Can a baptism be annulled?

by angel.face 19 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • angel.face

    Hi there,

    I joined this site about 4 years ago and life was very different to say the least.

    I was a JW and started the process of 'waking up' after experiencing life threatening blood loss due to complications of a pregnancy. I was married with two kids (husband was an MS) and was a stay-at-home mom. We were a model witness family. Eventually I came out to my family as a non-believer and things got very difficult for me. My controlling ex-husband became abusive and it became apparent that I could no longer stay in the marriage. I found a job, started saving, little by little, and within 7 months I had enough money to leave my ex. I made all the arrangements to move out, when everything was set, I took my kids and left. Time went on and although I felt like I disassociated myself as the 'truth' no longer had any psychological hold on me, I did not feel it necessary to make the political statement of disassociating myself. The witch hunt to get rid of me was on. At the sitting of signing my separation agreement, my ex thought it was a good idea to bring two elders along. we signed the papers, and then the elders started 'talking to me'. I wasn't in the mood for debate, and frankly their 'logic' made no sense to me and I was in a rush to leave. They asked me how I feel about holidays and birthdays. I said to them that I can see that they are looking for a reason to get rid of me and I really didn't care. I told them that I plan on celebrating kwanza, hannukah, christmas, new years, the chinese new years, ramadan, halloween and every other holiday. I left that 'meeting' with my blood boiling. A few weeks letter, a letter came in the mail stating that a judicial committee will be held. I didn't go, I did not see a point. A week later these two lovely elders that were present at the signing of my separation agreement stopped by and told me that I was now disfellowshiped. This was about 2 years ago story is long and I will share it on here one day when I am ready. I am happy to provide my perspective to anyone who may feel like they are trapped, I was after all, a stay-at-home-mom, dependent on my ex in every way.

    Back to what I am curious about...just wanted to provide you with a snipit of my story before I open this up.

    I have been wondering lately, can a baptism as a JW be annulled?

    When I was a JW I have seen children as young as 6 get can they possibly be making an informed decision?

    In my case, I was not aware of the details with regards to shunning of DF individuals. I was under the impression that the shunning did not apply to family members. It wasn't until I was in my early 20s that I found out that this was the case and by this point I was a JW for 4 years.

    In the legal world, if parties are not aware of what they are consenting to, the contract can be broken. There could be various arguments constructed here and I have been thinking about this for several days now. Does anyone know if it is possible to annul a baptism?

  • Mephis

    According to the leaked guidance for Bethels on how to write letters to answer questions... yes, they can be but very specific circumstances for the WBTS to accept the baptism was invalid.

    p.12/13, Correspondence Guidelines.

    "A person might commit a wrong after his baptism that could result in his being disfellowshipped or his being considered disassociated. Now, for the first time, he claims that his baptism was invalid because he did not understand at the time of baptism what was involved in getting baptized. In that case, we would take him for what he had professed to be up until that time, a dedicated and baptized Christian. The congregation would deal with him accordingly. (w60 3/1 159-60) However, if it is discovered that the very situation now giving rise to action by the congregation existed at the time of his baptism (such as using tobacco) and he nevertheless got baptized, then his baptism is not valid and he should be dealt with as an unbaptized wrongdoer.—Acts 19:1-5."

  • Scully

    In legal defense cases, they always fall back on the excuse that shunning is a decision that individuals make of their own volition, nobody forces them to shun.

    Also, there is the concept of 'ratification', which in essence means that a person who, upon reaching the age of majority, abides by the terms of a 'contract' that they entered as a minor, the terms of the contract are upheld. This too has been used to weasel out of legal wrangling related to the baptism of minor children.

  • angel.face
    Thank you, Mephis & Scully, very helpful info!
  • Simon

    Even if you were baptized as a minor, if you continued in the role as an adult then they could take that to be acceptance of it and making the choice as an informed adult.

    Lots of contract law (e.g. employment) works this way as it's deemed to be acceptance of something.

    I think the bigger issues with baptism is that the contract changes - the beliefs and the consequences dramatically alter and you don't get a chance to say "whoa, I didn't sign up for that!".

    There should be something akin to "constructive dismissal" where if they change the beliefs and rules you get to walk out and it's not the same as quitting without cause.

  • Lieu

    Baptism by water is just a way to say you repent to God for your sins. It isn't a contract between humans. Did you sign something?

    John was baptizing people who wanted forgiveness. He wasn't doing it so that people belonged to him.

  • Divergent
    In legal defense cases, they always fall back on the excuse that shunning is a decision that individuals make of their own volition, nobody forces them to shun.

    Well, it is a fact that the organization encourages JW's to shun

    Take a look at the God's "Love" book, pages 207 & 208:

    How should we treat a disfellowshipped person? The Bible says: “Stop keeping company with anyone called a brother who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.” (1 Corinthians 5:11) Regarding everyone who “does not remain in the teaching of the Christ,” we read: “Do not receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For the one who says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.” (2 John 9-11) We do not have spiritual or social fellowship withdisfellowshipped ones. The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 25, stated: “A simple ‘Hello’ to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take that first step with a disfellowshiped person?”

    Is strict avoidance really necessary? Yes, for several reasons. First, it is a matter of loyalty to God and his Word. We obey Jehovah not only when it is convenient but also when doing so presents real challenges. Love for God moves us to obey all his commandments, recognizing that he is just and loving and that his laws promote the greatest good. (Isaiah 48:17; 1 John 5:3) Second, withdrawing from an unrepentant wrongdoer protects us and the rest of the congregation from spiritual and moral contamination and upholds the congregation’s good name. (1 Corinthians 5:6, 7) Third, our firm stand for Bible principles may even benefit the disfellowshipped one. By supporting the decision of the judicial committee, we may touch the heart of a wrongdoer who thus far has failed to respond to the efforts of the elders to assist him. Losing precious fellowship with loved ones may help him to come “to his senses,” see the seriousness of his wrong, and take steps to return to Jehovah.—Luke 15:17.

  • WireRider

    Huh? I don't see the WT/JW as a valid church, in practice or in doctrine. Russell was never an ordained minister from any real church. He didn't have any moral authority to baptize or ordain anyone else. He just made it up. Made up a group in his club house.

    JW baptism is only as real as you believe it is. There are no binding contracts for anyone. Tell them to take a leap.

    Russell's church is based upon Arius (300AD) who was excommunicated from the church, banished to the north, and ordered that all his writings and teachings be burned. (Arius recanted profusely and the local Roman magistrate ordered the church to reinstate him - he died two days before the event. Russell PROMISED the end of the world in 1914 - opps wrong measurements, must be 1915 - God got fed up and just killed him in 1916. .... always a day late.)

  • LisaRose

    It's just common sense, and a valid legal defence that a child is not capable of entering into a contract. Unfortunately the a Watchtower makes its own rules and they will never annual a baptism, even if the child was six years old at the time of baptism. In fact, I think they encourage child baptism for that reason, once you are baptized you cannot leave with out losing your family. They know this and use it to their advantage. They already have the lowest retention rate of any religion, if they allowed young people to annul their baptism they would lose even more young people.

  • Sabin

    Losing precious fellowship with loved ones may help him to come to his senses!

    What loved ones would that be? The hypocrisy of these people never ceases to amaze me. There is no love among them. There has never been love among them. There never will be love among them.

    Really & truthfully if you have walked away from them, then you have effectively disfellowshipped them from your life, & why the hell wouldn't you?

    At the end of the day if you got dunked they will never let you forget it, they love the power to much, makes them feel like BIG BOYS.

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