Rebaptism is the baptism of a person who has previously been baptized, usually in association with a denomination that does not recognize the validity of the previous baptism. When a denomination rebaptizes members of another denomination, it is a sign of significant differences in theology. Churches that practice adult baptism, including Baptists, Churches of Christ and Christian Churches, rebaptise people who were baptised as infants because they do not consider infant baptism to be biblically valid.
Rebaptism is generally associated with:
- Anabaptism, from Greek ἀνα- (re-) and βαπτίζω (baptize)
- Denominations that require believer's baptism
- Oneness Pentecostal churches
In the 4th century, controversy was provoked by the Montanist sect's practice of re-baptizing Christians who had renounced their faith under persecution. The mainstream church decided that the lapsi could not be rebaptized, because the sacrament of baptism was irrevocable, leaving an indelible mark on the soul of the baptized. Later, rebaptism of Arians was deemed necessary because Arians did not believe in the identical Holy Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicea and their baptism was therefore not in the name of the Trinity as understood by the Council.
Whilst in modern times, some Orthodox Church members have rebaptized Catholics, the claim that they did so in medieval times has been dismissed as a Latin Church slander against the Eastern Church.[clarification needed] Greek Orthodox practice changed in 1755, when Patriarch Cyril V of Constantinople issued the Definition of the Holy Church of Christ Defending the Holy Baptism Given from God, and Spitting upon the Baptisms of the Heretics Which Are Otherwise Administered, however, the Greek Orthodox does not now insist on rebaptizing Catholics.
Latter Day Saints practice rebaptism, as they do not accept the doctrine of the Trinity, in whose name mainstream Christian baptisms are conducted. They also believe they are the only church with the priesthood authority to perform saving ordinances. Jehovah's Witnesses do not recognize previous baptisms conducted by any other denomination.
- Scott Culpepper, Francis Johnson and the English Separatist Influence (Mercer University Press 2011 ISBN 978-0-88146-238-8), p. 203
- Russel R. Paden, "From the Churches of Christ to the Boston Movement", thesis submitted to the University of Kansas 1994
- Tia Kolbaba, "On the closing of the churches and the rebaptism of Latins: Greek perfidy or Latin slander?" in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Volume 29, Number 1, 2005 , pp. 39-51(13) Archived October 25, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- John H. Erickson, "The Reception of Non-Orthodox into the Orthodox Church: Contemporary Practice" in St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 41 (1997) pp. 1-17
- "Should You Be Baptized Again?". Awake!: 26–27. January 8, 1994.