Christian rite of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water
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Baptism (from the Greek noun βάπτισμα) is a Christian rite of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also a particular church tradition.
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- BAPTISM, n. A sacred rite of such efficacy that he who finds himself in heaven without having undergone it will be unhappy forever. It is performed with water in two ways -- by immersion, or plunging, and by aspersion, or sprinkling.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- Lastly, we must also know what Baptism signifies, and why God has ordained just such external sign and ceremony for the Sacrament by which we are first received into the Christian Church. But the act or ceremony is this, that we are sunk under the water, which passes over us, and afterwards are drawn out again. These two parts, to be sunk under the water and drawn out again, signify the power and operation of Baptism, which is nothing else than putting to death the old Adam, and after that the resurrection of the new man, both of which must take place in us all our lives, so that a truly Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, once begun and ever to be continued.
- It is impossible to enumerate how thoroughly Catholicism today is saturated by middle-class reasonableness; one need only recall how even baptism—once the most powerful expression of the church’s opposition to the state, a symbol of entry into a spiritual countercommunity, a mystical adoption, less the bearing of a name than being led by means of a name on the first steps of one’s inner way—is today bound up with middle-class record-keeping: with the identity card, the need for an enduring characterization resting on the firm distinctions of compelling reason; which means that being a person is made impossible by the “individual,” that incalculable spiritual and intellectual destiny that tears away the protective covering of the soul’s anonymity and drives it to mindlessly repetitious, merely defensive expenditures of energy and renders inaccessible to it everything it might do if it did not always first have to look after a person.
- Robert Musil, “The Religious Spirit, Modernism, and Metaphysics” (1913), B. Pike and D. Luft, trans., Precision and Soul (1978), pp. 21-22
- The Spaniards in Mexico and Peru used to baptize Indian infants and then immediately dash their brains out: by this means they secured these infants went to Heaven.
- Bertrand Russell Why I Am Not a Christian (6 March 1927)
- For the early Church, "church" and "world" were visibly distinct yet affirmed in faith to have one and the same lord. This pair of affirmations is what the so-called Constantinian transformation changes. ... The most pertinent fact about the new state of things after Constantine and Augustine is not that Christians were no longer persecuted and began to be privileged, nor that emperors built churches and presided over ecumenical deliberations about the Trinity; what matters is that the two visible realities, church and world, were fused. There is no longer anything to call "world"; state, economy, art, rhetoric, superstition, and war have all been baptized.
- John Howard Yoder, "The Otherness of the Church" (1961) in A Reader in Ecclesiology (2012), p. 200