So in my reading the baptism used in acts tends to be ‘be baptized all of you in the name of Jesus Christ’’… now seeing as Peter made a decision to use that, rather than a Trinitarian formula, would such a baptism be valid/licit? Why is this not used and why?
Baptism in the Name of Jesus Only
“In the name of Jesus” is a type - not a formula. More on that in a moment.
If a police officer shouts to a fleeing bank robber, “Stop in the name of the law!”, is he really only specifying the authority of one thing, "the law’?
Or is it really the authority of
- the specific code of law written by politicians,
- the police department who enforce the law,
- the entire criminal justice system
that the officer is asserting? It’s all of the above, right?
Catholics have been baptizing using the Trinitarian formula from the earliest days. There is a document of early Christian practices from about 50 AD called the DIDACHE (pronounced did-a-kay) that details how the early Christians baptized:
“In regard to baptism - baptize thus: After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. If you have no living water, then baptize in other water; and if you are not able in cold, then in warm.”
The Didache is not inspired scripture, but it is a key piece of historical evidence about what the Church thought and did in the earliest days.
So why does this verse in Acts say we should be baptizing in Jesus’ name and not in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? It is made to offer a distinction from other baptisms that were occurring during the earliest days of Christianity. There were the baptisms done by followers of John the Baptist, baptisms done in Jewish liturgies, and baptisms done in pagan rituals. Here’s a verse speaking of “John’s Baptism”:
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul specifically asks what type of baptism they had received. They had received “John’s Baptism”; they had not received the baptism of Jesus.
By proclaiming baptisms be done “in the name of Jesus Christ”, the inspired author of Acts was merely attempting to disassociate ourselves from the baptisms done by other sects. It was not an instruction on how to baptize.
Ok that makes a lot of sense and answers my question… the distinction between type and formula is key… Thanks for the response!
Baptism in the name of Jesus is a TYPE of Baptism - Christian Baptism. There were other types of baptism and ritual washings, such as the baptism of John. These were not Christian Baptisms. Nobody in the Bible was ever baptized using the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
The form (words) of Baptism must use the full Trinitarian words: I Baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (or something very similar - some say Holy Ghost).
Any baptism which does not use the Trinitarian form is not valid Christian Baptism.
Most protestants accept this as well. The only denominations that I know of that do not use the Trinitarian form are certain Pentecostals (an especially flawed branch of protestantism). Heck, even the Mormons use the Trinitarian form.
Mormons may use the formula, but we all know that they do not believe in the Trinity and therefore their baptisms are not valid. What is unfortunately happening in some protestant denominations now is the fad of baptizing ,“In the Name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer and of the Sanctifier” which the Church has ruled invalid. Slightly off topic, but I think that this is a great argument for conditionally baptizing all converts from protestantism, perhaps with the exception of “high church” type Anglicans.
Oneness Pentacostal groups baptize “in the Name of Jesus” only. They do not believe in the trinity and their baptisms are not valid either.
You do not know what *formula *Peter used.
Christ himself established the words of baptism.
I think baptism in the name of Jesus is what Jehovah’s witnesses do, and some Christian churches — I suspect the Catholic church among them — do not recognize their baptisms, partly because they are considered to be doing them in an invalid way.
John the Baptist was baptized while in the womb of Elizabeth when the Holy Spirit entered her upon hearing the voice of Mary.
From living in the Bible Belt, I assure you that a lot of “nondenominational” Christians practice baptism “in Jesus name”. Not surprising, honestly. I also know of many people who don’t believe Jesus is God, but rather a Jewish carpenter who just happened to be “God’s son” and died on our behalf … Very sad to see that even the common ground among Christians, the belief in the Holy Trinity, is crumbling. Pray for the conversion of heretics.
Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit +, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, amen.