Protestants: Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

Is baptism normatively necessary for salvation?

(Yes, I am familiar with implicit and explicit baptism of desire and baptism of blood.)

What I want to know - from a non-Catholic Christian perspective - is whether water baptism is considered necessary for salvation?

For example, could an average person who, under normal, non-life threatening circumstances accepted Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior by faith, intentionally FAILED to be baptized (for years and years until natural death) still be saved?

In those circumstances, it appears the answer is no, the person could not be saved. The Council of Trent says this about the necessity of baptism:

Canon 5. If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation,[13] let him be anathema.

Though, I wonder if such a scenario as the one you presented is even possible. If someone, pre-baptism, has truly by faith accepted Jesus, that person would be led by that faith to sacramental baptism. If that faith doesn’t lead the person to baptism, then was it really faith at all?

EDIT: I see now that you are asking for a Protestant perspective and my post is not very helpful! oops!

=Randy Carson;11718375]Is baptism normatively necessary for salvation?

(Yes, I am familiar with implicit and explicit baptism of desire and baptism of blood.)

What I want to know - from a non-Catholic Christian perspective - is whether water baptism is considered necessary for salvation?

From the Augsburg Confession:

Article IX: Of Baptism.

1] Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary 2] to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God’s grace.

3] They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism.

For example, could an average person who, under normal, non-life threatening circumstances accepted Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior by faith, intentionally FAILED to be baptized (for years and years until natural death) still be saved?

God makes those determinations, not us, but we are told by scripture that one who believes and is baptized will be saved. The Great Commission tells us to makes disciples of all nations, Baptizing them… and teaching them.
I can’t imagine why one would intentionally reframe from Baptism. But then again, I can’t imagine why one would not have their infant child Baptized. :shrug:


They can teach that if they want to, but it does not make it true.

It is all about the condition of our heart.
Is your baptism by water or by spirit?


It is not a case of one or the other. The condition is both, and I believe there is sufficient evidence in the Bible to justify that.

Having been in several Protestant churches before becoming Catholic, I can tell you that it depends on the Denomination. Most Baptist churches teach in a “Believer’s Baptism” where you have been “Saved” and are old enough to understand what you believe and the Baptism is your public statement of that faith.

Others teach that the only way to be “saved” is to receive the Holy Spirit, through baptism. And yet others teach baptism & “laying on of hands…” the list goes on and on.

Messianics believe in Baptism once then Mikvah often. But they are the odd ones, most of them don’t consider themselves 'Christian" per say… but that’s another confusing story for another day LOL. (I can say that because I was one)

At least you now know from someone who once was on that side LOL :slight_smile:

[quote=Randy]What I want to know - from a non-Catholic Christian perspective - is whether water baptism is considered necessary for salvation?


[quote=Doug]I used to believe that it was, but I believe now that there is sufficient evidence in the bible to have changed my understanding.

Hmmm - that sounds like shifting sand instead of solid rock…

[quote=Doug]Now I believe we must only be born again as Jesus says. And since he baptizes with the spirit I believe that is all we need.

Of course Doug, but that’s what water baptism is - it’s being born again. It’s a visible sign of the invisible regeneration that it effects through the Spirit. I thought you said you were Catholic - didn’t you know that water baptism was being born of water and spirit? How do you suppose those who are too young or too cognitively impaired to truly appreciate Christ and the gospel are saved? Are they born saved?

[quote=Doug]When Jesus explains to Nicodemus that we must be born of water and spirit, I believe he is talking about our natural birth and our regeneration or baptism of the spirit.

Why Doug? When has “natural birth” ever - in the history of man - been referred to as “born of water”? It hasn’t, except by relatively modern Protestants such as yourself. Furthermore, have you considered Titus 3:5:
“…he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit…” Please note how in this verse - which almost exactly parallels John 3:5 - the bath of rebirth and the renewal in the Spirit are separate, but together, and both salvific. Baths happen in water…:wink:

In Acts1:5 John baptizes with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.

