Rebaptism: The Real Rub

Throughout 2008 I spent part of my time reading through the major journals of Churches of Christ from 1897 to 1907: Gospel Advocate, Firm Foundation, Christian Leader, Octographic Review, The Way, and Christian Leader & the Way.  I have shared some of my “findings” on this blog and will do more in the future.

Other than the increasing distance between the Christian Church and Churches of Christ (ranging on issues from instrumental music and missionary societies to ecumenical federation with denominational bodies and higher criticism), the most discussed question among Churches of Christ in the papers was rebaptism. I counted over 200 articles–not including notices of debates, books and pamphlets about the subject–from 1897-1907.

The specific question was whether Baptists (or other immersed persons) should be reimmersed in order to receive the “right hand of fellowship” for entrance into a congregation of the Church of Christ. On the one hand, David Lipscomb, James A. Harding, E. G. Sewell, J. C. McQuiddy, Daniel Sommer, and others (including all the editors of the Gospel Advocate) argued that anyone immersed upon a confession of faith in Jesus is a Christian. On the other hand, Austin McGary, J. D. Tant, J. W. Durst, and others (including all the editors of the Firm Foundation) argued that only those immersed with a specific knowledge their baptism was the appointed means of salvation are Christian. This is the most well known difference, perhaps, between the Tennessee and Texas Traditions within Churches of Christ.

This difference generated considerable friction. But where is the rub? Why was it contested so vehemently and passionately? What was at stake? Austin McGary, co-editor of the Firm Foundation, gives us a  feel for how critical this debate was (1898, 284–emphasis mine):

We cheerfully admit that neither the society nor the organ has anything to do with this vile attack upon us by the Advocate. But the trouble between us is traceable to the very same presumptuous spirit that brings the society and the organ into the work and worship of the church. Bros. Lipscomb, Harding and their wicked confederates in this attack upon us claim to speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where the Bible is silent. But, like Homon and his confederates in advocating the society and organ, they speak where the Bible does not speak, and are silent where the Bible does not speak, in their defense of Baptist baptism….these brethren are tenfold more palpably culpable in their effort to defend their practice of receiving Baptists on their baptism, because, in holding to this practice, they prove that they are willfully going beyond the authority of the Lord.

McGary believed the root was “going beyond the authority of the Lord” on the basic question of who is a Christian. This, to him, was more liberal, damaging and insidious than the society and the organ. McGary thought this would ultimately lead to a “divided brotherhood” just like the instrument and society (FF, 1901, 8).  J. D. Tant, however, was more optimistic after a visit to Nashville and thought that in “fifteen years” churches would no longer receive members on their “sectarian baptism” because “the gospel,” he wrote, was having a “>leavening influence in Tennessee” (FF, 1899, 23). Tant assessed the trend correctly, though it took much longer than fifteen years.

The “rub” for the Texans was that it expanded the borders of the kingdom beyond those identified with the Churches of Christ. The critical issue was that congregations were receiving unsaved people into their fellowship. This was, as Tant revealed, a gospel issue. At root the Gospel Advocate “was teaching other ways that sinners may be forgiven and enter the kingdom of Christ” (McGary, FF, 1901, 8).

The “rub” for the Tennesseans was the sectarian attitude that undermined the obedient faith of others. Lipscomb stressed that simple obedience to Jesus through faith was all the motive required for effectual baptism (see his “What Constitutes Acceptable Obedience“). To require more is to undermine simple obedience itself because it is no longer faith but education, knowledge and doctrinal precision that determines acceptable obedience. Such a spiral ultimately destroys assurance because when knowledge becomes the ground rather than faith one can never be sure they know enough about their obedience for their obedience to be accepted. A faith in Jesus that moves one to obedience is sufficient faith no matter what else they know or don’t know or even falsely believe about their baptism.

The other part of the “rub” is the sectarianism itself.  According to Daniel Sommer, rebaptists “adopt the sectarian plan of sitting in judgment on the fitness of persons for baptism” (OR, 1904, 3) According to the Tennessee tradition, the kingdom is broader than those who were immersed for the specific purpose of the remission of sins (or to be saved) and they did not believe that all those outside the borders of the “Churches of Christ” were lost (see Harding’s comments). This gracious attitude toward those who walk sincerely among the denominations is what the editors of the Firm Foundation feared because it enlarged the kingdom beyond the borders of their vision of the “Church of Christ.”

The rebaptism controversy was, I think, a struggle within Churches of Christ about the borders of the kingdom of God. It was part of movement toward more pronounced exclusivism within Churches of Christ. While the Tennessee perspective (which was also the view of Alexander Campbell, J. W. McGarvey and Daniel Sommer, which means it is not simply a Tennessee perspective) lost the struggle on this point, it did not die but remained alive in various places among Churches of Christ (e.g., Harding College).  

References:

Austin McGary, “Editorial,” Firm Foundation 14 (13 September 1898 ) 284.

Austin McGary, “The Firm Foundation—Its Aims and Principles,” Firm Foundation 16 (8 January 1901) 8.

Daniel Sommer, “A Letter with Comments,” Octographic Review 47 (2 Feb 1904) 3.

J. D. Tant, “Too Many Papers,” Firm Foundatoin 15 (10 January 1899) 23.



35 Responses to “Rebaptism: The Real Rub”

  1.   Alan Says:

    Jimmy Allen’s book “Rebaptism? What One Must Know to be Born Again” amply documents what you’ve pointed out, with quotes from an astonishing (to me) number of well-known names of the past 150 years. I was truly surprised to learn that what you’ve called the Tennessee perspective was supported by so many respected men in our history.

  2. Profile photo of Bobby Valentine  Bobby Valentine Says:

    Good at always John Mark. I wrote about Harding’s views about a week ago too

    http://stoned-campbelldisciple.blogspot.com/2009/01/james-harding-design-of-baptism.html

    I agree the discussion was about the borders of the kingdom.

  3.   awgonnerman Says:

    Jimmy Allen was one of my professors at HSBS, and he repeatedly made the point that you can only obey a command, not a promise. The command is to repent and be baptized. The promise includes remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    I loved it when he asked the class how many knew when they were baptized that it was for the remission of sins, all hands shot up. He then asked how many understood at the time of baptism that they would be receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Two or three hands went up. He told them that if it is necessary to understand all the promise of salvation, then most of the class was hell-bound.

    He knew I was with the independent Christian Churches, made it clear he disagreed with the perspective on instruments, and never left a doubt that he knew I was his brother in Christ.

  4.   nick gill Says:

    I need to find a copy of Brother Allen’s Rebaptism book for myself. It sounds tremendous — I wonder how influential it has been since it was published.

  5.   rich constant Says:

    i wonder john mark,
    the way i see it today…
    is not the gospel the power of god to unto salvation….
    now then exactly what is that …
    would that not be the faithfullness of God to his word of scripture…rom3
    which brings us to believe in him which leads us to his christ…so to obey that faith, that was excersized by our lord…
    you know obediance to faith, there is only one faith, rom 1 and rom 16

    rom 10 17 or so
    faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of god
    how shall they believe and how shall they call on
    him who they don’t know…
    HIM BEING GOD THE FATHER…
    SO
    WOULDN’T ALMOST ALL OF US NEED TO BE REBAPTISED …
    BECAUSE I WASN’T TAUGHT LIKE THAT .
    i learned that afterword
    THere seems to be a pretty big gap here and a lot of persumpunion by teachers and or preachers.

    seems there might be a tad bit of ironry here.
    if it was delovped properly…
    :-)

    anywho
    blessings all

  6.   Todd Deaver Says:

    To require more is to undermine simple obedience itself because it is no longer faith but education, knowledge and doctrinal precision that determines acceptable obedience. Such a spiral ultimately destroys assurance because when knowledge becomes the ground rather than faith one can never be sure they know enough about their obedience for their obedience to be accepted.

    Powerful point. Thanks for putting the issue in perspective.

  7.   Frank Says:

    Thank you, John Mark, for your study and writing. I especially like the quotations from leaders of the past.

    Adam, have you read Jimmy Allen’s autobiography? You can hear his voice on every page.

    Allen’s book on rebaptism hasn’t had nearly the circulation it should have among Churches of Christ.

  8.   awgonnerman Says:

    Frank,

    Brother Allen told me about his autobiography a few years ago, but that was shortly before we had to pack and flee NM. I might try to locate a copy now.

    The book on rebaptism was good, but his talks on the topic were far better. A better book could be written.

