River Baptisms…just like John

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“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan (river) to John, to be baptized by him (John).”  Mathew 3:13

In El Salvador, there are many rivers all throughout the countryside and very lush landscape, as you can see above, and often churches will take the congregation for a day long excursion to the river to be baptized.  We were invited to join Estela and Carlos to witness their baptism.  We had also joined their wedding at the local alcaldia, several months before.  Estela if you remember is the young lady who comes to help at the house whose daughter she named after Kelly.  See the blog here

It was a beautiful crisp morning as we drove up the volcano at 6:00am, where the group was preparing to leave.  Two truck loads of members from the congregation loaded up, along with our van for the 2 hour drive to the Rio de Amayo en Caluco.

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The pastor and a leader from the church led us in a time of worship, a brief teaching and greetings from visitors (including us), and then they entered the water.  After each candidate was baptized, the three leaders went under the waters of the river together, 3 times, for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

After leaving the waters, the baptism candidates then go to change into all white and the rest of the day was spent enjoying the park, eating, talking and relaxing.  What a beautiful day, and a rich lessons for us in the culture of the Evangelical Church in El Salvador.

And the doctrine of the sin:  There is a false doctrine, or more like a costumbre (custom) where some churches will not allow others in the river down stream for a period of time, as they believe the waters of baptism literally washes away our sins, and of course, who would want to be contaminated inadvertently by someone else’s sin floating by.

On the face value, this often rises a funny smile, or chuckle from some, as it doesn’t make sense practically.  But in actuality, it shows how important proper Bible teaching is.  If our sins are physically and literally washed away by the waters, then several things also can be assumed:

  1. Sins can be caught by being too close to the wrong people, or straying to far from the holy temple of the church – then evangelism only happens inside the church.
  2. Our sins are exterior and not a condition of the heart – therefore a heart change is not as necessary
  3. Salvation and cleansing from sin is not through faith in Jesus, then,  faith in Jesus + being baptized=salvation

Anyhow, we were more concerned about the runoff from upstream in the small villages, but our boys very much enjoyed an afternoon in the river after the baptism.  And although no-one caught the sins of these wonderful people, baby Kelly did get a pretty bad cold from too much time in the river swollen by the winter rains.  Here she is with proud mama Estela (below)

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