"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Very Important Words from IMB Missionary David Rogers

Nearly two months ago I received a personal email from David Rogers, an IMB Missionary in Spain. David and I first met each other when we were students at Baylor University twenty five years ago. After leaving Baylor I kept up with David from a distance, and last heard from him at his father's funeral, when David spoke dearly of his father, the late Dr. Adrian Rogers.

David and I would visit regularly around the cafeteria tables at Baylor University about ministry, the Southern Baptist Convention and church work in general. David, like I, entered ministry following in the footsteps of a very well known father, but I soon learned to love David on his own merits, including a very humble spirit, an erudite intellect, and most of all, a deep passion for the lost.

David recently wrote a letter to all the trustees of the International Mission Board voicing his concern over the adoption of the new policies on baptism and tongues. David gave me permission yesterday, in writing, to post his letter to the trustees on this blog.


Dear IMB Trustee:

"After much prayer and thought, I have decided to write and express my concerns to each of you regarding the developments at the IMB which have been in the news recently. I am writing, first of all, as a missionary of the IMB, who having dedicated 16 years of his life to ministry in Spain, has a lot of investment at stake in the future direction of the IMB. I am also writing as the son of Adrian Rogers, with a sense of stewardship of the heritage I have received, as well as concern for a God-honoring and accurate representation and application of my father’s spiritual legacy. I can only wish my Dad were here today to share his wisdom and leadership skills in relation to the situations we are presently facing. It is impossible for me to know exactly how he would have responded regarding each detail concerned. I do, however, believe I knew my Dad well enough to give a general approximation of what he may have thought regarding these issues. At the same time, I acknowledge that each of us is ultimately accountable to God, and our understanding of His will in the light of His inspired Word, and not to the opinions or memory of any fallible human being.

Having said that, I must say now that I am concerned with what seems to me to be a general direction on the part of the Board of Trustees, much of which I have only recently been made aware. It would seem to me that much of the ground gained for the glory of God and the advance of His kingdom through the “conservative resurgence” in the SBC, in which my father played such an integral role, is in danger of being commandeered in a new, more extreme direction.

Specifically in regards to the direction of the IMB, I believe some very helpful adjustments in focus and parameters have been made in the wake of the “conservative resurgence”. We, as Southern Baptists, have been able to clarify that a steadfast commitment to the authority of God’s Word, and a proper understanding of “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” preclude any a la carte self-styled commitment to “missions” as our bottom line. We, at the same time, have made what I understand to be a greater push towards the evangelization and discipling of all the ethne of the world than ever before. Though we as Southern Baptists are definitely not perfect, and have undoubtedly committed many errors, it is my opinion that God’s blessing has been upon the Southern Baptist mission enterprise in a mighty way during this time.

I also believe that God has used the spiritual and strategic leadership of Jerry Rankin to help us make bold steps of faith, and to open our eyes to what God is doing around us, and to how we, as Henry Blackaby would put it, can “join Him in what He is already doing”. After having recently read the book, To the Ends of the Earth, I am not hesitant to say, in the light of 16 years of international missionary service, as well as whatever spiritual insight God may have given me, that I believe that God has given us as Southern Baptists a great gift in Jerry Rankin, and that His blessing and anointing is upon Dr. Rankin’s leadership.

I am especially encouraged by Dr. Rankin’s emphasis that the kingdom of God is broader than the Southern Baptist Convention, and that God’s way of working entails using the entire Body of Christ around the world, with each group and member making their own unique contribution working together in a beautiful kaleidoscope of service to Christ towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I am in agreement that we need to be careful to discern who are our true partners in the glorious task that Jesus has given us, and to not compromise biblical convictions, especially regarding essential doctrine, on the altar of “false unity”. I am concerned, however, that there appears to be a drive on the part of some to “rein in” the progress we have made in these areas, giving an undue emphasis on certain points of doctrine, which, in my opinion, are not clearly spelled out in Scripture, and seeking to narrow the parameters of biblical cooperation a few steps beyond the healthy adjustments we had already made.

Specifically, I do not think the recent policy change approved in the November Trustee meeting disqualifying missionary candidates who acknowledge having a “private prayer language” or those who were baptized by immersion as believers outside of a church deemed to be doctrinally compatible with Southern Baptists is a move in the right direction.

I myself do not practice a “private prayer language”. However, in the course of my Christian ministry, I have known many fellow servants of Christ who have professed to have had this experience and for whom I have the utmost respect, due to their evident love for Christ, His Word, and His work, as well as sterling Christian character. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this, as there are as well with otherwise perfectly orthodox believers, who do not practice a “private prayer language”. At the same time, while I recognize that sincere, godly interpreters of the Word of God take the view that certain supernatural gifts ceased at some time in the past, it seems to me that other equally sincere, godly, and objective interpreters of the Word of God have come to different conclusions.

I personally do not see how putting this new limitation upon Southern Baptist missionary service is going to make a positive difference in our faithfulness to Christ or in our effectiveness in carrying out His Great Commission. It does concern me, though, that some otherwise perfectly qualified candidates for missionary service might be disqualified because of this, especially in light of the previously existing policies limiting public expression of glossalalia and the “persistent emphasis of any specific gift of the Spirit as normative for all or to the extent such emphasis becomes disruptive to the Baptist fellowship”.

