Yesterday I was in a Christian Bookstore and struck up a conversation with a lady whose father was a Methodist pastor. She had left the Methodist church and had become a Baptist. Her father’s attitude speaks volumes about the attitude of Protestants toward Baptist baptism. When she started going to a Baptist church her father said it is not important where we go to church as long as we go. He said what is important is that we are fed. However, he did get upset when she was scripturally baptized.
Why do those who baptize babies get upset when Baptists insist on scriptural baptism? The reason is simple, no one likes to be told they are wrong.
There are three reasons Baptist baptism (scriptural baptism) offends non-Baptists. Before we can fully understand these reasons we must understand why unscriptural baptism started. In the middle of the second century some started making baptism one of the requirements for salvation. The thoughts went something like this: Salvation by grace, through faith, without works, is too simple so there must be something else. Since baptism is mentioned often in the New Testament, and since Jesus told Nicodemus that we must born of water and of the spirit, they reasoned that baptism must be that water birth and must wash away original sin. The theological name for this new (at the time) doctrine is Baptismal Regeneration.
Since that time those who stood against this false doctrine were called Anabaptist, or re-baptizers. They have persecuted for there stand for most of the last nineteen centuries (listen to my messaget on the persecution of Baptists). What is it that so upsets the baptismal regenerationists? There are three areas where this stand against unscriptural baptism condemns those who practice it.
First, insisting on scriptural baptism says the baptism for salvation is wrong. Baptism’s purpose is to show the Gospel in a picture. Done properly it pictures the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ. When a person submits to scriptural baptism he gives testimony to his acceptance of the Gospel. He also shows forth his submission to Christ as Lord. Finally he commits to walk in newness of life.
The belief that baptism washes away original sin and is at least part of the new birth led to some other unscriptural doctrines. It was reasoned that if baptism washes away original sin, then the sooner it is done, the better. This led to infant baptism, which has no scriptural support.
The next step was to say that it was so important that even those who could not be baptized by immersion (the word baptize means to immerse) had to be baptized or go to Hell. They invented sprinkling and pouring as modes of baptizing these people. In so doing they removed the picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ from baptism and destroyed its purpose.
The second reason is that scriptural baptism says that their doctrine on salvation is faulty. The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace, through faith, without works (Ephesians 2:8-9). If you add to biblical salvation you destroy it. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that all of those who believe in unscriptural baptism are not saved. If someone has truly put their trust in Christ for salvation they are saved even if, afterward, they are taught this false doctrine. I will say that it is rather difficult for me to believe that someone who is trusting in baptism for their salvation, or even part of their salvation, is truly saved. If the person was saved before believing that baptism is required for salvation, he will not loose his salvation for starting to believe it. On the other hand, if one holds this doctrine and is not saved, it would be difficult for me to see how they could get saved while holding it.
The third reason they get upset is when we say their baptism is unscriptural we are saying that they don’t believe the whole Word of God. The Bible is clear that salvation is required for baptism, not the other way around. Remember that Philip required a statement of faith before he would baptize the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:37). Remember that one is saved the instant they believe (John 3:15-18).
Baptist baptism is still a problem for non-Baptists because they realize that if their baptism is wrong they also have other serious problems in their doctrine. It seems logical to me that if we all have the same teacher (the Holy Spirit) and we all have the same textbook (the bible) we should all believe the same thing. If we are going to be truly righteous people we must start by being faithful to the Scriptures in all things, including baptism.
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved