Do Baha’is believe in baptism?

“The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27)

The Bible says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Therefore, Baha’is accept that a baptism is important in the spiritual awakening of a soul. But again, Baha’is do feel that they must accept the traditional interpretation of this teaching. Baha’is believe that just sprinkling water on someone does not change them. Likewise, full-immersion of a person in a tub of water would just make a person very wet. To some, this kind of activity might be considered witchcraft or sorcery. For Baha’is, it is focusing too much on the act, and ignoring the spirit behind it. And so, Baha’is also take into account the teaching of the Bible that says, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). This means to Baha’is that the laws and rituals of a Faith are not to be shackles and hurdles, but rather aids to our spiritual development.

What is important for Baha’is is the condition of the person’s heart when they go through a spiritual transformation. The Baha’i Writings explain that, “Man cannot free himself from the rage of the carnal passions except by the help of the Holy Spirit. That is why He says baptism with the spirit, with water and with fire is necessary, and that it is essential — that is to say, the spirit of divine bounty, the water of knowledge and life, and the fire of the love of God. Man must be baptized with this spirit, this water and this fire so as to become filled with the eternal bounty. Otherwise, what is the use of baptizing with material water? No, this baptism with water was a symbol of repentance, and of seeking forgiveness of sins… But in the cycle of Baha’u’llah there is no longer need of this symbol; for its reality, which is to be baptized with the spirit and love of God, is understood and established.” (Abdu’l-Bahá, SAQ, p. 92)

Additionally, many Christians who take the literal meaning of water are only taking the comfortable literal interpretation of this teaching. John the Baptist predicted that Jesus would baptize His followers with fire (Luke 3:16), but I have never seen the Church leaders lining up their followers for that one.

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