Q&A about baptism
July 30, 2018 / By UMC Discipleship Ministries
Q: What does United Methodism fundamentally believe about baptism?
A: Baptism is a sacrament. In a sacrament, God uses common elements – in this case, water – as means or vehicles of divine grace. Baptism is administered by the church as the Body of Christ. It is the act of God through the grace of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Q: Is sprinkling the only way that United Methodists baptize?
A: No, our Church has always offered to people being baptized and to the parents of infants the choice of sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.
Q: May a person who has not been baptized participate in Holy Communion?
A: Yes, our Church does not seek to close God's table, although the historic and normal Christian order of the sacraments is baptism first - as birth into the family - and Communion following, as continuing nurture at the family table. Pastors and congregations reach out and encourage those who partake at the Table to share fully in the life of God's people, including coming to the font after appropriate preparation.
Q: Should every baby be baptized?
A: No, the baptism of a baby assumes that the child will be nurtured and formed in the faith at home and at church.
Q: How do we express our own decisions to be Christian disciples if we have already been baptized as infants?
A: In services of profession of faith and confirmation before the congregation, we respond to God's grace by repenting of our sins, declaring our faith in Jesus Christ, and becoming professing members of the Church.
Q: Does baptism mean that I am saved?
A: No, salvation is a lifelong process during which we must continue to respond to God's grace. Baptism offers the promise that the Holy Spirit will always be working in our lives, but salvation requires our acceptance of that grace, trust in Christ, and ongoing growth in holiness as long as we live.
Q: Do I have to be baptized in order to be saved?
A: No, but baptism is a gift of God's grace to be received as part of the journey of salvation. To refuse to accept baptism is to reject one of the means of grace that God offers us.
Q: How can I recommit myself to Christ when I have had a powerful spiritual experience?
A: Confirmation and profession of faith are only the first of our affirmations of faith. As we experience God's work in our ongoing lives of discipleship, we can express our commitment through participation in services of baptismal reaffirmation (Baptismal Covenant IV).
Q: Does baptism make me a member of the Church?
A: Yes, baptism is the act of initiation and incorporation into the universal church of Jesus Christ, The United Methodist Church, and the local congregation, as our ritual makes very clear.
Editor’s Notes: These questions and answers about baptism and many more Q+As can be found on the UMC Discipleship Ministries’ website.