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    Christian Theology - Thread: Baptism - Is it Innert or Effectual?

    1. #1
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      Baptism - Is it Innert, Just a Symbol?

      .


      Is Baptism simply an inert, ineffectual action or rite? A ritualistic act that God cannot use for anything? Perhaps symbolizing stuff or reminding of stuff but ineffectual of anything? Or does Scripture suggest that God actually can accomplish something via Baptism, that God can use it for something?


      In the late 16th Century, the radically synergistic Anabaptists overturned 1500 years of Christian faith by inventing a new dogma that baptism is an ineffectual, inert ritual that accomplishes nothing (spiritual or otherwise). They invented an entirely new and never before heard of concept that "Baptism is visible, outward proof of the person choosing Jesus as their personal Savior." In effect, they claimed that Baptism is what Christians had held Confirmation is. It was a radical idea, a brand new one, reversing 1500 years of universal Christianity.



      What does SCRIPTURE say?


      I can find no Scriptures that state or indicate that Baptism is inert, ineffectual, just a symbolic ritual. IMO, that new Dogma (one of the defining, distictive dogmas of Baptists) is without any Scripture whatsoever. There is not one Scripture that remotely indicates that Baptism does nothing, accomplishes nothing, that it is SO stressed in the NT and SO important in the Book of Act and placed equal with teaching in the Great Commission because... well... it is meaningless, worthless, not used by God. There is NOTHING in Scripture to support the Anabaptist's invented dogma.

      But there are several, that when taken together, suggest something quite different. IMO, I'm not sure one can create DOGMA here, but there certainly is a powerful implication that God DOES something via baptism,or at least that this can be a "means of grace" - something God can use to convey His gifts. Let's look at those (hopefully the program here will bring them up for you to read)...


      Acts 22:16

      Acts 2:38

      1 Peter 3:21

      Romans 6:3-4

      1 Corinthians 6:11

      1 Corinthians 12:13

      Galatians 3:26-27

      Ephesians 5:25-27

      Colossians 2:11-12

      Titus 3:5

      1 Peter 3:18-22

      John 3:5

      Acts 2:38

      Romans 6:3-4

      1 Corinthians 12:13

      Galatians 3:27

      Colossians 2:11-12


      I admit no ONE verse above is indisputable or perspicuous, but together there is a strong indication.
      And of course we find nothing that indicates that it is a inert, ineffectual, useless ritual; only a symbol.



      We need to also consider that Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church gave great importance to this! Jesus places it along side of (and seemingly equal to) teaching in the Great Commission, for example. It seems less likely that it would be regarded as so very critical if it is an inert, ineffectual ritual that changes and accomplishes nothing at all.




      What Did the Early Christians believe?


      Again, we find none - NOT ONE Christian prior to that synergistic Anabaptist in the late 16th Century who view Baptism as just an inert ritual or symbol, but great things are ascribed to it. NOT EVEN ONE who spoke of baptism as "an outward act of an inner decision." Below is just a tiny sample. Note that the context of each is WATER BAPTISM.


      The Epistle of Barnabas (A.D. 130) “This means that we go down into the water full of sins and foulness, and we come up bearing fruit in our hearts, fear and hope in Jesus and in the Spirit.”

      The Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 140?): "they descend into the water dead, and they arise alive.”

      St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160?) "And we, who have approached God through Him, have received not carnal, but spiritual circumcision, which Enoch and those like him observed. And we have received it through baptism, since we were sinners, by God’s mercy; and all men may equally obtain it."

      St. Irenaeus (A.D. 190?). "And when we come to refute them [i.e. those heretics], we shall show in its fitting-place, that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole [Christian] faith."

      St. Irenaeus (A.D. 190?) "“Now, this is what faith does for us, as the elders, the disciples of the apostles, have handed down to us. First of all, it admonishes us to remember that we have received baptism for the remission of sins in the name of God the Father, and in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became incarnate and died and raised."

      St. Clement of Alexandra (A.D. 215?) "The same also takes place in our case, whose exemplar Christ became. Being baptized, we are illuminated; illuminated, we become sons; being made sons, we are made perfect; being made perfect, we are made immortal."

