baptism [Gr., =dipping], in most Christian churches a sacrament. It is a rite of purification by water, a ceremony invoking the grace of God to regenerate the person, free him or her from sin, and make that person a part of the church. Thus, baptism is usually required for membership in the church. In Roman Catholic and Anglican theology baptism is also held to confer an indelible character on the person, requiring him or her to worship. Formal baptism is performed by immersion (as among the Baptists) or by pouring or sprinkling water on the person to be baptized. This ceremony is accompanied, in churches that accept the dogma of the Trinity, by a formula asking the blessing of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In some churches the child is baptized soon after birth and has sponsors (godfather and godmother) who make declarations of faith in his name. The rite is sometimes called christening, and this term is applied especially to the giving of a baptismal name. Other churches withhold baptism until the person is relatively mature. Some Protestant groups, such as the Religious Society of Friends, reject all outward baptismal rites. Similar customs are known in many non-Christian cultures. The baptism of Jesus himself can be considered part of the founding of the Christian Church.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Baptism: Selected full-text books and articles

Liturgy, Order and the Law By Rupert D. H. Bursell Clarendon Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Baptism and Confirmation"
Canon Law in the Anglican Communion: A Worldwide Perspective By Norman Doe Clarendon Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 9 "Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion"
The Bible and the Liturgy By Jean Danielou University of Notre Dame Press, 1956
Librarian's tip: Chap. Two "The Baptismal Rite," Chap. Four "The Types of Baptism: Creation and the Deluge," Chap. Five "Types of Baptism: The Crossing of the Red Sea," and Chap. Six "Types of Baptism: Elias and the Jordan"
Ecclesiological and Ecumenical Implications of Baptism By Kasper, Walter The Ecumenical Review, Vol. 52, No. 4, October 2000
Baptism -- the Basis of Church Unity?: The Question of Baptism in Faith and Order By Heller, Dagmar The Ecumenical Review, Vol. 50, No. 4, October 1998
Baptism and the Process of Christian Initiation By Fiddes, Paul S The Ecumenical Review, Vol. 54, No. 1-2, January-June 2002
The Legal Framework of the Church of England: A Critical Study in a Comparative Context By Norman Doe Clarendon Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. 11 "Baptism and Confirmation"
Birth, Marriage, and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England By David Cressy Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: Part II "Baptism"
In the Name: Towards Alternative Baptismal Idioms By Ramshaw, Gail The Ecumenical Review, Vol. 54, No. 3, July 2002
Baptismal Instructions By Saint John Chrysostom; Paul W. Harkins Newman Press, 1963
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