Princess Charlotte, ‘Holy Water,’ and Infant Baptism

Jordan River


Princess Charlotte of Cambridge is fourth in line to succeed the Queen of England, after her grandfather, father, and elder brother.She was born on May 2, 2015 and is to be baptized with ‘holy water’ from the Jordan River on July 5, 2015:

July 4, 2015

When Princess Charlotte is christened on Sunday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will baptise her with water from the River Jordan. The same water was also used at the christening of Charlotte’s brother, George, two years ago. Why?

Contrary to how it is traditionally represented in songs, poems and paintings, the River Jordan is unimpressively shallow, muddy and narrow.

It is less than 10m (30ft) across and about 2m (6ft) deep.

However, these reed-lined waters overflow with spiritual significance that makes them a precious resource.

The tribes of Israel under Joshua are said to have crossed here to enter the Promised Land after years of wandering in the desert.

This is also where it is believed Jesus was baptised by Saint John, a preacher who wore a cloak of camel hair, lived on locusts and honey, and developed the practice of immersing people in the river to show they had repented of their sins and turned to God for forgiveness. …

“Whatever happens, don’t swallow it or let it get up your nose,” a Jordanian Catholic woman instructed her relatives a few days ago, as they prepared to be baptised – the water is said to be polluted by sewage and industrial effluent.

A few yards away, on the West Bank side, a young Russian woman emerging from the water showed me three decanters she was stowing away in her handbag “as special gifts”.

Kensington Palace would not say how water from the river was obtained for Princess Charlotte’s christening, but a Jordanian official told the BBC that it had been sent by his country’s royal court.

“We organise the process of bottling holy water from the River Jordan,” says Dia Madani, head of Jordan’s baptism site commission.

“We provide it to investors after cleaning it, sterilising it and giving it the blessings of religious men. Each bottle has a label from the commission.”

July 2, 2015

Princess Charlotte, the second child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and younger sister to Prince George, is being christened at the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Sandringham on Sunday, a short walk from the family’s Norfolk country mansion Anmer Hall. …

:: Royal babies are christened using the ornate silver gilt lily font, which is usually on show as part of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

The font was was specially commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1840 to distance her family from what she saw as a distasteful association with the Charles II font, which was used to christen his illegitimate children.

:: The water being used for the christening is holy water taken from the River Jordan, where it is said Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.

:: Charlotte’s godparents will be announced ahead of the service at the 16th century church and are expected mostly to be close friends of the Duke and Duchess.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes has princesses Beatrice and Eugenie as favourites to be named as godparents, odds-on at 1/3 and 2/5 respectively, along with Peter Phillips (1/2) and family friend Hugh van Cutsem Jr (4/6).

Kate’s sister Pippa is even money to be chosen, while her brother James is 5/4.

As far as the Jordan River and baptism go, they are mentioned together in the Bible:

4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.  (Matthew 3:4-6)

But what the ‘royals’ do is not biblical.

What Was the Original Practice?

Notice more from Matthew:

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.  (Matthew 3:13)

16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water;  (Matthew 3:16)

So, notice that Jesus came up from the water.  Why is that important?  Because baptism comes from a word meaning immersion.  Baptism was NOT a process of simply sprinkling a few drops of water on someone’s head, which is what typically happens when the Greco-Romans baptize infants.

In the Apostolic Age, as in Jewish times (John 3:23), baptism was administered without special fonts, at the seaside or in streams or pools of water (Acts 8:38); Tertullian refers to St. Peter’s baptizing in the Tiber (De bapt., iv); similarly; in later periods of evangelization, missionaries baptized in rivers as is narrated of St. Paulinus in England by Bede (Hist. Eccl., II, xiv-xvi). (Peterson JB. Transcribed by the Cloistered Dominican Nuns. Baptismal Font. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The word Baptism is derived from the Greek word, bapto, or baptizo, to wash or to immerse. It signifies, therefore, that washing is of the essential idea of the sacrament…The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion. This is not only evident from the writings of the Fathers and the early rituals of both the Latin and Oriental Churches, but it can also be gathered from the Epistles of St. Paul, who speaks of baptism as a bath (Ephesians 5:26; Romans 6:4; Titus 3:5). In the Latin Church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as the sixteenth century. Infusion and aspersion, however, were growing common in the thirteenth century and gradually prevailed in the Western Church. The Oriental Churches have retained immersion (Fanning, William H.W. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J. Baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature” (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 342).

