Friday, December 30, 2005

Wade Burleson on "Who Can Baptize?"

Wade Burleson has an excellent post on the subject Who Can Baptize? at his blog. EVERY Southern Baptist needs to read this post, especially in light of the current IMB decision. After reading Wade's post, give your thoughts on these two questions:

  1. Can any Christian baptize a new believer, or should baptism be administered only by pastors?
  2. Does the validity of any baptism depend on the person who administers the baptism? Why or why not?

I'll let a few of you comment before giving my answers.

28 comments:

Ben Stratton said...

Hello Bro. Sweatman.

I pastor a Southern Baptist Church over in the Jackson Purchase in far western Kentucky, but I was raised in the Logan County area, just south of you. I was surprised at your post. I am somewhat familiar with the Southern Baptist Churches in Warren County and I would saw that the majority of them would be very comfortable with the new IMB decision on baptism. The reason for this is two-fold:

1. Baptism is a church ordinance and not a Christian ordinance. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) was given to the church as seen in the last sentence -"unto the end of the age" just like Matthew 16:18 - The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church. God's plan is to use local churches - I Tim. 3:15, not Lone Ranger Christians. Furthermore it can be shown that every baptism in the N.T. was connected to a local church.

2. The validity of a baptism, depends on the doctrine of the one who administered it. Romans 16:17 says to "avoid" those who depart from the doctrine of the N.T. Several others verses teach this same principle. The issue is the doctrine. They are very few Southern Baptist churches that would accept Mormon baptism. Why is this? Because of their doctrine. The same principle is true of those groups that deny the Trinity, believe in losing your salvation, practice infant baptism, think baptism saves, or hold to sprinkling / pouring as valid baptism.

- Just a few thoughts for you from another Kentucky Baptist pastor.

Ben Stratton

Tim Sweatman said...

Ben,

So are you saying that unless a person is completely correct in doctrine that he cannot administer baptism? If so, then no baptism could be considered valid because no person, even a Southern Baptist, is perfect in theology.

I don't see any biblical basis for the idea that the validity of baptism depends on the person who administers it. My point is that any baptism that adheres to the biblical pattern (by immersion, after salvation, as a testimony to salvation but not as a means of salvation) is a biblically valid baptism. This is the standard of baptism that is described in the BF&M. And if a person is biblically baptized, then what right do we have to require them to be rebaptized, when even our statement of faith recognizes their baptism? Your example of Southern Baptists not accepting Mormon baptism is irrelevant because we would not see a Mormon baptism as following salvation. The relevant issue involves a person who was baptized by immersion after a genuine salvation experience.

We apparently have different views on what baptism is. I don't see anywhere in the Bible where we are baptized into a particular local church. Baptism symbolizes our uniting with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Now of course, believers should unite with a local church after they're baptized, but it's a stretch to make a biblical argument that we are baptized into a local church. What local church was the Ethiopian eunuch baptized into? We are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, not in the name of a particular church. I agree that the Great Commission was given to the church, but in this instance church would mean the universal church because the Great Commission is given to all believers.

So the main reason I oppose the new guidelines is because I believe they reflect an inaccurate view of what baptism is. Baptism is not about our identification with a set of doctrines. It is about our identification with Christ. Should we expect our missionaries to believe in eternal security? YES! Should we look to their baptism to demonstrate their belief in eternal security? NO, because that is not the purpose of baptism.

Ben Stratton said...

Hello again Bro. Sweatman. Let me try and address some of the issues you have mentioned:

1. The Great Commission. I think the Bible is clear the commission was given to the local church. You might say, but it was given to the 11 apostles. But remember I Cor. 12:28 says the apostles were the first officers in the church. These apostles constituted a church in the gospels. Furthermore the apostles all died, but the commission was given to the end of the age. And Matthew 16:18 tells us the church is the spiritual institution that will last to the end of the age. Also the entire scope of the book of Acts shows us that God's plan is to use local churches not Lone Ranger Christians as I mentioned. Indeed I Tim. 3:15 says the church, the local church, is the pillar and ground of the truth and the house of God. What verses do you give to show the commission was given to all Christians?

2. The administer of baptism. I notice you did not address Romans 16:17, the command to avoid groups that hold to doctrines contrary to the New Testament. II John 1:10 and II Thessalonians 3:6 say the same thing. What do you do with these verses? I know you will say that no church has perfect doctrine and you are quite right. Yet I am talking about fundamental major doctrines, such as salvation and baptism. It is interesting that both John Calvin and Martin Luther said a true church was one that preached the true way of salvation and practiced the true way of baptism. That is exactly what I am saying. Other non-Baptist churches in Kentucky (and elsewhere) hold to non-biblical doctrines on salvation and / or baptism.

3. The Mormon example. This example is not irrelevant. Let me explain. Suppose John Doe gets saved by reading his bible at home. The only friend or family he has that goes to any church is his aunt who is a Mormon. He talks to her and she talks him into joining the Mormon church and he is baptized. After a few years he realizes that Mormonism is wrong and wants to join your church. What will you do? He was truly saved at his home. He tells you that he didn't believe his baptism was any part of his salvation and he doesn't want to be "rebaptized". Will you accept him? Why or why not?

4. Baptism into a local church is not the issue. That is another subject. I am talking about who was given the authority to baptize and the doctrinal requirements for a group to be a true church. These are the reasons why some Southern Baptists continue to reject non-Baptist immersions.

Tim Sweatman said...

Ben,

The verse I use to say the Great Commission is given to all Christians is Matthew 28:18-20, and also Acts 1:8. Either it was given to the apostles only, or it was given to all Christians. I don't see how anyone can try to create a dichotomy between Christians and the church. What do you think the church is? The church is the body of Christ, made up of the people who have put their faith in Him. The basic nature of the church is that it is organic rather than organizational (although there is certainly an organizational aspect).

We agree that God's design is to use local churches to carry out His kingdom work, but this does not mean that every part of that work must be done within the institutional framework of a local church. Must all evangelism take place within a local congregation? Of course not; some people were saved when they read a Bible passage on their own and the Holy Spirit used that to bring them to faith in Jesus. Must all discipleship take place within a local congregation? No; we can be discipled and mentored by believers from other local churches. So if evangelism and discipleship do not have to be done within the context of a local church, then why would the other part of the Great Commission, baptism, have to be?

Is a person's salvation invalid if the person who led him or her to Christ does not believe in eternal security? Not if the person being saved repents of his or her sin, believes that Jesus is the Son of God who died for his or her sins and rose from the dead, and commits to following Jesus as Lord. That is what the Bible teaches about how a person is saved. It would be adding to Scripture to say that a person has to believe in eternal security to be saved, just as it is adding to Scripture to say that a person's baptism is not valid unless it is administered by someone who believes in eternal security. In the same way that a person's salvation is not dependent of the qualifications of the person who witnessed to him or her, the validity of a person's baptism does not rest on the qualifications of the person who administered the baptism.

Here's a hypothetical situation that has parallels in the real world, and would be relevant to this issue. Suppose a person is saved in a Southern Baptist church and is baptized in that church by the pastor. Now suppose it turns out that the pastor had never truly been saved (it does happen), but many years later gets saved. What is the status of all the people he baptized? If right doctrine on the part of the administrator is essential for making a baptism valid, wouldn't it follow that the salvation of the administrator is even more essential? And what about all the people whom that pastor led to Jesus and discipled? Is their salvation and discipleship invalid?

I'd love to continue, but it's late and this response is long enough. I will respond to your other statements soon. I'll close by saying that for me the issue is less about baptism than about the imposition of doctrinal requirements that are not clearly articulated in Scripture (and for that matter are not even part of the BF&M).

R. L. Vaughn said...

Hi, Tim. I got to your blog via Marty Duren's sbcoutpost. Enjoyed reading your and Ben's comments.

A point and a question:

You wrote, "The verse I use to say the Great Commission is given to all Christians is Matthew 28:18-20, and also Acts 1:8. Either it was given to the apostles only, or it was given to all Christians." I think you make the mistake here of the false dilemma - that this either/or are the only two options. I would submit that there are at least five options that a case could be made for, at least four of which are plausible: (1) Jesus is speaking to the apostles as apostles; (2) Jesus is speaking to the apostles as preachers/ministers; (3) Jesus is speaking to the apostles as representatives of the church; (4) Jesus is speaking to the apostles as believers; and (5) Jesus is speaking to the apostles as members of the human race. I think a case could be made that He speaks to the twelve in the Gospels in all of the above fashions. Now the fifth option would probably be quickly rooted out, but I think we will find historically that different good conservative Baptists have presented cases supporting the other four. I'm working on a somewhat lengthy blog (called from Wade's "Who Can Baptize") to address this and other issues about baptism. I will approach it by examining how the apostles and early church interpreted this command (Mt. 28:18-20), especially from the book of Acts. I hope you and Ben (and others) will come to Music and Ministry - Seeking the Old Paths and discuss my blog. I should have it ready by Saturday. I have two more "Principles for Church Music" blogs to post first.

Also, Tim, I am looking forward to your answer to Ben's Mormon example question. He was a believer before he was baptized. "Will you accept him? Why or why not?"

Thanks. Have a great day.

martyduren said...

Ben-
I find a couple of your points above very, very intriguing.

First, you argue that Romans 16:17 commands us not to fellowship with those who hold doctrines contrary to the NT. What you really mean is "Baptist doctrine" isn't it? You must since your initial comment equates proper doctrine with baptist doctrine, you place the assemblies of God in the same basket as the Mormons. Nothing could be less accurate.

