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The Million-Dollar Infant Baptism
Crosswalk.com ^ | Dr. Ray Pritchard

Posted on 03/08/2007 10:53:14 AM PST by Alex Murphy

Several weeks ago I had the unique experience of witnessing my first infant baptism. I suppose that one statement says a lot about my own spiritual background in that I managed to live 54 years without ever seeing an infant baptism in person. I was raised Baptist and have spent my ministerial career serving in churches that practiced believers' baptism by immersion. Those are the circles in I have moved and felt most comfortable. And yet when all of Christendom is taken in consideration, that position is decidedly in the minority. Catholics, the Orthodox, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and all the Reformed churches practice infant baptism. I witnessed my first one while preaching at a Reformed church in Elmhurst, Illinois. And I even had a personal connection because it happened that years earlier I had married the first couple whose children were being baptized that day.

The pastor began by asking the parents if they were true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. He also asked them to affirm their commitment to raise their children in the church and to teach them the Word of God. His comments were essentially no different than the ones I make whenever I do a child dedication. Just before the baptism itself, he used a fascinating illustration. Suppose, he said to the parents, that a rich uncle came to you this morning and said, "I'm giving each of your children a check for a million dollars." You would be thrilled and your children would be blessed even though they wouldn't understand the significance of it. The check would guarantee your children's financial future. However, a million-dollar check is useless unless the person who receives it also endorses it and deposits it in the bank. If you never endorse it, the million dollars never really becomes yours. Infant baptism, he said, is like that. It's like a million-dollar check in that it brings the promises of God to the child but those promises are of no effect unless the child personally comes to faith in Jesus Christ. I am paraphrasing but I think that's a fair summary of the pastor's words.

Then he dipped his hands in the water of the baptismal font, placed it in the forehead of each child, and if I'm not mistaken, he did it three times, saying that it was done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All in all, it was a beautiful and simple ceremony. I was glad to be there to observe it. Those of us who hold to believers' baptism tend to have several major objections to infant baptism. Two are biblical and one is more pastoral in nature.

1) There is no example of infant baptism in the New Testament.

2) There is no command to baptize babies in the New Testament.

3) Many people who have been baptized as infants believe they are going to heaven because a priest or a pastor sprinkled some water on their forehead when they were a few weeks old.

It is #3 that is our chief objection. Too many people trust in their church connection (and thus in their infant baptism) who give no evidence at all of knowing Christ personally, trusting him, loving him, serving him, following him and obeying him, They never darken the doors of any church and seem to have no spiritual interest, yet they believe they are going to heaven because they are "members of God's family" by virtue of infant baptism. Sometimes they are even told that by church leaders.

That’s why I liked the million-dollar illustration. It makes clear that no one goes to heaven because water was sprinkled on them when they were a baby. And by implication, it teaches that infant baptism does not and cannot save. It is Christ who saves by faith. We are saved when we "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 16:31).

The pastor quoted the words of Jesus who said, "Let the little children come to me and do not forbid them" (Matthew 19:14). I smiled wryly and thought of Spurgeon's sermon Children Brought to Christ, and Not to the Font, but that was just my "inner Baptist" coming out.

Christians differ in our understanding of baptism, and it is not likely that we will agree on this until we get to heaven. For a good recent summary of various views, see the brand-new Understanding Four Views on Baptism, edited by John Armstrong and featuring presentations (and rebuttals) by representatives of the Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran and Christian Church/Church of Christ positions.

I remain convinced that believers' baptism is scriptural, but at the same time I recognize that thoughtful Christians disagree over this issue. I suppose (this is my "inner Baptist" coming out again) that if you have to have infant baptism, I like the way the pastor did it, with a strong emphasis on the fact that the children are not saved by baptism and must later come to personal saving faith in Christ. I can have happy fellowship with Christians of that conviction and will also be happy to baptize those children again (or for the first time, from my point of view) when they trust Christ as Savior.

One other note. This week I have enjoyed reading a delightful little book by Stephen J. Nichols called The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World. In his chapter on John Calvin, he notes that "only two heresies were punishable by death in the Holy Roman Empire--heresies relating to the Trinity and the insistence on believers' baptism (in the place of infant baptism)" (p. 80). That made me sit up straight. Great issues are at stake in the baptism debate and I do not wish to minimize them. Where the gospel is faithfully preached and believed, we can recognize that we are truly brothers and sisters in Christ despite our deeply-held convictions in certain areas. We will sometimes have to agree to disagree and even to worship in different churches while still extending the hand of Christian fellowship across the watery divide of baptism.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Evangelical Christian; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Theology
KEYWORDS: baptism
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1 posted on 03/08/2007 10:53:15 AM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy
In his chapter on John Calvin, he notes that "only two heresies were punishable by death in the Holy Roman Empire--heresies relating to the Trinity and the insistence on believers' baptism (in the place of infant baptism)" (p. 80). That made me sit up straight.

It should. It's a thoroughly goofy statement.

2 posted on 03/08/2007 10:58:59 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Alex Murphy

Excellent post. Thanks.

One problem with "believer's baptism" is the ritualistic aspect -- kids are subjected to social, parental, and clerical pressure to perform a set of rituals -- walking the aisle, saying the sinner's prayer, filling out the six-point record form, and submitting to public immersion. It's easy to see how this cultural custom generates a substantial percentage of false conversions.


3 posted on 03/08/2007 10:59:07 AM PST by TomSmedley (Calvinist, optimist, home schooling dad, exuberant husband, technical writer)
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To: Alex Murphy
From Infant Baptism

Were Only Adults Baptized?

Fundamentalists are reluctant to admit that the Bible nowhere says baptism is to be restricted to adults, but when pressed, they will. They just conclude that is what it should be taken as meaning, even if the text does not explicitly support such a view. Naturally enough, the people whose baptisms we read about in Scripture (and few are individually identified) are adults, because they were converted as adults. This makes sense, because Christianity was just beginning—there were no "cradle Christians," people brought up from childhood in Christian homes.