Was the Jordan River chosen by John the Baptist because it was ‘holy’?  No, notice the reason that John baptized where he did:

22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized.  (John 3:22-23)

The reason for the location was because there was ‘much water there.’ Enough water was needed to immerse people.  John could have used a bucket of water to baptize scores of people if all was needed was a few drops.

Baptism of Infants/Children

Of the 100 or so times the terms Baptist, baptize, baptized, etc. are used of those in the New Testament, there is never one time that infants or young children are specifically mentioned as being baptized.

There is no recorded instance that baptism not allowed unless there was some type of repentance or professed belief. The Roman Catholic Church (as well as other churches, like the Eastern Orthodox) understand that, but they change the practice for infants.

Notice what what Catholic named Jodocus Tiletanus admitted:

We are not satisfied with that which the apostles or the Gospel do declare, but we say that, as well as before as after, there are divers matters of importance and weight accepted and received out of a doctrine which is NOWHERE SET FORTH IN WRITING. For we do blesse the water wherewith we baptize, and the oyle wherewith we annoynt; yea and besides that, him that is christened. And (I pray you) OUT OF WHAT SCRIPTURE have we learned the same? HAVE WE NOT IT OF A SECRET AND UNWRITTEN ORDINANCE? And further what scripture hath taught us to grease with oyle? Yea, I pray you, whence cometh it, that we do dype the child three times in that water? Doth it not come out of this hidden and undisclosed doctrine, which our forefathers have received closely without any curiosity, and do observe it still? (Harvet, Gentianus. Review of Epistles, PP. 19B, 20A, London 1598, as quoted by Hislop, A in The Two Bablyons, emphasis mine).

Hence it is known that infant baptism is not from scripture and that somehow it entered Catholicism from a secret ordinance.

In the 20th century the Roman Catholic Franciscan Jean Briand reported:

Authors of old only described adult baptisms. (Briand J. The Judeo-Christian Church of Nazareth.  Translated from the French by Mildred Duell. 1st edition, Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1982, p. 54)

After reviewing documents and other evidence, Catholic scholar and priest Bagatti correctly concluded that Judeo-Christians did not baptize infants, “following the example of the Lord” (Bagatti, From the Church of the Circumcision, p. 239).

Furthermore, the Catholic Church itself officially teaches that following about baptism:

Baptismal Vows The name popularly given to the renunciations required of an adult candidate for baptism just before the sacrament is conferred. In the case of infant baptism, they are made in the name of the child by the sponsors (Delany J.F. Transcribed by Janet Grayson. Baptismal Vows. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

1427 Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” In the Church’s preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 398).

However, since a baby cannot repent nor confess belief in Christ, any statement by an adult sponsor cannot be imputed to the baby. That is one of the most important reasons why infant baptism is not appropriate. The Catechism of the Catholic Church sort of even admits that when it states:

1231…By its very nature infant baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth…

1254 For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism… (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, pp. 342,351).

What is a required post-baptismal catechumenate? The statement does not make logical sense (as the dictionary definition of catechumenate does not seem to mean “godparents”, it seems to mean one new to the faith instead, which is about the same definition of a catechumen). More importantly, an infant does not have any faith to begin with, hence does not the have faith that grows after baptism. An infant is incapable of repentance and no one can repent for someone else (the Bible, in Philippians 2:12 teaches, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”).

Despite all this, there are others will not accept this.  There is also a false conclusion about Polycarp of Smyrna (a church leader in the second century) that that supposedly proves infant baptism (I have read similar claims from other Catholic writers).  Note: Any boldingis in the sources:

St. Polycarp, who was the disciple of the Apostle John himself (as well as an associate of the Apostle Philip). And, in AD 155, St. Polycarp said this at his execution:

“Polycarp declared, ‘Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me injury. How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?” (Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp 9 c. AD 156)

Now, it is well documented that “The Martyrdom of Polycarp” was written the year after the saint’s execution; and so the quote above is extremely reliable. It is also well documented that Polycarp was 86 years old at the time of his death. Therefore, if the saint claims to have served Jesus for 86 years, it therefore follows that he was Baptized as an infant. And, in another place, we are told that Polycarp was Baptized by none other than the Apostle John! 🙂 Therefore, at least in the case of St. John, we can show conclusively that the Apostles Baptized infants (Bonocore MJ. Infant Baptism.  Apolonio’s Catholic Apologetics. viewed 10/06/08).

