For evangelicals: Do you have to be baptized or just saved to be a christian?

I’m asking this because a good friend of mine who attends an E-Free church told me that being saved is all one needs to be a christian. He didn’t say there was no point to baptism, but said that if a christian didn’t feel worthy, they didn’t have to be baptized since they were saved

To me this was odd. I know that baptism in these churches usually happens when a person is a teen or young person, but is it necessary in evangelical churches? Is this a common feeling in evangelical circles?

My friend only recently was “saved” and before was an ELCA lutheran who didn’t practice so I don’t know if maybe he was misinformed by someone since I assume he was already baptized (i know its another question, but does infant baptism count if you join an evangelical or baptist church).

Baptism is a sign of obedience. We are called to do it by Christ, though it is not what saves.

He doesn’t feel ‘worthy’? None of us are ‘worthy’, but he should be baptised. Not sure what his pastor told him (or if he’s spoken to his pastor) but if he’s for real about it, he’ll WANT to be baptised.

He needs better/more counsel, IMO.

I go to an E-Free church (which has Lutheran roots), though I grew up in a Methodist-influenced Evangelical church.

I was baptized as an infant, and went through catechism and confirmation at 13. Certainly, that infant baptism “counted” when I moved as a young adult to where I now live and joined the local E-Free church. In my E-Free church, we usually baptise infants, but sometimes adults as well.

Regarding the question of the necessity of baptism in E-Free churches—we believe it was commanded by Christ, and therefore should be done. If someone, despite the command of Christ, neglects to do that, however, we don’t believe that God is going to damn them because they failed to be physically baptized.


I also grew up in an E-Free church. We were taught, as many protestant Christians, that baptism is not necessary for salvation. Baptism symbolizes one being reborn -washing away our old self. Another interesting thing I noticed in my town growing up, we were the only church that did not have confirmation. (There’s also the evangelical covenant church, very similar to the E-free, but even they had confirmation). And after doing my own research on it, I think it’s a waste of time. I’m still not entirely sure what I believe about baptism.

My closest Catholic friend actually attends Catholic and E-free services, and leads a predominantly Catholic, non-denominational youth group. He considers himself half-Catholic.

It depends on the denomination of the church. I know friends that went to the Evangelical Covenant church, they did both infant and adult baptism. My church growing up (the E-Free church only did “believer’s” baptism, and child dedication). Baptist churches are strictly that way. They would encourage people that were baptized as infants to be baptized again because they believe one should be baptized after they have chosen to follow Christ. That wording may be changed, however, if you were to talk with my Calvinist relatives. Haha

I’m not sure what is means to make a decision to follow Jesus and then defy the command to be baptized. In my experience in evangelical churches, anyone who makes such decision is baptized as soon as possible.

With regard to the direct question, the answer is “no”. As I said at the start, I cannot understand a Christian not desiring to be baptized.

Officially, E Free churches will accept both infant baptism and credobaptism. Some E Free pastors, however, do only credobaptism, such as seems to be the case with Jake’s childhood church. It appears that even those credobaptist pastors cannot require an applicant for membership to be baptized again if they’ve been baptized as a child.

Jake, I found a PDF document with a series of articles on the E Free church and baptism by Googling “Evangelical Free church infant baptism”…it comes up first under that search, if you’re interested. The articles are from “The Ministerial Forum”, and they aren’t official, but you might find them worthwhile. ( I don’t think a link from my tablet will work here.)

Benjammin----I’m pretty sure infant or credobaptism is still a requirement for E Free church membership. Your friend most likely was baptized as an infant in the ELCA.

I’m not Evangelical, but I’m a Methodist.
I was baptized after I went through confirmation as a public affirmation of my faith and my claiming of Jesus as my savior (keeping with my belief that baptism is not required for salvation, merely a symbol of my becoming a disciple).

I can understand why some people would not want to become baptized. It’s an extremely polarizing issue. My father’s family is Church of Christ (a very, very conservative denomination) and they believe that baptisms are not “valid” unless you are submerged. I did not, and will never, ascribe to that belief. I’m a firm believer that it’s quality (of the heart), not quantity of water. Anyways, it was a big argument in my family over how I would be baptized.

There’s also the issue of once you’ve been baptized a certain way, some churches will want to be re-baptised due to the fact that your baptism was somehow not worthy because you didn’t get your hair wet (can you sense my cynicism over this? :wink: ) so you’d have to go through the whole process again.

For a new Christian who has just come to accept Jesus all this nonsense over baptism rights can be overwhelming and can seem like a huge downer in the face of true religious excitement, especially if the person doesn’t know if they will stay with the denomination that introduced them to Christianity.

In short, the reasons for not getting baptized are varied, and it may be for purposes that we would find it easy to sneer at (“Well a real Christian wouldn’t care”), but I would just say that we’re all human, and if put in the same situation, the choice wouldn’t be so black and white.

Anyways, most protestants don’t believe baptism is necessary for salvation, so whichever way you go, you can’t go wrong.

Protestants think of the whole topic differently than Catholics do. Entirely differently. My grandfather was a protestant minister. It’s very, very difficult for Catholics to understand how Protestants think about this and they almost always get it wrong. Even the official explanations Catholics give are nearly completely wrong.

