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According to the New Testament John the Baptist, baptized people in the River Jordan where the people of Judea and Jerusalem confessed their sins and were baptized for the spiritual purpose of obtaining forgiveness for their sins. Here Jesus also received Baptism from John the Baptist.
The New Testament states that John was baptizing people in the name of God, but historically this was not the first time that people were receiving baptism by proclaiming repentance and seeking forgiveness. The Jews of the first century were familiar with baptism, as this particular ceremony had a previous history. Baptism was basically a Jewish custom and was adopted by the early Christians like many other Jewish worship customs.
Therefore they were not surprised when John the Baptist baptized people, as they were already familiar with the practice. There are definite similarities between the Jewish baptisms when pagans converted to Judaism. When someone converted, the infants in the family were baptized along with adults, hence the practice in Christianity of baptizing infants.
The reason for the similarities is that most of the early Christians were Jews who were converting because of the preaching of the disciples of Jesus. Baptism depicts the purifying of a person by washing in water. This is done in the presence of witnesses. Christian baptism is the continuation of the Jewish “mikveh” or the purification of a person for entry into the faith and the community.
This is done with the belief that the person has been spiritually saved, and they have entered into a religious life. This in no way meant that the person was perpetually saved, or could enter heaven without further ado, just that the process of salvation had begun.
The Messianic Christians whose descendants still live in Syria, have not changed their religious rituals in the last 2000 years. Their bibles are in Aramaic and they still worship in the ancient language. Although Christians, their Churches still resemble ancient Jewish synagogues.
Their baptism rituals are the same as they were 2000 years ago. During the spread of Protestantism in Europe, they wanted to distance themselves from Roman Catholicism; they made baptism a matter of a person’s own decision, hence Infant baptism has been rejected by many Protestant sects.
The basic reason behind this is that Protestant was and is very influenced by European politics. Most religious leaders contend that baptism in itself is not enough. If the parents themselves are not committed to the Christian faith, they should not baptize their children as a mere religious formality. They must be committed to acknowledging and following the word of God, as given in the bible, and live lives as good practicing Christians.
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