It is common knowledge that Baptists would differ with Methodists, Pres and Lutherans on several issues, but not on the nature of Christ and His saving work. Mormons and JW's hold no such similar view; they are NOT of like faith, as they do not hold a biblical view of Christ. To reject a Mormon baptism is correct because they hold to a different Christ, so re-baptism in that case is to identify with the Christ of the NT. I find it unusual that a Baptist would find it necessary to request re-baptism of a believer who had already been baptized by immersion, following salvation in a body holding an orthodox view of the Son of God.

BTW, baptism is an ordinace of Christ that is held in trust by the local church and, no, all baptisms in the NT cannot be tied to a specific local church (Acts 8 comes to mind).

Also, you mention Martin Luther as stating that "a true church was one that preached the true way of salvation and practiced the true way of baptism." But, Martin Luther practiced infant baptism. How does this prove your point?

Tim Sweatman said...

Well Marty, looks like you stole my thunder. That's a good thing, though, for the sake of clarity.

Ben-
I guess I wasn't as clear as I should have been in my original statement. I must have assumed that everyone would realize that I was talking about Christian baptism. That is why I said your Mormon example was irrelevant, because I was talking about baptisms that had been administered by Christians. Because of their different views on the nature and identity of Christ (among other reasons), I do not consider the Mormon church to be a Christian church. So I would not accept a Mormon baptism because it would not be a Christian baptism.

Regarding Romans 16:17 and the other Scriptures you mentioned about avoiding those who hold to false doctrines, where do we draw these lines? As far as I am aware, the only examples given in the New Testament of people to avoid are those who have heretical views of the nature of Christ and those who teach that salvation is by any means other than God's grace through our faith. I may be missing something else; if so, let me know.

Tim Sweatman said...

R.L.-
I'll wait to comment on what you've said until I read your post at your blog. Let me know when it's ready.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Tim, I finally have the post ready on my blog. Just click on the link 4 posts above - Music and Ministry, Seeking the Old Paths. I actually have two - "Who Can Baptize" and "The 'Rebaptisms' of Acts 19". I wanted to spend some time on those verses in Acts, and so broke them out in a separate blog. I hope you and others will give your comments. I'd even like to see a picking apart of the weak areas. There are some parts where I'm still in flux.

Ben Stratton said...

Hello brethren. I just haven't had time the last couple of days to get back in the blog, but let me try and get back into the discussion.

1. On Mormon baptisms. I think it is very interesting that both Bro. Sweatman and Bro. Martyduren say that Mormon baptisms should be rejected because Mormons hold to heretic views on the nature of Christ and the way of salvation. I could not agree more. However think about what you are both saying. What about the United Pentecostals and other Oneness groups that deny the Holy Trinity. They hold to a heretic view on the nature of Christ. Should their baptisms be rejected? What about the Seventh-Day Adventists who say a Christian must keep all the Old Testament laws to be saved. They hold to a heretic view on the nature of salvation. Should their baptisms be rejected? What about the Catholics, Lutherans, Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ who say that baptism is essential to salvation? (The Disciples of Christ / Christian Church split with the Church of Christ around 1908 over the piano / organ question, but they both agree on the purpose of baptism) These groups all hold to a heretic view on salvation. Should Baptist churches accept their baptisms? Why or why not?

2. But what about Methodist or Assembly of God baptisms you ask? This is where the Eternal Security question comes into play. These groups, along with Church of God groups, other various Pentecostal / Charismatic groups and Free Will and General Baptists teach that a Christian can lose their salvation. In reality they are teaching that a Christian must keep up his good works to be truly saved. Because of this, we strict Baptists believe they are teaching a heretic view of salvation and believe their baptisms should be rejected. Yes it is true that their view of the way of salvation is not as bad as the Mormons or the Church of Christ, but it is still totally different from what we as Southern Baptists believe and teach. That is why their baptisms should be rejected.

3. What about the baptisms of a pastor that has never truly been saved? I would respond with the example of Judas. John 4:2 says Jesus' disciples baptized for Him. Did Judas baptize? I sure he did, along with all the other apostles. But he baptized on the Lord's authority, so his baptisms would be accepted. The same is true of a lost pastor. I have known of numerous examples of this happening (a pastor getting saved after he had previously baptized many). That pastor baptized on his church's authority, so these baptism would be valid. It all comes back to who was the command to baptize given to? I contend it was given to the local church.

This is much more I could say, but I will let you all chew on this for a while.

GeneMBridges said...

