People often confuse Christening with Baptism, even using the terms interchangeably even when they are very different. Different denominations use different processes and ceremonies so, if you’re attending one of them, or you want to participate in one, know the difference.
Baptism is the Christian rite that often uses water to signify one’s “adoption” into the Christian church. It’s a tradition with a rich history, and has often been called a sacrament and ordinance of Jesus Christ.
While some people believe that the Catholic Church only recognizes certain forms of baptism, the official church position is that any baptism that uses the words “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” constitutes a valid baptism as long as water was used - either through immersion or pouring.
Baptism is also the only sacrament that can be performed in an emergency. In fact, while it’s expected that a priest or deacon will perform this procedure, anyone can do it as long as the correct words are spoken and the proper matter is used.
The practice is most commonly practiced by all Christian faiths, but not all faiths practice Christenings.
A Christening is when a child, usually a baby, is baptized. It’s a practice that’s common used by Roman Catholics, Greek, Russian, and Oriental Orthodoxy, the Armenian Apostolic Church, Assyrian Church, Lutheran Church, Anglican Communion Church, Presbyterians, Methodists, and the Church of the Nazarene.
One of several christening gowns are usually worn by the baby, and the priest or deacon performing the ceremony will either quickly dunk the child’s head under water or will pour water over the child’s head.
However, some Christians reject this practice for various reasons. For example, Baptists, Apostolic Christians, Old Time Missionary Baptists, the Amish, the Mennonites, the Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Mormon Church all reject the practice.
Some consider christening as a submission to God, while all Christians consider baptism a submission to God. Part of the reason some reject the christening ceremony is because it was introduced in the 14th century as a way to baptize and name a child. It’s from English culture and not necessarily specific to Christianity.
Baptism, on the other hand, has its roots in pre-Christian times. It was the ritual use of water as a purification agent. Practices vary between churches, but they are all recognized as being valid.
Another reason some faiths reject the practice is that one cannot submit to God as a baby while this is possible as an adult. Jesus did not practice christening, therefore (it is argued) one should not practice it in their own lives.
Finally, there is the argument that the Bible does not teach christenings. This is enough for faiths, such as Baptists, as the book is the be all, end all, of the word of God.
But, for many Christians, they believe that the ceremony itself is what is special, and so they practice what is customary for their church.
Diane Leclair is a greeting card vendor who likes to help people enjoy life events more. An avid writer, she loves to share her insights on the web. You can read her entertaining posts on a variety of websites and blogs.