A new post by Candy today with some new material, but mostly several points she has written about previously all in one very long article.
We are called to follow Jesus. Jesus was baptized, and He tells us that we should be baptized as well. If a saved person doesn't get a chance to get baptized before death, that is no problem, because we are saved through faith in Christ, not through water baptism:
Catholics call this "baptism by desire."
CCC 1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.
"And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." -Luke 23:39-43
Two thieves were hung on crosses by Jesus. One did not believe on him, but the other chose to have a saving faith in Christ before his death. This thief was not able to jump off of the cross and get baptized before his death, yet Jesus affirms that he is saved, when he says that he is going to paradise.
No, baptism isn't required for salvation, but in normal circumstances, it should follow it:
Jesus has the power to tell someone that he will enter paradise, but that does not mean that it is not necessary. Baptism is the normal means ordained by Jesus.
From John 3 Birth versus Baptism:
The first thing that Jesus does after speaking with Nicodemus is to begin baptizing in 3:22.
Acts 8:12-13 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women
Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.Acts: 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
The eunuch in Acts 8 needs to be baptized after believing in Jesus. Paul, who was made an apostle by Jesus Himself, was baptized immediately in Acts 9:18.
In Matt 28:19 Jesus commands "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" linking teaching and baptism.
Also, Acts 2:38: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Peter was following Jesus' command in Mark 16: 16 where He says "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Why would Jesus say in John 3 that we should be born and believe, when He says everywhere else that we should be baptized and believe? Clearly, when unless you take the verse out of context of other verses, you should conclude that by "born of water" Jesus meant baptism.
You really can't get more clear than 1 Peter 3:21, which states "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
For a more in depth study of baptism in Scripture, I suggest (as always!) reading through the Scripture Catholic site.
We can also look to see how the early Christians interpreted these verses. Although many fundamentalists feel that the early Church fell into error, most people feel that this didn't occur until after the Council of Nicea in 325. All of the early Church Fathers interpret John 3:5 as referring to water baptism. You can read a sample of their words here.
In Candy's article on the Trinity, she pointed to Cyprian of Carthage as support for her point. On the point of baptism he wrote "[When] they receive also the baptism of the Church . . . then finally can they be fully sanctified and be the sons of God . . . since it is written, ‘Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’" (Letters 71:1 [A.D. 253]).
Catholic Catechism paragraph 1257:The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
"Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" -1 Peter 3:20-21
Noah and his family saved by water? This is only possible if they were in the ark first - else they would have died. Just as baptism only saves us, if we get on the ark first. That ark is our conduit to salvation. Without the protection of the ark, the water will not save us.
We are saved through faith, and we get baptized to show that faith, and that we are being obedient to Christ. If Noah and his family got into the ark, but it never rained, and there was no flood, then did the ark save them? No, it was just an empty shell. Just as faith without works (obedience to God) is dead.
Your baptism doesn't count, unless it occurs after you've gotten onto the ark - after you've gotten saved. Then, you are saved through faith which is a living faith, and that is what drove you to get baptized. Faith without works is dead, but works without faith is as well.
This is a bit more developed than her previous comments on that verse.
Catholics interpret the ark as prefiguring the Church. I'd like to write more on this, but again, I can't at the moment.
Jesus is God, and God wrote the Bible. We are to do what the Bible instructs us to. The Bible instructs us to get baptized after salvation. This, of course means that infant baptism doesn't count as a biblical baptism - it's just getting a baby wet.
We wrote about infant baptism here and here.
Furthermore, baptism is full immersion, not a sprinkling on the head. Read of all of the baptisms in the Bible, and they involved immersion. Look at the Greek word for baptism, and it literally means "to immerse."
Baptism is full immersion, and only "counts" if it is after salvation - else it's just a person getting wet.
What I really want to know is if baptism is just a symbol and doesn't mean anything, then why does it matter if it is full immersion or not? Odd that the churches which believe baptism is a sacrament accept almost any baptism as valid, while those who believe that baptism doesn't mean anything are the ones who often require re-baptism.
You see, there are thousands upon thousands of people walking around, claiming to be Christians, but their life doesn't reflect their Christianity at all. They have a dead faith.
We are called to walk in the spirit, as per such Scriptures as Galatians 5, Romans 8, etc.
When you walk in the spirit, you automatically show your faith by your works.
If the works are produced automatically, then what about free will? What role does grace play in all of this? Candy rarely writes about grace.
A previous post on Candy's "automatic fruit producing" theology.