What about the Catholics, Lutherans, Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ who say that baptism is essential to salvation?...These groups all hold to a heretic view on salvation.

a. It's ironic you would use Luther to ground your position then dispute Lutheran soteriology. Unlike the others your list, Lutherans ground their assurance in the sacraments but they do not affim baptismal regeneration like the Roman Catholics or the others. This is a common misconception. They believe in Sola Fide as well as hold to an orthodox view of Christ. Their baptism looks at baptism as a seal on the child who they believe God will call to salvation later in life. Those who are not personally converted later in life may not look to baptism for the assurance of anything. To say they are unsaved and believe one is saved by baptism is a gross misrepresentation of their theology. Is grounding your assurance in the sacraments inconsistent? Yes. Does this mean you affirm something less than Sola Fide? No, because you are grounding assurance, not justification, in baptism. Baptism is viewed after conversion as a visible sign of what God has done for you in this view. This is really not that different than credobaptism. It merely places baptism on the other end of life.

b. Lutheran and Presbyterian baptism are not acceptable within Baptist polity. We require them to be baptized as converts in obedience to the Lord's command and our credobaptism, not because we view them as soteriologically aberrant. You'll have to give a biblical justification for the doctrine of eternal security being a soteriological necessity. Right doctrine does not save. God saves. If you wish to say eternal security is a soteriological necessity for right baptism, then who was truly saved and who was truly baptized in the first three centuries of Christianity when they practiced credo-baptism but did not by any means consistently affirm eternal security?

c. Your position reduces to the implicit affirmation that other Protestant communions holding to Sola Fide, Sola Gracia, Sola Christus, Sola Scriptura, and Sola Deo Gloria are not true churches if they do not hold to eternal security or practice credo-baptism.

d. The Landmark position which you outline traces itself through Anabaptists who are accounted heretics by your own admission, for they deny Sola Fide and Sola Gracia.

In reality they are teaching that a Christian must keep up his good works to be truly saved.

This is an outright a lie. What they believe is that a Christian can apostatize. They define apostasy very strictly. Apostasy is not committing a single sin. In their view, one must embrace several evils in order to apostatize. It is repudiating evangelical doctrine, loss of spirituality of mind, and a gradual or radical moral decline. This is the same definition of apostasy that Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians affirm, the same one that R.B.C. Howell, the second president of the SBC taught. The difference is that we affirm a genuine Christian cannot apostatize. The Arminians do not.

Both the Reformed and the Arminian affirm the necessity of diligence and perseverance after conversion. Nowhere in the theologies of the Arminians does one find an affirmation that they are justified by works. In fact, the classic Reformed formulation is that we are justified by faith, saved by grace. We are not justified by works, but we must persevere in the faith. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, a product of the grace of God. The Reformed affirm one cannot apostatize, but the issue of conversion is one of Sola Fide.

One need not believe one cannot lose one's salvation in order to be saved or have a doctrine of perseverance. Where in Arminian theology, aside from Finney, who is accounted a Pelagian, do you find an affirmation that one is justified by works? If a person apostatizes, then this is evidence they were never converted that is all. The fact that the Arminian does not recognize this is defective but not a salvific requirement.

In fact, it is you, sir, who believe in salvation by works, for, in making belief in eternal security a requirement for salvation, you add to the gospel. You make salvation, viz. justification, a matter of the correct soteriological framework, not the grace of God alone. Christ alone is the object of our faith, not a set of soteriological doctines. If God can save a child in the womb, then believing in eternal security is not necessary for salvation.

Tim Sweatman said...

I do not have any policy regarding specific denominations. If a person requests membership in my local church, part of the things we discuss is their baptism. If their previous baptism meets biblical standards (by immersion, subsequent to their conversion, as a symbol of and NOT as a means of their salvation), then I will accept their baptism. Therefore, I do not accept sprinkling, infant baptism, sacramental baptism, or regenerative baptism. NOT because of the doctrine of the groups who practice such types of baptism, but because the baptism itself does not adhere to the biblical pattern. Again, where is the biblical evidence that a Christian or a church must believe in the doctrine of eternal security to be able to baptize?

Ben Stratton said...

Bro. Sweatman,

You say, "If their previous baptism meets biblical standards (..., as a symbol of and NOT as a means of their salvation), then I will accept their baptism."

Here is my question - Who's opinion do you look at - the individual that was baptized, or the church that administered the baptism? What if the church administered it for the purpose of completing that individual's salvation, but the individual was simply following a command of Christ. Who do you look to?

Bro. GeneMBridges interesting post was totally irrelevant because you will notice that I never once said Lutherans or Methodists were lost. What I said was they hold to different doctrines than we Southern Baptist believe and teach and Bro. Bridges admits this much is true in his post.

Tim Sweatman said...

I would look at what the individual being baptized believed about his or her baptism (again, assuming that the baptism followed the biblical pattern), just as I would evaluate a person's conversion experience by looking at what that individual believed rather than what the person who led him or her to Christ believed. My experience has been, however, that in most cases the person being baptized has a similar view of baptism to the person or church administering the baptism.

