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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

20 September 2008

Christian Recommitment and Second Baptism

Q: Can a Christian be baptized twice if the reason is to recommit oneself to the Lord? Or when can a person be baptized again? Or it not right to be baptized twice or more?

WaterA: Most of the world’s Christians confess the Nicene Creed as a true summary of the Christian Faith. Included among these are the Catholics, the Orthodox, the Lutherans, the Anglican Communion, many of the Reformed, and others. Among the things we say that we believe in is “one baptism for the remission of sins.”

This echoes Saint Paul’s words to the saints in Ephesus: “There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’ (4:4-8)”

You were baptized into the Name of the one true God and into the Holy Christian Church, not into a church body or a congregation. In Baptism, God joined Himself to you, not you to Him. Even if you forgot your commitment to God for a time, He never forgot His commitment to you. The Lord doesn’t take back His promises in Baptism even if we break our promises to Him, so there’s no reason to be baptized again.

Van Eyck: Adoration of the LambIn other words, if you were baptized in a Christian, Trinitarian church “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” then you are and remain baptized. However, if someone received something called “baptism” done by an anti-Trinitarian body or by any religion which denies Jesus as the God-man Savior of the world, I urge that person to be baptized — not again, but for the first time.

Any washing outside of orthodox, Trinitarian Christianity might get the body wet but it does nothing to remove sins or adopt the recipient into the household of faith. No matter what they call it, such an action is not a baptism.

Therefore, if you received Christian Baptism, you cannot be baptized “again,” since you cannot make yourself un-baptized. Also, you may not seek a “follow-up” baptism, since you would be asking for something contrary to the Word of God.

For more, please see Church Membership and Second Baptism and One Baptism

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Newspaper column #555:4


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