Believer's baptism
Believer's baptism is a statement of belief, commonly used for religious belief, such as the Apostles' Creed. The term especially refers to the use of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in the Mass, either as text, Gregorian chant, or other musical settings of the...

) is the Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 practice of baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 as this is understood by many Protestant churches, particularly those that descend from the Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

 tradition. According to their understanding, a person is baptized on the basis of his or her profession of faith in Jesus Christ and as admission into a local community of faith.

The contrasting belief, held in other Christian churches, is infant baptism
Infant baptism
Infant baptism is the practice of baptising infants or young children. In theological discussions, the practice is sometimes referred to as paedobaptism or pedobaptism from the Greek pais meaning "child." The practice is sometimes contrasted with what is called "believer's baptism", or...

 (pedobaptism or paedobaptism, from the Greek paido meaning “child”), in which infants or young children may be baptized upon the request of a parent who professes faith.

Baptisms are performed in various ways: believer's baptism by immersion
Immersion baptism
Immersion baptism is a method of baptism that is distinguished from baptism by affusion and by aspersion , sometimes without specifying whether the immersion is total or partial, but very commonly with the indication that the person baptized is immersed completely...

and infant baptism by affusion or aspersion or immersion. Believer's baptism is often erroneously referred to as adult baptism, even though children may be baptized so long as they are old enough to earnestly profess their faith.


Christians who practice believer's baptism believe that saving grace and church membership are gifts from God by the recipient's faith alone and cannot be imparted or transferred from one person to another (such as from parent to child) by sacraments such as baptism. These tenets render infant baptism meaningless within their belief system. Because infants cannot hear or believe the gospel message, neither can they repent or profess Christ as the Son of God. Credobaptists have differing views concerning the status of children who are too young to profess faith (Matthew 19:14).

Believer’s baptism is held by Baptists and many other Christians to have no saving
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

 effect, but to be a public expression of faith, symbolically representative of the inner conversion of the person being baptized. Many other Christian churches hold baptism to have salvific value.

The Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and many "Bible" and non-denominational churches understand baptism to be an integral part of the conversion process
Conversion to Christianity
Conversion to Christianity is the religious conversion of a previously non-Christian person to some form of Christianity. It has been called the foundational experience of Christian life...

, rather than just a symbol of conversion. Integral teachings of the Churches of Christ include the following:
  • Baptism
    In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

     by immersion is a necessary part of salvation without which one cannot enter into the kingdom of God, John 3:3–5; 1 Peter 3:21
  • The church, set up by Christ with the keys given to the Apostles (Matthew 16:16–18, 18:18) was established on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and required baptism for "remission of sins" among the penitent believers and promised the "gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38)
  • Without the indwelling Holy Spirit obtained at the time of immersion, there is no salvation, Acts 5:32, Romans 8:9–11, 16.

There are many denominations and faith communities which hold to baptism for believers only, but do not hold that baptism contributes in any measure to salvation--which is also the view of some of the churches that do practice infant baptism. With respect to the bullet points above, these would understand the commandment to be baptized for the remission of sins in point 2 to be specific to the Jewish believers being addressed at that point in time. Their being baptized would be seen as publicly distancing themselves from the actions of the religious leaders who had participated in rejecting then crucifying Jesus. This is not to say that these see baptism as only for Jewish believers, but that that particular set of instructions at that point in time was.

Later in the book of Acts, both when Samaritans joined the church for the first time (Acts 8:12ff), and when Gentiles joined the Church for the first time (Acts 10:44ff), baptism followed immediately and was even commanded in Acts 10. Whether or not these examples of baptism that are found in the New Testament proves that children are categorically ineligible for baptism is disputed.


Advocates of believer’s baptism argue that the New Testament does not describe instances of infant baptism, and that during the New Testament era, the early church required converts to have conscious, deliberate faith in Jesus Christ. Defenders of infant baptism counter that the book of Acts records instances of the baptism of entire households, and that these baptisms likely included children.

Defenders of infant baptism have claimed that baptism replaces the Jewish practice of circumcision
Circumcision controversy in early Christianity
There is evidence of a controversy over religious male circumcision in Early Christianity. A Council of Jerusalem, possibly held in approximately 50 AD, decreed that male circumcision was not a requirement for Gentile converts. This became known as the "Apostolic Decree" and may be one of the...

