Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Baptism, BFM2K, M's and Youth

In concluding our topic of baptism I submit my thoughts. These thoughts, as well as the other theological topics we have discussed, have prompted me to express how important I think it is to teach youth theology. This will be the topic of my next post. I think any pastor / youth pastor / youth worker / parent will find our next post interesting, especially in light of the theological discussions we are currently having.


BAPTISM
The wisdom of Dr. Adrian Rogers and the BFM2K committee is evident in our current discussion on baptism. The committee rightly understood that baptism is an ordinance given to the local church as a prerequisite to church membership (article VII). Almost prophetically they protected the SBC from the consequences of holding otherwise. What lies at the root of their reasoning has to be the meaning of ekklesia.

Ekklesia is the Greek word for “church.” Ekklesia is a compound word from ek and Kaleo. Ek means “out of” and Kaleo means “to call.” Thus, a literal rendering of the two words placed together would be: “to call out of.” And yet, any Greek lexicon will inform its readers that the word during NT times meant an assembly, or to assemble, or a gathering. In fact, Louw and Nida state, “Though some persons have tried to see in the term ekklesia more or less literal meaning of ‘called-out ones,’ this type of etymologizing is not warranted either by the meaning of ekklesia in NT times or even by its earlier usage. The term ekklesia was in common usage for several hundred years before the Christian era and was used to refer to an assembly of persons constituted by well-defined membership.”

It’s origin came from the Greek city-states that would have a town crier who would “call out” a group of people to assemble for town business. This assembly was known as an ekklesia. A local assembly is much more in line with a local visible church than some universal invisible church (which is as intangible as it is invisible).

With a misunderstanding of ekklesia some argue that the “Great Commission” was given to the invisible universal church. However, the text (Matt 28:18-20) clearly states Jesus gave it to the disciples, who remained in Jerusalem and apparently gave it to the local church, which formed on the day of Pentecost. This deduction is arrived by understanding both the meaning of ekklesia and the authority of the local church in Acts.

There seems to be universal agreement among Baptists that baptism is a church ordinance. The question is which church: the local visible one or the universal invisible one? In the NT, of the 114 times ekklesia is used, AT LEAST 109 times it is used of the local visible church, which accords with its meaning as an assembly.

Further, in the book of Acts we have no indication that disciples went out preaching and baptizing without the authority of the local church. The assumption that Phillip preached to and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch without the authority of the church in Jerusalem is an assumption which appears to be at odds with the rest of Acts. Even the apostle (missionary) to the gentiles (PAUL) went forth under the authority of the local church (Acts 11:22; 11:30; 13:2-4).

Thus, the BFM2K committee rightly arrived at the conclusion that the ordinances were given to the local church. This is a way for the church to proclaim the work of Christ and to keep her members accountable (Lord’s Supper/Church Discipline). If one removes these ordinances from the local church, negative consequences follow; not the least of which is the fact that one has removed 1) one of the ways the church proclaims who Christ is and who she is, and 2) THE WAY she keeps her members accountable (Lord’s Supper/Church Discipline).

This is instrumental in understanding the proclamation of one’s baptism. For when one is baptized he is proclaiming, to the world, the local CHURCH’S understanding of what took place when he was saved. If the church understands that when one gets saved he is saved by the work of Christ and will “endure to the end” (BFM2K Article V), and that the old man dies and is buried and the new man is raised in Christ Jesus then this understanding of salvation is what is expressed to the watching world through the doctrine of the local church and baptism by immersion (a symbol of the old dying and the new being raised in Christ).

If one were to watch a baby sprinkled in a Lutheran church one would walk away understanding the baby was “baptized” according to the church’s understanding of baptism, not the baby’s.

Further, if baptism symbolizes what each individual believes took place in his salvation rather than what the church believes, then baptism has lost all meaning, for no one knows what is being symbolized, except the individual himself.

Therefore, if the church understands salvation to be a type of works salvation (i.e. one can lose his salvation by evil works) then that is what is proclaimed at baptism. Those who are watching the baptism understand it to symbolize what the church believes, for they do not know what the individual believes. Baptism is a symbol of salvation and if there is a heretical understanding of salvation by the church then that is what is symbolized.

That is why we do not accept those who are baptized into the LDS church, for, no matter how well they understood salvation when they were baptized, what was proclaimed was the LDS understanding of salvation.

I have no doubt there are individuals who had a correct understanding of salvation when they were saved and baptized, but were baptized in a church that had an incorrect view of salvation (i.e. some will lose their salvation). Further, I am confident many of them are now Southern Baptists and desire to serve our convention and our Lord through international missions. I believe some may even feel singled out and left out because of our IMB policy.

But let us be clear that the policy is based upon the BFM2K, which is based on Scripture. It is based on the understanding that as Southern Baptists we believe those who are saved will endure to the end, and we believe baptism is an ordinance given to the local church. As such we do not want to pay with CP funds those who believe otherwise, or who have testified otherwise by their baptisms. For me the solution seems simple…if one is baptized by a church with an incorrect view of salvation, be rebaptized!

This is what took place in Acts 19:5, when some believers thought salvation was just a salvation of repentance. They had proclaimed such at their baptisms, but when they came to understand it was a salvation into Jesus Christ they desired to proclaim that and so were rebaptized.

If I were in this position I hope I would want to communicate the true meaning of what took place when I was saved.

Finally, there is no doubt that the CP is the envy of other mission organizations. Were I a member of another denomination and felt led to international missions I would certainly entertain the thought of becoming a Southern Baptist. In fact, that would be much more attractive, than coming back every year and trying to raise funds. Our missionaries are well taken care of, because they are our heroes. But our care has not gone unnoticed by members of other denominations.

