What is Scriptural Baptism?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by saturneptune, Jun 19, 2006.

  1. saturneptune

    saturneptune
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Messages:
    13,977
    Likes Received:
    0
    Our church is a small (50-65 in attendance on a normal Sunday) conservative SBC church. We have always practiced Baptism as an ordainance of our local church as immersion following salvation. It does not save, but is a sign of our relationship to Jesus Christ.

    In the surrounding areas, some SBC churches have started accepting baptisms from other denominations that sprinkle, baptize infants, and immerse but used as a saving act. The new problem is that when a letter is transfered to our church from one of these Baptist churches, there is no assurance of Scriptural baptism without some type of examination. Our local church is in the process of trying to amend our Constitution that solves this problem, which has only appeared recently, say in the past two years.

    Any thoughts anyone has about this issue would be appreciated, and would especially like to hear from Baptists that are not a part of the SBC. Thanks for your time.
     
  2. saturneptune

    saturneptune
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Messages:
    13,977
    Likes Received:
    0
    Moderator, please close thread.
     
  3. Pipedude

    Pipedude
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2005
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wut happened? Lightning strike you for even using this thread's title on a Baptist forum?
     
  4. saturneptune

    saturneptune
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Messages:
    13,977
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nope, not hardly. It has gotten no responses, so there is no purpose in keeping it open.
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    12,213
    Likes Received:
    192
    Stand tall!

    Hi, saturneptune.

    I didn't see this one or I would have answered it. (I am an IFB missionary.) To me this is a huge problem. It speaks to the very fact of whether or not a church is Baptist. As soon as a church begins to allow, as you say, "baptisms from other denominations that sprinkle, baptize infants, and immerse but used as a saving act," then I don't believe it can be considered a true Baptist church. The two ordinances are a key Baptist distinctive, recognized among Baptists for hundreds of years. How could either one be ignored by an ostensibly Baptist church? To thus approve infant baptism or other forms of baptismal regeneration is, in my view, to approve an evil called "another Gospel" by Paul in Gal. 1.

    I have suffered for this very stand in Japan. I once had a church split (defined in a tiny Japanese church as any time two people leave :smilewinkgrin: ) in our church in Yokohama, was called a legalist and other nasty names because I wouldn't allow a lady from a baptismal regeneration church that poured to become a member. Again, in this town my co-worker and I are considered anathema because the baptismal regeneration churches control the ministerial association which we haven't joined. Again, the newest Japanese Bible translation, sweeping the country, translates baptisma with a word meaning "washing ceremony," the very word used by the baptismal regeneration churches.

    I will continue to suffer for this cause if I have to. I would even die for it if necessary. The battle is over the salvation of eternal souls! I highly commend your church for taking the stand they are taking.

    God bless from Japan!
     
  6. Pipedude

    Pipedude
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2005
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    0
    Mine is an IFB church and our pastor always asks folks publicly if they know the Lord as their savior and if they have followed the Lord in believer's baptism since they have been saved, in order that the congregation can hear their testimony regarding those two things. Of course, he already knows the answers or he wouldn't present them to the congregation in the first place, but he does this whether they are coming by letter or by statement. Then the congregation votes them in, of course, since it's already dinner time by then.
     
  7. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    Most Baptist will agree that scriptural baptism involves several elements:
    1. The mode--immersion
    2. The design--to picture the gospel and be a public testimony of one's salvation.
    3. The subject--a regenerated believer.

    Where we now find less unanimity is over
    4. The administrator. Historically, a valid baptism required immersion by one authorized by a New Testament church. And that means a Baptist church, or one of like faith and order. Churches which practiced baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, believed in falling from grace, practiced charismatic gifts did not qualify.

    Three developments in Baptist life occurred. One, baptism came to be considered a Christian ordinance rather than a church ordinance. Two, the administrator logically became no longer important. And three, the individual became the arbiter of whether his baptism was valid and no church had the right to pass judgement on it. Many Baptist congregations have bought into these views, including some conservative ones.

