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Con (against)
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The Contender
Pro (for)
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Bible baptism includes sprinkling or pouring on one's head.

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Voting Style: Judge Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/10/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 828 times Debate No: 92097
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (25)
Votes (1)




Greetings. Baptism is an important subject in Christianity. Jesus told the apostles to baptize those that they converted (Matt. 28:19). The apostles, after preaching the first gospel sermon, converted and baptized thousands of people, saying, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Considering the importance of baptism, does it include sprinkling and pouring, or is immersion alone what the Bible refers to?


1. By “Bible baptism,” I refer to the Bible’s meaning of the Greek words baptisma (noun) and baptizó (verb). In most English translations (such as the New King James Version), they generally are rendered baptism, baptize, etc.

2. By “includes,” I mean that when baptisma or baptizó is used in the Bible, sprinkling or pouring on one’s head is (sometimes) meant.

3. By “sprinkling or pouring on one's head,” I refer to the ritual of applying water to a person’s head, whether with sprinkling or pouring. The word "or" is inclusive, meaning that only one of the criteria is necessary.

4. The burden of proof is on Pro to show the proposition to be correct. While I will not be prohibited from making arguments, my main goal will be to negate Pro's points, rendering his position unable to be proved.

5. Pro shall make his first argument in this round, Round 1, getting the first word. However, Pro is not permitted to make any arguments in Round 4, the last round, but may make a comment in order to avoid a forfeiture—giving me the last word.

6. Rebuttals are permitted to occur as early as in Round 2; there are not strict rules concerning rebuttals.

7. All extrabiblical sources must be freely accessible via the Internet.

8. The proposition and these rules (including this one) will be based upon my interpretation of them, which shall be enforced by the judges. If you have any questions about the rules, please message me before accepting the debate.

Thank you, and may the right man win!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. This applies for all other Scriptures used in this debate by Pro unless otherwise noted.



I'd like to thank con for starting this debate on an important topic in Christianity. I've read over some of his previous debates and it appears he is a very strong debater, I hope I can measure up to the task.
The biblical quotes I will reference come from the New American translation.


Baptism, among many others, is an important topic within Christianity. I pray that both my opponent and I will understand God’s will with more clarity in the end.
In my opening statement here, I will show that:

A) The Christian Church at its earliest roots, with both its followers and its leaders living in a time close to when Christ walked the earth, did not believe Baptism to be by immersion only.

B) The Bible does not state, anywhere, that Baptism can be done only by immersion.

C) The Bible gives clear reference to the permissibility of Baptism by sprinkling or pouring.

Let’s jump right in to argument A.

The Early Church:

The early church fathers, whom lived at a time close to Christ and who may have actually known some of the Apostles, believed Baptism to be done by both immersion, and pouring or sprinkling. A very early document is known as the Didache (or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles). This has been estimated to have been written as early as 65-80 A.D. Though less generous estimates have said it was written before 150 A.D.
This document was written to describe the teachings of the Apostles concerning life and death, church order, fasting, prayer, and, most importantly in regards to this debate, Baptism. One quote from the Didache concerning baptism reads,
“If you have no living water, then baptize in other water, and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” [VII]
Another early church writer, St. Cornelius, wrote from 251-253 A.D,
“As [Novatian] seemed about to die, he received Baptism in the bed where he lay, by pouring.”
Another by St. Cyprian in 255 A.D,
“In the saving sacraments, when necessity compels and when God bestows His pardon, divine benefits are bestowed fully upon believers; nor ought anyone be disturbed because the sick are poured upon or sprinkled when they receive the Lord’s grace.”

When reading the Didache and other early church documents, it becomes evident that the early church supported baptism by both immersion and sprinkling or pouring. Considering the fact that those who wrote these writings were in close connection with the very men who lived alongside Christ and
heard his teachings on Baptism, isn’t it rather odd that they supported this view of Baptism? Did Christ fail to communicate clearly to his apostles? Or is it rather that the view of Baptism strictly by immersion is false?

On to argument B!

The Bible’s Reference to Baptism by Immersion Only:

There is no biblical quote, verse, paragraph, nor page that can be given that states Baptism must be done specifically by immersion only. The only instructions which are directly touched upon pertaining to Baptism by the Bible are that it must be done by water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19 and John 3:5)
It’s important to note here that neither argument A nor B prove that biblical Baptism includes sprinkling or pouring. They are rather being used to discount the position that Baptism is to be done by immersion only.

