by Ron F. Hale
The official Church of England website explains the service of Christening in the following way:
First, at your baby’s Christening, water will be blessed and poured on the baby’s head – this is the baptism of your baby (the word ‘baptism’ means ‘to be immersed in water’). The baby will be signed with the cross and special oil may be used for this. A candle or other gift from the church may be given. Godparents and parents will make promises on behalf of the baby, and prayers will be offered for the baby and the family. There may also be readings and hymns, which you may be able to choose.”
The Church of England believes that baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives. This first step is a response to God’s love. It is also a celebration, a time to come together with family and friends; remembering that your child is loved by God, is part of a wider community and has a place with God’s people.
In 1900, John Wordsworth, the Bishop of Salisbury with the approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote the following on Baptism:
As regards the effect of Baptism, it teaches that it is a death to sin and a new birth unto righteousness, and comprehends gifts that by nature we cannot have. In it, we are regenerated and made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. Baptism cannot be repeated. Its proper complement is Confirmation, which is administered among us only to those who have arrived at years of discretion. All who bring children to Baptism are directed to see that they are afterwards brought to Confirmation.
During the Christening service and in part of the prayer over the Water, the priest will say:
“We thank you, Father, for the water of baptism.
In it we are buried with Christ in his death.
By it we share in his resurrection.
Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, in joyful obedience to your Son,
We baptize into his fellowship those who come to him in faith.
Now sanctify this water that, by the power of your Holy Spirit,
They may be cleansed from sin and born again.”
While baby George is a prince of guy and his Christening was a beautiful and royal event, he will have no memory of it, nor was he capable of understanding the gospel and believing in our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, the words of the Church of England tilts toward a belief in “baptismal regeneration,” that the water of baptism effects the saving work of the Holy Spirit in washing away original sin and confers grace on the infant.
Many years ago, Dr. Balthasar Hubmaier and his wife were martyred for their break with the Catholic Church and the Reformers due to their convictions of “Believer’s Baptism.” Hubmaier’s writings on the subject of Believer’s Baptism have influenced succeeding generations of Baptists.
Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) claimed that nowhere in Scripture was infant baptism prohibited; Hubmaier’s response was lighthearted, but cutting:
“It is clear enough for him who has eyes to see it, but it is not expressed in so many words, literally: ‘do not baptize infants’. May one then baptize them? To that I answer: ‘if so I may baptize my dog or my donkey, or I may circumcise girls… bring infants to the Lord’s Supper…sell the Mass for an offering. For it is nowhere said in express words that we must not do these things.”
Hubmaier’s many writings on the subject of baptism became widely popular. His sound arguments dispelled the notion that water baptism washed away sin, as well as his teachings against infant baptism and toward the truth that baptism marked our first step of obedience in following Christ as a disciple.
Thousands of Anabaptists were burned at the stake or drowned in rivers for not having their babies christened, for it was against the law to reject infant baptism or to be re-baptized as an adult.
So, what happened to Prince George at his recent baptism? He got wet.
However, I pray that one day, he will meet the King of all kings and experience the new birth as he turns from his sins and places his faith in Jesus!
© Ron F. Hale, October 24, 2013
 Balthasar Hubmaier, “The Christian Baptism of Believers.” In The Writings of Balthasar Hubmaier, by Davidson, G.D. 3 vols. Liberty: Reproduced by microfilm, 1939: 121.