  9.   Randall Says:

    Please help me out re Jimmy Allen. I only heard him speak once that I can recall. That was in chapel at ACC in the 1960s. He told us we should not play penny poker in the dorm. Wish I had memories of him teaching on more substantial issues. I did hear he had some large meetings in Dallas sometime in the early 60s, I think. What did he believe and teach regarding the need or not to be baptized again if you didn’t have the understanding that it was in order to obtain the remission of sins?
    Thank in advance for any information ou can provide.
    Randall

  10.   awgonnerman Says:

    Randall,

    It isn’t my place to speak for brother Allen or his beliefs. I can only say that you should read again my comment above about how he argued that you cannot obey a promise, but only a command. That is pretty much it.

    One other thing: he was equally clear that it must be taught that baptism is for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that a person who was previously baptized without this understanding, but out of obedience to God or following the example of Christ, should not be received by the Church of Christ without a proper understanding of remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Again, I’m not sure how appropriate it is for me to speak on his behalf, so I refer you to his writings. He has commentaries out there on various NT books, an autobiography and, of course, his book on rebaptism.

  11.   randall Says:

    awgonnerman,
    Thanks for the information. I do understand that one person cannot speak for another. I believe I understand the traditional CofC understanding of of the purpose of baptism. I didn’t see any reason to think Jimmy Allen was at odds with that position. but I felt like I had not understood the brief exchange between you and Frank and was looking for some clarification. Thanks again for your timely reply and the info.
    Randall

  12. Profile photo of Royce Ogle  Royce Says:

    Instead of keeping the discussion on the entry into the family of God answer this question. (The question assumes each reader believes he or she is in the kingdom of heaven)

    On whom, or what, are you trusting for your salvation? The answer should be Christ. It should not be Christ and baptism. How do you answer Paul’s question to the Galations? “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness?”

    Baptism is not the gospel but one observable response to it. Some in our fellowship have elevated submisson to baptism above faith in Christ.

    John’s baptism was a “baptism of repentance”. Baptism was not the cause of repentance but rather the act marked out those who had repented and identified them with the people of God. Jesus, forever our “pattern”, when he was baptised, was not doing so to repent or for the remission of sin, but to identify with the people of God who had made a public statement of their change of heart and mind, “to fulfill all righteousness”.

    If asked the question “How do you know you are going to heaven?” a large percentage would reply “because I have been baptized”, instead of the more correct answer “because I am trusting Jesus”.

    Royce

  13.   Alan Says:

    Royce wrote:

    If asked the question “How do you know you are going to heaven?” a large percentage would reply “because I have been baptized”, instead of the more correct answer “because I am trusting Jesus”.

    True — yet some folks who call Jesus “Lord” will not enter the kingdom of God (Matt 7:21). He does expect an appropriate response to the cross.

    You see, any brief answer to your question leaves a few things out. Of course, what Jesus did on the cross is the only basis for our salvation. But does that salvation apply to all mankind, or to a subset? If a subset, which subset?

    I don’t know of anyone who thinks baptism saves independent of the cross. Do you?

  14. Profile photo of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Royce,

    I think Harding and Lipscomb both placed the emphasis on faith as trust in Jesus for their salvation while at the same time stressing the promises attached by God to the obedient response of baptism. The “rebaptists” generally melded faith and baptism into one act such that one must trust in one’s understanding of baptism as well as Christ.

    John Mark

  15. Profile photo of Royce Ogle  Royce Says:

    I agree John. That is my understanding of the flaw of the rebaptism idea. Jesus said make disciples then baptize them. In my wildest imagination I can’t picture 3,000 people completely understanding the theology of baptism when we are still discussing it today. But, they obeyed the command and in public said a resounding “YES” to God in the water of baptism.

    Alan, I hear what you are saying but no one can deny that more emphasis has been put on baptism by Restoration folks than the Bible puts on it. To answer your question, the answer is no.
    However, what is passed off as “teaching the gospel” is often a well thought out, strategic argument to put the listener in a position so that baptism is the inevitable end. That sort of evangelism is as shallow as asking someone to repeat “the sinner’s prayer” and then telling them they are born again.
    God saves those who respond in faith (saving faith is always obedient faith or else it os only mental assent) to the good news about Jesus. God grants repentance and gives faith. Have we forgotten that lost men are “Dead”? I have known people to study with folks for weeks before they finally convinced them to be baptized. The truth is, the natural man (unsaved) does not receive the things of God, neither indeed can he…being dead in sins and trespasses.
    When we are faithful to preach the good news about Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to convince, convict, and make the heart ready to repent, only then is the lost man likely to say “What must I do?” Many of us have pretty much left God out of the equation. Many believe that every person who is “scripturally baptized” is saved. The hard evidence proves that is not true.
    Several months ago a “door knocking” campaign was done in a small Alabama community and of about 16 folks who were immersed maybe two or three ever came to church and they had no measurable change in their lifestyle. They had done exactly as their instructor had suggested but had no appetite for God or his people.
    Many will say in that day “Lord, Lord” and Jesus will say “I never knew you”. My fear is that some of that number will have been depending on baptism, church attendance, being right, and doing right, rather than depending on Christ alone who is Life eternal.
    Royce