I also feel that the new policy stating that “baptism must take place in a church that practices believer’s baptism by immersion alone, does not view baptism as sacramental or regenerative, and a church that embraces the doctrine of the security of the believer” and that “a candidate who has not been baptized in a Southern Baptist church or in a church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his/her Southern Baptist church as a testimony of identification with the system of belief held by Southern Baptist churches” does not have scriptural justification and goes beyond what Southern Baptists have traditionally accepted. Others have already written eloquently, exposing the flaws in Landmarkist ecclesiology. I imagine most, if not all of you, are well familiar with the arguments on both sides of this issue.

I would like, however, to point out the biblical example of the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, which leaves the question of any local church “sponsorship” or “supervision” of the baptism very much up in the air. We also have the testimony of the roots of the Anabaptist movement, in which the initial “baptizers” had not yet been scripturally baptized themselves.

I am not saying that those who approved the new policy change on baptism are necessarily sympathetic on the whole towards Landmarkism. However, I do recognize the policy as reflective of at least one “plank” of Landmarkist argumentation, and a “plank” for which I believe there is no biblical basis. And, it concerns me that we, as a denomination, may be making steps in that direction.

Another related issue that is on the minds of all involved has to do with the proposed dismissal of Wade Burleson from the Board of Trustees. Since I was not present during Trustee meetings in order to personally observe Mr. Burleson’s behavior in that setting, I must reserve judgment regarding that. At the same time, I have carefully read through Mr. Burleson’s “blog”, and reflected deeply both upon the ideas expressed therein, as well as the tone in which they are expressed. My opinion is that, while Mr. Burleson, just like any of the rest of us is not perfect, and may here or there say things which might be able to be expressed in a more circumspect manner, what I have read there written by Mr. Burleson is a long way from amounting to, in and of itself, “slander”, “gossip”, “broken trust” or “resistance to accountability”.

It would seem to me that if the Trustees are indeed accountable to the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole, and to the churches which comprise it, then Mr. Burleson acted in good faith making known to those who have the bottom line responsibility for decisions made something of the issues involved behind those decisions. Before the “conservative resurgence”, it was frequently argued that many of the various boards and committees of the SBC were out of step with what the majority of Southern Baptists believed, and thus, it was necessary to make Southern Baptists aware of what was going on. In my concise but humble opinion: “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”.

At this point, I would like to reiterate it is impossible for me to know exactly how my father would have addressed each of these points. Each of us is our own person. However, having grown up under the wings of this great man of God who has been so influential in Southern Baptist life, I can honestly say I think that he would be in general agreement with the gist of what I am saying here.

How each of you respond to this is between you and God, taking into consideration your accountability to the SBC as well. I pray God will give you the grace and wisdom to act in a way glorifying to His name and advantageous to the advance of His kingdom."


Your co-laborer in the Harvest,



David Rogers


David has started his own blog called Love Each Stone, and I would encourage you to check it regularly and comment as you see fit. On his blog he has posted another very important letter which I would encourage you to read. In this second letter, entitled "Coming Clean," David states he has read many blogs and . . .

It has been of particular interest to note the amount of comments sent in by anonymous IMB missionary colleagues. I understand and appreciate the need of some colleagues to remain anonymous due to security concerns. I am concerned, however, about the perceived climate of fear and mistrust which has led many to remain anonymous, primarily due to concerns about possible reprisals from within the Board. I would like to make clear that I am not so much criticizing those who have chosen to remain anonymous as I am expressing concern over the perceived organizational climate which has apparently motivated their desire for anonymity.

Hmmm. Very good thoughts David. The last sentence of the paragraph is quite profound. I may know a little of that which you speak. Thanks for having the courage to say what you have said. Your example is a reminder that the Southern Baptist Convention is healthiest when people can speak freely, without fear of reprisal.

Just maybe we are slowly turning the ship called the Southern Baptist Convention back to the port of safety where good Baptist people, who love the Word of God, can voice their disagreements with different interpretations of the Word, but still remain in fellowship and cooperation in order for ALL Southern Baptists to work together in fulfilling the Great Commission.


More later,


In His Grace,



Wade Burleson

29 comments:

art rogers said...

Great letter. I hope that Adrian's name is not the thing that gets the most attention here. Rather, here is a man who has dedicated his life to reaching the lost and is doing so because we as Southern Baptists have gotten together and made that possible. That alone is worthy of note.

I have an Uncle David Rogers, who pastors in Memphis. He was also active in the resurgence. When ever I refered to him as my "uncle who is a pastor in Memphis" I had to add, "it's not Adrian." Still, I am proud of the legacy of ministers in my family. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a minister or minister's wife at my family reunions. It is a great heritage and one for which I feel responsible. All the more reason to speak out.

martyduren said...

Good stuff, David Rogers. Thanks for allowing Wade to share it with the rest of us.

I hope that the majority of the trustees are beginning to see, even if a little late, that this issue is not nor ever was, a tempest in a teapot. It is an issue through which Southern Baptists have recognized a deep fissure within our denominational workings and a passionate drive to see it righted.

Anonymous said...