Even in the books of the New Testament that were written later in the first century, during the time when children were raised in the first Christian homes, we never—not even once—find an example of a child raised in a Christian home who is baptized only upon making a "decision for Christ." Rather, it is always assumed that the children of Christian homes are already Christians, that they have already been "baptized into Christ" (Rom. 6:3). If infant baptism were not the rule, then we should have references to the children of Christian parents joining the Church only after they had come to the age of reason, and there are no such records in the Bible.

Specific Biblical References?

But, one might ask, does the Bible ever say that infants or young children can be baptized? The indications are clear. In the New Testament we read that Lydia was converted by Paul’s preaching and that "She was baptized, with her household" (Acts 16:15). The Philippian jailer whom Paul and Silas had converted to the faith was baptized that night along with his household. We are told that "the same hour of the night . . . he was baptized, with all his family" (Acts 16:33). And in his greetings to the Corinthians, Paul recalled that, "I did baptize also the household of Stephanas" (1 Cor. 1:16).

In all these cases, whole households or families were baptized. This means more than just the spouse; the children too were included. If the text of Acts referred simply to the Philippian jailer and his wife, then we would read that "he and his wife were baptized," but we do not. Thus his children must have been baptized as well. The same applies to the other cases of household baptism in Scripture.

Granted, we do not know the exact age of the children; they may have been past the age of reason, rather than infants. Then again, they could have been babes in arms. More probably, there were both younger and older children. Certainly there were children younger than the age of reason in some of the households that were baptized, especially if one considers that society at this time had no reliable form of birth control. Furthermore, given the New Testament pattern of household baptism, if there were to be exceptions to this rule (such as infants), they would be explicit.

4 posted on 03/08/2007 11:04:53 AM PST by Pyro7480 ("Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus" -St. Ralph Sherwin's last words at Tyburn)
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To: TomSmedley
As one of those "Evangelical born again Christians", I do not know what 'walking the isle' is, or a 'six-point record form' is, public immersion yes because it is a public statement of faith, the sinners prayer well that usually refers to when you ask Jesus to be your personal Savior, do you mean it has to follow a certain guideline? Man, my church must really be primitive and Biblical.
5 posted on 03/08/2007 11:08:12 AM PST by svcw (There is no plan B.)
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To: All
A related thread:

BAPTISM, by Francis Schaeffer [Schaeffer's defense of paedobaptism]

6 posted on 03/08/2007 11:19:34 AM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy; wmfights; Forest Keeper

Excellent post AM. I'm pinging a few of our Baptist Calvinists buddy here. As the author states, I'm not sure it makes me want to switch my believer baptism views, but I've had a hard time understanding the meaning of infant baptism before this article.


7 posted on 03/08/2007 12:31:28 PM PST by HarleyD
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To: Alex Murphy

I think infant baptisms are the best of the lot and why I say this is from the very beginning kids already have a base for believing in God and loving Jesus. Immediately they are attending mass, the family is involved in the importants of the religion from the very beginning until the grave. What a wonderful gift to give a baby. Of course, this is my opinion and I don't bash anyone who feels differently and feel that adult Baptism is better. My brother in Law was Baptised a Catholic at the age of 24 before he married my sister and so there are cases where adult baptisms are necessary. I don't bash either way.


8 posted on 03/08/2007 12:40:26 PM PST by napscoordinator
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To: Alex Murphy; Campion; Pyro7480
There is no example of infant baptism in the New Testament.

This may be lacking in the New Testament but certainly not in the documents of the first Christian.


Irenaeus

"He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God--infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age" (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 180]).



Hippolytus

"Where there is no scarcity of water the stream shall flow through the baptismal font or pour into it from above; but if water is scarce, whether on a constant condition or on occasion, then use whatever water is available. Let them remove their clothing. Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them" (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215]).



Origen

"Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin . . . In the Church baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous" (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 244]).



Origen

"The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries [sacraments], knew there is in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit" (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 244]).



Cyprian

"As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth.

In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born" (Letter to Fidus 64:2 [A.D. 251]).



Cyprian

"If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he [an infant] approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another" (ibid. 64:5).



Gregory of Nazianz

"Do you have an infant child? Allow sin no opportunity; rather, let the infant be sanctified from childhood. From his most tender age let him be consecrated by the Spirit. Do you fear the seal [of baptism] because of the weakness of nature? Oh, what a pusillanimous mother and of how little faith!" (Oration on Holy Baptism 40:7 [A.D. 381]).

More examples

9 posted on 03/08/2007 12:54:33 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Alex Murphy

If grace is a free unearned gift from God then even an infant can receive the grace that is given in baptism. Nothing needs to be done to receive it. The catholic notion demonstrates this best. But then, the early church had no idea of what True Christianity was.


10 posted on 03/08/2007 1:01:04 PM PST by Klondike
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To: Klondike
Option A: consecrate your child to God as an infant, catechetize him, and leave God to do that which God alone can do -- reveal Himself to the child at the right time, place, and manner.

Option B: Assume some kind of "state of innocence" protects your child until the "age of reason" is attained, at which point strive to induce a "conversion experience" via a complex array of societal and psychological pressure mechanisms. Oh, yes. Since we are hard-wired to respond to the pressures brought upon us by those we respect, you'll probably be able to induce such an experience -- but you aren't God, so the converts you make are less likely to be genuine than those God makes.

Charles Finney, the American pelagian, introduced a number of human psuedo-sacraments into the experience of the American church, such as the "altar call." He also denied original sin, and preached a form of autosoteriology through will power.

11 posted on 03/08/2007 2:01:05 PM PST by TomSmedley (Calvinist, optimist, home schooling dad, exuberant husband, technical writer)
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To: Alex Murphy
1) There is no example of infant baptism in the New Testament.

Converts and sometimes their households were baptized. It is not stated either that the entire household was converted, or that there were or were not infants in the household.

I maintain that the NT is not nearly as clear as Baptists would like to believe.

2) There is no command to baptize babies in the New Testament.

Because, "of course" it's appropriate. Do you need a command to breathe? :-)

3) Many people who have been baptized as infants believe they are going to heaven because a priest or a pastor sprinkled some water on their forehead when they were a few weeks old.

That they are misinformed in not an arguement one way or the other about the validity of the practice.

