1 Bptism Jesus commnded His followers shortly before His scension, Go therefore nd mke disciples of ll the ntions, bptizing them in the nme of the Fther nd the Son nd the Holy Spirit, teching them to observe ll tht I hve commnded you (Mtthew 28:19f, Mrk 16:15f). This is precisely wht the disciples did fter the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:41; 8:12, 13; 9:18; 10:48; 16:15, 33; 18:8). The chllenge of Peter ws repent nd let ech of you be bptized in the nme of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). The postles preched the Gospel, people responded, nd the people were immeditely bptized. Thus, repentnce, fith, nd bptism were very closely relted. Clerly though, bptism did not contribute to slvtion, rther it followed fter ccepting Jesus Christ s their Lord nd Svior. Acts 10:44-48 tells us tht Cornelius ws bptized fter hving received the Holy Spirit. The ordinnce of bptism is symbol of the believer s identifiction with Christ in His deth, buril, nd resurrection (Romns 6:3f, Colossins 2:12, 1 Peter 3:21). In bptism the believer testifies tht he ws in Christ when Christ ws judged for sin, tht he ws buried with Christ, nd the he hs risen to new life in Him. Bptism symbolizes tht the believer is identified with Christ, for he is bptized in (into) the nme of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:38, 8:16). This ws done while the penitent (the one who is repentnt for their sins) clled upon the nme of the Lord (Acts 22:16) nd ws n open nd public confession of the Lordship of Christ (Romns 10:9f). Severl pssges, on the surfce, seem to tech tht bptism sves. Four such verses re: He who hs believed nd hs been bptized shll be sved; but he who hs disbelieved shll be condemned. Mrk 16:16 Repent nd let ech of you be bptized in the nme of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, nd you shll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 Arise, nd be bptized nd wsh wy your sins, clling on His nme. Acts 22:16 Corresponding to tht, bptism now sves you. 1 Peter 3:21 In reference to ll of the scriptures, fith must come first. The biblicl order we re given is repentnce, belief, nd then bptism. Scripture is bundntly cler tht purifiction from sin is not the result of bptism (Acts 15:9, 1 John 1:9), but the ct of bptism is so closely relted to the ct of fith tht they re often expressed s one ct. Bptism is reserved for those who personlly nd willingly respond to the cll of slvtion. All who sincerely repent of their sins nd exercise living fith in the Lord Jesus re eligible for bptism. Relity does not prctice infnt bptism. Infnt bptism is prctice tken from verses where it sttes, some households were bptized (Acts 10:48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 1 Corinthins 1:16). Household does not necessrily imply tht infnts were counted mong the members. In the verses mentioned regrding households being bptized, those who were bptized herd the Word (Acts 10:44) nd believed (Acts 16:31, 34). Nowhere does Scripture tech tht infnts re to be bptized. Relity believes nd prctices the dediction of the child to the Lord by their prents. Hnnh nd her dediction of Smuel to the Lord in 1 Smuel gives this exmple to us. Plese red the ttched rticle from Systemtic Theology by Wyne Grudem (Zondervn, 1994) for more thorough discussion concerning bptism nd support of Relity s view of the doctrine nd prctice of bptism. Relity Snt Brbr 10 E Ynonli Street, Snt Brbr, CA
2 to 49 TIISM : BAI Chpter 49 Bptism Who should be bptized? How should it be done? Wht does it men? Christins regrding this subject. The position dvocted in this book is tht bptism is not mjor doctrine tht should be the bsis of division mong genuine Christins, church life, nd it is pproprite tht we give it full considertion. 3 but it is nonetheless mtter of importnce for ordinry The position dvocted in this chpter is Bptistic nmely, tht bptism is ppropritely dministered only to those who give believble profrssion offith in Jesus Christ. During the discussion, we shll interct prticulrly with the pedobptist ( infnt bptist ) position s dvocted by Louis Berkhof in his Systemcrtic Theology, since this is creful nd responsible representtion of the pedobptist position, nd it is in widely used systemtic theology text. A. The Mode nd Mening of Bptism EXPLANATION AN]) SCRIPTURAL BASIS In this chpter nd the next we tret bptism nd the Lord s Supper, two ceremonies tht Jesus commnded his church to perform. But before we begin considertion of either one of them we must note tht there is disgreement mong Protestnts even over the generl term tht should be pplied to them. Becuse the Romn Ctholic Church clls these two ceremonies scrments, nd becuse the Ctholic Church teches tht these scrments in themselves ctully convey grce to people (without requiring fith from the persons prticipting in them), some Protestnts (especilly Bptists) hve refused to refer to bptism nd the Lord s Supper s scrments. They hve preferred the word ordinnces insted. This is thought to be n pproprite term becuse bptism nd the Lord s Supper were ordined by Christ.1 On the other hnd, other Protestnts such s those in the Anglicn, Luthern, nd Reformed trditions, hve been willing to use the word scrments to refer to bptism nd the Lord s Supper, without thereby endorsing the Romn Ctholic position. It does not seem tht ny significnt point is t issue here in the question of whether to cll bptism nd the Lord s Supper ordinnces or scrments. Since Protestnts who use both words explin clerly wht they men by them, the rgument is not relly over doctrine but over the mening of n English word. If we re willing to explin clerly wht we men, it does not seem to mke ny difference whether we use the word scrment or not. 2 In this text, when referring to bptism nd the Lord s Supper in Protestnt teching, I will use both ordinnces nd scrments interchngebly, nd regrd them s synonymous m mening. Before beginning our discussion of bptism we must recognize tht there hs been historiclly, nd is tody, strong difference of viewpoint mong evngelicl A. H. Strong, Systemtic Theology, sys, No ordinnce confernng grce (p. 930). He lso sys, The Romnist regrds the ordinnces grce nd producing holiness (ibid.). 2T&.4mmcn Heritge Dictionry (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981) llows defining scrment s rite considered s is testment to inner grce or scrment in the Romnist sense of s ctully confèrnng rnge of menings, chnnel tht medites grce (p. 1141). Even the most conscientious Bptist would not object to clling bptism testment to ismer grce while Ctholics would not object to clling bptism chnnel tht medites grce. The prctice of bptism in the New Testment ws crried out in one wy: the person being bptized ws immersed or put completely under the wter nd then brought bck up gin. Bptism by immersion is therefore the mode of bptism or the wy in which bptism ws crried out in the New Testment. This is evident for the following resons: (1) The Greek word bptizo mens to plunge, dip, immerse something in wter. This is the commonly recognized nd stndrd mening of the term in ncient Greek literture both inside nd outside of the Bible. 4 (2) The sense immerse is pproprite nd probbly required for the word in severl New Testment pssges. In Mrk 1:5, people were bptized by John in the river Jordn (the Greek text hs en, in, nd not beside or by or ner the river). Mrk lso tells us tht when Jesus hd been bptized he cme up out of the wter (Mrk 1:10). The Greek text specifies tht he cme out of (ek) the wter, not tht he cme wy from it (this would be expressed by Gk. po). The 3See chpter 1, with toy view tht this pp , for is Christins gree minor doctrine. Mny Christins in previous genertions were persecuted discussion of mjor nd minor doctrines. Not nd even put to deth becuse they differed with the ofilcil stte church nd its prctice of infnt bptism. For them, the issue ws not merely one tht did not utomticlly include light, the controversy over bptism involves become prt of the church by birth into ll ceremony: it ws the right to hve the people born in ll believers church, geogrphicl region. Viewed in this lrger difference over the nture of the church: does one believing fmily, or by voluntry profession of fith? So LSJ, p. 305: plunge ; pssive, to be drowned. Similrly, BAGD, p. 131: dip, immerse, nd middic, dip oneself wsh (in non-christin literture lso plunge, sink, drench, overwhelm ). sink the ship ; Also Albrecht Oepke, bpto, bptizo, etc., in 1DNT, 1:530: to immerse... pssive, to sink... occsionlly found in Hellenism. (ibid.). A. H. Strong, Systemtc Berkhof, Systemtic suffer shipwreck, to drown (the sense of to bthe or to wsh Theology,.. the ide of going under or perishing pp. Theology, is to is only nerer the generl usge) gives much dditionl evidence to this effect. p. 630, objects nd gives some counter-exmples, but his evidence unconvincing becuse he indiscrimintely mixes exmples of bptizci with bpto. is relted but different word, (Pssges tht spek of bthing or wshing [in the Septugint, Judith 12:7, for exmple, nd in the New Testment, Mrk 7:4j would most likely involve covering one s body [or hnds, in Mrk 7:41 completely with wter.) If ny New Testment uthor hd wnted to indicte tht people were sprmkled with Wter, perfectly good Greek word mening to sprinkle ws vilble: rhntizö 9:13, 19, 21; 10:22; see BAGD, p is used in this sense in Heb. 5Berkhof sks, Ws John the Bptist cpble of the enormous tsk of immersing the multitudes tht flocked unto him t the river Jordn...? (p. 630). Certinly over hve been cpble of immersing mny hundreds of people, but it (Mtt. 9:14; et l.) ssisted him with some of the bptisms. is criod of severl dys he would lso possible tht his disciples 966
