea. "This...is a very striking proof, at once of the unity of the human race, and of the widespread diffusion of the false and abominable religious system that began at Babel."16 That abominable religious system is thriving today under the guise of Roman Catholicism.
As part of the Babylonian Mysteries, we find intermingled with the worship of the Queen of Heaven and her son a commemoration of the Flood, the Ark and other major events in the life of Noah. "Noah, as having lived in two worlds, both before the flood and after it, was called ‘Diphueis’ or ‘twice-born’, and was represented as a god with two heads looking in opposite directions..."17
The Chaldeans believed that if they were to pass through the baptismal waters, they would be made like unto ‘Diphueis’, ‘twice-born’ or ‘regenerated’. This, it was believed, would entitle them to all the privileges of ‘righteous’ Noah and grant to them that ‘new birth’, which they were convinced was a fundamental ingredient in achieving eternal happiness. "The papacy acts on precisely the same principle; and from this very source has its doctrine of baptismal regeneration been derived...."18
LEARN NOT THE CUSTOMS OF THE NATIONS!!
We have thus far determined, from various historical accounts, the altogether pagan origin of baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. That these concepts are in fact non-biblical is readily admitted to by various leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.
We find the following words of the ‘learned divine’ Jodocus Tiletanus of Louraine striking: "For we do bless the water wherewith we baptize, and the oil wherewith we anoint; yea, and besides that, him that is christened. And (I pray you) out of what Scripture have we learned the same? Have we it not of a SECRET AND UNWRITTEN ORDINANCE? ....Yea, I pray you, whence cometh it, that we do dip the child three times in the water? Doth it not come out of this hidden and undisclosed doctrine, which our forefathers have received closely without any curiosity, and do observe it still."19
This statement clearly demonstrates that the concept of infant baptism came not from the pages of the Bible but from secret and unwritten ordinances. It is of vital importance for all Roman Catholics to take note at this point, that it is for you to decide whether you are going to continue to put your trust and eternal future in the doctrines of mere men, which have no Scriptural basis, or in the truth of the proven, reliable and infallible Word of God. Perhaps the following quite shocking revelation will help you decide: Roman Catholic Cardinal, John Henry Newman, conceded the fact that ‘holy water’ and many other things used by the Church of Rome were "...the very instruments and appendages of demon-worship..." And that they were ALL of "...pagan origin" and "...sanctified by adoption into the Church (of Rome)."20
In the same document, Cardinal Newman reconciles the Roman Catholic Church’s usage of pagan-demonic worship methods and doctrines with the fact that Rome had "...confidence in the power of Christianity to resist the infection of evil" and to convert them to "...an evangelical use."
Now, this view may be accompanied by a deep sincerity, but serving and worshipping the true God with old pagan methods is abomination to God and is utterly condemned in the pages of the Roman Catholic Bible. In fact, in complete contrast with the above statements made by Cardinal Newman, the official footnotes to 2 Corinthians 6:14-16a in the Roman Catholic Bible state quite simply: "...CHRISTIANITY IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH PAGANISM." How then can the Roman Catholic Church ever justify, in all good conscience before her people, its blatant use of pagan/demonic methods of worship? This is a question that all Roman Catholics should think about and work through if they take the matter of right belief in the one, true God seriously.
The nation of Israel displeased God by following the heathen nations and mingling the pagan’s manner of worship with their own. This is but one of many biblical precedents of God’s hatred for all things pagan. 2 Kings 17:15 records for us the fact that Israel "...followed the surrounding nations WHOM THE LORD HAD COMMANDED THEM NOT TO IMITATE." In Jeremiah 10:2 we see God’s warning to His people: "Thus saith the Lord, ‘LEARN NOT THE CUSTOMS OF THE NATIONS...’"
In light of the evidence that we have presented, it is true to say that infant baptism and baptismal regeneration qualify as part of the ‘customs of the nations’, as Scripture calls them—the nations being any and all people who were not the people of God—and should not be, and are not, practiced by the true Christian. However much they may be accompanied by sincerity to worship and please the true God, they can never do so. Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, the first high priest of Israel, and priests themselves, are a prime example: "...they offered up before the Lord profane fire, such as He had not authorized. Fire therefore came forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed them, so that they died in His presence" (Leviticus 10:1,2). God Himself has commanded His people, in relation to the pagan way of worship, "YOU SHALL NOT THUS WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD" (Deuteronomy 12:31).
