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Why churches insist on fresh baptism for members from other denominations

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John Aniagwu


• ‘If They Are Coming From Other Churches Where We Are Not Sure Of What They Do, That Is When We Go For Conditional Baptism’
• ‘The Truth Is That If You Were Baptised By Sprinkling And Not By Immersion, It Is Not Proper’
• ‘Going Through The Baptismal Class Before Undergoing Water Baptism Settled Some Fundamental Doctrinal Issues For Me’
• As Baptist We Believe Water Baptism Must Be Done By Immersion, Not By Sprinkling

Baptism is an essential ordinance of Christianity, and Churches usually ensure their members are properly baptised before being welcomed into their fold. But what happens when a Christian that had been baptised in his or her former church starts attending another church? Should he/she be baptised all over again? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.

‘I Joined RCCG From Another Pentecostal Church And Had To Go Through Baptismal Class’(Pastor Brown Oyitso, Pastor-in-charge of Region 19 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Ikeja, Lagos/Special Assistant to the General Overseer on Missions)
We believe that water baptism is water baptism, but it should be carried out under the right circumstances. The mere act of dipping somebody who does not have some spiritual or doctrinal foundation into water and bringing the person up amounts to dipping a dry sinner into the water and bringing him or her out as a wet sinner.

In the Redeemed Christian Church of God, we take people through some rudimentary doctrinal teachings after their salvation experience, before they are water baptised. Candidates for water baptism go through what we call the Baptismal class. By so doing, their Christianity is built to last because they become true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus carried out teachings during His earthly ministry. In Acts chapter 8, Phillip took the Eunuch of Ethiopia through some scriptures before he gave him water baptism.

Pentecostal churches don’t lay the same emphasis on the same biblical injunctions. We, therefore, encourage new comers into the RCCG from other churches to undergo some teachings to bring them in line with the fundamental aspects of the word of God that we lay emphasis on. In actual fact, the Redeemed Christian Church of God encourages an individual to undergo Baptismal class before he or she is water baptised. I joined the RCCG from another Pentecostal church and I had to go through this class. I can tell you that I was the better for it. Going through the Baptismal class before undergoing water baptism again settled some fundamental doctrinal issues for me.The RCCG has to be sure of what you believe in before you can be called up as an altar minister or get the first level of ordination.

‘We Rebaptise Members Coming From Other Churches, Not Anglican, Methodist’ (Rt. Rev. Monsignor John Aniagwu, Vicar General, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos/Parish Priest of St. Leo’s Catholic Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos) 
In our church, we baptise with water in the name of the Trinity — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If anybody is coming to us and we have reason to believe that he/she wasn’t baptised in that way with water and with that formula, then we give the person what we call ‘conditional baptism,’ to be on the safer side. An individual is not a Christian unless he/she is properly baptised. You may be one but you are not one, until you received proper baptism. So, if the person claims to be a Christian but has not received a valid baptism, the claim is empty. We baptise in the name of the Trinity — the father the Son and the Holy Spirit as Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, 20, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Those were the exact words of our Jesus Christ. So, for someone to be validly baptised from our own point of view, it has to be with water, with invocation to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If he went through that process and he has proof to back it up, then we don’t baptise again. We just receive him or her into our church.

We call it reception. For instance, if the person is coming from Anglican or Methodist Church, we know they baptise the way we do, so there is no question of rebaptising their members. We simply receive them into our fold. But if they are coming from the other churches where we are not sure of what they do, that is when we go for conditional baptism. Anybody can claim to be a Christian.

‘We Give Another Baptism To Those We’re Not Sure Of Their Previous Experience’(Pastor (Dr.) Jacob E. Umoru, President, Lagos Atlantic Conference, Seventh-Day Adventist Church)
IF a Christian is baptised and has experienced the transformation in Christ, he or she is born again and now comes to our church, we will accept him or her by the profession of faith. But there are some who come from these other churches where all manner of things happen in the name of church. In such a case, we teach them some basic truth that they need to know. After teaching them this, some of them would understand and realise that where they were coming from, they didn’t really experience Christ and so, they need something new. We give such people a second baptism.

We have biblical support for that in Acts 19:1-5, where Paul met some Christians in Ephesus, but the fruit of the Spirit was not in their life. They had not really experienced a change of heart. So, he asked them, whether they had been baptised and they said yes. He said for what baptism? They said the baptism of John, but he told them that John’s baptism was baptism of repentance, and that they needed the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So, after teaching them, he baptised them again.

Based on that, we give people coming from other churches and we are not sure of their previous experience second baptism. What we do is to present the word of God to them and let them know the truth, which sets people free. If through the study they come to the realisation that they have not been faithful with God and are ready to embrace the new truth, then we baptise them. As they continue studying, some of them would show genuine repentance and such people are baptised. People pretend a lot.

For instance, a few months ago, somebody came while we were having water baptism. After discussing with him, he said he was ready for baptism. He explained that he was just released from prison and all that. Can you believe that after the baptism, he came to my office the following day that he needed some money? What can you make out of that? So, there are a few of them who do that. The Bible says by their fruits you shall know them.

We usually take new people through a series of studies. It could be through baptismal class and of course, you know that Seventh Day Adventist Church is different. We believe that God has called us to direct the world’s attention to the worship of the God that created the heavens and the earth. The truth is that if you were baptised by sprinkling and not by immersion, it is not proper. The Bible does not teach sprinkling, rather, it only teaches baptism by immersion.

‘The Difference Is In Church Doctrine’ (Archbishop Magnus A. Atilade, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), South West zone)
IT depends on the doctrine of the church. Take the Catholic Church, for instance, they will not accept you just like that. They will not even allow you to take Holy Communion. Similarly, we are Baptist and we believe that water baptism must be by immersion and not by sprinkling. So, if you have been baptised by immersion, we will accept you and we will not bother to baptise you again. But if it was by sprinkling, we would have to rebaptise you because water baptism is by immersion and done in the name of God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit, just as it was done to Jesus Christ. For us at Baptist Church, we follow what is written in the Bible. As Jesus Christ was baptised by immersion, that is the one we accept.


In this article:
Brown OyitsoJohn Aniagwu
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