Baptism, the torment and the journey, Part Five

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From the Teacher…

Thanks for your questions. Let me respond.

1. Your physical spiritual distinction is not valid. God gave “signs and seals” in the OT, as Paul points out, and circumcision was one. It is true these had a “physical” aspect to them but that is true in the OT as it is in the NT. Adultery was always spiritual and physical. Jesus is teaching the Pharisees this very point. It was not that they were right according to OT and now a NT reality had extended things, but rather that the Pharisees ought to have seen that the Law was spiritual and always extended to the inner reality. Thus your difficulty here is only apparent and not real.

2. On Luke 18.16 where mothers brought infants to be blessed “touched” by Jesus it is plain these were women with faith in Jesus to bless. That is not through any filter of prior belief it is simply there. They came to Jesus. They came with a view of him that meant they BELIEVED HE HAD SOMETHING VALUABLE TO GIVE THEIR INFANTS. So they bring them to him. This is indisputable. It is the picture of believers bringing their infants to Christ for the blessing. Thus again your difficulty is only apparent and not real.

3. You are wrong on your understanding on infants place before God. All infants may not be God’s though there is evidence to suggest that David’s was. You say “all infants, both those of believers and non-believers belong to the kingdom of heaven” and this you say is because they have not “reached an age to consciously rebel against God”. The fact is that all infants and adults deserve no heaven as we all died in Adam. Paul discusses this in Romans 9 where he spells out that God “hated” Esau when he had done no personal wrong. The message there is that God views us all fallen in Adam and so ‘hateful’ until we are viewed in Christ and in him we are accepted. John’s baptism was about repentance and this means that its message was one of cleansing from defilement of sin. This is the message of cleansing of which water baptism speaks. Thus again your difficulty is only apparent and not real.

4. As to immersion as the mode of Christian water baptism I say again this is not the case. There is not a single example of immersion in the Word of God of immersion as the mode of baptism. I showed you before that the Baptist called the event of Pentecost and the giving of the Spirit a baptism AND THERE NO ONE WAS IMMERSED. This is indisputable evidence that the word baptidzo is NOT USED to mean immerse THOUGH ITS ETYMOLOGY is originally this. It is not the meaning of a word that matters so much as HOW HAS GOD USED IT. The Baptist theology is based on ignorance as I said in my last message; and this is so sad.

5. I am not aware that the KJV translators would not translate baptidzo “immerse” due to offending the church of the time. It is unimportant anyway as we can see by biblical examples that the word is NOT USED ALWAYS TO MEAN IMMERSE. That ends the Baptist brethren’s argument.

Oh to have a deeper understanding of these issues! I cannot, no, cannot accept point three without further explanation and discussion. God is just, and yet He is also merciful. If infants cannot be saved until they are “viewed in Christ”, then how does that happen, if there is no claim to regeneration through infant baptism? Surely God would be a monster of the worst kind, if all infants perished simply because they never attained an age to understand saving grace. That can’t be what he means. More things to ask I suppose…….

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Baptism, the torment and the journey, Part Four

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To the Teacher..

One difficulty I have with the answers you have provided to date, is that the acceptance of the majority of them hinges on the belief that baptism is the new circumcision, the sign of the new covenant. While believing this already, I suppose it would seem an open and shut case on all points. However, I cannot as yet say that I have been nearly convinced that this is the case. Will you bear with me while I explain?

In the OT, much of what was deemed of a spiritual nature, was represented physically. Repentance, cleanliness, covenants, worship etc, all had a physical sense to it, a physical act or representation. The presence of God was physically in the temple, and in the ark of the covenant, there were endless specifications for the building of the temple, all symbolic of something.

The requirements of the law were also based in the physical, compared to the NT. To illustrate;

  • Under law, you must not murder, yet under grace, the requirement expands in difficulty and moves to the spiritual – you must not harbor hatred toward a brother, as this is now “murder in your heart“.
  • Under law, you must not commit adultery, under grace, again, it is expanded and more difficult, more personally exacting – you must not look at a woman with lust, or you have committed “adultery in your heart”.

