Baptism is a religious ritual involving water and the person being baptized. It is a symbol of a person being accepted into the church of Christian believers. The rite is a common denominator in most Christian churches, but there are differences in beliefs on how and when baptisms should occur.



In some churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, water is poured over the forehead of a new Christian, who often may be an infant. In other churches, such as the Baptist Church, the ritual is a full immersion in water, of an adult who believes in Jesus Christ.

In the early Christian church, John the Baptist is said to have baptized people in the river Jordan. According to the Bible, apostles Matthew and Peter both called on the faithful to be baptized. Thus, baptism became a symbol of a person’s religious profession of being a follower of Christ.

Baptism was considered to be a sign of being a Christian. In the third century, church leaders taught that infant baptism was permitted by having the parents, or other adults in the church, accept Christ on behalf of the child.
During the Reformation, new Christian churches were started, some with a firm belief that baptism should be an adult profession of faith. These new churches believed that infants, who could not make this profession on their own, should not be baptized.

The concept of adult baptism as an act of a believer became a corner stone of a new Christian church, the Baptist Church. In more recent Baptist history, older children who understood and accepted the faith, have also been allowed to be baptized.

Although the central belief of being a follower of Christ remains at the core of Christian churches, ways of expressing beliefs sometimes change. For example, in the Roman Catholic Church, adults now have the choice of immersion for their baptism, or the more traditional form, of water being poured over the forehead.

Yet, as hymns sometimes sung in a Catholic church can also be found in a Baptist hymnal, most Christian churches are more alike than they are different.

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