3 fct tht John rid Jesus went into the river nd cme up out of it strongly suggests immersion, since sprinkling or pouring of wter could much more redily hve been done stnding beside the river, prticulrly becuse multitudes of people were coming for bptism. John s gospel tells us, further, tht John the Bptist ws bptizing t Aenon ner Slim, becuse there ws much wter there (John 3:23). Agin, it would not tke much wter to bptize people by sprinlding, but it would tke much wter to bptize by immersion. When Philip hd shred the gospel with the Ethiopin eunuch, s they went long the rod they cme to some wter, nd thc eunuch sid, See, here is wter! Wht is to prevent my being bptized? (Acts 8:36). Apprently neither of them thought tht sprinkling or pouring hndful of wter from the continer of drinking wter tht would hve been crried in the chriot ws enough to constitute bptism. Rther, they wited until there ws body of wter ner the rod. Then he commnded the chriot to stop, nd they both went down into the wter, Philip nd the eunuch, nd he bptized him. And when they cme up out of the wter, the Spirit of the Lord cught up Philip; nd the eunuch sw him no more, nd went on his wy rejoicing (Acts 8:38 39). As in the cse of Jesus, this bptism occurred when Philip nd the eunuch went down into body of wter, nd fter the bptism they cme up out of tht body of wter. Once gin bptism 6 by immersion is the only stisfctory explntion of this nrrtive. (3) The symbolism of union with Christ in his deth, buril, nd resurrection seems to require bptism by immersion. Pul sys, Do you not know tht ll of us who hve been bptized into Christ Jesus were bptized into his deth? We were buried therefore with him by bptism into deth, so tht s Christ ws rised from the ded by the glory of the Fther, we too might wlk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:3 4) Similrly, Pul tells the Colossins, You were buried with him in bptism, in which you were lso rised with him through fith in the working of God, who rised him from the ded (Col. 2:12). Now this truth is clerly symbolized in bptism by immersion. When the cndidte for bptism goes down into the wter it is picture of going down into the grve nd being buried. Coming up out of the wter is then picture of being rised with Christ to wlk in newness of life. Bptism thus very clerly pictures deth to one s old wy of life nd rising to new kind of life in Christ. But bptism by sprinkling or pouring simply misses this symbolism. 7 6Berkhof (pp ) objects tht in Acts 8:38 the Greek word eis cn men to nd not necessrily into. It is true tht the word cn tke either mening, but we must lso note v. 39, where ek certinly mens out of, not wy from, which would be expressed by po. And the going down rid coming up (kthinö nd nhinö) rc not going down from the chriot nd going bck up into the chriot, but re specificlly sid to be going down into the wter nd coming up out of the wter. In fct, the wters of bptism hve n even richer symbolism thn simply the symbolism of the grve. The wters lso remind us of the wters of God s ;udgment tht cme upon unbeievers t the time of the flood (Gcn. 7:6 24), or thc drowning of the Egyptins in the Exodus (Ex. 14:26 29). Similrly, when Jonh ws thrown into the deep (Jonh 1:7 16), he ws thrown down to the plce of deth becuse of God s judgment on his disobedience- even though he ws mirculously rescued nd thus becme sign of the resurrection. Therefore those who go down into the wters of bptism relly rc going down into the wters ofjudgment nd deth, deth tht they deserve from God for their sins. When they come bck up out of the wters of bptism it shows tht they hve come sfely through God s judgment only becuse of the merits ofjesus Christ, with whom they re united in his deth nd Dill I.LCiIVl Sometimes it is objected tht the essentil thing symbolized in bptism is not deth nd resurrection with Christ but purifiction nd clensing from sins. Certinly it is true tht wter is n evident symbol of wshing nd clensing, nd the wters of bptism do symbolize wshing nd purifiction from sins s well s deth nd resurrection with Christ. Titus 3:5 speks of the wshing of regenertion nd, even though the word bptism is not used in this text, it is certinly true tht there is clensing from sin tht occurs t the time of conversion. Annis told Sul, Rise nd be bptized, nd wsh wy your sins, clling on his nme (Acts 22:16). But to sy tht wshing wy of sins is the only thing (or even the most essentil thing) pictured in bptism does not fithfully represent New Testment teching. Both wshing nd deth nd resurrection with Christ re symbolized in bptism, but Romns 6:1 11 nd Colossins 2:11 12 plce cler emphsis on dying nd rising with Christ. Even the wshing is much more effectively symbolized by immersion thn by sprinkling or pouring, nd deth nd resurrection with Christ re symbolized only by immersion, not t ll by sprinkling or pouring. Wht then is the positive mening of bptism? In ll the discussion over the mode of bptism nd the disputes over its mening, it is esy for Christins to lose sight of the significnce nd beuty of bptism nd to disregrd the tremendous blessing tht ccompnies this ceremony. The mzing truths of pssing through the wters of judgment sfely, of dying nd rising with Christ, nd of hving our sins wshed wy, re truths of momentous nd eternl proportion nd ought to be n occsion for giving gret glory nd prise to God. If churches would tech these truths more clerly, bptisms would be the occsion of much more blessing in the church. B. The Subjects of Bptism The pttern reveled t severl plces in the New Testment is tht only those who give believble profession of fith should be bptized. This view is often clled believers bptism, since it holds tht only those who hve themselves believed in Christ (or, more precisely, those who hve given resonble evidence of believing in Christ) should be bptized. This is becuse bptism, which is resurrection. This is why Peter cn sy in 1 Peter 3:21 tht bptism corresponds to the sving of Noh nd his fmily from the wters of judgment in the flood. Dougls Moo, in Romns 1 8, Wycliffè Evegetici Commentry (Chicgo: Moody Press, 1991), rgues tht bptism in Rom. 6 functions s shorthnd for the conversion experience s whole.. yoy. It is not, then, tht bptism is symbol of dying nd rising with Christ. (p. 371). He sys tht there is no evidence in Romns 6, or in the NT, tht the ctul physicl movemenrs immersion, nd emersion, involved in bptism were ccorded symbolicl significnce (p. 379). While I gree tht bptism in Rom. 6 functions s shorthnd for the conversion experience s whole, it does not seem to me tht we cn exdude the symbolism of dying nd rising with Christ, for the following resons: (I) The physicl ctions of going down into the wter (where humn beings cnnot live for more thn few minutes) nd coming up out ofthe wter re so dosely prllel to the ctions of going down into the grve nd coming up Out of the grve tht the connection is evident from the surfce ppernce of the ct ons, nd no detiled explntion would be necessry. (2) The Old Testment bckground of being immersed by wters of God s judgment confirms this. (3) When Pul sys, You were buried with him in bptism, in which you were lso rised with him through fith in the working of God, who rised him from the ded (Col. 2:12), it is hrd to imgine tht ny of Pul s reders, even children, would hve missed the evident prllel between the ctions of bptism nd dying nd rising with Christ. (This would be true even if, with Moo, we trnslte Col. 2:12 by mens of bptism. )
4 : BA1 1J.ii14 49 :R14PTJSM 971 symbol ofbeginning the Christin should only be given to those who hve in fct begun the Christin life. 1. The Argument From the New Testment Nrrtive Pssges on Bptism. The nrrtive exmples of those who were bptized suggest tht bptism ws dministered only to those who gve believble profession of fith. After Peter s sermon t Pentecost we red, Those who received his word were bptized (Acts 2:41). The text specifies tht bptism ws dministered to those who received his word nd therefore trusted in Christ for slvtion.8 Similrly, when Philip preched the gospel in Smri, we red, When they believed Philip s he preched good news bout the kingdom of God nd the nme of Jesus Christ, they were bptized, both men nd women (Acts 8:12). Likewise, when Peter preched to the Gentiles in Cornelius household, he llowed bptism for those who hd herd the Word nd received the Holy Spirit tht is, for those who hd given persusive evidence of n internl work of regenertion. While Peter ws preching, the Holy Spirit fell on ll who herd the word nd Peter nd his compnions herd them speking in tongues nd extolling God (Acts 10:44 46). Peter s response ws tht bptism is pproprite for those who hve received the regenerting work of the Holy Spirit: Cn ny one forbid wter for bptizing these people who hve received the Holy Spirit just s we hve? Then Peter commnded them to be bptized in the nme of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:47 48). The point of these three pssges is tht bptism is ppropritely given to those who hve received the gospel nd trusted in Christ for slvtion. There re other texts tht indicte this s well Acts 16:14 15 (Lydi nd her household, fter the Lord opened her hert to believe); Acts 16:32 33 (the fmily of the Philippin jiler, fter Peter preched the word of the Lord to him nd to ll tht were in his house ); nd 1 Corinthins 1:16 (the household of Stephns), but these will be discussed more fully below when we look t the question of household bptisms. 2. The Argument From the Mening of Bptism. In ddition to these indictions from New Testment nrrtives tht bptism lwys followed upon sving fitl, there is second considertion tht rgues for believers bptism: the outwrd symbol of beginning the Christin life should only be given to those who show evidence of hving begun the Christin life. The New Testment uthors wrote s though they clerly ssumed tht everyone who ws bptized hd lso personlly trusted in Christ nd experienced slvtion. For exmple, Pul sys, As mny of you s were bptized into Christ hve put on Christ (Gl. 3:27). Pul here ssumes tht bptism is the outwrd sign of inwrd regenertion. This simply would not hve been true of infnts Pul could not hve sid, As mny infnts s hve been bptized into Christ hve put on Christ, for infnts hve not yet 9 come to sving fith or given ny evidence of regenertion. 