Thursday, May 18, 2006

Why We Southern Baptists Often Look More Like Mormons than Evangelicals

I received a copy of the agenda for the Southern Baptist Convention via Baptist Press and found a very interesting statement made FIVE times in the program:

Because baptism is an ordinance of the church, all baptisms will be conducted with full approval and support of a sponsoring home church, members of each of which will be present to witness.

It seems there will be separate occasions where people will be actually baptized during the convention.

Again, the above statement is made FIVE times in the program. In my view the statement is completely unnecessary. Here's why:

(1). What does "full approval and support of a sponsoring home church" mean?

Did all the members of the home church vote? Did they vote unanimously ("full support")? Did the members of the church hear the person's testimony before they voted? Why are we waiting for the convention to baptize?

(2). What does "members of each of which will be present to witness" mean?

Witness what? Witness that they were truly and fully immersed? Witness the credentials of the person who baptized them? Witness to make sure that the baptism was "official"?

Don't get me wrong! I am thrilled we are baptizing people at the SBC. But I have a novel idea!

Why don't we go out and win the taxi cab drivers of Greensboro to Christ and baptize them at the convention? Why don't we go into the highways and byways and win a homeless person to Christ and baptize him at the convention? Why don't we win a waitress to faith in Christ and baptize her at the convention?

The people to whom the Great Commission was given are the people to whom the privilege to baptize was given. Every disciple of Christ has the privilege to baptize his or her convert.

But wait! Isn't baptism a "church" ordinance! Of course it is! But the church is the "ekklesia" --- the called out people of God. The church is an organism, not an institution. The church is people, not a steeple. The church is a "them," not an it.

We are the church. Frankly, if a person were to be converted to faith in Christ on the streets of Greensboro by one of the messengers of the convention, and then baptized at the convention's baptismal service, I would be ecstatic. Suppose the day after his baptism the convert moved to my hometown of Enid, Oklahoma to take a job with Advance Food Company, and the next Sunday he sought to join our local church (ekklesia)--- here is how the conversation would go:

Pastor Wade: "Tell me about your faith in Christ."

Convert: "Last week I was walking down the streets of Greensboro, North Carolina when a man I had never met before stopped me to ask for directions. After I told him how to get to where he was going he then asked me a question that stopped me cold in my tracks. He asked me, 'I now know where I'm going at this moment in time, but do you know where you are going when you die?' I had just been told earlier that day that my dad was diagnosed with cancer and my thoughts had been upon death and his question sent chills up my spine.

I said, 'Sir, I don't know where I'm going when I die, could you give me directions?' With that, the man told me about Jesus Christ. He told me that because of my disobedience to God I deserved the holy punishment of God for my sin, but that God in His love for sinners like me sent His Son Jesus Christ to bear on the cross the punishment due me for my rebellion to God. There on the street corner of Greensboro, North Carolina I knelt and confessed my sins before God and trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord."

Pastor Wade: Tell me about your baptism.

Convert: You won't believe this, but the man who led me to Christ asked if I would come with him to a coliseum where I stood before 20,000 people and told them that my faith was in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins, and before 20,000 people the man who led me to faith in Christ baptized me as an expression of my faith in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When I came out of the water people were applauding and shouting "Hallelujah!" and I knew I was one of them!

Pastor Wade: My friend, welcome to our fellowship at Emmanuel Baptist Church. We receive you into our local church (local "ekklesia") based upon your statement of faith in Jesus Christ and your profession of that faith through believer's baptism.

For the sake of my hypothetical story and Biblical argument pretend I was not at the SBC Convention.

Not one person from our church "approved" the baptism.
Not one person from our church "witnessed" the baptism.

We listened to the convert's testimony of faith. We listened to the convert's testimony of baptism. There is one faith, one Lord, one baptism. This convert had faith in Christ. He had faith in THE one Lord called Jesus Christ. He was baptized by immersion, after having come to faith in Christ and is part of the "ekklesia." Our local church RECEIVED HIM INTO OUR FELLOWSHIP!

Question to ponder: How is the above scenario NOT Biblical?

I would propose that refusing to recognize the church in a "universal" sense as all of our old Baptist confessions did, leads us to adopt a very narrow view of the "church" that leads to an institutional understanding of an assembly that far more resembles Mormonism than Biblical, evangelical Christianity.

Finally, this is a post about the SBC --- and the program of the SBC --- and not one word has been said about any other agency.


In His Grace,



Anonymous said...


Maybe this explains why Mormons convert more Southern Baptists than any other single denomination.

Your bud.

Anonymous said...

You would make a bad Presbyterian.

But then again, your treatise indirectly explains the pitfall of Catholic missions for 1500 years. As the Roman church spread it required a church to supply the means of grace for genuine conversion to take place, thus frontier missions was not really an option. No established church to perform the sacraments=no conversions. Not to mention the fact that the mass was in Latin, meaning the first order of business was to teach your converts Latin, so they could then worship properly.

I'm sure there are some parallels to SBC life in their somewhere.

OKpreacher said...

I'm thankful for you and the path you are on is a glorious one for the King, but it is a hard and lonely one. I'm praying for you. Unfortuntly, the 3 seminary presidents seem to be making this a political campaign by giving their approval to Ronnie Floyd. I thought the president was to be a matter of prayer and decided by our messengers at the convention. I'm sadden by their actions. Be encouraged my brother, many are praying for you. P.S. Glad to hear that you are willing to be nominated as President.


brad reynolds said...

Have you missed me? I know Rex has.

Part of the insurance of accountability for believers who publicly testify to Christ by baptism is the authority of the LOCAL church.

In your scenario, a man can be saved, get baptized at the SBC and thus publicly testify to his faith, but never join the local church, move to Atlanta and not join a local church there either, and without such accountability be a disgrace to Christ, but witness and lead someone else to Christ and then baptize them in his swimming pool…and thus the cycle continues. Talk about starting cults - WOW.

Which brings me to the term ecclesia.
The Ecclesia as you have used it, the called out ones or the universal church is the invisible church – only God knows those who are saved.
However, in the NT, the visible form of the church is the LOCAL church. Thus, my question how many times does ecclesia refer to the universal church and how many times does it refer to the local church in the NT? Do you know? A guesstimate will work.

It is the local church which is the focus of the NT, not the universal.

Thank you for your time and spirit

Anonymous said...

Looks like a good argument against the IMB policy changes. said...


You are using a straw man argument and would be defeated in true debate.

The question is "How is the scenario NOT Biblical?"

The Holy Spirit is quite capable of insuring God's people don't bring disgrace to Christ. Further, baptizing them in a Southern Baptist Church no more guarantees that the convert does not bring disgrace to Christ than a baptism elsewhere (particularly when SBC mega-churches baptize hundreds and never follow up in discipleship).

Worshipping at a local church IS important. Discipleship, discipline, and communion are ALL functions of the local assembly of believers, but we are talking about evangelism and baptism which are functions of EVERY believer, would you not agree? Or are you one who says only "ordained gospel ministers" have the authority to baptize? said...

By the way, the term ekklesia is used only a few times to refer to the "local" church. The vast majority of times in the NT the word refers to all the elect from all ages. said...


I have not said a word about the IMB policies.

I have "no comment" on the IMB policies.

Anonymous said...

GO, TEACH, BAPTIZE. These are all in the same verse. They come as a package of instruction intended either for a select few or for all believers. But either way, you have to take the package intact.

Unknown said...

I thought it was "one Lord, one faith, one SBC baptism." I think that's what my HCSB says.

Anonymous said...

I was excited on this evening while we were all standing by the pool. We were on the beach at a small 'resort'. All of the workers with our organization had gathered for a spiritual retreat. Workers had come from the States to minister to us and our children. We had come to our last night there. The week had been refreshing and I was excited to what God had taught me.

It was just after we had eaten our evening meal together. We were all gathered around the pool for "Elijah's" baptism. He had prayed to receive Christ into his heart that week and wanted to be baptized. His dad, ordained pastor and now missionary, brought "Elijah" down into the pool waters and we sang and then his dad baptized "Elijah." We clapped and gave praise to God.

Simple but obedient to God's Word.

Or was it...

The pastor who had come to lead our time of renewal was not in agreement with what just happened. He didn't voice it to all, but he did mention it to me. I didn't understand why he had a problem, but he proceeded to explain that baptism is a local church ordinance and should only be done within the local church.
So, I began to try to figure out what "we" were by that poolside. I don't guess we were 'church', but it sure felt like I had been to 'church'. I couldn't agree with him, it just didn't seem right. What I had witnessed was God ordained and He blessed that event.

I also tried to figure out which local church he should be baptized into since his dad had about 4 churches that he was helping plant. The 'rules' just didn't seem to fit and I had just witnessed a glorious site of another individual, in obedience, symbolize his entering into the Kingdom of God. I wiped this incident under the rug and just chalked it up to different interpretations and agree to disagree. Until recently...

