Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Christ Alone Gives the Authority to Baptize

Kevin Sanders is a missionary, the author of Kevsworld and a fellow Southern Baptist who works among the people in the Philippines. Kevin has a heart for the lost and has provided for us an illustration, from the mission field, on how a non-Biblical understanding of baptism can be harmful.


You are 100% correct about this baptism issue. It has impacted us directly here in Manila, Philippines. I'll explain:

Last year, one of our students came to know Christ as a result of our campus
evangelism (for those who are not familiar with us, we do campus-based evangelism and discipleship). This student joined one of our campus cell groups, and they eventually studied our lesson on baptism. We teach baptism as a step of obedience to Christ, not as a way to join a church or denomination. This student gladly agreed to be baptized.

We usually do our baptisms at the swimming pool here at my apartment building. We do a simple “ceremony”: we give the students some final instructions, pray for them, then precede with baptism by immersion. Afterwards we give the students a Bible. Normally whoever leads the student to Christ is the one to do the baptism. It is also normal for the student’s friends or cell group members to be present.

This student wanted to attend a Baptist church where one of her friends attends. We encouraged this because we want her to be connected to a Christian church (she would also be welcome at our worship service). Here's the problem: the Baptist church she attends initially wanted to re-baptize her.

Their argument was that she was not baptized under the "authority" of any church. I explained to the student that the Great Commission (among other Scriptures) was our authority for doing the baptism. I also wrote a letter and baptism certificate to the church, explaining that she had been scripturally baptized (although I still don’t understand why the student’s testimony alone was not enough). The church has since backed down a little, but it still remains to be seen if they will fully accept her as a member without another baptism.

Some may argue that she should just get baptized again. Well, this is short-sighted. What happens when she wants to share her testimony to other students? What happens if she wants to teach them about baptism? Won't students be confused when she tells them she was baptized three times (infant baptism and two believer's baptisms)? Will she teach baptism as a step of obedience to Christ or as a “Baptist membership” requirement? Such issues could seriously hinder the work of God on our campuses.

I recently had a long talk with this student. It turns out that this particular church is an independent Baptist church with some legalistic practices (KJV only; etc). We discussed several issues and hopefully I’ve helped her to distinguish biblical principles from legalistic practices.

Where did this church inherit such Landmark theology and legalistic tendencies? Most likely from American missionaries! Is this the kind of thing that Southern Baptists also want to propagate to other countries? Recent IMB policies are pointing us in that direction.

I live in a country where people are bogged down by man-made religious traditions. I find it painfully ironic that I now have to deal with this same issue from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Kevin Sanders

Well said Kevin. Go give him a visit at Kevsworld

In His Grace,



Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

The guys at SBCOutpost.com have been promoting Ed Stetzer's new blog today. Here is an interesting quote about the Great Commission and baptism from a recent book by Ed:

“The Great Commission is church planting first because it calls us to disciple. Discipleship is the task of the New Testament church. Discipleship is not working when Christians must find their opportunities for spiritual growth outside the church. When a Christian says, ‘I can’t get discipleship at church; I must get it at home, online, at conferences, Promise Keepers, Women of Faith, etc.’ it’s likely the believer belongs to an unhealthy church (or the believer has an unhealthy view of discipleship and church). God expects the church to provide discipleship, which is not just a course or a series of studies. Discipleship centers on the salvation event. Discipleship begins with conversion and continues as an ongoing process. ‘Make disciples’ means that the church is to win people to Christ and grow these new converts in the faith. That process is meant to take place in the local church. Second, the Great Commission is church planting because it calls the church to baptize. Baptism is an ordinance of the local church. Baptism takes place in or among the local church. I say among because it does not have to take place within a church building. Many planters have baptized in bathtubs, lakes, and swimming pools. Baptism takes place wherever we can gather the church and wherever there’s enough water to perform the ordinance. The Greek word baptize means ‘ongoing baptizing,’ immersing each new believer. Baptism is a local church ordinance with local church responsibilities. The Great Commission is given to the local church.”

Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006), 40.

Anonymous said...

from an IMB missionary…

Again and again you bring to the attention of Southern Baptist the pressing issues and questions that need the attention of every member of every SBC church in the states. Your posts are a welcome breath of fresh air in the dry, stale atmosphere of the SBC today. Keep up the good work! I must confess that I do not have the same optimistic feelings you have about the SBC or the IMB.

Your post reminds me of a book I read not too long ago entitled, WHEN BAD CHRISTIANS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE by Dave Burchett.

You have described exactly what has happened with us, except the lady I just baptized did not want to go to an established church but wanted to open her new preschool building as a meeting place for a new church start.

We had national Christians asking by what “authority” was she baptized and what church was she baptized into. The answers are of course the same as you gave in your post. We were asked how can this lady start a church? Who will be the leader, pastor? Who will baptize the next new Christian? I baptized Mrs. F, but I will not be baptizing other new Christians, unless I play a major part in sharing the gospel with that person. Our “connection” with this church will be short term. We will Model, Assist, Watch and Leave.

This past Sunday was the first time to meet at the “new church”. Mrs. F only received the keys to the new building from the contractor on Saturday afternoon before we met on Sunday AM. She could not wait to open the doors for a worship service. She invited her family and friends to come. There were a total of 42 children and parents, mother AND fathers, to come to the new church that will be established in her preschool building. She was completely overwhelmed by the response. Some of her friends invited their friends to come to the first time to gather for a Christian worship service. Reminds me of the story of Andrew saying to his brother Peter to come and see the Messiah. In the total of 42 there were four Christians. What a great feeling to be in the minority!

Will this church ever become part of the national Baptist convention of churches because of her baptism in a river? Probably not and that is sad. However, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is going to use Mrs. F, the new church and the new Christian preschool to share the Gospel with many people in the NW corner of our city of 2 million+. Everyone will be welcome and everyone will be loved.

I believe the baptism policy and other policies and guidelines being imposed on IMB missionaries and SBC churches by those in leadership positions are not going to bring about the rapid planting of churches overseas or in the states. I know God will hold us accountable as individuals, as churches and as a SBC.


Wayne Smith said...

David Rogers has a Great New Article on his Blog in Letter # 10.
The Universal Scope of the Great Commission, by David Rogers


In His Name
Wayne Smith

wadeburleson.org said...

Ed Stetzer is a wonderful man. He is, however, no Spurgeon, Gill, Whitefield, or Dagg -- all of whom would disagree with him.

Wayne Smith said...

From one of my study guides.

