Baptism - Seven sacraments of the Catholic Church - GCSE Religious Studies Revision - AQA - BBC Bitesize (2023)

Baptism is an important sacrament because Jesus was baptised, and after his resurrection he told his disciples that they too should be baptised. Jesus also commanded his disciples to use the act of baptism to welcome new disciples into the Church. This is known as the Great Commission.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.Matthew 28:19-20

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No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.John 3:5

John the Baptist was the first Jew to use baptism to symbolise the forgiveness of sins. It was John who baptised Jesus. Christians believe that baptising cleanses people from original sin and marks a person’s official entry into the Church.

Infant baptism

Catholic Christians believe that baptism makes someone a member of God’s family. In many denominations babies are baptised, and this is known as infant baptism.

For Catholics, infant baptism usually takes place on a Sunday morning during Mass. The baby is usually dressed in white, which symbolises purity. The sacrament of baptism is carried out by a priest, who begins by anointing the child’s head with holy oil, making the sign of the cross. This is followed by pouring holy water on the child’s head three times.

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Jesus’ instructions were to “baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19), so these words are said during the baptism.

Other elements in the baptism service include promises made by godparents to reject evil on behalf of the child. The priest also gives the child’s family a lit candle to symbolise them receiving the light of Christ.

Christians also believe that the baptised person receives the Holy Spirit.

Believers’ baptism

Many evangelical denominations, including many Baptists and Pentecostals, believe baptism should only occur once somebody is an adult, as it is then that they can accept Christianity for themselves. This type of baptism is called believers’ baptism.

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It is done using total immersion, where the person being baptised walks down into a pool and is fully submerged three times before walking out into their new life.

Baptism - Seven sacraments of the Catholic Church - GCSE Religious Studies Revision - AQA - BBC Bitesize (1)

Two pastors fully submerge a man during his believers' baptism

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Some Christians prefer believers’ baptism because Jesus was baptised as an adult and because, as an adult, you are able to make decisions for yourself.


Which Christian denominations practice believers’ baptism?

Both Baptists and Pentecostals practice believers’ baptism as they believe that only as an adult can an individual accept Christianity for themselves.


1. AQA GCSE Religious Studies A Christian practices
(World Faiths)
2. Christian Celebrations | GCSE Religious Studies
(Learning Academy)
(Ben Wardle)
4. What is Christian Worship? | Religious Studies - My Life, My Religion: Christianity
(BBC Teach)
5. GCSE RE Catholic Christianity - Eschatology | By MrMcMillanREvis
6. GCSE RE Catholic Christianity - Doctrine of the Incarnation | By MrMcMillanREvis


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