I hope that you realize by now that the purpose of this blog is all about protecting the freedom of Southern Baptists to disagree on areas of doctrine that are not considered the essentials of the faith. Further, even though many of the posts are doctrinal in nature, they are not intended to criticize any Southern Baptist who believes differently than I, but rather, to show those who believe differently that there is a Biblical basis for my view.
For instance, the idea that each and every disciple of Jesus Christ (man or woman) has the authority to baptize converts to the Christian faith is both Biblical and consistent with Baptist history and ecclesiology. There are some who believe the only ones with the proper "authority" to baptize are properly "ordained" ministers of a true gospel church (i.e. a Baptist church). I am not attempting to convince those of you who hold to the need for proper qualifications of the administrator of baptism to see it my way; I am simply asking that those of us in Southern Baptist circles who believe differently than you not be considered heretics, liberals, or unworthy of brotherly cooperation in our mission.
In other words, let's keep the main thing the main thing. However, for those of you who need evidence for the basis of the belief that every Christian has the authority to baptize a convert, you have to look no further than the 1644 London Baptist Confession of Faith, the wonderful statement of faith issued by the early English Baptists. In it there is a very clear article that describes the proper administrator of baptism, and the authors of the confession to declare that person to be any disciple of Christ.
The pertinent section of the 1644 London Confession follows with Scriptural texts that serve as the basis for the article follows:
Section XLI On Baptism.
The persons designed by Christ, to dispense this Ordinance (of baptism), the Scriptures hold forth to be a preaching Disciple, it being no where tied to a particular Church, Officer, or person extraordinarily sent, the Commission enjoining the administration, being given to them under no other consideration, but as considered Disciples. (Isa. 8:16; Matt. 28:16-19; John 4:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Matt. 26:26)
The adjective "preaching" that modifies the word "disciple" simply refers to the Christian who is proclaiming the gospel. In other words, as you witness about Christ, in fulfillment of the Great Commission, and someone to whom you "preach" (witness) comes to faith in Christ, it is your privilege to baptize that convert.
In His Grace,