I remain convinced that believers' baptism is scriptural,
Of course it's scriptural. Noone would deny baptism to a convert who had not previously been baptised. I've seen adult baptisms in Reformed churches. The question is whether it's appropriate to apply the sign of the new covenant to the infant children of believers.
Christians differ in our understanding of baptism, and it is not likely that we will agree on this until we get to heaven. For a good recent summary of various views, see the brand-new Understanding Four Views on Baptism, edited by John Armstrong and featuring presentations (and rebuttals) by representatives of the Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran and Christian Church/Church of Christ positions.

Not even getting into the RC conception of baptism....

12 posted on 03/08/2007 2:31:27 PM PST by Lee N. Field
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To: TomSmedley
One problem with "believer's baptism" is the ritualistic aspect -- kids are subjected to social, parental, and clerical pressure to perform a set of rituals -- walking the aisle, saying the sinner's prayer, filling out the six-point record form, and submitting to public immersion.

I can remember seeing young kids (<=10) giving testimony before baptism, about how awful their lives were before accepting Jesus. That had to be someone else talking. No way they'd have a grasp on that. No way at all.

13 posted on 03/08/2007 2:34:26 PM PST by Lee N. Field
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To: HarleyD; Alex Murphy; Forest Keeper
I'm pinging a few of our Baptist Calvinists buddy here.

I don't get "bent out of shape" over infant Baptism because Baptism is not salvational. I do prefer "believer's Baptism" because it is the product of an adult desire to repent and publicly declare your faith.

It is the understanding that you are only saved by Grace through Faith not works that is the key.

I had the opportunity to witness to a RC last week and she mentioned that infant Baptism was essential to remove sin, after I had discussed believer's Baptism. I responded by asking her what sins Jesus Christ had removed when John the Baptist Baptized him.

14 posted on 03/08/2007 2:38:15 PM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
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To: wmfights
I don't get "bent out of shape" over infant Baptism because Baptism is not salvational.

Ditto (and I'm a paedobaptist), and Amen!

15 posted on 03/08/2007 2:40:56 PM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: wmfights
I responded by asking her what sins Jesus Christ had removed when John the Baptist Baptized him.

non sequitur. John the Baptist didn't administer Christian baptism, and Jesus was God in the flesh who had no sin.

16 posted on 03/08/2007 2:55:44 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Lee N. Field
Not even getting into the RC conception of baptism

It's not too far from the Lutheran view, which shouldn't come as a surprise. From Luther's small catechism:

What is baptism?

Baptism is not merely water, but it is water used according to God's command and connected with God's Word.

What is this Word of God?

As recorded in Matthew 28:19, our Lord Christ said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

What gifts or benefits does Baptism bestow?

It effects forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and grants eternal salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare.

What is this Word and promise of God?

As recorded in Mark 16:16, our Lord Christ said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned."

How can water produce such great effects?

It is not the water that produces these effects, but the Word of God connected with the water, and our faith which relies on the Word of God connected with the water. For without the Word of God the water is merely water and no Baptism. But when connected with the Word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul wrote to Titus (3:5-8): "He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. This saying is sure."

---- [end quotation] ----

As a Catholic, I don't find too much objectionable there.

17 posted on 03/08/2007 3:02:44 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Alex Murphy
Ditto (and I'm a paedobaptist), and Amen!

We have baby dedications and the pastor gives a letter to the parents to open with the child on their 16th birthday. Why 16? I don't know.

18 posted on 03/08/2007 3:11:21 PM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
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To: wmfights
We have baby dedications and the pastor gives a letter to the parents to open with the child on their 16th birthday. Why 16? I don't know.

Age of Accountability?

And what is the biblical warrant for "baby dedication"? Yeah, yeah, Samuel was dedicated. So what?

19 posted on 03/08/2007 3:44:22 PM PST by Lee N. Field
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To: Lee N. Field
Age of Accountability?

That is probably the reasoning. I'm not sure you can set an exact age because people mature differently.

And what is the biblical warrant for "baby dedication"?

As a congregation we are praying for the baby that the LORD may bring the baby to a saving FAITH. The biblical warrant is probably as strong as that for infant Baptism.

20 posted on 03/08/2007 3:53:48 PM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
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To: wmfights; Alex Murphy; Forest Keeper
I do prefer "believer's Baptism" because it is the product of an adult desire to repent and publicly declare your faith.

Hmmmm....I was thinking about this some more today and it does make me wonder what precisely is being accomplished with infant baptism. If it's a check that the person has not cashed, how does this differ from say a person who has not been baptized as an infant? I guess it raises more questions in my mind then it answers.

21 posted on 03/08/2007 4:21:53 PM PST by HarleyD
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To: HarleyD; Alex Murphy; Forest Keeper
I was thinking about this some more today and it does make me wonder what precisely is being accomplished with infant baptism.

From a practical standpoint, it is "locking in" most of those infants to membership in that particular sect. Also, it is making the family a part of a community. However, I don't believe it is advancing any greater understanding.

Believer's Baptism takes on a deeper meaning for the individual because they are at an age where thought was involved. A baby has no idea what's going on.

22 posted on 03/08/2007 4:37:10 PM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
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To: Alex Murphy

This raises an interesting question. What is the effect of baptism on the non-elect?


23 posted on 03/08/2007 4:46:41 PM PST by Larry Lucido (Duncan Hunter 2008)
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To: Alex Murphy
What we ultimately believe about baptism depends on whether we believe it is something that WE do, or is it instead something done by GOD. My own belief is that baptism is a means of God's grace. I've read some things comparing baptism to the Jewish practice of circumcision, which I also find fairly convincing. The following is from the UMC website, which I thought was a good discussion re: infant baptism. ---In infant baptism, God claims the child with divine grace. Clearly the child can do nothing to save himself or herself, but is totally dependent on God's grace, as we all are — whatever our age...United Methodists baptize people of all ages who have not previously received the sacrament. Even when the people being baptized are believing adults and are ready to profess their faith, our emphasis is upon the gracious action of God rather than upon the individual's decision.
24 posted on 03/08/2007 7:08:37 PM PST by Flo Nightengale (long-time lurker; infrequent poster)
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To: Larry Lucido
This raises an interesting question. What is the effect of baptism on the non-elect?

It gets them wet.