The physical requirements have changed into “heart” or “spiritual” requirements. Likewise, I see that in the verse that says , ” In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ”, that it is a circumcision made without hands and that it is an expansion of the mere physical requirement.

While once a physical sign would suffice, now a spiritual sign is required. I believe after careful reading, that the circumcision made without hands is actually regeneration. As the verse continues, we are, “putting off the body of the sins by the circumcision of Christ”. I then conclude that repentance and regeneration is the new covenant, and that baptism is a sign of those two things.

This brings me to John’s baptism. John came specifically with a “baptism of repentance”. Now I don’t pretend for a minute to understand what exactly that was all about. Nor do I understand how Jesus being baptized by John was a fulfillment of all righteousness. But the fact that John’s baptism was called the baptism of repentance makes me think that the idea of baptism being specifically about repentance may not be so far off, though as I said, I freely admit to being mystified about John’s baptism calling, and Jesus’ own baptism.

A point you mentioned about mothers bringing infants to Jesus to bless in Luke seems to me (and I am saying this gently, I completely accept that you are a much more learned person than myself so please read my words remembering that I am a small, uneducated, not very imposing person in real life!) but it seems to be through the filter of a prior belief, more so than a natural deduction. It would seem we agree that they were bringing infants to Jesus to bless – no argument there. We also agree that infants belong to the kingdom of God – absolutely! But where we part company is on the implications of those two facts, and the scope of their meaning.

I believe that all infants, both those of believers and non-believers belong to the kingdom of heaven. Although they are born in sin, they have not reached an age to consciously rebel against God. When David’s Absolom died, he mourned long, as Absolom had died in rebellion. When the baby of Bathsheba died, even though it was conceived in sin, (and David demonstrates his love of the infant by his petitioning day and night for it’s life) he says’ when it finally dies, “He cannot come to me; I’ll go to him.” This shows me that David was confident that his baby would be in heaven.

Job also in chapter 3 shows that he was confident that had he died an infant, he would now be at rest. You may argue that he was a believer, and maybe all believer’s babies go to heaven, but babies that were offered to Molech are referred to in the prophets as “the slaughter of the innocents.” And surely God would not refer to them as “the innocents” if they were going to hell, as a result of having unbelieving, pagan parents. When God spoke to Jonah, He asked him would he have Him slaughter 120,000 people who don’t know their right hand from their left. God considered them innocent children, even though they were from heathen parents.

So this indicates to me that all children are God’s. It would appear when using that verse to substantiate infant baptism, that you assume that all people who bought babies to Jesus to bless were believers. (now that’s me making an assumption of what you believe from what I have read, I could be wrong) But I don’t see that it is stated anywhere that they were all believers. It seems to me that Jesus didn’t differentiate when He healed and blessed.

Certainly He mentioned the woman with the issue of blood as having great faith, and the centurian who had a sick daughter, but others He simply had compassion on them. We see that 9 out of 10 lepers didn’t so much as come back to say thank you, which suggests to me that they were a long way from being disciples, but were (like many today) just looking to see what they can get out of it. My (long, drawn out) point being that I have seen the verse about Jesus blessing babies used in many of the arguments I have read for infant baptism, but that seems to only work if you already believe in infant baptism, as a critical examination of the verse doesn’t seem to offer any specific support for the idea.

My last question is one I don’t really know how to check, so I rely on your honesty and accountability before God. You have said that immersion is not the method of the NT. You have also said that the only mention is the word “Baptize” and that it is not definitively used for immersion. In my reading I have come across someone differentiating between the word “rantizo” meaning to sprinkle, and “baptizo” meaning to immerse or dip. It mentioned verses in Leviticus where both words were used in the same sentence, one being to dip the finger into something, the other to sprinkle blood on something.

