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If Jesus was immersed in the water when He was baptized, why do Catholics practice baptisms that are a sprinkling or pouring of water? Catholics use the original Greek word for baptism (baptizo or Βαπτίζειν) in a very literal sense. This word “baptizo” was used to indicate other things in addition to immersion. It was used to describe dipping into water, making clean with water, and making something wet (Source). Catholics therefore recognize immersion, pouring, and sprinkling as forms of baptism. (Source)
The account of Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1 clearly states that 1) Jesus went into the water, 2) the Spirit descended on Him, and 3) God’s voice was heard from heaven. So where did this idea of a holy trinity come from? The very first indication of the idea of a “trinity” came from Iraneus. Why was his word valued so much? Well, he had learned from Polycarp who was a disciple of the apostle John. So Iraneus had a connection to one of Christ’s apostles that gave his words extra weight. (Source) The idea of the trinity seems to have started with good intentions– there was a desire to combat false ideas about multiple gods. But over the years with the growth of Christianity, there was a need to establish specific rules and guidelines to govern such a large church. Constantine who ruled Rome recognized that if there was division in the Christian church it could create division in his empire, and so he called the Council of Nicea (modern-day Turkey) where the idea of the trinity became firmly established. (Source) This belief was that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were one god of the same substance– basically one being. It’s like one actor in a movie playing three roles. (Source)
Was baptism a thing before John the Baptist? Yes! Through modern-revelation we know that baptism began with Adam, but it isn’t mentioned explicitly throughout the Old Testament as a common custom. However, thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls and writings of the ancient scholar Maimonedes we know that baptism was practiced among the Jews before John the Baptist arrived on the scene. Perhaps this is why people weren’t upset by what John was doing (baptizing in the wilderness) but by his witness of Jesus Christ. (Source)
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