25 posted on 03/08/2007 7:13:16 PM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

For an issue this important - our salvation could hinge on the correct answer - lets vote on it. After all our opinion is what matters .


26 posted on 03/08/2007 7:22:20 PM PST by Klondike
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To: Alex Murphy; GlasstotheArson; Trainer; Mrs. Frogjerk; Fiddlstix; xsmommy; TitansAFC; coton_lover; ..
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic Ping List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to all note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.

27 posted on 03/08/2007 7:24:31 PM PST by narses ("Freedom is about authority." - Rudolph Giuliani)
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To: HarleyD
it does make me wonder what precisely is being accomplished with infant baptism

It makes the baptizand an adopted son or daughter of God, a member of the family of God, indwelt with the Divine Life of the Most Blessed Trinity and therefore an heir of heavenly glory.

And all without any merit or even any real participation on their part.

How beautifully anti-Pelagian, and what a magnificent symbol of divine love, which chose us even though we were dead in our sins and trespasses!

Does that answer your question?

28 posted on 03/08/2007 7:27:34 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Alex Murphy

Already some good stuff on this thread, so I'll just comment on this Minister's third objection: "3) Many people who have been baptized as infants believe they are going to heaven because a priest or a pastor sprinkled some water on their forehead when they were a few weeks old."

I don't know any Christians who believe this, and it has certainly never been an article of faith of any Church that I know. Catholics, for instance, believe that if you commit a mortal sin at any time after baptism, then you need to repent it, make a confession to a priest, and receive the sacrament of absolution.

I was born and bred an Episcopalian, and many of my brethren really didn't think too much about doctrine. But in the High Church, much the same was believed. And those Episcopalians who don't go to confession--probably a large majority--nevertheless are supposed to sincerely repent their sins and make an act of contrition to God.

Luther encouraged auricular confession for the forgiveness of what he called public sins, although this became uncommon later in the Lutheran churches.

Well, I could go on, but it would be a very naive member of any of the traditional churches who believed that infant baptism was enough to get you into heaven no matter what happened in the rest of your life.


29 posted on 03/08/2007 7:56:54 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Campion; wmfights; Alex Murphy

Campion: "John the Baptist didn't administer Christian baptism, and Jesus was God in the flesh who had no sin."

So what kind of baptism is Matthew 3 talking about? Satanic baptism?

Matthew 3

4 And John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.


And you are correct that Jesus was without sin, which is exactly the point wmfights was making - why did Jesus ask John to baptize Him?


30 posted on 03/08/2007 8:01:51 PM PST by visually_augmented (I was blind, but now I see)
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To: HarleyD; Alex Murphy; wmfights
Thanks for the ping. I really like the author's attitude on this. As he and WM say, this is not a salvational matter, and we can be fine holding to our believer's baptism while being "in communion" with our other Reformed brethren. Neither side is forced to concede or overlook a tenet of faith.

This always reminds me of John Piper and his little suggestion in his church that believer's baptisms should not necessarily be a requirement for church membership. I believe he was voted down, but it's interesting that he has also preached against infant baptism:

From "I BAPTIZE YOU WITH WATER" :

"Now what does all this tell us about baptism? Three things: 1. It tells us that John's baptism is not simple continuation of circumcision. This is important because those who defend infant baptism often appeal to circumcision as the old sign of the covenant and say that baptism is the new sign. The one was given to infants and so should the other be. Circumcision was the sign of belonging to the Old Covenant people of God. Every Jewish male received it. If you were born Jewish, you received the sign of the covenant as a baby boy. So at least some of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to see circumcision as the sign of God's favor and of their security as the covenant people. But John's baptism was a radical attack on this false security. He infuriated the Pharisees by calling the people to renounce reliance on the sign of the covenant that they got when they were infants, and to receive another sign to show that they were not relying on Jewish birth, but on the mercy of God received by repentance and faith. A new people within Israel was being formed, and a new sign of a new covenant was being instituted. It was not a simple continuation of circumcision. It was an indictment of a misuse of circumcision as a guarantee of salvation. Circumcision was a sign of ethnic continuity; baptism was a sign of spiritual reality. ...."

Frankly, I'm conflicted on what I would think if a similar suggestion came up in my church. My inclination is that I would have voted "no", but that's not in stone. Piper was careful to couch his idea to apply only to someone if he “sincerely and humbly believes that it would be contrary to Scripture and conscience--and not just contrary to family tradition or desires--to be baptized by immersion and thus to count his infant ‘baptism’ or his adult sprinkling as improper or invalid.”

I wonder if there really are a lot of people in that category. I wouldn't imagine so. While still in my Christian infancy, my initial resistance to a believer's baptism was only because of the public nature of it, it had nothing to do with some view that my own infant baptism somehow "counted" definitively. Do any of you have a view on whether you would have supported Piper?

31 posted on 03/08/2007 8:24:08 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Campion
It's a thoroughly goofy statement.

Is it historically inaccurate? Were those not punishable by death in the HRE, or were additional ones so punished?

32 posted on 03/08/2007 8:24:22 PM PST by PAR35
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To: HarleyD; wmfights; Alex Murphy; Forest Keeper

Harley: "If it's a check that the person has not cashed, how does this differ from say a person who has not been baptized as an infant?"

I guess I am not in total accord with this analogy - at least that it does not explain infant baptism in its entirety. Of course I can only give the perspective of my belief, but my understanding of infant baptism is that it signifies the covenantal relationship between the parents, the Church, and God.

Infant baptism is not salvific (as the unendorsed check implies) but it does provide a sign similar to that of circumcision for the Jews. Why did God command that His chosen people be circumcised? Because He wanted them to be set apart, to be Holy. Circumcision was an outward sign of the covnenant with God. Did the circumcised infant experience personal conversion during the "operation"? Of course not!

Baptism of all stripes is not salvific - adult or infant. Baptism is merely an outward sign of our relationship to God. Infant baptism exhibits the parents promise, and the church's commitment to fulfill the call to raise and nurture their children in the admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, it affords the infant the blessings of a Christian community and family.


33 posted on 03/08/2007 8:27:39 PM PST by visually_augmented (I was blind, but now I see)
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To: wmfights
From a practical standpoint, it is "locking in" most of those infants to membership in that particular sect.