8Berkhof cutions ginst mking too much of the silence of Scripture regrding infnt bptism. Commenting on the fct tht in some cses whole households were bptized, he sys, And if there were infnts, it is morlly certin tht they were bptized long with the prents (p. 634). But this is nor wht Acts 2:41 sys: it specifies tht those who receired his word were bptized, not those who did not receive his word but were infnts belonging to the households of those who received his word. 9This is not to rgue tht no infnts cn be regenerted (see bove, chpter 24, pp ), but Pul speks the sme wy in Romns 6:3 4: Do you not know tht ll of us who hve been bptized into Christ Jesus were bptized into his deth? We were buried therefore with him by bptism into deth. COuIkIPul hve sid this of 0 Could he hve sid tht ll infnts who hve been bptized into Christ infnts? Jesus were bptized into his deth nd were buried therefore with him by bptism into deth, so tht s Christ ws rised from the ded? But if Pul could not hve sid those things bout infnts, then those who dvocte infnt bptism must sy tht bptism mens something different for infnts thn wht Pul sys it mens for ll of us who hve been bptized into Christ Jesus. Those who rgue for infnt bptism t this point resort to wht seems to the present uthor to be vgue lnguge bout infnts being dopted into the covennt or into the covennt community, but the New Testment does not spek tht wy bout bptism. Rther, it sys tht ll of those who hve been bptized hve been buried with Christ, hve been rised with him, nd hve put on Christ. A similr rgument cn be mde from Colossins 2:12: You were buried with him in bptism, in which you were lso rised with him through fith in the working of God, who rised him from the ded. But it could not be sid of infnts tht they were buried with Christ, or were rised with him through fith, since they were not yet old enough to exercise fith for themselves. 3. Alterntive #1: The Romn Ctholic View. The Romn Ctholic Church teches tht bptism should be dministered to infnts. 1 The reson for this is tht the Ctholic Church believes tht bptism is necessry for slvtion, nd tht the ct of bptism itself cuses regenertion. Therefore, in this view, bptism is mens whereby the church bestows sving grce on people. And if it is this kind of chnnel of sving grce it should be given to ll people. Ludwig Ott, in his Fundmentls of Ctholic Dogm explntions: 2 gives the following Bptism is tht Scrment in which mn being wshed with wter in the nme of the Three Divine Persons is spiritully reborn. (p. 350; Ott gives John 3:5; Titus 3:5; nd Eph. 5:26 in support of this sttement) Bptism, provided tht the proper dispositions (Fith nd sorrow for sin) re present, effects: ) the erdiction of sins, both originl sin nd, in the cse of dults, lso personl, mortl or venil sins; b) inner snctifiction by the infusion of snctifying grce. (p. 354) Even if it be unworthily received, vlid Bptism imprints on, the soul of the recipient n indelible spiritul mrk, the Bptisml Chrcter.... The bptized person is incorported, by the Bptisml Chrcter, into the Mysticl Body of vlidly bptized person, even one bptized outside the Ctholic Christ.... Every Church, becomes member of the One Holy Ctholic nd Apostolic Church. (p. 355) simply tht Pul could hve no theologicl bsis for sving tht ll infnts who hve been bptized hve begun the Christin life. He is tlking in Gl. 3:27 of s mny of you s were bptized into Christ. See section 3 below for response to the Romn Ctholic view tht bptism cuses regenertion. The ct of bptizing n infnt, including giving nme to the infnt t tht time, is sometimes clled christening, especilly in Romn Ctholic nd Episcoplin churches. 12 Trns. by Ptrick Lynch, ed. by Jmes Bsdble, 4th ed. (Rodcford, Ill.: Tn Books, 1960).
5 BAPTISM 49 : BAPTISM 973 Ott goes on to explin tht bptism is necessry for slvtion nd is to be performed only by priests: Bptism by wter... is, since the promulgtion of the Gospel, necessry for ll men without exception for slvtion. (p. 356)13 Ott explins tht, while bptism is ordinrily to be dministered by priest, in unusul circumstnces (such s when child is in dnger of dying soon fter birth) it my be performed by decon or lyperson. Even bptism performed by unbelievers is thought to be vlid, for Ott sys: Ye, even pgn or heretic cn bptise, provided he dheres to the form of the Church nd hs the intention of doing wht the Church does. (p. 358) Though infnts cnnot exercise sving fith themselves, the Romn Ctholic Church teches tht the bptism of infnts is vlid: Fith, s it is not the effective cuse of justifiction... need not be present. The fith which infnts lck is... replced by the fith of the Church. (p. 359) Essentil to understnding the Romn Ctholic view of bptism is the reliztion tht Ctholics hold tht the scrments work prt from the fith of the people prticipting in the scrment. And if this is so, then it follows tht bptism would confer grce even on infnts who do not hve the bility to exercise fith. Severl sttements in Ott s book mke this cler: The Ctholic Church teches tht the Scrments hve n objective efficcy, tht is, n efficcy independent of the subjective disposition of the recipient or of the minister.... The Scrments confer grce immeditely, tht is, without the medition of Fiducil fith. (pp ) The Scrments of the New Covennt contin the grce which they signif,r, nd bestow it on those who do not hinder it. (p. 328) The Scrments work cx opere operto.... Tht is, the Scrments operte by the power of the completed scrmentl rite. (p. 329)14 The formul cx opere operto sserts, negtively tht the scrmentl grce is not conferred by reson of the subjective ctivity of the recipient, nd positively, tht the scrmentl grce is cused by the vlidly operted scrmentl sign. (p. 330) However, Ott is creful to explin tht the Ctholic teching must not be interpreted in the sense of mechnicl or mgicl efficcy (p. 330). He sys, On the contrry, in the cse of the dult recipient fith is expressly demnded... nevertheless the subjective disposition of the recipient is not the cuse of grce; it is merely n indispensble precondition of the communiction of grce.. The mesure of the grce effected cx opere operto even depends on the grde of the subjective disposition. (p. 330) 31n extreme cses Ott nd the teching of the Ctholic Church llow for bptism of desire (for one who sincerely longs to be bptized but cnnot be) or bptism by blood (in mrtyrdom). 4Thc phrse es opere operto represents n essentil prt of Romn Ctholic teching on the scrments. This Ltin phrse literlly mens by work performed, nd it mens tht the scrments work in virtue of the ctul ctivity done, nd tht the power ofthe scrments does not depend on ny subjective ttitude of fith in the people prticipting in them. In giving response to this Romn Ctholic teching, we should remember tht the Reformtion centered upon this issue. Mrtin Luther s gret concern ws to tech tht slvtion depends on fith lone, not on fith plus works. But if bptism nd prticipting in the other scrments rc necessyfor slvtion becuse they re necessry for receiving sving grce, then slvtion relly is bsed on fith plus works. In contrst to this, the cler New Testment messge is tht justifiction is by fith lone. By grce you hve been sved through fith; nd this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God not becuse ofworks, lest ny mn should bost (Eph. 2:8 9). Moreover, the free gift of God is eternl life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23). The Romn Ctholic rgument tht bptism is necessry for slvtion is very similr to the rgument of Pul s opponents in Glti who sid tht circumcision ws necessry for slvtion. Pul s response is tht those who require circumcision re preching different gospel (Gl. 1:6). He sys tht ll who rely on works of the lw re under curse (Gl. 3:10), nd speks very severely to those who ttempt to dd ny form of obedience s requirement for justifiction: You re severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the lw; you hve fllen wy from grce (Gl. 5:4). Therefore, we must conclude tht no work is necessry for slvtion. And therefore bptism is not necessry for slvtion. But wht bout John 3:5, Unless one is born ofwter nd the Spirit, he cnnot enter the kingdom of God? Although some hve understood this s reference to bptism, it is better understood ginst the bckground of the promise of the new covennt in Ezekiel 36: I will sprinkle clen wter upon you, nd you shll be clen from ll your undennesses, nd from ll your idols I will clense you. A new hert I will give you, nd new spirit I will put within you; nd I will tke out of your flesh the hert of stone nd give you hert of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, nd cuse you to wlk in my sttutes nd be creful to observe my ordinnces. (Ezek. 36:25 27) Ezekiel here speks of spiritul wshing tht will come in the dys of the new covennt when God puts his Spirit within his people. In the light of this, to be born of wter nd the Spirit is spiritul wshing tht occurs when we re born gin, just s we receive spiritul, not physicl, new hert t tht time s well. Similrly, Titus 3:5 specifies not wter bptism but the wshing of regener tion, explicitly stting tht it is spiritul giving of new life. Wter bptism is simply not mentioned in this pssge. A spiritul rther thn literl wshing is lso referred to in Ephesins 5:26, where Pul sys tht Christ gve himself up for the church tht he might snctify her, hving clensed her by the wshing of wter with the word. It is the Word of God tht does the wshing referred to here, not physicl wter. As for the Romn Ctholic view tht bptism conveys grce prt from the subjective disposition of the recipient or the minister ( position tht is consistent with bptizing infnts, who do not exercise fith for themselves), we must recognize tht no New Testment exmples exist to prove this view, nor is there New Testment testimony to indicte this. Rther, the nrrtive ccounts of those who were bptized indicte tht they hd first come to sving fith (see bove).
