Baptism vs. Christening

The difference between Baptism and Christening

Baptism and christening are two religious rites that have to do with naming a person and bringing him/her into the church. While there are more similarities than differences, there are a few distinctions. Christening is usually the term given to the ritual of bringing a baby into a particular faith, but baptism can be done at any age. Both are associated with Christianity in which it is believed that a baby needs to be given a name and made a member of a religion. Adults who convert to Christianity are baptized in the faith and they retain the name they were given at birth.

About Baptism

There is a specific ritual associated with Baptism in which the person to be baptized has to be absolved of sin. Christians believe that everyone is born with the sin committed by Adam and therefore even newborn babies have sin that must be absolved. This is done with water to wash the sins away. Water is either poured over the head or the person is immersed in water for purification and the person then submits to the faith. There is a debate as to whether the proper method for the use of water is to immerse the person in water or pour the water over the head.

There are a series of questions to which the person responds “I do” or “I will” and in the case of babies, the parents or godparents answer for them. After the ritual the officiate, usually a minister or priest of the particular church, welcomes the person by name into the faith. The baptism of a newborn is called infant baptism.

About Christening

Christening has a broader connotation than baptism and baptism is part of a christening. It is the process through which a newly born child is brought to the church and presented to Jesus Christ. Although the child has been named before this point and the birth registered officially, in a Christening the child is actually blessed by the church and will be blessed throughout life. A person should be able to decide for oneself whether or not to become a member of a church, but when a baby is christened, the faith is forced on them.

Difference between baptism and christening

In baptism, the act of pouring water over a baby’s head or immersing the baby into the water, the baby is christened so in this way both rituals are the same. Baptism refers to the ablution of sins by washing them away and christening refers to giving a name. Adults can be baptized but they cannot be christened because they already have a name. Christening is a ceremony for naming, but baptism is a sacrament.

In Baptism the person can be immersed in the water to wash away the sins, but in Christening the water is only poured over the head because it is a naming ceremony. Because adults can be baptized, a christening is a voluntary because they accept the faith freely.

Summary

Because there is some distinction between baptism and christening, they cannot be used as synonyms. Both are similar in that they are acts of commitment to become a member of a religion, but the ritual of each one is different. Baptism is considered a commitment to God, but Christening is considered a commitment to a church.