EDIT: Christenings and baptisms are similar: why not just baptize babies?


This has nothing to do with my topic but i just want to squash this elephant first. So I’m supposed to be moving to a new town for university and I’m not sure who I should talk to about mass, campus ministry or the actual church. As far as I know they didn’t really leave much information on either of their websites except for a church email address and a campus ministry email address. My other option is just wait till I go and talk in person because I find emails to not answer everything I ask or I forget to ask something. But if.there are forms I’ve got to sign (and my other 2 churches I went to did have forms) then email will come I’m handy. That’s just a small query I have now the actual topic.

Has anyone been to a christening and a baptism and compared the two? They’re very similar but I guess that also depends on the type of church your visiting too for a christening. I know some churches don’t do them. My cousin who is catholic just had her baby baptized and it was similar to the christening I went to at my moms church. Both babies wore white, there was oil used at both, they both had godparents present, and some other similatities. It seemed that the main difference was the water and ill get to that later. Now I know for a fact that a christening is not the same thing as a baptism and is not considered a baptism in anyway but the thing that the pastor at the christening said that was a big “huh?” To me was,and I quote, “This is not a baptism, there is a difference. We don’t believe in infant baptism because it is unscriptural.” Well I haven’t really read any scriptures that say you must christen them instead. In fact the whole christening seems to be based on the sacrament of baptism. It seems silly to make that claim because to deny a child baptism would be denying them heaven really.

The argument is that baptism should be done at the age of understanding and a baby couldn’t understand so it would be pointless but that’s what confirmation is for. A christening is pretty much an agreement saying your going to raise your child in church so that they will eventually get baptized I guess? But is it because they are unaware of confirmation or what? Because a child gets confirmed when they are able to understand. Some do it at 13 some at 16 but it is the child’s choice at that point. The baptism is the obligation of the parents really just like a christening. Both are professing the faith on the childs behalf by the parents.

Another reason is that they say baptism should done by having the body fully immersed in water but what ive learned was the only baptism thatbis valid is the one that baptize in the Father, Son, Holy spirit other wise it is invalid. And lastly i was reading some comments on a blog and one person said “i hate the fact that im one of God’s children Im a satanist and i was born catholic.” The arguement is that parents should let their child choose. Well i was born catholic and just because i was baptized doesnt make me a catholic per say. But a christening isn’t a child’s choice their I had both done.

I feel that catholics that leave because they don’t believe what the church teaches is probably partly due to the lack understanding they got when they were younger. Whether they were just sleeping in church or their parents just didn’t really explain things to them outside church. Whatever the reason I think that if parents are going to profess their children’s faith and then let them choose later I would really be an advocate for continuing the learning at home.

Now my main point was that a christening and a baptism are different but they mean very similar things but they do have their differences. But a christening is no more a choice than a baptism. The child that got christened is going to profess their own faith when they get baptized and the child baptized with do the same at confirmation. So really there shouldn’t be an argument saying baptizing a child is wrong or pointless. Thats just my opinion. I’d really like to hear yours. I’m no bible scholar or religious expert but I can share my own personal experiences and other things ive researched.


Now, I may be wrong (as I have plenty of examples of that happening) and others can correct me, but as a cradle Catholic, I’ve always thought of a Christening and Baptism one and the same, both and… and have used the terms interchangeably. What was the denomination where the Christening took place?

I believe several things take place during the Baptism/Christening. From the class we took, (wife is non-Catholic) in order to have my first son baptized, the child is becoming a member of the Church and we and his Godparents are making the promise to bring up the child in the Catholic faith. The stain of Original sin is being removed in the waters of Baptism. And a few other nuances that I can’t remember off the top of my head.

In any case for me, I’ve always thought of Christening and Baptism are one and the same from a Catholic perspective.


Aren’t christenings just basically a welcoming ceremony for the baby? There is no baptism, since most of these places don’t believe in infant baptism. Since they believe that a child has to choose it’s own beliefs the godparents aren’t chosen for purposes of instructing the child in their faith. It seems like their way to keep the ceremony without the sacrament.


My dad had a similar gripe about an episode of “Father Dowling Mysteries” where the supposedly Catholic priest fretted the whole episode about finishing up his caper in time for a “christening”.

So how was the christening performed? Did they pour water over the head? Were there words spoken?

Email both places to get the best understanding of what the situation is there. The campus ministry may actually be operated by the nearby parish but it is possible they could be separate.


