Monday, July 16, 2007

"Alien Baptism" and the Irony of the IMB Guideline

For those of you who do not regularly read Joel Rainey's blog, I want to call your attention to his latest post, I Do Believe in "Alien Baptism." In my opinion, this post presents the clearest and most compelling case against the IMB baptism guideline passed in November 2005. Joel does this not by directly attacking the guideline, but instead by describing four different types of "baptism" that are alien to the biblical teaching on baptism and demonstrating how the IMB guideline fits one of these descriptions. According to Joel:

  1. An "Alien Baptism" is any baptism that takes place prior to regeneration and conversion.
  2. An "Alien Baptism" is one that occurs by any mode other than immersion.
  3. An "Alien Immersion" is one that takes place among a "faith community" that is not made up of genuine followers of Christ.
  4. An "Alien Immersion" is one that places the primary focus of the ordinance on anything besides union with Jesus Christ and His people.
In his explanation of his fourth point, Joel points out the irony of the IMB guideline:
Scripture is clear in teaching that there is ONE baptism. With that in view, I am appreciative of the IMBs desire that all who go to the mission field under our banner have experienced this. The problem comes when they begin to tie baptismal validity to doctrines that while precious and essential to Baptists, are secondary in matters of salvation and the church. I am speaking of course of how the IMB ties baptismal validity to whether the congregation that performed the baptism believes in "eternal security." The outcome of such a guideline is that a candidate could be genuinely born again, immersed in the name of the triune God after this experience, as a testimony of that experience, among people who share our Gospel convictions and are themselves believers, and still be required to be "baptized" in a Southern Baptist Church...

But if the candidate has already been Scripturally baptized, and there is only one baptism, then what exactly is being required by the IMB?

I believe IMB trustees are honorable people, and like me, they simply want to guard our Biblical heritage and ensure the same of those who will represent us on the mission field. But this new guideline changes the focus of Baptism from Christ and His people to the doctrine of "eternal security." Such a move means that the above question can be answered in only one way: The IMB is now requiring "alien baptism," which ironically, is the very thing I am certain they were trying to avoid with the new guideline.
After reading Joel's post, my initial thought was, "Why didn't I think of that?"


GuyMuse said...

Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing them with us. My own observation after many months gone by since the guidelines came out, is that autonomous national churches being planted overseas are going to do whatever they want, regardless of IMB guidelines. About the only place it really makes a difference is in who gets appointed as an IMB M in the future.

Debbie Kaufman said...

I read Joel's post and agree with what he has written. I especially noticed this and shook my head up and down while reading. I'm glad you have highlighted this post Tim, it is very well written.

While most of the conversations of which I have been a part have been affable and respectful, there have been a few remarks suggesting that those of us who oppose the new guideline are ignorant of Baptist history, or care nothing about Baptist identity, or even worse, are unconcerned about accurate theology.

Good point Guy and one that frankly I had not thought of.

Anonymous said...

My old church certainly struggled with the baptism question. Heading off to Joel anon.

OBTW, good words elsewhere. I will learn to write a simple question one o' dese days.

Bleedin' Blue Mist -

Steve Austin