Now, because of the incidence of his baptism, he would not be considered worthy to serve as a missionary for the IMB-SBC because of a new policy regarding baptism and where and by whom it was done. This new policy goes beyond our BF&M. It doesn't allow for much interpretation. He would have to be re-baptized into a local SBC congregation who "does it properly." SBC churches only exist in the USA. He would have to be convinced that what had happened in that pool by his dad was not good enough.

Some may say that his dad was ordained and an extension of a local church in the US. NOPE. This will not be the case for this young man. SBC Churches need to start rebaptizing their members if they want members to qualify for mission service with the IMB. Even if they have been 'dunked properly' by a similar believing church is this area of baptism.

It makes me very sad that this special time in this young man's life would be a source of conflict for him IF he were to ever consider serving with the IMB OR if he wanted to join a Baptist church that held to this belief. There are many many others just like him. Some serving with the IMB at this very moment.

You can't comment, BUT, I can (so far).

Signed, One serving the Master and supported by SBC people who care about God's Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Wow Brad...your idea of what is a disgrace to Christ is far different than mine.

When that hypothetical brother is born again and baptized, he has just joined the church. What we do with having him sign a card, walk an aisle, take a class, raise his hand, get approved by some church vote...what is that?

I say, yea...let this new hypothetical brother go and move to Atlanta, lead his lost co-worker to saving faith in Jesus alone and if the guy wants to follow Jesus in believer's baptism at the small group Bible study in front of other believers and lost neighbors, let him be baptized.

If that's a disgrace to Christ, I'm missing something.

Anonymous said...

We're not mormons, but we are not Church of Christ either.

Perhaps it would be prudent to connect the man with a local church so that his new family, the family that will help teach and disciple him could celebrate this special moment with him. Obviously there doesn't have to be 20,000 for it to be special.

Imagine if there were a baptistry at the Billy Graham Crusades, how many would we baptize that would never even get to a local church, and since they would not be in a local church they would not get connected to spiritual leaders who would watch their walk and lovingly warn them if they show evidence that they were not really converted.

I've heard many testimonies from the FOLLOW UP churches for crusades, how they have very little success convincing the born again Christian to come to a local congregation to worship Christ with other Christians.

I think a balance between the puritan's example and what we do now is called for. The puritan's would watch for extended time the new professor for observable fruit of repentance and faith. I think we are too quick to baptize. Hence the 65+% of Christians on SBC rolls that don't come to church to worship Christ.

Is your scenario unbiblical? I don't think its unbiblical.
BTW I am AGAINST the IMB policy change.

Is it prudent today? I don't think so. Just because something isn't condemned in the Bible doesn't mean that it is always wise.

Given modern evangelicalism's pitiful track record of retaining new "converts", I think the extra time and effort to get the person to a local church would be worth while.

The fact that the new believer makes the effort to get connected with a church, schedule the baptism would be a good, though not perfect, test of sincerity.

Since Baptism is not saving, and we're not Church of Christ after all, I don't see why the rush to get them into a stadium, when a local church would be preferable.

I know the stadium baptism will no doubt inspire many sbc's at the convention to be more evangelistic, but I'm just not sure it is best for the person.

i'm really not hardcore on this, just giving food for thought

Wade, I hope you run. If you do, I will vote for you. I just disagree on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Bro. Wade,

While I consider you a brother in Christ, this post shows how far out of step you are with the average Southern Baptist. The vast majority of Southern Baptists believe the Great Commission was given to the local church, not to individual Christians here and there. The vast majority of Southern Baptists (and the Baptist Faith and Message) believe baptism is a local church ordinance. And the vast majority of Southern Baptists believe that the word ecclesia refers to the local church the majority of times it is used in the N.T. No, strict Southern Baptists do not look like Mormons, instead we are simply trying to follow the patterns and principles of the New Testament.

Russ Reaves said...

Wade, as a pastor in Greensboro, I just want to Amen your call to win the cab drivers, homeless and waitresses. God grant it!

Russ Reaves
Immanuel Baptist Church
Greensboro, NC

Brett said...

Dear anonymous (post #9),

Sorry to disappoint you, but those three words: GO, BAPTIZE, and TEACH, are not in the same verse. Teaching is in verse 20, while the other two are in verse 19.

More importantly, what is the point you are trying to make? Are you suggesting that by them all being in the same package, the person or church who wins someone to Christ must do the baptizing and the teaching also? Or are you trying to say something else?

Cliff4JC said...

SBC NON-mega-churches baptize TENS and never follow up in discipleship...

Unfortunately, our membership doesn't love one another enough to exercise church discipline anymore.


Anonymous said...

But would these "baptizees" be eligible later to be appointed as SBC missionaries since the policy statement says "in a church", if they are baptized in a convention center?

Just being ornery. :-) I know you can't comment.


brad reynolds said...

The accusation of "straw man" is rampant these days, but to the issues.

I shall assume that Mega-church follow-up is better than no church follow-up (Although, I'm not sure which church you are referencing, stereotyping is usually unwise and anonymous references, without supporting evidence, are convenient).

It is not an issue of baptizing them in a "Southern Baptist Church," but rather of baptizing them in a LOCAL church. Your injunction was smooth but noticeable. I know of no person who says, "only those baptized by a Southern Baptist Church are truly baptized."

Also, it is interesting how you use Matthew 28 for baptism but not discipleship. How did you decide that individuals are to "go and make disciples...and baptize" but the church takes over in verse 20 and "teaches them to observe all things...?"

To say Baptism is for the individual to practice but discipleship is for the church is a most unusual hermeneutic here.

Moreover, to state the ordinance Jesus gave concerning the Lord’s Supper was for the local church but His ordinance for Baptism was for the universal church is an unwarranted statement.

Now, your slipping in "only ordained ministers" baptizing was not and is not the point. It is the authority of the local church that is the issue. If a local church allows a father to baptize his child with its authority then so be it.

By the way with the most generous renderings of the use of Ecclesia in the NT to the universal church we reach a whopping 33%...a long long way from a "vast majority."

Finally, are you assuming that the references to the ordinance of Baptism in the BFM2K were to the universal church?

Thank you for your time

Arkansas Razorbaptist said...

Great post my brother. said...


I don't know where you get 33%, and my view of Baptism as a church ordinance is very consistent with the BF&M.

You still are avoiding my initial question.

From SCRIPTURE --- not your opinion, where is the scenario I presented WRONG.

I propose you can't prove from SCRIPTURE it is wrong.

From your convictions, tradition, and extra-Biblical view of church polity you believe it is wrong.

Fine. I can fellowship with you and cooperate with you, but SCRIPTURE is my guide. said...

Mr. Ben Stratton,

I am absolutely, positively in lock step with our forefathers on this issue including the great theologian Dr. John Gill, the great Baptist hymnwriter Benjamin Keach, the late great Prince of Preachers Charles H. Spurgeon and a host of other Baptist forefathers.

It may be you Mr. Ben that is out of lockstep with historic Baptist teaching.


Anonymous said...

Actually Wade, you are wrong. The term "ecclesia" when used in the NT is, hands-down, used to represent the local church rather than the "universal church." A quick look at any concordance will show this.

Secondly, I ask you, how do you define the universal church? Would this include our Methodist and Presbyterian brothers who have believed upon Jesus Christ? If so, then the premise to your argument is shaky.

I say this because you state that as long as a person believes and is baptized by immersion, then they are a part of the universal church. However, Presbyterians and Methodists are not baptized by immersion. Thus, your very premise of current SBC practices, which you seem to believe excludes (to the point Mormons do) you do the same concerning baptism. You can't have your pie and eat it too.

I am not neglecting the importance of believers baptism. I believe this is the Biblical model and mandate for all believers. However, I am skeptical of how you are trying to divide the line.

Just so I am not accused of creating a "strawman argument":

1. Your premise is faulty.

2. Through your own reasoning, you too are being exclusive (in respect of requiring believers baptism of a person who is a believer and a part of the "universal church"). I suppose that you too must be included in your comparison to the Mormons...Elder Wade :-)

Anonymous said...


Ok, my mistake. Change "verse" to "passage". And while you're at it, add MAKE DISCIPLES. So it's GO, MAKE DISCIPLES, BAPTIZE and TEACH.

My point is in agreement with Wade's post. If you interpret this passage as instruction from Christ to his followers, then you cannot separate the instruction to baptize from the instruction to Go, Make Disciples and Teach. No, it does not HAVE to be the same person, but the passage would indicate that it CAN be.

And I think that's Wade's position, that any believer who leads someone to Christ is also empowered (see the preceeding verse, Matthew 28:18) to baptize that person.

What more authority to Go, Make Disciples, BAPTIZE and Teach could a believer ask for?

