Baptism vs Christening – What’s the Difference?

Difference between Baptism and Christening

Is baptism and christening the same thing? Most people use the terms interchangeably. Since they refer to a similar kind of ceremony or sacrament, there is a slight difference. Read on to find out more.

What Is the Difference Between Baptism and Christening?

The primary difference between baptism and christening is that the former is a religious sacrament and the latter a religious ceremony.

Meaning

Baptism

A Christian religious sacrament is a form of initiation. It consists of embracing the faith and is performed by the clergy. Done by immersing, pouring, or sprinkling water on the person getting baptized, that is a symbol of the sins of the believer to be washed away, the method differs according to the Church. A member of the clergy states the baptism as complete in the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost’s name. The person being baptized need not be a Christian.

Christening

A religious ceremony where a child is given a name before Christ and baptized. It is an official term for naming ceremonies. Mainly performed on young children, some parents postpone the baptizing part until they are old enough to understand the difference.

When This Occasion Takes Place

Baptism

Baptism is a ceremony performed when someone, even a non-Christian, is initiated into the Christian faith. Marked by the ritual of using water to signify the washing away of one’s sins before becoming Christian, the process admits the recipient into the Christian community.

Christening

Christening takes place when a child is named and is also baptized at the same time. Christening is a naming ritual that dates back to English culture. Not properly defined, it is referred to as baptism. In reality, a child is christened and given an official name. They need not be baptized then.

For Whom It Is Performed

Baptism

Performed on all those who are born into the Christian faith and to those who wish to be baptized, the ritual differs according to different churches. Baptism is also performed on non-Christians who wish to adopt the religion and live their lives as Christians.

Christening

Generally performed on infants and children born into the Christian faith, it could also be performed on an adult who wishes to change their name to a Biblical name of Christian origin.

Need and Importance

Baptism

Baptism implies a sacrament to initiate a person into a new rite. It can be performed on adults and infants. Often called initiation, the ceremony needs to be performed mandatorily if someone wishes to follow the Christian faith. Baptism is important as John baptized Jesus, and after his resurrection, he told his disciples that they must be baptized too.

Christening

During the christening, a child is given a name and baptized. Christening can consist of only giving a name without introducing them to the Church as members. While it is not mandatory for someone to be baptized, they may need to be christened to be officiated the name.

For Christian families, christening or baptism is a significant part of childhood. It believes that a child’s original sin is erased, and he or she becomes a pledged child of God.

Other Points Related to Baptism and Christening

  • Baptism is considered a traditional sacrament, while christening is not.
  • Christening is considered to be a religious rite by churches that are Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopal. Baptism is considered a commitment to God in Christian churches when someone is of an age to know the difference between right and wrong and make the decision to be baptized.
  • Christening involves a naming ceremony followed by baptizing, but baptism does not involve a naming ceremony.
  • Baptism was practised and referred to even before Christianity, whilst; Christening was first referred to in the 14th century.
  • Some churches consider baptism as surrendering to God whilst others believe christening is an act of submission to God.
  • Baptism is a Greek word, while Christening is an English word.
  • The major difference is the way the ceremonies are conducted. Baptism involves immersion of water on an adult or child to atone for their sins and pledge their commitment to God. Christening involves the priest’s sprinkling of water, where the parents accept the baby’s commitment to God and give them a proper name.
  • Baptism is the practice by Christian following an example set in the Bible as in Matthew 3:16. The significance of Baptism is a conscious decision on the part of the person participating in dedicating themselves to Christ.

Both words are used interchangeably but do have some similarities. Used in different cultural contexts, christening is a rite to the right of baptism and a prelude to the immersion of water.

Also Read:

Wonderful Christening and Baptism Gifts
Beautiful Ideas to Celebrate Your Child’s First Communion
Baptism Decoration Ideas for Your Child’s Precious Day

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