Role of water in baptism


#1

I’m talking about the Sacraments with a Protestant friend. I discussed how we believe that the Sacraments are physical signs of invisible grace, and this comment came back.

“Water baptism symbolizes a pledge to Jesus. And it’s not the water that saves, but Jesus if we pledge our lives to Him.”

My question is - what is our exact view of the part that the water plays in baptism? Its not just a symbol, but neither is it the actual grace either. I was just curious about the wording I should use. Thanks in advance!


#2

water is the instrument which God has chosen to use to aid our human understanding of what happens in Baptism. In entering the water, the spirit of God enters the water and makes it holy. When we enter the water, we seek the very Spirit of God, the Spirit brings us to the water and the Spirit enters us through the water. God does not need water to enter someone. God is God, and he freely moves as He wills. But he has chosen water as his instrument though which humans may be born from above into the life of God. Grace, which is the life of God, enters us through the water. The baptism, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, gives us a permanent character on our soul and sets us aside to worship our Lord, forever we are marked as a member of the faithful (and if we subsequently choose to reject God, we will carry that mark on our soul into hell with us).

Water symbolizes life, it is necessary for our existence. In them we die to ourselves and from the baptismal waters are born as a new spiritual being into new life.

I hope this helps.


#3

[quote=Sandtigress]I’m talking about the Sacraments with a Protestant friend. I discussed how we believe that the Sacraments are physical signs of invisible grace, and this comment came back.

“Water baptism symbolizes a pledge to Jesus. And it’s not the water that saves, but Jesus if we pledge our lives to Him.”

My question is - what is our exact view of the part that the water plays in baptism? Its not just a symbol, but neither is it the actual grace either. I was just curious about the wording I should use. Thanks in advance!
[/quote]

Start by directing your friend to Jesus’ discourse with Nicodemus in John chapter 3, especially verse 5 where Jesus says “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, one cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is a clear reference to water baptism. It is especially highlighted by the fact that just prior to this (John 2) Jesus is baptised (in water), and right after this (John 3:22-23) Jesus’ disciples are baptizing others (again, in water).

There are several other examples you could use to show that baptism is regenerative and not just an empty ritual for public show. Start here:

Are Catholics Born Again?
catholic.com/library/Are_Catholics_Born_Again.asp


#4

The baptismal water signifies the grace that it bestows. The water is just a symbol, because the baptismal water is not transubstantiated into something other than water – the water remains water.


#5

Of course the Sacraments will bestow grace through physical things.
that is a natural outcome of the Incanation.
We see grace and mercy coming in the flesh, Jesus.
In Jesus we see perfect humanity and divinity, perfect spirit and perfect flesh.
Therefore, the Sacraments are nothing more than an extention of the Incanation, physical things that confer grace.


#6

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