Argument C, however, addresses this.

Biblical Reference to Baptism by Sprinkling or Pouring:

Now down to the meat of my argument. Let’s start off with some common ground between con and I. I believe we both would agree that the Old Testament references things in the new. For instance, in Exodus 12:3-14 where God instructs the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb (the Passover Lamb) we likewise consider Jesus our own Passover Lamb. The Old Testament also makes parallels with the new in terms of Baptism. Let’s take a look.
Ezekiel 36:24-27
“For I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees.”
My opponent and I both understand Ezekiel to be a prophet, so what was he referring to? What does Baptism do?
Acts 2:38
“Peter [said] to them, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
So in the O.T. we are told of a future process by which clean water is sprinkled on people and those people are forgiven of their sins and receive God’s spirit (Holy Spirit). And by the New Testament we see that, through the water of Baptism, we have our sins forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit. I ask my opponent, is there some other process, other than Baptism, by which clean water is sprinkled upon people for the forgiveness of their sins and the reception of the Holy Spirit?

Furthermore, Baptism is a sanctification, a removal of one’s sins. How did they sanctify things in the Old Testament?
2 Chronicles 30:15-17
“They slaughtered the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and Levites, touched with shame, sanctified themselves and brought holocausts into the house of the Lord. They stood in the places prescribed for them according to the law of Moses, the man of God. The priests sprinkled the blood given them by the Levites. For many in the assembly had not sanctified themselves…”
Also Hebrews 9:13-14
“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.”
And 1 Peter 1:2
“…in the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification by the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ: may grace and peace be yours in abundance.”
How is it that the blood of Jesus Christ was sprinkled upon Peter? And what do you call the process of sanctification through this sprinkling of Jesus’ blood? Would not Baptism, the sanctification process, and more specifically Baptism through sprinkling, fit this description perfectly?

Now onto pouring.
Acts 2:17 and 18 both refer to the Holy Spirit being “poured out” by God. Not dunked, not immersed, but poured out. How is it that men can receive God’s Holy Spirit? Again, through Baptism.
John 3:5
“Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”


There are no Bible verses which state that one must be baptized by immersion only. Rather, the Bible only directly states that we must baptize by water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And there are plenty of reasons to believe biblical Baptism included sprinkling and pouring. Furthermore, the Church directly after the death and resurrection of Christ did not believe Baptism to be only be immersion either. Therefore, I contend that the idea of immersion only is a fabricated idea, made by men, and is not supported by any biblical authority.

Over to you con!


The Didache:

St. Cornelius: (range of dating) (actual text)

St. Cyprian of Carthage:

Christ as our Passover Lamb:

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank my opponent for dedicating much effort in defense of the proposition. I hope that this will be a fruitful discussion and that all may be spiritually benefitted as a result.

My arguments

As Con, my goal will be to show that this debate is an example of the proverb from Proverbs 18:17, which teaches, “The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him.” First, let me establish two things.

Definition of Bible baptism

While baptize, which is the English version of the ancient Greek word baptizó, is sometimes used today to refer to an act of pouring or sprinkling, the lexicons show that such a definition was not used for the Greek word baptizó.

The definition that the Dodson dictionary gives for baptizó is “I dip, submerge, but specifically of ceremonial dipping; I baptize.” According to HELPS Word-studies, baptizó means “properly, ‘submerge’ (Souter); hence, baptize, to immerse (literally, ‘dip under’). … [Baptízo] implies submersion (‘immersion’), in contrast to … antéxomai (‘sprinkle’).” The NAS Exhaustive Concordance defines it as “to dip, sink.” Thayer's Greek Lexicon, providing an exhaustive text on the word, agrees with the other terms as well.[1][2]

Therefore, whenever we see the word baptize in our English Bibles, a more interchangeable word we can substitute is immerse. Thus, by definition, Bible baptism is immersion, not sprinkling or pouring.

Purpose of baptism

A question we should ask is, “Why get baptized in the first place?” The apostle Paul tells us that Christians, “having now been justified by His blood, … shall be saved from wrath through” Christ (Rom. 5:9).