EVANGELISM (Explaining, Gospel, Sharing)
How should the gospel be presented?
BIBLE READING: Matthew 13:1-23
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (Matthew 13:8, NIV)
The gospel message cannot be reduced to a simple formula. This parable should encourage spiritual “sowers”—those who teach, preach, and lead others. The farmer sowed good seed, but not all the seed sprouted, and even the plants that grew had varying yields. Don’t be discouraged if you do not always see results as you faithfully teach the Word. Belief cannot be forced to follow a mathematical formula (i.e., a 4:1 ratio of seeds planted to seeds sprouted). Rather, it is a miracle of God’s Holy Spirit as he uses your words to lead others to him.
The gospel message must be given to create some response. The four types of soil represent different responses to God’s message. People respond differently because they are in different states of readiness. Some are hardened, others are shallow, others are contaminated by distracting worries, and some are receptive. How has God’s Word taken root in your life? What kind of soil are you?
BIBLE READING: John 4:1-26
KEY BIBLE VERSE: The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:15, NIV)
Sometimes results of evangelism take time and patience. The woman mistakenly believed that if she received the water Jesus offered, she would not have to return to the well each day. She was interested in Jesus’ message because she thought it could make her life easier. But if that were always the case, people would accept Christ’s message for the wrong reasons. Christ did not come to take away challenges, but to change us on the inside and to empower us to deal with problems from God’s perspective.
This woman did not immediately understand what Jesus was talking about. It takes time to accept something that changes the very foundations of your life. Jesus allowed the woman time to ask questions and put pieces together for herself. Sharing the gospel will not always have immediate results. When you ask people to let Jesus change their lives, give them time to weigh the matter.

How can Christians be involved in evangelism?
BIBLE READING: Matthew 9:35-38
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38, NIV)
Christians should be personally responsible to pass on the gospel. Jesus needs workers who know how to deal with people’s problems. We can comfort others and show them the way to live because we have been helped with our problems by God and his laborers (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
Jesus looked at the crowds following him and referred to them as a field ripe for harvest. Many people are ready to give their lives to Christ if someone would show them how. Jesus commands us to pray that people will respond to this need for workers. Often, when we pray for something, God answers our prayers by using us. Be prepared for God to use you to show another person the way to him.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 28:16-20
KEY BIBLE VERSE: 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, 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 28:19-20, NIV)
Jesus commanded his followers to carry out evangelism. God gave Jesus authority over heaven and earth. On the basis of that authority, Jesus told his disciples to make more disciples as they preached, baptized, and taught. With this same authority, Jesus still commands us to tell others the Good News and make them disciples for the kingdom.
Evangelism is worldwide work. When someone is dying or leaving us, his or her last words are very important. Jesus left the disciples with these last words of instruction: they were under his authority; they were to make more disciples; they were to baptize and teach these new disciples to obey Christ; Christ would be with them always. Whereas in previous missions Jesus had sent his disciples only to the Jews (Matthew 10:5-6), their mission from now on would be worldwide. Jesus is Lord of the earth, and he died for the sins of people from all nations.
Evangelism is for all Christians. We are to go—whether it is next door or to another country—and make disciples. It is not an option, but a command to all who call Jesus “Lord.” We are not all evangelists in the formal sense, but we have all received gifts that we can use to help fulfill the Great Commission. As we obey, we have comfort in the knowledge that Jesus is always with us.

In His Name
Wayne Smith

Scotte Hodel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scotte Hodel said...

KJV only?

Some years ago I volunteered for a week or so with a missionary family who serve in Mexico. They had been quizzed by one of their previous visitor/volunteers on whether or not they used the KJV for their evangelistic purposes. "No, we use a Spanish language Bible"

When I read your description of the church, I had to do a quick web-search to check that English is, indeed, one of the dominant languages in Manilla.

Nevertheless, such foolishness seems to illustrate in part what Paul wrote in Gal 4:17 "Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them."

Anything further I have to say is said better in David Rogers' blog.

Anonymous said...


Three quick questions / comments:

1. Is Kevin working along side a Baptist church in his campus ministry or is he a Lone Ranger type of minister? This could very well be the heart of the problem.

2. Would Kevin agree with the Baptist Faith and Message that baptism is a (local) church ordinance?

3. As far as the Great Commission being our authority to baptize, I agree, but I can make a very strong argument that the commission was given to the church and not to Christians in general.

Anonymous said...

"the church" I believe, does consist of authentic born again Christians "in general".

Philip baptized the dude, he didn't say get in the chariot and let's go find a baptist church that will allow you to be baptized. In Acts 8, the "man went on his way rejoicing."

In this story in Manilla, this young woman must be going on her way confused and a bit discouraged.

just my two cents bros

Darren Casper

Kevin said...


I work with a campus ministry team here in Manila. We do have two congregations here in Manila, but our ministry is more campus-based. Many of our students are unable to be near us on Sunday (it is even a financial hardship to expect them to commute into Manila for church). We do all we can to make discipleship, worship, baptism, etc accessible to them on weekdays.

In other words, I'm not a "lone ranger."

I do believe that baptism is an ordinance in the sense that it is something that churches should practice in obedience to the Great Commission.

Scotte Hodel said...

Ben Stratton wrote: "the commission was given to the church and not to Christians in general." He's not the only one to make such a statement, but he's put in words that finally let me raise a question/concern I've had for awhile: what's up with this careful distinction between "the church" and "Christians in general?"

I'm a layman, so what little theological training I've received is entirely by accident. With that caveat, I don't understand the above statement at all. A statement of a similar nature would be that "Christ died for the Church, not Christians in general." I'm not sure that even fits with the "L" of the TULIP acrostic.

Did Christ establish the Church? Yes.
Did Christ die for sinners? Yes.

The great commission was given to the twelve apostles - twelve individuals - who, in turn worked together and were joined by others such as Paul, whose baptism was administered by a layman. Paul later spoke in tongues "more than you all," so he's further problems in terms of recent SBC conversation.

The disciples told Jesus that they'd stopped a man from healing in his name; Jesus said that was an error on their part because "He who is not against me is with me."

Emphasis on "the Church" (with a capital C) may be a reaction to lone-ranger Christians. However, by emphasizing Christ's care for the Church, it appears to me that we're saying that Christ's call, his atonement, his gifts are for an amorphous blob, an ant colony, whose workers are not necessarily irrelevant, but identity is entirely determined by the colony.

I think there's something missing there.

DC said...

I would echo Wayne's sentiment about David Roger's latest thoughts on his blog...

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade: There were 6 of our members on a church mission trip in Jamaica a number of years ago. We worked in a small church, helping build a building. One of our team members got so convicted on the trip, that he hadn't been baptized in proper order, he said he wanted to be baptized. I asked him when and he said "now".

We went immediately to the swimming pool in the hotel (it was after dinner), clothes and all, and I baptized him. I was thinking of the similarity with the Ethiopian eunuch story at the time.

He was already in our church. Our church's operation hadn't brought him to that point; our team members had, along with the folks he met in Jamaica.

I wouldn't dream of letting the rule-makers denigrate what happened there that day. Never.

Hill Memorial Baptist Church said...

I agree we can be legalistic on baptism and I agree the students baptism was legit. It is however not "Landmarker" to say Baptism is a local church ordinance or that the great commission was given to the Church and not individuals. Let us also remember the Landmarkers were not wrong on everything!

Blackhaw said...

This is a tricky question because of the rebaptism issue. First historically Baptism (among other things) was a rite of iniation into the church. There was only one church for a very long time so if the church did it wa okay. But once there were multiple denominations and some of these denominations were acepted by each other as being part of the universal church then there became a problem.

I personally do not believe a parachurch organization should baptize. It is an ordinance for the church. But I am still working this out. Philip is an interesting case study.