Wade

Rogers is right on. It is amazing that scripture is not open to interpretation and yet so much disagreement. Scripture has never changed. Culture has but GOD has not. Keep on... I know the "peace of JESUS" is all over you because of the bombardment of prayer on your behalf and because of you. The IMB should be grateful that so much prayer is being offered on their behalf

Charlie

Kevin Bussey said...

Thanks for sharing David's letter and his blog. He has good insight that we need to hear!

Kevin said...

I agree
The fact that this was written by one of our missionaries is to me more important than the fact that David Rogers is the son of one of the great Gospel Preachers of our time. I hope and pray that ears are open as well as hearts and that we will continue to speak with humility and love for each other because I know that others are watching and as Our Lord said “ they will know you by your love for one another”. As we gather together in Greensboro even as we disagree may others see Jesus in each one of us and may we seek to solve the issues before us in a way that glorifies God the Father and our savior Jesus Christ.

IN HIM
Kevin

Matt Brady said...

Brother Wade,

I believe that Brother Hatley and various other trustees meant well in making sure that we have proper doctrinal accountability in place. I also agree with you, that any trustee should be free to share their opinion about policies without fear of reprisal. I am all for dialogue, but I have one major concern about the dialogue on this blog. The discussion seems to be gracious and well meaning, but there is very little talk about the Scriptural basis concerning the policies. A letter from the son of Dr. Rodgers is not nearly as impressive to me as a letter from the Son of God. Granted, this blog is quite voluminous, so I have not read it all, but, for the most part, I find a great abscence of specific Scriptural references for most of the arguments presented. If dialogue amongst conservatives is our goal, surely we know that it is Scripture which persuades conservatives. After all, that was the great genius of Dr. Rodgers. He was a master of the Scriptures and could quote chapter and verse to back up his opinions and decisions. Speaking of conservatives and the Bible, even some of the most conservative Landmark Baptists would agree with you that from an exegetical stand point, we can not be dogmaic about every issue regarding glossolalia. I would also agree that there is room for discussion on baptismal authority. Again, I am all for dialogue, but I think we need to steer the conversation back to the exegesis of Scripture and away from the divisive politics of older versus younger ministers. By the way, I'm only thirty-three, so I guess I am still considered a young minister. I am not interested in a turf war with godly men who have gone before me, and I do not think they are interested in one either. Let's focus the discussion on the Word of God which we all hold dear.

To both sides I would say, if anyone needs to be reproved, rebuked, or exhorted, it should be done with the authority of the Word of God, not political rancor (2 Timothy 4:2).

Tim Sweatman said...

Wade,

Thanks for posting this. And thanks to David Rogers for allowing you to do so. We have to move away from the path of excluding those with whom we disagree on matters that are non-essential or not clearly taught in Scripture and toward the unity for which Jesus prayed that His followers would have.


Art,

I'm sure that there are some people who will be drawn toward reading this letter just because the writer is the son of Adrian Rogers, and there are undoubtedly some who will give consideration to the views stated in the letter because of this fact. (I would guess that's why Wade included it in the title of this post.) Now, you and I would agree that this letter would be just as powerful if it had been written by Bill Smith or Susie Jones or by an anonymous missionary, but it's an unfortunate reality that some in the SBC will not even consider a position unless it has a "name" connected to it. I believe that this is one of the signs that we have lost our focus.

Anonymous said...

sadly i must admit many missionaries do feel that it is necessary to remain anonymous in our comments. one of our colleagues who was having great success in proclaiming Christ to the lost in the 10/40 window was asked for their resignation revolving around this November decision. tragically,we just handed satan another victory...but praise God that we know who has the ultimate victory!!thank you Wade for standing up.

Baptist Theologue said...

In his blog, David Rogers said that he did not find "clear Scriptural justification" for the following line from the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message concerning baptism:

"Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper."

David said, "However, I find it hard to harmonize my understanding and corresponding application of the principles of Scripture with the exclusion from the Lord’s Table of a true brother or sister in Christ, who, due to differing conclusions based on a serious study of Scripture, sincerely believes that their infant 'baptism' experience meets the qualifications of authentic obedience to Christ’s command."

I appreciate David's opinion, but I respectfully disagree with it. I believe that baptism and the Lord's Supper are indeed local church ordinances. I don't believe non-immersed persons should partake of the Lord's Supper in a baptistic church, no matter how sincere they may be in their wrong understanding of baptism. Immersion is the first step of obedience following salvation. If baptistic churches allow non-immersed persons to partake of the Lord's Supper, then they are putting their stamp of approval on the disobedience or ignorance of those people who have not yet received biblical immersion. Baptistic churches should also not allow disfellowshipped church members (final stage of discipline) or unsaved children of church members to partake of the Lord's Supper. A time should be set aside before the Lord's Supper is partaken when those who want to partake can examine themselves so that they will not partake in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-28).

Anonymous said...

My question relates to the letters/position papers released by Tom Hatley just a few hours ago....How much (if at all) does the exception clause actually relieve the tension created by the BoT in narrowing the parameters of our cooperation? I know you have been aware of the clause for some time, but does Hatley's present emphasis on it ease your concerns in any way?

andrea said...

David, thank you for your passion on the mission field and the courage it took to compose and send a letter to the trustees. Addressing issues that are very close to the hearts of Baptists today. Great letter! Job well done!