GeneMBridges said...

In your scenario, a man can be saved, get baptized at the SBC and thus publicly testify to his faith, but never join the local church, move to Atlanta and not join a local church there either, and without such accountability be a disgrace to Christ, but witness and lead someone else to Christ and then baptize them in his swimming pool…and thus the cycle continues. Talk about starting cults - WOW.

Okay, then let's make this real world:

3506 members
203 baptisms
253 other additions
2200 primary worship attendance

3812 members
296 baptisms
190 other additions
2100 primary worship attendance

4011 members
209 baptisms
137 other additions
2031 primary worship attendance

4163 members
237 baptisms
204 other additions
1874 primary worship attendance

These are real numbers from a real SBC church, and one that is held up as model for SBC churches to follow.

Lots of baptisms...where are the members? According to this method, using your own yardstick, a man can make a profession, get baptized at this church and thus publicly testify to his faith, join the church and never show up; move to Atlanta, join the church there, and without accountability be a disgrace to Christ by not showing up, etc.

Funny thing about consequentialist arguments, Brad; as a general rule they are directly reversible on the opponent.

Now, I happen to agree that those baptized need to be integrated into the local church...but in the NT, you didn't have FBC, Immanuel, Calvary, Shepherd's, Mt. Olive, Mt. Carmel, Mars Hill, Level Hill, Old Fort, Berean, etc. churches all in one area. In my association alone, we have about 100 SBC churches. You can muliply that number by 2 or 3 for the total number of credo-baptist churches. In the NT, you had a Jerusalem church and an Ephesian church and an Antiochene church, etc. Making a connection between the modern Baptist practice and attachment of baptism to local church membership makes a leap from the NT to the 21st century that fails to account for these basic differences. Also, the Ethiopian Eunuch was baptized. What local church did he join or was Luke pointing us to the beginning of the Abyssinian church?

The SBC would do better to simply round up folks from local Triad churches who are in need of baptism and do it that way. There is no notation to tell us where these folks are coming from, in the article at BP. I know one mission church in our area, the same area in which the SBC is taking place, that is Baptist and has at least five baptisms to perform next month. Is the SBC willing to do those for them?

but witness and lead someone else to Christ and then baptize them in his swimming pool…and thus the cycle continues. Talk about starting cults - WOW. (A) Assuming this individual is regenerate, and his is witnessing to another to the others' conversion, he's no longer acting as disgrace to Christ (which would be nice for you to define). Likewise, if John is actually converted, this assumes he heard the true gospel. That eliminates the use of the word "cult." (B) Let's say Wade's hypothetical person is a committed Christian who has not joined an established local church. He witnesses to John Smith and baptizes John Smith. John Smith witnesses to two or three more and they too are converted. What is to stop them from constituting a local church at this point?

Anonymous said...

You are 100% correct in your analysis of the statement made in the agenda for the SBC. But you are 100% wrong in discussing the statement. Anyone discussing the statement has missed the big picture.

THEY DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE THE STATEMENT. We are not Catholics! We have only Christ as the head of our church. We are autonomous! We take orders only from Christ.

Every year, hungry egos have to be fed with some new rule about doctrine to show their power. When will Baptists wake up and stop spiritual leaders from being spiritual BOSSES.

Look at their track record:
1. Changed organization names.
2. Changed structure of missionary work.
3. Demoted missionaries into employees.
4. Forced missionaries to give up their call from God.
5. Fired missionaries.
6. Proclaimed Disney boycott.
7. Wives submit to husbands.
8. Told God He could not call women pastors.
9. Demoted ‘individual priesthood’ to ‘priesthood of believers.’
10. Govern churches by His laws that they interpret.
11. Made our BFM into a creed.
12. Withdrew from Baptist World Alliance
13. Must pray a certain way.
14. Must be baptized a certain way.

If egos had weight, they would need wheel-barrows.
Rex Ray

Todd Nelson said...

Wade, Ben, Brad, and all:

We have here at least two important questions about baptism:

1) Who should do the baptizing?
2) What settings are "proper"?

I'd like to comment IMHO ...

First, Scripture does not specify any restrictions on who can perform baptisms. Nevertheless, since the commission was given to the apostles, and by extension to the local church, we might deem it wise to restrict it to "authorized" leaders in the church (pastors, deacons, small group leaders, etc), but we cannot say it is "unscriptural" for any disciple to baptize a new convert. If you say that only apostles, pastors/elders, and deacons did the baptizing in Scripture (the apostles during Jesus’ ministry and in Acts 2, Phillip the Deacon in Acts 8, etc), and therefore “laymen” should not be allowed, then you are arguing from silence which is not a solid argument. Furthermore, the priesthood of all believers would seem to counter the argument for limiting baptizers to only the “clergy”.

Second, Scripture does not offer any guidance on where a baptism should be performed. Nevertheless, since it is meant to be a joyful celebration of salvation and to mark the beginning of one’s birth into the family of God, we might deem it wise to conduct baptisms wherever and whenever a local church gathers, so that church can witness, celebrate, and welcome that new disciple. The church can also use the baptismal service as an opportunity to instruct the new convert and the congregation in the meaning of baptism and discipleship.

Certainly we can all agree, wherever the baptism takes place, and by whomever, someone and some specific church must take responsibility to follow up and disciple new converts.

If Baptists really are a people of the Book (and I believe we try to be), then we must base our convictions and practices on Scripture, not on Baptist tradition (that we then try to defend by Scripture), and we must be willing to adjust our convictions in light of Scripture’s teaching, and its silence. Count me in on the side of tolerance for varying viewpoints where Scripture is silent and on issues where we have varying interpretations of non-essential doctrines. I believe these two questions about baptism fall into both categories.

Here’s a new question about baptismal formulas – about the Scriptural words spoken at the time of immersion:

In the Great Commission (and the BF&M), the formula for baptism is trinitarian – “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”. In Acts 2:38, however, Peter commanded baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ”. Are both formulas “proper”? Should one be preferred over the other? Why does the BF&M define baptism, then, as performed “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”?

Personally, I think both formulas are obviously biblical and equally permissible. But I've run into some Baptists who are adamant and dogmatic about the trinitarian formula. It's not a big deal to me, but I’m curious if others have ever faced this issue before, and if so, what have you concluded?

P.S. I was first introduced to the "Jesus' name only" formula by a Oneness Pentecostal pastor friend many years ago in NE Texas. We could still have good fellowship even though we didn't agree on the issue. And I admit, I learned something from him!

Bob Cleveland said...


With reference to all the comments about the responsibility to carry out the "Great Commission"

The "average Baptist" may well believe the Great Commission was given to the "church" and not to the individual. That probably accounts for the fact that (according to the numbers I've heard) only 5% or so of Baptists have EVER tried to lead someone to faith in Christ. And why 80% of the work and the giving, etc. is done by 20% of the members.

Jesus spoke that command to people. What was the name of their church? What denomination was it? Who were its officers, directors, deacons, elders, etc? Which one of them was responsible to see that it was carried out? Which one was to go out and witness?

Ever since I've been in church, I've heard the the "church" is the people, not the organization or the building. MAN invented the "organization", and then assigned the responsibility to it.

I do not see that as biblical.

Anonymous said...

Man, some folks just don’t get it. What is to keep someone from being baptized, joining a local body, and then never darkening the doors of the church again? Not that this would ever happen… I can hear the answer; “why, the folks at the local church would hold him/her accountable!” Nice try. I know that I can’t make ANYBODY do anything that they don’t want to do. It is still a matter of the will, like making Jesus the Lord of your life, not just your savior. Ask any pastor how successful he is at “making” model disciples from his membership. I agree that through a local church you’d have a much better opportunity to influence someone’s behavior, but your success is still dependent upon their will to grow.

As to the local church and accountability, did Phillip follow the Ethiopian eunuch home to disciple him? I think not. As for accountability, I haven’t seen or witnessed as much as I feel is necessary in the SBC lately. We are so afraid of hurting people’s feelings or offending them that we suppress the truth and withhold discipline when it is warranted. I hope there is more accountability in other churches than I’ve been witness to.

As for baptism, praise God that I can baptize. Otherwise, the folks we are winning to the Lord on the field would have to wait for somebody else who is an ordained preacher, to come and perform the baptism. Either that, or wait until a local congregation is formed, a leader is ordained and a building with a baptistry is constructed. All this with the full blessing of a hostile government. Good luck. How much of what we are making “necessary” is of our own SB tradition and how much is truly biblical?

Anonymous said...

Ok, you guys, lets think about whose views you're citing. Has anyone taken a poll of what the majority of Southern Baptists think? Not votes at the convention, but those who are in the churches (whether all members or all active members). I venture to say there would be surprises. But is this a valid criterion? None of of are perfect either in our thoughts or in our actions. And the majority of Southern Baptists have been wrong at times.