The article stated that these words were not interchangeable, that without doubt, the meaning of the word baptizo is to immerse. The only verse which brings it into question, (which I did read in William the Baptist) , is the one about the couch. As to the hand washing, before taps and running water, hand washing would have been by immersion. (when I was in Vietnam, this was the method of hand washing, dipping into a bucket of water) as to the couch reference, the article made the point (and here again I have no idea how to check these things) that the verse is contended with regards to it’s inclusion in some scripts, also that even should it’s validity be without question, the meaning should be established by the many irrefutable references, and a question over the one verse, not the other way around.

I have also read that in the time of the translation of the King James, that the scholars desired to be faithful to the text, but that the practice of the church at the time was to sprinkle. Therefore to avoid the difficulty, they simply left the Greek word (baptize, previously not used in English) rather than write contrary to scripture, or place themselves in a difficult position with the church. I have no idea how to find out if this is true.

I hope you understand that my reluctance to come around to the position of paedobaptist is not a mere holding of my former position for the sake of it, but a need for very close examination of all I have seen and heard.

Baptism, the torment and the journey, Part Three

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From the Teacher…

I am delighted that you have written, wanting to base your faith on sound teaching.
I will try to offer you a clear response to your questions but feel free to correspond with me on points where I am lacking.
As a matter of interest, and nothing more, you may know that both of my parents and others in my family were ‘Baptists’. I suppose therefore my first encounter with challenging Christianity would have been from that group of people connected with my parents. I owe them a great deal.

Now let me try to address your email not ‘holding back’ or seeking to offend you. Offending you is the last thing in the world I would want to do, for you will know, that in seeking to answer your questions I want ONLY TO HELP YOU SEE THE TRUTH OF THE SCRIPTURES
.
Q = Question, A = Answer and C = Comment.

C1 Your comments on William the Baptist I have some sympathy with though, in my view, there is a great deal of good in that little book.

C2 Your comments that “…Currently I hold the position of believer’s baptism…” is also the teaching of the Word of God. It is not your holding that believers are to be baptized that is at issue but rather that you hold [it appears] that infants are not be baptized and that Christian water baptism in the Word of God is immersion. The infant question is one of who is to be baptized and the immersion question is one of how is baptism to be administered. I hope that is a fair understanding of your general current position.

C3 Your comments that “…I have been prepared to look fully at the arguments…” In this I rejoice. Granting that in this discussion the only rule of faith and life is the Word of God, coupled with your willing to hear “the arguments”, I predict, that in due course, you will be perfectly at peace with the issues you currently wrestle with. A great day awaits you, make no mistake, I know, for I have come through this myself!

C4 Your comments that “…The one method [the regulative principle] of explaining scripture validates one of your positions, but invalidates two others…” This is your understanding only because the invalidation of the “two others” is apparent and not real. The regulative principle is something that every true-hearted Christian accepts. It is in the application of it that Christians differ. Every true-hearted Christian refuses to accept into the worship of God and the practice of their faith what they believe God detests. That is your position and it is mine. The moment we agree that God alone is Lord of worship and faith you agree with the regulative principle. This seems plain enough.

Now to begin with the questions.

Q1 You ask “…how does a child who has been baptized fare better than my own children…”
A1 A great deal. If baptism is the NT replacement of circumcision [and this is easily shown] and we refuse to administer it to the proper recipients then God’s anger is against us. As Moses was with circumcision, namely, disobedient, then so might we be. You will recall how Moses in Exodus 4.24ff is seen to be neglecting to circumcise his son. God therefore we read, …[v 24] met him, and sought to kill him… In other words, the anger of God was upon “him”. Some think “him” is Moses others his son. But no matter which the anger of God was shown at his not obeying God’s command to administer the “sign and seal” of the faith. And we know that circumcision was the “sign” and “seal” of every true-hearted Christian’s faith for Paul tells us in Rom 4:11 that Abraham “…received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe…” Here is the teaching: if circumcision is in the OT what water baptism is in the NT [and I will show this in a moment] then a believer not giving the “sign” and “seal” of “the righteousness of faith” incurs the displeasure of God. Well, one may say, “…how does my child differ in getting the blessing compared to one that is baptized?…” Right here; God’s way with rebellious professing believers is not the same as God’s way with obedient professing believers. Thus we read in Heb 2.2-3 “… For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape…” You will remember, that the threatenings of the 2nd Commandment [Ex 20] says “…for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;…” All sins, even the sins of believers, are hateful to God and incur the frown of God and bring often terrible consequences. Surely, then, if we are disobedient to God we can hardly expect his blessing on us or “our children” See also Heb 12.29.

