Immersion and Membership

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Debby in Philly, May 4, 2007.

  1. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    Most Baptist churches say that to be a member of the local church (and therefore have financial responsibility and voting rights), one must have accepted Christ as Savior and Lord, and have followed Him in the waters of Believer's Baptism, by immersion.

    That being said, what about persons who, because of a physical disability or set of special circumstances, cannot be immersed?

    Should we

    1. Deny baptism and membership?
    2. Grant membership without baptism?
    3. Baptize by another method and grant membership?

    What if someone who is saved underwent a believer's baptism (not infant baptism) for the purpose of the testimony, but it was administered by another method (pouring, for example) because of special circumstances. Should this person be granted membership in the local church on the basis of their testimony and that baptism? What should be required?
     
  2. SBCPreacher

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    I think that there must be some exceptions allowed. Inconvenience is not a good reason, but I'm sure there are valid reasons.

    All I can do is speak for my church. If it is really, actually impossible for someone to be baptized by immersion, then we would accept them upon their profession of faith alone.

    If someone doesn't want to be baptized by immersion, I would ask them why they aren't willing to be obedient to Jesus. It's never a good thing to begin your Christian walk in disobedience to Jesus.
     
    #2 SBCPreacher, May 4, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2007
  3. PASTOR MHG

    PASTOR MHG
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    I am not trying to provoke anything with this question... it is truly just for understanding. What would be a disability that would keep someone from being immersed? I can't think of one.

    I recently had the opportunity to baptize a parapelegic (sp?) it took some care and planning and 4 men in the baptistry to help, but we did it.

    Thanks,

    Max
     
  4. AAA

    AAA
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    Why would GOD everyone a command that everyone can NOT obey?
     
  5. SBCPreacher

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    That's kinda how I feel. But if there ever was a real reason, we wouldn't require it. Just because it's difficult and might take some planning doesn't make it impossible.
     
  6. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    How about my second question?

    What if someone who is saved underwent a believer's baptism (not infant baptism) for the purpose of the testimony, but it was administered by another method (pouring, for example) because of special circumstances, prior to coming to your church. Should this person be granted membership in your local church on the basis of their testimony and that baptism? What should be required?

    To further complicate, what if this person, when questioned on the matter, felt that asking him to be rebaptized by immersion would be making a mockery of the first baptism, which to him was very meaningful and did indeed provide a witness? Especially in light of the fact that baptism does not save?
     
  7. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    The scriptural method of baptism is immersion. Any other mode is not baptism, thus not valid for membership in a local congregation. It's called "alien baptism" for a reason.

    Several years ago in our church, a similar thing happened--a man felt his baptism by sprinkling in a Presbyterian church was valid, and didn't want to be immersed. Our pastor told him, "brother, you're welcome to attend this church, you'll be made to feel at home here, and we'll love you like we love any other member. But if you want to be a member here and fully participate in the life of this church, we'll have to dunk you."

    In effect, it's like saying, "this is the way we do it here. We believe this is the scriptural way. You're asking us to violate our conscience and validate something we don't believe is valid. You disagree, fine. But don't ask us to change something we've been doing for the entire life of our congregation."

    Many of our local churches have gone liberal because they failed to guard their doors and abandoned scriptural practice for convenience' sake.
     
  8. donnA

    donnA
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    Twice we've baptized men who had to be carried upstairs to the baptistery, and then down into it. One was dying of cancer and cemo treatments, the other partially paralyzed from a stroke.
    If the biblical method of baptism is immersion, then anyother method of baptism is not biblical baptism.
     
  9. Hope of Glory

    Hope of Glory
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    A whirlpool at the physical therapy place would work quite well, and would be a testimony to those outside the assembly.
     
  10. Joseph M. Smith

    Joseph M. Smith
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    Twice -- and only twice -- in a twenty-year pastorate, I did aspersion baptisms because the candidates were on their death beds. One of them was in a hospital and the other was under home nursing care. I took into account not only their physical disabilities, but also their spiritual histories. What moving experiences these were! I could hardly speak the words for the tears. Obviously there was no issue about leadership or voting in the church, as neither of them was to recover from their illness. But if they had, I am confident our church would have accepted them as full members. Mode is always secondary to intent.
     
  11. gerald285

    gerald285
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    The problem here is that baptism was never intended for membership in a local congregation. This is one area that the church has totally went astray and in many cases I believe that church's actually mock the true meaning of baptism by re-baptizing some people. I have an article on this at; http://www.gerald285.com/view/?pageID=311993 which deals with this and another problem with church tradition over biblical intent. :wavey:
     
  12. rbell

    rbell
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    I was a nursing home chaplain for a few years. Twice during that time we helped a church facilitate baptisms via pouring for bedridden, terminal folks who accepted Christ.

    And just over a month ago, an elderly man who had accepted Christ a few years back (but had not been baptized) came forward to be baptized.

    Unfortunately, that evening, he had a massive stroke and never left the ICU. We did a baptism via pouring in the ICU a couple of days later. He died later that same day.

    But those are very, very special circumstances that will be seldom encountered.
     
  13. Salty

    Salty
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    It appears those two were never baptized:tear: but more importantly we will see them in Heaven:thumbs:
     
  14. Tom Butler

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    Actually, baptism is intended specifically as the gateway to membership in a local congregation.

    Jesus gave the Great Commission to the eleven disciples, who made up the core of the church Jesus established and organized during his earthly ministry. This commission included a command to baptize. This command carries the authority to do so.

