Baptism is Badass

Jackson Campbell
3 min readOct 6, 2023

The Radical Origin of Baptism and Why It Is Important Today

A Picture of Jackson Campbell (re)baptizing his brother in the Jordan River

If you live in the United States, there is a good chance that you’ve either 1. been baptized or 2. know many people who are baptized. For some, that might have been a sprinkle of water as a baby. For others like me, it was a dunk into a sacred jacuzzi following my profession of faith. Either way, baptism has played an important role in the lives of many. Perhaps not in the way it should have, though.

The Origins

Baptism, although not originally invented by Christians, was initially introduced by the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Things are a bit blurry when trying to understand the details of baptism and what it specifically meant, but most importantly, it was a radical, public way of announcing one’s decision to follow this Jesus of Nazareth.

The Radical Nature of Baptism

Jesus of Nazareth was quite the radical figure at the time. He was one of few who were pushing against the folks on top and managing to mess up the perfectly crafted system that kept the marginalized on the bottom and the powerful, wealthy folk on top. He was making the powerful folks ANGRY. Think of a radical, justice-oriented person in our context that pisses off the elite. Think about how you’d be seen if you followed them! That’s how radical baptism was at the time. It was a moment of public profession — radically committing to God’s justice in the world. It meant you were committed to derailing the establishment and tearing down the walls of elitism. It meant you were sick and tired of the entanglement of government and religion. It meant you were ready to shut that sh*t down and build a new kingdom — one that was ruled by love and peace. Baptism was a threat to the oppressors.

Why That’s Still Important

Baptism is so common in the United States, it is almost more radical to not be baptized at all. For most, it is a rite of passage — being welcomed into religious life — often to make your folks happy.

It is still important, though.

As the number of baptisms in the United States wane significantly, perhaps it is a good time to think about why we follow Jesus into those baptismal waters in the first place…