The website of the Associated Baptist Press published recently a very consistent article on the present debates about baptism within Baptist communities. The text also provides a number of links to other relevant articles on the same topic. Here is just a short quote.
If Baptists — in all their diversity — cannot agree on baptism, some theologians wonder what is left to unite them.
“Other denominations certainly have tended to see it (believer’s baptism by immersion) as what set Baptists apart. For centuries, it has been the most obvious answer to the question: What makes Baptists different?” said James Leo Garrett, distinguished professor emeritus of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study.
But even a casual look at Baptist life today reveals troubled waters:
• While most Baptists reject infant baptism, some congregations readily baptize preschoolers.
• Many nondenominational churches require believer’s baptism by immersion, but some Baptist congregations accept as members Christians who were sprinkled as infants.
• Nearly all Baptists insist baptism is a symbolic ordinance with no soul-saving power; however, a small-but-growing number prefer to speak of baptism as a vital sacrament. Meanwhile, others ask why baptism should be demanded of new believers at all, since it’s “just a symbol.”