6 BAPTISM 49 : BAPTISM 975 And when there re doctrinl sttements bout bptism they lso indicte the need of sving fith. When Pul sys, You were buried with him in bptism, Ifl which you were lso rised with him, he immeditely specifies through fith in the working of God, who rised him from the ded (Col. 2:12). Finlly, wht bout 1 Peter 3:21, where Peter sys, Bptism... flow Sves you? Does this not give cler support to the Romn Ctholic view tht bptism itself brings sving grce to the recipient?is No, for when Peter uses this phrse he continues in the sme sentence to explin exctly wht he mens by it. He sys tht bptism sves you not s removl of dirt from the body (tht is, not s n outwrd, physicl ct which wshes dirt from the body tht is not the prt which sves you), but s n ppel to God for cler conscience (tht is, s n inwrd, spiritul trnsction between God nd the individul, trnsction symbolized by the outwrd ceremony of bptism). We could prphrse Peter s sttement by sying, Bptism now sves you not the outwrd physicl ceremony of bptism but the inwrd spiritul relity which bptism represents. in this wy, Peter gurds ginst ny view of bptism tht would ttribute utomtic sving power to the physicl ceremony itself Peter s phrse, n ppel to God for cler conscience, is nother wy of sying request for forgiveness of sins nd new hert. When God gives sinner cler conscience, tht person hs the ssurnce tht every sin hs been forgiven nd tht he or she stnds in right reltionship with God (Heb. 9:14 nd 10:22 spek this wy bout the clensing of one s conscience through Christ). To be bptized rightly is to mke such n ppel to God: it is to sy, in effect, Plese, God, s I enter this bptism which will clense my body outwrdly I m sking you to clense my hert inwrdly, forgive my sins, nd mke me right before you. Understood in this wy, bptism is n pproprite symbol for the beginning of the Christin life.16 So 1 Peter 3:21 certinly does not tech tht bptism sves people utomti clly or confers grce cx opere perto. It does not even tech tht the ct of bptism itself hs sving power, hut rther tht slvtion comes bout through the inwrd exercise of fith tht is represented by bptism (cf. Col. 2:12). In fct, Protestnts who dvocte believers bptism might well see in 1 Peter 3:21 some support for their position: bptism, it might be rgued, is ppropritely dministered to Thc next thrcc prgrphs re dpted from Wyne Grudem, The First Epistle of Peter, TNTC (t.cicester: IVP, nd Grnd Rpids: F,crdmns, 1988), pp , nd re used by permission. 6Some hve rgued tht pledge is better word thn ppel in this verse. Thus, the NW trnsltes, the pledge of good conscience towrds God. The dt from other exmples of the word is slim with regrd to both menings, nd no conclusions cn be drwn from n exmintion of other uses of the word lone (see discussion in W. Grudem, 1 Peter, p. 164). But much more significnt is the fct tht the trnsltion pledge introduces theologicl problcni If bptism is pledge to God to mintin good conscience (or pledge to live n obedient Life, which flows from good conscience), then the emphsis is no longer on dependence on God to give slvtion, but is rther on dependence on one s own effort or strength of resolve. And since this phrse in 1 Peter 3:21 is so clerly connected with the beginning of the Christin life nd identified s the feture of bptism tht sves you, the trnsltion pledge seems to be inconsistent with the New Testment teching on slvti 6n by fith lone; it would be the only plce where promise to be righteous is sid to be the thing tht sves you. And since the lexicl dt re incondusive for both senses (while suggesting tht both senses re pprently possible), it is better to dopt the trnsltion ppel s sense much more in ccord with the doctrinl teching of the rest of the New Testment. nyone who is old enough personlly to mke n ppel to God for cler 7 conscience. In conclusion, the Romn Ctholic techings tht bptism is necessry for slvtion, tht the ct of bptism in itself confers sving grce, nd tht bptism is therefore ppropritely dministered to infnts, re not persusive in the light of New Testment techings. 4. Alterntive #2: The Protestnt Pedobptist View. In contrst both to the Bptist position defended in the erlier prt of this chpter nd to the Romn Ctholic view just discussed, nother importnt view is tht bptism is rightly dministered to ll infnt children of believing prents. This is common view in mny Protestnt groups (especilly Luthern, Episcoplin, Methodist, presbyterin nd Reformed churches). This view is sometimes known s the covennt rgument for pedobptism. It is clled covennt rgument becuse it depends on seeing infnts born to believers s prt of the covennt community of God s people. The word pedobptism mens the prctice of bptizing infnts (the prefix pido- mens child nd is derived from the Greek word pis, 18 I will be intercting primrily with the rguments put forth by Louis child ). Berkhof, who explins clerly nd defends well the pedobptist position. The rgument tht infnts of believers should be bptized depends primrily on the following three points:. Infnts Were Circumcised in the Old Covennt: In the Old Testment, circumcision ws the outwrd sqn of entrnce into the covennt community or the community of God s people. Circumcision ws dministered to ll Isrelite children (tht is, mle children) when they were eight dys old. b. Bptism Is Prllel to Circumcision: In the New Testment, the outwrd sign of entrnce into the covennt community is bptism. Therefore bptism is the New Testment counterprt to circumcision. It follows tht bptism should be dministered to ll infnt children of believing prents. To deny them this benefit is to deprive them of privilege nd benefit tht is rightfrully theirs the siqn of belonging to the community of God s people, the covennt community. The prllel between circumcision nd bptism is seen quite clerly in Colossins 2: In him lso you were circumcised with circumcision mde without hnds, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; nd you weriburied with him in bptism, in which you were lso rised with him through fith in the working of God, who rised him from the ded. (Col. 2:11 12) 17 Col. 2:12 cn be used in the sme mimer: Pul sys tht in bptism Christins were rised with [Christ] through fith in the working of God, who rised him from the ded. This presupposes tht those who were bptized were exercising fith when they were bptized tht is, tht they were old enough to believe. 8Romn Ctholies re lso pedobptists, but their supporting rguments re different, s explined bove (they tech tht bptism cuses regenertion). In the mteril tht follows, I will be compring Protestnt defense of pedobptism with Protestnt defense of believer? bptism. Therefore, I will use the term pedobptist to refer to Protestnt pedobptisrs who hold to covennt pedobptist position.
