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

Creeping Creedalism, Clericalism and Sacerdotalism: The Unintentional Error of Good People Who Lose Sight of What Is Important

I am very positive and hopeful about the future of the Southern Baptist Convention and the cooperative efforts of all our churches to reach the world for Christ. I intend this post to be my last post expressing any disagreement with the 2005 IMB baptism and private prayer language policies/guidelines - the impetus for the beginning of this blog, Grace and Truth to You. I will emphasize in this post, again, what I believe to be the major error the majority of trustees (not all) made in adopting two doctrinal policies that exceed the 2000 BFM, and in my opinion, violate the teaching of Scripture. As such, this post represents my final public disagreement over the adoption of the Board approved 2005 doctrinal policies and guidelines.

As I have stated from the beginning, the IMB trustees who served with me in 2005, many of whom are now no longer serving, are all godly men and women who desire what is best for the SBC, and they would never dream of doing anything to harm the SBC - nor would I. There is simply a difference of opinion over whether or not the new policies are healthy for the SBC, and with this final post, I will articulate why I believe the baptismal guideline is creedal, clerical and sacerdotal - and very unhealthy in the long run for SBC cooperative mission work.

The Issue Explained

In my December 10, 2007 post, I rejoiced over the missionary efforts of a team from Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee while in India. My post was written to point out that the baptisms of these women, according to the new 2005 IMB baptismal guideline, would be considered invalid. Read carefully the fourth part of the statement on baptism in the new IMB guideline:

"Baptism is a church ordinance and therefore the only proper administrator of it is a local New Testament church that holds to a proper view of salvation."

Further, the IMB Position Paper that interprets this new guideline states:

"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."

My point in the December 10, 2007 remains clear and unrefuted: "There was no 'local church' present at the baptism of these Hindu women." The baptisms did not take place, as the guideline requires, in a local church.

How is that hard to understand? The baptisms of these Hindu women would be deemed 'invalid' according to the guideline. If some wish to argue that the baptisms in India ARE valid - go for it! That is exactly what I am saying. These baptisms in India, conducted OUTSIDE (not 'in') a local church ARE valid, ARE biblical, and ARE the norm on how a convert should be baptized on the mission field. But, these baptisms are in violation of a poorly written IMB guideline. In visiting with Steve Marcum, the missions pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church, it is clear that these women had 'connections' with local churches from where they came, and there were pastors of 'local churches' at the conference where these baptisms were performed, but they were NOT performed "IN A LOCAL CHURCH." They were all performed before many witnesses, in front an 'assembly' (not a local church) of Christians from many backgrounds, and at great personal sacrifice to the converts (threat of persecution, disownership by family, etc . . .), BUT THE BAPTISMS WERE NOT ADMINISTERED IN A LOCAL CHURCH. These baptisms were performed OUTSIDE a local church. This is exactly how Baptist theologian John Gill stated a biblical baptism should be peformed in his classic work 'A Body of Practical Divinity:'

Baptism is not an ordinance administered in the church, but out of it, and in order to admission into it, and communion with it; it is preparatory to it, and a qualification for it; it does not make a person a member of a church, or admit him into a visible church; persons must first be baptized, and then added to the church, as the three thousand converts were; a (local) church has nothing to do with the baptism of any, but to be satisfied they are baptized before they are admitted into communion with it.


I commend Bellevue Baptist Church and Missions Pastor Steve Marcum for their mission work and for their desire to see the lost in India saved. I also commend the India pastors who were present at the conference for their desire to involve the converts in discipleship through local congregations of worship in the ladies' home towns. I, and everyone else, should applaud Bellevue for holding the conference and providing a place of security for these women to be baptized. However, don't lose sight of the point of my post -- there was NO LOCAL CHURCH PRESENT - in assembly, in communion, in worship, or in function as a witness to the baptisms or granting 'authority' (whatever that means) - for these baptisms.

The Women LEFT the Conference to JOIN a LOCAL Baptist Church?

The following Sunday, all around the India - in the towns from whence these women came - 'local churches' received these newly baptized converts into their membership. As we would do at our church, the 'local church' Baptist pastors, some of whom may have even been at the conference, would introduce the new convert to the congregation and have the woman share her testimony of faith in Christ and that woman would petition to join that 'local assmbly' upon examination of her faith AND BAPTISM. The woman probably said something like this . . .

"The Spirit of God has led me to see my need of Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord. Last week I had the glorious experience of making public my faith in Christ at a conference sponsored by Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee. I, along with several other women from across our state made it known publicly that we were followers of Jesus Christ. I had the privilege - before many witnesses - to declare my solemn faith in Jesus Christ through baptism. I WISH YOU HAD BEEN THERE!"

The pastor of the local church might then stand and say something like this:

If you rejoice in our sister's testimony of conversion and wish to receive this sister in our fellowship, say, 'Hallelujah!' The congregation would then 'affirm' or 'vote' for this new convert to be a member of the 'local church.' But the baptism this convert and the vote for membership into the 'local church' WERE TWO SEPARATE THINGS.

Why Is This Such An Important Issue?

Allow me to relate a personal story that by now is a familiar story to many of you. A young man from Africa came to Enid, Oklahoma. He grew up Muslim. But years ago he was led to faith in Christ by a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) evangelist in his native Niger. This young man was radically saved. He asked the YWAM evangelist if he would baptize him as a testimony of his faith in Christ before his entire family. Several Christians from the area gathered together, along with the new convert's family (who were all Muslim), to witness the baptism. When the young man gave his testimony of faith in Christ and then went down into the waters in believer's baptism, the Christians witnessing the baptism (much like those witnessing the baptisms in India), applauded and wept. The young man's family witnessed the baptism and promptly disowned him.

Eventually the young man made his way from Africa to Enid where he shared with Emmanuel Baptist Church, the 'local church,' his very moving testimony of faith in Christ and the account of his baptism - which cost him everything of material value (his home, his family, his job, etc . . .). Our local church (much like the local churches in India), was NOT present at the convert's baptism. Yet, we heard his testimony of faith and the story of his baptism and we promptly shouted 'Hallelujah' when asked if we desired to receive him into our 'local church' membership.

This Muslim convert, a member of our 'local church' for the next several years, eventually desired to be appointed for missionary service (late 2005)through the IMB. His pastor (me) would be told that he would not be appointed for missionary service through the IMB because his baptism did not qualify. According to the new 2005 baptism policy the Muslim convert was not baptized 'in a local church.' When I pointed out that 'our local church' had received his baptism as valid, I was told by trustees pushing the new policy that the administrator of this young man's baptism was not a valid administrator of the ordinance, and thus, the missionary candidate's baptism was not valid. When I asked to be shown biblically how, and why, this young man's baptism was not valid it could not be done. I was simpy told for the young man to qualify as a missionary for the IMB - according to the new guidelines - he would have to be 'baptized' again "in his local church - Emmanuel Baptist Church." We refused on the basis that we would not denigrate Christ's ordinance of baptism by ruling invalid that which God himself calls valid. I was then told that for the young man to become an IMB missionary he would have to join another Southern Baptist church that would be willing to baptize him. Soon after I began this blog to register my dissent to such an absurd, unbiblical policy.

What Is At Stake for the Southern Baptist Convention

When we come to the place in our convention that we are more concerned with the tightening and narrowing of the qualifications of the person who can legitimately baptize than we are that a sinner is actually being baptized upon his profession of faith in Jesus Christ, we are in danger of becoming more sacerdotal than our Roman Catholic friends.

When we are more concerned about the 'authority' of the local church than we are the authority of Jesus Christ, the Southern Baptist Convention is becoming more clerical than the Vatican.

When an agency or a board of the Southern Baptist Convention can tell a 'local church,' that the baptism of a missionary candidate from their church, which they (the members of the church) have received as biblical and valid (by immersion, after coming to faith in Christ, etc . . . ) is NOT a biblical and valid baptism according to the trustees of the IBM because the administrator of that baptism was not part of a 'local church that believed in eternal security,' then the Southern Baptist Convention is becoming more hierchial than Roman Catholicism herself.

Last time I checked, I was a Southern Baptist. And, until Jesus comes or calls me home, I will do everything in my power to keep our beloved Southern Baptist Convention from giving in to what I perceive to be a creeping creedalism, clericalism, and sacerdotalism that could eat away at the soul of our Convention if left unchecked.


In His Grace,


Wade

Postscript

For those who may be interested, the seventh performance of this year's Emmanuel Baptist Church Christmas Pageant will be broadcast over the internet LIVE tonight, December 12, 2007, at 7:30 p.m. Central Time. The Christmas Pageant will also be archived for later viewing. My son Logan and I are the narrators for the last half. It's been a hoot working with Logan. He's a natural!