WHAT DOES THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLE SAY?
Nowhere can it be found in the pages of the Roman Catholic Bible that true Christian regeneration is received in the sacrament of baptism. Neither can the notion of infant baptism find any support in the pages of the Roman Catholic Bible, for it clearly demonstrates that baptism ALWAYS FOLLOWS BELIEF!! In other words, no one in the New Testament ever received the true Christian baptism who was not first a believer of the one and only Gospel of God.
True Christian baptism finds its roots in Judaism, and is a ‘public washing’ that identifies the believer with the Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a purely symbolical and outward act of what has occurred within the believer at the point of his conversion.
Biblical baptism is the symbol of regeneration through union with Christ, through faith by the grace/gift of God. No one is saved by it and none are lost without it. In addition, Jesus’ commandment in Matthew 28:19 indicates that it was the disciples of Christ who were to be baptized and not infants. Jesus Christ said: "Go, therefore, and make DISCIPLES of all nations, baptizing THEM in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The apostle Peter’s address to the Jews in Acts 2 included his instructions for them to "...Repent and be baptized..." (v.38). Later, in v.41, we see that "Those who accepted his message were baptized..." Acts 8:12 sheds further light on the matter: "but once they BEGAN TO BELIEVE...men and women alike were baptized." And Acts 18:8 says, "...many of the Corinthians who heard BELIEVED and were baptized." John 3:18 states: "Whosoever BELIEVES in Him will not be condemned..." Verse 36 of the same chapter says, "Whosoever BELIEVES in the Son has eternal life..."
In all of these Scriptures, straight out of the Roman Catholic Bible, it is evident that those who were baptized were people who believed the truth of Jesus PRIOR TO THEIR BAPTISM!! "Since it is intended only for the regenerate, baptism can never be the MEANS of regeneration. It is the appointed SIGN, but never the CONDITION of forgiveness of sins."21
Also pertinent to our study is the fact that the Old Testament saints were not baptized in order to be saved or regenerated. They went to heaven by reason of their faith in the coming Messiah. We see this in Romans 4:3: "...Abraham BELIEVED God, and it was credited to him as RIGHTEOUSNESS." Righteousness came not by any ceremonial sprinkling of water, not even by circumcision, but by God-given faith in Christ.
The same is true for the Christian today. True Biblical baptism is a public confession that one is ALREADY a believer in Jesus Christ; that one is ALREADY saved, and, that one has ALREADY received the Holy Spirit.
The following Scripture is a case in point: "Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who HAVE received the Holy Spirit even as we have?" (Acts 10:47). Is it any wonder that there is nothing in the footnotes to this verse in the Roman Catholic Bible. BAPTISM, dear Roman Catholic, DOES NOT SAVE ANYONE!
Only faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can save a person. Jesus said: "...no one comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). Please note also that Jesus Christ was not baptized as an infant, but as an adult by John the Baptist. This particular baptism was a fulfilling of the Mosaic law which required all priests to be consecrated at approximately 30 years of age (see Numbers 4:3; Exodus 29:4-7; Leviticus 8:6-36).
The fact that baptism does not regenerate or save anybody is also evident in the case of Simon Magus, recorded for us in Acts 8. Simon was a magician, who, after hearing Phillip, believed and was baptized (see v.13). However, Peter was later to declare Simon to be "...filled with bitter gall and...in the bonds of iniquity" v.23 (see also vv.20-22). "The doctrine of Rome, however, is that all who are canonically baptized, however ignorant, however immoral, if they only give implicit faith to the (Roman Catholic) Church, and surrender their conscience to the priests, are as much regenerated as ever they can be..."22
And yet, as we have just seen, according to the Roman Catholic Bible, faith in Christ was required BEFORE anyone could be baptized. All others were refused the ordinance.