What if a member of another denomination were to join one of our churches and still maintain his belief that he could lose his salvation? What if such a one applied to be one of our missionaries? Or worse, what if we widened the tent to include all Assembly of God churches as Southern Baptist Churches?

One of the ways our IMB Trustees have protected us from such was by implementing this policy. I appreciate their protection of the Southern Baptist’ belief that one who is saved will endure to the end. I appreciate their fidelity in protecting CP funds from going to any who would not hold to the BFM. I appreciate all Christian missionaries, even those who are not Southern Baptists, but I desire to pay with CP funds only those who are Southern Baptist in belief.
BR

117 comments:

CB Scott said...

Brad,

Excellent. You have hit the "ten ring" from 1000 yards out. That means no flaw in windage or elevation.

Seriously, a job well done and you are right. We need to teach youth the doctrines of the faith. It is a fact that the culture is teaching them the doctrines of the World.

cb

Jeffro said...

Brad,

What local church's beliefs about baptism were being proclaimed when the Ethiopian was baptized?

God Bless

Tim Cowin said...

Brad,

Just curious, can you think of one thing,issue, nuance, shade of difference that you have with any SB policy, opinion, or "official" position of board,agency ... it seems that you always take the "company" line on everything..

On Baptism, From reading God's Word:
1. Baptism is by Immersion after conversion,
2. Baptism in reality is the Holy Spirit bringing us into the Body of Christ 1 Cor 12.13
3. Water Baptism is a testimony of this previous regeneration.

Are you implying that one cannot be regenerated without coming to understand the perseverance of the saints? (connecting the Disciples of John and their rebaptism to this current issue is simply a terrible application of the text to a present issue that does not fit at all, UNLESS you are saying as was the case in Acts, they were not saved. Remember the issue>>>>>they had not so much as even heard of the Holy Spirit)

Why do you even bring up Mormons, it is absurd and totaly ridiculous, you might as well say that is why we dont take buddhist baptisms...

And finally, to say that the policy is directly tied to the BFM is simply wrong, nowhere does the BFM tie immersion to doctrinal confromity, it does tie it to regeneration.

The real question about Baptism is, was and always will be for Baptists = were you immersed after you were saved!!!!!

Brad, from the early days of Baptist life, there were General and Particular Baptists, they differed on their understanding of atonement, they differed with their understanding of freewill in relation to God's sovereignty, but they agreed on Believer's Baptism.

The attempt of these Neo-landmarkers to now make it SB-Believer's Baptism, is without Biblical support, and a denial of authentic, Biblical Immersions from others who are in the Body of Christ.

I am hoping that one day you will post on something that we agree on so you will not come to think that I am totally against everything you post.....:)

TC

Tim Cowin said...

Brad,

You quoted Louw and Nida as saying:

"The term ekklesia was in common usage for several hundred years before the Christian era and was used to refer to an assembly of persons constituted by well-defined membership.”

This statement is true in the sense that is was a word that had common usage, they are wrong in saying that ekklesia always has a "well defined membership," it may or may not have had such.

One needs to go no further then our own Greek NT to see that this is not true, John Gill, properly observed:

"the word ekklhsia, always used for "church," signifies an "assembly" called and met together[3], and sometimes it is used for an assembly, whether lawfully or unlawfully convened; so the people who got together, upon the uproar made by the craftsmen at Ephesus, is called, "a confused assembly," and suggested to be an unlawful one; since the town clerk told them the matter should be determined in "a lawful assembly;" and when he had thus spoken, "dismissed the assembly" (Acts 19:32, 39, 41) in which passages the same word is used which commonly is for a "church;" and which may be considered either as a general, or as a particular assembly of persons."


TC

brad reynolds said...

CB
Thanks my brother,
BR

brad reynolds said...

Jeffro
The local church at Jerusalem
BR

brad reynolds said...

Tim
I can’t really think of any “official” position of an SBC agency that I would disagree with, however, I do disagree with leading personalities in the SBC on issues like soteriology, and ecclesiology. I think this is a complement to the Trustees of our institutions.

To Baptism:
No I am not implying that one cannot be regenerated without coming to an understanding of the perseverance of the saints. I am saying that when a local church beliefs that then that is what is being said at baptism. I am also saying that such a belief inevitable leads to a belief in works for salvation.

The point of Acts 19 was that they had symbolized the wrong thing with their baptism and were rebaptized to rightly symbolize their salvation.

Is Mormon baptism “ridiculous” to bring up because it is a works salvation? If so then how is it not linked to those who think we can lose our salvation by works? Buddhist are not baptized into Christ, Mormons are.

The policy is directly tied to the BFM…it is the BFM which teaches baptism is an ordinance to the local church.

I know of no Trustee trying to make it SB-Believer’s Baptism. Such rhetoric is uncalled for, let us be fair to what the policy is…it has to do with true symbolism of salvation.

Not sure that your point on ekklesia takes away from its meaning as to a local church.

Hope this helps,
BR

RevBubbaBear said...

Dr. Brad,

I am comin out of hybernation long enough to say thank you for continuin to educate me. Your wisdom really shines through again. Execllent post. Truly somethang we needs to consider.

I appreciate you being serious and not makin fun of serious issues like some in the blog world.

Bubba

Ps. Bye the way, I dringks lots of tea here in Alabama (Sweet Tea with lots of sugar)

Tim Cowin said...

Brad,

1. No real point, just to point out that they are wrong, would you agree?

2. Brad, read the new policy's wording:

"... as a testimony of identification with the system of belief held by Southern Baptist churches"

We are baptized to idenfity with Christ not the SBC...
Even you say we are baptized to identify with "a" church, but with the "Southern Baptist churches?"