The question is, how do we take part in His death and as a result become saved by Him? In the next chapter, Paul has this to say: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom 6:3–5).

Notice that Christians were “buried with [Christ] through baptism into death,” being “united together in the likeness of His death” so that they could “be in the likeness of His resurrection.” Paul also wrote, “[You were] buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12, emphasis added). Consider the parallel, that in baptism we die and are buried (i.e., when we go into the water) and are raised (i.e., when we come up out of the water) with Christ. And considering that baptism by definition is interchangeable with immersion, Paul is actually saying that in immersion we are buried and raised with Christ.

Thus, sprinkling or pouring is not sufficient to take part in the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection, as Paul actually specifies that this is done in immersion.

My opponent’s arguments

Now I will answer what my opponent has presented.

The early church

Like Pro pointed out, this doesn’t really show what “Bible baptism” is. Two of the three documents he presented are about 225 years after the church’s establishment in Acts 2 (A.D. 30),[3]—about the distance of time between when the Founding Fathers of the U.S. signed the Declaration of Independence, and the present—hardly a time distance involving people “who may have actually known some of the Apostles.”

The first source Pro cites, while possibly early (or not, as he honestly admitted), contradicts the Bible. The same chapter instructs both the baptist and the baptized to fast for one or two days before the baptism. The Bible instead teaches that sinners were baptized immediately after they were taught the gospel (e.g., the Philippian Jailer and his family, Acts 16:32–33).

The notion that these people taught what the Bible teaches is incorrect, and what they say is irrelevant to the proposition at hand.

The Bible’s Reference to Baptism by Immersion Only

To answer this objection, see my section “Purpose of baptism.” Also, my other point shows that by definition, every “biblical quote, verse, paragraph, [or] page that can be given” on baptism does not include sprinkling or pouring.

Biblical Reference to Baptism by Sprinkling or Pouring

Like Pro said, we both agree that there are things in the Old Testament that were “a shadow of things to come” in the New Testament (c.f., Col. 2:16–17). However, Pro must show that things in the Old Testament were shadows of the mode of baptism.

The prophecy of Ezekiel

Pro references Ezekiel 36:24–27 and claims it was fulfilled in Acts 2. Pro failed to show that “[sprinkling] clean water” couldn't simply be a figurative expression, based on the sprinkling of water practiced by the Jews (Num. 19:9–18).

First of all, God continues, “Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God” (v. 28). In other words, God was taking them to stay. In Acts 2, while Jews “from every nation under heaven” came (v. 5), it was not to stay but temporary, in order to celebrate Pentecost.

Furthermore, if Pro is right, then sprinkling is really significant in Christianity. I don’t think even immersion received a prophecy! All three of Pro’s historical references, however, reveal that even when people began to apostatize and practice it, sprinkling or pouring was looked at as the exception, not the rule, only to be done in a worst-case scenario. Roman Catholic scholar Bertrand Conway conceded, “Catholics admit that immersion brings out more fully the meaning of the Sacrament … and that for twelve centuries [emphasis mine] it was the common practice.”[4]

Perhaps the best argument is that by definition, Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized [which means, in the Greek, immersed] in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized [immersed]; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (v. 41).

From the foregoing, the prophecy cannot refer to Christians being sprinkled or poured upon.


Pro brings up that in the Old Testament, blood was sprinkled for sanctification. He then references Hebrews 9:13–14, which compares the sprinkling of this blood to the blood we now have in Christ. Yes, this isn’t comparing the sprinkling of blood practiced in the Old Testament to baptism but to “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.” It was not a shadow of baptism but of the blood of Christ. This also explains why 1 Peter 1:2 uses the expression “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” Nowhere here is water said to be “sprinkled”; only blood is.

What represents dying with Christ so that we can take part of His blood and be raised with Him? See my section “Purpose of baptism.”

The Holy Spirit

Pro references Acts 2:17–18, which says the Holy Spirit was poured out, and then he says we receive the Holy Spirit when we're baptized (perhaps referring to Acts 2:38). However, receiving the Holy Spirit is different from us being baptized. Furthermore, receiving the Holy Spirit is different from the Holy Spirit being poured out. The pouring of the Holy Spirit, which happened in early Christianity, resulted in “divided tongues, as of fire” (Acts 2:3), and it provided the ability to “speak with other tongues” (v. 4), tongues which the “Jews … from every nation under heaven” recognized (vv. 5–11). This doesn’t happen when Christians “receive the Holy Spirit” as they're baptized.