    And probably fourth, the the Church Growth Movement and the pragmatism which accompanied it resulted in an obsession with numbers, and a lowering of historical criteria for church membership. In fact, I think I read a post on the BB recently about one church which has dropped baptism as a door to church membership. In other words, if you show up, you're a member.

    This mindset has spread into even the most conservative churches in our area, where saturneptune and I live. Eight of the largest churches have left a neighboring association over this issue. That's the reason the church where he and I serve wants to prepare for when it arrives at our congregation. That's the reason he asked for your views He and I want to know how it is in your neck of the woods and how it's being handled.
     
    #7 Tom Butler, Jun 20, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2006
  8. USN2Pulpit

    USN2Pulpit
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2003
    Messages:
    1,641
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have a comment about this part of #4. Generally, those who practice "charismatic" gifts also fall under the baptismal regeneration error as well - that was the biggest reason charismatic baptisms have not been accepted. However, what do you do with the somewhat charismatic fellowships that do not believe in baptismal regeneration? Is their baptism excluded because of their belief and practice of so-called charismatic gifts? If so, why?
    • Do we see it as a false teaching and practice?
    • Do we see their babbling on at altar-call time as disorderly and sinful?
    • Is our believe in cessation of gifts is so strong (and correct IMO) that these other congregations cannot possibly be pleasing to God in any way.
    Please understand that I'm very comfortable with my views on the subject. I am all for scriptural baptism - and all four of the points made. However, if these options are the reasons we disqualify "charismatic," but not "regenerative" baptisms, perhaps we should look at some of the disorder within our own fellowships and question whether or not some of our own baptisms are "valid."

    I have often wondered whether or not our accepting of baptisms is more linked to spiritual pride than it is to an assumption of error.

    (Please don't flame me for this...I'm just thinking out loud.)
     
  9. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    USN2, I speak only for myself and not my church. In the case of those charismatic groups which baptize only believers, it's not so much a case of like faith but like order. And admitting a practicing charismatic to a traditional Baptist church is the first step toward division, disorder and conflict.

    It says nothing about whether God can be pleased with a charistmatic congregation. I am certain there are many of them who seek to be Christ-honoring in all that they do. And the same will apply to many non-Baptist groups. But they are just that, IMO, groups, not NT churches.

    I recognize that this is a narrow view of what a NT church is. And as a general rule, one can define a NT church by its views on baptism. And I am a modified cessationist, which of course colors my views.

    And I can assure you that there's no spiritual pride involved in my attempt to be faithful to the scripture to define baptism and what a NT church is.

    Thanks for raising some good, provocative questions.
     
  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    12,213
    Likes Received:
    192
    Very good post, Tom. :thumbs: I think you are right on target with your point on the Church Growth Movement. Pragmatism is replacing spirituality in many cases.
     
  11. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    John, I'm afraid the subject of baptism is already, in some circles, is being redefined as a "non-essential." So watch this get demagogued, as in "if we'd quit spending so much time debating non-essentials, we could have more time to win souls." Or, "doctrine divides, we just want to do missions."

    We also are getting to the point where it's political and religiously incorrect to say that some groups are teach false doctrine, and thus are not true New Testament churches, much less insist that Baptists are. We, the Methodists, Pentecostals, etc., are just "branches" of the big Universal Church.

    Memories are short. It hasn't been that long since Baptists and other believers were burned alive for having the view of baptism that we're ready to throw on the trash heap today. The persecutors certainly thought the administrator was important. You talk about a hill on which to die.

    John, bless you for your stand in Japan. Even we SBCers are indebted to people like you and your partners there.
     
  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    12,213
    Likes Received:
    192
    And this is tragic. What is at issue according to the OP is not just whether you dunk or sprinkle or pour, but the doctrine of salvation itself. If we don't take a stand on the meaning of salvation, there's really nothing left.

