What Does the Bible Say About..Sprinkling As Baptism?

My boyfriend is Catholic and I am just Christian (I lean more to the Baptist). I believe in immersion for baptism (he wants me baptized before we marry; he wants me sprinkled and I don't believe he is really baptized for himself being sprinkled), am I right? Where does it say it?

Answer

There is much in Catholic doctrine with which I agree. For instance, they have a better understanding of the purpose and necessity of baptism than most. However, the thing you ask about is one of those areas that my study of the Bible indicates that they are wrong.

The definition of the Greek word baptize is to immerse, like immersing cloth in dye. The reason the King James Version and most subsequent translations of the Bible use a transliteration of the Greek word rather than a translation is that by that time the Catholic Church had changed baptism to sprinkling, pouring, or immersion and the translators did not want to offend anyone who had not been immersed. Beyond the literal meaning, though, the scripture indicates that it is an immersion in water. John was baptizing in the Jordan near Salim “because there was much water there.” (John 3:23) When Philip baptized the Ethiopian they “went down both into the water,” (Acts 8:38) which would have been unnecessary if all Philip had to do was pour water on him. Peter compares baptism to the flood of Noah’s time (1 Peter 3:20-21). Most importantly, Paul says that baptism is a burial with Christ (Romans 6). You don’t bury a person by sprinkling a little dirt on them; you immerse them in dirt. So baptism is an immersion in water. Look also at the origins of baptism. The Jews always practiced immersion in water as the rite of purification, in accordance with Leviticus 13-16. When John, Jesus, or the apostles baptized, then, it would necessarily have been by immersion.