Not really. Most of the paedeobaptists accept a baptism from another denomination.

In its early days, the PCA even had a study commission examine whether a Roman Catholic baptism would be valid for membership.

34 posted on 03/08/2007 8:31:32 PM PST by PAR35
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To: Forest Keeper; HarleyD; Alex Murphy; wmfights
I wonder if there really are a lot of people in that category.

Just to be clear, I meant this in the sense of those potential converts to the Baptist faith. I didn't mean that other Reformers do not think their infant baptisms matter. :) I'm just not aware that many "other" Reformers wind up transferring to Reformed Baptist. (I don't know.)

35 posted on 03/08/2007 8:31:42 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: visually_augmented
So what kind of baptism is Matthew 3 talking about?

Essentially a Jewish ritual washing (cf "mikvah") as a symbol of repentance from sin.

Christian baptism is administered in the name of the Holy Trinity. John's disciples had never heard of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-6), so they could not have been baptized in the name of the Trinity.

But you don't even need that as proof, there's the obvious issue of chronology. Christian sacraments were all instituted by Christ during his public ministry. Jesus' public ministry began with his baptism by John; John was obviously baptizing before he baptized Christ (Matthew 3:5-13), so John's baptism was not a Christian sacrament.

why did Jesus ask John to baptize Him?

Jesus says to John in Matthew 3:15 "to fulfill all righteousness" ... an enigmatic comment, isn't it? It's a symbolic "passing of the torch" from the final prophet of the Old Covenant to the Prophet par excellance of the New.

Also, Jesus' baptism was a Trinitarian theophany, the first revelation of the Blessed Trinity recorded in the NT.

36 posted on 03/08/2007 8:33:09 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: PAR35
Were those not punishable by death in the HRE, or were additional ones so punished?

The "only" part is the part I think is goofy, as though those two were special.

37 posted on 03/08/2007 8:34:48 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: visually_augmented
Baptism of all stripes is not salvific

... in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us: baptism ... -- 1 Pt 3:20-21

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. -- Gal 3:26-29

Sounds pretty salvific to me. I think I'll stand with Mr. Luther on this one. Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders!

38 posted on 03/08/2007 8:41:25 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Forest Keeper; HarleyD; Alex Murphy; wmfights

Forest:"This always reminds me of John Piper and his little suggestion in his church that believer's baptisms should not necessarily be a requirement for church membership.....
Do any of you have a view on whether you would have supported Piper?"

I assume you are speaking specifically whether "believer" baptism should be a pre-requisite for church membership? That being the case, I tend to believe baptism is not essential for salvation although I am unclear if that is the reformed Baptist's stance. What do you believe in this regard?

I think each denomination maintains a certain level of adherance to biblical living to maintain membership. If someone is living a life of blatant, public sin, I would hope this would put their church membership in peril. I suppose granting membership to a non-baptized individual would be allowed but I find it hard to maintain membership without obedience to Christ's command to be baptized. In that regard, making baptism a pre-requisite for church membership does not seem onerous.


39 posted on 03/08/2007 8:44:49 PM PST by visually_augmented (I was blind, but now I see)
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To: Campion; HarleyD
[Infant baptism] makes the baptizand an adopted son or daughter of God, a member of the family of God, indwelt with the Divine Life of the Most Blessed Trinity and therefore an heir of heavenly glory. And all without any merit or even any real participation on their part. How beautifully anti-Pelagian, and what a magnificent symbol of divine love, which chose us even though we were dead in our sins and trespasses!

Could you expand a little bit on how infant baptism means that God has made a choice? What was the choice between? Did God choose against those who are never baptized? Obviously, plenty who have been baptized do not wind up in Heaven. Are they examples of men's choices trumping God's choices?

40 posted on 03/08/2007 10:16:12 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: visually_augmented; HarleyD; Alex Murphy; wmfights
I assume you are speaking specifically whether "believer" baptism should be a pre-requisite for church membership?

Yes, exactly.

That being the case, I tend to believe baptism is not essential for salvation although I am unclear if that is the reformed Baptist's stance. What do you believe in this regard?

Although it may not be explicitly correct to do so, I call myself both a Southern Baptist (because that is the church I attend) and a Reformed Baptist (because that is my theology). My understanding is that all in both groups would agree with you and say that baptism is not essential for salvation. God commands us to be baptized and we seek to obey Him. However, none of the elect are "unelected" because they have not gone through the ordinance. Some of the elect have also never taken the Lord's Supper. It is the same.

A believer's baptism is required for membership in my church, and I would imagine it would be the same for any, or most, Reformed Baptist churches. However, I think it would probably be a matter decided on a church by church basis.

If someone is living a life of blatant, public sin, I would hope this would put their church membership in peril.

Yes, in my church we have specific by-laws covering this situation. Correction would be sought first, but expulsion is available. So, a leftist Democrat who publicly advocated the "right" of abortion probably would be asked to repent or leave.

41 posted on 03/09/2007 12:05:03 AM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Alex Murphy
The goofiest statement of all:

3) Many people who have been baptized as infants believe they are going to heaven because a priest or a pastor sprinkled some water on their forehead when they were a few weeks old.

No Catholic would imagine they are going to heaven based on Baptism. NYer already published the Church practice as related by early Bishops, which predate the Bible. I can come up with a load of material stating the correct thing, that Faith in Gods Mercy and constant action and vigiliance is what is required of us for our Salvation.
42 posted on 03/09/2007 4:55:53 AM PST by Dominick ("Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought." - JP II)
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To: Campion

Campion:"21 There is also an antitype which now saves us: baptism"

I looked up the precise definition of antitype:

Antitype - something that is foreshadowed by a type or symbol.

This definition, along with the ENTIRE scripture (which you so aptly ommitted), causes me to come to a different conclusion from yours. Here is the complete passage:

1Peter 3:21
There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It appears that baptism as used in this verse is analogous to the phrasing "baptized by the spirit" or "baptized in the blood". In other words, this baptism is not intended as the sacrament of dipping in water. This phrase is "baptism through the resurrection of Christ".