As for the Baptist forefathers (foreFATHERS - they kept the foreMOTHERS silent for a long time, and are still trying), I consider myself more in step with Baptist tradition than I think the present-day SBC is, but they weren't all right. I could quote you a few who suppported slavery, segregation, and a few other things most of us would disagree with now.

I know arguing about the Bible possibly outranks watching football (sports in general?)as a pastime among present-day Southern Baptist leaders, but let's just think first about what the Bible says and then see whether these other things match that. Unfortunately, being Baptist, we won't agree on that either. Maybe we just have to fall back onto agreeing on the essentials, which have been defined well several times here, loving each other when we disagree, and go about doing the Lord's work in the world as best we can and supporting each other as we do.


Anonymous said...

Bro. Wade,

Bro. J.H. Grime, a noted Tennessee Southern Baptist pastor of the late 1800's wrote a little book called "A History of Alien Immersion and Valid Baptism." The Berea Baptist Church of Mantachie, Mississippi (an independent Baptist Church - sells this book for $2.50, plus shipping. I would challenge you and any other readers to buy a copy of this book and read what Baptists throughout the U.S. used to believe about alien baptism. Here is just one example:

"Should any person be received into our communion on a baptism from a Methodist or Paedo-baptist minister? And if not, what shall be done with those who may have been received on such baptism? Answer -- In the negative; and recommend that such as have been received on such baptism be re-baptized." 1810, Georgia Baptist Association

(The above quote is from the "History of the Georgia Baptist Association", compiled at the request of that body by Jesse Mercer, Washington, GA, 1838 on page 133).

Marty Duren said...

If Wade is out of step with the average Southern Baptist and the average Southern Baptist is out of step with Scripture, who is in the better position?

As far as I can see, Wade's parable is a modern day Ethiopian eunuch scenario, so the real question is, "Was the eunuch's baptism valid or not?"

33% (to use your figure), is more than enough to reframe your argument. If 2/3 of the uses mean local church, and 1/3 mean universal church, then there is plenty of evidence for both and both should be believed and taught, not simply to state that the local church is the focal point of NT teaching.

While you may not know anyone who believes you must be baptized in an SBC church to be biblical, we have folks who believe (against scripture) that it must be a baptistic church or else it is not valid.

Anonymous said...

If there are no witnesses, God's grace cannot flow THROUGH the church INTO the person being baptized. Therefore, if the local church is not present, a real baptism cannot occur.

Your inability to understand this is due to the fact that you are Protestant. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I find the number of references to the BFM2K interesting and thought provoking. Do SBC churches still accept "statements" regarding prior baptisms or is a signed statement required? Given the current drift toward signing "formal statements of religious faith" (BF&M2K") how long before formal statements of baptisms are required? What if the SB church where the applicant was baptized has disbanded, is it "legal" to accept a statement or must there be a formal document attesting to membership and "in church" baptism? The slippery slope of requiring signing of documents (read legalism)leads straight back to Rome, IMO. I am not willing to learn Latin. Have you ever heard Latin spoken with a Texas drawl tempered by 25 years in Alabama? Not pretty!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting comments. If you take on the seminary presidents, you will find it is all about power and control. Also, it seems to me that we are seeking to make baptism a tv show! I hope I am wrong, but the evidence is on the tv side! Good luck and God bless Wade in your efforts. But the failout could be tough for you!! wayne

Anonymous said...

Since this blo often speaks of the Cooperative Program, etc..I raise a question. Why should CP money go to support colleges at our seminaries? I though the colleges were state convention supported. Now I read that Southern Seminary is about to hire a basketball coach...What am I missing here? wayne

Benjamin S. Cole said...


You better provide yourself some wiggle room on this one.

I've read this post a few times now, and I think I see the flexibility in Scripture to allow your church to receive that baptism, and yet I do believe other churches would be justified in asking that the man be rebaptized.

I wasn't comfortable with the "convention baptism" last year. I'm not comfortable with it this year.

I think it is potentially confusing to a new convert about the ordinance...

But I'm sure you have a good response about how I'm just a "young theologian" who needs "more time" and "more study" before I will surely "see it your way."


Anonymous said...

Jay R.,

Small correction: catholicism never worried much about teaching Latin to its converts. They did not need to understand what was going on in the mass. That was the reason behind the furor when Luther translated the Bible into German. He was making it accessible to the masses. The important thing for catholicism was one's participation in the rites, not their comprehension of their words or meaning. The theology was that grace is transmitted through the acts of the sacraments. The mind does not need to be engaged. The body is what must participate.


The only reason for the local church to vote on accepting a candidate has to do with issues of membership in the local institution. This is NOT a matter of faith, but of legality for purposes of voting and counting membership as an organization. The early church did not keep roles, especially as they were not recognized legal entities. We have just confused the two issues over the last generations.

When it was illegal for Baptists to preach and baptize back in the 1700's, there was no voting on allowing someone to be baptized. If they submitted to baptism, that was enough! Baptism was a statement of faith, and a strong one at that. In Virginia at the time, one could be fined 2,000 pounds of tobacco for not having one's children baptized by the Congregationalist church. We have watered down the meaning and purpose of baptism over generations since.

Local church polity requires that its membership vote to receive a new member on its membership roll. Entering the body of Christ is about a relationship with Jesus Christ, not an ecclesiastical institution.

Arguments as to maintaining the baptized in our churches have to do with completely separate issues. This may speak more to our failures in "teaching them ALL the things I have commanded you," as well as to watering down the gospel to a "what's in it for me" presentation. We have too often made it a "Get out of Hell Free Card," when Jesus counseled people to stay away from the gospel, due to the demands of discipleship. said...

Mr. Road Runner Ben,

I need no wiggle room.

The Scripture provides plenty.

Those who hold an opposite view of mine are welcome in the SBC and I am thrilled to cooperate with them.

The question: Will they cooperate with those of us who base our beliefs solely on Scripture?

Are we becoming a convention that denies the inerrant text for the sake of our favorite traditions?

I hope not.

wade said...

Mr. Ben Stratton,

That is a Landmark book that denies the salvation of Presbyterians and Methodists.

Sorry. Can't go there.

wade said...

Gene Bridges,

As usual, brilliant analysis. said...


No need to say something twice. said...


Nice humor and irony

Anonymous said...

While not in the same camp as Ben. I am opposed to the IMB policies. I don't see the parallel between this and the ethiopian eunich.

My city has 44 baptist churches. I think if there were a church on each corner with a baptistry, Philip probably would have taken him to a local congregation.

That was a much different context and I think that story is a tad overused to make points on this issue. It was Eunuch situation. :<) said...

Mr. Anonymous Who Doubts Methodists and Presbyterians are Part of the Universal Church,

How sad.

Of course they are.

They just aren't part of my local fellowship called Emmanuel BAPTIST Church, but they are my brothers and sisters in Christ and I see them as part of the evangelical family. Maybe, as happened to Luther Rice, they will come to a BIBLICAL understanding of baptism, but since the mode and means of baptism is not essential to salvation, they are redeemed by the love of God, the death of Christ and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. I would argue until midnight with any of them that there baptism is not Scriptural, but I would join them in prayer, fellowship and evangelism.

P.S. This is why Mr. Billy Graham does not baptize at His crusades. He joins in the sharing of the gospel with many denominations. He leaves the baptizing to "local" churches. A good practice if you ask me.

But I don't think any of us Southern Baptists would deny the salvation of a person who was saved at a Billy Graham crusade but sprinkled in a Presbyterian church, or poured in a Mennonite church, or . . . . Would we? said...


That's a funny pun :)

I like your spirit.


Anonymous said...

Pastor Wade,
Just to make your point. My husband grew up Mennonite Brethren...and at my church (Council Road)his salvation and baptism were accepted when he desired to join the church.

PS- In his mennonite church they do full immersion baptism. (sorry if I spelled that wrong)

Benjamin S. Cole said...

Ewwwww...I hate you Rabbit!

brad reynolds said...

First let me say your boldness and kindness are admirable.

Just for informational purposes: Ecclesia occurs 114 times in the NT, it is used 62 times by Paul. Now the 33% figure I gave last night comes from a personal study I did, a while back, where I was playing the devils advocate and trying to prove your point by looking at every occurrence in the Greek NT. My figure was far too generous, this morning, my Systematic Theology notes render the figure more like 10% and Millard Erickson says, “THE LOCAL SENSE OF THE CHURCH IS EVIDENTLY INTENDED IN THE VAST MAJORITY OF OCCURENCES OF THE WORD ECCLESIA” (Erickson, Christian Theology, Baker, 1985, p. 1033). Some even believe it always refers to the local church (although I don’t find myself there).