You have to admit that taking The Lord's Baptism, it does ultimately belong to Christ Jesus the Head of the body, our King of kings and Lord of lords, and to imply that it is used to identify with just a part of the Body...SB, is at best, an ignorant oversite of men who did not think it through, or at worst a real example of neo-landmarkism in our midst...(I would even argue that he Southern Baptist Convention, the UMC, the AOG... are not a part of the Body of Christ, but that the Christians that comprise these man-made institutions, are part of the Body)

Brad, do you really defend that aspect of the policy, I would really like to hear your defense of this wording...."testimony of identification with the system..."

Wow I thought I was going to stop here, but just typing it again, emblazens me that any man would have the gall or stupidity to ask somebody to be baptized as a testimony to anything other then the Death, Burial, and REss or our Lord and SAvior Jesus,,,, to id with a "system" Good Grief!

We may need a new reformation, Only Christ! Only Christ! Only Christ!

there i have calmed down:)

TC

Pastor John said...

Brad,
Top notch post, I'm glad people are getting it and sharing it.
(About baptism and teaching theology to youth).

Tim Cowin,
I believe you and I talked about baptism on the MO Bapt list. I'm still looking forward to your response on my position. If you would like, you can take our conversation to my blog, as I posted essentially the same thing I said to you there.

Blessings,
John

brad reynolds said...

Tim
1. Not necessarily

2. I would never claim to know their motives for their wording but perhaps my understanding of it from its wording and context will help calm you down furtherJ

I think they were saying when one is baptized they convey the local church’s understanding of salvation and Southern Baptist churches have held to eternal security (BFM2K) so this is the type of belief we accept (it confirms to the BFM2K which is a Southern Baptist confession).
BR

brad reynolds said...

Pastor John
Thank You
BR

Tim Cowin said...

John,
forgive my oversight, I will visit you..

Brad,

1. You said "not really" I just showed from the Bible where the use of the term ekklesia was not in relation to a "well defined membership." please explain your not really....

2. According to your reasoning, then we must rebaptize every person that comes to our churchs from non-BFM accepting bodies, because to us the only valid baptims is one that is done under our BFM. Bingo-Landmarkism. True church-BFM True Baptism-BFM church.

3. Please respond, are people baptized as a testimony to our system of beliefs? People are not baptized as as testimony of the work of Christ in their life... The Trustees are using Baptism as a mark of loyalty to the SBC. They are making it some sort of pledge to SB doctrine. Why is a pledge of agreement with the BFM not enough, now they must be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000...?

TC

Anonymous said...

Brad: Are you saying as Pastor John does that one is baptized in Christ and into the local church?

volfan007 said...

what about accepting a church of christ's baptism...a campbellite? they are immersed. and, they are getting baptized in order to be saved. works. that's what the church teaches. would anyone accept thier baptism?

personally, i am a accept the baptism of churches of like faith and practice type of guy...whether it was a sb church or not. but, the church i pastor believes that anyone not baptised in a sb church should be baptised in order to join the church. i go along with it. they hold to this view, not so much due to landmarkism as it is to keeping unity and peace. you know, lets just make everyone who hasnt been baptised in a sb church be baptised, that way there wont be people mad and upset that we accepted ole joe's baptism and wont accept mine type of thing.

but anyway, the way i look at it, if a church told me that i had to do the chicken dance in order to join it....and i felt that the Lord wanted me to join that church...i'd do the chicken dance. same way about being an m......if i felt led to go to missions, and i wanted to be a sbc m, then i would abide by thier requirements.

brad,

i havent done any chicken dances....hope i never have to.

volfan007

volfan007 said...

brad,

would you please take the blog owner approval off. we will play nice. having to wait until you can get back to the blog really hinders the ebb and flow of conversation. please?

volfan007

brad reynolds said...

Tim

1. I am not sure that Gill’s excellent explanation logically negates Louw and Nida’s comment.

2. No, that is not my reasoning. Allow me to share again my reasoning. Local churches decide who to rebaptize and who not to, since baptism was given to the local church, however those who are paid by CP funds should have been baptized in a church which believes baptism is symbolic and nature and does not express a works salvation. One who is baptized in a church that believes you can lose your salvation by works inevitably expressed to the world their adherence to that message when they were baptized. Not only does this not conform to the BFM, more importantly it does not conform to Scripture. Bottom line: those paid with CP funds should be SB and affirm the BFM2K.

3. My response to 3 is that it is unfounded, untrue and rhetorical.

Hope this helps
BR

brad reynolds said...

Debbie,
In some ways I would argue yes. But there are definite differences. One is baptized into Christ when one is saved. Baptism just symbolizes what has already taken place. However, it is also the initiatory right into the local church. That is why Baptist claim “I am a Baptist:” because they were baptized into a Baptist church sometime in their past (hopefully:)
BR

brad reynolds said...

Volfan,
Glad you haven’t done chicken dances lately. I am not sure I would know what that was even if I saw it.

Concerning posting comments, everyone has played real nice lately. However, because of the incidents that occurred while I was in El Salvador I feel I must keep this up. I apologize but would rather have it this way than take a chance on the other.
BR

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Brad,

If one were to move ( in the days of Paul), from the Church in Corinth to the Church in Philippi would they have had to get Baptized again?

I dont see where Paul ever addressed this. I dont see where being Water Baptized more than once is mentioned in the Bible.

CB Scott said...

