BAPTISM: today I want to address the custom of Baptism and discuss its history. I would venture to guess that most Christians think of Baptism as a Christian rite originating with John the Baptist and Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan. Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth. A simple perusal of historical data will show that ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and cultures of all sorts including Hindus and American Indians had some sort of ritual Baptism.
In the case of Christians, the practice undoubtedly came through the Jews from the Egyptians. The Egyptians believed that baptism in the waters of the Nile river afforded them an immersion into god in the next life. You will recall that the Jews were enslaved by the Egyptians for years. It is very likely that during that period, the Jews adopted some of their captors ways—baptism was one of them.
So when the New Testament says matter of factly that John was baptizing in the Jordan, it was understood by the writer that his readers would know what he was referring to—it was a common practice.
When Jesus came along and was baptized by John, the developing Christian church established the process as a sacrament. Moreover, the church declared it an absolute requirement for admission into heaven—un-baptized people could not enter heaven; they went to a place called limbo—a place of natural happiness but not supernatural, perfect happiness. When I was catechized in Roman Catholicism, baptism was to be done expeditiously—doctors, nurses and all people were instructed in the simple process of pouring on the water and saying the baptismal words in case of emergency or risk of death. In any event, baptism as a formal ceremony, done by a priest seldom went 7-10 days post-partum.
As I attend Sunday Mass, baptism are frequent, and many are done during the Mass ceremony itself—others done after Mass. It seems obvious that most of these babies are several weeks(months) old. I wonder why the change in sense of urgency. The ceremony used to be done in private—now with great hoopla. Anyone have any ideas? Has limbo been swept under the carpet? I haven’t heard the word mentioned from the pulpit in sixty years.
The truth of the matter is this; baptism has absolutely nothing to do with our salvation—that has been guaranteed by the death of Jesus. My two books, Wilderness Cry and Peace in Spirituality elucidate all. By defining the essence of God, I am able to address every human condition relating to God and salvation. Press Release and video trailers for these books included.