Your point was that the vast majority of the times ecclesia is used in NT it is in reference to the universal church and therefore the ordinance of baptism is given to the universal church, you reference historical Baptist documents as evidence, however when we actually look to the NT the vast majority of the time it is used for the local assembly (we can go through each usage if you like and I will be generous).

Further, the meaning of ecclesia should be seen against the current usage of the term at the time. In Greek writing it referred to a local assembling or gathering of persons. Further, for Jewish usage of the term we can look to the Septuagint, where it is used to translate qahal and edah into Greek. Qahal refers to the act of assembling. Edah refers to the people who are gathered at the assembly.

Our Lord used the term twice, once in reference to the building of it (Matt. 16:18) wherein the verb translated to build is in the future tense (thus he could not be referring to the OT saints). The second time may clarify its first use when he uses it for church discipline, which can only truly be practiced in a local assembly (Matt. 18:17).

Now if we take Matthew 28 as a commissioning of his disciples who would form the local church at Jerusalem, then the not so good hermeneutic of dividing verse 19 from verse 20 (which you have yet to address) is further rendered “not so good.”

“As a local assembly at Jerusalem go into the rest of the world and make more disciples and baptize them and disciple them under the authority and accountability of the church at Jerusalem and then teach them to do the same as they begin a local assembly under the leading of a shepherd.” This is what we find in Acts.

Finally, just because you cannot prove something is wrong from Scripture does not in any way make the practice a Scriptural practice.

Now, I believe I have engaged the SCRIPTURES, so let us allow them to be our guide.
The universal church is as intangible as it is invisible.

Thus questions are raised:
1. Where in Scripture do you find a precedent for Baptizing outside the authority of the local church?
2. Would you recognize Methodist sprinkling in the universal church a practice of believer’s baptism and receive such a one without immersion into your church?
3. How do you explain the unusual hermeneutic of taking verse 19 in Matthew 28 to reference the universal church and verse 20 to reference the local church?
4. Are you assuming that the references to the ordinance of Baptism in the BFM2K were to the universal church?

Anonymous said...

Elder Wade,

I don't doubt that they are part of the universal church. I am saying that you are being exclusive because you would refuse them membership into your church. Is this not the thrust of what you are arguing against the current SBC? I think it is, especially by your comparison to the exclusions performed by Mormons.

The NT witness of the "church" is overwhelmingly referring to the local assembly. Albeit, there are times that Scripture refers to the church as a whole (universal), but its not often. If you want to talk in terms of universal church, then how can you deny a Methodist (who is a part of the "universal church") membership at Emmanuel?

Don't write this have to explain. I see three different options you can take on this position; You can:

1. Write me off.
2. Argue that requiring the mode of a particular baptism is not being exclusive (I assume that this is where you will go, but nonetheless, this would be a false assumption on your part).
3. Realize that how hard you try, you too are being exclusive, which, by your own reasoning makes you like the Mormons.

"Elder" Anonymous.

SavedandSure said...


Gene Bridges, whose insight and wisdom is far beyond his years,

never disappoints us with his knowledge and willingness to share.

Every webblog (BLOG) needs his thorough research and input, even if you do not agree (and want to be wrong) with some of his conclusions.

Bob Cleveland said...

Somebody has to say it, so (being the old curmudgeo-clast that I am) it might was well be me.

The Convention Program mentions the "Everyone Can" initiative. I like that, and believe some subtitles should be added, in various contexts:

"Be an SBC Missionary"

"Have Biblically-Described and Biblically-Protected Gifts"

"Be Free to State Biblical Truths"

"Found Biblical Churches in Cooperation with Other Missionaries".

I'm sure there are more out there, somewhere. And the list seems to be growing.

Sorry. Somebody had to say it.

Bob Cleveland said...

ps: That was, of course, satire.

Anonymous said...

"The vast majority of times in the NT the word refers to all the elect from all ages."

It seems to me this sweeping generalization has about as much support as the landmarker's opposite sweeping generalization.

Just yesterday I read a short paper by Sam Waldron explaining the Scriptural connection between baptism and the local, visible church. I'd be curious to know how you would refute Waldron's argument. It can be found here:

Anonymous said...

Let's take your hypothetical a bit farther. When you ask the fellow about his baptism, he says: "Well, the fellow who brought me to Christ took me to his home and baptized me in his swimming pool as an expression of my faith in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I asked if he was a preacher, but he said he wasn't a preacher or deacon, and that he wasn't even a member of a local church. He said all Christians are members of the same invisible, universal church."

Is the above scenario biblical, or not? If not, how is it any different from your convention scenario? And would you accept such a person into your church's membership on statement?

Anonymous said...

What’s the saying, “If you can’t lick them, join them”? Since you guys are still ‘honoring’ the agenda by discussing it, I’ll say my two cents.
What’s good enough for Paul is good enough for me. “Arise, and be baptized;” sounds like a camel watering hole was nearby. The only witness was Jesus, and that also is good enough for me.

Chuck Andrews said...


Brad's statement about a fellow believer being a “disgrace to Christ” is presuppositional to the root of this whole debate.

IMO, most Baptist churches teach "saved by grace" but practice "kept by works." The churches of Galatia had the same problem.

We may do things that bring disgrace to the Name of Christ and to the cause of Christ but the fact that we are saved by the grace of Christ assures us that we can never ever be a disgrace TO Christ!

Religion by guilt -- now there's a cult.


Anonymous said...

Ben Stratton,

As a displaced NOBTS student and temporary resident of Mantachie, MS, I don't know if the outrageous number of independent baptist churches in this area should really be used as our sources of authoritative curriculum. Should you edit your post to read "Landmark Baptists in the Mid-South" instead of "baptists throughout the U.S."?

Don't get me wrong, a lot of extremely nice Baptists live here, but their ecclesiological worldviews are a bit limited. Trying to discuss why I, as a CP-supported seminary student, can't join their churches confounds them. Finding an outward-focused SBC church in this area has been extremely difficult during our time here.

James Roberts

Anonymous said...

Concerning the issue raised about the Cooperative Program, and other issues, this is interesting:

I could be wrong, and I'm sure I will be told I am whether or not, but a school basketball program at a seminary seems at least strange.


Brett said...

Dear anonymous (post #24 if I counted correctly),

Thanks for clarifying. I totally misread your first post (#9).

I'm with you.

Just an exegetical point: It's not four separate commands in that passage. It's one command: MAKE DISCIPLES, with 3 aspects: make disciples "as you go", baptizing those new disciples, and teaching them comprehensively from the Word.

I believe any Christian can carry out, and is commissioned to carry out, this command in all aspects.

Anonymous said...

Bro. Wade

I'm not sure where you are getting your information, but J.H. Grime did not believe that Presbyterians and Methodists were all lost or that only Baptists were saved. As a matter of fact neither did Graves, Pendleton, Dayton, Carroll, Eaton, Bogard, or any other Landmark Baptist preacher. Grime's book is simply a history book. He looks at different states in the union and examines what they believed about the administrator of baptism before the Civil War. His findings are very interesting. It is a most read for anymore interested in the current IMB policy on baptism.

Hope this helps,


Anonymous said...

Reading some of the comments about the Catholic Church validates the old saying "ignorant people say stupid things". Why not get some accurate information about Catholic missions, (where did those billion plus Catholics come from)? Check out the number of common language Bibles that were published prior to any Protestant editions. A little study on the Mass also wouldn’t hurt.

These comments, unfortunately, support the impression that Baptist are basically a “mile wide and an inch deep”. I know better. I have great respect for Baptist people, and for your witness of Christ to this needy world. Catholics can certainly learn much from you, but you too, if you’re willing, may be able to learn a little from us as well.

Anonymous said...

Am I missing something in my reading of Scripture? Was John actually a pastor at FBC Jordan? Was Jesus really immersed in a baptistry contained within the walls of FBC Jordan? Have I been misreading the Gospels all these years?

John Moeller said...

Wow! Lots of comments here. Jesus was baptized in a river by his cousin, not at a SB church. No SB Church witness was there nor was there verification that the river was deep enough to insure full imersion. Did His baptism count? Would He be accepted at today’s local SB Church? I suspect His baptism would be rejected and Jesus would be forced to be re-baptized for the SBC to allow Him in the church!

Be real here. Splash, dunk, dip or sprinkle. It’s the evidence of the changed heart in their daily walk that really matters.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Mac
You made my day!! "Latin spoken with a Texas drawl and 25 years in Alabama -- Not pretty" I'm still laughing


Anonymous said...


