Mode of Baptism

For you paedobaptists out there, I’m wondering what your preferred mode of baptism is: pouring, immersion (for olders), sprinkling?

See this old Bayly Blog post. I’m in entire agreement with it.

Presbyterians should immerse those we baptize after a profession of faith so that, if they move to an area where the only faithful church is Baptist (many such cases since Baptists outnumber Presbyterians/Reformed to a great degree), that person will have no trouble becoming a member of a Baptist church. It’s a way to promote catholicity and respect the weak consciences of Baptists.


As a former Reformed Baptist, I take a different view, as I’m glad I was offended by pouring and sprinkling; that offense galvanized the education that helped me understand the powerful work of God through the sacrament. However, I recognize the difficulty when having to move away from good churches and wanting to land with a minimum of fuss. Interesting comments on that article…

I would describe our church’s use as sprinkling, but by someone who knows how to cup their hands well enough that it approaches pouring. :slight_smile:


That’s what I try to do! Lol.


Another note to this: Our kids range in age from 7 to 4 months, with the older making a profession of faith. The baptist angle is interesting, so as to be versatile. Do most presbyterian churches sprinkle?

As far as Jesus – he waded out into the water and then had water poured over him, correct?

Like communion I have a preferred method, but I can celebrate together with the Bride & Body of Christ through multiple methods.

My preferences:

  1. Tearing a single flatbread, plus wine in a common cup, passed by the congregation
  2. Immersion in a river: infants through geriatric credo-onverts, federal heads assisting if paedeo

My practice is to mutually submit on methods, while recommending the methods that manifest my convictions.


I don’t think there is a uniform understanding of the mode of Christ’s baptism. Most church art and iconography indicates that water was poured on his head from a bowl or a large seashell while he was standing in the river. Baptists often hold that Matt 3:16 “And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water” indicates immersion (I think this is weak). Another view which focuses on the parallels to OT washing and purification rituals holds the he was sprinkled, likely from a hyssop branch. Further support for the third option could be seen in Matthew 11:7 and Luke 7:24 where the reed shaken by the wind may be a reference to the sprinkling of water from a hyssop branch upon those being baptized by John.

I wouldn’t take a dogmatic stand, but I’m of team sprinkle.

Both the Didache and Calvin caution against being divisive concerning the particulars and elements of the sacraments. The Didache seems the best approach which, although setting up a pecking order starting with running water, relegates no method to second-class status. Read Murray on baptism for meeting Baptists’ claim that “baptizo” requires immersion. That claim failing, I’d hope we’d be as irenic as the Didache. Love,


Thanks, Pastor.

After my “I wouldn’t take a dogmatic stand” I intended “I’m of team sprinkle” to be mostly tongue in cheek. But alas, humor is hard on the internet, even for those much more skilled than I. Most of my kids have been poured upon, and I am perfectly happy with that mode.


Whether the person baptised is to be wholly immersed, and that whether once or thrice, or whether he is only to be sprinkled with water, is not of the least consequence: churches should be at liberty to adopt either, according to the diversity of climates, although it is evident that the term baptise means to immerse, and that this was the form used by the primitive Church.

Calvin, The Institutes.

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No, dear brother—that’s how I took it. Lightly. I wasn’t meaning to correct you, but just thinking out loud about broad issue. Love,

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The irony here is that Reformed Baptists are the irenic ones! At least among baptists. Which is saying something!

Modes other than immersion would be considered irregular but not invalid, whereas many (most?) General Baptists would make adults who were sprinkled be rebaptised.

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Luther made a funny response to someone who asked if a person should be baptised with hot water or cold. ‘Tell the idiot that water is water.’