Last week, I was listening to the 11/5/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show and at the 5:20 mark, moderator, Tom Price, read a question from Katrina, a listener, who asked, “When a baptized person leaves the Catholic church and then attends a non-denominational or any Protestant church, why are those folks re-baptized?”
The show’s host, David Anders, then made the claim, as he often does, that the Catholic church is much more magnanimous and charitable than Protestants regarding baptism because it recognizes the baptisms of Protestants as “valid” while evangelical Protestant churches do not recognize Catholic baptism as valid and will ask that ex-Catholics be “re-baptized.”
Of course, Catholics and born-again Christians view baptism QUITE differently. Catholics see baptism as a sacrament by which a person is inducted into the church. The vast majority of Catholics are baptized as infants. When a priest says the prescribed trinitarian formula and sprinkles water over the baby’s head, it’s claimed the infant has their original sin wiped away and is spiritually reborn and begins a lifelong process of attempting to merit their salvation through the church’s sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments. Catholics teach that anyone can baptize an infant, even an atheist, and the baptism will be valid just as long as the precise trinitarian formula and water are used.
In contrast, Bible Christians believe that after a person repents of their sin and accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone, they should follow the Lord by being baptized as a public profession of their faith. By being buried (immersed) in the water, we identify with Christ’s death and burial, and by being raised from the water we identify with His resurrection. Baptism is not a sacrament that regenerates anyone, it’s a public testimony of faith in Christ. Infants cannot be baptized since they are unable to comprehend the Gospel. My Catholic infant baptism was absolutely meaningless and worthless. Only after I accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone as an adult was I able to follow Him in believer’s baptism at an evangelical church. Children are also able to be baptized if they are old enough to comprehend the Gospel and genuinely repent of their sin and accept Christ as Savior by faith alone.
“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” – Acts 2:41
As the above verse points out, trusting in Christ comes first, then baptism. Catholic churches are not being more magnanimous and charitable by recognizing Protestant baptisms as valid. Baptism must follow genuine repentance and acceptance of Christ as Savior by faith alone. Catholic baptism is not Biblically valid, which is why ex-Catholics who accept Christ as Savior by faith alone are baptized validly in evangelical churches.
The evolution of Catholic doctrine has forced Catholicism into a bizarre dichotomy. In centuries past, the church taught that only those who were baptized could merit Heaven. In modern times, the church has allowed that people of other religions could also merit Heaven. Pope Francis has stated that even atheists can be saved if they follow their conscience and are “good.” So while Catholics still insist that baptism is a requirement for salvation, they grant that those who were never baptized through no fault of their own, can also be saved.
As with many other doctrines, Catholicism makes the ritual and ceremony THE THING. It’s not the ritual that saves, it’s repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone that saves.
See the helpful article below for further study:
Note: The Roman Catholic church does not accept as valid the baptisms of the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.