I went back and read the SBC meeting line-up. Here it is with my comments;

SESSION 1; “I’m It” to Witness;
SCRIPTURE: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

{Go witness, but don’t use the gifts that the Power of the Holy Spirit gives…..}

SESSION 2: “I’m It” to Win
SCRIPTURE: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16 (HCSB)

{win the lost, but do it by the SBC rules and sign a SBC contract or I’ll fire you…..}

SESSION 3: “I’m It” to Baptize
SCRIPTURE: “Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.” Romans 6:4 (HCSB)

{Baptise!, well, if you are qualified, have qualified church building and qualified witnesses.}

SESSION 4: “I’m It” to Unify Our Purpose
SCRIPTURE: “Just one thing: live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27 (HCSB)

{not really, do it the SBC way, don’t complain, and for heavens sake, don’t blog about it!}

SESSION 5: “I’m It” to Go
SCRIPTURE: “However, if the watchman sees the sword coming but doesn’t blow the trumpet, so that the people aren’t warned, and the sword comes and takes away their lives, then they have been taken away because of their iniquity, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.” Ezekiel 33:6 (HCSB)

{that sword doesn’t include heralding improper rules and regulations that go against our faith and message though!}

{Amazing! I pray that all the sessions listed will indeed right the wrongs and straighten the path of the SBC, I pray!} said...

Everyone great comments!

Some have asked questions that I don't have time to answer (tee time at 1:00 p.m.).

I'll try to respond tonight. said...

Mr. Reynolds,

I really do appreciate your spirit. There is a kindness that comes through very clearly.

Before I tie my golf shoes on I needed to answer your four questions:

Thus questions are raised:
1. Where in Scripture do you find a precedent for Baptizing outside the authority of the local church?

EVERYWHERE My definition of the church is thoroughly Biblical and different from your interpretation. I see the church as primarily universal (the elect, the Bride of Christ, the redeemed, all believers and those who will become believers, etc . . .) with an obvious understanding that there "local" assemblies (churches), but frankly my Assembly, Methodist, Presbyterian and all other evangelicals are part of the "ekklesia" (universal church).

2. Would you recognize Methodist sprinkling in the universal church a practice of believer’s baptism and receive such a one without immersion into your church?

Of course not. But I would love my Methodist brothers, work with them on the mission field, hold them up as evangelical, and serve them as brothers and sisters in Christ.

3. How do you explain the unusual hermeneutic of taking verse 19 in Matthew 28 to reference the universal church and verse 20 to reference the local church?

It is only your unusual hermeneutic because I never switched --- you did.

4. Are you assuming that the references to the ordinance of Baptism in the BFM2K were to the universal church?

The BFM gives room for both interpretations, but please understand "The Lord's Supper" and "Baptism" are both ordinances of our "local" church as well, we just recognize believer's baptism by immersion that takes place outside of Southern Baptist churches and believe the Lord's Supper is open to all believers unless under discipline. That is in harmony with the BFM 2000

I leave you Brad with a great quote from my uncle Jim that may be a post soon:

Tradition is the living faith of our dead fathers.

Traditionalism is the dead faith of our living fathers.

My consience is bound by the Word of God and not tradition or traditionalism (though I delight in pointing out I hold to the very HISTORIC Baptist view of baptism from the 18th century --- it just so happens these men were the most brilliant theologians Baptist ever produced --- they were erudite and Biblical and mostly self-taught.

Jamie Wootten said...


Couple of thoughts here in line with what Ben Cole said...

#1) Scripture seems to give us some wiggle room on the baptism issue. But I do think it leans toward baptism falling under the authority of the local church. The times it in scripture that it was done outside the context of the local chruch seem to be an exception and not the rule. Those baptisms usually had other special circumstances involved. The apostles were not purposely doing this outside of the church.

Like Ben, I too am a little uncomfortable with baptisms at the convention but like you I would not hesitate to receive those baptized there as members. I believe scripture gives us that liberty.

#2) Why are we having baptisms at the convention rather than letting the local churches do it at their place?

I do not know who, how many, or what the testimonies are of these being baptized, but in my opinion (and that's all -just me) this seems to be a bit on the showmanship side. It comes across as our convention displaying our "trophies." I do agree that if someone got saved at the convention, say a protester, cab driver, waiter, etc. then I could see doing this. But for me something just doesn't seem right about leading a person to Christ and then asking them to wait for our convention in order to display them to the world.

Anonymous said...

First - what harm is it to be baptized more than once. Maybe we would all do well to be baptized every year - just as a picture and reminder of what has happened in our lives. After all we take the ordinance of the Lord's Supper over and over. Maybe "maybe one Lord, one Faith, one baptism" means you are only allowed ot do it once. I personally think that baptism is a beautiful outer picture of inner transformaiotn - I am not a theologian so I may be wrong. However I jsut do not see the big deal if someone is "re-baptized" - if I went to a new town, found a non-Baptist church that I felt lead to join, and they required me to be baptized - it would not make me feel that my Baptist baptism was any less special and I woudl be honored to follow in Christ's steps again. I do not see anything in Scirpture that prohibits the number of times someone can be baptized - but I am open to correction if I am wrong. It seems to me that with a lot of people - it is more a pride issue than a doctrinal issue. They have a great deal of "pride" in their former baptism and so do not want ot "submit" to doing it again. Since salvation is not a soteriological issue - then I doubt that anyone will go to hell for being re-baptized. All right - I am ready for a torrent of response.

Anonymous said...


Of Baptism SAYS
I. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with Him, in His death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into Him;[1] of remission of sins;[2] and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.[3]

1. Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27
2. Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16
3. Rom. 6:4

II. Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.[4]

4. Mark 16:16; Acts 2:41; 8:12, 36-37; 18:8

III. The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.[5]

5. Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 8:38

IV. Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.[6]

6. Matt. 3:16, John 3:23

Anonymous said...

I think many are mistakingly taking the unique context of the beginning of Christian movement to make their point on this matter.

John the Baptists and Phillips situation are so remarkable different and removed from our real-life situation that is under discussion that it really is not logical to make arguments from it. Though I doubt that will stop anyone.

Of course there wasn't a first baptist Jordan. But, as I said above, if there were a multitude of congregations for Philip to take someone to be baptized at, why wouldn't we assume that he would go there. said...

Mr. Anonymous Who Thinks We Should Be Baptized Every Year,

I politely disagree.

Christ died once. Baptism is the preaching of the gospel. It is the outward expression of faith in the once for all work of Jesus Christ.

I am trying to keep our focus in the SBC on the person and work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Sure the Lord's Supper is repeated more than once, but the Lord's Supper is meant for "communion" between not only God and man, but believer to believer. It is a supper of fellowship. When we celebrate the Lord's supper at Emmanuel we are now doing it around tables, at a meal, with our entire "ekklesia" present. It really is a special event.

I frankly would be thrilled to share that kind of fellowship with any evangelical anywhere in the world.

Anonymous said...

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mat 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Anonymous said...


Great post. As usual, you are the man! Oh, that our "Pastor Search Committee" had actually searched and not just rubber-stamped the outgoing pastor's edict. You might have been my new mega-church pastor.

Who can add anything to a post with 67 comments and counting? All we need now is a haiku.

Made each priests and kings
Some took glory in their robes
Tradition trumps truth.


Bob Cleveland said...

Flounder (and others who raised the point):

I don't believe we can ever, ever build, or affirm, any doctrine on what we surmise someone might have done if things had been different. If the place of baptism had been important to Philip when he had the Eunuch in tow, I'm sure he'd have gone where it was important to be baptized.

That, I think, is a logical assumption, but unnecessary even in light of what the Bible DOES say.

Wade: Thanks again for the indirect benefit of your blog; namely, getting a bunch of believers talking about what they believe.

I'm lovin' it.

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that local churches in the Greensboro area are baptizing individuals into their churches. They are only doing it in the presence of all of those who will be gathered at the convention. I thought it was a very moving part of last year's meeting in Nashville.

Anonymous said...

The Believer’s Study Bible
W.A. Criswell, Ph.D.
Managing Editor
Paige Patterson, Th.D.
Old Testament Editor
E. Ray Clendenen, Ph.D.
New Testament Editor
Daniel L. Akin, Ph. D.
Assistant Editors
Mallory Chamberlin, Ph.D.
Dorothy Kelly Patterson, D.Minn.
Joh_3:5 While there is common agreement on the identity of “the Spirit” as the Holy Spirit, there is difference of opinion on the meaning of “born of water.” (1) Some speak of this as water baptism which is regenerative and salvific, but this is antithetical to the teaching of salvation by grace. (2) Another view interprets it as the water of natural birth. It is unlikely that Jesus would present this as a requirement for Nicodemus’ salvation. (3) Water may stand for the word of God and its cleansing qualities (Joh_15:3; Eph_5:26; 1Pe_1:23). (4) An interpretation that is more attractive is found in Eze_36:25. and Tit_3:5, which speaks of the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. To be “born from above,” then, means to be regenerated and cleansed by the Holy Spirit, which entitles a man to enter the kingdom of God.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Jamie Wootang Clan about the "showmanship" element.

Somethings aren't explicitly unbiblical, but that doesn't mean we should do them. I'm not against doing the baptisms at conventions, but I'm not comfortable with them.