Polycarp stated at his martyrdom (167/8 A.D.) that he had been in the “service of Christ” for eighty-six years. Other recorded dates from Polycarp’s life make it likely that eighty-six years was his age from birth. Joachim Jeremias, in The Origins of Infant Baptism, concludes the following from these facts: “This shows at any rate that his parents were already Christians, or at least were converted quite soon after his birth. If his parents were pagans at his birth, he would have been baptized with the ‘house’ at their conversion. But even if his parents were Christians, the words ‘service of Christ for eighty-six years’ support a baptism soon after his birth rather than one as a child of ‘mature years’…for which there is no evidence at all.” (Bajis J. Infant Baptism. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. viewed 07/04/15)

Now while the above may sound plausible, the truth is that Polycarp never claimed to have been baptized as an infant. Nor did he claim he was 86 years old. An ancient manuscript called the Harris Fragments shows the following with one addition from me in {}:

Polycarp…He was… {an} old man, being one hundred and f[our] of age.  He continued to walk [i]n the canons which he had learned from his youth from John the a[p]ostle.(Weidman, Frederick W.  Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to Literary Traditions.  University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame (IL), 1999, pp. 43,44).

So, if Polycarp lived to be 104, then he was baptized at age 18, and thus was not baptized as an infant (more on Polycarp’s age can be found in the article Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter).  Hence, the Harris Fragments are one other way to help disprove mythological traditions that are simply not biblical. No early true Christian advocated, nor practiced, infant baptism.

Polycarp had to have been older than 86 when he died to have possibly been appointed a bishop by any of the original apostles, especially if this happened when Polycarp was around age forty. Notice what Coptic Orthodox Bishop Youssef has claimed:

Polycarp…Appointed to be Bishop of the See of Smyrna by the Apostles themselves, at the age of 40, he provides us with an important link in our long historical chain of Orthodox tradition clasping together the Apostles and the Second Century Church. (Youssef HG, Bishop. St. Polycarp the Blessed Peacemaker. Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States. viewed 12/01/2012.)

Perhaps it may be of interest to mention that in 1821, “Cler. Gloc.” wrote that Polycarp was placed in charge of the “See of Smyrna” for around seventy years, that he calculated that Polycarp probably lived around 100 years based upon other historical records, and that the idea Polycarp died at age 86 was a “misconception”(Gloc. C. Letter to the Remembrancer, August 1821. As shown in Scott W. Garden F. Mozely JB. The Christian remembrancer. Printed for F.C. & J. Rivington, 1821. Original from the New York Public Library, Digitized Nov 21, 2007, p. 454).

Infant baptism was not done with Polycarp by the Apostle John.

One more thing related to the baptism of Princess Charlotte–there is nothing in the entire Bible that suggests that any “godparents” are assigned to either children or adults after baptism (there also is no example of infant baptism in the entire Bible).

Here is a Catholic statement on godparents:

1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents help is important. So too, is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized–child or adult–on the road to the Christian life. There task is a truly ecclesial function (officium) (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 351).

How can “the role of the godfather and godmother” be an important and ecclesial function if it is not even mentioned in the Bible? It is also not mentioned in any early Christian writings.  The use of ‘godparents’ does NOT come from the Bible or the original apostles.

Irenaeus Condemned What Seems to be ‘Holy Water’

Interestingly, the Roman, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican Catholic saint Irenaeus condemned a practice like the ‘holy water, sprinkling done in their baptisms:

But there are some of them who assert that it is superfluous to bring persons to the water, but mixing oil and water together, they place this mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated, with the use of some such expressions as we have already mentioned. And this they maintain to be the redemption (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book 1, Chapter 21, Verse 4).

So, instead of bring the person to the water, the water is brought to the person.  Is this not close to what is done today within Roman Catholicism, as well as other groups like the Anglicans, that practice infant baptism?

