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ENGLISH VERSION - Bulletin Nº 42 July 04, 2021

why does the presbyterian church baptize by spreading?

by Rev. Renato Souza Prates


According to the Westminster Confession of Faith:


Baptism is a New Testament sacrament, instituted by Jesus Christ, not only to solemnly admit the baptized person into the visible Church, but also to serve him as a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his union with Christ, of regeneration, of the remission of sins, and also of their consecration to God through Jesus Christ, in order to walk in newness of life. This sacrament, according to the ordination of Christ himself, will continue in his Church until the end of the world. (Westminster Confession of Faith, p.210). "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" (Matthew 28:19)



          There are 3 basic and historical ways to administer baptism: Sprinkling, effusion and immersion. Outpouring is the mode adopted by the Roman Catholic Church and immersion is generally adopted by the Baptist Church and by all Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal denominations. Because these denominations are the majority in Brazil, groups that practice sprinkling are often the target of strangeness and confusion with the Roman Catholic Church.

          The Presbyterian Church adopts sprinkling, as do the Reformed, Lutheran, Anglican and Methodist Churches, although the latter also uses immersion in the present day, at the request of the baptizing to the Minister who will perform the act. Presbyterians do not disregard the other modes, understanding that the mode is not the main one, but the biblical concept of ritual. Just as other Churches say that their mode of baptism is biblical, the Presbyterian Church also relies on Scripture to defend it. Some evangelicals say that the practice of baptizing by sprinkling is Roman Catholic, but they forget that the Catholic Church also baptizes by immersion, depending on the option of the ministering priest.

          When we look at the Scriptures, we see that all Old Testament ceremonial baptisms were performed by sprinkling or effusion. That these were actual baptisms is clear from Hebrews 9:10, where the NT Greek word baptisms is used, and translated in the ACF, ARA, and ARC versions as "ablutions" (see also vv. 13, 19, 21) .

          Let's see what Robinson's Greek and English Lexicon, considered one of the best about the New Testament, says about the Greek word “Baptizo”:


In the early Latin versions of the New Testament, such as Itala, which Augustine considered to be the best of all and which apparently dates back to the second century and usage linked to the apostolic era, the Greek verb baptizo is presented uniformly in form Latin baptizo, and is never translated by immersion or any other similar form; thus demonstrating that there was something in the rite of baptism with which the latter did not correspond. The baptismal fountains which are still to be found among the ruins of the oldest Greek churches in Palestine, as at Tekoa and Gofna, and which apparently go back to very early times, are not large enough to admit baptism by immersion in adults; and obviously they were never designed for that use.


          In I Corinthians 10:2 we see that the people of Israel were baptized in both the cloud and the sea, pointing more to sprinkling than immersion. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, symbolized by water baptism, is always described in Scripture in terms of sprinkling or effusion (Isa 44:3; Ezek 36:25; Joel 2:28, 29; Mal 3:10; Acts 2:17 , 18; Acts 10:44, 45).


          Dr. Rice (in his Controversy with Campbell) says:


I have already examined every passage in the Bible and in the apocryphal writings of the Jews where the word baptize is used literally, without reference to the ordinance of Christian baptism, and my clear conviction is that there is not a single instance where it can be proved to mean immerse; that all examples, except perhaps one, express the application of water to the person or thing by pouring or sprinkling. Dr. Jacob Ditzler, one of the greatest modern-day Greek teachers, emphatically says in his writings that there is no Greek word for immersion in the New Testament.



          These arguments only prove that the multitude of nearly three thousand people baptized in Acts 2, as well as entire families baptized indoors in the New Testament, were very likely baptized by sprinkling, such as: The family of Lydia. (Acts 16:15); the family of Stephanas. (I Cor 1.16); and the jailer's family. (Acts 16:31-33), considering that the purification with water was already a ritual known to the people, since the Old Testament period, and considering that the idea of ​​baptizing multitudes within the city of Jerusalem or people within home by immersion.

          For these reasons, the Presbyterian Church, as well as other historical churches, adopt the mode of baptism by sprinkling, but do not disregard the other modes, as long as they are applied in accordance with the instructions of the Bible.

From this Sunday on, you will enjoy a Revelation Series with Dr. Joel Beeke. It is amazing studies from which we can learn more about this instigating book.

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