111 comments:

irreverend fox said...

Brother Wade,

you have said enough...well done...and thank you.

God help us all.

Anonymous said...

How can any Southern Baptists with a modicum of Scriptural knowledge and logical sense not understand what you have written?

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

Amen

Amen

and Amen again

To all,

I invite you to read Ekklesia by John Reisinger.

http://www.soundofgrace.com/jgr/

othoniel a valdes sr said...

Thank You Lord

othoniel a valdes sr said...

Correction & Clarification
Thank You Lord for Endings

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

If you are interpreting the IMB Guidelines on Baptism that strictly, I can better understand why you have been censured.

Brother, you are really straining gnats to swallow camels if you are interpreting in a local church to mean inside a local church.

Blessings,
Tim

Anam Cara said...

Tim, please read carefully what Wade said:

His pastor (me) would be told
that he would not be appointed for missionary service through the IMB because his baptism did not qualify. According to the new 2005 baptism policy the Muslim convert was not baptized 'in a local church.'

Note the use of the passive voice. Wade didn't interpret it that way. He was told by the powers that be that the baptism was invalid.

Anonymous said...

Okay Otto, you got the message? You can go do something else now.

Anything else.

Anywhere else.

Tom Parker said...

I never have understood how if someone has a private prayer language someone can ask them if they do. If it is private, then why are they asked? If they say they do, am I right in that they have disqualified themselves from Southern Baptist missionary service?

jasonk said...

Wade, you said that the SBC is becoming like the RCC. To quote the great Andy Griffith, "Boy, you're already there."

The SBC is worse than the RCC, because the RCC is so large it cannot police its every entity. The SBC is still "small" enough to police every church, every voice, within its confines. The idea of the autonomy of the local church is effectively over, and the SBC as it used to be is gone.

As a teenager, I always wondered why we voted on a person who came forward to join the church. Then when I became a staff member, teenagers voiced the same question. If a person comes forward and testifies to their conversion and baptism, who are we to validate that with a vote of the congregation? And what if a person steps forward to voice their testimony, and the church votes them down? I still don't get that.

Bill said...

So who's going to step up and say that denying a missionary appointment to the young convert in Wade's church was the right thing to do?

Re-baptism of a biblically baptized Christian ought to be a jarring offense to our sensibilities. It cheapens and sullies the ordinance and we ought to be ashamed each and every time it happens and those who promote it should be doubly ashamed.

Baptist Theologue said...

Here is the relevant part of the guideline on baptism that appears on the IMB website as of May 11, 2007:

a. Baptism is a church ordinance.
Baptism must take place under the authority of a local church that practices believer’s baptism alone, embraces the doctrine of the security of a believer’s salvation and does not view baptism as sacramental, regenerative or essential to salvation.

b. A candidate who has not been baptized under the authority of a local church, which meets the standards listed above, is expected to request baptism in his or her Southern Baptist church.

http://imb.org/main/news/
details.asp?StoryID=5587

(The baptisms in India took place under the authority of local churches, as this guideline states.)

Bill said...

BT: Was the authority that of the church sending the evangelist? So a local church in country A can authorize someone to baptize in country B even though native of country B will never be a member of the church in country A?

Or is the authority in this situation granted implicitly by the local pastors who may or may not have been present at the baptism of these ladies? I'd like to see someone argue that.

Wade Burleson said...

Tim Rogers,

You said,

If you are interpreting the IMB Guidelines on Baptism that strictly, I can better understand why you have been censured.

Brother, you are really straining gnats to swallow camels if you are interpreting in a local church to mean inside a local church.


Anam cara answered you

Wade didn't interpret it that way. He was told by the powers that be that the baptism was invalid.

Tim, Anam cara is absolutely correct. The issue is not interpretation. The issue is our church member who has been told he cannot serve as a missionary from our church because the baptism his 'local church' ACCEPTED is not valid.

I am more than happy to be censured for speaking out against that injustice, and would have done the same thing had I to do it all over again under penalty of death.

Blessings,

Wade

Monte said...

Wade,

Shortly before leaving the mission field, I sat across from a beloved missionary friend and colleague of mine. He was frustrated with us that we would not sign the BF&M. I told him that we couldn't sign it because it wouldn't end here. It would grow, escalate, and become much bigger than all of us if it went unchecked. He looked at me and said, "I don't believe that. There's not a platform with the SBC for that to happen." Hmmm, here we are some 5-and-a-half years later... No platform? I think it was built several years ago, and pushed into the middle of us like a Trojan Horse.

David Richardson said...

Wade, I fully agree with your conclusions on creeping creedalism. Actually, I've had this same concern for a while. Well stated, sir. Keep up the good work!!

Baptist Theologue said...

If the missionary is sent to a country or people group where there are no local churches, then obviously the authority to baptize comes from the missionary's home church. In the case under discussion, there were obviously local church connections, and the women baptized could be quickly assimilated into those local churches. The local pastors present as representatives of those churches were evidence that those baptisms were authorized by the local churches involved.

Baptist Theologue said...

My last comment was in answer to Bill's question to me.

Darby Livingston said...

The issue, as I see it, is the trumping of the autonomy of the local church. Jesus was pleased to leave the church in the hands of local church elders after the apostles were gone. I don't see any biblical rationale for authority above that level. Service and cooperation, yes. Authority to dictate to local churches, no. Clearly one cannot serve God and money. So when those holding the money choose to use it as a ground for trumping the only human authority structure Christ recognizes, maybe it's time to end a message by stopping the flow of money. I think Wade would disagree with my remedy. :)

Steve said...

One problem with creeping creedalism is just how creepy the creed-writers sound after a while!
Good post Wade, you've said it all.

Wade Burleson said...

Tom Parker,

Yes, you are right. Go back and read my blog for information. Do a search and you will find plenty of material.

GuyMuse said...

To me, the crux of the matter is stated when you write...

"...the administrator of this young man's baptism was not a valid administrator of the ordinance, and thus, the missionary candidate's baptism was not valid. When I asked to be shown biblically how, and why, this young man's baptism was not valid it could not be done. I was simpy told for the young man to qualify as a missionary for the IMB - according to the new guidelines - he would have to be 'baptized' again "in his local church..."

After two full years of wondering about this myself, I am still waiting for the Biblical answer as to why this man's baptism is not valid and requires rebaptism?

He, of course, is sadly only one of countless other cases. My own daughter, baptized on her profession of faith by her grandfather (a missionary for 33 years) in a muddy South American river in the presence of believers from several house churches (along with dozens of non-believers standing by watching) would likewise have to be rebaptized if she ever decides to become an IMB missionary.

My point is simply this: someone please show us a clear New Testament Biblical basis, verse by verse, that this policy is built upon. Make it a part of our annual missionary gatherings to open Scripture together and study the baptism passages together.

After 2000 years of baptizing believers in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit upon their profession of faith in Christ, why NOW are we beginning to add in new extra-biblical requirements for those baptisms to be valid?

Wade Burleson said...

Baptist Theologue,

If you truly believe what you just said in your answer to Bill - which is opposite of what I have been told by people who must be far more Landmark than you - then you and I have NO disagreement.

I am advocating that a missionary - appointed by a local church IN HIS HOME COUNTRY - has the authority OF HIS LOCAL CHURCH IN THE STATES to baptize on the mission field - male or female - and that baptism is not associated with an OFFICER of the church. The new convert then must quickly assimilate into the discipleship of a local church in his native land - IF THERE IS ONE - and if there is not one, must quickly work to establish a local fellowship of believers.

Pay careful attention to what you wrote:

If the missionary is sent to a country or people group where there are no local churches, then obviously the authority to baptize comes from the missionary's home church.

Do you really believe that? If so, then I am sorry for the incredible miscommunication between you and me. WHAT YOU JUST SAID, my friend, is EXACTLY what I have been saying the Bible teaches.

By the way, a majority of our IMB missionaries are female. Do you have a problem with that fact?

:)

Wade Burleson said...

Guymuse,

Well said.

Bill said...

BT: Just so I'm clear. If I, as a pastor (I'm not) attend a baptismal service led by an itinerant evangelist, I am by default, granting that evangelist authority to baptize by the church I pastor.

So if Wade had stood by the water where the young Muslim convert had been baptized, the man would be fit for missionary service in the SBC?

Wade Burleson said...

Monte,

I hope you take what I am about to write the way I mean it. I am continuing in my service, regardless of the number of censures, recommendations for removals, etc. . .

BECAUSE of people like you. There should be no more Montes - conservative, Bible-believing, Christ-loving missionaries - who are forced to resign because they will not conform to demands they hold to extra-biblical guidelines or policies.

Wade Burleson said...