Wade Burleson said...

I changed the title of the post because I believe David can stand on his own with his articulate thoughts.

Mr. Anonymous,

A post tomorrow on the Scriptural approach to baptism on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff by Rogers. Yes, a missionary in Spain with the IMB can openly admit to being so...what about the hundreds of us who are working in the 10/40 Window--or World A--where we can't be openly identified as such?

baptist theologue said:
"I appreciate David's opinion, but I respectfully disagree with it. I believe that baptism and the Lord's Supper are indeed local church ordinances. I don't believe non-immersed persons should partake of the Lord's Supper in a baptistic church, no matter how sincere they may be in their wrong understanding of baptism. Immersion is the first step of obedience following salvation. If baptistic churches allow non-immersed persons to partake of the Lord's Supper, then they are putting their stamp of approval on the disobedience or ignorance of those people who have not yet received biblical immersion. Baptistic churches should also not allow disfellowshipped church members (final stage of discipline) or unsaved children of church members to partake of the Lord's Supper. A time should be set aside before the Lord's Supper is partaken when those who want to partake can examine themselves so that they will not partake in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-28)."

And Matt Brady makes a good point about the need to constantly point back to scripture for the basis of our beliefs and practices.

OK: so where exactly, baptist theologue, can you show us--or anyone else--that scripture EXPLICITLY connects being baptized by immersion with partaking of the Lord's Supper. Show me (us) the money! Where is someone EXPLICITLY forbidden from partaking if they have not been baptized? Let's take it further, where does scripture EXPLICITLY state that ONLY those who have been baptized can be church members? Show me where scripture EXPLICITLY states WHO and WHERE someone can be baptized? Show me EXPLICITLY where scripture gives ANY remote basis for an outline of the baptizer's belief in eternal security--or that the baptizer should be some person in an "approved" or "appointed" position. Philip found water on a deserted road and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40 ), who "went on his way rejoicing" to Ethiopia--and to which church had he become a member?? Exactly which church was the Apostle Paul baptized into in Acts 9:18, since not a few days later he was on the run from Damascus? And again, which church was Cornelius and his whole household baptized into in Acts 10:47-48, since there was NO church at that point in Caesarea we are told about?

Small side note on the Cornelius story on tongues/private prayer language: so WHO exactly were Cornelius and those of his household speaking to when they received the Holy Spirit before being baptized and Peter and those accompanying him heard them "speaking in tongues and praising God?"

I await some good exegesis of scripture--NOT tradition--on the baptism issue. This has obviously struck a chord in many--including many of us who are missionaries with a board from which we would now be excluded... :-(

David Rogers said...

Art & Wade:

While I appreciate the desire to "let me stand on my own", one of the main factors that has led me to get involved in this is, as I said in my letter "a sense of stewardship of the heritage I have received, as well as concern for a God-honoring and accurate representation and application of my father’s spiritual legacy."

I sense that many on both sides of this issue would look to my Dad as a source of leadership and wisdom were he still with us. Since he is not, and sensing this is such an important matter, not just a personal concern of mine, I feel a certain responsibility to speak out, especially, just as Art says: "because the writer is the son of Adrian Rogers, and there are undoubtedly some who will give consideration to the views stated in the letter because of this fact."

Matt Brady:

I would suggest you read this entire blog a little more thoroughly. In my opinion, it is full of scriptural references, and the main points made have been made from a biblical basis. What I find lacking is a sound biblical defense of the new policies.

Baptist Theologue:

Although my main point in the "Coming Clean" post on my blog is not defending my interpretation, but rather the need to be able speak clearly about what we believe without fear of reprisal, I will add the following:

It seems to me the context of what 1 Cor. 11:27-28 has to say about the Corinthians' need to "examine themselves so that they will not partake in an unworthy manner" has a lot more to do with the sin of disunity in the Body of Christ than it does with disobedience to the Lord's command regarding baptism. I also believe one of the aspects of "properly discerning the Body of Christ" is respecting the importance of unity, and not drawing parameters of acceptance where Jesus does not draw them. That being said, I do want to make clear that I strongly believe in believers' baptism, and urge all believers to be obedient to the Lord's command involving baptism.

Baptist Theologue said...

David, in 1 Corinthians 11:18, Paul was saying that one problem concerned disunity in one church, not disunity in the Body of Christ. Notice A. T. Robertson’s comment on the verse:

“When ye come together in the church (sunercomenwn hmwn en ekklhsiai). Genitive absolute. Here ekklhsia has the literal meaning of assembly. Divisions (scismata). Accusative of general reference with the infinitive uparcein in indirect discourse. Old word for cleft, rent, from scizw. Example in papyri for splinter of wood. See on 2 Corinthians 1:10. Not yet formal cleavages into two or more organizations, but partisan divisions that showed in the love-feasts and at the Lord's Supper.”

http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/Robertsons
WordPictures/rwp.cgi?book=1co&chapter=11&verse=18

David, in a comment on your blog site, you said the following:

“Unless you consider the "one baptism" of Ephesian 4.5 to be water baptism, I think you would agree with me that water baptism, while important, is not such a central doctrine as to base our spiritual communion with other parts of the Body of Christ upon it.”