7 BAPTISM 49 : BAPTISM 977 Here it is sid tht Pul mkes n explicit connection between circumcision nd bptism. c. Household Bptisms: Further support for the prctice of bptizing infnts is found in the household bptisms reported in Acts rid the epistles, prticulrly the bptism of the household of Lydi (Acts 1 6: 15), the fmily of the Philippin jiler (Acts 16:33), nd the household ofstephns (1 Cor. 1:16). It is lso climed tht Acts 2:39, which declres tht the promised blessing of the gospel is to you nd to your children, supports this prctice. In response to these rguments for pedobptism, the following points my he mde: (1) It is certinly true tht bptism nd circumcision re in mny wys similr, but we must not forget tht wht they symbolize is lso different in some importnt wys. The old covennt hd physicl, externl mens of entrnce into the covennt community. One becme Jew by being born of Jewish prents. Therefore ll Jewish mles were circumcised. Circumcision ws not restricted to people who hd true inwrd spiritul life, but rther ws given to ll who lived mong the people of Isrel. God sid: Every mle mong you shll be circumcised.... He tht is eight dys old mong you shll be circumcised; every mle throughout your genertions, whether born in your house, or bought with your money from ny foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he tht is born in your house nd he tht is bought with your money, shll be circumcised. (Gen. 17:10 13) It ws not only the physicl descendnts of the people of Isrel who were circumcised, but lso those servnts who were purchsed by them nd lived mong them. The presence or bsence of inwrd spiritul life mde no difference whtsoever in the question of whether one ws circumcised. So Abrhm took Ishmci his son nd ll the slves born in his house or bought with his money, every mle mong the men of Abrhm s house, nd he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins tht very dy, s God hd sid to him (Gen. 17:23; cf. Josh. 5:4). We should relize tht circumcision ws given to every mle living mong the people of Isrel even though true circumcisthn is something inwrd nd spiritul: Rel circumcision is mtter of the hert, spiritul nd not literl (Rom. 2:29). Moreover, Pul in the New Testment explicitly sttes tht not ll who re descended from Isrel belong to Isrel (Rom. 9:6). But even though there ws t the time of the Old Testment (nd more fully in the time of the New Testment) reliztion of the inwrd spiritul relity tht circumcision ws intended to represent, there ws no ttempt to restrict circumcision only to those whose herts were ctully circumcised spiritully nd who hd genuine sving fith. Even mong the dult mles, circumcision ws pplied to everyone, not just those who gve evidence of inwrd fith. (2) But under the new covennt the sitution is very different. The New Testment does not tlk bout covennt community mde up of believers nd their unbelieving children nd reltives nd servnts who hppen to live mong them. (In fct, in the discussion of bptism, the phrse covennt community s used by pedobptists often tends to function s brod nd vgue term tht blurs the differences between the Old Testment nd the New Testment on this mtter.) In the New Testment church, the only question tht mtters is whether one hs sving fith nd hs been spiritully incorported into the body of Christ, the true church. The only covennt community discussed is the church, the fellowship of the redeemed. But how does one become member of the church? The mens of entrnce into the church is volunttuy, spiritul, nd internl. One becomes member of the true church by being born gin nd by hving sving fith, not by physicl birth. It comes bout not by n externl ct, but by internl fith in one s hert. It is certinly true tht bptism is the sign of entrnce into the church, but this mens tht it should only be given to those who give evidence of membership in the 9 church, only to those who profess fith in Christ. We should not be surprised tht there ws chnge from the wy the covennt community ws entered in the Old Testment (physicl birth) to the wy the church is entered in the New Testment (spiritul birth). There re mny nlogous chnges between the old nd new covennts in other res s well. While the Isrelites fed on physicl mnn in the wilderness, New Testment believers feed on Jesus Christ, the true bred tht comes down from heven (John 6:48 51). The Isrelites drnk physicl wter tht gushed from the rock in the wilderness, but those who believe in Christ drink of the living wter of eternl life tht he gives (John 4:10 14). The old covennt hd physicl temple to which Isrel cme for worship, but in the new covennt believers re built into spiritul temple (1 Peter 2:5). Old covennt believers offered physicl scrifices of nimls nd crops upon n ltr, but New Testment believers offer spiritul scrifices cceptble to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5; cf. Heb. 13:15 16). Old covennt believers received from God the physicl lnd of Isrel which he hd promised to them, but New Testment believers receive better country, tht is, hevenly one (Heb. 11:16). In the sme wy, in the old covennt those who were the physicl seed or descendnts of Abrhm were members of the people of Isrel, but in the New Testment those who re the spiritul seed or descendnts of Abrhm by fith re members of the church (Gl. 3:29; cf. Rom. 4:11 12). In ll these contrsts we see the truth of the distinction tht Pul emphsizes between the old covennt nd the new covennt. The physicl elements nd ctivities of the old covennt were only shdow of wht is to come, but the true relity, the substnce, is found in the new covennt reltionship which we hve in Christ (Col. 2:17). Therefore it is consistent with this chnge of systems tht infnt (mle) children would utomticlly be circumcised in the old covennt, since their physicl descent nd physicl presence in the community of Jewish people ment tht they were members of tht community in which fith ws not n entrnce requirement. But in the new covennt it is pproprite tht infnts not be bptized, nd tht bptism only be given to those who give evidence of genuine sving fith, becuse membership in the church is bsed on n internl spiritul relity, not on physicl descent. 9Ar this point n dvocte of pedobptism my sk whether we should not hve n ide of covennt community in the New Testment church which is broder thn the church nd includes unbelieving chilcfren who belong to church fmilies. But the New Testment speks of no such community, nor does it give indiction tht unbelieving children of believing prents re members of the new covennt. And it certinly does not spek of bptism s sign of entrnce into such broder group. Bptism symbolizes new birth nd entrnce into the church.
8 : BAPTiSM 49 : BAPTiSM 979 (3) The exmples of household bptisms in the New Testment re relly not decisive for one position or nother. When we look t the ctul exmples more closely, we see tht in number of them there re indictions of sving fith on the prt of ll of those bptized. For exmple, it is true tht the fmily of the Philippin jiler ws bptized (Acts 16:33), but it is lso true tht Pul nd Sils spoke the word of the Lord to him nd to ll tht were in his house (Acts 16:32). If the Word of the Lord ws spoken to ll in the house, there is n ssumption tht ll were old enough to understnd the word nd believe it. Moreover, fter the fmily hd been bptized, we red tht the Philippin jiler rejoiced with ll his household tht he hd believed in God (Acts 16:34). So we hve not only household bptism but lso household reception of the Word of God nd household rejoicing in fith in God. These fcts suggest quite strongly tht the entire household hd individully come to fith in Christ. With regrd to the fct tht Pul bptized the household of Stephns (1 Cor. 1:16), we must lso note tht Pul sys t the end of 1 Corinthins tht the household of Stephns were the first converts in Achi, nd they hve devoted themselves to the service of the sints (1 Cor. 16:15). So they were not only bptized; they were lso converted nd hd worked t serving other believers. Once gin the exmple of household bptism gives indiction of household fith. In fct, there re other instnces where bptism is not mentioned but where we see explicit testimony to the fct tht n entire household hd come to fith. After Jesus heled the officil s son, we red tht the fther himself believed, nd ll his household (John 4:53). Similrly, when Pul preched t Corinth, Crispus, the ruler of the syngogue, believed in the Lord, together with ll his household (Acts 18:8). This mens tht of ll the exmples of household bptisms in the New Testment, the only one tht does not hve some indiction of household fith s well is Acts 16:14 15, speking of Lydi: The Lord opened her hert to give heed to wht ws sid by Pul. And when she ws bptized, with her household. The text simply does not contin ny informtion bout whether there were infnts in her household or not. It is mbiguous nd certinly not weighty evidence for infnt bptism. It must be considered inconclusive in itself. With regrd to Peter s sttement t Pentecost tht the promise is to you nd to your children, we should note tht the sentence continues s follows: For the promise is to you nd to your children nd to ll tht re fr off, every one whom the Lrd our God clls to him (Acts 2:39). Moreover, the sme prgrph specifies not tht believers nd unbelieving children were bptized, but tht those who received his wrd were bptized, nd there were dded tht dy bout three thousnd souls (Acts 2:41). (4) A further rgument in objection to the pedobptist position cn be mde when we sk the simple question, Wht does bptism do? In other words, we might sk, Wht does it ctully ccomplish? Wht benefit does it bring? Romn Ctholics hve cler nswer to this question: Bptism cuses regenertion. And Bptists hve cler nswer: Bptism symbolizes the fct tht inwrd regenertion hs occurred. But pedobptists cnnot dopt either of these nswers. They do not wnt to sy tht bptism cuses regenertion, nor re they ble to sy (with respect to infnts) tht it symbolizes regenertion tht hs 0 The only lterntive seems to be to sy tht it symbolizes lredy occurred.2 regenertion tht will occur in the future, when the infnt is old enough to come to sving fith. But even tht is not quite ccurte, becuse it is not certin tht the infnt will be regenerted in the future some infnts who re bptized never come to sving fith lter. So the most ccurte pedobptist explntion of wht bptism symbolizes is tht it symbolizes probble flure regenertion.21 It does not cuse regenertion, nor does it symbolize ctul regenertion; therefore it must be understood s symbolizing probble regenertion t some time in the future. But t this point it seems pprent tht the pedobptist understnding of bptism is quite different from tht of the New Testment. The New Testment never views bptism s something tht symbolizes probble future regenertion. The New Testment uthors do not sy, Cn nyone forbid wter for bptizing those who will probbly somedy be sved? (ce Acts 10:47), or, As mny of you s were bptized into Christ will probbly somedy put on Christ (cf. Gl. 3:27), or Do you not know tht ll of us who hve been bptized into Christ Jesus will probbly somedy be bptized into his deth? (cf. Rom. 6:3). This is simply not the wy the New Testment speks of bptism. Bptism in the New Testment is sign of being born gin, being clensed from sin, nd beginning the Christin life. It seems fitting to reserve this sign for those who give evidence tht tht is ctully true in their lives. One other perspective on the symbolism of bptism is given by Michel 22 He sys: Green. Infnt bptism stresses the objectivity of the gospel. It points to the solid chievement of Christ crucified nd risen, whether or not we respond to it... - Not tht we gin nything from it unless we repent nd believe. But it is the stnding demonstrtion tht our slvtion does not depend on our own very fllible fith; it depends on wht God hs done for us. (p. 76) He goes on to sy: Infnt bptism stresses the inititive of God in slvtion.... Should it be ttched primrily to mn s response, or to God s inititive? Tht is the hert of the question.. -. For the Bptist, bptism primrily bers witness to wht we do in responding to the grce of God. the pcdobptist, it primrily bers witness to For wht God hs done to mke it ll possible. (pp , emphsis his) But severl points cn be noted in response to Green. () His nlysis t this point overlooks the fct tht bptism does not only symbolize Christ s deth nd resurrection; s we hve seen in the foregoing nlysis of New Testment texts, it lso symbolizes the ppliction of redemption to us, s reult of our response of fith. Bptism pictures the fct tht we hve been united with Christ in his deth However, some Protestnt pedobptists will presume tht regenertion hs occurred (nd the evidence will be seen lter). Others, including mny Episcoplins nd Lutherns, would sy tht regenertion occurs t the time of bptism. 21 This is not quottion from ny specific pedobptist writer, but is my own conclusion from the logic of the pedobptist position, which would seem to require this understnding of wht pedobptism signifies with respect to regenertion. 2Michcl Green, Bptum: Its Putpose, Prctice, nd Power (London: Hodder nd Stoughton, nd Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVrsity Press, 1987). This book contins n excellent sttement of pedobprist position, nd lso contins much helpful nlysis of the biblicl teching bout bptism which both sides could endorse.