ALL,

One of the reasons that "good" homiletics and theology professors encourage their students not to buy only sets of commentaries written by one person is due to the fact that no one theologian is correct (or strong) in all aspects of Systematic, Biblical, Historical Theology, etc.

A student seeking to be a true expositor will purchase volumes by individual writers that are considered masters in specific areas of theology and research with specific portions (books,letters,epistles)of the Bible.

An example is John Gill. He was a great scholar (basically self taught). Especially was he capable with biblical languages, Hebrew in particular. Yet, he, as all, had weaknesses. He was weak in ecclesiology verified by many great theologians both living and dead.

To use him as a reference relating to Baptism, an ecclesiological matter, is to use a great scholar indeed, but one that most all conservative theologians agree is weak in the area of ecclesiology.

To base an argument on Baptism using Gill is to do so in light of far too much great scholarship to the contrary. It betrays a lack of proper research on the part of the party using Gill as a reference for his or her argument.

Therefore, knowledgeable students of Scripture and theology, of any of its disciplines, will imediately dismiss the argument of the party debating the doctrine of Baptism as seriously flawed due to a lack of studious research revealed by using Gill's work in such a manner.

Gill was great, but his ecclesiology was greatly flawed.

cb

brad reynolds said...

David
We have no evidence that they would have had to get rebaptized because it appears both churches believed the same about salvation (although Corinth had other problems). But I would argue that if the church at Philippi felt that a member of another church needed to be rebaptized upon joining their church then that is their decision. Local church autonomy.

I think Acts 19 demonstrates rebaptism in water baptism.
BR

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Brad,

Thanks for your reply.

Acts 19 verse 1 calls those mentioned as " certain Disciples". Wouldnt this mean (Disciples) that they were already water Baptized believers in Christ, but were not yet Baptized with the Holy Spirit?

Arent these are two different types of Baptisms?

Pastor John said...

Brad,
Just a question for you.
As one that always looks to be sharpened, I was curious as to where our differences lie concerning baptism. I realize that this would be a tangent on your blog, so if you like you can email me at pastorjohndearing@hotmail.com

Blessings,
John

Anonymous said...

CB Gill was great and disagrees with your interpretation of ecclesiology. I don't see him as flawed and your interpretation not flawed. You can certainly say you disagree with him, but to say he was flawed would be overstepping.

brad reynolds said...

Pastor John
I don't know of any differences we have. The definite differences I was referencing were the differences in being baptized into Christ (the work of the Holy Spirit) and being baptized into a church.

Hope this clarifies things.
BR

brad reynolds said...

David
Those are two different types of baptism...but I think the text is clear that they were baptized with water nito John's baptism not Christ's and thus were rebaptized into Christ's baptism.
BR

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Reynolds,

Thank you for the very good post. And, with only a minor squibble here or there that may pose merit, Dr. Reynolds, I cannot, for the life of me, understand exactly the big issue here. For me, your position sounds consistent with my elementary understanding of Baptist thinking on Baptism.

May I ask a question I know will sound so mundane but I really would like to know? In your view, Dr. Reynolds, what is fueling this apparent controversy over the way Baptists believe/perform Baptism?
What precisely is being charged by those who object to the IMB policy?

I trust your evening well, Dr. Reynolds. With that, I am...

Peter

Tim Cowin said...

Brad,

1. They said that ekklesia applied to formal membership. The Bible reveals that he word is used for informal gatherings also, thus the Bible is right, and their statement to the contrary is wrong.

2. Brad you stated, "One who is baptized in a church that believes you can lose your salvation by works inevitably expressed to the world their adherence to that message when they were baptized." This is not true. They did not "inevitably" express adherence to anything but the death, burial, and ressurrection! And furthermore, the BFM does not connect baptism with a necessity to beleive in the perseverance of the saints.

3. It is not "unfounded, untrue and rhetorical" My question was straight forward, "Please respond, are people baptized as a testimony to our system of beliefs?"
The policy specifically states: "... as a testimony of identification with the system of belief held by Southern Baptist churches"

It says people are baptized as a "testimony" to "identify" with a "system" a "SB" system. Do you believe this.

TC

CB Scott said...

Debbie,

There is no theologian alive or dead that is or was flawless.

Gill presented a flawed ecclesiology. This is not my opinion alone. It is the opinion of conservative theologians alive and dead.

What you have stated is very close to a reader reactive position to Interpretation. Notice I did not say it was a reader reactive position. I said it was close to a reader reactive position.

We are not dealing with"my" interpretation. We are dealing with a correct interpretation versus an incorrect interpretation. The great preponderance of evidence garnered from conservative scholars demonstrates that John Gill is weak relating to ecclesiology.

There is a correct understanding of Biblical Theology concerning Baptism. It is not hard to grasp. It is not Landmarkism, which is another distortion of Biblical Theology as is John Gill's positionon on ecclesiology.

There is a difference in Gill and Landmarkism. Gill was correct on many things. Landmarkism is just that; an "ism" and not much more can be said for it.

The Landmark position and the historic Baptist position are not the same and neither is Gill's position the same as the historic Baptist position on Baptism.

The Baptist position on Baptism is a biblical position. It is not based on the BF&M of any year. It is not based on the position of any board of trustees. It is not based on the flaws of Landmarkism and it is not based on the work of John Gill.

If the BF&M position is not based on Biblical Theology it is wrong. If the position of the IMB trustees is not based on Biblical Thelogy they are wrong, but if the BF&M or the position of the trustees of the IMB is based on Biblical Theology then both or either is right. The truth is that Gill is weak and Landmarkism is worse than weak.

cb

Tim Cowin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
brad reynolds said...

