Q: What does Methodism fundamentally believe about baptism?
A: Baptism is a sacrament. In a sacrament, God uses common elements — in this case, water — as means or vehicles of divine grace. Baptism is administered by the church as the Body of Christ. It is the act of God through the grace of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Q: What is the difference between infant baptism and believer’s baptism?
A: In all forms of Christian baptism, God claims those being baptized, whatever their age or ability to profess their faith, with divine grace. Clearly an infant can do nothing to save himself or herself, but is totally dependent on God’s grace, as we all are — whatever our age.
Q: May we have our baby dedicated instead of baptized?
A: No. The theological understandings of the two services are very different. Dedication is a human act — something we pledge or give to God. Baptism is a divine act, a pledge and gift God gives to us. Baptism of infants includes the reaffirmation of the vows of the baptismal covenant by parents, sponsors, and the congregation; but chiefly it celebrates what God is doing and will do in the life of the infant.
Q: Is sprinkling the only way that United Methodists baptize?
A: No, our church has always offered to people being baptized and to the parents of infants the choice of sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.
Q: May I be baptized again if I feel the need?
A: No, baptism is an act of God, and God does it right the first time. Our side of the covenant relationship with God will need re-commitment and reaffirmation, but God always remains faithful to the divine side.
Q: Does baptism mean that I am saved?
A: No, salvation is a lifelong process during which we must continue to respond to God’s grace. Baptism offers the promise that the Holy Spirit will always be working in our lives, but salvation requires our acceptance of that grace, trust in Christ, and ongoing growth in holiness as long as we live.