Most Baptist churches today however do think of baptism as an entry rite into the local church. They will not normally require a re-baptism for those that have been baptized in an orthodox Triune manner. But they do require some sort of letter from your last church if you have been baptized in another church. (or at least your declaration that you were baptized in the other church).

Ironically Baptism presents Baptists with many problems. Because Baptists reject padeobaptism as a Biblically based baptism then they have a problem with accepting those (as true Christians) from denominations that do. Baptists do but the theological justifications to do so are strained. How can those from other denominations be true Christians if they have an untrue baptism. A professor of mine has said that infant baptism is not biblical but it is a"Christian" baptism but I think that is a little strained. I do not want to comepletely diverty the thread but there is a question of how can Baptists accept a presbyterian as a Christian and even fellowship with them in groups like the evangelical theological society while many claim that their baptism is invalid?

Wayne Smith said...

A church is not a building. It is an assembly of 2 or more Regenerated Christians who meet on a mountaintop, in a field, in a home, in a ghetto, or what we call church.
The Greek term εκκλησία — ekklesia, which literally means a "gathering or selection i.e. "eklectic" in English" or "called out assembly", was a governmental and political term, used to denote a national assembly, congregation, council of common objective (see Ecclesia (ancient Athens), Ecclesia (Church)) or a crowd of people who were assembled. It did not signify a "building".

The SBC needs to get off its High Horse and ask for forgiveness for being discombobulated in the misuse of the word “Church”.

In His Name
Wayne Smith

Anonymous said...

Person A is baptized as an infant in Church/ministry #1.

Along comes church/ministry #2 which says the infant baptism isn't scriptural and rebaptizes person A.

Along comes church #3 and says the baptist of church/ministry #2 isn't valid... and let me see if I get this straight, church #2 is upset???

It's one big vicious circle...

Church #2 now knows how church #1 felt when their baptism was declared to be invalid or not scriptural.

What's the solution???


Anonymous said...


I posted this on Wes Kenney’s Blog but he keeps removing it. I think it applies to all of us and especially Wes Kenny.

His Nature and Our Motives
“ unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
The characteristic of a disciple is not that he does good things, but that he is good in his motives, having been made good by the supernatural grace of God. The only thing that exceeds right doing is right being. Jesus Christ came to place within anyone who would let Him a new heredity that would have a righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is saying, “If you are My disciple, you must be right not only in your actions, but also in your motives, your aspirations, and in the deep recesses of the thoughts of your mind.” Your motives must be so pure that God Almighty can see nothing to rebuke. Who can stand in the eternal light of God and have nothing for Him to rebuke? Only the Son of God, and Jesus Christ claims that through His redemption He can place within anyone His own nature and make that person as pure and as simple as a child. The purity that God demands is impossible unless I can be remade within, and that is exactly what Jesus has undertaken to do through His redemption?
No one can make himself pure by obeying laws. Jesus Christ does not give us rules and regulations—He gives us His teachings, which are truths that can only be interpreted by His nature, which He places within us. The great wonder of Jesus Christ’s salvation is that He changes our heredity. He does not change human nature—He changes its source, and thereby its motives as well.
don't tell

Debbie Kaufman said...

Bob: Through God working in you He has indeed made you and incredible man. You have told us you are a Sunday School teacher, but you are much more than that.

Wayne Smith said...

Is the SBC becoming discombobulated?

Where is the Church as the SBC sees it in Paul’s persecution of the Church? It was not a Building.

Saul Persecutes the Church
1Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.
And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. 3But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.

In His Name
Wayne Smith

Anonymous said...

By virtue of my faith in Christ, I am counted as a child of God. By virture of my having been justified and sanctified, I am part of the Body of Christ. Therefore, I am the representative of Christ and His Body anywhere I may be. Philip was also. By the authority in Christ, I am authorized and commanded to make disciples and baptize. If I am not a representative of Christ's church in that moment, then who am I? If it is being carried out in Christ and by His authority, I am not acting on my own, but in obedience to Him. Anything beyond this in my way of thinking, is man-made and therefore legalism.

gmay said...

A study of History might help.

There is a context that has brought Baptist to where we are. The context began in England where you were of the Anglican Church and used infant baptism, a puritan that was interested in reforming the English church,a Quaker who did not baptize, or a Baptist who dunked. Hence, dunking was not only your public profession of faith based salvation as opposed to works based salvation; it also identified you with the Baptists, entrance into the Baptist church.

Of interesting debate on this blog has been whether closed communion and authority of baptism is a Landmark doctrine. Granted these were important to the Landmark movement. According to McBeth the debate goes back to 1640, well over a century before Landmark appeared.

Wade, I am a bit surprised of your respect for Gill. Perhaps the historians have misled me since I have not read his actual writings. The historians, McBeth in particular, do not view Gill as either irenic or missional. McBeth paints Gill’s view on double predestination in such a way that he would not offer the Gospel to anyone for fear of offering it to nonelect. He even goes so far in his major work on Baptist history as to blame Gill and others of like-mindedness in his day for the decline of evangelistic fervor.

Anonymous said...

The Baptist Faith & Message, like Scripture, is clear that baptism is a church ordinance, not a Christian ordinance. Any Southern Baptist trustee or missionary who cannot affirm article 7 of the Baptist Faith and Message should in good conscience resign.

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Wade, you mentioned Spurgeon, Gill, Whitefield, and Dagg. Do you agree with their statements below?

Spurgeon (1874 sermon):

“When they become disciples, our next duty is to give them the sign of discipleship, by ‘baptising them.’ That symbolic burial sets forth their death in Jesus to their former selves and their resurrection to newness of life through him. Baptism enrols and seals the disciples, and we must not omit or misplace it. When the disciple is enrolled, the missionary is to become the pastor, ‘teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’ The disciple is admitted into the school by obeying the Savior’s command to baptism, and then he goes on to learn, and as he learns he teaches others also.”

C. H. Spurgeon, “The Power of the Risen Savior,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 20 (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 1971), 611.

Spurgeon (1881 sermon):

“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.”

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

Gill (comment on Romans 6:4):

“The apostle is still pursuing his argument, and is shewing, from the nature, use, and end of baptism, that believers are dead to sin, and therefore cannot, and ought not, to live in it.”

John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, vol. 8 (London: Mathews and Leigh, 1809; reprint, Paris, AR: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989), 459.

Whitefield (sermon on Acts 9:22):

“The scales then are now removed from the eyes of Saul’s mind; Ananias has done that for him, under God: he must now do another office—baptize him, and so receive him into the visible church of Christ; a good proof to me of the necessity of baptism where it may be had.”

George Whitefield, George Whitefield’s Sermons, vol. 1 (New Ipswich, NH: Pietan Publications, 1991), 181.


“We have seen that the Lord’s supper has been committed to the local churches for observance and perpetuation; and that local churches, if organized according to the Scriptures, contain none but baptized persons. It follows hence, that baptism is a pre-requisite to communion at the Lord’s table. That position which baptism holds in the commission, determines its priority to the other commanded observances therein referred to, among which church communion must be included. This is the doctrine which has been held on the subject by Christians generally, in all ages; and it is now held by the great mass of Pedobaptists. With them we have no controversy as to the principle by which approach to the Lord’s table should be regulated. We differ from them in practice, because we account nothing Christian baptism, but immersion on profession of faith, and we, therefore, exclude very many whom they admit.”