, citing Colossians 2:11–13 as New Testament support, and is therefore appropriate for infants. Advocates of believer’s baptism counter that the Jerusalem council in Acts 15
Council of Jerusalem
The Council of Jerusalem is a name applied by historians and theologians to an Early Christian council that was held in Jerusalem and dated to around the year 50. It is considered by Catholics and Orthodox to be a prototype and forerunner of the later Ecumenical Councils...

 was called to clarify circumcision long after the practice of baptism was established. In the Old Covenant
Old Covenant
The Old Covenant was the name of the agreement which effected the union of Iceland and Norway. It is also known as Gissurarsáttmáli, named after Gissur Þorvaldsson, the Icelandic chieftain who worked to promote it. The name "Old Covenant", however, is probably due to historical confusion...

, males were circumcised
Circumcision in the Bible
Religious male circumcision generally occurs shortly after birth, during childhood or around puberty as part of a rite of passage. Circumcision is most prevalent in Muslim countries and Israel, and is most prevalent in the Jewish and Muslim faiths, although also common in the United States, the...

. In the New Covenant
New Covenant
The New Covenant is a concept originally derived from the Hebrew Bible. The term "New Covenant" is used in the Bible to refer to an epochal relationship of restoration and peace following a period of trial and judgment...

, all — male and female, Jew and Greek, bond and free — may join the family of God.

Many Reformed Baptists agree with the principles of Covenant Theology
Covenant Theology
Covenant theology is a conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall flow of the Bible...

 and agree that Baptism has, in a sense, replaced circumcision as the sign of covenant. They disagree with the typical Reformed argument that, as the sign of the covenant in the Old Testament (namely circumcision
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....

) was administered to infants, so should the sign of the covenant in the New Testament church (namely baptism) be ministered to infants. They (Reformed Baptists) argue that the covenant community in the Old Testament constituted the physical sons of Abraham and made up physical Israel whereas the covenant community in the New Testament constitutes the spiritual sons of Abraham and thus form the spiritual Israel. Thus, they argue, the sign of the covenant should only be administered to spiritual sons. From Galatians 3:7, they (Reformed Baptists) argue that it is “people of faith who are the sons of Abraham” and baptism should be administered only to confessing believers and not infants, who are incapable of producing the requisite faith.

Theologians from churches that teach paedobaptism point to Jesus' statement that children should be allowed to come to him. Advocates of believer's baptism counter that Jesus blessed the children and did not baptize them. While Jesus is recorded as baptizing in John 3:22-26, he called upon his followers to baptise "all nations." Advocates of believer's baptism do evangelize
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

 children, even if they do not baptise all of them.


Defenders of infant baptism have attempted to trace the practice to the New Testament era, but generally acknowledge that no unambiguous evidence exists that the practice existed prior to the second century. The oldest surviving manual of church discipline, the Didache
The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century...

, envisions the baptism of adults. Advocates of believer's baptism contend that non-Biblical records are not authoritative, and that no evidence exists from the Bible or early Christian literature that infant baptism was practiced by the apostles.

Another argument posed by some advocates of believer's baptism focuses on the fact that most churches that practice infant baptism were churches that were heavily intertwined with the state in medieval and Reformation-era Europe. In many instances, citizens of a nation were required under penalty of law to belong to the state church. Infant baptism marked the infant as a citizen of the nation and a loyal subject of the reigning political order as much as it marked the infant as a Christian. To denominations like the Baptists, which have historically stressed religious liberty, toleration, and separation of church and state, this practice is an unacceptable violation of the basic human right to self-determination in matters of spirituality and religion; but this argument does little to dissuade the many pedobaptistic churches today which are, as in the United States and most other Western nations, unburdened by any compulsion to baptize anyone because of a governmental demand.

Other advocates of credobaptism--who contend that non-Biblical records are not religiously authoritative--nevertheless point to such records (patristics
Patristics or Patrology is the study of Early Christian writers, known as the Church Fathers. The names derive from the Latin pater . The period is generally considered to run from the end of New Testament times or end of the Apostolic Age Patristics or Patrology is the study of Early Christian...

) to establish that the apostolical tradition was for children to become catechumen
In ecclesiology, a catechumen , “‘down’” + ἠχή , “‘sound’”) is one receiving instruction from a catechist in the principles of the Christian religion with a view to baptism...

s and baptized only after being trained and discipled in the basics of Christian doctrine. For examples, they point to St. John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

, St. Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor . He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian...