The antitype in this case is not savlation by water, but salvation THROUGH water. The water is not what saved, it was salvation out of the water. Certainly the flood water rising up around Noah did not save him - in fact it was his very peril. The key to this verse in Peter is that the resurrection of Christ is the emphasis, not baptism - the true saving power is in Christ.


43 posted on 03/09/2007 6:35:58 AM PST by visually_augmented (I was blind, but now I see)
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To: Dominick
The goofiest statement of all: ................ "3) Many people who have been baptized as infants believe they are going to heaven because a priest or a pastor sprinkled some water on their forehead when they were a few weeks old."

No Catholic would imagine they are going to heaven based on Baptism.

But some "Born Again" Baptists sure do.

Any author who believes that Catholics believe that Baptism alone guarantees their way to Heaven has never spent 2 minutes in Catholic Sunday School.


44 posted on 03/09/2007 6:55:51 AM PST by Polybius
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To: Campion

Thanks for the clarification.


45 posted on 03/09/2007 7:06:48 AM PST by PAR35
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To: PAR35
Most of the paedeobaptists accept a baptism from another denomination.

I understand, but wouldn't baptism serve to make you a member of a particular sect and thus unlikely to look at the beliefs of other sects? I think it would.

46 posted on 03/09/2007 8:07:06 AM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
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To: Forest Keeper; HarleyD; Alex Murphy
I'm just not aware that many "other" Reformers wind up transferring to Reformed Baptist. (I don't know.)

I'm speculating of course, but I think because there is so little difference among us in doctrine that it would be more a result of geography. IOW, a job transfer and the closest Reformed Church is Baptist.

47 posted on 03/09/2007 8:11:37 AM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
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To: Campion
Early Church Fathers on Infant Baptism

Early Church Fathers on  Infant Baptism

"And many, both men and women, who have been Christ's disciples from childhood, remain pure and at the age of sixty or seventy years..." Justin Martyr, First Apology, 15:6 (A.D. 110-165).

"And when a child has been born to one of them, they give thanks to God [baptism]; and if moreover it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who as passed through the world without sins." Aristides, Apology, 15 (A.D. 140).

"Polycarp declared, 'Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?" Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp, 9 (A.D. 156).

"For He came to save all through means of Himself--all, I say, who through Him are born again to God--infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2,22:4 (A.D. 180).

"I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord." Polycrates, Fragment in Eusebius' Church History, V:24:7 (A.D. 190).

"And they shall baptise the little children first. And if they can answer for themselves, let them answer. But if they cannot, let their parents answer or someone from their family." Hippolytus of Rome, Apostolic Tradition, 21 (c. A.D. 215).

"[T]herefore children are also baptized." Origen, Homily on Luke, XIV (A.D. 233).

"For this reason, moreover, the Church received from the apostles the tradition of baptizing infants too." Origen, Homily on Romans, V:9 (A.D. 244).

"Baptism is given for the remission of sins; and according to the usage of the Church, Baptism is given even to infants. And indeed if there were nothing in infants which required a remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous." Origen, Homily on Leviticus, 8:3 (post A.D. 244).

"But in respect of the case of the infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day...And therefore, dearest brother, this was our opinion in council, that by us no one ought to be hindered from baptism...we think is to be even more observed in respect of infants and newly-born persons…" Cyprian, To Fidus, Epistle 58(64):2, 6 (A.D. 251).

"It shows no crease when infants put it on [the baptismal garment], it is not too scanty for young men, it fits women without alteration." Optatus of Mileve, Against Parmenium, 5:10(A.D. 365).

"Have you an infant child? Do not let sin get any opportunity, but let him be sanctified from his childhood; from his very tenderest age let him be consecrated by the Spirit. Fearest thou the Seal on account of the weakness of nature?" Gregory Nazianzen, Oration on Holy Baptism, 40:17 (A.D. 381).

"Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for Baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children, and conscious neither of the loss nor of the grace? Are we to baptize them too? Certainly, if any danger presses. For it is better that they should be unconsciously sanctified than that they should depart unsealed and uninitiated." Gregory Nazianzen, Oration on Holy Baptism, 40:28 (A.D. 381).

"'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.' No one is expected: not the infant, not the one prevented by necessity." Ambrose, Abraham, 2,11:79 (A.D. 387).

"We do baptize infants, although they are not guilty of any sins." John Chrysostom, Ad Neophytos (A.D. 388).

"And if any one seek for divine authority in this matter, though what is held by the whole Church, and that not as instituted by Councils, but as a matter of invariable custom, is rightly held to have been handed down by apostolical authority, still we can form a true conjecture of the value of the sacrament of baptism in the case of infants, from the parallel of circumcision, which was received by God's earlier people, and before receiving which Abraham was justified, as Cornelius also was enriched with the gift of the Holy Spirit before he was baptized." Augustine, On Baptism against the Donatist, 4:24:31 (A.D. 400).

"While the son is a child and thinks as a child and until he comes to years of discretion to choose between the two roads to which the letter of Pythagoras points, his parents are responsible for his actions whether these be good or bad. But perhaps you imagine that, if they are not baptized, the children of Christians are liable for their own sins; and that no guilt attaches to parents who withhold from baptism those who by reason of their tender age can offer no objection to it. The truth is that, as baptism ensures the salvation of the child, this in turn brings advantage to the parents. Whether you would offer your child or not lay within your choice, but now that you have offered her, you neglect her at your peril." Jerome, To Laeta, Epistle 107:6 (A.D. 403).

"Now, seeing that they [Pelagians] admit the necessity of baptizing infants,--finding themselves unable to contravene that authority of the universal Church, which has been unquestionably handed down by the Lord and His apostles,--they cannot avoid the further concession, that infants require the same benefits of the Mediator, in order that, being washed by the sacrament and charity of the faithful, and thereby incorporated into the body of Christ, which is the Church, they may be reconciled to God, and so live in Him, and be saved, and delivered, and redeemed, and enlightened. But from what, if not from death, and the vices, and guilt, and thraldom, and darkness of sin? And, inasmuch as they do not commit any sin in the tender age of infancy by their actual transgression, original sin only is left." Augustine, On forgiveness of sin and baptism, 39[26] (A.D. 412).