Remember that the Lord’s Supper is about communion with God, not about communion with other parts of the Body of Christ. Notice what Hershel Hobbs said about it in his 1971 commentary on the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message:

“New Testament baptized believers are eligible to take the Lord’s Supper. Some Baptist churches hold that one should be a member of the church in which he partakes of it, holding that he should be in the fellowship and under the discipline of the church which administers it (1 Cor. 11:20-34). Most Baptist churches hold that any member of any Baptist church is eligible. . . . A brief word should be said about the charge that Baptists are ‘closed communionists.’ To begin with, the Lord’s Supper is not communion between men but between the believer and the Lord. The word ‘communion’ is used only one time with reference to the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10:16). The reference here (1 Cor. 10:16-33) is to the believer eating meat offered to idols. Paul was thinking of the Christian’s union with Christ. All Christian groups which practice baptism hold that it should precede the Lord’s Supper. Baptists say the same thing. The question is, What constitutes New Testament baptism? Thus the difference between Baptists and others is at this point, not about the Supper. Therefore, if Baptists are ‘closed’ anything they are ‘closed-baptismists.’!”

Hobbs, The Baptist Faith and Message (Nashville: Convention Press, 1971)

David Rogers said...

Dear Anonymous,

As I said in my "Coming Clean" post:

"I understand and appreciate the need of some colleagues to remain anonymous due to security concerns."

Please do not interpret what I am saying as a criticism of you or others for choosing to remain anonymous. Even of those who are concerned about a possible reprisal from the BoT. What I am questioning is what has brought us to this point where so many (in addition to those who have legitmate security concerns) feel they need to remain anonymous.

Grace,

David

Greg Hicks said...

Thank you David, for your courage in speaking to this issue. While it is likely safer for you to speak than other missionaries (because of your famous father), it would have been safer still to stay quiet or speak anonymously.

And thank you, Wade for your courage and standing strong in the midst of a controversy which you did not create. Your perseverance is a testimony to us all.

Anonymous said...

To baptist theologue who said, "If baptistic churches allow non-immersed persons to partake of the Lord's Supper, then they are putting their stamp of approval on the disobedience or ignorance of those people who have not yet received biblical immersion."

Have you ever been to an area that is desert? Where the people may bathe once a year because there IS NO great amount of WATER? Have you lived where the rivers and lakes are frozen 9 out of 12 months? Where water is scarce? Do you deny new believers, church membership or participation in the Lord's supper because they aren't baptized (through no fault of their own?) They have not chosen disobedience, they can not realistically baptize at the drop of a hat. This is beside the fact that these believers who have been taught the authority of the scripture, can not find anywhere in the Bible where they should wait (until after baptism) to be obedient in taking the Lord's supper.

We've been there. We are there.

Some believers in this place have taken God's Word and read it, prayed and studied it. They will not deny church membership or participation in the Lord's supper because new believers can't be baptized for 9 months because of the climate. These people are more "baptist" than some baptist Americans.

What do we do? We simply don't call them "baptistic churches" in our tallies each year. They have the Holy Spirit guiding them; their church is their own; not ours, as the missionaries, to dictate to them.

It's frustrating to read opinionated posts, that don't reach outside the western context and ask, "why wouldn't someone be baptized immediately?" without jumping to conclusions and calling these new believers disobedient.

IMB worker

Baptist Theologue said...

Anonymous, I’ll try to answer your questions.

1. “Can you show us--or anyone else--that scripture EXPLICITLY connects being baptized by immersion with partaking of the Lord's Supper?”

I don’t know of any explicit connection in Scripture (in terms of one verse mentioning both together), but I do think there is a logical connection.

Immersion is the first step of obedience following salvation. The Lord’s Supper is a later step of obedience following salvation. These facts should be clear in a baptistic church. The church at Corinth was a baptistic church where immersion occurred, and yet the members were instructed to examine themselves to prepare to partake in a worthy manner. If they had been guilty of disobedience and refused to confess it and repent of it, then they should not have partaken. A non-immersed person visiting a baptistic church should be informed that believer’s immersion is the proper type of baptism. If such a non-immersed person refuses to receive biblical immersion, then he or she is being disobedient and should not partake of the Lord’s Supper. Ignorance is not an excuse that can be used to allow a non-immersed person to partake. Just as unsaved children of church members should not be allowed to partake of the Lord's Supper, so those who have received only infant baptism should not be allowed to partake of the Lord's Supper. In both cases, a teachable moment is provided. Church members can lovingly explain to their children the significance of salvation, biblical immersion, and the Lord's Supper. Church members can also lovingly explain to their friends who have received only infant baptism the significance of salvation, biblical immersion, and the Lord's Supper. Exclusion of both unsaved children and non-immersed adults is thus not an unloving act; rather, it is a loving act that may help them be obedient in the future.

2. “Where is someone EXPLICITLY forbidden from partaking if they have not been baptized?”

Again, I don’t know of any explicit connection in Scripture (in terms of one verse mentioning both together), but I again think there is a logical connection.