The argument is showed to be flawed.


Pro hasn't proven the proposition. By definition, it is false.








Thank you con. Let's take a look at each point.

Con's Arguments

Definition of Bible Baptism:

In this section my opponent argues that the definition of the word “baptize” in Greek means “to dip, submerge, but specifically of ceremonial dipping; I baptize.”

It is important to note that this debate is on Bible Baptism. If this debate was on the Dodson dictionary's definition of the Greek word baptizo, then by all means, I would concede the debate. However, in order to understand what the writers of the New Testament meant when they used the word “baptizo”, a good place to look would be at scripture itself. Here is an example:

Luke 11:38

“The Pharisee was astonished to see that He [Jesus] did not first wash [baptizo] before dinner.”

Did the Pharisee expect Jesus to fully submerge himself before dinner? Well of course not. But we know through other passages in scripture precisely what he is referring to.

Mark 7:3

“For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders”

So the Pharisee was astonished to see that Jesus did not wash [baptizo] himself before dinner because it was the tradition of all the Jews to wash their hands before eating.

In other words, we see that the biblical authors did not just mean “to submerge”, but also simply “to wash”. With this in mind, we cannot assume each time “baptizo” is used in scripture it is automatically referring to submersion, because it clearly does not.

Con and the Purpose of Baptism:

Here con uses Romans 6:3-5 to parallel burial with immersion. He concludes “Thus, sprinkling or pouring is not sufficient to take part in the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection, as Paul actually specifies that this is done in immersion.”

It is important to notice that Paul actually does not specify this in his letter, but rather it is inferred by my opponent (with a lot of emphasis on choice words). Paul does not use the words immersion, sprinkling, or pouring even once. So at face value, the conclusion appears to be quite a leap.

This being said, I do not necessarily disagree that immersion best represent death and resurrection. But, on the other hand, pouring best represents the infusion of the Holy Spirit we gain from Baptism. As evidenced through Acts 2:17, 18, and 33, two of which I referenced in my opening arguments. All three forms of Baptism, however, adequately suggest the sense of cleaning we receive by Baptism.

Con's Rebuttals

The Early Church:

This does not change the fact that Didache and first quote which was posted was still very close to the time when the Apostles were alive. In fact, if it was written around 65-80 A.D., the writers could have very well known some of the Apostles.

Con then goes on to claim that the early church contradicted the Bible when it instructs that one should fast an hour or two before Baptism since a family in the bible received Baptism without doing this. This is not so. This instruction by the early church was a matter of practice, not a matter of belief. And I think that con and I can both agree that those who did fast before they were baptized were actually giving the sacrament (if con would call it that) more reverence than they would be otherwise. In a sense, the instruction actually uplifted the sacrament and held it in a higher esteem.

This argument is very relevant to the topic at hand. If Jesus did teach that Baptism was to be through immersion only, wouldn't we see this belief present in the early church and in early Christian writings? Did Christ fail as a teacher? It certainly does not appear, if this belief was present, that the apostles passed it on. This, therefore, only provides further evidence that this belief was never taught by Christ in the first place.

The Bible’s Reference to Baptism by Immersion Only:

Considering this is a debate on BibleBaptism, we ought to refer to the Bible in order to understand what the authors meant when they used the word “baptizo”. Refer to my section under “Definition of Bible Baptism”.

To reiterate, there is no biblical quote, verse, paragraph, nor page that can be given that states Baptism must be done specifically by immersion alone. If there were such a quote, con would have provided it under his heading “My arguments”.

The Prophecy of Ezekiel:

I find it a bit odd that con would infer that Ezekiel’s language here is simply figurative considering his own approach to Romans 6. Instead of taking what Paul said figuratively, he analyses every word and arrives at the conclusion that a burial with Christ specifically speaks to Baptism by immersion alone. I ask for consistency here. The language the Bible uses is important in Romans 6, as it is in Ezekiel 36.

Con states that in Ezekiel the people lived in the promised land, whereas in Acts the people came to the promised land.