If the people who drive all the way to the SBC Convention need to see a baptism there to get excited about evangelism, we're in trouble.

How about we just play videos of people who have been baptized throughout the year in our churches. I'd like to see that.

Anonymous said...

73 posted comments!
That's what I call generating a discussion!
Much of what has been shared has been a duplication of previous commentary, but, I find it exciting to see the continued sharing of varying covictions and with such "genteel tenderness"!
Just a reminder! Much of this needs to be voiced on the floor of the SBC! You NEED TO BE THERE FOR THAT TO HAPPEN! BTW, I would love to see some of you at CrossOver on Saturday preceding the Pastor's Conference! If the Lord's willing, and we can all make it..... I believe this can be a historic time for Kingdom effectiveness! bml

brad reynolds said...

Thank you for your response...I really do appreciate you taking the time to respond. And you answered my questions...thank you.

How did you do on the course? Hope it went well.

You’re seeing the church as primarily universal is lacking Scripturally, (my NT notes reveal 109 of the 114 uses of ecclesia refer to the local church). You have yet to defend your position Scripturally other than stating you see it everywhere. This is an important issue, help us see what you see – Passages would help.

Now if the ordinance were given to the Elect, or the Redeemed or the Body of Christ, I could see your point…but it wasn’t given (nor could be) to the redeemed of the OT (or New for that matter), nor was it given to the Elect which would include OT saints, nor to the Body of Christ (universal church if you will) but to the Ecclesia, the local church.

Perhaps your understanding is gleaned from history. The universal church received much attention during the 17th and 18th centuries, thus the writings you reference. Why was this the case? Some would argue it was the reformation and a “recovering” of scripture. However, the culture may help to understand. Before the Reformation, the church was everyone who was born into the state, but reformers understood this not to be the case, they preached the difference, many at the cost of their lives.

While in hiding and certainly not a part of the Catholic church they began recognizing that they were part of Christ’s true body even though to express it locally (outside the Catholic church) would require their lives, hence the popularation of the terms “Invisible and Universal.”

In question 3 you said you did not change hermeneutic thus implying that baptism and Discipleship take place outside the local church, however you state “Discipleship, discipline, and communion are ALL functions of the local assembly of believers, but we are talking about evangelism and baptism which are functions of EVERY believer” – please reconcile this apparent discrepancy.

Trevor said...

Wade & others,

The story of the Eunuch in Acts you interpret the account of Philip evangelizing (preaching to & baptizing) him as descriptive or prescriptive for how we should view the baptizing of new converts?

I have no point to make other than I am curious.

Trevor Davis
Great Commission Church
Olive Branch, MS

brad reynolds said...

A New Scenario from the NT

Let's say we were a local group of believers in Jerusalem, we are known as Baptist and meet in the southern part of Jerusalem...God has commissioned us to go share Christ, Baptize and teach.

On Monday night we go out and share Christ, a young man comes to trust in Him. We then tell him he needs to let the world know through baptism and in so doing he would be committing himself to us and we to him in a covenant relationship to hold each other accountable through our local assembly, (JOINING the local assembly in the NT was not by a letter but one's profession and BAPTISM, letters address the moving from one geographical area to another without baptism again...baptism was both a witness to the world and an ordinance for the ecclesia - local church).

He is baptized and then on Saturday mornings we under the authority of the church begin discipling him.

Sounds far more like Matt 28:18-20.

Anonymous said...

What's your golf handicap, Wade?

Anonymous said...

Okay, I am really going to throw a monkey wrench into things. It is my observation that as SB's (and I have been one my whole life) we talk out of both sides of our mouth about baptistm. We say that baptism is not essential in any way for salvation. It is just an "outward" sign, or picture, of an "inward" change. So if you have never been baptised, but you confess Jesus as your savior, you can still be a christian. However, you can't join a SB church if you haven't been baptised by immersion. So in theory we don't believe in baptismal regeneration, but in practice you can't be one of us if you haven't been baptised by immersion. So which is it? Is baptism by immersion necessary for salvation or not? If baptism is not essential for salvation why do we require it for church membership? I am not saying is disagree with our practice, I'm just wondering if we base our baptism pactice on the bible or tradition. said...

Golf handicap is 8. said...


Unfortunately you confuse becoming a member of the body of Christ (the ekklesia) through regeneration of the Holy Spirit, and the outward profession of one's faith through baptism with an initiation rite into a local church. The church is responsible, as Dr. Gill so articulately states in his brilliant Body of Divinity, to make sure EVERY member has faith and is properly baptized, but baptism often may take place outside the church. said...


I see it as both. Prescriptive and descriptive. said...


To what local church do you belong?

Anonymous said...

Have you learned anything from these 85 comments? Are there divisions growing in our group? Are we discussing major concerns that need correcting in the SBC, or are we fussing over a small incidental like the ones in the SBC?

If you can’t keep ‘incidentals’ off your blog, how can you rid them from the SBC? What started all this?
All you should have said about the agenda for the SBC was it is another example of incidentals that promotes exclusion, raises controversy, narrows borders, makes the circle smaller, and feeds egos of our leaders.

We would all (excluding Brad) yelled, “Preach on brother!” and that would have been the end of that. But instead, you explained your views on the agenda, and we followed.

We are all a little guilty of Paul’s warning: (1 Tim. 1:7 and 1 Cor. 11:19) “They want to become famous as teachers of the laws of Moses.” “I suppose you feel this [arguing] is necessary so that you who are always right will become known and recognized.”

Let’s keep the main thing the main thing.
Rex said...


I have shown our convention is diverse.

We should not exclude people because of their diverse views on non-essentials.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said
Is baptism by immersion necessary for salvation or not? If baptism is not essential for salvation why do we require it for church membership?

I think a church should not accept a professing christian as a member who is in willful rebellion against God. ie. living with a women he's not married to, selling drugs, etc.

I think baptism falls into the similar line of thinking. If a new convert is unwilling to be baptised, which is clearly commanded, there is reason to doubt their salvation and deny their membership.

Its not that baptism is saving at all or that it is some super-commandment which is a special benchmark for membership.

On a totally different note:
How about some of these anonymous folks, just check "other" and make up a name, it would be less confusing.

brad reynolds said...

Thanks for your thoughts. They are good and logical. But I was asking for Biblical support of your position not logical.

Let me state again
Your seeing the church as primarily universal is lacking Scripturally, (my NT notes reveal 109 of the 114 uses of ecclesia refer to the local church). You have yet to defend your position Scripturally other than stating you see it everywhere. This is an important issue, help us see what you see – Passages would help.

In question 3 you said you did not change hermeneutic thus implying that baptism and Discipleship take place outside the local church, however you state “Discipleship, discipline, and communion are ALL functions of the local assembly of believers, but we are talking about evangelism and baptism which are functions of EVERY believer” – please reconcile this apparent discrepancy.

Anonymous said...

What about the Ethiopian eunuch that Marty brought up? I mean this as an honest question and not to argue with anyone but to learn.

I would like to hear what Brad thinks.

As a newbie in all this it does sound like the Ethiopian eunuch is a good parrell to the Cab driver illustration.

Brad are you saying he is not saved? If he is saved then I am not sure what there is to discuss other than his church involvement, which we know nothing about. said...


Read this The Ekklesia. It saves me from having to type an article replete with Scripture because John Reisinger does it so well.

Don't post again till you read it :)

Anonymous said...


I waded (sorry for the pun, Wade!) through all these comments and I'm blown away.

Wade, I've been reading your blog for several months now and as a former IMB missionary I am very grateful for your service to the rest of my co-workers and friends at the IMB and for the way you have taken a stand for what you believe -- and I agree -- is right and against what is going wrong within the agency.

My heart is so heavy now, so much so I hardly know where to begin.

I'm pretty much your average "SB", I guess. I'm not a seminary grad. I don't spend hours reading commentaries or church histories. My dad was a SB Chaplain in the Army and then on staff at various churches; mom his faithful prayer warrior/pianist and partner in life. I was saved at six but didn't really develope a full relationship with Jesus till around 12 when He began talking with me regularly as we watched the sunrise each morning in the field behind my home. Since then my life has been consumed by His love for me and driven by a desperate need to hear His voice every moment and know Him intimately.

I'm 40 now and most of my daily life is consumed with living out to the best of my ability whatever God asks of me in that moment, in order that somehow, some way, the people around me might get a better glimpse of Jesus and just how deeply He loves them, and how rich life can be -- even in the midst of pain and tragedy -- when lived in intimacy with Christ. I long for each of them to step into their own intimate relationship with Him.

Reading these comments has broken my heart. I see so many people here, presumably leaders in our churches, so tied up in issues I'm convinced are secondary in Jesus' mind to the abundant Life to be grabbed hold of, and which He longs for us to share with every person He puts in our paths each day.

