I think we can count on the ritual of baptism being either consciously copied and adapted by the Christian movement from other religions or springing originally from an archetype of the 'Collective Unconscious.' Most likely it was a combination of both, aware of its previous practice and being emotionally activated by the unconscious archetype that brings it. The idea of baptism is so common across ancient cultures and cults. The archetype that spins baptism generates emotional images of being overwhelmed, drowned, buried hopelessly and then rescued, resurrected and ushered into a new perspective of life. It also comes from images of washing, cleansing and forgiveness. You see I sound just like you as I generate more and more images. Baptism comes with so many images and they are to be found all over the spectrum of humanity. It surely originates from such timeless archetypes as does the Christian 'Lord's Supper' with it manifold meanings and various ways of being ritualized.
These rituals most certainly did not begin as rational exercises that were 'thought up' or told in rational words by the 'voice of God' because they harmonized with the Christian story. They were at some point in their origin fully unconscious, truly coming from the source of all that is rightly called religious. The archetypes are deep in the human instinctual totally unconscious collective mind. Similarly as how a bird builds its nest as its species always has or sings its particular song. To understand that such a source, now called the 'Collective Unconscious', is the source of all religious ritual and myth is to get far closer to how such things have actually come to be.
If one wishes to think that an external God at some specific point rationally told someone to baptize, in a sense that is psychologically/spiritually true. But that is a misleading, less complicated and less accurate way of imagining its beginning. Such rituals come from the distant prehistoric times of the human experience. They were first practiced extremely crudely and without any conscious reasoning attached to it. Like one tribe of Native Americans who still spit on their hand and hold it to the sun every morning. They 'understand' that the sun would not make its trip across the sky if it were not for their faithfully giving it this greeting. I use this example not to belittle the ritual, quite the opposite. But we can now all be enriched by grasping the notion that our formal religious rituals had very similar beginnings. Only later was the activity formulated by human consciousness, given rational and often artistic and beautifully poetic words(Such creative achievement becomes the basis of culture and science.) Over long time rituals finally become 'explained' to new generations as a very rational thing to do. Unfortunately when it reaches this last, and totally rational, stage it has generally lost much of its original emotional appeal and numinous experience as something that supports ones sense of being connected to God. Such ritual processes have happened in various human religions across the full spectrum of place and time. There is 'nothing new under the sun.' This is what C.G. Jung refers to when he says, 'All Humans are religious by nature."
If one is drawn to the notion that it would be good to believe all humanity is so connected and that God is seen as equally present and relating to us all, then the concept of the 'Collective Unconscious' becomes a gladly received treasure and explanation of the spiritual development of the psyche of humankind. Our ancient religions offer no such explanation of such development for they came before this kind of awareness was possible except for the very few. Such ancient ritual came from the activity of the archetypes before humans had any capacity to envision a model of the 'Collective Unconscious'. So each religion was taken,as it surely seemed to be by its founders, as a direct expression of a ' one and only ' religion and the complete 'voice of God.' The archetypes make that strong of an impression on human consciousness when they spontaneously arise from the collective unconscious. (This is how I can explain, without diminishing it's authority and my astonishment and overwhelming, what I experienced in mid August of '85 and following.)
There is no sound reason for us to still understand the history of religion in such a non-psychological, thus primarily unconscious, and supposedly rational way. Tragically that way of understanding it all is now leading us to the brink of humans being strongly driven to reject and even annihilate others of different religions and human life styles. This hostility has now spread in our day to persons holding different political views. It leads to unconsciously hating those considered to be the 'other' life,religion or party. This is an extremely dangerous situation. The threatening 'burial' symbol of baptism can suddenly become quite real and to the point.
The irrationality of our Congress not being able to get a vote on raising the debt ceiling is not driven by rational thought, the way each side wants to be seen. This can better be explained by archetypal emotional possession. Hopefully, in the mix, there are enough sound minds to somehow bring order out of this psychological chaos before the most vulnerable among us suffer unnecessarily. Think of what other needs for sound governing decisions may get caught in this same kind of problem in the future! In our day it is already absolutely necessary for creation's survival for 'semi-conscious and unconscious factors' to be always considered during individual and community changes. The threatening 'burial' symbol of baptism can suddenly become quite real and to the point.
If our more self interested Ego driven need is to believe that 'we' are actually heirs to something 'unique and exclusive' in some way that implies 'our' ritual is more God connected and approved than another's , then the idea of the 'Collective Unconscious' strikes us as something to fear and strongly reject as 'nonsense.' I realize this is presently the reaction to such an idea by much of humanity. This reaction is in spite of very strong empirical evidence, and more importantly, a pressing human need for such a unifying principle of spiritual/psychological development. Blessings, Jim May 18 , 2010(edited July 21, 2011)
On Tue, 18 May 2010 19:00:00 -0400 "Edward Fudge" <email@example.com> writes:
Edward FudgBAPTISM'S MANY MODES
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A gracEmail subscriber asks, "Does water baptism in the New Testament involve sprinkling, pouring or immersion?"
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As New Testament writers describe the process of conversion, they include all three of those actions in the picture. Jesus himself ordained water baptism as the principal visible expression of initial faith. Indeed, gospel baptism is significant, for it sign-ifies many blessings which the believer enjoys freely by God's grace. One blessing is the forgiveness of sins and a clean conscience before God, which Scripture pictures as God sprinkling the believer with Jesus' atoning blood (Heb 10:22; 1 Peter 1:2; Ezek. 36:25-27). Another blessing is God's lavish pouring out the Holy Spirit -- his personal, powerful Presence and that of the Risen Jesus Christ -- on the believer (Acts 2:33; Titus 3:5-6; Joel 2:28-32).
I personally conclude that water baptism itself, done most meaningfully, involves full immersion in water. Evidence pointing to this conclusion is of many types: historical (first-century Jews practiced such ritual washings and proselyte baptism), archaeological (the land of Israel is dotted with ruins of stone baptisteries known as mikvas), narrative (immersion most naturally fits biblical stories of actual baptisms recorded in John 3:23 and in Acts 8:38), linguistic (total dunking displays the undisputed original meaning of the Greek word baptizo), as well as theological, psychological and cultural (immersion embodies New Testament imagery of rebirth, washing and resurrection). Immersion is also an ecumenical practice. For, while Christians disagree regarding the propriety of other methods, they all regard this form to be a scriptural and appropriate mode.
All three, I say, therefore -- all three. Immersed in water, sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit poured out in generous abundance! In this passive act of baptism, one comes in faith, formally and ritually, to the crucified and risen Savior to celebrate the gift of grace -- a gift to which the believer can never contribute, and which he or she will never merit, earn or deserve.
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