Tim
Many times our comments come across in type worse than we intended...your latest comments may be such. It appears your latest comments are filled with an anger at a supposed landmark movement. What is most amazing is there is no such thing occurring.

To respond to your comment:

1. Louw and Nida said "The term ekklesia was in common usage for several hundred years before the Christian era and was used to refer to an assembly of persons constituted by well-defined membership.” I don’t believe they said it could not refer to an informal gathering. Thus, logically I don’t think they ruled the other out just because they didn’t include it.

2. So do infants also express the death, burial, and resurrection in their baptisms? Baptism symbolizes salvation and those who are observing understand that symbolism, based on the church’s proclamation. Thus, “one who is baptized in a church that believes you can lose your salvation by works inevitably expressed to the world their adherence to that message when they were baptized."
Further, the BFM does hold to eternal security as a part of salvation and therefore it should be expressed as such at Baptism (ie a local church which adheres to such). This is who we are as SB, we believe in eternal security.

3. No people are not baptized to our system of beliefs. As I said I think the committee was saying “as a testimony of belief in salvation by GRACE ALONE (eternal security: you can’t lose your salvation by works) which is a doctrine held by SB churches (BFM).

Hope this helps
BR

brad reynolds said...

Peter

Thanks my brother. Good to hear from you. I hope the blessings of God have been on your ministry.

To answer your question, I would say that in some ways politics are fueling this debate. I think it is a way to try and fool people into believing leaders of our convention are trying to narrow the tent, when in reality it appears some are trying to widen the tent beyond who we are as SB.

But if fear tactics (like: some are trying to make SB a bunch of landmarkers) work, I think some will use them.

I could be totally off base, but that is my take after almost a year of reading SB blogs.
BR

peter lumpkins said...

Tim,

I like your style even if a tenny wenny too spirited for me. My wonder is, since Dr. Gill is obviously one of your well-respected authorities, who among contemporary evangelical theologians sings the old Brit's praises?

I think it is good that his works are online and free to search. But I am wondering if that is why his popularity seems so significant. Of course, I do not know that. I am just making conversation:)

Have a great evening, Brother Tim. With that, I am...

Peter

brad reynolds said...

Tim

I honored your request and thanks for the words you shared. I didn't read the other person's comment like that, but will be more vigilant in the future, again thanks for your words.

My point on what I think the committee was saying is that the committee knows what they were saying and it was an in house policy which has been plastered all over the SB world...so I don't think they intended it to be read with such critical eyes, rather I think they knew what they were saying and it was a policy they would be enforcing so that's what mattered at the time.

Thanks again
BR

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Reynolds,

Thank you for your take on this. I recently sifted thru mountains of denominational papers from around 1897-1910. The papers were loaded down with Baptismal issues, especially, of course, infant Baptism. Understandable then.

For me, however, I just can't seem to quite get my hands on our current "issue." Though admittedly, I have been accused of putting my head squarely in the sand. Perhaps that's true.

Perhaps it's also true that I am an absolutely bought-out "company man" such as yourself, Dr. Reynolds :)

A good and gracious evening to you. With that, I am...

Peter

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if there was a problem with my post and therefore it wasn't approved or whether you never received it. Please let me know... If for some reason my questions seemed out of bounds would you be willing to respond over email?

The questions that I asked were sincere, as were my thanks. Of course if you never received it, I guess this post is meaningless. I don't have a copy of my first post and don't have time to rewrite it either...

IAMANM

Anonymous said...

I would disagree CB but agreeably. :)

Brad or CB how is this position on baptism different than the Landmark position? I read it and reread the landmark postion and see it to be very much the same. Where am I wrong?

Tim Cowin said...

Peter,

"A teeny weeny":) It's the Scot-Irish in me.

Why Gill? His writings are deeply connected to Scripture. He is the first Baptist to compose a systematic theology. His writings were born out of the era of the Sepratists and reveal where Baptists first stood."

Contemporary Theologians? Timothy George, Al Mohler, Tom Nettles.

Gill and Spurgeon emphasized the Body of Christ. It seems that there are those today who would emphasize the ekklesia. It should not be either or, but I truly believe that baptism and the L.S. belong to Christ the Head of the Church. We talk so much about them being ordinances of the church. Yes the Ekklesia partakes of the ordinances, but they are the ordinances of Christ and they are given to His body.

1 Cor 12.13 We are baptized by the Spirit into the body.

Where in the Bible does it say we are baptized into the ekklesia-gathering? We are baptized into the body 1 Cor 12.13 and thus become part of a gathering. Gill and Spurgeon had it right!

TC

Anonymous said...

Brad,

This is the first time I've posted here at Guardian Ministries. I've posted in other Baptist blogs, although I'm not a Baptist myself; I am a non-denominational Christian.

I would like to ask you some questions that I don't understand, and make a few comments here.

First, you draw a distinction between the "local, visible church" and the "universal, invisible church." Where is this found in the Bible? To me, it sounds like a doctrine that men have made up to explain something. Perhaps you can explain it better.

Second, you also said the following, "if the church understands salvation to be a type of works salvation (i.e. one can lose his salvation by evil works) then that is what is proclaimed at baptism. Those who are watching the baptism understand it to symbolize what the church believes, for they do not know what the individual believes. Baptism is a symbol of salvation and if there is a heretical understanding of salvation by the church then that is what is symbolized." I have a lot of questions about this paragraph:

1. So, if someone got saved and baptized in a Nazarene church by immersion, or in another denomination (not a cult like LDS) that did not believe in eternal security, does that mean the person is not saved???

2. Where do you get the idea that baptism is a symbol of what the congregation believes about salvation, rather than a symbol of what has occurred in the individual's life more generally?

