The decision whether to baptize a child is a highly personal and individual one, but what do Lutherans believe about baptism? The Lutheran view of baptism is similar to many other protestant churches.
Why Baptism Matters in the Lutheran Church
Baptism most likely arose from the Jewish purification right of mikvah - ritual immersion. In the New Testament (Matthew 3:16), Jesus underwent the ritual of baptism in the river Jordan. He was baptized by John the Baptist, who was baptizing Jews for repentance. This was done at the start of Jesus' ministry, and his early followers were also baptized in the same manner. From that point forward, early followers of Jesus felt this purification rite of baptism was necessary for salvation. It was believed the un-baptized would not enter the kingdom of heaven. This belief arose from Jesus' commandment in Matthew 28 to "Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." The Lutheran church follows this tradition; however, it does not teach the belief that unbaptized cannot be saved or enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Lutheran View of Infant Baptism
Baptism is considered by the Lutheran church to be a holy sacrament that welcomes the person being baptized into God's family. It is God's promise to His followers, not the follower's promise to God. If you are considering having your child baptized in the Lutheran church, after considering the following information, talk with your pastor to learn more about this sacrament.
Baptism Is Not Necessary for Salvation
Lutherans do not believe baptism is necessary for salvation because they believe that salvation is a gift from God which doesn't depend on what any human does or doesn't do.
Infants Are Baptized With the Expectation They Will Be Raised Christian
Lutherans baptize infants because there is the expectation that they will raised in the Christian church. There is also a belief that early baptism of infants works in helping to raise the children to live faithful, Christian lives.
If A Baby Dies Before Being Baptized, He Will Still Get Into Heaven
According to the Lutheran church, baptism isn't necessary for salvation. A baby's entrance into Heaven doesn't depend on whether his parents had the time to get him baptized prior to his death. The church believes all are welcome in God's kingdom because salvation is God's gift to bestow.
Baptism Represents Incorporation Into the Risen Body of Christ
According to the Lutheran church, baptism is an individual's incorporation into the crucified and risen body of Jesus. It is symbolic of God's love for all and provides a sense of comfort and assurance that all are saved from sin in the name of Jesus Christ.
Anyone Living a Christian Life Should Be Baptized
According to the Lutheran church, anyone living a Christian life should be baptized. This includes infants whose parents expect them to be raised in the Body of Christ.
Baptism Is Never Repeated
The Lutheran church believes baptism is never repeated. It is done once in a lifetime as a sign of faith in God, and the sacrament becomes God's promise to His followers.
Baptism Represents the Symbolic Washing Away of Sin
According to Luther's Small Catechism, baptism is a sign that "the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned through daily sorrow for sin and repentance, and that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up."
People of All Ages Can Be Baptized
Anyone of any age can be baptized. Adults and older children who have not been previously baptized in another church can be baptized in the Lutheran church.
How Baptism Takes Place in the Lutheran Church
Depending on the church, baptism either takes place at a font or by total immersion. Some Lutheran churches have a baptistery with a pool where people are immersed, but in most cases the person being baptized is sprinkled with water from a basin in the font.
The Ritual of Baptism
Baptism is the ritual act by which one is admitted to the Christian church. The ritual of baptism involves water - either by sprinkling or immersing, depending on the faith that is performing the ceremony. Baptism is a holy sacrament in every sect of the Christian faith, including Catholicism. Lutherans follow their own baptism traditions to help their followers figuratively and symbolically wash away the sins of the world.