Gene's use of Lutherans and Methodists as examples are as relevant as your mention of them in your earlier post. Yes, they do have some doctrinal beliefs that differ from what Southern Baptists believe, but the basis for rejecting their baptism is not their doctrinal views, but the fact that their baptism does not follow the biblical pattern (most Methodists don't immerse, while Lutherans consider baptism to be sacramental).

Ben said...

Bro. Tim - Here is the reason I asked this question. In a previous post you wrote: "Because of their different views on the nature and identity of Christ (among other reasons), I do not consider the Mormon church to be a Christian church. So I would not accept a Mormon baptism because it would not be a Christian baptism."

Brother you seem to be talking out of both sides of your mouth. On one hand you say you would look at what the individual believed about his baptism and on the other hand you say if the church holds to heretic views on the nature of Christ (and perhaps other heretic doctrines) you would reject their baptisms. You are setting up two different standards to judge by. Yes I understand you say, "that in most cases the person being baptized has a similar view of baptism to the person or church administering the baptism." I would agree that in "most" cases this is true, but not in all. My Mormon illustration is just one example. Here is another: There are a number of Church of Christ congregations in Bowling Green. Do you really think that every single one of these members understood his baptism to be sacramental? I am sure most did, but not every single one. So which one of your standards to you look to in order to judge these baptisms.

I'm doing to stick with Romans 16:17, II John 1:10, II Thessalonians 3:6, and Amos 3:3 and continue to reject the baptisms preformed by denominations that hold to heretic views on salvation and/or baptism.

Tim Sweatman said...

Ben,

I must not be making myself clear, so let me try to start again. I believe Jesus gave the Great Commission (which includes the authority to baptize) to all of His followers. Since followers of Jesus comprise local churches, and since Jesus established the local church, this authority is also inherent in the local church. So any Christian or church has the biblical authority to baptize new converts. Cults would not fall under this authority, since they are not Christian churches. (Apparently this is the point that either I have failed to convey or you have failed to grasp.) Thus, everything that follows is applicable only to baptisms administered by individual Christians or by Christian churches.

The New Testament pattern for baptism is:
1. Baptism is the immersion of a believer under water. The Greek word means "to immerse." Therefore, baptisms by any means other than immersion are not biblical and must be rejected.
2. Baptism is to be administered only to those who have already professed their faith in Christ. Therefore, infant baptism is not biblical and must be rejected. Also, a person who has already been baptized but later comes to faith in Christ must be rebaptized.
3. Baptism is symbolic of our identification with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. It plays no role in our salvation, nor does it confer grace or any other tangible benefit upon us. Therefore, baptism that is considered to be regenerative or sacramental is not biblical and must be rejected.

Any Christian baptism that meets all three of these criteria is a biblically valid baptism and should be recognized by all churches. The first two criteria are objective in nature, so there would be little difficulty in determining whether a specific baptism met these standards. The third criteria is subjective in the sense that external observation alone cannot demonstrate whether a baptism meets this standard. So the way to determine whether the baptism met this standard is to ask the baptized person what the baptism meant to him or her. His or her answer should reveal whether he or she viewed the baptism as symbolic, sacramental, or regenerative (even if he or she doesn't use the specific terms).

My point of contention with the new IMB policies is that nowhere in the New Testament is the validity of one's baptism based on the doctrinal views of the administrator. Provided that the administrator is an individual Christian or a Christian church, any baptism that meets all three of the criteria listed above is a biblically valid baptism, even if the administrator is wrong on some doctrinal issues.

Ben Stratton said...

Bro. Tim.

Thanks for your reply. If I understand your last reply correctly, you look to the individual's understanding of his own baptism to determine if it is valid, except in instances when he was baptized by a cult. Is this correct?

If so, here is my next question. What is your criteria for determining if a group is a cult? For example do you consider the following religious groups to be cults?
1. Oneness Pentecostals - Also known as United Pentecostals, they reject the doctrine of the Trinity.
2. Churches of Christ - Also known as Campbellites - they believe strongly in baptismal regeneration.
3. Seventh-Day Adventists - They believe a Christian must keep the Old Testament law to be saved.

Would you consider these three groups cults? Why or why not?

Tim Sweatman said...

Ben,

The primary criteria I use to define a cult is what a group teaches about the nature/identity of Jesus. Now, I'll freely admit that I am not well versed in the doctrinal views of other churches or groups, so I would have to investigate each situation individually.

As I respond to your examples, let me say that within these generalities I would still make evaluations on an individual basis.
1. On the surface I would be inclined to view Oneness groups as cultic, because I understand them to teach that Jesus is not the eternal Son of God.
2. I don't consider the Churches of Christ to be a cult, but as discussed above, I would not accept their baptism if it were seen as regenerative. (There are a few Church of Christ congregations who reject baptismal regeneration; I would accept their baptisms provided that they met the other biblical standards.)
3. I know little about Seventh-Day Adventists. If the candidate believed in the past that his or her salvation had been based on keeping the Law then the candidate had not been truly saved, so the previous baptism would not have been believer's baptism.