Can I show that baptism is the replacement of circumcision? Yes, beyond doubt. Paul in Col 2.11-12 says, … In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.…
And this collocation, …ye are circumcised…Buried with him in baptism… is surely an end of all argument. Circumcision was a spiritual “sign” and “seal” it signified a spiritual reality and sealed all the proper recipients of it as being included in an arrangement [covenant if you will] sovereignly imposed by God. Circumcision, like baptism today, marked out the kingdom of God on earth commonly called the “visible church”. I suppose we could say much more but I will leave that point there for now.

Q2 You ask “…How is it [baptism] a sign of the visible church, when many people baptized as infants don’t become believers…”


A2 Baptism is a “sign” and a “seal” of the “visible” church insofar as it is the responsibility of professing believers to obey God in being baptized and obey God in baptizing their children. It may be that many baptized as infants never truly believe, but it equally is so that many baptized adults never truly believe. This is the teaching of the parable of the wheat and the tares of Mat 13. You have a right to water baptism because you credibly profess faith in and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ and in so doing you publicly enter the kingdom of God on earth, the Church visible. Water baptism is an initiatory rite. It is to be administered to the proper recipients on the basis of the command of God. God says “believe and be baptized” just as God teaches us Abraham believed and so was circumcised. Even in Abraham’s house Ishmael was circumcised and he was never [it appears] like Abraham, a man justified by faith. Yes, many receive baptism who are never true-hearted believers but this is equally true baptized adults as it is of infants. I will leave that there for now.

Q3 You ask “…How can they be recipients of any of the promises of God for believers, if they are not yet believers?


A3 This is answered exactly for infants as adults. You, as an unbelieving adult received the blessing of the covenant namely, that God would be “…a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.…” This unspeakable blessing was given to you in the preaching of the gospel and you, as Abraham, received it. But the blessing of that promise was begun in you when you were still “dead in trespasses and sins”, in fact, those blessings were yours “from before the foundation of the world”! It is all sovereignly imposed by God. He gets all the glory and we all the good! Superb – eh! Now baptized infants outwardly receive the ordinance of water baptism on the basis of a parent’s credible profession of faith. That is the same relationship with God as Abraham’s is. As Abraham was to circumcise all his household because God had sovereignly imposed this arrangement or relationship upon him [covenant if you like]. The “sign” and “seal” of this relationship was confessedly promissory. As I say, it was in these words of Gen 17:7 “…And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.…”
Circumcision then is exactly what baptism is now. It is a “sign” and a “seal” of a sovereignly imposed and gracious relationship. Circumcision spoke of a renewed heart hence it is so often spoken of as such [Deut 10.15; Jer 4. etc], and so does baptism. As circumcision was a “sign” and a “seal” of a promise from God “…to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee…” so it promises just that, not because of the “sign” but because of God. In fulfillment of this “promise” God is now called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! How can they be the recipients of the promise while not yet believers? Well, as I say, exactly the same way you or I were as adults! Salvation is of the Lord! It is his promise and if he commands a sign and a seal our business is obedience! The actual salvation of any is always and every time connected to his promise. That is why Abraham is called the “Father of all them that believe”. Is it not absolutely wonderful?!
I will leave that there for now. I hope it helps.

