Water baptism is a very important step in a Christian’s life. It is a solemn oath to dedicate yourself to do the will of God and his appointed king, Jesus. For this reason it is taken quite seriously among many people of Christian faith, including Jehovah’s Witnesses. Notice the following quotes from the New World Translation Bible on the importance of this step:
Matt. 28:19, 20: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”
Acts 2:41: “Those who embraced his word heartily were baptized.”
Acts 8:12: “When they believed Philip, who was declaring the good news of the kingdom of God and of the name of Jesus Christ, they proceeded to be baptized, both men and women.”
Acts 8:36-38: “Now as they were going over the road, they came to a certain body of water, and the [Ethiopian] eunuch said: ‘Look! A body of water; what prevents me from getting baptized?’ With that he commanded the chariot to halt, and . . . [Philip] baptized him.”
Here is a portion of what the 1986 Watchtower magazine said regarding how to follow Jesus’ steps closely:
Baptism is a sacred symbol, an outward sign of dedication. When we agree to work for a person or a firm, we first ascertain the requirements and conditions and often follow through by signing a contract. But without a signature, the contract is not binding. So it is with baptism—it makes our dedication to God valid. In a sense, like Jesus we say: ‘Look! I am come to do your will, O God.’ (Hebrews 10:7)
(Watchtower 1986 9/1 p. 5)
Also germane to this discussion was what Brother Greybeard wrote some time ago on the wording of the baptismal questions and how they were changed in 1985 to add in a verbal contract vowing loyalty to the Watchtower organization. That being said, the vast majority of us reading this were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses at some point in our life, and we have awakened to TTATT and this is why we are here on the JWStruggle website. As we follow our arc (See my YouTube video) and progress along our Christian walk in serving Christ, many of us wonder about baptism.
• Was my baptism as a JW valid?
• Did I really know what I was getting myself into?
• Is the fact that I was a minor child when being baptized into the religion a factor?
• Did I really know or have the capacity to understand that I was entering into a verbal contract with the WT Organization by agreeing to the second of the two questions asked by the brother giving the baptismal talk on that day?
We may be an awake Witness that still attends meetings and is in stealth-mode. We may be a fader, or even a former Witness that has been disfellowshipped. Regardless of which of these categories we fall into, our conscience may prod us to ask the question of whether or not our baptism was really valid before our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus or not. Was it scripturally sound? Did we understand what it was to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Should we get rebaptized? These are valid questions to ask, and each of us can prayerfully ponder these as we see the need to. Here is an excerpt from one bible-based web article addressing the important question of whether our baptism was scriptural or not:
What about those who were baptized unbiblically? …Common examples of this are those who were baptized as infants, or those who were baptized later in life, but did not truly know Jesus as Savior when they were baptized. In these instances, yes, such a person definitely needs to be rebaptized. Again, the Bible states that baptism is post-salvation. The symbolism of baptism is lost if a person has not truly experienced salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.
Another excellent discussion of Christian baptism can be found here:
The bottom line comes down to our personal relationship with God and what our Christian conscience tells us we need to do. In light of this I would like all of you to hear Brother Londo’s story, which is attached below. He decided that he needed to get baptized again and presents his personal reasoning quite eloquently:
Brother Londo’s email and announcement of his baptism:
On January 17, 1987 I was asked two questions:
(1) On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
(2) Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?
I was baptized essentially in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Organization (aka “Mother”–according to the convention this year). I do not feel this was a proper baptism, not only because of the questions, but because I was 15 and didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have all the Information presented to me about many things. I had no reason to question what was presented and never properly heard any other viewpoint. Therefore, when it came to 1914 or 607 BC, or where the Great Crowd renders sacred service, or who the Other Sheep are, who should partake and how often, and so forth, I accepted what I had been taught from the only channel that I was exposed to.
Really, why was I baptized? I saw my friend, who was about my age, baptized, and I figured if he did it, I should to. That’s a really poor motivation.
Baptism is a symbol of being buried to one’s former way of life and being raised to life in Christ, and through it, one is baptized in Christ’s death and resurrection. Jesus instructed his disciples to be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. Baptism is like marriage, it is a union between a person and the Divine. It is all about one’s personal relationship with their Father and His Son, and with the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is marriage: by it, a person becomes part of the Body of Christ. One doesn’t get baptized in the name of a religion or organization. The only identity Christians should have is simply: Christian.
Baptism in Christ begins a life of repentance or reform. As Martin Luther said in his first of 95 Theses: “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘repent,’ He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
In view of this, I will be getting baptized promptly at 11 AM on Reformation Sunday, October 28. This day observes the start of the Reformation, the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Church door, lighting a fire that could never be put out.
This will be at Bethany Christian Church. I chose to start attending here for Christian fellowship because I like the philosophy:In essentials, Unity; in non-essentials, Liberty; and in all things, Charity (or love).
To quote Wikipedia about the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), “The one essential is the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and obedience to him in baptism. There is no requirement to give assent to any other statement of belief or creed. Nor is there any ‘official’ interpretation of the Bible. Hierarchical doctrine was traditionally rejected by Disciples as human-made and divisive, and subsequently, freedom of belief and scriptural interpretation allows many Disciples to question or even deny beliefs common in doctrinal churches . . .
Beyond the essential commitment to follow Jesus there is a tremendous freedom of belief and interpretation. As the basic teachings of Jesus are studied and applied to life, there is the freedom to interpret Jesus’ teaching in different ways. As would be expected from such an approach, there is a wide diversity among Disciples in what individuals and congregations believe. It is not uncommon to find individuals who seemingly hold diametrically opposed beliefs within the same congregation affirming one another’s journeys of faith as sisters and brothers in Christ.”
The display of Christian Freedom is diametrically opposite of what is found in the Watchtower religion and other high control groups, or the Catholic Church. Long ago, we sat down and read Romans 14, which showed the wide latitude that was common in early Christianity, and the challenges and responsibilities this brought. We are challenged when others use their freedom in a way different than how we use ours. But we can still come together in unity, around the essentials, that is the Christ.
Congratulations Brother Londo on following your conscience and doing what the Spirit has impelled you to do! We pray that God’s blessing will be upon your ministry and service to Him. We also pray Father that you will continue to guide us as struggling Christians and lead us out of the mind control of the Watchtower where we can serve you and your Christ to the fullest extent possible.