In the original reference to Ezekiel 36:24 it states “For I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your homeland.” Then it says God will sprinkle clean water on His people. So Ezekiel says God will gather His people from foreign lands and Baptize them. Acts says the people gathered from foreign lands and were Baptized. See the similarity? Furthermore, what con referenced (Ezekiel 36:28) is after the passage that Ezekiel speaks about Baptism. In fact the passage starts with the word “then”, which implies afterwards.

I will present my question to con once again. Is there some other process, other than Baptism, by which clean water is sprinkled upon people for the forgiveness of their sins and the reception of the Holy Spirit?

Con also states, “Furthermore, if Pro is right, then sprinkling is really significant in Christianity.”

This is not necessarily true. It is important that we do not cherry-pick scripture. Rather than pointing to one reference to Baptism in the Bible, whether it be in Ezekiel 36 or Romans 6, and saying, “Ah, this says all there is to understand about Baptism!”, we ought to take biblical text in whole. Yes, the Baptism described in Romans is best described through immersion. And yes, the Baptism described in Ezekiel is a clear reference to a Baptism through sprinkling. But instead of focusing solely on one of these texts, both should be taken into account if we are to understand Bible Baptism.

What con references as the best argument relies on the faulty idea that “Baptizo” can only mean immersion in scripture. We know through scripture this is not true (Read above argument titled: Definition of Bible Baptism).


People in the O.T. were sanctified and entered into covenant with God through the sprinkling of the sacrifice’s blood. For instance when Moses entered the people into the Mosaic Covenant with God (Exodus 24:1-8), he sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the people. Likewise, when Hebrews makes the parallel between the sprinkling of the blood in the O.T. and the sprinkling of Christ’s blood, he is not only referencing the sanctifying nature of Baptism, but also the entering into covenant with God. Con and I both agree Baptism sanctifies, but I ask con, how as Christians do we enter into the new covenant with God if not through Baptism?

Holy Spirit:

Con states that receiving the Holy Spirit is different from us being Baptized. However, how can men go about receiving God’s Holy Spirit? Through Baptism (Ezekiel 36 and Acts 2). It is interesting that the language of the Holy Spirit being poured out even exists if immersion and dunking were the only means to go about Baptism.


If we are to understand Bible Baptism, we must encompass the entire Bible when doing so. And when considering all of the Bible, it is in support of a Baptism which includes sprinkling and pouring.


Biblical Meaning behind “Baptizo”: (about half-way down)

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks, Pro! Debates certainly are a great way to dig deep into the Scriptures!

My arguments

Definition of Bible Baptism

הַרְפּ֣וּ וּ֭דְעוּ כִּי־אָנֹכִ֣י אֱלֹהִ֑ים אָר֥וּם בַּ֝גֹּויִ֗ם אָר֥וּם בָּאָֽרֶץ׃” Pro and I both could speak of how much the truth in this statement impacts our lives. If it weren’t for lexicons and translations, however, neither of us would even know what the quotation says. “There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks [in this case, God through His word], and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me” (1 Cor. 14:10–11). Now let’s use a translation of the Hebrew quotation above: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).

The point is that we can’t look “at scripture itself” without the authorities. Therefore, we find out “the Bible’s meaning of the Greek words baptisma (noun) and baptizó (verb)” by looking up lexicons, translations, etc. over what they meant at that time. Until proven false, the consensus of the experts stands.

To attempt to prove the consensus of the experts false, my opponent referenced Luke 11:38. My opponent cited an online translation, “about half-way down,” that reads, “And the Pharisee when he saw, was shocked that he did not first baptize before the meal.” To answer, ironically, I will use the source Pro gave. The source footnotes Luke 11:38, saying, “The Greek word … [baptizó] was used for the ceremonial dunking of not only human beings' bodies (vessels), but also for the ceremonial dunking of dishes and hands” (emphasis added). They didn’t have the modern sinks we have today. Most translations translate it wash instead of transliterating it baptize because they transliterate “only in the case of dunking the human body.”

The word does not mean “sprinkle.” The definition of baptizó, as it was used during the time of the Bible (but not necessarily after), does not include sprinkling or pouring. This alone shows the proposition to be false.