J. L. Dagg, “A Treatise on Church Order,” in Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1982), 214.

Anonymous said...

I guess I understand the issue about baptism - church ordinance or Christian ordinance.

But I am bewildered at the force of this argument. This seems to be inspiring a level of argument that I just do not understand.

This does not seem to me to be the fundamental, life-altering, apocalyptic issue that some folks seem to see it as.

Or maybe I just don't understand. My lovely bride says that often.

Dave Miller

Bob Cleveland said...

It almost seems that someone fears there's going to be a huge wave of people sweeping over the lands like the Babylonians, baptizing people in Jesus' name.

Hmmmm .. has someone prophesied that?

Hill Memorial Baptist Church said...

It has been the common belief of the Church Fathers, Magisterial Reformers as well as the Anabaptists that Water baptism naturally implies that Baptism is an entrance into the Church. That has been usually defined as either the Universal Church or the Local Church. The 1656 Somerset Confession of Faith says that one baptized is "thus planted in the visible church or body of Christ".

The Apostle Paul states this also,
when he wrote the Church of Corinth,
" Cor. 12:13 (NIV) For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."

I am not a legalist on this but I remain uncomfortable with baptism being done apart from some local church authority. One Baptized needs the local church for their own spiritual growth and there is always the danger of papacy of the believer when one does things apart from accountability to a local Church.

Anonymous said...

Dave Miller: Some people are passionate about this issue because they know or have heard first hand accounts of otherwise highly qualified people who have been excluded from missionary service with the IMB because they could not in good conscience be baptized again, when they believed their first baptism was biblical even if it did not occur in a Baptist church. Imagine having a plan or dream that you have looked forward to and diligently prepared for over many year, only to be denied because the IMB BOT insists on an interpretation of scripture that goes beyond the B F & M and is based on assumptions.

I would be interested in reading Ben Stratton's "very strong argument that the great commission is intended for the church and not individual Christians. The argument may be good, but it is based on inference or assumption, because there is no explicit statement to this effect. Unfortunately, inferences and assumptions are subject to human error and there is no assurance that they are correct. This is a perfect example of a doctrine about which we should agree to disagree and about which we should not exclude people.

davidinflorida said...

Brother Wade,

The Apostle Paul addressed the " Church " in this manner....

" to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints "

" to the church of God which is in Corinth "

" to the churches of Galatia "

" to the saints who are in Ephesus "

" to all saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi "

" to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse "

" to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ "

I couldn`t find, in the Word, where it describes a separate Baptism into each church.

They were saints and/or the church..........

GeneMBridges said...

3. As far as the Great Commission being our authority to baptize, I agree, but I can make a very strong argument that the commission was given to the church and not to Christians in general.

Of course you can, but then, you're a known Landmarker and, if I recall correctly, you (a) deny the universal church and (b) would agree that only Baptist churches can constitute true local churches.

However, that argument gets self-refuting unless you can trace the succession of churches; and further, if just one person or church in the line was considered invalid, then all others affected further down the chain are invalid, along with their baptisms.

The secular world calls your view a pyramid scheme. We Reformed Baptist folk call it Romanism by another name.

I am not a legalist on this but I remain uncomfortable with baptism being done apart from some local church authority. One Baptized needs the local church for their own spiritual growth and there is always the danger of papacy of the believer when one does things apart from accountability to a local Church.

The First London Confession gives authority to baptize to any person within the local church who qualified. In those days, they took catechesis and discipleship so seriously that a person "unqualified" was the exception not the rule.

THE person designed by Christ to dispense baptism, the Scripture holds forth to be a disciple; it being no where tied to a particular church officer, or person extraordinarily sent the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them as considered disciples, being men able to preach the gospel.

In other words, the emphasis here is on the person so enjoined. If the person baptizing is approved by a local church to preach the gospel, as presumably a person in campus ministry would be, they would be authorized to baptize. It's just that simple. So, the relation of the church to the baptized person is indirect, not direct. The person is designated "qualified disciple," and that is what authorizes him to baptize.

Whitefield (sermon on Acts 9:22):

“The scales then are now removed from the eyes of Saul’s mind; Ananias has done that for him, under God: he must now do another office—baptize him, and so receive him into the visible church of Christ; a good proof to me of the necessity of baptism where it may be had.”

George Whitefield, George Whitefield’s Sermons, vol. 1 (New Ipswich, NH: Pietan Publications, 1991), 181.

The visible church and the local church intersect but are not identical in Paedobaptist theology.

Nobody is arguing that an unbaptized person may be admitted to the membership of the visible, local church.


“We have seen that the Lord’s supper has been committed to the local churches for observance and perpetuation; and that local churches, if organized according to the Scriptures, contain none but baptized persons. It follows hence, that baptism is a pre-requisite to communion at the Lord’s table. That position which baptism holds in the commission, determines its priority to the other commanded observances therein referred to, among which church communion must be included. This is the doctrine which has been held on the subject by Christians generally, in all ages; and it is now held by the great mass of Pedobaptists. With them we have no controversy as to the principle by which approach to the Lord’s table should be regulated. We differ from them in practice, because we account nothing Christian baptism, but immersion on profession of faith, and we, therefore, exclude very many whom they admit.”

J. L. Dagg, “A Treatise on Church Order,” in Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1982), 214.

Dagg denied Landmark views on baptism.

Dagg is agreeing that persons not baptized should not participate in the Lord's Supper. With the exception of Presbyterians in his day, there weren't many who disagreed. The Dutch Reformed disagreed with Presbyterians. The former placed the qualification on baptism and the latter on a credible profession of faith.

But that quote does not show that he's indexing the Great Commission to the local church, nor does it show that if he does in manner he does so, since it is possible to index the Great Commission to either the universal church (which Dagg calls "visible" by virtue of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints), or the local church, and still not do with baptism what Wade has warned about.

Dagg actually indexes the Great Commission to the Apostles and through them to "ministers of of Christ." See chapter 1.

The commission of Christ to his apostles reads thus: "Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."(1) It is not expressly stated in these words that water must be used in the baptizing which is enjoined; but so common is the use of water, that a command to immerse, wash, or sprinkle, naturally implies the use of it, unless something in the circumstances of the case, or connection of the word, suggests the use of some other liquid. The word baptize is often used in Scripture where water is implied without being expressly mentioned. The apostles had been accustomed to the administration of water baptism. They had been chosen to be Christ's attendants and witnesses, from the baptism of John;(2) and, in all probability, many of them saw their Master baptized in the Jordan. They had witnessed John's baptism in other cases; and some, if not all of them, had been baptized by him. After Jesus entered on his ministry, it was said that he "made and baptized more disciples than John."(3) Water baptism must be intended here; and we are expressly informed that the disciples, and not Jesus himself, administered it. This they did while they were under the immediate direction of their Master, and were his personal attendants. His ministry, and their baptisms, were confined to the nation of Israel. The commission quoted above enlarged the field of their operation. The presence of their Master was promised, though his body was about to be removed from them; and the command to teach or make disciples, and to baptize, would naturally be interpreted by them according to the use of terms to which they had been accustomed. In their subsequent ministry, they preached and baptized; and the record, called the Acts of the Apostles, contains frequent mention of baptisms. In these, no reasonable doubt can exist that water was used: and sometimes it is expressly mentioned.