    Concerning baptismal regeneration, I remember a Church of Christ in Tennessee that believed in it so much they had half a baptismal pool on the front of their church! Well, if they believed in it so much, I wondered, why not build a "baptismobile" and go door to door with it trying to get people saved! It would even be easier if someone truly believed in salvation by sprinkling. Just carry a canteen door to door! But true compassion for souls comes when you give the Gospel of Jesus Christ, amen?
    Ever watch the Red Green Show? Hilarious! Anyway, there's one segment where he always gives pseudo advice to us men, and finishes by saying, "I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together!"
     
  13. Pipedude

    Pipedude
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2005
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    0
    It has been suggested that their favorite hymn might begin "Water fellowship, water joy divine..."
    It worked for Charlemagne. Until you've made as many converts as he, don't knock it. (Where's my "100% Charlemagne" button?)

    But, to be charitable, Church of Christ doctrine does insist on the the necessity of faith, else the baptism is invalid. But their definition of faith is pretty shallow.
     
  14. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    Back to saturneptune's OP:

    Please share your church's practice and procedure for admitting members. And relate your church's criteria for eligibility. Who would have to be dunked again?
     
  15. LeBuick

    LeBuick
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2006
    Messages:
    11,537
    Likes Received:
    0
    Do any of you separate the ritual of baptism from the baptism of the holy spirit?
     
  16. John of Japan

    John of Japan
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    12,213
    Likes Received:
    192
    :laugh: :laugh: You crack me up, dude!
     
  17. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    When God saves someone, He gives him all the Holy Spirit he's ever going to get. Now, the Holy Spirit may not get all of the new convert. That's why there can be several "fillings" with the HS. But there's only one baptism of the HS--at conversion.

    I have a book by a Baptist scholar who holds that Holy Spirit baptism occurs at ones' water baptism. Obviously, I disagree.
     
  18. Psalm 100

    Psalm 100
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Messages:
    123
    Likes Received:
    0
    Tom, with your views on baptismal seperation, I'd like to know how you feel about this:

    I was saved and baptized in a Church of God (Cleveland). I don't believe, nor was it taught, in baptismal regeneration or instant sanctification. I was baptized after professing Christ and being born again, baptized in the trinitarian formula. Is my baptism, by your views, valid?

    I am now a member of a conservative baptist church who accepted my baptism.
     
  19. USN2Pulpit

    USN2Pulpit
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2003
    Messages:
    1,641
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for your thoughts on my "wonderings out loud." I agree with the things you have said, but continue to wonder if the name "baptist" carries with it any assurances at all. I have seen chaos and disorder in baptist churches, too - that may make me think twice about the validity of their baptism (based on the criteria we've been discussing).

    Again, if we exclude baptisms from other types of churches, can we really be sure that any other church baptism is valid? For instance, if a church is bitter, lukewarm, contentious, etc., are they truly a NT church or a "group?" What I'm saying is that we put a lot of trust in the name "baptist."
     
  20. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    Psalm 100,
    if you were to present yourself for membership in my church, and revealed that your original baptism was in the Church of God (Cleveland), we would require that you be re-baptized. Your salvation is not in question. It goes back to the question of the administrator--in this case a church which is not of like faith and order.


    USN2Pulpit,
    You raise an excellent point. However, my main concern must necessarily be whether the baptism is scriptural, and as a general rule, a Baptist baptism is scriptural. But these days, you can't be sure, since some congregations now accept what is commonly known as "alien baptism." See Psalm 100's post as an example. So a church must be diligent in guarding the interegrity of the ordinances. As I mentioned in a previous post, we should not consider non-essential something many of our forebears suffered torture and death for.

    Chaos, disorder and lukewarmness in a church are terrible, but does not necessarily disqualify it as a New Testament church. It's a useless NT church, to be sure.

    I have a friend who was looking for a church in Maryland. Years ago, I would have recommended she look up any Baptist Church for assurance of doctrinal and ecclesiological integrity. Not any more.
     

Share This Page

Loading...