Bill,

Good question. You are getting to the heart of the issue. Whose authority? Is it the pastor? Is it the congregation? Is it Christ?

The policy says the congregation (i.e. 'IN a local church'). Tim Rogers, who does not understand what is happening says, 'Shoot, the pastor is the authority.' The Bible says Christ is the authority and the candidate for baptism is the convert, the administrator of baptism is the evangelist.

Go . . . Teach . . . and Baptize

The GREAT COMMISSION.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

Do you believe the "security of the believer" is necessary for true baptism? Or just any immersion? For example, should a Church of Christ or a Pentecostal baptism be valid?

John B.

Wade Burleson said...

John B,

What makes a baptism 'valid' is what the convert being baptized 'believes.'

For instance, if a member of a Southern Baptist church were coming to our church, we would examine him like we would anyone else. We would ask him, 'What is the basis for your belief that your sins are forgiven.'

If he told us that he attended his Baptist Church at the age of 9 to watch the Power Team and raised his hand becuase he didn't want to go to hell and wanted to quickly go eat pizza, but he had no concept of who Christ is, and what Christ has done for him personally, we would not recognize his baptism as valid EVEN IF IT WERE FROM A SBC CHURCH. The same would be true from a Pentecostal or a Christian church.

Wade Burleson said...

Off to Ministry.

Can't answer any more questions till later.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

So would you 'require' the person who had formerly been baptized to believe in the 'security of the believer?'

John B.

Monte said...

Thank you, Wade,

Your words are greatly affirming. I do hope for the future and Southern Baptists. God knows our hearts and our struggle.

Hope you all are doing OK. Oklahoma has it sort of rough right now with all the ice. Have a sister in Stillwater, and parents in Tulsa. Parents are without electricity. Our fellow Okies are on our hearts and in our prayers.

Wade Burleson said...

John B.

Nope.

Is his faith in Christ? Yes.

Is Christ his only hope? Yes.

Does he sometimes wonder if God will stop loving him and damn him? Yes.

Does that doubt negate the everlasting love of God to His elect? Nope.

Blessings,

Wade

Baptist Theologue said...

Wade, let me clarify an earlier issue before I answer your comments and questions for me. The revised 2007 guideline for baptism uses the phrase “under the authority of a local church” rather than the phrase “in a church” which is found in the IMB position paper quoted by you. Note the differences:

2006 position paper: “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.”

2007 revised guideline: “Baptism must take place under the authority of a local church that practices believer’s baptism alone, embraces the doctrine of the security of a believer’s salvation and does not view baptism as sacramental, regenerative or essential to salvation.”

Thus, the 2007 phrase “under the authority of a local church” should be recognized as the official guideline.

Now back to your comments. You said,

“I am advocating that a missionary - appointed by a local church IN HIS HOME COUNTRY - has the authority OF HIS LOCAL CHURCH IN THE STATES to baptize on the mission field - male or female - and that baptism is not associated with an OFFICER of the church.”

You seem to be arguing that any church member of any church automatically has the authority to baptize. We could go back to our discussion of a couple of years ago about the little Christian boy baptizing his friend in a swimming pool without being given the authority to do so by his local church. Let me again outline my position:

The local church has the authority for baptism. It is the administrator, not its officers. It has the ultimate authority over who can baptize whom. Churches decide on their own baptismal guidelines. Most SBC churches delegate both the examination of candidates and the performance of the baptisms to their pastors. A local church can, however, delegate those tasks to other members, even children. Your position seemed to be that the church did not need to authorize the child to perform the baptism before he performed it. If I remember correctly, you said the church could decide to accept that baptism after it occurred (without authorizing it in advance). If your church had previously voted to allow any of its members to examine candidates and perform baptisms in the future, then such a baptism would have been authorized by the church, but I don’t think that previous vote was part of the hypothetical scenario we discussed. You also said, while quoting me, the following:

“ ‘If the missionary is sent to a country or people group where there are no local churches, then obviously the authority to baptize comes from the missionary's home church.’ Do you really believe that? If so, then I am sorry for the incredible miscommunication between you and me. WHAT YOU JUST SAID, my friend, is EXACTLY what I have been saying the Bible teaches.”

I think we differ, however, in the notion that every member of every local church automatically has the authority to examine candidates and baptize them. I believe that the local church must authorize the baptisms by deciding who can examine the candidates and who can perform the baptisms. You asked,

“By the way, a majority of our IMB missionaries are female. Do you have a problem with that fact?”

No, I have no problem with that fact. I do believe that only men should serve in the offices of pastor and deacon. Most of our missionaries have not served and will not serve in those offices.

Baptist Theologue said...

Bill, you said,

“BT: Just so I'm clear. If I, as a pastor (I'm not) attend a baptismal service led by an itinerant evangelist, I am by default, granting that evangelist authority to baptize by the church I pastor.”

Not necessarily. My understanding is that Bellevue helped plant churches in that area and that the pastors of those churches understood and approved of the baptismal procedure.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

I apologize for pressing the issue, I am just trying to make sure I understand. If you will allow me one more question for the sake of clarity. (I thought of a couple of different ways I could interpret the last response. My fault, I am sure).

1). Would EBC in Enid accept a member that did not hold to the security of the believer?

(Two questions please?)

2). Should the IMB accept a missionary who does not hold to the security of the believer?

John B.

Wade Burleson said...

Baptist Theologue,

I do believe, in the end, we are much closer in our understanding than either of us first realized. One final question: You said I believe that the local church must authorize the baptisms by deciding who can examine the candidates and who can perform the baptisms.

Which local church authorized the baptisms in India?

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade:

Next stop: A new fundamental Baptist distinctive.

The priesthood of all churches (SBC only, of course). That would be a step beyond the current fundamental baptist distinctive:

The priesthood of the local church.

I can hardly wait.

:)

Alan Stoddard said...

WOW! You nailed it Wade. Jesus asked people to follow Him. Man had taken the basic symbolism and made it hard. That is Pharisaical to biblical proportions. I think God looks at a person's heart in following in baptism rather than the administrator's heart in doing the baptizing.

I was re-baptized when I was a Pastor just 4 years ago. does that mean the baptisms I performed are invalid? I don't think so. God honors the person's desire in following.

Bill said...

BT: Well and good. I haven't perceived that in what I have seen on these threads. All I've heard is that the women had "local church connections", which is a far cry from "the churches where the women would end up becoming members were planted by Bellevue and had representatives at the baptismal service where they authorized the evangelist to perform baptisms."

Wade Burleson said...

John B.

(1). Yes. We believe that after listening to my preaching for six weeks they would be convinced of their error. :)

(2). No. Our missionaries are to be the cream of the crop theologically and no Arminian qualifies as cream of the crop theologically. :)

How's that? wink

Wade Burleson said...

Bill,

The churches from whence these women came were not planted by Bellevue.

I do not know where BT gets his information.

In His Grace,

wade

Anonymous said...

Wade,

Thank you.

John B.

Wade Burleson said...

Baptist Theologue,

In your kind, and articulate manner, I would like for you to answer the following based upon your insightful statement that the paper interpreting the baptismal guideline has changed from baptism being 'in a local church' to 'under the authority of a local church.'

Question (1): I pastor a 'local church' (Emmanuel Baptist Church). My 'local church' has given approval of the testimony of a membership candidate regarding his faith and baptism. The baptism of the candidate for membership was by immersion, AFTER coming to faith in Christ, and the person baptized did not believe in baptismal regeneration. ON WHAT HIGHER AUTHORITY DOES THE IMB BOARD OF TRUSTEES LATER NULLIFY THE AUTHORITY OF MY LOCAL CHURCH BY RULING THE BAPTISM INVALID?

That has happened. It is not a hypothetical. I would like for you to answer how the IMB BOT has a higher authority then my local Southern Baptist Church?

Question (2): If our local church 'authorizes a person' to baptize on the mission field, under what authority does the IMB say to the missionary from our church - you cannot baptize?

I am also interested in your answer to that question.

If, you wind up saying that the local church is the highest authority, and you agree that I am simply attempting to keep the BOT from becoming a hierarchal organization that subverts the authority of the local church ---

Then we agree. :)

greg hicks said...

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:16-20, NIV)

Christ's Great Commission commands (make disciples, baptize, teach) are to his disciples. The command to baptize is a command to disciples and it is all the authorization any disciple needs to baptize.

As such, I am not following the arguements being made that someone needs to be "authorized" to baptize by a local church... much less the IMB policies.

Wade Burleson said...

Greg Hicks,

Join the club.

:)

However, to show the inconsistency of an unbiblical policy you have to meet people where they are - and so the discussion on 'authority' is necessary because there are all kinds of problems when you try to trace proper authority - apart from the simple instructions of Christ - the ultimate authority.