"The blessed Cyprian, indeed, said, in order to correct those who thought that an infant should not be baptized before the eighth day, that it was not the body but the soul which behoved to be saved from perdition -- in which statement he was not inventing any new doctrine, but preserving the firmly established faith of the Church; and he, along with some of his colleagues in the episcopal office, held that a child may be properly baptized immediately after its birth." Augustine, Epistle 166:8:23 (A.D. 412).

"'C. Tell me, pray, and rid me of all doubts, why little children are baptized?
A. That their sins may be forgiven them in baptism." Jerome, Against the Pelagians, 3:18 (A.D. 415).

"Likewise, whosoever says that those children who depart out of this life without partaking of that sacrament shall be made alive in Christ, certainly contradicts the apostolic declaration, and condemns the universal Church, in which it is the practice to lose no time and run in haste to administer baptism to infant children, because it is believed, as an indubitable truth, that otherwise they cannot be made alive in Christ."
Augustine, Epistle 167,7,21 (A.D. 415).

"Canon 2. Likewise it has been decided that whoever says that infants fresh from their mothers' wombs ought not to be baptized...let him be anathema." Council of Carthage, Canon 2 (A.D. 418).

"Concerning the Donatists it seemed good that we should hold counsel with our brethren and fellow priests Siricius and Simplician concerning those infants alone who are baptized by Donatists: lest what they did not do of their own will, when they should be converted to the Church of God with a salutary determination, the error of their parents might prevent their promotion to the ministry of the holy altar." African Code, Canon 47/51 (A.D. 419).

"[T]his concupiscence, I say, which is cleansed only by the sacrament of regeneration, does undoubtedly, by means of natural birth, pass on the bond of sin to a man's posterity, unless they are themselves loosed from it by regeneration." Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, 1:23 (A.D. 420).

"Believest thou this?...When a newborn child is brought forward to receive the anointing of initiation, or rather of consummation through holy baptism." Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, 7 (A.D. 428).

"Question XIX. Concerning those who after being baptized in infancy were captured by the Gentiles, and lived with them after the manner of the Gentiles, when they come back to Roman territory as still young men, if they seek communion, what shall be done?
Reply: If they have only lived with Gentiles and eaten sacrificial food, they can be purged by fasting and laying on of hands, in order that for the future abstaining from things offered to idols, they may be partakers of Christ's mysteries. But if they have either worshipped idols or been polluted with manslaughter or fornication, they must not be admitted to communion, except by public penance." Leo the Great [regn. A.D. 440-461], To Rusticus, Epistle 167 (A.D. 459).

"But with respect to trine immersion in baptism, no truer answer can be given than what you have yourself felt to be right; namely that, where there is one faith, a diversity of usage does no harm to holy Church. Now we, in immersing thrice, signify the sacraments of the three days' sepulture; so that, when the infant is a third time lifted out of the water, the resurrection after a space of three days may be expressed." Gregory the Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], To Leander, Epistle 43 (A.D. 591).


48 posted on 03/09/2007 8:21:05 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: visually_augmented; Forest Keeper; HarleyD; Alex Murphy
I tend to believe baptism is not essential for salvation although I am unclear if that is the reformed Baptist's stance.

We believe Jesus gave us two clear ordinances, neither of which imparts Grace so we don't call them sacraments. These ordinances are Baptism, a one time event, and Communion, a life long practice done in remembrance of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Because Baptism does not impart Grace it is not essential for salvation. We do not require Believer's Baptism to be a member at my church, but it is strongly encouraged.

49 posted on 03/09/2007 8:21:56 AM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
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To: Pyro7480
Baptism in Scripture -- Salvific and Born Again

Scripture

 Born Again in Water Baptism

John 1:32 - when Jesus was baptized, He was baptized in the water and the Spirit, which descended upon Him in the form of a dove. The Holy Spirit and water are required for baptism. Also, Jesus’ baptism was not the Christian baptism He later instituted. Jesus’ baptism was instead a royal anointing of the Son of David (Jesus) conferred by a Levite (John the Baptist) to reveal Christ to Israel, as it was foreshadowed in 1 Kings 1:39 when the Son of David (Solomon) was anointed by the Levitical priest Zadok. See John 1:31; cf. Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:9; Luke 3:21.

John 3:3,5 - Jesus says, "Truly, truly, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." When Jesus said "water and the Spirit," He was referring to baptism (which requires the use of water, and the work of the Spirit).

John 3:22 - after teaching on baptism, John says Jesus and the disciples did what? They went into Judea where the disciples baptized. Jesus' teaching about being reborn by water and the Spirit is in the context of baptism.

John 4:1 - here is another reference to baptism which naturally flows from Jesus' baptismal teaching in John 3:3-5.

Acts 8:36 – the eunuch recognizes the necessity of water for his baptism. Water and baptism are never separated in the Scriptures.

Acts 10:47 - Peter says "can anyone forbid water for baptizing these people..?" The Bible always links water and baptism.

Acts 22:16 – Ananias tells Saul, “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins.” The “washing away” refers to water baptism.

Titus 3:5-6 – Paul writes about the “washing of regeneration,” which is “poured out on us” in reference to water baptism. “Washing” (loutron) generally refers to a ritual washing with water.

Heb. 10:22 – the author is also writing about water baptism in this verse. “Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Our bodies are washed with pure water in water baptism.

2 Kings 5:14 - Naaman dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, and his flesh was restored like that of a child. This foreshadows the regenerative function of baptism, by water and the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 44:3 - the Lord pours out His water and His Spirit. Water and the Spirit are linked to baptism. The Bible never separates them.

Ezek. 36:25-27 - the Lord promises He will sprinkle us with water to cleanse us from sin and give us a new heart and spirit. Paul refers to this verse in Heb. 10:22. The teaching of Ezekiel foreshadows the salvific nature of Christian baptism instituted by Jesus and taught in John 3:5, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21 and Acts 22:16.

 Baptism is Salvific, Not Just Symbolic

Matt. 28:19-20 - Jesus commands the apostles to baptize all people "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Many Protestant churches are now teaching that baptism is only a symbolic ritual, and not what actually cleanses us from original sin. This belief contradicts Scripture and the 2,000 year-old teaching of the Church.

Acts 2:38 - Peter commands them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in order to be actually forgiven of sin, not just to partake of a symbolic ritual.

Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:38 - there is nothing in these passages or elsewhere in the Bible about baptism being symbolic. There is also nothing about just accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior in order to be saved.

Mark 16:16 - Jesus said "He who believes AND is baptized will be saved." Jesus says believing is not enough. Baptism is also required. This is because baptism is salvific, not just symbolic. The Greek text also does not mandate any specific order for belief and baptism, so the verse proves nothing about a “believer’s baptism.”

John 3:3,5 - unless we are "born again" of water and Spirit in baptism, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God. The Greek word for the phrase "born again" is "anothen" which literally means “begotten from above.” See, for example, John 3:31 where "anothen" is so used. Baptism brings about salvation, not just a symbolism of our salvation.

Acts 8:12-13; 36; 10:47 - if belief is all one needs to be saved, why is everyone instantly baptized after learning of Jesus?

Acts 16:15; 31-33; 18:8; 19:2,5 - these texts present more examples of people learning of Jesus, and then immediately being baptized. If accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior is all one needs to do to be saved, then why does everyone in the early Church immediately seek baptism?

Acts 9:18 - Paul, even though he was directly chosen by Christ and immediately converted to Christianity, still had to be baptized to be forgiven his sin. This is a powerful text which demonstrates the salvific efficacy of water baptism, even for those who decide to give their lives to Christ.

Acts 22:16 - Ananias tells Paul, "arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins," even though Paul was converted directly by Jesus Christ. This proves that Paul's acceptance of Jesus as personal Lord and Savior was not enough to be forgiven of his sin and saved. The sacrament of baptism is required.

Acts 22:16 - further, Ananias' phrase "wash away" comes from the Greek word "apolouo." "Apolouo" means an actual cleansing which removes sin. It is not a symbolic covering up of sin. Even though Jesus chose Paul directly in a heavenly revelation, Paul had to be baptized to have his sins washed away.

Rom. 6:4 - in baptism, we actually die with Christ so that we, like Him, might be raised to newness of life. This means that, by virtue of our baptism, our sufferings are not in vain. They are joined to Christ and become efficacious for our salvation.

1 Cor. 6:11 - Paul says they were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, in reference to baptism. The “washing” of baptism gives birth to sanctification and justification, which proves baptism is not just symbolic.

Gal. 3:27 - whoever is baptized in Christ puts on Christ. Putting on Christ is not just symbolic. Christ actually dwells within our soul.

Col. 2:12 - in baptism, we literally die with Christ and are raised with Christ. It is a supernatural reality, not just a symbolic ritual. The Scriptures never refer to baptism as symbolic.

Titus 3:5-7 – “He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ, so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs of eternal life.” This is a powerful text which proves that baptism regenerates our souls and is thus salvific. The “washing of regeneration” “saves us.” Regeneration is never symbolic, and the phrase “saved us” refers to salvation. By baptism, we become justified by His grace (interior change) and heirs of eternal life (filial adoption). Because this refers to baptism, the verse is about the beginning of the life in Christ. No righteous deeds done before baptism could save us. Righteous deeds after baptism are necessary for our salvation.

There is also a definite parallel between John 3:5 and Titus 3:5: (1) John 3:5 – enter the kingdom of God / Titus 3:5 – He saved us. (2) John 3:5 – born of water / Titus 3:5 – washing. (3) John 3:5 – born of the Spirit / Titus 3:5 – renewal in the Spirit.

Heb. 10:22 - in baptism, our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience (again, dealing with the interior of the person) as our bodies are washed with pure water (the waters of baptism). Baptism regenerates us because it removes original sin, sanctifies our souls, and effects our adoption as sons and daughters in Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:21 - Peter expressly writes that “baptism, corresponding to Noah's ark, now saves you; not as a removal of dirt from the body, but for a clear conscience. “ Hence, the verse demonstrates that baptism is salvific (it saves us), and deals with the interior life of the person (purifying the conscience, like Heb. 10:22), and not the external life (removing dirt from the body). Many scholars believe the phrase "not as a removal of dirt from the body" is in reference to the Jewish ceremony of circumcision (but, at a minimum, shows that baptism is not about the exterior, but interior life). Baptism is now the “circumcision” of the new Covenant (Col. 2:11-12), but it, unlike the old circumcision, actually saves us, as Noah and his family were saved by water.

Again, notice the parallel between Heb. 10:22 and 1 Peter 3:21: (1) Heb. 10:22 – draw near to the sanctuary (heaven) / 1 Peter 3:21 – now saves us. (2) Heb. 10:22 – sprinkled clean, washed with pure water / 1 Peter 3:20-21 – saved through water, baptism. (3) Heb. 10:22 – from an evil conscience (interior) / 1 Peter 3:21 – for a clear conscience (interior). Titus 3:6 and 1 Peter 3:21 also specifically say the grace and power of baptism comes “through Jesus Christ” (who transforms our inner nature).

Mark 16:16 - Jesus says that he who believes and is baptized will be saved. However, the Church has always taught that baptism is a normative, not an absolute necessity. There are some exceptions to the rule because God is not bound by His sacraments.

Luke 23:43 - the good thief, although not baptized, shows that there is also a baptism by desire, as Jesus says to him that he will be in paradise. It should also be noted that when Jesus uses the word "paradise," He did not mean heaven. Paradise, from the Hebrew "sheol" meant the realm of the righteous dead. This was the place of the dead who were destined for heaven, but who were captive until the Lord's resurrection. Hence, the good thief was destined for heaven because of his desire to be with Jesus.

Matt. 20:22-23; Mark 10:38-39; Luke 12:50 - there is also a baptism by blood. Lord says, "I have a baptism to be baptized with" referring to His death. Hence, the Church has always taught that those martyred for the faith may be saved without water baptism (e.g., the Holy Innocents).

Mark 10:38 - Jesus says "are you able...to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?," referring to His death.

1 John 5:6 - Jesus came by water and blood. He was baptized by both water and blood. Martyrs are baptized by blood.

 


50 posted on 03/09/2007 8:23:46 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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