Q4 You ask “…How can they be recipients of any of the promises of God for believers, if they are not yet believers? And how does that fit into the doctrine of election? Do you believe that all children of believers are of the elect?…”


A4
This is answered by simply saying, that the actual saving application of all that the promise contains is a matter for God. We never make ourselves right with God, so Paul says in Rom 8.33 “…Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.…” Thus we can say,

  1. God makes all the terms of salvation, he initiates, accomplishes and applies it.
  2. God commands outward “signs” and “seals” of this arrangement, namely, circumcision [OT] and water baptism [NT].
  3. It is the business of the true-hearted believer simply to obey. As the old hymn puts it “trust and obey for there’s no other way”! Even if you do not understand all the implications of the teaching of the Word of God, once you see a matter is biblical, your business is obey it. Consequences belong to God obedience belongs to believers. So we read of Abraham in Heb 11:8 that “…By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.…”

Isn’t it wonderful to be a Christian!
I will also leave that there for now.

Q5 You ask “…Jesus was baptized in the Jordan (if you were just sprinkling, why get “in” the Jordan?) and “coming up out of the water” , rather than just shaking your head if you were being sprinkled? (it may be something really obvious, but I haven’t seen it addressed yet)…”


A5
This was about “fulfilling all righteousness” viz., John’s baptism was not Christian baptism, it was an OT cleansing right just as many other “baptisms” were. We know that John’s baptism was not Christian because it was not trinitarian. We know that John’s disciples were baptized, and not only was it not immersion, it was not trinitarian, and they all had to be re-baptized as Acts 19.1-7 shows. The words “…they were [John’s already baptized disciples] baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus…” is simply a way of saying all three persons of the godhead. It simply means that John’s disciples at that point receive Christian baptism, i.e., trinitarian.
I will also leave that there for now.

Q6 You ask “…Jesus was baptized in the Jordan…why get “in” the Jordan?) and “coming up out of the water…”


A6
The answer is simple. Jesus went “in” and “up out of” the water because he needed to go down into the water to be baptized and come up out of the water to go on his way. The words “into” or “in” and “out” or “out of” do not mean under. Nowhere is there the practice of immersion as the mode of Christian water baptism in the NT. The expression “coming up out of the water” in Mark 1 is simply and literally “…apo tou hudatos …” which is literally away from the water. There is no indication here that Jesus was immersed apart from the word “baptized” and we can see from biblical usage that that word is used other than immerse. Thus ironically John the Baptist describes the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost as a “baptism”. That baptism is described as a “sitting on” and “filling” in Acts 2. Elsewhere the baptism of the Holy Spirit is described as a “falling on”. So in Acts10:44 “…While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word… and again in Acts 11:15 “…the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning…” And Paul discussing divisions in 1 Cor 10.2 says that they “…were all baptized unto Moses …” Why raise the issue of baptism when discussing divisions? The answer is simple. Baptism is a “sign” and a “seal” of spiritual union. The OT people were in union with Moses and were “baptized unto Moses”. Thus “unto” was not an under but an allegiance with. This was not immersion. Surely, this is an end of all strife. I say it again, contrary to popular belief, there is no indication in the NT that believers were immersed. The entire theological edifice of the Baptist view is built on ignorance.
I will also leave that there for now.

Q7 You quote others saying “…the onus is on the side of believer baptism proponents to prove a leaving of the accepted order established in the old testament…”


A7
That if necessarily the case. Whatever else is true it is agreed that Abraham’s whole house received circumcision. Children were included in this imposed arrangement and coming from the OT to the NT the natural expectation would be the inclusion of infants not the exclusion. I would argue that the “blessing” asked of Jesus in Luke 18.15-16 shows that infants of such as believe in Jesus should be received into the visible church and therefore receive the NT “sign and seal” of water baptism. Consider carefully what the words of the verse and their implications. We read, “And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” I think you will agree that this “touching” was asked of those who thought the touch of Jesus would bring a blessing. It would be hard to deny that. Well here then are believing women asking that Jesus would give their infants a blessing. Now, note the words “…Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.…” Here is admission to blessing “to come unto me”. It is the disciples that Jesus says are to admit them “you allow them” is the basic meaning of “suffer little children”. And “…of such is the kingdom…” is simply saying such as these [i.e., infants of believers in me] are part of my kingdom and the “kingdom” on earth is, of course, Jesus church. So from the passage we see