Baptist Theologue said...

Wade, I’ll try to answer your questions and comment:

1. “Which local church authorized the baptisms in India?”

My answer: My impression is that more than one local church authorized the baptisms in India.

2. “The churches from whence these women came were not planted by Bellevue. I do not know where BT gets his information.”

My comment: Your comment came after I said the following to Bill: “My understanding is that Bellevue helped plant churches in that area and that the pastors of those churches understood and approved of the baptismal procedure.” I stand by that comment. I contacted the Bellevue missions office again. Steve Marcum was not there, but I did talk to some folks in the office. From that conversation, my impression is that Bellevue did not help plant all the churches in the area, but they did help with some of them. I was a member at Bellevue during my IMB years. I am now a church planter/pastor in Fayette County, so my membership is no longer at Bellevue. Bellevue has worked with Wade Akins to do church planting conferences in India. Wade has done church planting conferences all around the world as an IMB missionary. He is the author of Pioneer Evangelism. Wade is probably directly or indirectly responsible for more church starts than any other IMB missionary.

3. “I pastor a 'local church' (Emmanuel Baptist Church). My 'local church' has given approval of the testimony of a membership candidate regarding his faith and baptism. The baptism of the candidate for membership was by immersion, AFTER coming to faith in Christ, and the person baptized did not believe in baptismal regeneration. ON WHAT HIGHER AUTHORITY DOES THE IMB BOARD OF TRUSTEES LATER NULLIFY THE AUTHORITY OF MY LOCAL CHURCH BY RULING THE BAPTISM INVALID?”

My answer: I don’t remember all the particulars of the case you are discussing. Let me propose a hypothetical one that could deal with the issue without getting too personal/emotional about an actual case. Let’s say that a person has truly surrendered his life to Christ in repentance and faith due to the witness of a Southern Baptist evangelist holding a tent revival in a town where there is only one church—a Church of Christ. Unfortunately, the Southern Baptist evangelist does not make any effort to start an SBC church, and he simply leaves town. The new convert reads his Bible and sees that baptism is a step of obedience, but he doesn’t read Romans 6:4-6 that makes it clear that baptism represents a permanent burial of the old life. (As Spurgeon said in 1881 while commenting on the passage, “Death and burial are irrevocable.”) The new convert decides to be immersed at the local Church of Christ baptistery. The Church of Christ folks hear about his experience and try to fill in the missing links concerning the necessity of baptism for eternal life. The new convert listens with some confusion but agrees to be baptized in their baptistery. Before he is immersed, the person performing the baptism affirms to the onlookers that this baptism is necessary for eternal life (the wrong message for this public profession of faith). The new convert moves to another town a few months later and runs into the evangelist who had proclaimed the gospel to him. The evangelist invites him to come to his local SBC church. Should that SBC church accept his Church of Christ baptism? I say that it should not. There is a group aspect to an individual’s baptism, and the group aspect was flawed in this hypothetical case. Suppose that the SBC church accepts his Church of Christ immersion and the man then applies to the IMB to be a missionary. Should the IMB accept his Church of Christ immersion because that SBC church accepted it? I say that the IMB should not accept his Church of Christ immersion. Any SBC church can make serious mistakes. The association is usually the theological watchdog in such cases. The IMB does not have to accept the errant decision of a particular SBC church.

4. “If our local church 'authorizes a person' to baptize on the mission field, under what authority does the IMB say to the missionary from our church - you cannot baptize?”

My answer: If your local church sends and employs a missionary independently of the IMB, then your church certainly has complete authority over the policies to be followed by that church member/employee. If he does not agree with the policies of your local church, then he should resign or agree to abide by them in spite of his disagreement. If the person is serving as an IMB missionary, however, he is an employee of a corporation. If he does not agree with the policies of that corporation, then he should resign or agree to abide by them in spite of his disagreement. Whether a missionary resigns or abides by particular policies with which he disagrees depends on the seriousness of the doctrinal issue involved. The IMB missionary represents not just one local church; rather, he represents many. The many churches elect the SBC president, who nominates the Committee on Committees, etc. Eventually the trustees who are nominated reflect the will of the many churches. They represent those churches, and they determine various missionary policies.

Greg, you said,

“Christ's Great Commission commands (make disciples, baptize, teach) are to his disciples. The command to baptize is a command to disciples and it is all the authorization any disciple needs to baptize.”

Remember that the command was given to a group, not an individual. Of course, there were individuals in the group. Baptism, however, is not an individual activity. One person baptizing himself in private is not normative. There is a definite group aspect to baptism. The symbolism is important for a group to see. A profession of faith is being made to a group by the individual being immersed.

Cheryl Schatz said...

Wade, I am honored to award you with the Roar for Powerful words award.

http://strivetoenter.com/wim/
2007/12/12/roar-for-blogging-powerful-words/

It seems that it all started with this interesting fellow in New Zealand who wanted to encourage “good, powerful writing on the Internet/Blogosphere.” So in order to increase exposure to his writers circle called “Shameless Lions” and to demonstrate that there are good bloggers out there producing valuable stuff, he created the “Roar Award.” He thought that it was also a good opportunity to stimulate thought about “exactly what it is that makes writing good and powerful.”

As a recipient of the Roar for Powerful words award, you are asked to define those qualities of writing that you find essential to writing good and powerful blog posts. You may also choose and distribute the award to five other “blogs I love, can’t live without where I think the writing is good and powerful.”

Wade your courage, the way that you tell the truth with love and the fact that you "think outside the box" when you are confronted with man-made traditions, makes you a perfect example of this Powerful Words Award. Blessings!

Wade Burleson said...

Cheryl,

I am honored to receive the award from you, and will do my best to pass it on to others, though you yourself would receive it from me.

Blessings,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Baptist Theologue,

Thank you for your answers. However, respectfully, your answer to question three is woefully lacking:

I asked you:

(3). “I pastor a 'local church' (Emmanuel Baptist Church). My 'local church' has given approval of the testimony of a membership candidate regarding his faith and baptism. The baptism of the candidate for membership was by immersion, AFTER coming to faith in Christ, and the person baptized did not believe in baptismal regeneration. ON WHAT HIGHER AUTHORITY DOES THE IMB BOARD OF TRUSTEES LATER NULLIFY THE AUTHORITY OF MY LOCAL CHURCH BY RULING THE BAPTISM INVALID?”

You answered I don’t remember all the particulars of the case you are discussing and then you offered an absurd hypothetical.

I am giving you a concrete example with full details - in this POST - and yet you answer based upon some hypothetical that has nothing to do with the issues.

But, to answer your hypothetical. If any 'new convert' doesn't have enough sense to know that baptismal waters do not regenerate him, but that it is faith in Christ alone - and His work on Calvary - that restores his soul, then, then the problem is not his baptism, it is his faith.

So if in your hypothetical, the 'new convert' came to our church - after being 'baptized' in a place where it was PUBLICLY STATED THE WATERS SAVE HIM - we would definitely baptize him - but we would FIRST make sure he even understood what he was believing.

Now, read the facts of the YWAM evangelist, a conservative, evangelical proclaimer of the gospel, leading to faith in Christ the Muslim - and then baptizing him - and then WE (the local church called Emmanuel Baptist Church) ACCEPT THE CONVERTED MUSLIM in our church based upon his faith and BAPTISM. This is not your absurd hypothetical - it is real. Now please answer the question:

ON WHAT HIGHER AUTHORITY DOES THE IMB BOARD OF TRUSTEES LATER NULLIFY THE AUTHORITY OF MY LOCAL CHURCH BY RULING THE BAPTISM INVALID?”

The baptism is biblical - by immersion, after trusting Christ, and the convert did not trust in the waters for his salvation. What is wrong with this baptism?

It seems to me that your unwillingness to answer the question gives evidence of a feeling that if you answer the way you know you should, then your whole system of 'authority' crumbles.

greg hicks said...

34 The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. (Acts 8:34-38)

Baptist Theologue,

Looking forward to seeing the theological gymnastics necessary to make Acts 8:26-40 fit your view...

Baptist Theologue said...

Wade, you said,

“You answered I don’t remember all the particulars of the case you are discussing and then you offered an absurd hypothetical.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you discussed the particulars of this case (the details/circumstances of the baptism) a long time ago, and I honestly don’t remember them. I am also not aware of the beliefs held by the evangelist/examiner (such as a belief in perseverance/eternal security) and what he told/asked the baptismal candidate. I am unaware whether there was a local church connection to the baptism. Remember that I said the following: “Let me propose a hypothetical one that could deal with the issue without getting too personal/emotional about an actual case.” The case you mentioned is probably fairly personal/emotional to those involved, and I would prefer to keep the focus on the theological issue, not the personalities. You stated,

“So if in your hypothetical, the 'new convert' came to our church - after being 'baptized' in a place where it was PUBLICLY STATED THE WATERS SAVE HIM - we would definitely baptize him - but we would FIRST make sure he even understood what he was believing.”