  16.   K. Rex Butts Says:

    Like, Adam Gonnerman, I have had the privledge of both reading J. Allen’s Book and listening to his lectures (passionate pleas against the secterianism among CoC and its understanding of baptism). The book does offer a good introduction to the arguments made by those in the Tennessee tradition. Though I cannot remember the name of the book, Owen Olbricht wrote a book that counters J. Allen’s book which would represent a late 20th century version of the Texas tradition.

    Those who do not understand the deep CEI hermenuetic may find Allen’s book to be somewhat straining since he operates thoroughly out of a CEI / Patternistic hermeneutic. Nevertheless, the passion and spirit in which he wrote the book is still as genuine now as it was then.

    The context of Matt 7.21 is the Sermon on the Mount which has much more to do with moral/ethical matters of life than the typical doctrinal issues of importance to the CoC. To use it to say that those who call Jesus ‘Lord’ but do not adhere to all doctrinal matters correctly will be told by Jesus that he never knew them is a mis-use and a bad proof-text. A better use of that verse is to remind all of us who think we have our doctrine all fine-tuned that what really counts is whether our lives reflect the beattitudes, for having our doctrine all correct while living a life that does not reflect the grace and mercy of God is to live a life that is unknown to Jesus.

    As an example, I served with a congregation that through this verse out to remind the congregation that all Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc… we not saved because of their supposed doctrinal error while we were saved because of our doctrinal soundness. All the while, this congregation tolerated some of the sickest racism and mistreatment of the homeless I have ever personally witnessed in my life (which is why I eventually left). Tell me now who Jesus will say “I never knew you…”?

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  17.   Alan Says:

    However, what is passed off as “teaching the gospel” is often a well thought out, strategic argument to put the listener in a position so that baptism is the inevitable end. That sort of evangelism is as shallow as asking someone to repeat “the sinner’s prayer” and then telling them they are born again.

    You have a valid point. OTOH I think Priscilla and Acquila probably spent a disproportionate time on baptism in their discussion with Apollos. It is appropriate to provide greater focus on the part that is missing. IMO, where you have a valid point is in the cases where someone is missing a lot more than the basic understanding of baptism… which I think is a pretty common scenario.

  18.   nick gill Says:

    Alan,

    It does not follow from Apollos’ particular error on baptism that any and all errors in baptismal understanding are of equal importance. If anything, I believe the traditional understanding is closer to Apollos’ error — because while it does baptize into Jesus, it ignores (or denies) the very gift that set apart Jesus’ baptism from John’s — the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

    P&A spent a disproportionate time with Apollos because of the vital importance of the gift of the Holy Spirit — which only comes through the baptism of Jesus.

    What strikes me most though (for purposes of our discussion of fellowship and boundaries) is that neither P&A nor Paul in Acts 19 address their counterparts in the narrative as anything other than fellow believers in error. They do not treat them the way I was taught to think of the improperly baptized.

  19.   Alan Says:

    What strikes me most though (for purposes of our discussion of fellowship and boundaries) is that neither P&A nor Paul in Acts 19 address their counterparts in the narrative as anything other than fellow believers in error. They do not treat them the way I was taught to think of the improperly baptized.

    We are in complete agreement.

    My point was that teaching someone more accurately about baptism is a good thing, not a bad thing. OTOH treating them as pagans in the meantime is a bad thing.

  20.   Dan Says:

    It’s been pointed out from a few that Allen liked making the point that one “cannot obey a promise, only a command”. That’s true and it’s supposed to prove that only the command is important to know. But I’m not sure the premise is correct. The better position would be that one must obey the command and understand the need. This is not the same distinction as requiring that a person understands Baptism is where forgiveness, HS, and addition to Church is apprehended, only that one understand he is lost and needs to be saved.