Purpose of Baptism

Regarding Romans 6:3–5 and Colossians 2:12, Pro says I gave “a lot of emphasis on choice words.” However, it’s not a stretch to dig deep into what the words of the Scriptures are. Jesus made an entire argument about the resurrection based on the fact that God said “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” when speaking to Moses; (Matt. 22:31–32).

Pro then says, “Paul does not use the words immersion, sprinkling, or pouring even once.” Well, since he wrote the epistles in Koine Greek, what’s the Koine Greek word for immersion? It’s baptisma (the noun form of baptizó), which is used in Romans 6:4. This was my point when I said, “And considering that baptism by definition is interchangeable with immersion, Paul is actually saying that in immersion we are buried and raised with Christ. Thus, sprinkling or pouring is not sufficient to take part in the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection, as Paul actually specifies that this is done in immersion.”

Pro says that while Romans 6 shows that immersion “best represent[s] death and resurrection,” Acts 2 shows that “pouring best represents the infusion of the Holy Spirit we gain from Baptism.” While Romans 6 explicitly says, “[W]e were buried with Him through baptism …” (v. 4), Acts 2:38 mentions receiving the “gift of the Holy Spirit” (possibly not even interchangeable with “the Holy Spirit) as a result of baptism but does not compare baptism to receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s only a comparison Pro (without sufficient evidence) inferred. “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11).

Pro’s arguments

The Early Church

Pro drops two of the three documents he cited, presumably because of their later dates. However, the Didache could also have a somewhat late date, before 150 A.D. And whether the Didache’s instruction was “a matter of practice” or “a matter of belief,” it sounds to me like man-made regulations, or “vain worship” (c.f., Matt. 15:9; Col. 2:20–23).

Pro asks, “If Jesus did teach that Baptism was to be through immersion only, wouldn't we see this belief present in the early church and in early Christian writings?” Every record of baptism in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, etc. by definition was immersion and immersion only. Could apostasy have arisen in the second century? Yes, for even the first century wasn’t free from false doctrine (e.g., Acts 15; 1 Cor. 15:12–19). It’s not “Jesus’ teaching” but “hard hearts” that prevent the truth from being understood (c.f. Luke 8:4–15).

The Bible’s Reference to Baptism by Immersion Only

Everything in the section “My arguments” dealt with immersion only, contrary to what Pro said. I gave Romans 6 and Colossians 2:12 in the subsection “Purpose of baptism.” Also, my other subsection, “Definition of Bible baptism,” reveals that every single mention in the Bible of baptism refers to immersion.

The prophecy of Ezekiel

Romans 6 explicitly compares “baptism” (or, even more literally, immersion) with Christ’s death burial, and resurrection; not so with Ezekiel 36. Passages in the Bible, like everything else, are “literal until proven figurative.” If Ezekiel 36 tells us what baptism is, why do Catholics, etc. have man perform it, rather than God, the One who said, “I will sprinkle clean water on you” (v. 25)? And if the text is literal, do people have literal “hearts of stone” and as a result need a heart transplant from God Almighty (v. 26)?

The Book of Ezekiel was written during the Babylonian captivity[1] and thus refers to the Jews’ future emancipation. All we can conclude from the prophecy is that God would “cleanse [the people] from all [their] filthiness and from all [their] idols,” giving them “a new heart and [putting] a new spirit within” them (vv. 25–26). God also says thus a few verses later: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities [which doesn’t make sense unless they were not presently able to dwell there], and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by” (Eze. 36:33–34). So, while they would be cleansed from their sins (vv. 25–26), it would happen when they would rebuild the ruins and till the land again.

Pro assumes but does not prove that Ezekiel 27 refers to Acts 2. Instead of going all the way to Acts 2, why not go just three chapters, to Ezekiel 39:25–29. It reveals that when the “captives of Jacob” (v. 25) would be brought back, “then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who ... left none of them captive any longer. I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’” (v. 28–29). The Holy Spirit was poured after the emancipation from Babylonian captivity.

All that I’ve said fits the context of the prophecy; such is not true for Pro. The passage is nowhere near “a clear reference to a Baptism through sprinkling.” So, agreeing with Pro, let’s “not cherry-pick scripture.”


