Baptism for a Jehovah's Witness differs quite noteably to that of other churches and Christian groups. This brief article will identify five areas where there are significant differences. In addition to differing with Christianity in this practice, despite claiming to follow the Bible in all areas, the Jehovah's Witness practice of baptism actually has many aspects to it that cannot be found in the Bible. These five areas are outlined below:
1 - Before baptism, one must answer over 80 questions to the satisfaction of local Kingdom Hall elders (see the Watchtower book: Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry for the 80 questions at the back of the book). This book can be viewed online at: http://www.jwsreunited.com/organized.pdf).
2 - Baptism never tends to be something that is ever rushed into. Generally, a significant period of time passes whereby, in the meantime, the likely candidate will get through a fair amount of Watchtower literature.
In contrast to this, when one reads through the account of the early Church in the book of Acts, we find that not only did believers not have to go through "book studies" and undergo a series of questions before elders, but they were often baptised at the very instance that they believed in Jesus (e.g. Acts 2:41; 8:12, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47; 16:14-15, 33; 18:18). Some Jehovah's Witnesses may object that there are also Christian churches that discourage people from being baptised straight away as well. While this is probably so, it must be stressed that the difference here is that if a Christian wants to be baptised straight away, he or she can do so. Jehovah's Witnesses are not given that option.
3 - Being baptised into an "Organisation" rather than the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19). Jehovah's Witnesses entering into baptism are asked the following 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? (The Watchtower, April 1st 2006, pages 21-25)
It is incredible (and shocking) that such a formula can be proclaimed when one considers Jesus' words to baptise in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at Matthew 28:19 and to blatantly go against this. One can only assume that part of this refusal to follow Jesus' words is: 1. Because the formula of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit simply sounds too Trinitarian for the Watchtower to follow 2. The Watchtower formula basically has the Jehovah's Witness dedicating him or herself to an Organisation rather than simply to God alone. This inclusion of the organisation is in line with the wider emphasis and allegiance that Jehovah's Witnesses give to the Watchtower organisation in many other areas of their lives too.
Other aspects of the Jehovah’s Witness baptismal practice also tend to differ from the baptismal practices of other Bible related groups.
4 - Jehovah’s Witness baptisms are usually always done at the large conventions of the movement. But when one looks at the biblical model, and the practice of modern day Christians, the actual location of baptism is rarely an issue (e.g. Acts 8:36-39). For example, some Christians will choose to be baptized at a location which may have special personal significance to them, such as a beach, etc.
5 - Jehovah’s Witness baptism appears to be predominantly done by various leaders in the movement at these events (elders, etc). Although Christian baptism is also done largely by leaders in churches (pastors, elders, etc), there is no biblical command stating that this must be the case. Therefore, many Christians are often baptised by Christian friends and laymen.
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