In the Anglican/Episcopal church, 'christenings ’ do most definitely involve a baptism, and the same in the Methodist church, I’d imagine.

Perhaps you are thinking of the Salvation Army welcoming/naming ceremony?


I guess christenings can vary from church to church but the ones ive been to were at a gospel church and others were at two different pentecostal churches. They are similar but at the christening the babies were blessed with oil and the pastor would say something like do you agree to train your child in a way God would see as acceptable. Having the bible as spiritual food for them. It isn’t the same in every church but my mom said its the parents giving their child to God so taking them to church and knowing about Jesus. That kind of stuff. I believe salvation army doesn’t do baptism just christenings but I’m not totally sure about that.


No water at all they just bless the baby’s head with oil and the parents agree to train their child to know God take them to church and basically raise them to know God.

I will send emails to both then


That’s what I though at first but at the church I went to the kids baptized would always go to church with their parents. Honestly I found it catastrophic since all they’d do was run around and act crazy. I suppose that’s true though. Most of these kids end up getting baptized by age 7-9 usually usually because they’ve overcome their fear of water by that time. But yeah the godparents are pointless and I’ve been to christenings with no godparents too. So I can see what you mean by keeping the ceremony without the sacrament because that’s really what it is.


From the CCC:

1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word.”

Link to the CCC here.

Following 1213 is the teaching of the Catholic Church on Baptism. A good thing for Catholics to know.

As far as “baptism” vs “christening”, I think some may look at it as synonymous, while others may think there is great difference. :shrug:


From my understanding the definition of christen means to name. Ships and boats are christened when they are given a name. In a Christening the baby is given a name in Christ or given a Christian name. Baptism is a sacrament in which a baby, child or adult is claimed for Christ. In Catholicism, the sacrament is the greater of the two, so while a baby may be given a Christian name or Saint’s name during his/her Baptism there is no reason to call it a Christening because the Sacrament of Baptism is more important.



It certainly wasn’t equivalent to a baptism in any way, then. If anything, it might be likened to entering them into the catechumenate.

Also, confirmation after the age of reason is not equivalent to baptism at that time (I once gave a similar explanation to a Baptist who was confused about his girlfriend’s pending Confirmation - it seemed to alleviate his concerns but later reflection proved this is an inappropriate comparison for Catholic sensibilities).

As Catholics, we are called to profess our faith always, not only for confirmation.


As far as Confirmation being a choice for adults, originally all three Sacraments of Initiation were given to infants. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Chrismation is still given to infants. In many areas of Mexico, when the bishop comes to the parish anyone who needs to gets confirmed whether they’re infants or already adults as long as they’ve been baptized.



The word “christening” the implication of making the recipient into a Christian.

Once upon a time everyone would have understood a baptism and a christening to be the same thing. Many protestant denominations refer to infant baptisms as christenings. However the word has come to be more closely associated with the act of giving of the name than with the baptism. (Remember that baptismal records were sometimes the primary records of the name and parentage of children.)

As such, many Christian denominations that don’t believe in infant baptism have co-opted the word “christening” to fit their own purposes. Some Christian sects call it a “Dedication”. I imagine that is because *christening *is still too Catholic for them.


I always thought baptisms and christenings were the same thing. Christenings seems to be a term favoured by Protestants. The thing is they contain the main things that make them valid: water and the trinitarian formula. I think the Catholic Church recognises many Protestant baptisms (christenings) as valid. I’ve been to a few Protestant baptisms. I’ve never seen the child anointed with oil. On some occasions a candle was lit and presented but not in all cases.


The ceremony the OP described was not a baptism at all and would not be accepted as one by the Church. Some Protestant groups (Lutherans, Anglicans and likely a few others) do baptize infants and these are accepted by the Church (provided they use the correct form).


I agree that the form and matter must be correct. I’m not sure why the ceremony described by the OP wasn’t a baptism. My previous post was mainly responding to the main question: are christenings and baptisms the same thing. They are the same thing.


The OP made it clear in post #7:

*]No water
*]No “I baptize you…” formula

It may be that some Protestants use the terms interchangeably, but this one clearly does not.


Growing up Anglican, baptism and christening were interchangeable words and generally indicated a person’s age (people older than my parents almost exclusively used christening). My parents generation used both and people my age almost exclusively said baptism.

I’ve never been to a “dedication” of a baby, but from a description from a Baptist friend when his granddaughter was dedicated, it basically is the parents and other family standing up and promising to raise the kid a a Christian…pretty much the same thing as infant baptism, just no baptism part.

closed #19

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