Remember, however, that the problem with Church of Christ immersion is not only their belief in baptismal regeneration, it’s also their belief that salvation can be lost. Thus, the public symbolism expressed in Romans 6:4-6 is lost. Spurgeon discussed the symbolism of baptism in his sermon of Oct. 30, 1881:

“The next thought in baptism is burial. . . . The grave is the place—I do not know where to get a word—of the settledness of death; for when a man is dead and buried you never expect to see him come home again: so far as this world is concerned, death and burial are irrevocable. . . If we have been once raised from dead works we shall never go back to them again. I may sin, but sin can never have dominion over me; I may be a transgressor and wander much from my God, but never can I go back to the old death again.”

Spurgeon, “Baptism—A Burial,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 27 (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971), pp. 624-625.

You also asked,

“ON WHAT HIGHER AUTHORITY DOES THE IMB BOARD OF TRUSTEES LATER NULLIFY THE AUTHORITY OF MY LOCAL CHURCH BY RULING THE BAPTISM INVALID?”

The IMB Board of Trustees is not under the authority of one local church; rather, it is under the authority of the Southern Baptist Convention. Your local church is autonomous. If it does not like the direction that the convention is going, then it can attempt to change the direction of the convention through the messengers sent to the annual meeting, or it can leave the convention. The convention is also autonomous. Thus, the group of messengers at the annual meeting can vote to remove a local church from the convention if it so desires. The trustees’ authority given to them by the convention to set guidelines and policies trumps your church’s validation of a particular baptism when it comes to the matter of whether or not to hire a particular missionary candidate.

Baptist Theologue said...

Greg, you said,

“Looking forward to seeing the theological gymnastics necessary to make Acts 8:26-40 fit your view...”

I’ve already done my floor routine, and I think I’m ready for the pommel horse. Is that where I get pummeled? Here it is from the comments to Wade’s December 10th post:

“The case of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch has been discussed a lot already in this regard. There was no local church in the desert (Acts 8:26), but there was water (Acts 8:36). There was also a candidate who believed in Jesus with all his heart (Acts 8:37). Philip was an officer of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 6:5). The church at Jerusalem had been scattered because of persecution throughout Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1). Philip had already been involved in a baptismal service in Samaria (Acts 8:13) before he baptized the eunoch. John Gill commented on the baptism of the magician Simon by Philip: “Philip could not discover his hypocrisy: but taking him to be a sincere believer, admitted him to baptism.” The apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to Samaria (Acts 8:14), so there was continued involvement of the Jerusalem church with the new converts in Samaria. The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch did indeed have a local church connection.”

Do I get a “10”?

greg hicks said...

Baptist Theologue,

As you note, the IMB BOT is under the authority of the SBC. As such, they are NOT free to set the theological parameters narrower than that of the SBC. That was the whole point of the Garner motion at San Antonio - to make clear that the Baptist Faith and Message is what the SBC has determined to be the theological parameters and that it is sufficient for the agencies, including the IMB. If the IMB BOT wants to go beyond that they can, just as you note for the local church, go to the convention to get the BFM changed. Their failure to do so it what started this whole mess.

greg hicks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baptist Theologue said...

Greg, you're getting into the issue of whether the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is a minimum or maximum standard. I wasn't at San Antonio, so I cannot comment on whether most people understood the Garner motion's intent or not.

Wade Burleson said...

BT, you stated: The IMB Board of Trustees is not under the authority of one local church; rather, it is under the authority of the Southern Baptist Convention. Your local church is autonomous. If it does not like the direction that the convention is going, then it can attempt to change the direction of the convention through the messengers sent to the annual meeting, or it can leave the convention

We agree. We have chosen the former. And so far, it is working - the election of Frank Page, the adoption of the Garner motion, etc . . .

:) smile

Wade Burleson said...

By the way, you get a 4. Greg Hicks gets a 10.

You stated: "The IMB Board of Trustees . . . is under the authority of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Greg Hicks then said: The IMB Trustees are NOT free to set the theological parameters narrower than that of the SBC. That was the whole point of the Garner motion at San Antonio - to make clear that the Baptist Faith and Message is what the SBC has determined to be the theological parameters and that it is sufficient for the agencies, including the IMB. If the IMB BOT wants to go beyond that they can, just as you note for the local church, go to the convention to get the BFM changed. Their failure to do so it what started this whole mess.

In my humble opinon, nobody has said it better than Greg in that comment.

But you respond: I wasn't at San Antonio, so I cannot comment on whether most people understood the Garner motion's intent or not.

I'm laughing (nicely). For someone who can't speak for people's understanding unless you are present at the meeting, you sure seem to be able speak on behalf of the IMB trustees - though you have never been present at a trustee meeting in the last two years.

However, assuming you are genuine regarding your ignorance of the Garner Motion, I have done you the service of typing for you The transcript of the debate over the Garner motion - word for word at the June 2007 SBC over the Garner Motion.

It should be obvious that anyone with a small measure of intelligence, and no agendas, would be able to say precisely what the convention was approving. IT was crystal clear. If nothing else, read DWIGHT McKISSICK's and DR. GARNER's remarks who spoke FOR it, and Jeremy Green's and the Professor Hadaway from Midwestern who spoke AGAINST it.

The issue was clear.

Greg is right. If the agencies of the Convention are under SBC authority, and if the standard of cooperation is 2000 BFM, should not agencies be required to submit approval for 'doctrinal' changes in policy and guidelines before excluding otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from missionary and ministry cooperation?

I say, ABSOLUTELY!

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

You have said; "Tim Rogers, who does not understand what is happening says, 'Shoot, the pastor is the authority.'" Can you help direct me to that quote?

Baptist Theologue said...

In regard to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, note what it says about baptism:

“It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus.”

Notice that baptism not only symbolizes Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection; it also symbolizes the Christian’s death, burial, and resurrection. It symbolizes the permanent burial of our old life. Let’s look again at what Spurgeon said:

“The next thought in baptism is burial. . . . The grave is the place—I do not know where to get a word—of the settledness of death; for when a man is dead and buried you never expect to see him come home again: so far as this world is concerned, death and burial are irrevocable. . . If we have been once raised from dead works we shall never go back to them again. I may sin, but sin can never have dominion over me; I may be a transgressor and wander much from my God, but never can I go back to the old death again.”

Spurgeon, “Baptism—A Burial,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 27 (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971), pp. 624-625.

If the public baptism denies the eternal security of the believer (the irrevocable burial), then it is not biblical baptism. This truth is in accord with the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and does not exceed what it says. Romans 6:3-5 is listed as a supporting verse under the statement about baptism in article 7.

Can I appeal my score (4) to the IMB Board of Trustees?

Jon L. Estes said...

Goodness,

We would have to rebaptize Jesus so He could be appointed a missionary in the SBC.

I guess believers baptism is out and baptist baptism is now the in thing to do to be a SBC missionary.

We sure ought to be proud of ourselves. If we can't find support for such proud feelings we can add it to scripture like the other few things being added.

NEWS FLASH!!!

New IMB Trustee Study Bible coming out January 1, 2008.

"The Baptist Believers Study Bible." All you ever need to know if you want to be baptist more than Christian. NBV only. Sorry? No way. It's the only way to heaven, don't you know.

Wade Burleson said...

Tim,

By your first comment in this comment stream where you said:

Brother, you are really straining gnats to swallow camels if you are interpreting in a local church to mean inside a local church.

Tim, it almost embarrasses me to have to correct your understanding. "In a church" means "a church vote," or something done "with church authority" - NOT THAT IT WAS DONE IN A BUILDING.

Yet, you act as if because pastors were present at the baptisms in India there was 'a church vote' or 'church authority' - that the baptisms were perfomed 'in a church.' Tim, you have the attitude - shoot there were pastors present at the baptisms - and as such, you act as if that means they were performed in the church (TIM, AGAIN, WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT A BUILDING). There was no local church (congregation of believers) in assembly at the time of the baptisms - there was no local church in the middle of worship at the time of baptism -
these baptisms did not take place within a local church - with local church approval, sanction, witnesses, etc . . ..

Pastors do not count as the church.
Hope that helps clarify your misunderstanding.

Wade Burleson said...

Baptist Theologue,

Smile. You may appeal your score of 4 if you answer the following question:

Should SBC agencies be required to submit approval for 'doctrinal' changes in policy and guidelines that exceed - or contradict - the 2000 BFM before excluding otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from missionary and ministry cooperation?

Why, or why not?

Wade Burleson said...