To be honest, I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish with all of these hypothetical examples. Generally speaking, I don't have blanket rules that I apply to groups. I attempt to take the biblical principles and see how they apply to each individual situation. So it is difficult for me to say how I would approach various groups because I evaluate each person's experience individually and see how it measures up to the biblical standard.

Ben Stratton said...

Bro. Tim,

Thanks for your answer. I have asked you these questions to try and determine exactly what you believe about baptism. Here is what I have determined by your answers: If a group holds to doctrinal error on the nature / identify of Christ you believe they are a cult and would reject any baptisms that group administered even if the individual understood it to be believer's baptism. Is this correct?

Brother this is not too far from what I have been saying all along. Now the New Testament doesn't use the word "cult" but it does use the word "heretic" several times. I believe those groups that hold to unbiblical doctrines on the way of salvation or the mode / subjects of baptism classify as heretics. That is they hold to false doctrine. Now this is not to say only Baptists are saved, for I think we would both agree that there are individuals in "cult" groups that are truly saved, just as there are many in non-Baptist churches that are truly saved. Yet the fact remains that they are in churches that hold to unbiblical doctrine on major issues. Because of this I believe Romans 16:17, II John 1:10, II Thessalonians 3:6, and Amos 3:3 compel me to reject their baptisms.

It all comes down, as you mentioned in any earlier post, "where do we draw these lines". As everyone can see I draw the lines much tighter than you. But I believe the apostle Paul would have drawn the lines these tight and I know that throughout church history multitudes of Baptists have drawn the lines these tight.

I will leave you with a quote from John Broadus, noted Southern Baptist leader and one of the founders of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.

"I think it highly undesirable that persons previously immersed by Pedobaptists or Campbellites should be received as they stand into the Baptist Church. I think they ought to be baptized when received, for the sake of good order, and to prevent any troublesome questions from afterwards arising. I think that the candidate, even if satisfied with his previous immersion as a baptism, ought to be willing to be baptized now, to satisfy the church and give no trouble hereafter, and that if he is not willing the church can do without him." John A. Broadus - The quote is from page 18 of the booklet "Kentucky Baptists, the Seminary, and Alien Immersion" published in 1908 by W.J. McGlothlin.

Tim Sweatman said...

The reason I disagree with Broadus and with you is that I see no biblical teaching requiring rebaptism of a person who was baptized by a Christian or under the authority of a Christian church because of specific doctrinal errors on the part of that administrator or church. I don't see the verses that you keep citing as relevant to baptism, because baptism is a symbol of our uniting with Christ, not of our uniting with a local church. Baptism by any Christian or under the authority of any Christian church, because they are in Christ (even if they have wrong views on some doctrines), is a Christian baptism and should be accepted by all Christians, provided that such baptism adheres to the biblical pattern.

Ben Stratton said...

Bro. Sweatman,

I will try to make this my final post on this subject.

1. I believe Jesus gave the New Testament church the authority and responsibility to baptize. Because of this baptism is a church ordinance. Biblical references: Matthew 28:18-20, I Corinthians 12:28, John 4:2, Matthew 16:18, I Timothy 3:15, Ephesians 3:21, etc. Because of this baptism is considered a church ordinance. Once the church was started during the earthly ministry of Jesus, the baptisms of the New Testament were all under church authority and connected with a church: Paul the Missionary - the church at Antioch, Peter - the church at Jerusalem, Phillip - the church at Jerusalem, Anaias - the church at Damascus, etc.

2. I believe the way to determine if a group is a New Testament church is by their doctrine. Romans 16:17, I Thessalonians 3:6, II John 1:9, Amos 3:3, etc. A group that sprinkles for baptism does not have the doctrine of the New Testament. A group that rejects the eternity security of the believer is not teaching New Testament doctrine. A group that baptizes babies is not holding to the teaching of the New Testament. Because of the unbiblical doctrines these groups hold to, they are disqualified from being considered N.T. churches and henceforth have no authority to baptize.

3. Not only is scripture on my side, but I believe logic is as well. Suppose the apostle Paul heard that the church at Derbe was baptizing babies by sprinkling and teaching a true Christian can be lost again. Would Paul have said, "Well, we're all working for the same thing" or "Well, these are just non-essential doctrines". You say the verses I have quoted have nothing to do with baptism. I say they have everything to do with what defines a true church. Most everyone would agree Paul would have rebuked this church and if they refused to come back to the faith, Paul would have had nothing to do with him. It is ludicrous to say he would have considered their doctrine heretical, but would have went on accepting their baptisms.