9 BAYI1SM 49 : BAPTISM 981 nd resurrection, nd the wshing with wter symbolizes tht we hve been clensed from our sins. In sying tht the pedobptist stresses God s inititive nd the Bptist stresses mn s response, Green hs presented the reder with two incorrect lterntives from which to choose, becuse bptism pictures both of these nd more. Bptism pictures (i) Christ s redemptive work, (ii) my response in fith (s I come to be bptized), nd (iii) God s ppliction of the benefits of redemption to my life. Believers bptism pictures ll three spects (not just my fith, s Green suggests), but ccording to Green s view pedobptism pictures only the first one. It is not question of which is primry ; it is question of which view of bptism includes ll tht bptism stnds for. (b) When Green sys tht our slvtion does not depend on our fith but on God s work, the expression depend on is cpble of vrious interprettions. If depend on mens wht we rely on, then of course both sides would gree tht we rely on Christ s work, not on our fith. If depend on mens tht fith does not hve ny merit in itself whereby we cn ern fvor with God, then lso both sides would gree. But if depend on mens it mkes no difference to our slvtion whether we believe or not, then neither side would gree: Green himself sys in the previous sentence tht bptism does us no good unless we repent nd believe. Therefore if bptism in ny wy represents the ppliction of redemption to person s life, then it is not enough to prctice form of bptism tht only pictures Christ s deth nd resurrection; we should lso picture our response in fith nd the subsequent ppliction of redemption to us. By contrst, on Green s view, there is rel dnger of portrying view (which Green would disgree with) tht people will hve slvtion pplied to them by God whether they believe Or not. (5) Finlly, those who dvocte believers bptism often express concern bout the prcticl consequences of pedobptism. They rgue tht the prctice of pedobptism in ctul church life frequently leds persons bptized in infncy to presume tht they hve been regenerted, nd thereby they fil to feel the urgency of their need to come to personl fith in Christ. Over period of yers, this tendency is likely to result in more nd more unconverted members of the covennt community members who re not truly members of Christ s church. Of course, this would not mke pedobptist church flse church, but it would mke it less-pure church, nd one tht will frequently be fighting tendencies towrd liberl doctrine or other kinds of unbelief tht re brought in by the unregenerte sector of the membership. C. The Effect of Bptism We hve rgued bove tht bptism symbolizes regenertion or spiritul rebirth. But does it only symbolize? Or is there some wy in which it is lso mens of grce, tht is, mens tht the Holy Spirit uses to bring blessing to people? We hve lredy discussed this question in the previous chpter,23 so here it only is necessry to sy tht when bptism is properly crried out then of course it brings some spiritul benefit to believers s well. There is the blessing of God s fvor tht comes with ll obedience, s well s the joy tht comes through public profession 23See chpter 48, pp of one s fith, nd the ressurnce of hving cler physicl picture of dying nd rising with Christ nd of wshing wy sins. Certinly the Lord gve us bptism to strengthen nd encourge our fith nd it should do so for everyone who is bptized nd for every believer who witnesses bptism. 25 D. The Necessity of Bptism While we recognize tht Jesus commnded bptism (Mrt. 28:19), s did the postles (Acts 2:38), we should not sy tht bptism is necessry for slvtion.24 This question ws discussed to some extent bove under the response to the Romn Ctholic view of bptism. To sy tht bptism or ny other ction is necessry for slvtion is to sy tht we re not justified by fith lone, but by fith plus certin work, the work of bptism. The postle Pul would hve opposed the ide tht bptism is necessry for slvtion just s strongly s he opposed the similr ide tht circumcision ws necessry for slvtion (see Gl. 5:1 12). Those who rgue tht bptism is necessry for slvtion often point to Mrk 16:16: He who believes nd is bptized will be sved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. But the very evident nswer to this is simply to sy tht the verse sys nothing bout those who believe nd re not bptized. The verse is simply tlking bout generl cses without mking pedntic qulifiction for the unusul cse of someone who believes nd is not bptized. But certinly the verse should not be pressed into service nd mde to spek of something it is not tlking bout. More to the point is Jesus sttement to the dying thief on the cross, Tody you will be with me in Prdise (Luke 23:43). The thief could nor be bptized before he died on the cross, but he ws certinly sved tht dy. Moreover, the force of this point cnnot be evded by rguing tht the thief ws sved under the old covennt (under which bptism ws not necessry to slvtion), becuse the new covennt took effect t the deth of Jesus (see Heb. 9:17), nd Jesus died before either of the two thieves who were crucified with him (see John 19:32 33). Another reson why bptism is not necessry for slvtion is tht our justifiction from sins tkes plce t the point of sving fith, not t the point of wter bptism, which usully occurs lter. hs sins forgiven eternlly t the point of sving fith, then bptism is not necessry for forgiveness of sins, or for the bestowl of new spiritul life.27 Bptism, then, is not necessry for slvtion. But it is necessry if we re to be obedient to Christ, for he commnded bptism for ll who believe in him. 26 But if person is lredy justified nd At this point I m differing not only with Romn Ctholic teching, but lso with the reching of severl Protestnt denomintions tht tech tht, in some sense, bptism is necessry for slvtion. Although there re different nunces in their teching, such position is held by mny Episcoplins, mny Lutherns, nd by the Churches of Christ. Moreovcr, it is doubtful whether this verse should be used in support of theologicl position t ll, since there re mny ncient mnuscripts tht do not hve this verse (or Mrk 16:9 20), nd it seems most likely tht this verse ws not in the gospel s Mrk originlly wrote it. (See discussion of Mrk 16:9 20 in chpter 17, p. 365.) 25 See discussion of justifiction in chpter 36, pp See chpter 34, pp , for discussion of regenertion.