The commission was given, just before Christ ascended to heaven, and was designed for the dispensation which was to follow. The apostles, before proceeding to execute it, were commanded to tarry in Jerusalem until they should be endued with power from on high. This promised power was given when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them on the day of Pentecost. It is clear, therefore, that, in the view of the Lord Jesus, water baptism was not inconsistent with the spiritual dispensation which the day of Pentecost introduced.

Besides its literal use, the word baptize is sometimes employed figuratively, when spiritual influence, or overwhelming sufferings, are intended. In such instances there is always something in the context, or circumstances of the case, directing to the proper interpretation. When there is nothing that directs to a figurative interpretation, we are required, by a well known law of criticism, to take the word in its literal sense. According to this law, we are bound to interpret literally the language of plain command used in the commission; and, if "baptizing" must be taken literally, no doubt can exist that the use of water was intended in the command.

Since the ascension of Christ, no change of dispensation has occurred by which the commission could be revoked. The promise which it contains, of Christ's presence until the end of the world, implies its perpetuity. Under this commission the ministers of Christ now act, and by it they are bound, according to the manifest intention of his words, to administer water baptism.

>>>In short, Dagg is indexing Great Commission to "ministers of Christ." I might add that, in Dagg's view, a Paedobaptist minister was considered a true minister of the gospel in chapter 10 and thus comes down on the issue of rebaptism in a manner @ variance with the one put forth by the IMB.

If Dagg believed a person must be commissioned by a true local church to be baptized because the GC was given to the visible, local church, then you wouldn't expect him to come down where he does relative to whether or not non-baptized/Paedobaptized ministers are true gospel ministers and his decision on rebaptism.

Dagg agrees, and if you'll note his list of sources going back to the Early Church Fathers as well as Scripture, that none but the baptized may be admitted as members of the local church - but this, given is sources - is only in agreement with every other communion of Christians. Even Romanists believe this.

The issue, however, at hand, is not whether or not baptism is necessary for admission into the membership of the local church, but whether baptism's actual purpose is to do that. The issue is not whether or not the individual baptizing must meet a set of qualifications and the local church is the best place, when the church is in its normative state, for these qualifications to be taught, examined, etc. The issue is whether or not the local church itself is authorizing baptism in such a way that a baptism can be declared no true baptism if that person baptizing is not doing so for the purpose of admitting the baptismal candidate into a/the local church.

In the 2 years of debating this on this blog, it continues to amaze me that folks cannot understand that those distinctions are what Wade is discussing.

Alan Paul said...

I too would like to hear how Baptism is given to the church as opposed to believers. Ben Stratton, would you explain this to us? Anonymous who acts as if it is obviously in scripture and furthermore, seems to elevate BFM2000 to the same level of scripture could also chime in if he/she wanted.

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Gene, I always enjoy reading your comments. You obviously put a lot of thought into them, and I respect your scholarly approach. On your Triablogue post in February of 2006, you responded to Spurgeon’s sermon from which I obtained the quote in my earlier post:

“I agree with Spurgeon here. Baptism does picture eternal security. . . . Baptism signifies entrance into local church membership.”

Few, if any, SBC churches accept sprinkling as biblical baptism. Sprinkling does not picture death, burial, and resurrection. You have said that baptism does picture eternal security. When an immersion occurs in a Church of Christ setting, an observer watching from a great distance with binoculars through the church window might see death, burial, and resurrection. An observer in the building, however, and the person being immersed would hear the picture denied that you affirm. The words as well as the physical actions are important at the time of baptism. Thus, both a sprinkling and a Church of Christ immersion must be regarded as non-biblical. If Christians have not been biblically baptized, then they should be biblically baptized as soon as possible. This matter of biblical baptism is a matter of obedience. If a person refuses to be obedient to the command to be biblically baptized, then that person certainly should not be allowed to partake of the Lord’s Supper in a Baptist church. Thus, Dagg advocated excluding those from the Lord’s Supper who had not been biblically baptized.

The 2000 BF&M describes baptism as “the burial of the old life.” I assume that you agree with Spurgeon that there is a “settledness” about burial and that burial is “irrevocable.” Thus, there is a connection to eternal security when the BF&M refers to the symbol of burial in baptism.

Alan Paul said...

Lakepointe Church, a mega church in Rockwall, Mesquite, Sulphur Springs, Garland, Texas (one church many campuses) accepts sprinkling (though they only offer dunking to those wanting to be baptized) and they are an SBC church - though they are dually aligned with the SBTC and the BGCT - the competing conventions in Texas. Their theology, overall, would be considered conservative in that they believe inerrancy, male leadership, etc. I think you would also find that other churches built on the seeker-sensitive model do the same. They do teach that true dunking baptism is the proper way to be baptized, but since baptism does not save - they don't see a problem with accepting sprinkling if a person joining understands the gospel message and is genuinely saved and has been advised that true baptism is going under.

wadeburleson.org said...

Gene, Gene, the Biblical machine.

Well said.


Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Alan, here’s the Saddleback requirement:

“At Saddleback, we wait until our children are old enough to believe and understand the true meaning of baptism before we baptize them.

Some churches practice a 'baptism of confirmation' for children. This ceremony is intended to be a covenant between the parents and God on the behalf of the child. The parents promise to raise their child in the faith until the child is old enough to make his own personal confession of Christ. This custom began about 300 years after the Bible was completed.

This is different from the baptism talked about in the Bible which was only for those old enough to believe. The purpose is to publicly confess your personal commitment to Christ. At Saddleback, it is a membership requirement that every member must have been baptized the way Jesus demonstrated, even though many of us were 'confirmed' as children.

Over 20,000 people have been baptized at Saddleback since 1980!”


Rex Ray said...

Scotte Hodel,
I related to your comment about a missionary family being quizzed if they used the KJV.

When Patterson was president of the SBC, he asked, in an ‘accusing tone, my missionary cousin, Dan Ray, if he used the KJV.
My cousin replied, “No. We use the Korean Bible.”
Patterson said, “Oh.”

But now that the SBC has adopted the Holman Bible, wonder what those in ‘authority’ ask?

The new Bylaws of First Baptist Church of Colleyville, Texas state: “The Holy Bible referred to in these Bylaws is the King James…or any later translation that may be adopted or used by the Leadership Board from time to time.”

Some in ‘authority’ love to flaunt their power.

Bonham, Texas

Anonymous said...

interesting that you should mention the Holman Bible...

We just received notice from Compassion Net, that the NIV is no longer acceptable for use within prayer requests we submit to them...

I quote from the email:

Dear RPAs,

We have just received notification that the approved list of Bible translations has changed. Please notify your teams that we can only use the versions listed below for our CompassionNet requests. Many quote from NIV but that is no longer on the list. To simplify things on our end, it would be great when someone chooses to use a scripture reference if they send it like this:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB).