I no longer recall the precise terms that the Roman priests use when they baptize (and they usually use Latin), but the appearance of these Roman Catholic sacraments seems to bear a strong resemblance to the type of ceremonies that Irenaeus condemned. Yet, the Church of Rome adopted this around the fourth century:

The use of holy water in the earliest days of the Christian Era is attested by documents of only comparatively late date. The “Apostolic Constitutions”, the redaction of which goes back to about the year 400, attribute to the Apostle St. Matthew the precept of using holy water. The letter written under the name of Pope Alexander I, who lived in the second century, is apocryphal and of more recent times; hence the first historical testimony does not go back beyond the fifth century. … As, in many cases, the water used for the Sacrament of Baptism was flowing water, sea or river water, it could not receive the same blessing as that contained in the baptisteries. On this particular point the early liturgy is obscure, but two recent discoveries are of very decided interest. The Pontifical of Serapion of Thumis, a fourth-century bishop, and likewise the “testamentum Domini”, a Syriac composition dating from the fifth to the sixth century, contain a blessing of oil and water during Mass. The formula in Scrapion’s Pontifical is as follows: “We bless these creatures in the Name of Jesus Christ, Thy only Son; we invoke upon this water and this oil the Name of Him Who suffered, Who was crucified, Who arose from the dead, and Who sits at the right of the Uncreated. Grant unto these creatures the power to heal; may all fevers, every evil spirit, and all maladies be put to flight by him who either drinks these beverages or is anointed with them, and may they be a remedy in the Name of Jesus Christ, Thy only Son.” As early as the fourth century various writings, the authenticity of which is free from suspicion, mention the use of water sanctified either by the liturgical blessing just referred to, or by the individual blessing of some holy person. …

Gregory of Tours (De gloria confess., c. 82) tells of a recluse named Eusitius who lived in the sixth century and possessed the power of curing quartan fever by giving its victims to drink of water that he had blessed; we might mention many other instances treasured up by this same Gregory (“De Miraculis S. Martini”, II, xxxix; “Mirac. S. Juliani”, II, iii, xxv, xxvi; “Liber de Passione S. Juliani”; “Vitae Patrum”, c. iv, n. 3). It is known that some of the faithful believed that holy water possessed curative properties for certain diseases, and that this was true in a special manner of baptismal water. In some places it was carefully preserved throughout the year and, by reason of its having been used in baptism, was considered free from all corruption. This belief spread from East to West; and scarcely had baptism been administered, when the people would crown around with all sorts of vessels and take away the water, some keeping it carefully in their homes whilst others watered their fields, vineyards, and gardens with it (“Ordo rom. I”, 42, in “Mus. ital.”, II, 26). (Leclercq, H. (1910). Holy Water. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 4, 2015 from New Advent:

The use of ‘holy water’ seems to have been adopted by some of the Greco-Romans in the fourth century and became more widespread later.

The idea of ‘holy water’ is pagan.  The Anglicans have adopted many pagan aspects of the Greco-Roman faiths, and incorporated them into their infant baptism.

Blessing of Little Children is Scriptural

On the other hand, the Bible does enjoin the fact that infants/toddlers can be prayed for and blest. Notice what Jesus said and did:

14 “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them (Mark 10:14-16).

15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17)

13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. (Matthew 19:13-15)

It is likely that the worldly churches, who had read the accounts in the gospels and perhaps heard of it performed in the early COG, may have used that as part of their justification.

In fact, when I researched this further today, I found that the Catholic Church does refer to this passage in Luke 18 & Matthew 19 as part of its justification for infant baptism (see article Baptism in The Catholic Encyclopedia). But sadly, they are confusing a blessing ceremony with baptism.

None of the children that Jesus laid hands on are recorded to have been immersed into water or sprinkled with water prior to Jesus blessing them (which is part of why I thought I should list all the accounts in the gospels on this).

Hence what Jesus did WAS NOT a form of infant baptism, but instead a ceremony that is retained by relatively few today, like those of us in the Continuing Church of God. But oddly, those groups that embrace infant baptism do not seem to have kept this.

And this includes the Anglicans, who have more similarities to the Church of Rome than many there seem to realize.

UPDATE: July 5, 2015:  Here is a link to a related video: Princess Charlotte, Infant Baptism, and Holy Water.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Baptism, the Early Church, and the Continuing Church Was it by immersion? Did it include infants? Does Polycarp prove infant baptism? Here is a link to some information in the Spanish language: Bautismo de infantes o bendición de los niños pequeños. A related sermon video is titled Baptism: What is it and how should it be done?
Did Real Christians Practice Nude Baptism? This is not a joke. Find out what was taught in the second and later centuries.
Just What Do You Mean — Repentance? Do you know what repentance is? Have you truly repented? Repented of what? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
Real Conversion Many think that they are converted Christians. But are they? Would you like to know more about conversion.
False Conversion Have you really been converted? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this article on this important subject.
All About Water Baptism What is baptism? Would you like to know more about it. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject. As far as early history, see also Baptism and the Early Church.
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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