    Paul told the church at Corinth--a local congregation--to guard the ordinances (I Cor 11:2). Such guardianship carries with it the authority to administer it and to determine who receives it.

    Those who were saved in Jerusalem were baptized and added to the church at Jerusalem almost immediately.

    In I Cor 12:13, Paul stated specifically that we are immersed into the local body of Christ. In v. 26, Paul identifies that body: "YE (the church at Corinth) are the body of Christ..." Not "a" body, but "the" body.

    In Acts 20:28, Paul told the elders at Ephesus to shepherd (pastor) the church over which the Holy Spirit had made them overseers--a church for whom Jesus had shed his blood.

    Since there is no such thing as the Universal church, and no reason for its existence, the one organization approved by Christ to carry out his commission, guard the ordinances, and shepherd the flock is the local church.

    Okay, I know that my interpretation of I Cor 12:13 and my view that the U-church is non-existence will bring folks out of the woodwork, so release the hounds!
     
  15. russell55

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    I know of small churches in fly-in only villages the arctic that don't have baptistries. They wait until summer and then baptize in ice cold river water. (While the river ice does go out for a couple of months in the summer, the temp never goes much above freezing.) I can think of situations where you might not want wait that long, and situations where even if you could wait that long, the person might be too frail for a dip in ice cold river water. I don't know if they'd have any other commonly available way to immerse except for in the river. Maybe in a bath tub, but then that defeats the public nature of a baptism, which is part of the point.
     
  16. DQuixote

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    A former pastor witnessed to a married couple for several years. Both needed Jesus as Savior, according to him. I witnessed to both of them, as well. One Sunday evening they both came forward, her to publicly announce that she had received Christ as Savior, he to announce that he was a Methodist. The pastor conferred with both right there in front of the congregation for what seemed like an extended time period. Both returned to their seat. Neither was willing to be immersed, she because she was so feeble, could hardly walk, and feared going under water, he because he had been sprinkled. They were not accepted for membership. Both thought that their salvation was being questioned, their testimony rejected. Her anger alternated with depression. He became depressed. They didn't understand. They thought that only this pastor's church was "this way."

    My heart was breaking. I knew how many years this couple had been witnessed to and prayed for. I went to them, had them tell me their salvation experience, and told them that I would speak to the pastor. The pastor was unrelenting. His position was that neither was truly saved. I told him that I had heard their testimony, that we had prayed together, and I had no doubts. He did not agree. They came to church a couple of times after that, then dropped out. She died that same year. Her only request was that she be cremated and her ashes thrown away at some desolate spot by her husband. She wanted no mention of her passing, no services, nothing. No one was to ever know what happened to her.

    To this day I wish that I had found an empty coke bottle somewhere, filled it with water, poured it on both of them, and we would then bow low before our Lord, worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. If I couldn't find water, I'd use whatever coke was left in the bottle. Then we would dance around His Throne.

    I don't know where he is today.

    And I'm sad. Today. :tear:

    I'll see them both in glory.
     
  17. Tom Butler

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    DQuixote, your story leaves me with mixed emotions. I'm sad for the couple. But I must say, it's not fair to paint the pastor as the villain of the story. In fact, I am grateful that he felt a responsibility to protect the integrity of the church's theology and ecclesiology.

    You said:
    That's a very nice thought. The problem is that that couple would be wet, but they would not have been baptized.
     
  18. gerald285

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    Actually you are incorrect. No place in the bible does it even suggest that baptism was intended for membership in a local. church. Thos ein acts who were baptized and added were added to the church triumphant, not a local congreation. Baptism is a universal ordiance, not a local rite.

     
  19. 2 Timothy2:1-4

    2 Timothy2:1-4
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    There was an elderly woman who lived in Virginia that finally received Christ as her savior. The decision came about during the final months of her life. I believe I was told she was in her late 80's. She was also on bed rest most of the time. She was not able to be emmersed per her doctors orders.

    I do not think we should put anyone at risk for baptism. Cases like this are rare. And I would question the motives of most people who made an attempt to avoid Baptism. Baptism is a witness, a confession of our identifying with Christ through His Death, Burial, and Resurrection. Are there ways that that public confession and identifying can be made if it truly becomes necessary to avoid water emmersion?
     
  20. Tom Butler

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    Would you care to explain further, particularly the origin of the term "church triumphant," and your flat unsupported statement that baptism is a universal ordinance.

    Jesus gave the Great Commission to an assembly of people. That assembly was commanded to baptize. Paul instructed the local church at Corinth on the proper observance of another ordinance, the Lord's Supper. He instructed that local church to guard the ordinances. The Great Commission, which includes baptism, is carried out by local churches, which are uniquely suited to do so.

    Paul wrote to a local church, an assembly in Ephesus. He told them in 4:6 that there is one baptism, not two or more. The baptism in I Cor 12:13 is water baptism. The body into which the Corinthians were baptized was the assembly at Corinth. The same Corinthian congregation he described in 12:27 as THE body of Christ.

    The local church at Jerusalem sent out Stephen and Philip. The church at Antioch sent out Paul and Silas, and later Paul and Barnabas. The church trumphant has never sent out one missionary, never witnessed to a single soul, never administered one ordinance, never participated in an ordinance, never taught a single Bible study and never gathered to hear the preaching of the gospel--or for any other purpose, for that matter.

    Here's a good treatise on the subject:

    http://www.baptistboard.com/showthread.php?p=993857#post993857
     

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