When a believer refuses immersion after being informed of it from Scripture, he is in a state of disobedience. Until he confesses that sin and repents of it by being immersed, he should not partake of the Lord’s Supper. Those sprinkled as infants sometimes have not really been saved at some later point and have a false assurance. They should be questioned about their salvation, and if they already received salvation or if they receive it after they are evangelized, then they should be immersed. Erroll Hulse commented on the connection of immersion with the Lord’s Supper:

“There is a problem when the Lord’s Table is not related to believer’s baptism. If those baptized as infants have a right to the table irrespective of evidence of a saving change and holiness of life, a quandary follows. Jonathan Edwards faced this dilemma. He sought to guard the Lord’s Table from evidently unregenerate members. There may have been other reasons for his unpopularity, but this was the primary reason that led to his dismissal from his church in 1750 by a vote of 230 to 23.”

Hulse, “Where I Buried Old Erroll Hulse: A Journey in Believer’s Baptism,” Chapter 8 in Why I Am a Baptist, Tom J. Nettles and Russell Moore, editors (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001)

3. “Where does scripture EXPLICITLY state that ONLY those who have been baptized can be church members?”

Once again, I don’t know of any explicit connection in Scripture (in terms of one verse mentioning both together), but I again think there is a logical connection.

Christians are those people who have repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ. “Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour” (2000 BF&M). This commitment involves obedience. The first step of obedience is immersion. Thus, members of baptistic churches should all be immersed believers. In Scripture, immersion tended to occur immediately after acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior, even if there were large numbers such as the 3,000 in Jerusalem in Acts 2:41. The Great Commission tells us to make disciples, immerse them, and teach them to observe all things God has commanded, including the Lord’s Supper. John Gill commented on the Great Commission:

“Teaching them to observe all things…All ordinances, not only baptism, but the Lord's supper; all positive institutions, and moral duties; all obligations, both to God and men; all relative duties that respect the world, or one another, those that are without, and those that are within; and these are to be taught them, and therefore to be insisted on in the ministry of the word; and not merely in order that they may know them, and have the theory of them, but that the may put them into practice.”

http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/Gills
ExpositionoftheBible/gil.cgi?book=mt&chapter=28&verse=20

4. “Show me where scripture EXPLICITLY states WHO and WHERE someone can be baptized?”

I’ll give you one example. Philip, an elected officer of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:5), immersed the eunoch in the desert after the eunoch said that he believed with all his heart (Acts 8:37).

5. “Show me EXPLICITLY where scripture gives ANY remote basis for an outline of the baptizer's belief in eternal security--or that the baptizer should be some person in an ‘approved’ or ‘appointed’ position.”

Again, Philip was an officer of the church in Jerusalem. Immersion is seen as a one-time burial and resurrection in Scripture. Spurgeon did a nice job connecting this to eternal security. See the following link:

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/1627.htm

6. “Philip found water on a deserted road and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40 ), who "went on his way rejoicing" to Ethiopia--and to which church had he become a member?”

The eunoch was not baptized into the church at Jerusalem, but there was a clear connection to the church in Jerusalem through Philip, an officer of that church.

7. “Exactly which church was the Apostle Paul baptized into in Acts 9:18, since not a few days later he was on the run from Damascus?”

Paul was not baptized into the church at Damascus, but there was a connection to that church through Ananias. The believers in Damascus had communications with the church in Jerusalem (Acts 9:10-13). Notice what John Gill said about Ananias:

“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus…Who perhaps came hither upon the persecution at Jerusalem, or rather might have lived here some time; (Acts 9:13) that he was more than a private or ordinary disciple of Christ seems manifest, from his being sent to Saul on such an, important affair; from his putting his hands upon him, upon which he was filled with the Holy Ghost; and from his baptizing him: some think he was one of the seventy disciples; some say he was a deacon; but it is certain he was not one of the first seven; others affirm he was a presbyter, and some report that he was afterwards bishop of Damascus, and died a martyr there; but these are things not to be depended on.”

http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/GillsExposition
oftheBible/gil.cgi?book=ac&chapter=9&verse=10

8. “And again, which church was Cornelius and his whole household baptized into in Acts 10:47-48, since there was NO church at that point in Caesarea we are told about?”

Peter, as an apostle from the church at Jerusalem, had the authority to have “ordered them to be baptized” (Acts 10:48). Again, there was the connection with a specific church.

9. “WHO exactly were Cornelius and those of his household speaking to when they received the Holy Spirit before being baptized and Peter and those accompanying him heard them ‘speaking in tongues and praising God?’”

Every Christian receives the Holy Spirit before being immersed. The Gentiles may have been speaking a foreign language not understood by the Jews hearing them. This was a Gentile Pentecost.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Anonymous (above),

You asked repeatedly for examples of where the bible EXPLICITLY states certain things. I am sympathetic to your position, but not to your insistence on explicit teachings for every issue.

We do follow the Bible's explicit teachings, wherever they address modern issues directly.