  1. infants of believers.
  2. Church officers admitting [the apostles in this instance].
  3. The declaration that such are part of the kingdom. This passage plainly shows that infants form a part of the church of God on the earth and being in the “visible church” they [as in Abraham’s day” should receive the mark of the kingdom in the NT water baptism. Not everything in the Bible is on the surface of the page. Jesus teaches the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead from the tense of a Hebrew verb when he says, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. They were dead and “God is not the God of the dead but of the living”. Jesus words of Luke 18.15-16 establish the principles of infants of such as believe in him belonging to his kingdom.

The Baptist problem is that he reads the Bible back to front. He views from the NT to the OT whereas God reveals from OT to NT.
The dogmatic position of the Word of God is that INFANTS OF PROFESSING BELIEVERS ARE PART OF THE CHURCH and NOWHERE IN THE ENTIRE NT IS THERE IMMERSION AS THE MODE OF CHRISTIAN WATER BAPTISM.
I hope this helps. I will also leave that there for now.

Q7 You ask “…why not say, they [infants] don’t have to be circumcised, because they are baptized instead?…”


A7
Much of what I say above should answer this point. However, the Apostles did not address the problem of circumcision as you mention simply because they did not deem it the best way to address it. The circumcision issue of Acts 15 was not is it baptism or circumcision; both were already practices widely in the church. The circumcision issue was one of do you need to be circumcised to be saved. Thus we read, “…Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.…” And thus we are told that it was about “…purifying their hearts by faith…” and that [v11] they pronounce that “…through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they…” It was a justification issue. This is why the judgement of the council of Jerusalem was [v19-20] that “…we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.…”
A debate about is circumcision replaced by water baptism is a different debate from do you need to be circumcised additionally in order to be saved.
I hope this helps. I will also leave that there for now.

So ends another chapter in the chronicles of my search for truth about baptism. I am not yet convinced that infant baptism is valid. I am not even convinced that it is not heresy. I am however, firmly convinced that the men to whom I have addressed my questions are gracious, patient, diligent searchers of the Word. Because of this, I will continue to question, and continue to pray.

Baptism, the torment and the journey, Part Two

4 Comments

Questions for the Teacher…

Dear Sir,

I have been reading articles on the web, and I am confused as to what baptism of infants achieves. One infant baptism advocate has mentioned these points;

Quote:

“to wit, that that have special privileges as the Hebrews did of Old Covenant, via the rite of circumcision, which is transferred to the NT:
1). They are able to be taught the Gospel by their parents and church;
2). Learn the doctrines of Scripture, again through their parents and the church;
3). See, witness, examples Christian faithfulness, lived out by their parents and the body of Christ.
4). And in turn be a recipient of promises of the Covenant grace, due to the promises made by God through the waters of Baptism.”

But I am not sure, how does a child who has been baptized fare better than my own children, who have been raised to learn scripture, see Christian faithfulness, etc?

As to point 4),

  • what promises are they recipients of specifically?
  • How can they be recipients of any of the promises of God for believers, if they are not yet believers?
  • And how does that fit into the doctrine of election? Do you believe that all children of believers are of the elect?
  • What does infant baptism mean if the child never grows to acknowledge Christ as an adult?
  • What does it mean if your child dies before baptism?
  • If it has benefits, can you be specific about what they are – exactly what you believe they are missing if they are not baptized as an infant?
  • How is it a sign of the visible church, when many people baptized as infants don’t become believers?