ESV – English Standard Version

HCSB – Holman Christian Standard Bible

KJV – King James Version

NASB – New American Standard Bible

NKJV – New King James Version"

So who decided this? Where will it stop?


Anonymous said...

The fact remains that the Bible is an invitation to obedience, and it removes the excuse for disobedience. As a person that was immersed in a Church of Christ at the age of 8, I was quite pleased with my work on behalf of God's kingdom. It was not until 13 years later as a young adult that I was confronted with the possibility that I was taught an unbiblical method of baptism. I began to visit of Baptist church for a number of different reasons, however, when I talked to the pastor about joining, he asked me about my baptism. After having explained it to him, he instructed me that I needed to be baptized in the proper manner backed by the proper doctrine. I was apalled! How dare he tell me my personal devotion was not worthy! He simply asked me to do a study of he scriptures for myself on baptism and tell him what I find. After a couple of months of study, I discovered that he was indeed right. I talked to him again and he asked me if I wanted a biblical baptism or an unbiblical baptism. I finally decided that there was only one reason that I would no desire a biblical baptism... pride. I humbled myself and did God's way, and have not regretted it since. I have now been pastoring in Baptist churches for almost 10 years. The fact remains, the only reason a person would not desire a baptism that is backed with proper doctrine is because of too much pride and too little humility.

John B.

Bob Cleveland said...

Uhhhh .. if the version of the bible is all that important, shouldn't we stop teaching and explaining things? We might not get the words just right. I guess we should just read scripture to our classes and congregations without further explanation, right?

But, I confess: I might not be qualified to comment. I got saved reading "Good News For Modern Man".

gmay said...

The matters of baptism and closed or open communion really boil down to perceptions of ecclesiology.

Wade writes on a previous post:
"There is no question that baptism is a prerequisite to the Lord's Supper (or fellowship/communion) with other believers, but the question becomes, if someone is not baptized by immersion, can they still be a partaker of 'communion' with the family of Christ?"

John Gill writes:
"First, Whether a pastor of one church can officiate as such in another church; or whether he can administer the Lord’s Supper, which is a pastoral act, in and to a church of which he is no pastor. I answer, he cannot; that is, it is not lawful for him to do it. As well may it be asked, Whether the lord mayor of London, whose power as such may be thought to be as extensive as any other mayor whatever, can exercise his power, in any branch of his office, in the jurisdiction of the mayor of York or of Bristol, or any other: no officer in a corporation can exercise his office in another corporation; this holds good of every officer in it, from the highest to the lowest. A church of Christ is a body corporate, in a spiritual sense; and its officers can only act as such within it, and within no other. For,

"A man can never act as a pastor, where he is not so much as a member; a man must be a member of a church before he can be a pastor of it, as we have seen. Epaphras, the minister and pastor of the church at Colosse, the apostle Paul, writing to them says, "Who is one of you," that is, one of their society, a member of theirs (Col. 4:12). But where a man is not a member of such a society, he is not one of them; he cannot act as pastor among them, nay he cannot put forth any act or operation, or join in any act as a private member may, and much less act as a pastor; for membership is the foundation, not only of every office, but of every act and operation in a church."

According to Gill, Wade has asked the wrong question. Gill viewed the Lord’s supper as a local church issue not a “family of Christ” issue. “Membership is the foundation … of every act and operation in a church.” As usual, Gill minced no words and their strength could be compared to iron. From these statements if follows, a pastor has authority to administer the Lord’s Supper only to the members of his own congregation (“he cannot act as pastor among them”). Very definitely his view was closed communion. He not only believed you must be baptized but also a member of the church where you were taking communion. Note how he can agree with Landmarkers on an issue without being one. My view has been close communion which some call closed communion.

By the same token our ecclesiology determines our views on communion, it determines our views on baptism.

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

John B., thanks for sharing your testimony about your transition from a Church of Christ congregation to a Baptist congregation. I was reared in a Baptist home and a Baptist church, but I graduated from a Church of Christ high school in Memphis (Harding Academy). My mother met my stepfather there, and they were happily married for 30 years. He was a Church of Christ member and remained so until his death a couple of months ago. My stepfather was a very fine man—very faithful and loving to my mother—and I did the eulogy at his funeral. I love Church of Christ people, but we should not compromise biblical doctrine by accepting their immersions as biblical. I’m glad that your Baptist pastor was so firm in his convictions.

Anonymous said...

For those of you wondering about the baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch, I encourage you to read this article: www.samwaldron.us/pdfs/BaptismMembership.pdf The entire article speaks about the relationship between baptism and the church and under point 9, Walden deals with the Eunuch's baptism. Sam Waldron is one of the pastors of the Heritage Baptist Church in Owensboro, Kentucky and is not a Landmark Baptist. Russell Moore, the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says "this is about the finest piece on this issue I've seen in a long, long time"

As far as Bro. Gene Bridges's comments, he fails to mention that John Dagg rejected alien immersion. This is the bottom line with Dagg. As far of the First London Baptist Confession of Faith, Hanserd Knolleys later said they were not clear on the authority to baptism and that they all believed only a preacher disciple contected to a local Baptist Church could baptism. The early English Baptists would not have accepted alien immersion either.

John Moeller said...

Bob Cleveland,

I am so glad you comment on this Blog….. It makes my life easier knowing you will probably say the same thing I would have.

I had a Living Bible when I got saved, saved at the age of 6 in a little Baptist church that my dad helped build in our pint sized little town. Baptized by my dad, who wasn’t the pastor….. Years later, I was baptized again in the ocean off the coast of Haiti during a mission trip by a friend.

According to the legalists, I haven’t been baptized yet. I bet they would go farther and say I was still headed to hell.

To add to that, I consider Kenneth and Gloria Copeland friends. I have learned how to be a better man from TD Jakes. I have the gifts that everyone talks about so much. I love to “go and make disciples” and really don’t care about doctrine unless it is fundamental to faith.

I see Baptists bickering instead of ministering to hurting people. I’d rather see a person as God sees them instead of condemning them because they got splashed or sprinkled as a child. God loves each one of us, no matter what. He sent his Son for all of us knowing we were totally messed up and lost.

What I hear from Baptists is; God loves you as long as you follow these rules that I have decided on. What rubbish! How about loving the lost, ministering to the hurting, and let GOD Himself create a heart of flesh. Then you will see those doctrines which are truly important being carried out because the convert loves God, not because you are forcing your rules on them.

gmay said...

pJohn, your comments remind me of a man who came to my door a few months ago asking for some gas money. As I visited with him while filling his tank, he proceeded to tell me of the evils of us Baptists and our lack of compassion. I finally asked him what right he had to judge the entire congregation God allows me to serve because of his experience with a few Baptist or a few churches over the years. He admitted knowing nothing about the actions of the members of our church or most Baptist churches for that matter. You also seem to lack investigation into the ministries of many churches who call themselves Baptist.
Judge us and fault us as you may but at least give us credit for wanting to be faithful to God had His Word. To say Baptist do not minister to hurting people is short sighted at the least and blatant ignorance at its worst.