    A person who thinks he is already saved, and is then immersed, doesn’t understand the need. And without understanding the need, how is one appealing to God for a clean conscience (1 Pt. 3:21)? Without understanding the need attached to Baptism, how is one “calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 2:21; 22:16)?

    Instead of following the Tennessean/Harding/Allen line of reasoning that most immersions should be accepted (e.g. Baptist, etc) since even in the church many did not have full or complete knowledge on the purpose of Baptism (e.g. on HS and addition to the church), why not require the more reasonable and verifiable line between being lost and saved. If a person knew he was lost and wanted to be saved, and he got baptized, the baptism was effectual. If he thought he was saved and then got baptized, the baptism was ineffectual – it was an obedience to a man’s teaching, faithless, and probably included a man’s promise of being added to a denomination.

    That last part I think gets to the nub and undermines Allen’s point “can’t obey a promise”. The reality is that our Baptist friends are being taught a human promise re: baptism is a public profession associated with joining the denomination. My point is that the promise is important to God and it should be important to us. If a person has obeyed a human promise, he ought to be rebaptized and obey God’s promise. If he thinks he was saved when he “asked Jesus into His heart”, if he truly believes, he will want to obey what Jesus said with all of its promise.

    By accepting the baptism of someone who didn’t understand the need is to make Baptism a work without Biblical faith. I don’t see how something can be done in faith when there is improper understanding. It seems it goes too far to say that the only requirement one must have for baptism to be effectual is a desire to obey a command.

    I am ignorant on this part, so I will ask anyone here if you know if Jimmy Allen and others taught that one must know the connection of Baptism to the death, burial, and resurrection, as we see in Romans 6:3-5? That understanding would go beyond mere obedience. Would the Tennessean position required at least that knowledge or not?

    • Profile photo of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

      Dan,

      Thanks for your extended comment. I appreciate your interest in the topic.

      Your criterion is exactly what Lipscomb/Harding rejected since they did not see it stated in the text–the criterion is itself an inference. The point is not whether one is lost or saved but whether one will obey God or not. The “need” would be conceived along the lines of submission to God–the need to submit to God’s command because God commanded it and thus follow Jesus into the water.

      The promises are important, but they are ulitmately God’s gift. According to Lipscomb/Harding, one does not have to know the promises to receive them. As we grow in faith we will learn what those promises are and understand them more clearly and appreciate them more deeply.

      Lipscomb and Harding would not insist that those being baptized or having been immersed have understood the connection between baptism and Jesus’ death and resurrection. It appears that even the Romans did not fully understand that themselves. For Lipscomb/Harding, all that is necessary for effective immersion is faith in Jesus.

      Blessings

      John Mark

  21.   Alan Says:

    If he thought he was saved and then got baptized, the baptism was ineffectual – it was an obedience to a man’s teaching, faithless, and probably included a man’s promise of being added to a denomination.

    I think it’s much more likely it was obedience to biblical teachings as the individual understood them. In being baptized they were submitting to God, not to men. They understood their need for forgiveness, just not the exact point in time when it occurred.

    By accepting the baptism of someone who didn’t understand the need is to make Baptism a work without Biblical faith. I don’t see how something can be done in faith when there is improper understanding.

    We are not called to have faith in the act of baptism. Instead we are called to have faith in the power of God. I imagine that many who were baptized without full understanding still had faith in the power of God.

  22.   Dan Says:

    Dear Alan and John Mark,

    I hope my “extended” comments are acceptable. :/

    Alan wrote: “I think it’s much more likely it was obedient to biblical teachings as the individual understood them.” I disagree. Not wishing to split hairs here, but baptism as “an outward sign of an inward grace” is not Biblical teaching. The people in question did not obey a Biblical teaching. Instead, they obeyed a carefully crafted teaching by men who have rejected, not just misunderstood or were ignorant, the Biblical purpose of God. Is it possible for men to be honestly misled? Yes, but it’s not an excuse.

    You also responded: “We are not called to have faith in the act of baptism.” Agreed, we are not to have faith in the Baptism, and I didn’t mean to leave that impression. And I agree, we are called to have faith in the power of God. So where is the faith in God when one believes he is already saved? His faith is in the man-made doctrine of “faith only” coupled with a “sinner’s prayer”. What I am speaking of is the Biblical faith in God at the point of Baptism. If a person is obeying without understanding what God said about the act, where is the faith in God at that moment?