4. Not only is scripture and logic on my side, but also church history. Baptists such as John Broadus, James P. Boyce, Basil Manly Jr., B.H. Carroll, J.M. Pendleton, Jesse Mercer, George McDaniel, George Truett, W.A. Criswell, R.G. Lee, and a mighty host of other Baptists agreed that non-Baptist baptisms should be rejected.

It is obvious that we both have very strong opinions on this subject and apart from a mighty work of God neither of us are going to change our minds. However I think an open minded person will see scriptural, logic, and history teach the strict position on baptism.

Tim Sweatman said...

Ben,

So I guess I'm closed minded because I don't exclude people on the basis of views that are not clearly and directly stated in Scripture but are only an interpretation? That is the type of attitude that I and many others believe will destroy the SBC as a mighty tool for the kingdom.

Before letting this matter go, I just want to address a couple of things. Why do you keep bringing up sprinkling? I said numerous times that biblical baptism is by immersion, so your references to sprinkling constitute a straw man. Also, regarding Philip, what in the text indicates that he baptized the eunuch into the Jerusalem church? The Jerusalem church apparently didn't even know Philip was in the desert (he had been in Samaria). Somehow I doubt that he went back to Jerusalem and added the eunuch's name to the roll so they could send his letter to Ethiopia.

One final question. If it turns out that the SBC is wrong about some particular point of doctrine (say, free will or predestination), then would all of our baptisms be invalid?

Ben Stratton said...

Bro. Tim,

As this is your blog and I don't want to wear out my welcome, so I will limit this to answering your questions:

1. I don't believe immersion, believer's baptism, or eternal security are "interpretations" of scripture, but fundamental doctrines of the Bible. If I believed they were merely interpretations, I would join a non-denomination church that straddled the fence on these points.

2. I never used the word "close-minded" to refer to you. However I do believe you have your mind already made up on this subject. I have given you over a dozen scriptures and they have affected you like water on a duck's back and to be honest you have given me none to support you position. What I meant was I believe a person with no preconceived notions would say the Bible teaches a strict view of baptism.

3. My reference to sprinkling did not have to do with your church accepting sprinkling, but the validity of immersions preformed by a church (Presbyterian or Methodist) that mostly sprinkles for baptism.

4. I never said Phillip baptized the eunuch into the church at Jerusalem. I only said Phillip was an ordained officer of the church at Jerusalem (evangelist). Also immediately after he baptized the eunuch you remember he was caught away by the Holy Spirit. I think we can both agree if God had of left him in the desert he would have tried to get the eunuch into church fellowship as soon as possible - either by taking him back to Jerusalem, or by going to his home county and starting a church there.

5. If I came to believe Southern Baptists were wrong on a fundamental doctrine, I would leave and join a denomination that matched my beliefs.

Tim Sweatman said...

Ben,

Let me respond to each of your points by number.

1. I'm not saying that any of these doctrines (immersion, believer's baptism, and eternal security) are just interpretations. I believe the Bible clearly teaches each of these. What I am calling an interpretation is the position that the validity of a baptism depends on the doctrine of the administrator, which is not directly stated or clearly taught in any passage of Scripture.

2. Although you did not use the actual word "close-minded" in reference to me, you strongly implied that my mind is already made up and that nothing would change it. Actually, I would change my mind if anyone could provide Scriptural evidence that clearly teaches the rejection of any Christian baptism that was administered by immersion, subsequent to conversion, and as a symbol of one's salvation. I just don't see where the verses you cited relate to the validity of baptism, unless you were to claim that Assemblies of God or Presbyterians are not Christians. Then you could say that their baptisms are not Christian baptisms.

3. In the cases of those churches, the immersions would be valid baptisms but the sprinklings would not be. If Frank is immersed by a Presbyterian minister (after conversion and as a symbol of his salvation), and then that minister sprinkles Tammy, Frank's baptism would be biblically valid because it followed the biblical pattern. What Tammy did has nothing to do with Frank's baptism.

4. I agree completely with what you said in this one. I brought this example up because you seem to hold the position that baptism is a mark of identifying with a local church. But as you acknowledged, the eunuch was not baptized into a local congregation.

5. I didn't ask if you would leave the SBC; I asked if all SBC baptisms would be invalid. Certainly, if I became convinced that the SBC was wrong on certain doctrines and there was no chance of changing the prevailing view, I would find another church or denomination. But I would not submit to being rebaptized because I have already been biblically baptized. My baptism did not symbolize my uniting with the SBC; it was a symbol of my uniting with Christ.

I have found our discussion to be stimulating and mostly civil. I did take your statement as an accusation of closed-mindedness on my part, and your explanation in #2 only reinforced that understanding, but you are entitled to your opinion. It would take something extraordinary for a person to wear out their welcome on my blog, because I believe that honest and open discussion of issues is a positive thing.