Anonymous said...

John Moeller,

I believe you err by asking the wrong question. "Does God love us enough to forgive our bad doctrine?" Of course. However, we need to ask ourself do we love God enough to learn good doctrine? "Why should we learn good doctrine, you may ask." Because it is knowing doctrine that we understand God. It teaches us of His attributes, His will, HIs method of working. The only reason a person would avoid the pursuit of proper doctrine is because of a laziness to "study to show yourself approved." Good doctrine is foundational to good worship. In knowing doctrine we know God. "Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth." Doctrine is simply the attempt to explain God's revelation. Yes, God loves the hurting. How do we know? Good doctrine teaches us He does.

John B.

John Moeller said...

I grant you that I am generalizing… Don’t get me wrong, I see the Wade Burleson’s who want a sound doctrine AND to minister to hurting people knowing that God will change the heart.

I am speaking to those who bicker and pound their chests about doctrine to the detriment of hurting people and those, like the IMB missionaries, who are trying to make a difference in a hurting persons life while being pounded over the head with all these rules and regulations.

Unfortunately, I know way more than I want to about the Baptist as a body and a convention. You are correct that most Baptist are exactly what God wants, but a few bad apples in strategic locations sure make a stink of the entire convention….

RM said...

In our church, when a child makes a profession of faith we allow (and encourage) their fathers to baptize them. It this OK or are we violating some sacred Baptist principle??

wadeburleson.org said...


Not only is it 'ok' it is Biblical, particuarly if it is the father who led his son to Christ.


The command that contained the commission to evangelize also has the command to baptize. If 'pastors' are the only ones who have authority to 'baptize' then they ought also be the only ones with the authority to 'evanglize.'

Both go together.

gmay said...

I think it depends on your church. In my current church I suggested deacons baptize and received a strange response. Down the road a staunchly conservative Baptist church allows anyone who leads someone to Christ to do the Baptizing. I know some who do not believe it is a church issue but rather a family issue and the grandfather baptizes (in their own homes). The biggest fight I have known of at youth camp was when a youth minister wanted to baptize his converts in the swimming pool before returning to his local church. It was not the place, but rather the fact that it was viewed as a church ordinance rather than an individual ordinance that raised the flag. My point on this post has been to point out that this debate is much older than Landmarkism and finds its roots into the early 17th century. The Landmark rhetoric is pejorative language used for emotional and political purposes rather than productive discussion

wadeburleson.org said...


I gently disagree.

Prior to the 18th Century it was the Christian norm for evangelicals to baptize their converts - and later for the convert to join the church.

Only Roman Catholocism attached church 'authority' with the rite of baptism prior to the the 18th Century.

davidinflorida said...

Brother Wade,

A couple of questions, if you have time.

1. Into what church was Paul baptized?

2. Suppose( in A.D.60 ) a tent maker, who was active and baptized in the Church of God in Corinth, moved to Galatia to take advantage of cheaper labor costs and better tax incentives.
He then becomes active in one of the Churches in Galatia. Would he have had to get re-bapized?

gmay said...

Wade, your gentle disagreements are surely welcome especially if mine are as well.
In particular I was referring to John Smythe's remarks, "Seeing ther was no church to whome wee could joyne with a Good conscience to haue baptism from them, therfor wee might baptize our selues." So he baptized himself and then the others. Of course his baptism was of considerable discussion, according to McBeth, for many years. And no, he was not likely immersed but probably poured. This was in the early days of dissenters establishing what they believed Scriptural Baptism to be. My point is that the discussion has taken place since our beginnings. Is se baptism legite? Even if much of this influence is from our Landmark brothers, do we want to exclude all those who have been influenced? If so, we have a major problem in East Texas, Arkansas, South Missouri and Tennessee. These I know about through life and associates.

Hill Memorial Baptist Church said...

Bro. Wade, I appreciate you BUT Presbyterian Churches, Lutheran Churches, Anglican Churches (In short all Protestant churches certaintly believed in Church authority in baptism)and saw Baptism as an entrance into the Universal Church.

A Reformation Anabaptist confession states,

"Baptism means the entrance into the covenant of grace of God and the incorporation into the Church of Christ" -Ridemann's Rechenschaft Anabaptist Confession, 1540

The 1656 Somerset Baptist Confession of Faith declares
"it is the duty of every man and woman, that have repented from dead works, and have faith towards God, to be baptized (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 37, 38.), that is, dipped or buried under the water (Rom. 6:3, 4; Col. 2:12.), in the name of our Lord Jesus (Acts 8:16.), or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19.), therein to signify and represent a washing away of sin (Acts 22:16.), and their death, burial, and resurrection with Christ (Rom. 6:5; Col. 2:12.), and being thus planted in the visible church or body of Christ (I Cor. 12:3.)"

Others stated.

"Just as Jews entered the covenant with God through circumcision, so Christians are admitted into the Church by baptism. "
- John Wesley

"Here there is a proof brought forward from the effect of baptism. "We are," says he, "engrafted by baptism into Christ's body, so that we are by a mutual link bound together as members, and live one and the same life. Hence every one, that would remain in the Church of Christ, must necessarily cultivate this fellowship" - John Calvin

The Second London also asserted a need for Church authority.

"Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in His Church to the end of the world.

These holy appointments are to be administered only by those who are qualified and called to administer them, according to the commission of Christ. "
- 2nd London Confession 1689

It is neither Landmarker or Roman Catholic to believe in Church authority in Baptism. I believe the Missionary mentioned earlier did have church authority indirectly because he was appointed. Accountability to a Church in dispensing the ordinances is a good thing and is not contrary to Baptist heritage but actually is part of it. I disagree with Landmarkers on how they define this but to assert no Church authority is schismatic and cuts Baptists off from a basic belief of the rest of Christianity. It is a over reaction to Landmarkism and creates in my opinion equally opposite error.

Grace, Randy

R. L. Vaughn said...

Re gmay's mention of John Smyth: it is also relevant that when Smyth rejected his se-baptism, he began to look for some "authority" for baptism, which eventually landed him with some Mennonites on the continent (and a division with Thomas Helwys).

And as Randy points out, this idea was not confined to the Baptists. When Smyth baptized himself, Separatist Richard Clifton challenged it, saying, "Resolve me how you can baptize yourself into the Church being out of it, yea and where there was no church."

wadeburleson.org said...


(1). He was baptized into no 'local' church, but the universal church of Jesus Christ.

(2). No, he would NOT have to be rebaptized because the church would examine his baptism and determine it to be Christian.

wadeburleson.org said...


You are correct of course. When I used the word 'evangelicals' I was referring to what I would consider the Waldensians, Moravians, and others that would not be breakoffs of the Roman Catholic church.

davidinflorida said...

Brother Wade,


gmay said...

I just found a good post concerning the Landmark issue. http://www.sbcwitness.com/?q=node/155

This one is worthy of reading.

Anonymous said...