    To me a Baptism without a Biblical purpose is as pointless as worship or serving without a Biblical purpose. Partaking of the Lord’s Supper has a specific purpose which must be understood. The difference with the Lord’s Supper is that we may partake of it early on without a full understanding, but by doing it weekly, we refine our understanding and make necessary corrections. But with the one time act of Biblical Baptism, a correction is sometimes needed by being rebaptized with the right understanding. The passages I referenced, Acts 2, 22; 1 Pt. 3, and others show that Baptism is an appeal to God for a clean conscience, a calling on His name. A person’s immersion would seem to fall short if there is no calling or appealing since the ones in question believe they are already saved.

    And Alan, I think you are right that they understood their need for forgiveness, at least at some point in time, but they didn’t understand that need when the Baptist or denominational minister immersed them.

    Also to John Mark, Let me respond to something you said: “Your criterion is exactly what Lipscomb/Harding rejected since they did not see it stated in the text–the criterion is itself an inference.” I agree, it is an inference, a seemingly necessary one, for the same reasons I gave in my response to Alan. To act on the command knowing I’m lost and need salvation is unquestionably more of a faith position than to merely act on the command: not only does this person not know his need, but he is positively believing in something from man (an unbiblical doctrine) that denies the purpose.

    It seems to me that if a person is truly seeking God, being baptized for the right reason would be a simple and elementary step of faith. And more than that, it seems that a sincere person would desire to be rebaptized for the right reasons.

    Thank you for letting me have a say here.

    • Profile photo of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

      It seems rather dangerous to assess another’s baptism on a “seemingly necessary” inference.

      I don’t think that to “act on the command knowing I’m lost and need salvation is unquestionably more of a faith position than to merely act on the command.” To obey a command of God because God commanded it seems to me to be a wonderful and high motive. Submitting to baptism because God commanded it is obeying God for a “right reason.” Imposing another reason that is derived from “seemingly necessary” inference is not as sure a foundation as God commanded it and I will obey.

      Blessings, John Mark

  23.   Alan Says:

    The people in question did not obey a Biblical teaching.

    They obeyed biblical teaching to the extent of their understanding. It is possible to be baptized for a biblical reason without knowing the connection to forgiveness.

    In his book, Dr. Allen lists twenty-four different biblical purposes for baptism (Rebaptism, page 172). Does one have to know each of the twenty-four in order to get each benefit? If I know only twenty-three, will I be denied the twenty-fourth because of my ignorance? Or, will I be denied all twenty-four benefits because of my ignorance of one of them? Or is it only a particular one of the twenty-four which must be known? What is the biblical basis for having to know about forgiveness of sins, but not having to know about the gift of Holy Spirit, for example? If I believe the Holy Spirit only operates through the Word, and if that is incorrect, would I fail to receive that gift due to my ignorance?

  24.   Dan Mayfield Says:

    HI Alan,
    You say it is possible to baptized for a biblical reason without knowing it is forgiveness. Can you show me the Biblical verse that these people use to support that view? My experience has been that the Biblical view is distorted at each verse to support their point of view on Baptism. Would you say that partaking of the Eucharist, Catholic doctrine, is still acceptable since they are doing what they according to what their understanding of Scripture?

    Acts 19 is a good example to show that obedience alone isn’t sufficient if there is not a proper understanding. It’s like the old saying goes, “you can’t be taught wrong and be baptized right.” This makes sense because our faith is based on the Word of God (Romans 10:17)

    Thanks, I’ll stop here on my comments.

    • Profile photo of Royce Ogle  Royce Ogle Says:

      Dan,

      Interesting that you referenced Romans 10. Did you read the whole chapter? Of course you have, I only ask rethorically.

      Romans 10:1-4, Israel’s failure in obedience to God was their failure to submit to Christ, who is the righteousness of God, a righteousness afforded those who trust Christ.

      vv5-13 Righteousness is by faith to all who believe on Christ. One way to express that “believing heart” is by confession with words and by calling upon the Lord. (The dreaded sinners prayer?) How many who hear the message and believe it and call upon the Lord will be saved? EVERYONE!

      vv14-17 Calling upon the Lord is just a scriptural as water baptism and in this case and every other passage in the NT where obeying the gospel is referenced it is always as it is here. Obeying the gospel is believing upon Christ and disobeying is not believing.

