We were talking about how different denominations have baptism at different times in people's lives - such as infant baptism in the Anglican denomination and the Christian Reformed Church but for Wesleyan, Mennonite and Baptists they do adult baptism. Then we wondered why some churches "sprinkle" and others "dunk" or submerge people into the water. We didn't know what the significance of why some denominations practice the act of baptism differently. And that's when we thought of you. We thought you might know. And, we wondered if you could share a short explanation as to the reason why some submerge and others sprinkle.
Thanks to Ayvlyn and Gillian for this great question. You are quite correct that the variations in the practice of baptism are mainly along two lines. The first difference is regarding the question of who are the appropriate candidates for baptism. Some traditions practice baptism only for adult believers and followers of Jesus. Other traditions, including our own, say that the appropriate candidates also include theses peoples children. When, in the Book of Acts, Cornelius becomes a Christian, he and his whole household were baptized.
The second difference regarding baptism is concerning the mode; as you point out, the question of sprinkling or dunking. While many churches, like our own, generally sprinkle, it is not that we are against dunking. We would say that dunking is a perfectly legitimate way of being baptised and in fact, when possible, may be preferred. The symbol of being buried in the water (dying with Christ) and rising up to new life is powerful. But we gladly accept sprinkling mostly for practical reasons. Full immersion is often tricky in our climate and most of us don’t fit in the baptismal font.
An interesting fact is that the believers-baptism-only churches seem to almost be exclusively the dunkers while the believers-and-their-children churches tend to be sprinklers. It just seems to be the way that it developed. Another difference is that Anglicans, and most other sprinkling churches, recognize the baptism of all people baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, however and whenever they were baptised and no matter the denomination. Many dunking churches will only recognize that you have been legitimately baptized if it was as an adult believer and by full immersion.
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We acknowledge with gratitude and respect that our parish is located on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples. We are located in the Lower Chedoke Watershed.