Although the terms Christening and Baptism are often used interchangeably, there can be many differences between a Christening and Baptism. Many people believe Christening and Baptism to be the same thing, in spite of their differences. Traditionally, the two are much different.
Christening refers to the dedication of a child, usually an infant, to Christ and to the Christian faith. During Christening, traditionally, a child was reborn in Christ and received his or her given name. By Christening a child, the parents of that child are making a promise to God to raise the child as a Christian and to set a Christian example for that child as he or she grows up. Three main denominations that refer to infant baptism as Christening are the Catholic church, the Lutheran church, and the Episcopal Church.
In contrast to Christening, Baptism is traditionally the act of an “of age” child or adult dedicating themselves to God, as opposed to being dedicated to God by their parents. In Baptism, an individual is making a conscience choice to dedicate themselves to God – as opposed to Christening, where the decision is made by ones parents. A baptism is different than a Christening, in that, the person being baptized is generally submerged fully in water- as opposed to the sprinkling with water associated with Christening. Baptism comes from the act of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the river Jordan. Some Christian denominations consider a baptism the entrance of someone into the Christian faith, most denominations also view Christening the same way.
It can be confusing whether to call this event a Baptism or a Christening. To be on the safe side, when attending an event such as this – use the term that the parents of the child have chosen to use describing the event. While Christening is generally a term used for infants, and Baptism is a word generally used for older children and adults – it can be unclear which is which. One things is the same in both situations though – and that is, it is a dedication to Christ through an act of faith.