What is the difference between a Methodist and a Baptist cupcake? The Methodist has sprinkles on top, the Baptist one is totally submerged in icing.
Okay, so this is not a very good joke. That is not the point. Any joke that highlights different denominations is going to be inherently bad. Just like any aggie jokes or t-sipper jokes. They are not funny in themselves but only funny due to preconceptions.
Jokes, funny or not, point to preconceptions and assumptions. The assumption with Methodists is that baptism is just a sprinkling affair whereas Baptists have full-immersion baptistries in the churches themselves. Well, what do Methodists believe about Baptism?
We should start with how Methodists practice. We baptize infants, children, adults. Anyone who has not been previously baptized is up for baptism. If you have been previously baptized, well, tough for you, but you can get your pastor defrocked if they baptize you again (Not that this has happened in a hundred years, but it could. The defrocking part, that is. The re-baptizing happens more than I’m comfortable with...c’est la vie).
Why do we baptize infants?
There are two major theological reasons for this. The first is that we see baptism as primarily an act of God and not an action of the person being baptized. Baptism is something you receive. It is a sacrament, a revealed grace of God to cleanse you of original sin and to mark entrance into God’s holy body, the church. Baptism is a grace that need not be withheld. There is no scriptural moment of waiting to be baptized. In fact, when Philip explains the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Ethiopian eunich in the book of Acts, the Ethiopian asks, “Why should I not be baptized?” Philip then proceeds to take the Ethiopian to be baptized.
The second major reason to baptize infants is because there are a number of instances in the New Testament of entire families were baptized, like in Acts 16:
“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.”
Acts 16:14-15 ESV
Baptism is a gift that is offered and should be accepted. It is also a step in the life of faith and not the end result. Christianity isn’t over when you are baptized. That is when it literally begins.
People can be baptized as infants and fall away from faith. People can be baptized as adults and fall away. God gives us freedom to draw closer or to pull away, yet even when we pull away, God seeks us out.
Article XVII - Of Baptism
Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.