3. Are you implying that congregations that do not accept eternal security, e.g. Nazarene, Holiness denominations, CMA, etc., and other valid Christian groups are heretics???

Lastly, in your penultimate paragraph, you mentioned widening the tent to AG churches. You seem to say it would be "worse" to widen the tent to them, treating them with scorn and disdain? Why would that be such a bad thing? Why is that so negative? Why are they a "bad group" to pick on???

So, those are my questions and concerns. I look forward to your response.

Tim Cowin said...

Brad,

I did not want to abuse your stream here, but I have posted my thoughts on baptism, (unrelated to the policy). If you are interested maybe you can better understand where I am coming from. I would ask that you read to understand, and then you can have at it:)

TC

brad reynolds said...

Anonymous
I think you posted your comment under my post “A theologian on Baptism” and it is there. If you would like to repost here that would be good. It is a good comment. Thank you for your service and spirit.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Debbie
I am speaking from memory here, so please excuse any error, I do not have any of my notes with me nor do I have time to look things up on the internet right now. I believe Landmarkists believe that Baptist churches are the only TRUE churches. Further, they would never allow non-Baptist to preach or teach in their pulpits. It is true they believed that the ordinances were given to the local church but they also believed in eternal security. So just because they had some erroneous beliefs does not imply all their beliefs were erroneous.

I do not believe that Baptist churches are the only True churches, although I think they are closest to what the NT church was like, which is why I am a Baptist…if I thought the Presbyterian church was closest to the NT church than I would be Presbyterian. Second I would certainly allow preachers from other denominations to preach in my pulpit and have,

For me there is a BIG BIG difference in saying we accept only baptism in our church which conforms to the true symbolism of salvation and saying we are the ONLY TRUE Church.

Finally, the policy does not speak about what one must believe to be a SB, it speaks of what one must believe to be paid by SB. There is a big difference. Not all SB hold to the BFM2K, but trustees and employees should, based on their word.

Hope this helps some,
BR

brad reynolds said...

Jonathan

Welcome and glad to have you. You ask some excellent questions. I will try to explain.

First, I think you are right about the universal, invisible church. The NT knows of no terminology, it knows of the local visible church. The universal church received much attention during the 17th and 18th centuries, thus the writings of the time. Why was this the case? Some would argue it was the reformation and a “recovering” of scripture. However, the culture may help to understand.

Before the Reformation, the church was everyone who was born into the state, but reformers understood this not to be the case in the NT, they preached the difference, many at the cost of their lives.

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

Second:
1. No it does not mean the person is not saved it means the testimony given to those who watched was the person could lose their salvation by evil works.
2. No one knows what has occurred in the individual’s life except the individual himself. What is being testified is the church’s proclamation of what occurred in the individual’s life. If you watch a baby baptism at the Lutheran church you don’t walk away understanding what the baby believes you walk away understanding what the Lutheran church believes just took place. Baptism should symbolize what took place in the individual’s life which is why an individual should be baptized in a church whose doctrine confirms to what has actually happened…that is precisely why I would not get baptized in an LDS church, because no matter what I believed in my heart what is being testified is the church’s understanding.
3. No I am not implying they are heretical. I am implying that the symbolism of what took place at their salvation and their teaching that one can lose his salvation by evil works is at odds with Scripture.

The AG church is not a bad church but they are not SB. That is the issue. SB hold to eternal security and to ask to become someone we are not is just wrong. Notice my last few sentences in my post.

Have a blessed day
BR

volfan007 said...

tim,

i take from your list of people you consider to be excellent theologians that you are a five point calvinist? you know, gill, mohler, and nettles. in fact, when dr. nettles is mentioned the first thing that comes to my mind is extreme calvinist...as close to being a hardshell that you can get without actually being one.

volfan007

brad reynolds said...

Tim
The passage you quote was written to a local church.

Also, I read your blog. You write very well. I think our differences are already explained by my post. The GC was given to the disciples. All my life I had heard and even taught what you had heard: it was given to each individual person.

This is an example of me not buying into what history or tradition says but going to the text, and as we read the text the disciples are singled out and the ekklesia becomes the expression of Christ and it was a local visible expression. As I said an invisible church is an intangible church.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Volfan,
If we can let’s keep from personal comments. Dr. Nettles is a fine theologian…he and I would disagree on some things but he is a fine theologian. I was surprised that Dr. Patterson was not mentioned…for when it comes to SB Theologians he is most accomplished.
BR

peter lumpkins said...

Tim,

I simply am not really following your point--especially a point that obviously you so passionate defend.

You write: "...but I truly believe that baptism and the L.S. belong to Christ...Yes the Ekklesia partakes of the ordinances, but they are the ordinances of Christ and they are given to His body."

What is your point, Tim? Yes, the ordinances belong to Christ in the sense that He is the Head; but in the same sense, it seems to me, that the Great Commission belongs to Christ as well.

Who is going to administer the ordinances? Christ? Or those to whom He has so ordered? Surely the latter in the same sense as the latter fulfill the GC. Furthermore, surely the local assembly, or body, if you please, carries out this order, not the "body at large."

As far as 1Cor. 12.13 goes, for me, I sense too much ambiguity to understand your point to me. Sorry, my Brother.

HAve a great day. With that, I am...

Peter

CB Scott said...

Debbie,

I value the fact you are reading and searching for yourself the difference between the Landmark position and the historic Baptist position concerning Baptism.

In your quest make sure that some of your sources are of the Landmark tradition. In doing so they will reveal the difference to you as they define their position from their own interpretation of Scripture. (and in their case, history and theology) They use all three extensively to "prove" their brand of theology.

