July 1, 2013
This is the third article in this series on shocking things I have heard from Baptist pulpits. In this article I will deal with alien baptism. Many of you may never have heard the term, but it has nothing to do with space aliens. It is talking about baptism by those who are not Baptist in faith and practice. I add this last part about faith and practice because Baptists have not always been called by that name at a given time or location and many who wear the name today are not really Baptists.
The name Baptist goes back to the New Testament. We find John the Baptist, not John the Lutheran or John the Catholic. Don’t get mad because I related John the Baptist with Baptists. I do not believe we get our name directly from him, but I do believe we get our name because we stand for the same doctrines and precepts has he did.
John the Baptist got his name from God. He was chosen by God to prepare the material for the first church in Jerusalem. It only stands to reason that the doctrine he taught is the same doctrine that the apostles taught.
Let me relate this to the doctrine from which Baptists get their name. The New Testament teaches that salvation is necessary for baptism (Acts 8:37). The Catholics and Protestants teach that baptism is necessary for salvation.
What did John the Baptist teach on this subject? In Matthew 3:7-8 John refused to baptize until he saw some evidence of repentance. The principle here is that John would not baptized anyone until after they were saved. This is the same doctrine that earned our ancestors the name Anabaptist. This name was firstgiven in the middle of the second century, not in the fifteenth or sixteenth century as many teach today. It was later shortened to Baptist.
If we are to understand why Baptists have historically not accepted the baptism of other denominations we must understand what other denominations teach concerning baptism.
Catholics baptize in order to have salvation and require it for both infants and adults.
Episcopalians baptize babies in order to make them children of God by regeneration.
Calvin and Luther maintained that infants were capable of faith and were saved by their baptism.
Wesley said “If infants are guilty of original sin they are proper subjects of baptism; seeing, in this ordinary way, they cannot be saved unless this be washed away in baptism.”
Bible churches are churches that left their denominations in order to maintain their independence. They vary greatly in their doctrinal beliefs. For the most part they don’t put a great emphasis on the mode or purpose of baptism. Although some may prefer immersion, they usually accept any type of baptism.
Nondenominational churches have no objective standards when it comes to baptism. They accept just about anything.
Pentecostal churches generally practice believer’s baptism by immersion. However, they believe that salvation can be lost based upon the works of the person. Therefore they believe in salvation by works. You cannot teach that you can lose your salvation based upon works and maintain that salvation is by grace, through faith, without works.
Baptism is a picture of salvation. If a denomination has a faulty view of salvation, or a faulty view of what scriptural baptism is, it should not be hard to grasp why those who hold a proper view of these two things would not accept the baptism of those whose view is faulty.
One reason so many other denominations have a problem with the Baptist position on baptism is that they believe baptism is part of salvation. Since it is part of their salvation they think we are saying that they are not saved when we refuse to accept their baptism. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The only thing baptism has to do with salvation is that it is a picture of how one is saved.
The Scriptures teach that one must believe before one is a proper candidate for baptism (Acts 8:37). They also teach that one is saved when they believe (John 3:16, etc.). The question of how one is saved was asked most clearly in Acts 16:30. The clear answer is given in Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” This answer does not imply that the head of the household’s faith saves the whole family. What Paul is saying is that if the head of the household truly believes, he will lead his family to know the truth and, if they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, they will also be saved. The way of salvation is the same for everyone.
Fortunately for those in most denominations, a person who understands the Gospel can be saved and be taught and hold false doctrine concerning how one is saved. However, if one is trusting in his baptism for any part of his salvation he has polluted the Gospel. If Christs work on the cross is not the only and complete basis of one’s salvation, then their salvation is faulty.
The same is true if one is trusting his works to keep himself saved. The Bible says we are kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5), not by our own works.
Baptists believe there are four requirements for baptism to be scriptural. They are:
A proper candidate
A proper purpose
A proper mode
A proper authority
Let’s take a look at each of these to see how they apply to our subject.
By a proper candidate we mean that the person must first be saved. We saw this earlier in the teaching of John the Baptist. He would not baptize anyone until he saw “fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:7-8). We also saw this with Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:37). It is also seen in the order of things in Acts 2:41. In this verse we see that they received the Word (believed), then they were baptized as a testimony to this fact, then they were added to the church.
By a proper purpose we mean that the baptism is a testimony that identifies the believer with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It is also a commitment to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Romans 6:5 tells us that it is merely a likeness (picture), not the actual thing. Those who teach that baptism is part of salvation have a faulty doctrine of salvation, and a faulty purpose for their baptism.
By a proper mode we mean immersion, not sprinkling or pouring. Immersion is the only mode of baptism that pictures a burial and a resurrection. The Greek word which is transliterated, not translated, baptism means to dip under or to immerse.
By proper authority we mean a church built on the New Testament model. Any church that has its roots in the Catholic church is not built after the New Testament model. Any church that accepts members in a different manner than the New Testament model is faulty. All churches that baptize infants or accept infant baptism receive members in an unscriptural manner. No church that has a faulty doctrine of salvation can be considered a New Testament church. Since the Commission was given to the New Testament church, those churches which are not built upon the New Testament model have no scriptural authority to baptize.
Although it is not so stated in Scripture, baptism also identifies the candidate with the doctrine of the church that baptizes him. If the church believes that baptism is part of salvation, it is a faulty baptism and cannot be accepted by a true Baptist. If the church that baptizes the candidate holds a faulty doctrine of salvation, then their baptism pictures that faulty doctrine. A true Baptist cannot accept this baptism either.
Baptists were first called Anabaptists in the middle of the second century because they refused to accept the unscriptural baptism of those who taught baptismal regeneration. They insisted upon scriptural baptism and therefore were called re-baptizers. If we start accepting the baptism of those who have faulty doctrines on baptism and salvation we lose our identity and are no longer true Baptists.
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