Jon Estes,

Sad, is it not, that I am spending an afternoon defending Christian baptism against those who wish to disqualify it because it was not conducted at the hands of a duly authorized, duly appointed Baptist representative of a Baptist church.

I have a headache.

Baptist Theologue said...

Wade, you asked,

“Should SBC agencies be required to submit approval for 'doctrinal' changes in policy and guidelines that exceed - or contradict - the 2000 BFM before excluding otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from missionary and ministry cooperation?”

Nope. Let me give you an example. The 2000 BFM does not deal with the subject of divorced church officers. Obviously, SBC churches are not unanimous in their opinions about this issue, but probably most of them believe that church officers should not be divorced. The IMB needed a policy or guideline in regard to missionary candidates who were divorced. I was not privy to the meetings in which a decision was made, so I can only speculate. Probably most of the people who made the decision felt that Southern Baptists wanted their missionaries to meet the same set of marital standards required for pastors and deacons. Thus, perhaps for that reason, they decided that divorced candidates could not serve as career missionaries. They did make allowance, however, for divorced candidates to serve in other missionary categories. This allowance was probably an attempt to balance the prevailing opinion with the minority opinion. Whether that decision was right or wrong is not the issue in question. The issue you asked me about is whether the IMB should be required to get approval for doctrinal changes that exceed or contradict the 2000 BFM. The divorce policy is an example of a doctrinal issue that is not addressed in the 2000 BFM, so the divorce policy exceeds the 2000 BFM. I think that the trustees should be and have been entrusted to make such decisions.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

I am sorry that I am embarrassing to you. However, I am using your words and you are misusing my words. I have not said that the pastor is the authority, which you referenced and used quote marks to reference as my words. I have not said that and you know I haven't.

As to what you have said. You placed in bold print "in a church" which gives the implication that the IMB requires the baptisms to take place in the baptismal pool. Even Anam Cara responded in agreement that I correctly interpreted your emboldened phrase. He said; "Wade didn't interpret it that way. He was told by the powers that be that the baptism was invalid." Now you are trying to say it is embarrassing that you have to correct that. This is what you said.

As to your argument that no local church was in assembly at the time. Let's look at that. Are you telling me that a Baptismal service in a country where the Christian Church is largely underground that these women were just a group of women rounded up to come to this conference? Also, are you telling me that no local churches were not part of this conference at all? I believe you need to refresh your understanding of this gathering with Brother Steve Marcum.

Blessings,
Tim

PS. No need to apologize for placing attributing words to me that I have not said. As I have already forgiven you.

Wade Burleson said...

Brother Tim,

You alone have fallen into the ditch of thinking that someone is using the phrase 'in a church' to mean INSIDE A BUILDING or INSIDE A POOL. That has not even dawned on my consciousness until you entered the comment stream.

To be baptized 'in a local church' means to be baptized with the assembly, the congregation, the members, observing, approving, and validating the baptism of the convert - if it happens in a lake, a pool, the Temple mount, or Mt. Everest. "In a church" is designed to speak of CHURCH AUTHORITY.

I am saying, and have been saying from DAY ONE - that the authority to baptize resides in the abilities of the evangelist as commissioned and commanded by Christ to fulfill the GREAT COMMISSION.

Baptism is a church ordinance ONLY in the sense that the local church has nothing to do with the baptism of any, but to be satisfied they are baptized before they are admitted into communion with it.

Blessings,

Wade

RKSOKC66 said...

I believe that Baptist Theologue considers that if there is any "problem" with a person's baptism that it must reflect back on the person being baptized.

Take my own case. I have been "baptized" three times.

1. At age 1 week by a Roman Catholic priest

2. At age 14 by Disciples of Christ pastor. This baptism was by immersion. I didn't know this until 30 years after the fact but I know know that generally speaking Dispiples of Christ churches hold that baptism is part of the salvation package. I don't know to this day whether the particular Disciples of Christ church I was baptized in holds that Baptism is necessary for salvation or not.

3. At age 16 by a Southern Baptist pastor.

When I was baptized the third time I thought that the reason I was baptized again is because to be a Baptist you have to be Baptized in a Baptist church.

I didn't know there was some "theological differentation" between baptism #2 and #3. I didn't know that #2 was null and void because it was ostensibly part of the salvation package and #3 was an adjunct to salvation until decades later. My questions to BT (and others) are these:

(1) If I had what turns out to be a defective Baptism (but I did not
to realize it at the time) does that defect flow back to me? Is there such a thing as "guilt by association" in terms of what a proper baptism is? If the theology of the administrator is defective does that necessarily nullify the baptism -- especially if the person being baptized is oblivious to the problem?

(2)How can baptism #3 be more efficacious than baptism #2 since to me neither of them had any thing to do with whether or not the baptism either was or was not part of the salvation package?

(3) As I am writing this 45 years after the fact, is my baptism as a Southern Baptist Church and/or a Christian valid since I didn't realize for thirty years after the fact what differentiated my various baptisms? Could my "correct understanding" which happened decades later be retroactive so that my baptism is "OK"?

(4) If I were to be a candidade for IMB service would I have to be baptized a fourth time? I'm 64 and it seems unlikely that my wife and I would be going overseas as a missionary. However, a couple older than us from our church (1st Baptist Del City, Okla) became missionaries about 18 months ago and is now in Israel working in a Baptist Conference Center.

In my case I don't object to being baptized again. To me it is no bit deal.

If anyone needs documentation regarding my case I think I can dig up the baptismal certificates from baptisms #2 and #3. I was going through some stuff my mother had after she died and I found the certificates. Given the circumstances in my case it could be that one or both of these certificates is meaningless.

Roger K. Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Wade Burleson said...

Baptist Theologue,

You maintain your score of four.

Why? With your mentality, it will not be long before THE ONLY PEOPLE qualified to serve the SBC in missions and ministy will be non-divorced, married, cessationist, Landmark-leaning, hymn singing, non-imbibing, non-pant wearing (women) and short haired (men), who refuse to use the NIV, and who refuse to belong to a church that is ruled by elders or attempts to address social issues in a responsible manner.

By the way, nothing wrong with the above - except if people like that are in charge and refuse for others to dissent from their views and seek to remove them from service if they do.

Wade Burleson said...

Roger,

Thanks for your testimony. I am thrilled at your sound, logical understanding.

What I am seeking to prevent is the invalidation of a baptism performed by a conservative, evangelical Bible believing, Christ-honoring evangelist because it was not SANCTIONED in a Baptist church.

I am attempting to prevent sacerdotalism.

Blessings,

Wade

Paul Burleson said...

Tim,

No defense of Wade here..he needs none from my perspective..and could defend himself if it were needed. But I will give a small insignificant defense of the English language.

A double quotation mark is marking an exact quote. But single quotation marks are marking a paraphrased quote.

The latter is called 'reported speech' and the former an "exact quote."

That variaion is also seen as a "quote within a quote."

Just some additional information for all of us as we write our thoughts. We might want to be careful with "exact quotes" and accusing one of 'placing it as a quote when you know I didn't say it.' [paraphrasing what you accused Wade of doing.] :)

Anonymous said...

Roger,

How do you know that your SB Pastor who baptized you was himself properly baptized by a Proper Authority? (BTW: I hereby decree that Proper Authority from henceforth in blogtopia be referred to as PA, much the same as PPL, CR, IMB, EC, NASB, BoT, etc., ad nausem)

If your 3rd baptism was not done by a PA, or his done by a PA, or his done by a PA, then (shudder) , are you really saved?

I'm kidding, of course. But I dare say that there are some of our SB bretheren who would want to dunk you yet again.

Gary
Norman, OK

Gary said...

Sorry, all. I fat-fingered my account info.

The Anonymous post above to Roger is mine. My fault totally. Don't blame A.nony.mous for it.

Gary

RKSOKC66 said...

Gary, et. al.

I don't mean to trivialize the ordinance of baptism. But I don't think many "guys in the pew" are really knowledgible enough to weigh-in (one way or the other) on this naunced argument.

In the last month we have had about a 20 baptisms in our church. About half of them are children who attend our "bus church". Those being baptized that attend our bus church range from about seven up to about 16 years in age. I don't think any of them could give a lucid description about whether baptism is or is not salvific.

Those kids are not MDiv grads being examined by an ordination council.

I am a layman myself. I really didn't begin to consider this stuff until I went to seminary after retiring from a 35 year stint in Silicon Valley as a software engineer. I even tought an adult Sunday School class for about ten years. I knew, of course, that Baptism is not part of salvation. [Otherwise, how to you explain the fact that Jesus said to the thief on the cross, "today you will be with me in paradise".] However, it has only been in the five or six years that I found out that the Disciples of Christ (and also I believe Church of Christ) baptism is bogus. I never made a study of the baptismal practices of various other denominations.