      Do you realize that God loves sinners more than you and I and all the readers here? And He has done something about it. God wants sinners redemed more than you or any coC preacher or elder, any missionary, any Baptist pastor and as Romans 10 makes clear God is looking for folks to save (Romans 10:20). Our tendency is to see how many people we can exclude while God is busy reconciling wicked sinners to himself.

      The 10th chapter of Romans is God’s word just as Acts 2:38 is. I would be so quick to make a judgement as to who the one and only God can show mercy.

      Royce

      •   Dan Says:

        Hi Royce,
        Yes, God has mercy on whom He chooses. It’s not up to me to decide that. But it is up to me and all who presume to be teachers to accurately do so. As far as our tendency of seeing how many we can exclude from salvation, you have to speak for yourself. That speaks to motive and I won’t be judging your heart on that matter. Though you use the word “our” when speaking of this tendency to exclude, I don’t think you really think you are excluding people. That would be crass of you. Instead, the point you are making is more of a a subtle but personal attack on me by implying that I don’t understand Romans 10.

        Now you say that calling on the Lord is the same as the dreaded “sinner’s prayer”. This is not supported in the Scriptures. What the Bible teaches is that if you are going to be praying for salvation, it had better be in the watery grave of Baptism.

        There is no contradiction between Romans and Acts 2. They both teach that a person calls on the Lord when he or she is baptized. Acts 2:21 says that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21) and then verses later, Peter tells the crowd to “repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.” Verse 41 says “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls”. Calling on God for salvation is not done in a “sinner’s prayer”; it is accomplished just as Acts 2:38 and 41 says. And this is in perfect harmony with the book of Romans that says in chapter 6 that at Baptism they were united and buried with Christ and they arose from Baptism to walk in newness of life. The salvation of Romans 10 is not apprehended until the Romans were immersed into the watery grave. It is in this way that the Romans “called on the name of the Lord.” So Romans does not teach the denominational idea of a “sinner’s prayer”.

        Furthermore, Acts 2 and the salvation in Romans is in perfect harmony with what Paul says in Acts 22:16. “Now why do you delay, arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, CALLING ON HIS NAME.” Paul, the penitent sinner, now healed of blindness was urged by Ananias to be baptized and in so doing to “call on the name of the Lord.” Once again, perfect harmony of the message, but not with the so-called “sinner’s prayer”.

        And Acts 2, 22:16 and Romans is in perfect harmony with 1 Peter 3:21 where Baptism, the anti-type of the water Noah was saved through, now saves us because Baptism is our appeal to God for a clean conscience – Baptism saves you through the resurrection of Jesus.

        If there is any appealing to be done, any “sinner’s prayer” to be offered, it had better be while in the watery grave of Baptism.

        Thank you for letting me comment.

  25.   Alan Says:

    Dan, in Acts 19 the disciples had received John’s baptism. They were not baptized in the name of Jesus. They were not baptized with an incorrect understanding of the baptism they received. So it’s not an equivalent scenario.

    You say it is possible to baptized for a biblical reason without knowing it is forgiveness. Can you show me the Biblical verse that these people use to support that view?

    I don’t know who “these people” are, nor what verses they use. But there are lots of passages that answer that question. Gal 3:27 is as good as any:

    For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

    So someone might be baptized in order to put on Christ. That is a biblical purpose for baptism.

    Question: Is it necessary for a person to know that they “put on Christ” in baptism, in order for it to happen? Suppose I know that baptism is for forgiveness of sins, but I don’t know that it is for putting on Christ. Does my ignorance on that point prevent me from putting on Christ? Does it also invalidate the forgiveness of sins? If not, why not?

  26.   Dan Says:

    Alan,
    Thanks for answering. “These people” in the context of our discussion are the people who are NOT immersing for the the purposes Allen offered on pg. 172 of his book “Rebaptism”. I believe you are the one that said they are immersed for a biblical reason. But you offer a verse that “faith only” people would not use since the very reading of the verse would contradict their position (I’m thinking of Baptist). Though you said that they are baptized for a Biblical reason, it wouldn’t be Galatians 3. It might be the verse you would use, but not any of my Baptist friends.