Often, however, the Bible's teachings do not directly address our issues. It is valid in such cases to begin with a scriptural principle and follow a line of reasoning that addresses our specific concern. "If . . . then" is valid for theology, but of course we must be careful that our reasoning is sound.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Anonymous said...

thanks Wade for leading in the stand for truth. as SBC we need to be willing to include those who hold to the same major tenets of the faith, not narrowing the tent. I, too, do not speak in a private prayer language, but if God saw fit to bless me with one, it wouldn't be against Scripture. Paul certainly gives the impression that he spoke with tongues more than all the Corinthians, but that he must be doing most of it privately. If God is so good to ever send us revival, we may all be surprised as to how it displays itself. I, too, know missionaries who are worried about this. we need to help get good people to the field and support them, not try to put restrictions on them not found in Scripture. do we need to show up at the convention? please keep being a brave voice for the Word. I know missionaries who were asked the "tongues" question back when liberals controled the IMB. sounds like our conservatives aren't doing much better with their theology than the liberals. I'm very concerned that we're not including young pastors enough. they don't want to be part of this. i can't blame them.

David Rogers said...

Baptist Theologue, and Anonymous:

Since I was somewhat responsible for starting this discussion, I will answer the points in B.T.'s last post...

Under point 1, the only real discrepancy I have is with the following phrase:

"Ignorance is not an excuse that can be used to allow a non-immersed person to partake."

I know that under the law, ignorance is no excuse. But we are not under the law; we're under grace. Yes, the norm is that someone whose life has been truly touched by God's grace will as a result strive to be obedient to God's commands. But, in my understanding, we admit people into communion with us not on the basis of how well they keep to a list of do's and don'ts, but upon their profession of faith in God's grace. Also, if we see tangible evidence that someone who professes faith is not striving to be obedient to God's commands, I believe we have the obligation to confront them, and if they refuse to repent, exclude them from the privileges of communion. However, someone who sincerely believes they are obeying God's commands regarding baptism, due to a differing interpretation of the Bible, seems like a different category to me.

Also, I agree that the Lord's Supper is a good teaching opportunity. But I believe the main lesson to be taught at this time has to do with the grace of God, and the corresponding communion we have one with another as the Body of Christ. By excluding sincere believers, who differ with us on secondary matters of interpretation, we are, in my opinion, teaching intolerance and exclusivity.

On point 2, I agree that only those who show evidence of being regenerate should be invited to participate. It is ironic to me, though, that you would use a Pedobaptist like Jonathan Edwards to back up your point.

On point 3, I have no serious disagreement with you, though I must humbly admit to my Pedobaptist friends that the Scripture is not quite as clear on this point as I would sometimes like it to be.

On point 4, you give one example of one person who baptized someone, and the place they did it. If we based all our norms in church polity on isolated biblical examples, without corresponding didactic passages to back it up, we would find ourselves in some pretty hot water, in my opinion.

Point 5. See point 4 above.

Points 6, 7 & 8. It is curious to me that out of the specific examples of baptism we have in the New Testament, not one seems to occur in the setting of what we today would call a "church service".

Point 9. It seems hard to avoid the conclusion, if you look at this text objectively, that the function of tongues in this instance was not as an aid to further the proclamation of the Gospel, but rather a "prayer language".

art rogers said...

BT,

I will leave the rest of your post to David, Wade and others. Gene Bridges may come along soon and add more. However, one thing jumped out at me that I must address.

You identify Philip as an officer of the church, seemingly insinuating him as a "qualified administrator."

Philip was appointed (Acts 6:1-6) to "wait on tables," in order to free the apostles/elders of the church to devote themselves to the "ministry of the word." Philip was clearly not an elder in the church and was not a teaching or preaching authority, but was a servant - the original definition of a deacon, not our current culturally influenced version.

To pull him out as a "qualified administrator," he would have had to have moved to the position of elder, which he had not done. Acts 8:1-8 further supports this by saying that the persecution following Stephen's death scattered everyone EXCEPT the apostles. Philip went to Samaria fleeing the persecution and this identifies him as still being outside that select group of the leaders of the church.

Therefore, Philip preached and baptized in Samaria, and with the eunuch, under the authority of being a Christian and no other. He was a servant of the church, not it's leader, and was outside of a local church when this happened. He certainly did not get approval to do any of the these things from the church in Jerusalem, but preached and baptized as any Christian should.

Please note that Peter and John, two of the authorities in the church, came AFTER they heard that there had been some who had accepted the Gospel and had already been baptized. Their involvement came after the work had been done and the contributions of these apostles was to lay hands on the believers. They were not re-baptized by the elders/apostles.

None of these were baptized "into a church," either, especially the eunuch who was sent on his way.

The appeal to Philip cuts across your argument, in my opinion.

Baptist Theologue said...

Art, you said the following:

"You identify Philip as an officer of the church, seemingly insinuating him as a 'qualified administrator.'"

My consistent position in comments on this site has been that the church is the administrator of baptism and that the church decides who will baptize new converts. It is a church ordinance, not a gospel ordinance. In past posts, I pointed out that the Second London Confession and the Philadelphia Confession were interpreted as identifying ordained church officers as the administrators. I do not consider myself to be a Landmarker, but I agree with the classic Landmark position that the church is the administrator of baptism. Bill Leonard, a professor at Southern Seminary and later at Samford University, commented on the Landmark influence on the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message:

"Ecclesiologically, it represents something of a modified Landmarkest approach to issues of local autonomy, ordinances, and democratic idealism."

Leonard, "In Search of the One, True Church: Ecclesiology in The Baptist Faith and Message (1963)," chapter 6 in "Sacred Mandates of Conscience: Interpretations of The Baptist Faith and Message," Jeff Pool, ed. (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc., 1997), page 164.