10 : BAPTISM 49 : BAPTISM 983 E. The Age for Bptism Those who re convinced by the rguments for believers bptism must then begin to sk, How old should children be before they rc bptized? The most direct nswer is tht they should be old enough to give believble profession of fith. It is impossible to set precise ge tht will pply to every child, but when prents see convincing evidence of genuine spiritul life, nd lso some degree of understnding regrding the mening of trusting in Christ, then bptism is pproprite. Of course, this will require creful dministrtion by the church, s well s good explntion by prents in their homes. The exct ge for bptism will vry from child to child, nd somewht from church to church s 28 V well. F. Remining Questions 1. Do Churches Need to Be Divided Over Bptism? In spite of mny yers of division over this question mong Protestnts, is there wy in which Christins who differ on bptism cn demonstrte greter unity of fellowship? And is there wy tht progress cn be mde in bringing the church closer to unity on this question? One wy forwrd could be for pedobptists nd dvoctes of believers bptism both to come to common dmission tht bptism is not mjor doctrine of the fith, nd tht they re willing to live with ech other s views on this mtter nd not llow differences over bptism to be cuse for division within the body of 29 Specificlly, this would men llowing both views of bptism to be Christ. tught nd prcticed in denomintions on both sides of the question. No doubt this would be difficult thing to do both for Bptist denomintions nd for pedobptist denomintions, becuse they hve long trditions of rguing 28J prticipted in bptizing my own three children t time when ech ws between seven nd ten yers old nd showed fir degree of understnding of the gospel together with genuine evidence of fith in Christ. In ll three cses, I think they could hve been bptized somewht erlier, but we delyed out of deference to the ordinry pttern followed by the churches we were in, whereby children under seven were not usully bptized. (Among Bptists in the United Kingdom it is customry to wit until children re somewht older thn this, however.) 291 relize tht some reders will object to this sentence nd will sy tht bptism is very importnt becuse of wht the differing positions represent: differing views of the nture of the church. Mny Bptists would rgue tht prcticing infnt bptism is inherently inconsistent with the ide of church mde up of believers only, nd mny pedobptists would rgue tht not prcticing infnt bptism is inherently inconsistent with the ide of covennt community tht includes the children of believers. I would encourge those who reson this wy to consider how much they hold in common with evngelicl believers on the other side of this issue not necessrily with those fr from them on other mtters s well, but especilly with those on the other side who gree with them on most othcr spects of the Christin life. Mns Bptists do encourge nd demonstrte vlued plce for their children within their churches, nd mny pedobptists do pry for the slvtion of their bptized children with the sme tèrvcncy with which Bptist prents pry for the slvtion of their zinbptized children. Regrding church membership, evngelicl pedobptists do require believble profession of fith before children cn become full members of the church (their term is communicnt members ; tht is, those who tke Communion). They lso require believble profession of fith before ny dults rc llowed to join the church. When these procedures re functioning well, both Bptists nd pedohpnsts usc very similr procedures s they seek to hve church membership consisting of believers only, nd both love nd tech nd pry for their children s most precious members of the lrger church fmily who they hope will somedy become true members of the body of Christ. for one side or the other on this question. Certinly Christins re entitled to mke up their own minds regrding bptism, but it does not seem pproprite tht denomintionl divisions should depend on nd reinforce these differences, nor does it seem right tht churches require one view or nother on bptism for those 30 who wish to be ordined or to function s techers within the church. Specificlly, this would men tht Bptist churches would hve to be willing to llow into membership those who hd been bptized s infnts nd whose conviction of conscience, fter creful considertion, is tht their infnt bptism ws vlid nd should not be repeted. Of course, Bptist churches could be free to tech nd to ttempt to persude prospective church members tht they should be bptized s believers, but if some, fter creful considertion, re simply not persuded, it does not seem pproprite to mke this brrier to membership. Wht good is ccomplished by such brrier? And certinly much hrm cn be ccomplished in filure to demonstrte the unity of the church nd in brring from full prticiption in the church those whom the Lord hs in fct brought into tht fellowship. On the other hnd, those who believe in pedobptism would hve to gree not to put undue pressure upon prents who do not wish to hve their infnts bptized nd not to count those prents s somehow disobedient to the Lord. There might need to be willingness to hve some kind of brief ceremony of dediction of children to the Lord shortly fter they re born, insted of ceremony of bptism, if the prents so desired. And of course both sides would hve to gree not to mke one view on bptism criterion for church office or for ordintion. 3 If such concessions in ctul prctice were mde by both sides on this question, the issue might in fct diminish the level of controversy within genertion, nd bptism might eventully cese to be point of division t ll mong Christins. 2. Who Cn Bptize? Finlly, we my sk, Who cn perform the ceremony of bptism? Cn only ordined clergy perform this ceremony? We should recognize here tht Scripture simply does not specify ny restrictions on who cn perform the ceremony of bptism. Those churches tht hve specil priesthood through which certin ctions (nd blessings) come (such s Romn Ctholics, nd to some extent Anglicns) will wish to insist tht only properly ordined clergy should bptize in ordinry circumstnces (though exceptions could be mde in unusul circumstnces). But if we truly believe in the priesthood of ll believers (see 1 Peter 2:4 10), then there seems to be:no need inpthzcile to restrict the right to perform bptism only to ordined clergy. However, nother considertion rises: Since bptism is the sign of entrnce into the body of Christ, the church (cf. 1 Cot. 12:13 on inwrd spiritul 30 1n the United Sttes, the Evngelicl Free Church denomintion hs functioned quite well for mny decdes while llowing both pedobptists nd dvoctes of believers bptism to be members of their churches nd to be ordined s pstors in their churches. Note tht my proposed first steps towrd less divisiveness over this question do not rncludc sking 31 individuls on either side to ct in wy tht would violte their own1icrsonl convictions: I m not suggesting tht those who hold Bptist view personlly begin bptizing infnts when the prents request it, or tht those who hold pedobptist view personlly begin bptizing those who mke profession of fith nd request bptism, even though they hd been bptized s infnts.
11 : BAPTISM 49 : BAPTISM 985 bptism), then it seems pproprite tht it be done within thefe1lowshz ofthe church wherever possible, so tht the church s whole cn rejoice with the person being bptized nd so tht the fith of ll believers in tht church might be built up. Moreover, since bptism is sign of beginning the Christin life nd therefore of beginning life in the true church s well, it is fitting tht the locl church be ssembled to give testimony to this fct nd to give visible welcome to the bptized person. Also, in order tht the people being bptized hve right understnding of wht ctully is hppening, it is right for the thurch to sfegurd the prctice of bptism nd keep it from buse. Finlly, if bptism is the sign of entering the fellowship of the visible church, then it seems pproprite tht some officilly designted representtive or representtives of the church be selected to dminister it. For these resons it is usully the ordined clergy who bptize, but there seems to be no reson why the church from time to time, nd where it deems it pproprite, might not cll on other church officers or mture believers to bptize new converts. For exmple, someone effective in evngelism in locl church my be n ppropritely designted person to bptize people who hve come to Christ through the prctice of tht person s evngelistic ministry. (Note in Acts 8:12 tht Philip preched the gospel in Smri nd then pprently bptized those who cme to fith in Christ.) QUESTIONS FOR PERSONAL APPLICATION 1. Hve you been bptized? When? If you were bptized s believer, wht ws the effect of the bptism on your Christin life (if ny)? If you were bptized s n infnt, wht effect did the knowledge of your bptism hve in your own thinlcing when you eventully lerned tht you hd been bptized s n infnt? 2. Wht spects of the mening of bptism hve you come to pprecite more s result of reding this chpter (if ny)? Wht spects of the mening of bptism would you like to see tught more clerly in your church? 3. When bptisms occur in your church, rc they time of rejoicing nd prise to God? Wht do you think is hppening to the person being bptized t tht moment (if nything)? Wht do you think should be hppening? 4. Hve you modified your own view on the question of infnt bptism versus believers bptism s result of reding this chpter? In wht wy? 5. Wht prcticl suggestions cn you mke for helping to overcome the differences mong Christins on the question of bptism? 6. How cn bptism be n effective help to evngelism in your church? Hve 32 you seen it function in this wy? The fct tht bptism is n outwrd sign of encrn e into the church, the body of Christ, would lso mke it pproprite to require bptism before someone is counted s member of locl church. believble profession of fith believers bptism covennt community BIBLIOGRAPHY (For n explntion of this bibliogrphy see the note on the bibliogrphy to chpter 1, p. 38. Complete bibliogrphicl dt my be found on pp ) Sections in Evngelicl Systemtic Theologies 1. Anglicn (Episcoplin) Litton, Thoms, , Arminin (Wesleyn or Methodist) 3. Bptist Pope, 3: Miley, 2: Wiley, 3: Purkiser, Crter. 2: Dispenstionl Luthern Reformed (or Gill, 4: Strong, SPECIAL TERMS Erickson, Chfer, 7:32 43 Thicssen, Ryrie, Pieper, 7: Mueller, Presbyterin) cx opcre operto immersion pedobptism Clvin, 2: ( ) Heppc, Hodge, 3: Dbney, Wrfield, SWW, 1: Shedd, 2b: Murry, CW, 2: Berkhof, Buswell, 2:241 66