    And Galatians 3:27 when juxtaposed with vs. 26 shows that faith and works are united in baptism. Which was my point that there must be faith in God’s saving power when one is Baptized. It wasn’t news to the Galatian church. It wasn’t news to the Roman church. Baptism, like other works, was united by faith in the saving power of God. Baptism “just because God said to” is close to rank legalism which explains why many denominations have quit requiring it. In my area, some of the more evangelical churches would accept membership by baptized and unbaptized. And why not if the alternative is to force a purposeless command (as they view it) on the people.

    Baptist purposely remove Baptism from salvation because it is just a work. Because they believe in “faith alone”, they dismiss all 24 Biblical purposes for Baptism, including the purpose of putting on Christ (Gal. 3:27).

    Alan, your question at the end of your last comment is still accepting the false dilemma that the options available are that one must either accept only those who have a full and complete understanding of what happens at Baptism, or else one must accept those who have no understanding of what happens at Baptism. In my comments above, I pointed out a third choice that one must believe he is lost and needs salvation. The all or nothing option is unreasonable, both extremes unsupportable by the accounts in the New Testament. But it is completely reasonable to say that a person of faith must approach Baptism ready to be saved – which covers all of the blessings which Allen outlined.

    A person who doesn’t read his Bible and gets all of his understanding from a man-made organization should not hope to plead ignorance. Ignorance is not an excuse and it is unacceptable when Jesus has so clearly taught that at Baptism a sinner is saved.

    Thank you.

  27.   rich constant Says:

    I must ask
    how does Jesus judge.
    i think it is by the thoughts and intent of the hart.
    a very clear point that you make Alan, is that because teaching the right way is important. all are lost that have bought into a reformed faith only hermeneutic form of teaching.
    to say nothing of pre-reformation.
    sometimes times it truly amazes me how arrogant we in the church have become in not allowing the spirit work on the hart of a man in bringing,about change and we seek to judge.
    when Paul would not even judge himself,
    just a thought with the intent of love,
    blessings
    rich

  28.   rich constant Says:

    ps.
    rom 10….

  29.   Alan Says:

    Thanks for answering. “These people” in the context of our discussion are the people who are NOT immersing for the the purposes Allen offered on pg. 172 of his book “Rebaptism”.

    Then we’ve been talking about two different groups of people. I’ve been talking about those who are baptized because of a biblical reason other than the forgiveness of sins.

    pointed out a third choice that one must believe he is lost and needs salvation.

    Baptists believe that. You’re really saying more than that. You’re saying they need to believe their sins are not yet forgiven prior to baptism. There’s no scripture saying that a person has to believe that particular point of doctrine in order to be saved. It’s an inference. And I don’t think it can be shown to be a necessary inference.

    A person who doesn’t read his Bible and gets all of his understanding from a man-made organization should not hope to plead ignorance. Ignorance is not an excuse and it is unacceptable when Jesus has so clearly taught that at Baptism a sinner is saved.

    Most people who have ever lived don’t have the reading comprehension skills to even participate in this discussion. They necessarily must rely on being taught by another person. So the teacher is at fault if he or she does not teach conversion doctrine correctly. (Of course chances are, the teacher himself was incorrectly taught.) Will God hold that against the person who is incorrectly immersed? He certainly hasn’t said that he will.

  30.   rich constant Says:

    sorry Allen

    most of the time on this blog i might be on the same train but about 6 cars back.

    SOOOO thanks for the clarification….. :-)

    blessings allen
    rich constant

  31.   Scott Says:

    Hi all,

    An interesting and important discussion. I think it must always be remembered that we are not to judge (condemn) others (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 14:4). God knows peoples’ hearts – not us. And it should also be acknowledged that God makes exceptions to His own rules (the Hebrews author indicates that it is appointed for man to die once and then face judgment, but at least two men never died). In this context, we should recall that Jesus said he had power on earth to (verbally) forgive sins. And he exercised that authority by forgiving one of the thieves being crucified with Him. Is it not also possible that He has authority in heaven to verbally forgive sins? If this is true, then we should be very hesitant to judge anyone who appears to be striving to follow Christ. We should teach what we believe the best that we can and love people with patience, kindness, hope and the like. Just consider how much confusion there appears to have been for centuries after the decline of the early church. From he who has been given little, little is expected. And where there is no law, there is no sin.

    This is not so much a corrective statement as food for thought.

    God bless,

    Scott

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