I guess implicit in being a baptist leader is that you have to know about every other denomination so that you can know if their baptism is bogus or not.
Even if you knew the "correct" definition of baptism you still would not necessarily know that whatever baptism you had years or decades ago -- as a kid -- was bogus.

What is the downside risk if there are Baptists sitting in pews for years or decades (like myself) blissfully ignorant about defects in their baptism?

I'd argue that a guy could -- over time -- be fairly knowlegible about the Bible and know that Baptism does not save (or is not part of the salvation package) and still not know that his baptism was suspect because he didn't know that the reason denomination "x" baptized him was for salvation.

Wade Burleson said...

rksokc66,

So true.

wade

Jack said...

Is it possible that those of you straining out gnats to explain the “finer” points about baptism, salvation, the local church and who is an “authorized administrator” are mistaken; that you do not understand the scriptures or the power of God?

Bill said...

Thus far I don't think anyone has stepped up to plainly say that denying the young Muslim convert a chance to be an SBC missionary was the right thing to do.

Man Down Under said...

-Satan is greatly pleased.

Dave Miller said...

Baptist Theologue,
FYI - I know someone who was on the board when that policy was discussed. The concern what not to accomodate a majority of Baptist opinions, but how to make our missionaries effective overseas. There are many places our missionaries serve where divorce would be considered a disqualifying factor - absolutely and without appeal.

The deciding factor in the vote was the concern for the effectiveness of our missionaries, not the opinions of Baptists here in the US.

Bill said...

I just watched your Christmas Pageant. One word.

UNBELIEVABLE!

I've never seen anything like it. Who was that man at the end who did the finale of Christ in the Bible. I got goosebumps from my big toe to the crown of my head.

Thanks Emmanuel for warming my heart tonight.

Dave Miller said...

NOTE: my previous comment is about the divorce policy that BT referenced earlier. I did not make that clear.

Dave Miller said...

This is the best discussion I have seen on a blog. Those who have disagreed with the author's opinion have by and large done so with reasoned arguments and a Christian tone.

Well Done! Bravo!

Baptist Theologue said...

Dave, thanks for the information. As I said, "I was not privy to the meetings in which a decision was made, so I can only speculate.

Steve Mortensen said...

To: Daniel Heath, Anna Sue Luckinbill, Choir, Orchestra, Cast, and finally, Wade & Logan...

We just completed watching your very first live webcast of the 2007 Christmas Pageant from the comfort of our home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thank you for your effort, skill, and sacrifice for making this available to the world this evening.

Simply put... You nailed it!

Merry Christmas,
Steve and Julie Mortensen

Scott Gordon said...

Simplicity for the Simple,

Wade has said that one's interpretation of Scripture need no accountability to the local church; therefore, his interpretation of baptism is right and anyone who differs (though in thorough consistency should be afforded the same weight and authority) is wrong.

Eventually we must all come under authority...Christ's...Scriptural truth...social law...

freedom to interpret Scripture is not license to say that what one believes is the absolute final word.

In my hermeneutics classes at MABTS (Oh...just invalidated myself there!) I think I shall have to quit for now... I'm too guilty by association to carry on.

Please forgive me and all MABTS graduates for your insinuations of the sins of Dr. John Floyd, MABTS, etc.

Lindon said...

"You seem to be arguing that any church member of any church automatically has the authority to baptize. We could go back to our discussion of a couple of years ago about the little Christian boy baptizing his friend in a swimming pool without being given the authority to do so by his local church. Let me again outline my position:"

I have a serious question to you about this 'authority' issue in Baptism.

I recently read about an up and coming SBC pastor in Illinois who was sentenced to 7 years for molesting young girls in his church.

Obviously as pastor, he was baptizing. Are his baptisms valid since he was performing them while at the same time a child molester?

I am asking because it seems to me 'who' does the baptizing is important within the policy.

Anonymous said...

While this does not pertain to the main point of this post, it does pertain to understanding our world and Christ's church.

Tim Rogers said: "Are you telling me that a Baptismal service in a country where the Christian Church is largely underground that these women were just a group of women rounded up to come to this conference?"

To say that the Christian Church in India is 'largely underground' is not an accurate statement. While there is some persecution of Christians in India there are large numbers of churches, visible to all, in all cities and towns, and in many villages.

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia there are more than 62,000,000 Christians in India, including more than 50,000,000 Great Commission Christians. These numbers are projected to grow to 93,000,000 Christians and 75,000,000 GCC by 2025.

To say that Christian Church in India is largely "underground" is to completely misunderstand the Indian situation.

Scott Grandi

Strider said...

'The local Church has the ultimate authority...'
After 86 comments I have tears in my eyes for the SBC that I love is no longer under the authority of Christ. He is the ultimate authority whether any recognize him, vote for him, or follow him. He says go and I go. He says baptize and I baptize. I am accountable to my brothers and sisters but their accountability- and their authority- only has meaning as we seek Him together. The only real authority is Christ. So, policies and guidelines could help us if we truly seek Him. Can we discern His will? Can our Candidate Consultants follow His guidance and select the best? My experience is that they can.
This discussion of the authority of the baptizer reveals a paranoid and controlling character which should disturb us all. Christ is not so fearful. He is in control and He is on the move in this world like never before. Let us move with Him under His authority.

Baptist Theologue said...

Lindon, you asked,

“Are his baptisms valid since he was performing them while at the same time a child molester? I am asking because it seems to me 'who' does the baptizing is important within the policy.”

Our SBC churches generally have a congregational form of government, and the congregation has the authority over who can perform baptisms. When the man was performing baptisms, I assume that his church did not know that he was a child molester. Once it was known that he was a child molester, the church should not have allowed him to perform baptisms. The church’s witness would have been harmed if he had been allowed to continue performing baptisms. Hopefully, any church that discovers that a member is a child molester would not allow that member to perform baptisms. In regard to baptisms performed when it was not known by the church or the candidates that he was engaging in child molestation, those people would not need to be baptized a second time. Their baptisms were authorized by the SBC church. The child molester was not the administrator of the baptisms; rather, the local church was the administrator. His invalidation as a performer of baptisms did not invalidate the baptisms that had already been performed by him under that church’s authority. Again, there is a group aspect to baptism, and the messages conveyed during the baptismal ceremony are very important. Some quotes from John Hammett, a professor of systematic theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary may be helpful:

“We view the ordinances as entrusted to the church, not to the church’s leaders. Therefore, the church can designate whomever it chooses to administer the ordinances, whether that person is ordained or not. There is widespread agreement that the administration of the ordinances belongs to local churches. . . . At baptism, we emphasize that those who are coming are coming to testify of their faith in Christ. They are the actors. They are buried; they are raised. . . . In union with Christ the sinful nature is put off and buried with Christ in baptism; we are raised with Christ to live a new life. . . . Today we live in a postdenominational era, when denominational distinctives are regarded as unfortunate, irrelevant, and hardly worth fussing over. It’s reflected in the lack of care we give to baptism.”

Hammett, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2005), 261-275.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Strider: Your comment should be listened to and heeded. I stand with you.

Baptist Theologue said...

Strider, you said,

“'The local Church has the ultimate authority...'After 86 comments I have tears in my eyes for the SBC that I love is no longer under the authority of Christ. He is the ultimate authority whether any recognize him, vote for him, or follow him.”

I suppose that you were reacting to my statement:

“The local church has the authority for baptism. It is the administrator, not its officers. It has the ultimate authority over who can baptize whom. Churches decide on their own baptismal guidelines.”

Jesus certainly has “all authority” (Matthew 28:18). He has at times, however, delegated his authority. Sometimes individuals have the authority to do certain things (Titus 2:15). He has also delegated his authority to groups. For instance he has delegated authority to civil government, even the power of the sword (Romans 13:1-4). Under normal circumstances, the civil government has the ultimate authority (delegated by Jesus) to cause particular people to live or die. Of course, Jesus can supernaturally intervene to prevent an execution, and in that sense He still has the ultimate authority. Similarly, Jesus has delegated authority to local churches as the administrators of baptism. Under normal circumstances, local churches have the ultimate authority (delegated by Jesus) to determine who baptizes whom. Of course, Jesus can supernaturally intervene as the administrator of baptism, and in that sense He still has the ultimate authority. Everything that happens fits into His sovereign will, and in that sense He has ultimate authority in every dimension of life.

Strider said...

BT- First of all I am in a different timezone than you so it is the middle of the day here- but why are you still up? Get some rest brother!

