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One Way IV

November 16, 2006


There was a question raised on another blog the other day (I would link, but not sure I am supposed to). The question was in light of someone’s saying they didn’t like an invitation which said, come and be baptised and wash away your sins, she thought it didn’t sound like Jesus had anything to do with it. The question was: In our efforts to stress its importance maybe we have crossed the line in expressing from where the redemption comes….what do you think?”

I remember teaching from a book years ago with a title that included “Sacred Cows”. I am not sure if Baptism was included, but it should be. The questioner is speaking of “we” as those of us who have a history in the Churches of Christ.

The Churches of Christ have championed Baptism for most of their history. Interestingly not for all of it. While championing it, views on it have sharpened.

As an example of a sharpened view, let me give you a real live story. A guy comes and starts attending a Church of Christ and at some point expresses that he wants to be formally a part of the congregation. He is asked if he is a Christian, his reply is that he is. People there know that his previous attendance was at a local Baptist church. He is asked about his “conversion experience” and in relaying it, it sounds exactly like mine. He adds a phrase that he was baptised because we are told to in the Bible. It is asked if he did so to receive forgiveness? He says it was….. but for many that is not good enough. Now if he had come from Bumfuzzel Street Church of Christ then it would be assumed “he’s ok”. A few weeks later this guy comes and says he wants to be baptised. People are ecstatic. But when later I ask him why he wanted to be baptized, he says to make everyone feel better. He never doubted his salvation. He felt the Spirit indwelling in him, but now he was accepted.

That’s denominationalization of Baptism.

I don’t want a part in that thinking. Back in the 1800’s, David Lipscomb said that “Baptist re-baptism is nothing but re-baptism” In other words, someone baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit unites with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus because God does something there, not because we do.

We can worship the Bible, we can worship a certain way of doing things, we can even worship baptism. And when we do, it becomes an idol, it takes the place that should be reserved for God.

Now I have what I believe is a very high view of Baptism. But someone can have a lower view of it and neither view has anything to do with its effect. The moment it has to do with with how high a view we have that is the minute that we are saved by doctrinal understanding. Everyone I have ever spoken with about this believes that you have to know something and that you don’t have to know everything.

I love Romans chapter 6 but it is proceeded by chapter 5. It would seem that just as circumcision of the flesh was to be actually done, it was the heart that mattered. It would seem to be the same with baptism.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2006 1:05 pm

    My former husband was a baptized believer while a member of a Baptist church. Once he and I returned to the congregation where we had worshipped when we first got married. The preacher ran and grabbed Jeff by the arm and said, “Have you obeyed the gospel?” Jeff said, “Yes!” The preacher was thrilled and asked when that happened. When he realized that Jeff was talking about being baptized years before, he looked so disappointed. I knew then that not all of us understand baptism the same way.

    That hurt Jeff and me both more than that preacher ever knew and probably did more damage than he’ll ever know.

  2. November 16, 2006 2:47 pm

    Thanks for expounding further on this subject. I am enjoying your series.

  3. November 16, 2006 10:45 pm

    Sure we can (and have) been so dogmatic about baptism as to “demoninationalize” (is that a word?:) it.

    As for the invitation- we lifted that from 19th century revivalism in America. It is just their alter call remade in our language. So why should we get upset if baptism is not mentioned or even if the invitation is not offered? Scripturally we have no precedent in a worship setting to offer one anyway- save the conitnuing invitation of Christ to take up his yoke.

  4. November 17, 2006 8:46 am

    Excellent post and series, Tommy! I love it and agree wholeheartedly. For all the reasons you give and the commenters mention, that is why I was so happy for Tom to show me on our trip the Baptist church in little (3,000 people) Dermot, Arkansas where he was baptized. He was very proud of that fact and I was proud of him.

    For one thing – the church seems to be doing well even after all of these years, unlike most of the rest of the town.

  5. November 17, 2006 10:42 am

    A man married to one of the members of my home congregation had been raised and baptized in a Baptist church. He long contended that he was baptized for the remission of sins, and based on that did not need to be re-baptized. He was never fully accepted into fellowship there. He never missed a service and was a large contributor, but never was allowed to lead a prayer or serve the Lord’s Supper. He and his wife raised their family there and when he died the preacher at that time from the congregation preched his funeral.

    My esteeem was high for this man who was willing to stand for his convictions as to WHY he was baptized, but I was always so disappointed in my congregation. They really thought they were doing what they needed to do for this man’s salvation, but honestly, did not have a clue.

    It is not what you know about baptism that gives it its power, it WHO you know that told you to do it in the first place. I venture to say that there are thousands of members of my tribe that for most of their lives did not realize that the Holy Spirit was more than the amount of knowledge of the Bible they had in their heads. Do they need to be re-baptized because of new found knowledge, or just ackowledge what they know understand about what took place at their baptism.

    Great Post Tommy!

  6. November 17, 2006 11:00 am

    Terri, I am sorry that happened. I am afraid there are too many stories like that.

    Donna, Hey!

    Danny, you can make up words over here anytime.

    Dee, I too am glad Tom showed that place to you. Its something to celebrate.

    Lee, I wonder how many of us have seen something like that? It sectarian at best. A us vs. them thing. In Italy I saw a guy walk into church for the first time and they asked him to say a prayer. (we even commented how this would not happen at home). His prayer was beautiful, simple, void of all the right phrases, and it was honest and refreshing to hear.

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