, St. Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age...

, St. Ambrose
Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose , was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was one of the four original doctors of the Church.-Political career:Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family between about...

, St. Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, St. Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

, Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

 and others who were each baptized at adult age (sometimes 30 years or older), despite the fact of them growing up in Christian households or families.

Further, credobaptists point to St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine
St. Augustine
-People:* Augustine of Hippo or Augustine of Hippo , father of the Latin church* Augustine of Canterbury , first Archbishop of Canterbury* Augustine Webster, an English Catholic martyr.-Places:*St. Augustine, Florida, United States...

 and others who wrote procedures for catechumenical instruction (contrasted to writing procedures for the baptizing of infants.) Augustine, however, had no Christian father and was a strong advocate of infant baptism.

In addition, earlier patristical writings such as Didache
The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century...

 and Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 prescribe baptismal candidates to fasting, prayer, confessions, etc. before being allowed to be baptized. Tertullian (son of a presbyter
Presbyter in the New Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations, then a synonym of episkopos...

) writes, "Christians are made, not born." On the other hand Tertullian acknowledges that infant baptism was a common practice in his day. He opposes it not on doctrinal grounds but practical ones, suggesting that baptism be postponed until after marriage so that one can be cleansed of the fornication one commits before marriage in baptism. Tertullian also later in life became a Montanist and the strict views on post-baptismal sin which that sect took affected some of his writing.

Several ecclesiastical histories seem to omit any discussion of infant baptism. Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 (describing 1–320 AD) gives ample discussion of baptisms, but makes no reference to the baptism of infants. Instead, Eusebius discusses the various positions, particularly during the time of Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

, wherein it was discussed whether those who were baptized by heretics needed to be re-baptized. (This might be argued to be irrelevant if the individuals involved in heresy were baptized as infants, but the question was really whether a sacrament was valid if administered by a heretic, and so the question was whether a person baptized by a heretic should be rebaptized
Rebaptism is associated with:* Anabaptism, from Greek ἀνα- and βαπτίζω * Rebaptism in Mormonism* Insistence on believer's baptism as in Baptist traditions* Some Pentecostal churches....


Likewise, the church history of Socrates Scholasticus
Socrates Scholasticus
Socrates of Constantinople, also known as Socrates Scholasticus, not to be confused with the Greek philosopher Socrates, was a Greek Christian church historian, a contemporary of Sozomen and Theodoret, who used his work; he was born at Constantinople c. 380: the date of his death is unknown...

 (305–438 AD) mentions a handful of examples of baptisms, none of which describe the baptizing of infants. However, by this time the practice of baptizing infants was common, as can be seen in the Pelagian writings of Augustine.

Similarly, the church history written by Evagrius Scholasticus
Evagrius Scholasticus
Evagrius Scholasticus was a Syrian scholar and intellectual living in the 6th century AD, and an aide to the patriarch Gregory of Antioch. His surviving work, Ecclesiastical History, comprises a six-volume collection concerning the Church's history from the First Council of Ephesus to Maurice’s...

 (431–594 AD) also provides descriptions of baptisms, none of which communicate the baptism of infants.
Age of accountability
Believer's baptism is administered only to persons who have passed the age of accountability or reason
Age of reason (canon law)
In the Roman Catholic Church, the age of reason, also called the age of discretion, is the age at which children become capable of moral responsibility. On completion of the seventh year a minor is presumed to have the use of reason, but mental retardation or insanity could prevent some...

, which is based upon a reading of the New Testament that only believers should be baptized. Some claim that it is also based upon the Jewish tradition of Bar Mitzvah at the age of 12 or 13, at which point Jewish children become responsible for their actions and "one to whom the commandments apply." This analogy is not very helpful since a Jew who is not Bar Mitzvah is nonetheless considered to be fully a Jew—whereas the notion of an "unbaptised Christian" is more problematic. Many Christian theologians, including Zwingli regard baptism as analogous to the Jewish practice of circumcision
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....

, rather than analogous to the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, although there are no explicit sections of the New Testament that support this idea.

Among credobaptists, differences in denominational practice (and in psychological development among children) can cause the "age of accountability" to be set higher or lower. Many developmentally challenged individuals never reach this stage regardless of age. Sometimes the pastor or church leader will determine the believer's understanding and conviction through personal interviews. In the case of a minor, parents' permission will also often be sought.

