Can anyone give me a brief history of the practice of Baptism by affusion? I tried to find it online, but the only articles I managed to find were by anti-Catholic sites with obvious historical errors.
Baptism by affusion seems to be another name for baptism by pouring, which is mentioned in an apostolic writing called the Didache:
And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. (Didache, Chapter 7)
This seems to be the same as baptism by infusion mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Baptism.
I guess my question is, when did it first become the preferred method of Baptism in the West?
In the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Baptism, mentioned above, it says:
In the Latin Church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as the sixteenth century. Infusion and aspersion, however, were growing common in the thirteenth century and gradually prevailed in the Western Church.
Try this article…
The part that makes the most logical (and is Biblical) sense to me is…
After Peter’s first sermon, three thousand people were baptized in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41). Archaeologists have demonstrated there was no sufficient water supply for so many to have been immersed. Even if there had been, the natives of Jerusalem would scarcely have let their city’s water supply be polluted by three thousand unwashed bodies plunging into it. These people must have been baptized by pouring or sprinkling.
The end of the article goes over a few reasons.
Hope this helps,
Modern Catholic Dictionary:
AFFUSION. Baptism administered by the pouring of water, practiced already in the first century of the Christian era, as testified by the Didache.
Without making the obligatory Princess Bride reference . . . wouldn’t baptizing by infusion be by holding the baby underwater a ew hours in a Holy Water and spice mix?
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