That is proof that John’s baptism was not a Baptism by the Holy Spirit. So what?
If you want proof of the value of Baptism in Acts, how about the day of Pentecost and Peter’s advice to the Jews:
Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter [said] to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.
Please note that Peter suggests it is something that they should do (ie have done to them.)unlike the “born again” scenario you described. Furthermore, being baptized and receiving the “gift of the Holy Spirit” are not synonymous in the manner you suggest. According to Peter, repentance followed by baptism results in the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.
They were water baptized and “added” to the number of the “saved”. The evidence is overwhelming really…

I must say that it was Pauls letter to the Romans that really convinced me. His teaching on circumcision and uncircumcision in chapters 2 and 3, also Galations 6.
Since water baptism has replaced circumcision I find these letters very enlightening.

Enlightening how, exactly? I don’t follow you…I’ve read them all many times and find them perfectly consistent with the understanding of water Baptism as being salvific.
And how do any of them obviate the Great Commission by Christ himself in Matt 28:
“Go therefore and make disciples of every nation (by) baptizing them…and teaching them…”

I fully believe that our salvation has to do with the condition of our heart towards Jesus.

Of course it does! But what if Jesus also taught his Apostles that water baptism is very important and His normal means for communicating grace to us in order for us to become his disciples? What would it say about the condition of one’s heart toward Jesus who rejects baptism because they think they know better than the Church he built upon Peter based upon the reading of some letters He didn’t even write and never even mentioned as being necessary for your salvation? I think you are unwisely rejecting the testimony of Scripture and the first 1600 years of Christianity …


Based on the hypothetical situation provided, one may have to answer to God why such a person deliberately chose to disobey Him in the person’s entire lifespan. Beyond that I cannot say.

I will clarify the common misconception Catholics have of Protestant Theology on whether or not Baptism is, “optional.” Like Protestants believing Catholics worship Mary I find this belief among Catholics is at large about Protestants. I don’t believe any Church teaches Baptism is an option, but rather a commandment from God after repentance. It would be like asking, “can I steal since God will forgive me anyway?” Perhaps He will, but you still can’t steal.

No. God’s word makes it true, as a couple of quotes I mentioned indicate.
When I was baptized, a month and a day after my birth, it was by water *and *the Spirit.
As the Small Catechism teaches:
It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.


Did Cornelius (Acts 10) and/or the Eunuch (Acts 8) repent before baptism?

I used repent as a synonym with belief. We similarly to the Eunuch have had Baptisms immediately after a message for those who have not been Baptized. Many accept Christ right there and are Baptized; whether or not they “repent” in the strictest sense, I do not know. But I certainly would think with Faith would come repentance of heart.

My goodness… How am I supposed to know you are using your own Thesaurus?

But that’s not in the Bible, is it? It must have come from some type of oral transmission/interpretation :smiley:

Hahaha, I apologize. The acceptance of Christ involves repentance I would think. Do you agree?

As far as the Eunuch goes, why doesn’t your Church do Baptisms that way?

Well, I can partially agree. But I can hear a thunderous voice saying:

Acts 10:15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.”


We do, not everywhere but the Church recognizes baptism by infusion and immersion.

I mean how spontaneous it was. Or perhaps I’m misinformed and the Catholic Church leaders do give their members such spontaneous Baptisms?

I wish I witnessed more of them, including my wife who is in RCIA now :o. On the other hand my 4 children were baptized the week before Christmas last year :smiley:

But it is done in specific circumstances. Not the norm, as I am aware.


One weekend we had 95 people who had never been Baptized come and be spontaneously Baptized. They gave a quick speech on how they were convicted and whatnot, how they want to publicly proclaim their Faith and obey Christ’s command to be Baptized. It seemed pretty miraculous. The Pastors made sure they understood it before it was done, but it was over all three services.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing to you?

Oh, and also that’s neat about your wife and how it can be practiced. What are normally the circumstances of spontaneous Baptism in the CC?

For me it is a good thing!

I believe in the rest of the Sacraments as well, the others can wait to be learned more properly. But I truly believe in the means of grace that baptism offers and as such I personally think it should be done immediately at the profession of faith by an adult or to a newborn by their parents. We have time to then work on the education. But that first mark of baptism, I truly believe is essential.

Health reasons for the most part.

I know of some cases of spontaneous baptism outside of health reasons. This is normally up to the competent authorities to decide.

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