Second, I know that you believe what you just wrote. I knew it when I wrote my comment but sometimes in these 'debates' we forget. The Church has the authority that Jesus gives it- and by the way that is the 'real' eternal church not the human institutions that sometimes pass as churches. When we give Jesus the ultimate authority and we in the local church seek his direction for our decisions then we can expect that he gives us His authority. The problem with the new IMB guidelines is that they take the authority of Christ, the authority of the local church, and the authority of individual men whom we have designated as Candidate Consultants (they have a new title but I forgot what it is) and they subject it to rules created by men. Is there no one with discernment? Can we not trust anyone from the local church to the IMB administration to hear from God and make a decision about a potential candidate? The issue, as Wade says, is not theoretical. Real people are being turned away and the unreached peoples of this earth are being kept in darkness even though God is calling men and women to go. Now, you can say that hey, if it's God's will for these to go then they will go without the IMB. I am sure this is true but think carefully about what you say! If this remains the case then it will not be the IMB and its restrictive policies that hinder the work of God, it will be that God moves on and works without us- and in turn we without Him. Is that the SBC you want?

Bill said...

The apostles wanted to restrict a man casting out demons in Jesus' name because he was "not part of their group."

There are a lot of assumptions about NT ecclesiology that are required to support the IMB position. "We assume the church in Jerusalem authorized Phillip to baptize, etc"

The church didn't need to authorize Phillip. Jesus did that.

We are not far from a Baptist magisterium.

Bill said...

Does anyone honestly think that if the Jerusalem church (I'm assuming you think Paul was under the authority of the Jerusalem church) had revoked Paul's "authority" to baptize, that he would have stopped doing it?

Paul had respect for the apostles when they deserved it. He had respect for the Jerusalem church and its wisdom. But he never assumed his authority to preach teach and baptize came from them.

Bob Cleveland said...

Some things about all this are troubling, to me.

Jesus said HE had been given all authority in heaven and on earth.

Jesus did NOT say He was giving all authority on earth to us. Collectively, or en masse.

Jesus promised to be with us always.

Does the "local church" think Jesus died and left all authority on earth, to IT, in His will?

Did He promise to be with us ONLY via a local church?

All this is, to me, man thinking of himself connectively, more highly that we ought.

David said...

Weren't recently-converted believers baptized at the site of a recent SBC annual meeting? I assume, based upon our leadership's insistence on the new IMB policy, that either the converts were baptized first in the auditoriums of some local churches--making their re-baptism at the annual meeting simply "a show"--or that each of them was baptized again later in the auditorium of local churches--so that their baptisms would be "official and biblical" and that they can serve as IMB missionaries in years to come if the Lord so leads.

Has anyone read the SBC/IMB leadership's subsequent report about the real baptisms of those new believers? For purposes of the discussions here, I think that that leadership needs to report in--to substaniate its stance, demonstrate consistency, and prove its care for souls.

Anyone?

Bob Cleveland said...

David,

Unless I miss my guess, that meeting was in Greensboro in 2006, and they carefully pointed out that there were representatives of local churches there, and as I recall, some of them did the baptisms.

David said...

Bob:

Is it your understanding that that "counts"?

Thanks for your reply.

Ben said...

Now, since the Jerusalem Church, the Antioch Church, etc. as well as any body of believers up until that last few hundred years were not formally within the Southern Baptist Convention or informally of some Baptist persuasion, none of the baptisms they performed are acceptable. Except for the baptisms performed directly by John the Baptist, there were no Baptist baptisms for quite some time. Of course, there were no local congregations of Baptists then or any group calling itself the Church yet, so were his baptisms invalid as well? I shudder to think what would have happened to God's plan for humanity had not the Southern Baptist Convention been formed. There would be no hope in this world for anybody!

Lin said...

"Our SBC churches generally have a congregational form of government, and the congregation has the authority over who can perform baptisms."

There is an SBC church in the South who had a pastor who molested children for years. When he was caught his successor, the assoc pastor took over. He had been there 15 years and he finally admitted he knew about the molestations all that time. He never said a word.

The congregation voted to forgive him and gave him their support to continue as pastor. Even though he had not protected little children when he could have stopped it.

Now that this is public knowledge, should a baptism by this church be valid for someone applying for a missionary post with the IMB?

Baptist Theologue said...

Bob, Jesus does have all authority. Jesus, however, has delegated authority to individuals and groups in particular situations. Some examples:

“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (Matthew 10:1, NASB).

“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you” (Luke 10:19).

“1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” (Romans 13:1-4)

“The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:4).

“8 For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame, 9 for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters.” (2 Corinthians 10:8-9)

“For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down” (2 Corinthians 13:10).

“Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority” (1 Thessalonians 2:6).

“These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” (Titus 2:15)

“13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2:13-15)

Bob Cleveland said...

David,

It seems to have, to them. I thought, in the context of the SBC in general, they were straining at gnats while swallowing the camel of 50+% of members Missing In Inaction whilst shooting down motions disapproving of THAT.

Bob Cleveland said...

BT,

:)

Baptist Theologue said...

Lin, you asked,

“Now that this is public knowledge, should a baptism by this church be valid for someone applying for a missionary post with the IMB?”

I don’t know all the details about the church situation you mention (how many members knew what about whom and when they knew it). Let me answer your question by explaining an applicable principle. If a church condones molestation or homosexuality as a church and as a group says that molestation and/or homosexuality is not sin, then that church should be removed from the association, state convention, and national convention. Such a church should no longer be considered to be an SBC church or even a church of like faith and order, and thus baptisms performed under the authority of that church after the molestation and/or homosexuality are known and condoned by that church would not be considered valid. The key point is whether the group (the local church) condones molestation and/or homosexuality. The local church is the administrator of baptism. When the local church condones molestation/homosexuality, then it is no longer a valid administrator of baptism.

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

Sorry-just catching up...

We refused on the basis that we would not denigrate Christ's ordinance of baptism by ruling invalid that which God himself calls valid.

This is what I love about Wade Burleson. Let's call 'em as they are.

Jack said...

Baptist Demagogue:

You seem to post many words to make your points but little scripture upon which you base them. -Just an observation.

Blessings,

-jack-

shadrach said...

So, being with the IMB and living in Niger, I think I can pretty well see both sides of this issue. The BoT wants to give basic guidelines for acceptance on missionary candidates so they do not, as a whole, have to hear each individual case and determine whether or not the Baptism was scriptural. But, unfortunately, they do not simply trust the local church.

There are many different groups here who call themselves evangelical, some simply because that is what someone told them they were many years ago. The theology of many of these groups does not reflect what we would call proper. Knowing this could be the case, the BoT chooses to reject a candidate who was baptized outside of an established church and was not baptized by a SBC missionary. I can understand that, but the catch is that the BoT expects the local SB church in the States to automatically rebaptize any candidate for membership who was not baptized into or by an appointee of an SB church.

This argument is why the BoT changed the baptism issue from a policy to a guideline. They are supposed to be representative of the scope of SB churches and that includes many landmarkists, see the AR convention. I'm not saying this is right, but the BoT should be representative. I think they have acted representatively. Some discussion has taken place on the importance of individuals' or states' action as it affects the whole. If you guys really want to change things, you have to push your agenda at the local level. It sounds like Wade is quite successful at that in his area, but change will not happen from teh top down. That rarely ever works. You say we are a grassroots people; make change a grassroots movement.

If the Board accepts that at the 2006 convention, having representatives of the local churches present was sufficient, then the issue about the Indian women should be moot.

Also, I believe BT and Wade are closer than they think. In both cases, they believe the local church has the say in a baptism's validity. After that, it's like arguing pre- or post- authority. So the real issue is getting the BoT to trust the local SB church. I think you both would agree.

Wade Burleson said...

Shadrach,

Very well said.

I would agree.

And, by the way, if a local church REFUSES to recognize a baptism that was not in a Southern Baptist church - more power to them. I am arguing that you SHOULDN'T BE ABLE to force ALL Southern Baptist churches to do the same things on issues unrelated to the 2000 BFM in terms of cooperation in missions and ministry.

Anonymous said...

I don't even see in Scripture that one needs "the authority of a local church". Since Scripture declares all believers to be "priests", why would it not be legitimate for any believer to baptise new believers?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the SBC is doing something even worse than Catholicism - which does not require one to be baptised in a "local church".
The SBC seems blind to the fact that they are no longer baptising new believers into Christ, but into their local denomination.
Perhaps a part of the problem is that Baptist churches in general consider the church to be the local assembly. Jesus said "I will build my church" singular. When my church insists on the "local church" definition, I have to ask: There are several Baptist churches in town; which one was Jesus referring to?
I agree with one of the first posters; they need to read the "Ekklesia" by John Reisinger who states that a believer doesn't "join" a church, but rather "is joined" to the church by the Holy Spirit. Can I get a witness?

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