      St. Clement of Alexandra (A.D. 215?) "For it is said, “Put on him the best robe,” which was his the moment he obtained baptism. I mean the glory of baptism, the remission of sins, and the communication of the other blessings, which he obtained immediately he had touched the font."

      St. Cyprian (A.D. 255) responding to a man who was asking him the specific question of whether or not the pouring of water in baptism would be valid: "You have asked also, dearest son, what I thought about those who obtain the grace of God while they are weakened by illness – whether or not they are to be reckoned as legitimate Christians who have not been bathed with the saving water, but have had it poured over them."


      There are countless more. My point here is not the individual things here said, but the unavoidable and universal affirmation that Baptism is not an inert, ineffectual, mere ritual or pure symbol...

      Nowhere do we see any sense of it as some "outward ritual indicating an inward decision." Universally, baptism is seen as something God uses to accomplish something.

      Not until the late 16th Century.... not until the Anabaptists invented the new dogma of "Baptism Can't Do Anything" did ANY Christian agree with that view or even express it.

      The Anbaptist invention is found nowhere in the Bible and nowhere among Christians .... it is a radical new dogma invented out of the blue by the radical Anabaptists in the late 16th Century





      .
      Last edited by Josiah; 06-11-2019 at 10:05 AM.
      We are justified by works - just not our own.

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      Water or Spirit baptism? Be specific.
      Tell me about your magic water, Josiah.

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      Quote Originally Posted by MennoSota View Post
      Water or Spirit baptism? Be specific.

      Ephesians 4:5

      I agree with the Bible that there is ONE baptism.
      We are justified by works - just not our own.

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    5. #4
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      There is one baptism. Jesus told the Disciples to baptize and that always meant with water or he would have clarified that there were two baptisms, but there are not.

      Whenever God has given and ordinance there is something that happens...such as looking at the bronze serpent on the pole to save God's people, brushing blood on the doorways to save God's people, etc... When God gives an ordinance He attaches promises to them and they are effective.
      "Christianity does not require more work but more trust." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "Bearing fruit does not make you a branch. A branch is a branch because it grows from the vine." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "A Christian's life is not defined by what the Christian does. It is defined by Christ and what He has done for us." Pr. Rolf David Preus

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      Quote Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
      Ephesians 4:5

      I agree with the Bible that there is ONE baptism.
      Yep, one baptism.

      1 Corinthians 12:12-13
      For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
      For in one Spirit
      we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

      Water not needed.

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      I think this is an area where it's important to maintain perspective on both sides.

      Jesus told the disciples to go into the world, preaching the gospel and baptising. The call to "repent and be baptised" suggests the two need to go together (and, further, that the baptism should follow the repentance rather than necessary occurring some time afterwards). I don't have the reference to hand (I think it's in Acts) where Paul baptised a eunuch who said something like "here is water, why shouldn't I be baptised?" which supports the notion that this is the right thing to do.

      On the other hand I think it strays into potentially dangerous theological territory to conclude that God can only operate if we are treated with water in a particular fashion. Throw in the way different denominations handle baptism, whether it is intended for adults or children, whether it is by sprinkling or by full immersion, and the whole thing turns from a minor denominational disagreement into something far more substantial. If baptism by full immersion is required then baptism by sprinkling is clearly inadequate, so those who are so "baptised" cannot be considered to have been baptised at all. Children who are sprinkled at the ripe old age of a few months cannot be considered to be baptised. At least using human logic it isn't so serious if the intention is the other way - if Scriptural baptism requires little more than the application of some water then those who have been fully immersed qualify by virtue of having had a larger quantity of water applied to them.

      And of course we also have the story of the thief who repented on the cross, who couldn't exactly ask if he could be taken down and baptised before being hung back on his cross, and yet Jesus assured him of a place in paradise. I think that man's example is a pretty strong indication that a place in paradise is not contingent on baptism, however the word "baptism" is interpreted.
      "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

      "If you love me, obey my commandments" - Jesus Christ

      The Bible comes as a complete package. If we want to pluck verses out of context so make them mean what we want them to mean, if we want to ignore the passages that are inconvenient to our outlook, we should be intellectually honest enough to throw our Bibles in the trash and admit we are following Crowley and not Christ.

