P.: To the contrary. It was the Egyptians and not the Israelites that were submersed in the Red ea -and yet that submersion was no baptism, because it was not the Egyptians who were baptized.20 As you know, it was the Israelites who (together with their children)21 were then all “baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” That occurred when “the clouds poured out water” on them.22 Furthermore, that Mosaic baptism administered by the downpour from the clouds, naturally precluded the submer-sion of the Israelites. For Gods Word declares that “by faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land.”22
And as far as the great flood is concerned, we should realize that Gods word declares that Noah and his entire household were – like the later Israelites at the Red Sea – baptized23 from the clouds by rainwater sprinkled on them from above.24 Yet the unbelievers — just like Pharoahs people later at the beginning of the exodus — were indeed submersed but never baptized.25
B.: 1 cant understand that Ive never thought of all this before! Hows it possible that Ive been reading all these texts so differently all these years, and never realized it? But now, youve given me a lot to think about! However, tell me this: if baptism doesnt mean submersion, what does it mean?
P.: The original Greek word for ‘submersion – katadu – is never used in Scripture at all, neither in respect of baptism nor in respect of anything else. But the original Greek word used in Scripture for ‘baptize- baptiz – just means ‘baptize. The word as such does not give any indication of the manner in which baptism should be performed. That – the manner of baptism – is something which can be established only from the context in which this word ‘baptism is used, in the various places in Scripture where it occurs.
B.: But why, then, do you Presbyterians insist on sprinkling as the mode of baptism?
P.: Well, we dont say that sprinkling alone constitutes a valid baptism, but we do believe that sprinkling is the best way to baptize. You see, baptism is like rain. The apostle Peter com-pares baptism with the sprinkling or downpour of the rainwater on the roof of the ark.26
In the book of Acts, Luke also compares being “baptized with the Holy Ghost” with the coming of rain from above.27 And the Old Testament prophets repeated-ly forecast the outpouring of the blessings of the New Testament like rainwater from on high. As a matter of fact, it was precisely the reading of the prophecy of Isaiah – “so shall He sprinkle many nations” and the sentences following it — that caused the Ethiopian eunuch to request of Philip: “See, here is water! What hinders me to be baptized?”28
Therefore, supported also by a host of other similar Bible passages as well, we Presbyterians baptize in a way which reminds one of falling rainwater.29
B.: Very well, Ill have to admit that baptism by sprinkling is perhaps more in accord with the Scriptures than baptism by submersion. But so far Im not at all convinced of the Scripturalness of the baptism of infants! Where in the Bible do you read that a single baby was ever baptized?
P.: Well, you first tell me something. Do you believe that the doctrines of the Trinity and the Sunday Sabbath are Scriptural?
B.: Of course!
P.: So do I. But can you give me a single Bible verse which all by itself establishes that God is Triune, or that Sunday is now the Sabbath?