Neither is this “a clear reference to a Baptism through sprinkling.” My opponent seems to argue that if the sprinkling of blood references entering into covenant, then how we enter into covenant, namely, baptism, must be able to be performed through sprinkling of water. This is a non sequitur; it doesn’t follow. Also, you didn’t provide a Scripture stating the sprinkling of blood references entering into covenant, and I’m confused about what you’re referring to as a result.

Holy Spirit

Pro says that since we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through baptism, then the fact that He was poured out (which is different from receiving “the gift of the Holy Spirit”) somehow shows that baptism involves pouring—another non sequitur.

Short and sweet, the proposition is false.





doorhinge forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


I extend everything I said in the previous round. I also add what is below.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament has been referenced a number of times throughout this debate. While both Pro and I would agree that baptism in Christianity obviously was not practiced during Old Testament times, there is use for it, and it definitely is not a friend of sprinkling or pouring.

Is baptisma or baptizó ever used in the Old Testament? Well, the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. However, the Old Testament has been translated into the Greek used in the New Testament (i.e., Koine Greek). The main translation of this kind is the Septuagint (LXX), which was translated as early as the 3rd century B.C. Interestingly, it was used by the writers of the New Testament when they quoted the Old Testament.[1] Using the Septuagint, we can see the Greek words under dispute in the Old Testament as well.

In my first argument, I referenced Numbers 19. Verse 18 reads, “A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.” In the Septuagint, the Hebrew word for “dip” is translated baptó, a close relative of baptizó, in the Greek Septuagint.[2][3] Here we see a contrast between baptó and the word for “sprinkling.” This is just one example of the many appearances seen in the Old Testament.[3]

The Living Oracles

You may have wondered, “Why do standard translations use baptize if the Greek word means immerse?” I believe the answer is the fact that we use baptize so often in Christianity that it would be strange to not see it anywhere in the Bible. Another example is with the Greek word ekklésia. It’s translated church in most translations (when context allows), but the Greek word is more interchangeable with assembly or congregation.[4] However, since church is a religious word we use often to refer to a gathered congregation of Christians or to Christians as a whole and since it would seem strange for such a word to be absent in an English Bible, ekklésia is translated “church” when context allows. There’s nothing wrong with this; if a controversy ever arose and we needed to know what the original word went, we can consult the scholars, either directly or through lexicons.

I believe it’s the same scenario with the word baptize. It’s kept in because immerse or dip just doesn’t sound right. And if a controversy arises and we need to know the original meaning, like we ekklésia, we can consult the experts. However, there are translations designed to read the words more literally. This, while not as majestic, is much more simple and practical. One of them is the Living Oracles. Romans 16:16b, for example, reads in the New King James version, “The churches of Christ greet you.” In the Living Oracles, it reads, “The congregations of Christ salute you.” Here, the meaning is the same either way.

Now what would happen if we were to see how the Living Oracles translates baptizó? Let’s see. In Acts 2:41, the New King James version reads, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” The Living Oracles translation reads, “They, therefore, who received his word with readiness, were immersed: and there were added to the disciples that very day, about three thousand souls.” You will never read sprinkling or pouring being used for baptizó. Here is Romans 6:3–7 in the Living Oracles, which helps to bear out its true meaning:

Do you not know, that as many as have been immersed into Jesus Christ, have been immersed into his death? We have been buried, then, together with him, by the immersion into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; so we also shall walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death; we shall then, also, certainly be in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that we should not any longer serve sin: for he that has died is released from sin.

Additional Note

During the debate, I said that receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is not the same as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. However, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit itself is called a baptism (Acts 1:5; 11:16). Could it be argued that since the pouring of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are the same thing, baptism can refer to pouring? This is not the case, as a third expression that is used to refer to the baptism or pouring of the Holy Spirit is being “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). They were baptized/immersed with the Holy Spirit (with Him engulfing them), they were filled with the Holy Spirit (with Him filling up within them), and they had the Holy Spirit poured on them (with Him coming down on them in order to engulf/immerse/baptize and fill them). Just because the three words refer to the same event does not mean that they are synonymous.


In conclusion, I would like to speak of a person in the Old Testament—Naaman. We read in 2 Kings 5:1 that Naaman was “commander of the army of the king of Syria” and “a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor.” However, he was “a leper.” Elisha told him that he could be cured of his leprosy this way: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean” (v. 10). “But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, ‘Indeed, I said to myself, “He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.” Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and went away in a rage” (vv. 11–12). His servants helped him to realize that “if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (v. 13). “So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (v. 14).

Today, we may feel about baptism the way Naaman felt about his command to be cured of his leprosy. While we don’t need to “wash in the Jordan seven times” to heal a physical disease, we do need to be immersed (which is meant by the Greek word baptizó) for the remission of sins. In fact, if we use the Septuagint again, it actually uses the word baptizó where the New King James Version uses dip in verse 14.[5] However, I, like Naaman’s servants, am attempting to point out that it’s no big thing to be dipped in the waters of baptism as opposed to someone coming and “wav[ing] his hand over the place” (c.f. v. 11), in this case with drops of water. What’s specified needs to be specified.

I hope that we all will accept the truth concerning this matter. If you have any questions regarding God’s plan for salvation, please, please contact me before it is too late. “Reform, and be each of you immersed in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38, LO).









doorhinge forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Kilk1 4 months ago
To explain the parenthetical note "possibly not even interchangeable with 'the Holy Spirit," though Pro and I were both talking about 1) receiving the Holy Spirit and 2) the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the first subject, mentioned in Acts 2:38, is actually called receiving "the gift of the Holy Spirit," not "the Holy Spirit." While it's possible the two expressions are the same, they may be different. However, since this is not my debate space, I will not expound any further. Even if "the gift of the Holy Spirit" is "the Holy Spirit," receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and the second thing above--namely, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit--are not the same things.
Posted by dsjpk5 4 months ago
I have accepted the judge nomination. Good luck to both debaters!
Posted by Kilk1 4 months ago
UPDATE: My opponent, doorhinge, will go first.
Posted by FollowerofChrist1955 4 months ago
Mark 1:9-11 "And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

Note* straightway coming up out of the water! immersion, the only other baptism discussed is baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:19
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Mark 1:5
And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins."

Acts 8:35-38
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him."

Don't need a river to sprinkle, you could do that at a creek .... no they went INTO rivers!
Posted by Kilk1 4 months ago
@JusAnoCon Sorry, I'm a little confused. In order to PROVE that sprinkling or pouring is not excluded, wouldn't you have to go to every verse there is and attempt to show that it doesn't exclude it? Hmm... I could potentially do a debate one day in which you would put up verses that allegedly "do not exclude" sprinkling or pouring, and then I would attempt to show that only immersion is meant. What do you think about this?

In this debate, however, my opponent (who should formally be accepting tomorrow or the day after) will be the one to affirm that you can be sprinkled or poured upon for Bible baptism.
Posted by JusAnoCon 4 months ago
@Kilk1 BoP states that I must prove Sprinkling/Pouring is <strong>included</strong> in Scripture. The best I could do is prove that it is <strong>not excluded</strong>. If you would agree that this is sufficient for BoP, then I could agree to be PRO for this debate.
Posted by Kilk1 4 months ago
@ThinkBig Thanks for understanding!
Posted by ThinkBig 4 months ago
@Kilk1, not a problem. Hopefully we can debate another time on another issue. I'm not a Christian so I probably would not be the best opponent for you anyway.
Posted by Kilk1 4 months ago
@ThinkBig I'm glad you're interested. However, I already have an opponent. I'm sorry for the inconvenience.

@JusAnoCon Since the debate is on how the Bible refers to baptism, external sources are allowed to be used IF they demonstrate how the words within the Bible were used at that time. After all, if that weren't allowed, then those of us who don't know the original languages wouldn't be able to know ANY AT ALL of what the Bible says. There are verses that are argued to only make sense if sprinkling were the method used for baptism, which I deny.
Posted by JusAnoCon 4 months ago
The method of Baptism (Immersion vs. Pouring/Sprinkling) is never addressed inside of Scripture; only that the sign is a sacrament we are required to observe by Christ. External sources would be subjective to particular denominational traditions and interpretations, and would not be sufficient for BoP either. PRO is shoehorned into a corner where all CON needs to do is point out there is no proof to win.

I would personally love to debate this in another context or under different conditions, but I'd be accepting defeat just by asking to take up this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 4 months ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro ff many times, so conduct to Con.