"CLUE"--The historic Baptist position is based only on the Scripture:-)

Therein is one difference.

You are to be complimented for doing this research so therefore, I do compliment you and I trust you will find gold at the end of your quest.

cb

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Well I guess I will try again since my original post seems to have been lost in cyberspace somewhere... although this will be an abbreviated version of the original. It was not the post that you referred to earlier as being under "A Theologian on Baptism" - that must have been from a different anonymous M.

First off thanks for addressing the issue of baptism on your blog lately. As a career M with the IMB it is an issue that I have been trying to nail down for the past year.

I had many different questions/comments in my original post, but I think they all boil down to this: to have your understanding of preaching and baptizing having to be under the authority of a local church disqualifies all church planters from any M agency, including the IMB, from being able to legitimately minister.

Let me try to make my point, although I doubt I will be able to say it well, let alone convince anybody... Perhaps one could say that we have implied local church authority to preach and baptize and plant churches as an IMB M, but that would be as far as you could go. As IMB M's we are not held accountable to a specific local church. We do not report to one. It is not necessary to be ordained by one. Instead we are accountable to a cooperative organization - one that is so unlike a local church that it needs to have its own regulations and requirements outside of a local BC. This is no small difference and can not just be swept aside by saying, "Well it's a collection of local SB churches that are partnering together for ministry, so it's the same as being sent out under the authority of a local church." No, there is a big difference. I am aware that many SB churches see their own IMB personnel as being sent out by that local body, but many IMB workers do not have that kind of relationship with their home churches, and therefore seem to be outside of being under local church authority to minister.

I guess my other main question from your post would be how do you understand the role of a church planter? A church planter is supposedly sent out to minister under the authority of a local church (although like I said, that doesn't seem to be the case with IMB workers). But you state, "For when one is baptized he is proclaiming, to the world, the local CHURCH’S understanding of what took place when he was saved." Now which local church are you talking about in the case of a church planter? It seems that now we have switched from talking about the authoritative body to a geographically close body, which in the case of a church planter is not necessarily the same. A person baptized by a church planter is not proclaiming the sending church's understanding of what took place at his salvation because they have no idea - they aren't present. And many times the person baptized is not proclaiming the geographically local church's understanding of what took place, because there may or may not even be a local church.

You state, "Baptism is a symbol of salvation and if there is a heretical understanding of salvation by the church then that is what is symbolized."

What if there is no understanding of salvation by the local church, because there is no local church? What if they are the first believer in the town to get baptized? This understanding of the significance of baptism seems to make the sign dependent on the audience. The sign/symbol of baptism is no less real even if there is nobody there to observe, because they are being baptized into the body of Christ, not into a specific local church.

I do appreciate the articles you have posted on baptism, Brad. And I also appreciate you providing a forum to have honest discussion on the topic.

If your interpretation of the Great Commission, ministering under the authority of a local church, and the significance of baptism is correct, though, almost every aspect of the IMB is due for a major overhaul. From the way that the agency commissions its workers, to how we relate with any other M agency or local group of believers, to how we do baptism and collect our stats. In fact, most aspects of CPM methodology/thinking (which the IMB and most M boards have all endorsed) will have to be thrown out the window.

Seems like it would just be easier to go along with the 99% of SB pastors, teachers, and M's that say that the Great Commission is for all believers and not just the ones that have somehow been given authority by a local church.

IAMANM

Anonymous said...

Brother Brad,

I cannot for the life of me understand this adherence to the universal church with no clear desire for the local church. I do believe in the church universal and I adhere to such in ecclesiology. However, we cannot bypass the local church.

A couple of questions I believe will help others understand where we come from. First, Who did Paul write his letters to? The universal church, or the church at Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, etc. While his writings were sent to those churches individually, he did not get up one morning and say, I believe I will write the book of Romans today. While Paul's writings are Scriptural, not all of Paul's writings are Scripture. The Holy Spirit placed together those writings and called them Scritpure. Paul distinguished the local church from the universal church through his writings. He even encouraged the writings to be shared with the other churches.

Second, What were the believers in the NT baptised into? The Universal Church only or the Universal Church through the Local Church? With the emphasis on church discipline in the NT the Elders would not know who to discipline and who not to discipline unless they were under accountability of a local body of believers. They would come under this accountability through church membership and they could not become members of the church unless they submitted to baptism.

This may open another can of worms, but I do pray it enables others to see where many are coming from.

Blessings,
Tim

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Thanks for your comments. I have a few additional follow-up comments and questions, as well.

First, you said that baptism is a proclamation of what the church believes occurs in the individual's life. Is there an argument in the Scriptures for that? When I read Romans 6 (and I will be discussing this in my own blog this weekend), I see it as a public testimony of what has occurred in the individual's life, and not as a proclamation of what the CHURCH THINKS about what occurred in this person's life.

Also, to say that only the individual knows what happened, I believe, is probably incorrect. We're about to have baptisms this Sunday at my own church. I think someone else, depending on who is being baptized, knows the person is saved. Even in Baptist circles, there is often an examination of baptismal candidates, no? So, I do not think that water baptism is a proclamation of what a church thinks occurred at salvation... where is the argument in the Bible for that?

Lastly, I may be splitting hairs, but I don't understand why "eternal security" is part of one's salvation. I've always thought this issue is a separate one. Could you explain why Baptists believe it is part and parcel of one's salvation?

Thanks again for your kind words.

brad reynolds said...

IAMANM
Great comment. Sorry it was lost somewhere the first time.

