In the end, what I believe about the mode of baptism doesn’t really matter. The debates. The conversations. They will rage on.
But in case you’re wondering where I land on the matter, here goes. First up, I’m a Baptist, meaning, there’s no other acceptable mode of baptism but immersion. Right? Well, after serious reflecting and pouring over the matter of baptism in the light of various ceremonial washings in Scripture, I’ve come to believe that Scripture places the emphasis on what baptism symbolizes rather than how it is administered.
Second, ceremonial washings were nothing new to the early church. They are all over the Old Testament (OT). We should never forget the Jewish nature of the early church. In fact, there Scripture was the Jewish Bible, what we call the OT.
And the OT abounds with various ceremonial washings, which were administered by either sprinkling or pouring (Num. 8:7; 19:13; Exod. 24:8).
Third, we also find (which I thought very instructive) the writer to the Hebrews applying the term baptism to the practice of sprinkling (10:10, 13, 19). Now if we insist that baptism only means immersion in Scripture, then we have a problem with the inspired writer here.
There’s no contradiction here when we understand that the emphasis in baptism is NOT its mode but what it SYMBOLIZES–a cleansing, a washing, a purification (This too was the understanding of John’s baptism [John 3:25]).
It’s not the amount of water used. Rather, it is what is being symbolized by the use of water, whatever the quantity–a cleansing, a washing, a purification through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Call me a confused Baptist, but this is what I’ve come to believe.