Protestants usually baptize once someone is old enough to know what’s happening. They don’t usually infant baptize, with the exception of the more “sacramental” churches like Lutherans & Episcopalians. Being baptized is usually considered being saved.

However, in the non-“sacramental” type churches (Church of God, Pentecostal, Non-Denominational, etc) after being baptized a person can “BACK-SLIDE” and revert. But if they come to their senses, they can “give their lives to Jesus” during an “altar call” or a “saved” experience which is really something Catholics have no official counterpart for. And then they are “saved.” Saved is sort of like declaring your commitment to God with the help of the Holy Spirit in a prayer experience. It’s usually somewhat dramatic. It can happen in public or private but the effects are supposed to be public in every case. It’s supposed to change you and it usually does.

Some Protestants believe that once saved, always saved, but the more fundamental types don’t believe that. They believe that you are always a work in progress and they work very, very hard to do as God wants them to do. They don’t really focus on being “sinless” or “clean” because they think they are sinners. They focus on what they do, not what step they’re on, so to speak. It’s a very different way of thinking about this.

Like I say, Catholics have a very hard time understanding it because it’s completely foreign to what they’ve been taught. Protestants don’t really understand our way of doing things either. It’s one of the things that converts moving from Protestantism to Catholicism have to negotiate and figure out. [And probably the other way around, although I’ve only come from Protestantism to Catholicism, so I can’t tell you what the reverse trip is like.]

BTW, there is a huge diversity of opinion about matters of practice among Protestant groups, although most of them are in essential agreement about what they consider to be a small cluster of core truths.* Don’t kid yourself, the core truths are not vague for many Protestants, either, particularly Protestants of the Non-Denominational type or the Fundamental type. [Others less so.] Oddly this diversity of opinion about practices among them disturbs Catholics more than it disturbs them. :smiley:

Catholics do things differently and I believe better (obviously since I’m now Catholic!), although a lot of Catholics in the pews are sadly unaware of exactly how that works. They don’t know the differences between the different groups and attribute them merely to differences in practices, which – again – protestants think of differently than we do.

I’m no longer protestant and I’ll never be protestant again, but it bothers me when we pile onto protestants the way we do. I don’t think 2 wrongs make a right.

*Not talking about Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses etc here. They’re both entirely different and have their own scriptures etc.

Yes, in Lutheran churches and the like, Confirmation is very much like it is for Catholics. Happens at about the same age, the explanation of what it is is very similar etc.

On the other hand, in some protestant churches, it seems to be completely absent. Or maybe, it’s been replaced by something else. Remember there are experiences and activities, like altar calls, that don’t exactly translate to something Catholic, and the reverse is probably true also.

Uh, Jake: You can be a Methodist hanging out with Non-Denoms, and call yourself 1/2 Methodist and 1/2 Non-denom, but you can’t be half-Catholic. It’s like being half-pregnant. You’re either Catholic or you’re not. This is an example of what I was talking about in the last post.

I’m not Baptist, but I did have Baptist friends growing up. The Southern Baptist churches that I’m familiar with in some ways treat water baptism in the same ways that I imagine Catholics might think of confirmation. Baptist kids are usually older and have already made their decision for Christ when they are baptized, and its in many ways like a rite of passage.

Now in the Pentecostal church I grew up in, baptism was in many ways an afterthought. People were expected to be baptized but our church tended to hold irregular baptism services. And I don’t ever really remember being taught why baptism was important, besides that it was an act of obedience and symbol of our reality in Christ. However, baby dedications were held on regular occasions.

A few years ago, a family member who pastors a very small old time holiness church asked my mom if he could use our pool in the backyard for a baptismal service. She said yes, so myself, my brother, my sister, and my mom watched this woman get baptized in our pool. My sister sang a verse of “Amazing Grace.”

Yes, not unusual. Baptisms were usually done in the summertime in my grandfather’s church. They had a spot at a lake and they’d go out there.

Uh, Jake: You can be a Methodist hanging out with Non-Denoms, and call yourself 1/2 Methodist and 1/2 Non-denom, but you can’t be half-Catholic. It’s like being half-pregnant. You’re either Catholic or you’re not. This is an example of what I was talking about in the last pos

How can you not be half Catholic? He was baptized and raised Catholic, and still appreciates many of it’s teachings. He just feels that the Catholic Church has too many unnecessary rituals/traditions. -Please don’t be offended by this. I am not the one who believes this, just saying why he claims to be half Catholic.

I am not Evangelical either, but was raised in the evangelical group that calls it’self THE churches of Christ.

They claimed to go by the bible %100, and taught that baptism forgives sins.

They teach there is no such thing as an unbaptised “Christian” since baptism with faith and repentence makes you a Christian.

There are several bible verses that say baptism is for the forgiveness of sin, and not done as a symbol after sins are already forgiven by “getting saved”.

Although I left the cofC decades ago, I still agree with them on that one point.

I was baptised again by a Russian Orthodox priest by submerssion done a different way, just to be sure.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit