Bible Question:

In the Bible it mentions baptism many times. The Greek wording and the Roman Catholic Catechism says that baptism means immersion. Why then does the Roman Catholic Church not baptise in this manner? When did they change to the pouring over the head? When did they begin to baptize babies? My son-in-law from the Church of Christ claims that since I was baptized as a baby and not immersed, I am not saved. Therefore I am not a Christian and can not even pray to God who can not hear me until I repent and be baptized.

Bible Answer:

The Greek word for “to baptize” is BAPTIZO. The ancients used this Greek word in a variety of ways. For example, the word had the meaning “to dip,” “to immerse” and “to drown.” One example of its usage was to refer to a ship “sinking.” John 3:23 tell us that John the Baptist baptized where there was a lot of water. Why? So he could dip people down into the water. In short, “baptism” is immersion.

Roman Catholic Baptism

The Roman Catholic baptism is done by sprinkling and not by immersion as you have already stated. The Roman Catholic Church states that the Greek word BAPTIZO is used in Luke 11:38 to refer to the Pharisees “washing,” and use this passage to say that the word does not always mean to dip. But the conclusion assumes that the Pharisees did not immerse their hands into water. They also quote Mark 7:3–4a as another example of BAPTIZO being used for washing or sprinkling. But the Greek text does not use BAPTIZO. It uses VIPTO for “washing” in verse 3, and PAVTIZO for “sprinkling” in verse 4. In short, BAPTIZO does not occur in either of these two verses.

There are no passages in the New Testament which support the Roman Catholic Church’s concept of pouring water. However, this is a minor issue in the Christian faith. Some of the early church fathers seem to indicate that the early church did sprinkle when a small body of water was not available for immersion. There is nothing wrong with this. The method in which a person is baptized is not a major doctrinal issue, except among those who believe that baptism is required for salvation.

When Adopted

It is not clear when the Roman Catholic Church started pouring water as a method of baptism, nor is it clear when they started baptizing babies. But it is important to understand that the Roman Catholic Church believes baptism saves a baby. Here is a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that baptism results in new life. The one being baptized is saved, and given eternal life. It is important to understand that they believe baptism is required for forgiveness and to go to heaven.


There is a previous question and answer at this site which explains why baptism does not save you. There are also a series of other questions about baptism and salvation that you may want to read. Baptism does not make you a Christian. Forgiveness of your sins comes only by faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way to be forgiven and to go to heaven. To find out how you can be forgiven, visit the page “Searching for God.”