by Chad Shaffer and Mike Stine
*This is a brief five part breakdown on the various views of baptism. For convenience sake, links to the other sections are provided at the bottom.
Is baptism a necessary part of Christianity? By both biblical standards and historical ones, yes indeed. The Bible repeatedly calls for baptism to be done by the believer and shows many instances of this being practiced. Acts 8 contains the story of the Ethiopian eunuch who asked Philip to baptize him right after he became saved. Likewise, church history strongly attests to baptism being practiced from its very beginning.
The Bible uses the word baptize 73 times. The Greek term can mean numerous different things. It can mean: a washing, to cover wholly with a fluid, to moisten a part of ones person, to stain, or to dip. To sink a ship was also known as to baptize it. How do these meanings help us in our study of baptism? It leaves us with a very open ended book with numerous interpretations available. Church history shows us that baptism has been practiced in many forms, all stemming from different interpretations of this term.
Not only has the time of when it is proper to baptize been questioned, the mode of baptism has also been of debate. Even today, entire denominations have split over matters such as the mode by which one is to be baptized. It is the purpose of this study to better understand the context of biblical passages concerning baptism and to see how the church has dealt with the issue throughout history.