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What Is Baptism

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Baptism means different things to different people within the Christian world. There are disagreements in the meaning, the methodology and the importance of baptism. In this four part message series, John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, seeks to interpret the Biblical meaning of baptism.

To understand Piper’s analysis of baptism, it helps to know a bit of his background. He is pastor of a Baptist church and thus believes in believer’s baptism by immersion. However, he spent much of his youth in Lutheran churches and now preaches in a predominantly Catholic area, so he has a good understanding of those views of baptism. At the same time, he is Reformed, so understands infant baptism as practiced by Presbyterians and most Reformed denominations. This puts him in a unique position of having a deep understanding of each of the forms of baptism.

As a Reformed Christian who grew up in churches that practiced infant baptism I appreciated that Piper really understands infant baptism rather than falling into the usual arguments against infant baptism (“So you believe that your child is saved when he is baptized.”) This alone, in my view, made this series worth listening to. His argument against infant baptism is that it is built on a false principle. Baptism is not simply a continuation of circumcision as most Reformed Christians believe, but “an indictment of a misuse of circumcision as a guarantee of salvation. Circumcision was a sign of ethnic continuity; baptism was a sign of spiritual reality.”

This message series is well researched and well taught. It is well worth listening to if you are struggling with the issues surrounding baptism. I would especially recommend it to people who believe in infant baptism and who would like to have a deeper understanding of believer’s baptism. Incidentally, if you would rather read the series, you can do so at

Key Words:

  • Baptism
  • Believer’s baptism
  • Infant baptism

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