12 : BAPTISM 49 BAPTISM Renewl (or chrismtic/pentecostl) Willims, 2:278 87, 3:136 39, Sections in Representtive Romn Ctholic Systemtic Theologies 1. Romn Ctholic: Trditionl 1955 Ott, Romn Ctholic: Post-Vticn II 1980 McBrien, 1:248 52; 2: Other Works Besley-Murry, G. R. Bptism in the New Testment. Grnd Rpids: Eerdmns, nd R. F. G. Burnish. Bptism. In EDT, pp Berkouwer, G. C. The Scrments. Trns. by Hugo Bekker. Grnd Rpids: Eerdmns, Bridge, Donld, nd Dvid Phypers. The Wter Tht Divides. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVrsity Press, Bromiley, G. W. Bptism. In EDT, pp The Bptism of Infnts. London: Vine Books, Children of Promise. Grnd Rpids: Eerdmns, Brown, R. Bptist Theology. In EDT, pp Cottrell, Jck. Bptism: A Biblicl Study. Joplin, Mo.: College Press, (Written from Churches of Christ perspective, understnding bptism s necessry for slvtion.) - Estep, Willim. The Anbptist Story. Grnd Rpids: Eerdmns, Green, Michel. Bptism: Its Purpose, Prctice, nd Power. London: Hodder nd Stoughton, nd Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVrsity Press, Jewett, Pul K. Infnt Bptism nd the Covennt of Grce. Grnd Rpids: Eerdmns, Kingdon, Dvid. Children ofabrhm: A Reformed Bptist View of Bptism, the Covennt, nd Children. Hywrds Heth, Englnd: Crey Publictions, Mrcel, Pierre Ch. The Biblicl Doctrine of Infnt Bptism. Trns. by Philip E. Hughes. London: J. Clrke, Murry, John. Christin Bptism. Phildelphi: Presbyterin nd Reformed, Wtson, T. E. Bptism Not for Infnts. Worthing, Englnd: Henry E. Wlter, SCRIPTURE MEMORY PASSAGE Romns 6:3 4: Do you not know tht ll of us who hve been bptized into Christ Jesus were bptized into his deth? We were buried therefore with him by bptism into deth, so tht s Christ ws risedfrom the ded by thegleny ofthe Fther, we too might wlk in newness of Ifi. HYMN Up From the Grve He Arose There re few fmilir hymns written specificlly to be used during bptisml service. It would be helpful for the church if more were written. This hymn is pproprite for the topic of bptism, becuse it speks triumphntly of Christ s resurrection. When we sing it, we should relize tht Jesus not only triumphed over deth nd the grve for himself, but lso for ll of us who believe in him. This fct is vividly symbolized in the ceremony of bptism. Alterntive hymn: Most pedobptist hymnls contin hymns to be sung t the bptism of infnts, but I did not find ny tht were widely fmilir. Low in the grve he ly Jesus, my Svior, Witing the coming dy Jesus, my Lord. Refrin: Up from the grve he rose, With mighty triumph o er his foes. He rose Victor from the drk domin, And he lives forever with his sints to reign. He rose! He rose! Hllelujh! Christ rose! Vinly they wtch his bed Jesus, my Svior; Vinly they sel the ded Jesus, my Lord. Deth cnnot keep his prey Jesus, my Svior; He tore the brs wy Jesus, my Lord. AUTHOR: ROBERT LOWREY
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The Importance Of Holy Spirit Baptism There are twelve different statements given in the Bible whereby we are saved. We're saved by: 1. Faith, according to Ephesians 2:8 and Hebrews 11:6. (Eph 2:8 KJV)
THE TRUTH ABOUT WATER BAPTISM With the Actual Quotation of the Original Text of Matthew 28:19 Biblical and Historical Proof by Eddie Jones You have a right to know the truth about water baptism. What does
The Lord Jesus, during His personal ministry on earth, established two ordinances that we are to observe in the New Testament church. We do not observe these ordinances to be saved; we observe them because
1 2 4/12/18 What About Water Baptism? Selected Scriptures The concept and understanding of and about water baptism among those who call themselves Christians is quite diverse in the various denominations
REITS/TLE O ONTENTS E Mss o Sint oseph ul Tte SMLE uitr / horl Excerpts rom the English trnsltion o the Romn Missl 2010, Interntionl ommission on English in the Liturgy orportion (IEL), 1100 onnecticut
"When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." Acts 8:12 Christian baptism is an act of worship, taking
Divine Couplets A couplet has various meanings, but the main idea it conveys is that something is grouped or arranged in twos. For our lesson, we are going to be looking at divine commands that are linked
The significance of Baptism Pastor Tim Melton As we look back through ancient history we find many religions that had different ceremonies for cleansing, some even similar to baptism. For some it was a
Baptism by Comparison Comparing the New Testament model of baptism to baptism methods & forms used today By: R. Chip Denief There are few topics in the religious world that are more debated than the topic
BAPTISM The Significance of Believer s Baptism When someone is studying Baptist history you would think that a scriptural understanding of Baptism would help a person grasp what our God given title means.
What about Children Being Baptized? Salvation comes by grace through faith in Christ. It is a choice by one who has clearly heard the call of the Spirit of God to come to Christ for salvation. A person
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - Only Baptism washes away sins I received many e-mails in the past week from those who had lost loved ones, sharing with me their experiences from that extremely painful time
St Mrk s epcopl cdrl The Ntivity Our Lord Jesus Chrt chrtms dy Decemb 25, 2017 10:00 m St Mrk s epcopl cdrl On th hppy fest Chrtms, Bhop, Den, stff fith community St Mrk s welcome you to th cdrl. We re
Page -67- Name There are two ordinances which Jesus Christ has instituted and established for His Church. An ordinance is a "prescribed practice." It is something that has been prescribed and ordered by
The Book of Romans SECTION THREE Chapter s 6 and 7 THE CHRISTIAN S In this section of Romans, we will learn the following Truths: How to Handle Sin in Your Life How to Handle the Old Man Page 30 The Book
Iow Review Volume 4 Issue 2 Spring Article 30 1973 Meir Wieseltier: An Isreli Poet Reconstruction Jewish Pst Dvid H. Hirseh Eli Pfefferkorn Follow this dditionl works t: http://ir.uiow.edu/iowreview Prt
Baptism: The Purposes it Fulfills and Changes it Effects By John Anderson Langley Mill: W. Barker, Printer and Publisher, 1949 PAUL, the prisoner at Rome, sent for the Jews who lived in that city and sought
JUSTIFICATION BY WORKS VERSUS JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE INTRODUCTION FOR LESSON TWO We listed in the previous article 21 items the Bible says saves us! GOD saves us through His MERCY, GRACE, and LOVE. CHRIST
God's Full Salvation - Lesson Book 1 Lesson Outline Titles and/or Lesson Book Chapters 1 God's Eternal Purpose and His Economy (Ch. 1-2) 2 God s Creation of Man as a Three-part Vessel to Contain God as
Lesson Twelve: Repentance He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper. But, he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion (Prov. 28:13 OT). God desires truth in the innermost being (Ps.
THE JEWISH WAY OF BAPTISM The Origin of Baptism in the Jewish Culture and its Implications for All People Today By Dr. Galen Peterson 2017 American Remnant Mission One of the recurring themes of life is
Calvary Baptist Church ARTICLES OF FAITH I. Of The Scriptures We believe in the authority and sufficiency of the Holy Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, as originally
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"Be Baptized" Is baptism necessary for the forgiveness of sins? We re asking what does the Bible say. Hello, I m Phil Sanders, and this is a Bible study In Search of the Lord s Way. Stay with us, and we
WHY BAPTISM? Water Baptism is the first public step of obedience to Jesus Christ. Baptism is for the individual who has received the saving benefits of Christ s atoning work and has become His disciple.
We left the apostle Paul in a situation where everyone around him wanted to kill him because a small group of Jews accused him of four things. They accused him of teaching against the Jews; teaching against
1 Infant Baptism and the Early Church 1. Because the subject of infant baptism is such an emotional issue, Christians have found it better to divide and form various denominations, and allow freedom of
How Are You Going Vol. I No. 6 Est Lnsing, Michign, Februry 10, 1966 10 cents To Keep Them The Week's Events The Mrch Of Februry Down howrd hrri son On The Frm I liot borin After They've Seen MSU? By LAIMDOTA
When you have read through each lesson carefully, write down your answers to the exam questions, then go back to the website menu (use the back arrowat the top left of your screen) and click on EXAM FORM
Baptism in the New Testament Randy Broberg 6/14/2011 Theme Verse Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the
Interaction with Thomas Schreiner and Shawn Wright s Believer s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant (B&H: Nashville, 2006). In Believer s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant (B&H: Nashville, 2006), Tom Schreiner
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