The following is an excerpt from article DB040 from the Christian Research Journal by Hank Hanegraaff. The full PDF can be viewed by clicking the link below the excerpt.
The mode of baptism is often as hotly contested as the meaning of baptism. In the early Christian church submersion or immersion was the primary mode. If water was scarce, pouring or splashing was permitted. In the early Middle Ages, however, sprinkling became the prevalent mode for baptism.12
Those who believe that we should be baptized by sprinkling rather than submersion maintain that baptism in Scripture is often portrayed as a cleansing or washing, and therefore does not require submersion. They point to passages such as Ezekiel 36:2513 in the Old Testament and Hebrews l0:2214 in the New Testament.
Those who believe we must be submerged rather than sprinkled or splashed point to the fact that the Greek word for “to baptize” (baptizein) in classical usage means “to immerse.”15 They also appeal to passages such as Romans 6:4-6 and Colossians 2:12 “to express the symbolism of the Sacrament.”16 Being submerged represents being buried with Christ and coming up out of the water indicates being resurrected ns a new creation in Christ.