Affusion (la. "affusio") is a method of baptism where water is poured on the head of the person being baptized. The word "affusion" comes from the Latin "affusio", meaning "to pour on" [ [ "Affusion"] ""] . Affusion is one of three methods of baptism, in addition to the greater wetting of total immersion and sprinkling, used by Christians. Christian denominations that baptize by affusion do not deny the legitimacy of baptizing by immersion or aspersion; rather, they consider that affusion is a sufficient, if not preferable, method of baptism.

Affusion and aspersion tend to be practiced by Christian denominations that also practice infant baptism. This may be due to the practical difficulties of totally immersing an infant underwater. However, Eastern Orthodox and some Roman Catholics practice infant immersion.

History of affusion

Affusion became the common practice in the church around the 10th century. [ [ "Baptistery"] , "Encyclopedia Britannica", 2007. Retrieved March 7, 2007.] However, it was practiced to a lesser extent prior to the 10 century. The earliest extra-biblical reference to baptism by affusion occurs in the Didache (c. 100 A.D.) The seventh chapter contains instructions on how to baptize which include affusion:

…But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit (emphasis added) [ [ "Didache"] in "The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325". vol. 1. Roberts, Alexander; Donaldson, James; and Coxe, A. Cleveland, Eds. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), 1951 (original pub. in U.S. 1885). ]

This text implies that early Christians saw affusion is a viable alternative to immersion when no living water (i.e. running water like a river or spring) or cold water is available.

Acts of various martyrs show that many were baptized in prison, while awaiting martyrdom; immersion would have been impossible. The most common use, however, was for ill or dying people who could not rise from their beds. It was consequently known as "baptism of the sick." Receiving this baptism was regarded as a bar to Holy Orders, but this sprang from the person's having put off baptism until the last moment—a practice that in the fourth century became common, with people enrolling as catechumens but not being baptized for years or decades. While the practice was decried at the time, the intent of the criticism was not to encourage baptism by immersion, but to refrain from delaying baptism.

Affusion and the Bible

In the New Testament book of Acts, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is sometimes described, as a “pouring out” of the Holy Spirit ( [,33;acts+10:45 Acts 2:17,18,33; Acts 10:45] ). Luke, the possible author of Acts, uses the word "baptism" to describe a "pouring," which seems to indicate that the word "baptism" can refer to pouring and not just dipping or immersing. It may also indicate that Luke’s concept of baptism includes, or allows for, baptism by pouring. For instance, on Pentecost, the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit by having the Spirit “poured out” on them from heaven not by being dipped in the Holy Spirit until they were completely immersed.

Passages like these do not directly speak to the issue of water baptism because they are, strictly speaking, about baptism with the Holy Spirit. Affusionists think they indirectly apply to water baptism, though, by telling us something about the general "concept" of baptism, regardless of whether the medium of baptism is water or Spirit.

Affusionists see more evidence that Luke’s concept of baptism includes pouring by noting an additional possible connection between water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism. In Acts 10, Peter is “astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles” ( [ Acts 10:45)] ). Peter responds by saying, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have" ( [ Acts 10:47)] ).

Affusionists read Peter to be saying "by having the Spirit poured out on them, these people already have been baptized with the Spirit, so why not actually baptize them with water." They understand Peter’s words to imply that water baptism is a symbolic picture of the Holy Spirit baptism. If this is right, affusionists contend, then water baptism should be, or at least can be, by pouring because the baptism with the Holy Spirit that it is a picture of is by pouring.


ee also

*Believers Baptism
*Baptism of desire
*Baptism of the Holy Spirit
*Baptism of Jesus
*Conditional baptism
*John the Baptist
*Infant baptism

External links

* [ "Catholic Encyclopedia" "Baptism"]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • affusion — [ afyzjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1546; bas lat. affusio ♦ Procédé thérapeutique consistant à verser de l eau (froide ou chaude) sur une partie du corps. ● affusion nom féminin (latin affusio, de affundere, répandre) Procédé d hydrothérapie consistant à verser …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Affusion — Af*fu sion ([a^]f*f[=u] zh[u^]n), n. [Cf. F. affusion.] The act of pouring upon, or sprinkling with a liquid, as water upon a child in baptism. Specifically: (Med) The act of pouring water or other fluid on the whole or a part of the body, as a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Affusion — (v. lat.), Zuguß, Aufguß …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • affusion — [ə fyo͞o′zhən, afyo͞o′zhən] n. [ML affusio < L affusus, pp. of affundere < ad , to + fundere, to pour: see FOUND3] a pouring on, as of water in baptism …   English World dictionary

  • affusion — (a ffu zion) s. f. Terme de médecine. Moyen thérapeutique qui consiste à verser en nappe et seulement de quelques centimètres de hauteur une certaine quantité d eau sur une partie du corps. L affusion diffère de la douche, en ce que, pour celle… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • affusion — noun Etymology: Late Latin affusion , affusio, from Latin affundere to pour on, from ad + fundere to pour more at found Date: 1615 an act of pouring a liquid on (as in baptism) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • affusion — /euh fyooh zheuhn/, n. the pouring on of water or other liquid, as in the rite of baptism. [1605 15; < LL affusion (s. of affusio a pouring upon), equiv. to affus(us) (ptp. of affundere; see AF , FUSE2) + ion ION] * * * …   Universalium

  • Affusion —    The pouring (which the word means) of water on the recipient of Baptism, when the Baptism is not by immersion. Questions have arisen from the very earliest ages as to the matter and form with which this Sacrament is to be administered. The… …   American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • affusion — noun a) The pouring of liquid. b) A method of Christian baptism where water is poured on the head of the person being baptized …   Wiktionary

  • affusion — Pouring of water upon the body or any of its parts for therapeutic purposes. [L. af fundo, to pour into] …   Medical dictionary