Baptism is to the New Testament what circumcision was to the Old Testament, in terms of it being a visual seal of the new birth. It did not in any way bring about that new birth but was a symbol of it. Romans 4:11 says of Abraham: "...he received the sign of circumcision as a SEAL of the righteousness received THROUGH FAITH while he was UNCIRCUMCISED..." Circumcision did not MAKE Abraham righteous anymore than baptism makes a person righteous. As we see in Romans 4:9,10, Abraham’s righteousness was received through faith BEFORE he was circumcised. The rite of circumcision merely declared him righteous, it was a seal of that righteousness. So too, baptism in the New Testament is always performed on a person who IS A BELIEVER. One who has ALREADY been made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is a seal of righteousness already charged to the believer and not the cause.
"As circumcision was the sign and seal of the Abrahamic Covenant and practiced under the Mosaic Covenant, so baptism is construed as the sign and seal of the New Covenant of the Gospel. Baptism, under the new economy, takes the place of circumcision under the old (see Colossians 2:10-12)."23
The key Scripture upon which the Roman Catholic doctrine of baptism rests is John 3:5: "Jesus answered, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.’" Roman Catholics, when studying this verse, need to be sure that they read the entire third chapter of John’s Gospel and not just this one verse alone. One must always read the Holy Scriptures of God in their proper context, or risk perverting its true meaning.
It is Rome’s contention that the ‘water’ mentioned in this verse is a reference to baptism. However, we learn from other passages in John’s Gospel that water is used symbolically of the Word of God. For instance, Jesus says to God the Father in John 17:17: "Consecrate them in the truth. Your Word is truth." The word consecrate here means to render clean. In John 15:3 Jesus says, "You are already pruned because of the Word that I spoke to you." The word translated pruned here also carries with it the meaning clean, clear, pure. This ‘cleansing’ is done by the Word of God.
Returning to John 3:5 where Jesus said "...no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit", it is true to say that the term "‘born of water and of the Spirit’ means that a person must be born-again by the Holy Spirit using the Scripture. It is of a surety that no one could be born-again without the Word of God applied by the Spirit of God. One today is born from above by the use of water, which is the Word of God, and the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, making it real to the heart."25
Perhaps the verse which speaks with clearest distinction in associating the Word of God with water—a cleansing agent—is Ephesians 5:26, which says: "to sanctify her (the Church) CLEANSING HER BY THE BATH OF WATER WITH THE WORD" (c.f. 1 Peter 1:22). "God’s method seems to be the Word of God, used by the Spirit of God, given through a man of God. One can be confident that our Lord, saying that one must be born of water and of the Spirit, was referring to the Spirit of God using the Word of God."26
If baptism is such an integral part of salvation, as the Roman Catholic Church would have us believe, the thinking Roman Catholic must ask himself the question: ‘Why then do so many Scriptures, when dealing with salvation, not even mention it?’
Here are even more convincing examples of Scriptures which connect cleansing and being born-again with the Word of God: "You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding Word of God" (1 Peter 1:23). Not through Baptism!! Even the Roman Catholic footnotes to this verse contain no mention of baptism, but clearly state that "The new birth of Christians derives from Christ..." In Acts 2:21 we read: "And it shall be that everyone shall be saved who calls on the name of the Lord." Again, no mention of water baptism. Additionally, we must not fail to point out that the sins of a true Christian are washed away by the blood of Christ, not by the waters of baptism!
The jailer in Acts 16 asked the apostle Paul and Silas, "...sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (v.30). Paul and Silas promptly answered, "...BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved." According to Acts 16, the jailer was taught the Gospel of Christ. By God’s grace, the jailer and his household did believe and they were THEN baptized (v.33) AFTER they had believed the Gospel.
Baptism does not, indeed cannot, save you, for it was never intended to by God. Romans 3:24 speaks clearly of what DOES save us. We "...are justified freely by HIS GRACE through the redemption IN CHRIST JESUS", not by the waters of baptism. The one who is saved is the one who believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the different gospel of Roman Catholicism.
"Those who believe the Gospel should then be baptized, not in order to MAKE them true believers, but because they have already been MADE true believers through personal faith in Jesus Christ (see Matthew 28:19)."27