Bill Phillips said...

So...whose baptism here is invalid? You both claim that your position is correct, however, it is impossible for both of you to be correct, for there is only one truth. So someone is incorrect and their baptism is invalid in some of your estimations. Let's take this out a little furthur. If it is by position of ones place in the church, for instance a pastor or deacon due to ordination, then what of the pastor who is saved AFTER his ordination and he is rightly saved, and baptizes himself? Occording to position and ordination he has valid baptism. Let's go a out a little more. What is most important, salvation or baptism? ANY believer can lead another to Christ, yet, we are going to place a higher premium on the expression of that conversion than on the very act of obedience that lead to that act? In other words, being baptized is somehow more important, by virtue of the requirement of WHO baptizes than on WHO leads that one to Jesus? Makes little to no sense.

Now you may state that a person is saved by grace and may be saved with the help or without the help of anyone. I would agree. I would also state that if we are saved by grace, we are kept by grace, we live by grace and we will die in grace and spend all of eternity in heaven by grace.

I am, as a senior pastor, no more important to the body of Christ than anyone else. And to make ANY assumption as to Scripture in my view is heretical. So to assume that Ananias was anything is improper, for it is NOT stated.

There was no church membership like we understand today, so this is invalid. The church is anyone called out, called apart unto Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Not Baptists or any other denomination. It is NOT found in Scripture.

BTW, why was Jesus baptized? He did not need to be saved. He did not join a church. John was not ordained by a church. So was Jesus' baptism valid? I believe in baptism as a witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ, it is NOT the saving power. In addition, I am not Jesus, I have no saving power. I am a sinner, saved by grace. I was ordained by a CHURCH some ordained, some not, all of whom are sinners like me.

One can take this point to lengths beyond this or any others ability to comprehend or express.

Patrick said...

Hello Brothers

I welcome any comments here from anyone, but I truly seek the Lord for all my answers.

I am not an ordained pastor nor am I an ordained minister.

I am a Born Again Evangelical Christian and have renewed my faith in Christ through baptism, direct communication with God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. God will not judge a person by the religion they choose but rather by the faith they have in Him. In Gods eyes, this is what will matter most in the end days. I have had the privilege of experiencing in my life the following religions; Baptist, Lutheran, Catholicism and Mormonism with the most being Mormonism. They all have their teachings and all might seem okay to most people, but I never found what I was searching for in any of them. I decided to step away from the “sects” of religion and just seek the word of God and to have a personal relationship with Him and when I did my walk with Christ flourished and continues to flourish a hundred fold on a daily basis.

Through my personal relationship and communication with our Lord, I have been given the gift of Prophecy, the powers to heal through Christ, the powers to cast demons and do deliverance on people and places exposed or vulnerable to the adversary. I have been given the keys to the kingdom of Heaven and have been told by the Lord that I am His soldier and carry a large golden axe and that I will have a huge following of masses of people that I will be able to lead and bring forward to Christ and teach the truth of Jesus Christ according to scripture and will influence people to believe in and turn to Christ through being born again. I have also been anointed and baptized in the Holy Spirit and have been able to communicate directly to the Lord.
I am involved in marketplace, workplace, community and healing ministries as well as prophetic evangelism and am growing a ministry based on the fundamentals of scripture and biblical principals. I am witnessing, testifying prophesying and teaching people how they can have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. that the Lord has been directing me to do.

I have been commissioned by the Lord as an evangelical minister to preach His word as He directs. I am an active and obeient member of a local church.

I teach and preach biblical principals according to scripture in both the old and new testaments.

According to what I have read, there are different view points on baptism respectively.

Through my personal relationship with the Lord, I have been commissioned by HIM to perform baptisms under His authority and His authority only so long as it done according to scripture.

What's your comments on the preceeding paragraph only, if He has directed one to do His services.

I believe that it is an insult to our Father in heaven that there has to be argumemts on baptism. The bible clearly states that whosever is willing can come. It does not say that a person has to be of any denomination or church before they can be baptized or accepted unto Him.

The Body of Christ has been segregated for too long. The Lord clearly wants to see unity among the body, especially in these end times.

Patrick said...

There is no Biblical specification as to who baptizes whom. After Peter and the other eleven Apostles finished speaking to the crowds on the day of Pentecost, they baptized a large number of people.

"Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. " ( Acts 2:41, NIV)

Paty said...

People who are not priest can baptize. Every person who is Catholic can baptize. People can baptize each other, but only under certain circumstances. In order to baptize and not be a priest, it has to be a life or death situation where there are no priests. For example, you are driving near the desert, when you crash into a car, and your child is dying. Then you would have the right of baptizing your child, since there are no priests, and your child is dying.

By Paty