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      Nice treatment of a subject that is full of land mines, but on the final paragraph, the danger is of people taking the case of the Good Thief and talking like his experience is applicable to everybody, so you can just choose to be baptized--or refuse it--as you like. I have run into this POV more often than I care to remember.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Albion View Post
      Nice treatment of a subject that is full of land mines, but on the final paragraph, the danger is of people taking the case of the Good Thief and talking like his experience is applicable to everybody, so you can just choose to be baptized--or refuse it--as you like. I have run into this POV more often than I care to remember.
      As with much else it's important not to draw conclusions that are hugely far-reaching based on one example. The thief was in a place where he repented but there was no way anyone was going to baptise him between his repentance and his death. Given the choice between being baptised and being crucified to get out of baptism, I think I'll take the dunking. That said, I think it's important to consider the thief as a counterbalance to the notion that we absolutely, positively, must be baptised without exception. It's easy to come up with scenarios where someone repents of their sin but for some reason is unable to be baptised right there and then, and equally easy to come up with scenarios in which someone repents and dies before being baptised.

      As you quite rightly say we shouldn't take the example of the thief on the cross as justification for a free decision that we don't feel like being baptised, although it does give indicate that repentance isn't invalidated if something prevents us from being baptised.
      "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

      "If you love me, obey my commandments" - Jesus Christ

      The Bible comes as a complete package. If we want to pluck verses out of context so make them mean what we want them to mean, if we want to ignore the passages that are inconvenient to our outlook, we should be intellectually honest enough to throw our Bibles in the trash and admit we are following Crowley and not Christ.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
      Ephesians 4:5

      I agree with the Bible that there is ONE baptism.
      I agree agreeably with your agreement with Ephesians...

      Jes' sayin'...


      Arsenios

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      Quote Originally Posted by tango View Post
      I think this is an area where it's important to maintain perspective on both sides.


      Jesus told the disciples to go into the world, preaching the gospel and baptising. The call to "repent and be baptised" suggests the two need to go together (and, further, that the baptism should follow the repentance rather than necessary occurring some time afterwards). I don't have the reference to hand (I think it's in Acts) where Paul baptised a eunuch who said something like "here is water, why shouldn't I be baptised?" which supports the notion that this is the right thing to do.
      Exactly the point, which the Eunuch well understood... "Disciple all the nations baptizing and instructing them..." is a Commandment directly from the Mouth of our Lord...

      On the other hand I think it strays into potentially dangerous theological territory to conclude that God can only operate if we are treated with water in a particular fashion. Throw in the way different denominations handle baptism, whether it is intended for adults or children, whether it is by sprinkling or by full immersion, and the whole thing turns from a minor denominational disagreement into something far more substantial. If baptism by full immersion is required then baptism by sprinkling is clearly inadequate, so those who are so "baptised" cannot be considered to have been baptised at all. Children who are sprinkled at the ripe old age of a few months cannot be considered to be baptised. At least using human logic it isn't so serious if the intention is the other way - if Scriptural baptism requires little more than the application of some water then those who have been fully immersed qualify by virtue of having had a larger quantity of water applied to them.
      Christ Himself established the NORM for Baptism - All the rest are for the economia of exceptions...

      And of course we also have the story of the thief who repented on the cross, who couldn't exactly ask if he could be taken down and baptised before being hung back on his cross, and yet Jesus assured him of a place in paradise. I think that man's example is a pretty strong indication that a place in paradise is not contingent on baptism, however the word "baptism" is interpreted.
      He was the very first man into Paradise - The only one who confessed Christ on the Cross, and co-suffered with Christ in that Confession...

      So I suppose, if you prefer the Way of the Wise Thief to Baptism in the Jordan, something could be arranged...

      Lemesee... We'll need a cross, and something to break your legs... What else?

      Oh yes, and you will need to confess Christ Whom you just met as a fellow criminal...




      Arsenios
      Last edited by Arsenios; 06-11-2019 at 04:49 PM.

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