Leonard also said,

"In many respects, Landmark ecclesiology shaped Southern Baptist understanding of the nature of the church, at least in its popular expression, as no other tradition."

Leonard, "The Church," chapter 6 in "Has Our Theology Changed? Southern Baptist Thought Since 1845," Paul Basden, ed. (Nashville, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), page 167.

It has become fashionable to criticize anything that is identified with Landmarkism, but we must realize that the biblical concept of baptism as a "church ordinance" in Article VII was recognized by Landmarkers and has been accepted by Southern Baptists as a biblical concept.

Baptist Theologue said...

David, you said the following:

"On point 4, you give one example of one person who baptized someone, and the place they did it. If we based all our norms in church polity on isolated biblical examples, without corresponding didactic passages to back it up, we would find ourselves in some pretty hot water, in my opinion."

Your dad, whom I greatly admired, preached a sermon entitled "Believer's Baptism" on October 13, 1991, in the morning service. His text was Acts 8:35. He also referred to Romans 6:4-5 in the sermon. An excerpt:

"It pictures my past redemption, my present regeneration. Now some people got baptized before they ever got saved, so they weren't truly baptized at all."

Several of us, including Art, have been talking about Philip. He was elected as a "proto-deacon" (Acts 6:5). Later he was identified as "Philip the Evangelist" (Acts 21:8). In any case, whether his office changed or not, I believe he was authorized by the Jerusalem church to baptize. When Peter and John showed up in Samaria (Acts 8:14), they did not question Philip's authority to baptize; rather, a Samaritan Pentecost occurred after the praying and laying on of hands.

David Rogers said...

Baptist Theologue,

I believe along with my Dad that someone baptized before their salvation is not truly baptized. I didn't realize that was a point being discussed.

Also, whether Philip was a recognized authority of the Jerusalem church or not, in my opinion, still does not prove the point about the importance of the admistrator of the baptism in order to determine the validity of the baptism. If that is your basis for believing that, it rests on a logical fallacy.

I do agree with Jeff Richard Young's point that we can't always demand explicitness in order to determine biblical principles. However, I still haven't seen a defense of your view that really convinces me yet.

If you want to keep trying, I will be open to listen, though.

Anonymous said...

I have a question that may not fit the depth of this discussion, but hopefully could be addressed. I was raised in a mainline denomination and 'sprinkled' as an infant. I was saved at the age of 14, but was not baptized by immersion until until I turned 18 in 1975. Although my parents did allow me to attend Sunday evening and Wednesday services at the local SB church, they did not want me to join another denomination and of course in their opinion, I had already been baptized. Yet during my high school years I did participate (and was allowed by the church to participate) in the Lord's Supper at the church I attended.

While I did understand that my infant experience did NOT meet the qualifications of authentic baptism, I was of course still under my parent's authority. I would appreciate any comment as to whether or not I was disobedient to scripture to participate in the Lord's Supper before my baptism.

David Rogers said...

Anonymous,

Interesting scenario. Since there are a lot of elements in your story which would have been impossible to transplant to New Testament times, the New Testament obviously doesn't directly deal with your question.

There is the passage about "hating father, mother, etc." and the other one about "obeying God rather than men". However, this has to be contrasted with "Children, obey your parents in the Lord".

I personally would have allowed you to participate, but not without first taking you aside, and clearly explaining the importance of baptism, and making sure you understood that as soon as you were out from under your parents' watchcare, you needed to be baptized.

I'm sure some others will disagree with me here, as they already have over in the comments section on my "Coming Clean" post at my blog.

Baptist Theologue said...

David,

I was not building my whole argument on Philip. In my earlier post to Anonymous, I said, "I’ll give you one example. Philip. . ."

Philip is frequently cited as an example when discussing baptism. Your dad used him in his "Believer's Baptism" sermon where the text was Acts 8:35-39.

You said, "If that is your basis for believing that, it rests on a logical fallacy."

Philip was not my only basis for believing that baptism is a church ordinance rather than a gospel ordinance. Let me try to provide you with a logical argument using modus ponens and modus tollens arguments.

Modus ponens:
1. If A, then B.
2. A is true.
3. Therefore, B is true.

1. If God commands only a group to administrate/authorize something, then only a group should administrate/authorize it.

2. God commanded only a group to administrate/authorize baptism in the New Testament

3. Therefore, only a group should administrate/authorize it.

Modus tollens:
1. If A, then B.
2. B is not true.
3. Therefore, A is not true.

1. If God commands an individual alone, apart from the authority of a local church, to administrate something, then the individual alone, apart from the authority of a local church, should administrate it.

2. A lone individual, apart from the authority of a local church, did not administrate baptism in the New Testament.

3. Therefore, God did not command an individual alone, apart from the authority of a local church, to administrate it.

An example would be Paul. He received an individual commission from Jesus, but Jesus "sent me not to baptize" (1 Cor. 1:17, KJV). Paul, however, did baptize (1 Cor. 1:14, 16). His authority to baptize came not from his personal commission (Acts 26:16-18); rather, it came from the commission to the group that would start other churches (Matt. 28:16, 19). Paul said that he did not want people to say that they were baptized in Paul's name (1 Cor. 1:15).