And, if sprinkling is the go, what does it mean here:
Mark 1

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Jesus was baptized in the Jordan (if you were just sprinkling, why get “in” the Jordan?) and “coming up out of the water” , rather than just shaking your head if you were being sprinkled? (it may be something really obvious, but I haven’t seen it addressed yet)

Why is it, in Acts 15, that when there was “no small dispute” over whether the Gentiles should be circumcised, (enough dispute that it was deemed necessary to make a trip to Jerusalem and put the question to the apostles and elders), if infant baptism (or any baptism) was a fulfillment of circumcision, why didn’t they just say so then? Why not say, they don’t have to be circumcised, because they are baptized instead? It doesn’t appear in the resolution from the apostles either, who mention the whole don’t eat strangled things story, but if it was the new institution instead of circumcision, it would seem the time to mention it.

I have read that the onus is on the side of believer baptism proponents to prove a leaving of the accepted order established in the old testament, that being “whole households”, in that whole families were circumcised, and that being the established pattern, the burden of proof falls to believer baptists to show where a new standard was introduced that is; the idea of a covenant that did not include automatically the children.

If that is a valid exegesis, then the same would have to apply to the issue of music, which I believe the reformed position to be that it is not explicitly shown in the new testament, therefore it is not valid? My reasoning being as follows, that the Psalms were clearly written to “the chief musician”, that David himself was a musician of such note he was called to play to calm Saul when he was tormented, there are several calls to praise Him with the cymbals and so forth. Given that it is an established pattern in the old testament, could you not then argue, if such is a valid method, that one assumes when the NT church has “one bring a song, one bring a psalm” that it would naturally be accompanied by music, and that the onus is on the reformed thinker to prove there is now a new, radical change from the OT, and have scripture to support it?

Likewise, the above correspondent mentions that;

“we must infer that women participated in the Lord’s supper, there being no direct mention of any women present, and this is the same method by which we must assume the presence of the practice of infant baptism in the NT.”

My difficulty with that is that we would also be able to (surely!) infer that children participated in the Lord’s supper in the early church. The Agape/love feasts/Lord’s supper was celebrated as a full meal in the NT church, and as families would all through the OT have fed their children, one would have to assume that they also continued the practice in the NT, and proof would need to exist that a radical change had occurred, and now the children were not to be involved in the main meal of the day, each Lord’s day.

I understand the reformed position to be (generally, I have read the R.C.Sproul is not in line) that children do not participate in the Lord’s supper. I am bemused that there is a distinction which allows them to participate in baptism without a declaration of faith, or repentance, but does not allow the participation in the ordinance of the Supper, because of the same inability to examine oneself and declare faith.

So it would seem that use of the regulatory principal here has a “have your cake and eat it too” appearance to an outside observer. The one method of explaining scripture validates one of your positions, but invalidates two others in the process (as I see it, perhaps there is an explanation, and I am missing it.)

I am very open to hearing sound teaching on this subject, and I beg you don’t read my questions as disrespectful or contentious. I genuinely accept that much of the teaching I have received in the past has been without solid foundation, but for this very reason, I am reluctant to accept a new position on any subject without the most thorough search of the scriptures, and the most sound explanation, and a serious amount of ruminating to boot (not to mention a lot of bothering my friends!)

Baptism, the torment and the journey, Part One

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How do you define church? What are the essentials to agree on? Just how closely aligned should the doctrine and theology of a group of believers be to what you believe, in order to fulfill the directive of Paul in Ephesians 4?

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

Baptism is one of only two ordinances our Lord gave to the church. I won’t even start on what I think we’ve done to the other one, time enough for that another day. But how did we come to this pass, where genuine, God fearing men cannot agree on the practice and purpose of baptism?

More to the point – what’s a girl to do about it when in conflict with men of far superior understanding and more letters after their names than you can shake a stick at?

Thankfully, they are gracious, Godly men, inclined to teach me patiently despite my unending questions and challenges to the ideas put forth. I would like to share in subsequent posts some of my questions, and the answers I have been given, in the form of letters, as they transpired. Ideally, I would like to say it is in the hopes of encouraging others to study the subject. The more truthful statement would be though, that I have never enjoyed suffering alone!

I just can’t get past….one baptism…..one baptism……