BT, I am not sure how you reach the conclusion that Church of Christ Baptism is not valid because their doctrine on eternal security is not valid. It seems to me that if we look only at the biblical requirements for baptism it must be: 1) by immersion; 2) after salvation 3) viewed as an act of obedience not a work required for salvation 4) viewed as symbolic of the death burial and resurrection of Christ. I suppose the issue hinges around whether folks who don't believe in eternal security can be saved. I would be interested in your opinion and reasoning on that.

In any case, I would suggest that if a person answers key questions about their salvation experience and about their beliefs regarding their baptism that are satisfactory, then the baptism can be valid, despite mistaken theology behind the scene. This is essentially what my pastor does. If he is satisfied with the person's answers to a number of detailed questions, he recommends that our church accept the baptism. If we accept the idea of priesthood of the believer, then we are responsible for our own understanding of doctrines, not mistakes of doctrine made by people with whom we once associated.

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Sometimes those who say that baptism is a local church ordinance are quickly labeled as Landmarkers, but W. T. Conner is an example of a theologian who believed in a universal church and yet saw baptism as a local church ordinance. Conner was a professor at Southwestern Baptist Seminary from 1910 to 1949.

James Leo Garrett Jr. discussed Conner: “Moving beyond Baptist Landmarkism, Conner found the term church to be used in the New Testament in a universal as well as local sense.”

Garrett, “Walter Thomas Conner,” in Theologians of the Baptist Tradition, eds. Timothy George and David Dockery (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001), 211.

Notice what Conner said about baptism:

“Who has the authority to baptize? . . . In general, three answers are given to this question. One is that the ‘clergy,’ or officially recognized ministry, is responsible for the ordinance and has the authority to administer it. But this theory draws a line of distinction between ‘clergy’ and ‘laity’ that is foreign to the New Testament and tends toward sacerdotalism and sacramentalism. . . . Another view is that an individual Christian can baptize. But this would lead to all sorts of irregularities and confusion. The other view is that the responsibility for the administration of the ordinance rests with the congregation or church. This we believe to be the correct position. One reason for it is that baptism is generally recognized as the means of publicly confessing Christ and identifying oneself with the congregation or community of believers. This was clearly the case in the New Testament. If this be true, then baptism is a community affair. It is not a purely individual act. But there is a community responsibility with reference to the administration of the ordinance. It may be objected here that the case of Philip and the eunoch does not agree with our contention, but supports the view that any Christian should be allowed to baptize. It is true the Philip baptized the eunoch. Nor is it necessary to suppose that any church had given him any special authority in the matter. Such a supposition would be a pure assumption with no ascertainable facts to justify it. Where there is no church, we believe any Christian or group of Christians could administer the ordinance. But where there is a church, the whole church is concerned, since baptism is a ceremony by which one publicly and formally identifies himself with the Christian community. What concerns the whole community of Christians the whole community has the right to regulate. Such a matter should not be left indiscriminately to any individual. When Cornelius and his household were converted, Peter consulted the group of Christians that came down with him from Jerusalem. If an individual should administer the ordinance, where there is no church, as in the case of a missionary in unevangelized territory, when the baptized person comes to a church asking for recognition and fellowship, the church can recognize the baptism by receiving him into fellowship. This suggests the questions of ‘alien immersion’ or ‘alien baptism’—i.e., an immersion performed by a minister or representative or some other denomination. Some Baptist churches receive such baptisms, while others do not. We would not favor the reception of such baptisms.”

Conner, Christian Doctrine (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1937), 283-285.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Stephen, I think most of those who reject Church of Christ/Campbell/Restoration baptism because these churches hold it as one of elements necessary for salvation: faith, repentance, confession, water baptism for the remission of sins.

"Baptism, the final step of salvation, actually places us in Christ where salvation is."

Anonymous said...

Since, lets say for now, baptistism is a church ordinance. Then whoever the church allowed to baptize some one can an that would be completely biblical, right?
So what if a church voted anyone in the church could baptize someone if they understood certain requirements, etc?
Why don't we do that?

Also my dad was ordained to spread the gospel and baptize people in a church in California, then went to
Africa to fulfill this task. Let's say he baptized someone. To which church would the convert belong?

PS. I would have you all realize that EVERYONE has preconceptions when approaching theology including ME and ALL THESE THEOLOGIANS MENTIONED ABOVE.
It's called a worldview and is much more pervasive than most people realize.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Oops! Got the link somehow messed up for the Church of Christ quote. Click here.

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...


You asked an interesting question, and I think the answer to it is found within the question. You said that baptism must be “viewed as symbolic of the death burial and resurrection of Christ.” I agree. Remember, however, that Christ died once, was buried once, and rose once. Thus, there was a certain finality about the events. Notice what the 2000 BF&M 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.”

Thus, in identifying with the finality of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, the finality of our death, burial, and resurrection must be acknowledged. We cannot return to the old life. It is buried. Thus, eternal security is emphasized.

I do believe that people who do not believe in eternal security can be saved, but I do not believe their baptisms are biblical.

Bob Cleveland said...

John Moeller:

Small world time. My first and second mission trips were to Haiti (1970 and 1974) with OMS Inernational,

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Michael, you asked,

"Since, lets say for now, baptistism is a church ordinance. Then whoever the church allowed to baptize some one can an that would be completely biblical, right?"

When we say that baptism is a local church ordinance, we mean that the local church decides who can perform the actual physical act of baptizing. The local church's members usually prefer that their own pastor(s) perform the baptism for a number of reasons. He has usually talked to the candidate to try to determine the spiritual state of the candidate, and he thus has a personal connection to the candidate. He also has experience in the actual baptizing. Rather than having a business meeting every time a baptism is needed, most church members prefer to delegate that task permanently to the pastor(s). As you say, however, the church members have the right to determine who will do the baptizing, and they can choose others besides the pastor(s) to do it.

Anonymous said...

Brother Wade:

As an IMB trustee can you find out why your entity's online prayer ministry no longer accepts prayer requests citing the NIV translation of scripture?

Are the SBC Illuminati now moving us towards becoming "King James" Baptists? (I am not on their mailing list, so I did not get the memo).



Bennett Willis said...

Do you have a link to that activity so I can see what you are talking about?
Bennett Willis

Anonymous said...


(from a previous anonymous posting in this comment string):

"We just received notice from Compassion Net, that the NIV is no longer acceptable for use within prayer requests we submit to them...

I quote from the email:

Dear RPAs,

We have just received notification that the approved list of Bible translations has changed. Please notify your teams that we can only use the versions listed below for our CompassionNet requests. Many quote from NIV but that is no longer on the list. To simplify things on our end, it would be great when someone chooses to use a scripture reference if they send it like this:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB).

ESV – English Standard Version

HCSB – Holman Christian Standard Bible

KJV – King James Version

NASB – New American Standard Bible

NKJV – New King James Version"

So who decided this? Where will it stop?


Bennett Willis said...

Thanks for the additional information. I went to the web site and clicked on the sample.(http://www.imb.org/newsletter/imb/eletter070705.htm) In the sample was this scripture: “Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” (Romans 1:5, NIV).

There have been a few examples of stuff that is not so being either deliberately posted to mislead or sent around to draw fire. Do you think that this is one of them? Or maybe the word has just not gotten back to the webmaster. That sort of rule seems really odd.

Bennett Willis