It is common for churches which practice believer's baptism to administer the ordinance to children aged eight or nine, following some training in the rudiments of the faith. Pedobaptists often question whether this abuses the belief that there is an "age of accountability," since that term traditionally
has referred to the ability to discern between good and evil actions, not to the ability to comprehend and assent to all the complexities of the Christian faith which adults might reasonably be expected to affirm as a condition of receiving baptism.

However, not all credobaptists believe in an "age of accountability." Some believe in predestination
Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others...

, and that God will prolong a person's life until they are capable of receiving baptism of their own free will. Furthermore, not all credobaptists believe in the doctrine of original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

. Many credobaptists believe that we are only held responsible for our personal sins, and that Jesus addressed the sins of Adam on the cross. As a result, according to these Christians, an infant does not need to repent and baptize away sins they have never personally committed.
Comparison to liturgical tradition
Some suggest that believer's baptism combines two rites from the liturgical churches (the Roman Catholic, Lutheran
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

, Orthodox
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

, and Anglican
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 Churches): confirmation and (infant) baptism.

In the liturgical churches, it is generally held that (infant) baptism is the initiatory rite that believer's baptism also marks. Infant baptism differs from believer's baptism in that the baptisand is not making a profession of the faith for themselves. The liturgical traditions transfer this aspect of Christian life to confirmation, where the one-time infant baptist publicly assumes the responsibilities of his baptismal covenant and makes his own profession of faith (usually using the words of the Apostles' Creed
Apostles' Creed
The Apostles' Creed , sometimes titled Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief, a creed or "symbol"...

In areas where those who practice believer's baptism are the physical or cultural majority, the ritual may function as a rite of passage
Rite of passage
A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's progress from one status to another. It is a universal phenomenon which can show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures....

 by which the child is granted the status of an adult. Most denominations who practice believer's baptism also specify the mode of baptism, generally preferring immersion (in which the baptisand is lowered completely beneath the surface of a body of water) over affusion (in which water is sprinkled or poured over the baptisand). In the case of physical disability or inability to be totally submerged under water, as with the elderly, bedridden, and nearly dead, the pouring of water upon the baptismal candidate is acceptable to some despite the usual contention of credobaptists that unless there is immersion, the act cannot, by definition, be a baptism.

In some denominations, believer's baptism is a prerequisite to full church membership. This is generally the case with churches with a congregational form of church government. Persons who wish to become part of the church must undergo believer's baptism in that local body or another body whose baptism the local body honors. Typically, local churches will honor the baptism of another church, if that tradition is of similar faith and practice, or if not, then if the person was baptized (usually by immersion) subsequent to conversion.
Denominational connections
Believer's baptism is one of several distinctive doctrines associated closely with the Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 and Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

 (literally, rebaptizer) traditions, and their theological
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 relatives. Among these are the members of the American Restoration Movement
Restoration Movement
The Restoration Movement is a Christian movement that began on the American frontier during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century...

. Churches associated with Pentecostalism
Pentecostalism is a diverse and complex movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, has an eschatological focus, and is an experiential religion. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek...

 also practice believer's baptism.

In Holiness, Baptist, and some other churches, a ritual known as Dedication or Infant Dedication supplements or replaces infant baptism. However, unlike baptism, the rite is centered upon the parents, who dedicate the child to God and vow to raise him/her in a God-fearing home. Although Dedication often occurs at the same age as infant baptism, it is not considered a replacement for baptism nor is it considered salvific for the child.

Believer's baptism is more prevalent in Christian traditions that maintain that there is a state of innocency from birth to the age of accountability (if the believer, due to mental or emotional disability, is not likely to gain the ability to judge the morality of his or her actions, this state of innocency persists for life). Credobaptism is less prevalent in traditions that maintain that the corruption of original sin is present at birth and is sufficient guilt in the eyes of God to cause the child to be damned or be in limbo
In the theology of the Catholic Church, Limbo is a speculative idea about the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the damned. Limbo is not an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church or any other...

, should he die before baptism.

Many churches that baptize infants, such as the Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran, Moravian
Moravian refers to:* a person or thing from Moravia * Moravians * Moravian language, disputed language or dialect of the Czech language* a member or adherent of the Moravian Church...

, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox denominations, previously functioned as national, state-established churches in various European and Latin American countries. During the Reformation, the relationship of the church to the state was a contentious issue, and infant baptism was seen as a way to ensure that society remained religiously homogeneous. As a result, groups that rejected infant baptism were seen as subversive and were often persecuted.
Statistics based on membership totals reported by various denominations state that churches that practice infant baptism represent about 80% of Christians. However, these statistics do not reflect the fact that different denominations use different criteria for counting members, so that the percentage probably is somewhat lower. Infant-baptizing churches count young children as members while denominations that practice believer's baptism do not, and churches that practice believer's baptism generally do not consider individuals with formal church membership who do not also actively practice Christian spirituality (for example, see Cultural Catholic
Cultural Catholic
"Cafeteria Catholicism" is a pejorative term applied to Catholics who dissent from Roman Catholic doctrinal or moral teaching. Some examples would be Catholics who dissent from Church teaching in regards to abortion, birth control, divorce, premarital sex, masturbation, or the moral status of...

) to be true Christians and members.

Many churches that practice believer's baptism also practice congregational self-government, which makes it difficult for statisticians to collect complete data. These and other factors make comparisons of church membership statistics suspect. The fastest growing branches of Christianity, although much smaller than the leading pedobaptistic churches, include evangelical and Pentecostal churches, which nearly always practice credobaptism.
Theological objections
One standard theological argument
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 leveled against believer's baptism is that it makes the efficacy of the sacrament dependent upon the understanding of the baptism; that is, it depends upon what the baptised knows. This is said by credobaptists to run counter to the Calvinistic
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 belief that God saves whomever he wills, regardless of any worthiness or knowledge on the part of the saved. Reformed Baptist
Reformed Baptist
Reformed Baptists are Baptists that hold to a Calvinist soteriology. They can trace their history through the early modern Particular Baptists of England. The first Reformed Baptist church was formed in the 1630s...

s and other Calvinist theologians counter that believer's baptism is fully consistent with Calvin's doctrine of unconditional election
Unconditional election
Unconditional election is the Calvinist teaching that before God created the world, he chose to save some people according to his own purposes and apart from any conditions related to those persons...

, and that when properly understood it is also the most appropriate expression of Covenant theology
Covenant Theology
Covenant theology is a conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall flow of the Bible...


Even in theological circles where some response to God's call is considered necessary for the convert (such as belief, confession, repentance, and prayer), a believer's baptism is usually categorized as a work instead of a response of faith, though not always (see Baptism in the Christian churches and churches of Christ). Among the Churches of Christ, for example, baptism is seen as a passive act of faith rather than a meritorious work; it "is a confession that a person has nothing to offer God." While Churches of Christ do not describe baptism as a "sacrament", their view of it can legitimately be described as "sacramental." They see the power of baptism coming from God, who chose to use baptism as a vehicle, rather than from the water or the act itself, and understand baptism to be an integral part of the conversion process, rather than just a symbol of conversion. A recent trend is to emphasize the transformational aspect of baptism: instead of describing it as just a legal requirement or sign of something that happened in the past, it is seen as "the event that places the believer 'into Christ' where God does the ongoing work of transformation." Because of the belief that baptism is a necessary part of salvation, some Baptists hold that the Churches of Christ endorse the doctrine of baptismal regeneration
Baptismal regeneration
Baptismal regeneration, the literal meaning of which is "being born again" "through baptism" , is the doctrine within some Christian denominations that holds that salvation is dependent upon the act of baptism; in other words, baptismal regenerationists believe that it is essential for one to be...

. However, members of the Churches of Christ reject this, arguing that since faith and repentance are necessary, and that the cleansing of sins is by the blood of Christ through the grace of God, baptism is not an inherently redeeming ritual. One author from the churches of Christ describes the relationship between faith and baptism this way, "Faith is the reason why a person is a child of God; baptism is the time at which one is incorporated into Christ and so becomes a child of God" (italics are in the source). Baptism is understood as a confessional expression of faith and repentance, rather than a "work" that earns salvation.
See also

  • Confirmation (sacrament)
  • Infant baptism
    Infant baptism
    Infant baptism is the practice of baptising infants or young children. In theological discussions, the practice is sometimes referred to as paedobaptism or pedobaptism from the Greek pais meaning "child." The practice is sometimes contrasted with what is called "believer's baptism", or...

External links
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