Among the things I don't understand are, why its important whether "ekklesia" means a local body or the overall body of Christ; and I don't understand how that word relates to Jesus command to go and make disciples. I don't see that word in that passage -- ekklesia, church, local chuch, body of Christ, or any other such form. I only see Jesus giving a direct command to His disciples. I figure if I count myself as His disciple then it applies to me. And doesn't apply to anyone who does not count themself and His disciple. Am I missing something? --- I'm serious here. I need some help. 'Cause I always saw it as applying to me personally, hook, line and sinker -- or, rather, baptizing.

I don't understand why people want to divide Scripture into verses and say one verse applies to these people and the very next verse doesn't. Jesus didn't talk in verses, did He? I thought He just talked. Like you and I.

Most of all, I don't understand how contstant nit-picking and doctrinal/denominational dogma advances the Kingdom in any way?

As I said, I'm just an average SB. I need to hear from people who can speak my language and not the seminarian-speak that seems to be going on here right now. I want to understand how this advances God's Kingdom. Surely you must believe it does; why would you spend so much time on such conversations otherwise.

Can anyone help me understand?

Wade, I know you approve comments before they are posted and you've said something before about length... I understand if this is too long to approve. I just needed to say it to someone involved in the conversation.

Anonymous said...

As I read down through these blogs there seem to be two basic strains of thought - those who beleive that baptism is for the church universal and those who believe it is for the church local. Those who believe it is for the church universal have very logical reaons then for basically stating that baptism can be done by anyone, anytime, anyplace - and it is valid as an ordinance of the universal church. THose who feel it is the province of the local church gernally take the view that logically follows that there are certain restrictions on who administers baptism - within this group are those who feel only ordained persons should administer while others feel that anyone can administer - as long as they have been authorized by the church. Both are positions that logically follow each sides presuppositions of the New Testament meaning of "church". I am no Greek scolar - but what I have ben taught and from my reading just in English of the Scripture - it seems that those who argue for the church local have the stronger Scriptural case. (I can respect those who have a differing view - and can admit that I amy be mistaken).
And while I am not advocating people being baptized every year - I still do not see the issue with being baptized again to meet the local church interpretation of baptism. I think the core issue with all of this that bloggers should focus on however is what is the meaning of the church most itmes in the New Testament - universal or local.

Anonymous said...

My first comment raised the question did the SBC have the right to add another non-essential to be obeyed by churches.
The second comment said the only witness to Paul’s baptism was Jesus
The last comment had 5 question—the main one; were we arguing over non-essentials so we can become known and recognized?

Your reply was you have shown our convention is diverse—and we should not exclude people because of their diverse views on non-essentials.

I’ll whine like Brad and say I don’t understand you reply.

Anonymous said...

After reading the article by Reisinger all I have to say is. . .


The "called out ones" all belong to a "local" branch of the "called out ones." Membership in the local branch of the called out ones is contingent on first being called by God. All those called by God will find a place to express their faith. When we place our own rules on who can join our group above what scripture teaches and it excludes some who are obviously called of God, then we have become nothing more than a club and are no longer functioning as a local branch of the called out ones. In effect, we are saying that only a selcet few of those that have been called by God can join our group. We have placed our traditions above scripture, and we are no different than the church in Rome. We might as well just forget the reformation.

brad reynolds said...

Thanks for the additional reading...I've honored your request. I can understand your view up to now, but let us look closer

Reisinger does not address at all the universal meaning of the term at the time of the NT to refer to an assembly. With that blatant oversight and by the very clear vast majority of uses in the NT of it this way (to the Ecclesia of the Thessalonians, to the Ecclesia at Corinth, etc.) I state again:

Your seeing the church as primarily universal is lacking Scripturally, show us from Scripture not an article, although it was good reading.

And the article had nothing to do with this question, still unanswered.
In question 3 you said you did not change hermeneutic thus implying that baptism and Discipleship take place outside the local church, however you state “Discipleship, discipline, and communion are ALL functions of the local assembly of believers, but we are talking about evangelism and baptism which are functions of EVERY believer” – please reconcile this apparent discrepancy.

Anonymous said...


To answer your question, I'm a 20+ year member of the church on I-40 with the 150' tall crosses, a.k.a. "Fort God", a.k.a. "Six Flags over Heaven", a.k.a. "BaptistWorld", (just one more) a.k.a. "The house that Adrian built."

Your vision and heart is what I've been praying to see in my church for years.

Lord, let it begin in me.

brad reynolds said...

Excellent points. And we truly don't have evidence here that Peter baptized him under the authority of the local church in Jerusalem, but we certainly do not have evidence that he didn' say he did or didn't would be an argument from silence.

However, as one looks at the great commission, who it was given to, where they went and what they did, then Phillip's baptizing outside the churches authority would be an anomoly in the book of Acts and an unwarranted assumption.

I also believe the church somehow stayed in contact with this man in order to fulfil their commission (discipleship).

LivingDust said...


Cheer up, brother - I speak your language. No matter what is happening at the good ol' SBC, God is on His throne. His perfect will continues to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Your are in service to the King and He's got work that needs to be done for the Kingdom. All Glory and Honor to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords - Jesus!

Find solace in the fact that the non-seminarians outnumber the seminarians (HeHe)!

And just think, you and I can know the joy of an intimate relationship with Jesus and not know how to read or speak one word of Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic. And if anybody asks you if your a "Calvinist", just tell him you haven't found that book in your Bible. If someone asks you if your a "Landmarker", tell em' your not in the land surveying business. If someone asks you if your an "Inerrantist" just tell em' yes but with the help of God your trying not be "in error" so much in the future.

Some sage advice - if you lead somebody to the Lord, don't let em' get baptized at the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting, cause it might take a few weeks for the seminarians to determine what to do with em' afterwards. If they get baptized at a local church, you'll avoid a big fuss, and the new brother in the Lord will probably get to go home right after the service.


Bryan Riley said...

Baptism simply is immersion. We are baptized, or immersed, into and in Christ. We are clothed with Christ. It matters not whether we are dunked, sprinkled, dipped, or whether we are "baptized" in front of thousands or with one who is immersing us, baptizing us as a symbol of our putting on our new life in Christ following the crucifixion of our old self without Him. We are newly dependent on the only One who can transform our life and he now covers us, just as the symbolic water covers us. It is nothing more or less. I am amazed at the phariseeicalism of so many today, but, alas, nothing is new under the sun and but for the grace of God there go I in pride. Every moment it seems i am tempted to trust in me as "god" rather than the one True God of the universe.

Leland Bryant Ross said...

Sounds to me like the SBC rules would preclude the baptism of the Candace's treasurer (the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40), since there Philip appears to be acting as a loner, maybe even a loose cannon led only by the spirit; not only is there no mention of a local church authorizing the baptism, but far from taking him to town and introducing him to the deacons, Philip disappears on him almost immediately: "And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing." (v. 39)

For that matter, when Peter baptized Cornelius and his family in Acts 10, there was no local-church involvement till after the fact (and, horrors! part of the argument for the baptism was that the new believers spoke in tongues!).

I am in deep disagreement with you about many matters, and it doesn't matter a whole lot since I'm not SBC, but as a Baptist layman who has baptized twice (with the local church's prior assent but not needing it) count me as one left-liberal W&A Baptist (I see that in your altar conversation with the cabbie the fact that he's gay never came up!) who's 100% with you both on this point and on the fundamentalism ditty (though I would emend it to read "worship" instead of "fellowship with").

Bart Barber said...

Here's another thought: I'll let others deal with the idea of convention baptisms depriving some privilege from the local church. Might I also raise the specter of what it confers upon the convention? When the SBC takes upon itself the baptizing of converts and other churchly acts, it seems to me that it is really aggrandizing itself beyond what it ought to be: a simple partnership of churches created for a limited set of tasks. I think we have some bureaucrats who already think that they are THE church in a more significant way than some poor little congregation of 100 could claim...let's not go putting more ideas into their heads.

Batchap67 said...

Good stuff!

As a Navy chaplain I face this type situation everyday.

FBC Underway and FBC Desert do not exist as of yet and the men and women I baptize(d) sometimes never make it back to any local church except for their own memorial service. I hope the Lord forgives me as I am certain the SBC won't.

Dr. Reynolds: Is the Lord returning for a "harem" or one universal body made up of all believers of all times?

Grace to all!


Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed this discussion very much perhpas because I was required to be "re-baptized" to become a member of the local SBC church of which I'm still a member after 35 years. I was originally sprinkled in a small country Methodist church although most baptisms that I had witnessed had been by immersion in naturally flowing streams of water. I wasn't even sure that baptism in a tank or tub of water was even scriptural until I started attending Baptist churches with my wife.

Found your blog in the May 20th issue of the Northwest Arkansas section of the Democrat-Gazette