I think you realize to an extent where I would go. If a group of local churches pitched their resources and said together we will fund M’s who will go out for us and we will form representatives from our churches on a Board to oversee them, then I feel that ultimately the M’s are accountable to the local churches; no matter how many there are. Personally, I like the idea of M’s also being accountable to their home church.

Along the church planter issue…I think the church planter should still be accountable to his local church. Further, I think Phillip when he baptized the Ethiopian eunuch was proclaiming the church at Jerusalem’s understanding of what took place even though they weren’t present, for he went out in their authority. The other option is that he was under no church’s authority and that is inherently problematic.

Because of the above statement, I obviously disagree with your conclusions of what needs to take place at the IMB. The same trustees who made the policy are not inept in theology and I think they very well understood the IMB being an organization formed by numerous local churches who sent out M and have appointed representatives from those local churches to oversee the work in the authority of those local churches. Ultimately the SBC is accountable to the local churches.

Finally, I would disagree with your last statement I think you started at the wrong place. The local church is for 100% of all Christians and 100% of all local churches should be teaching 100% of their members to fulfill the Great Commission under her authority, which guards against heresy by having accountability.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Tim
Good points. Thanks
BR

brad reynolds said...

Jonathan,

Paul’s point in Romans 6 is not necessarily a treatise on water baptism but a theological comprehension of what has taken place in our life when we were saved which is what should be symbolized at baptism. I think if a person gets up and states at their baptism what took place that is the best testament, however, in the case of churches who believe one can lose their salvation the individual would have to state he believes when he got saved he got saved forever in order for people to realize his baptism was different than the churches doctrine, and I have a sneaking suspicion most churches would not allow that.

Thus, my point: if you are baptized in a Catholic Church people understand the meaning of the baptism according to the church’s doctrine…not yours. Same in LDS, Lutheran, Baptist, AG etc.

Eternal security is inseparable from salvation. It clarifies the extent of Christ’s Work on the cross. Finished.

Thanks for your spirit and God Bless
BR

Anonymous said...

CB: I have been reading JR Graves who is said to be the father of Landmarkism as well as other sources. Also my bringing up was an offshoot of Landmarkism so I would say my sources are pretty good, but thank you for your comment. I very much appreciate it. :) I just see too much of the principle of Landmarkism in this view of baptism.

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Can a woman baptize?

RVA

Anonymous said...

Brad,

I agree that Romans 6 is a summary of what happens to someone when they are saved, which is symbolized in water baptism.

I think I just do not see eternal security as being relevant here, like you do. I do not see it as part and parcel of salvation, like you do, either. We'll probably have to agree to disagree on that.

However, I still do not understand, and perhaps you can clarify, why people associate water baptism with the church that administers it. Tim Cowin has stated that people are water baptized to identify with Christ, and not a specific congregation, or denomination. I think I agree with him.

Would you please explain why the Scriptures teach otherwise???

brad reynolds said...

RVA
I think the Bible teaches baptism is an ordinance given to the local church, therefore anyone the local church gives authority to baptize can baptize.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Jonathan
Baptism was given as an ordinance to the church, even the BFM2K makes that clear. The ecclesia is a local assembly, that is its meaning in the NT. Since the meaning of ecclesia is clear, I think it has become more advantageous for those who disagree with it being an ordinance to the local church to say baptism was given to the body of Christ. But even when Paul addresses the body, he is doing so to a local church.

One cannot avoid the fact that the Great Commission was given to His disciples…the text is explicit and clear on this. Further, narrative text in Acts reveals that this Great Commission had been passed from the disciples to the local church in Jerusalem and then out to other local churches.

Why God chose to do it this way I would never presume to know but I think accountability has something to do with it.
BR

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response, Brad. If it's ok, I have a few follow-up questions...

You state, "If a group of local churches pitched their resources and said together we will fund M’s who will go out for us and we will form representatives from our churches on a Board to oversee them, then I feel that ultimately the M’s are accountable to the local churches; no matter how many there are."

In what way are these M's accountable? There is a lot of assumption in the word "ultimately". I do not understand how in every other part of the argument for local church authority in preaching and baptism you very much stress the idea of the local geographic church, but in endorsing the concept of M agencies you are letting that slide a little. And I can't understand how you make the argument that an IMB M preaching and baptizing under the implied authority of a local US SB church proclaims that church's understanding of salvation when the IMB as an organization might have a completely different understanding of salvation than that particular local SB church. It seems by arguing for authority in this way you are actually making Wade's original point... i.e. the local church is the one that has authority to send out, not the IMB, so the organization should not be able to develop standards that go in any way above or contrary to a local church's doctrine.

You state, "Along the church planter issue…I think the church planter should still be accountable to his local church."

Agreed. Although I guess you have switched over to the local church being the equivalent of the IMB here, which I do not agree with. But this answer does not respond to my point. You are saying that baptism in the case of church planting proclaims the sending church's understanding of salvation. But what about the local geographic church's understanding? Is their understanding important? Does it really matter what the sending church's understanding is if the baptism is understood in a totally different way by the geographically local church (which may or may not have been planted by the IMB)? My point is that the issue is not nearly as simple as you are making it out to be. On the M field doctrinal issues such as these usually aren't.

You state, "Because of the above statement, I obviously disagree with your conclusions of what needs to take place at the IMB."

Those actually were not my conclusions, but the conclusions that I see as the logical end of your argument. I think that the IMB, while having its share of problems like any church or organization, is doing quite well and does not need a major overhaul. In no way do I think that the trustees are inept in theology. Or that they are lacking in their passion, zeal, or commitment to see the Gospel proclaimed to all peoples.

You state, "The local church is for 100% of all Christians and 100% of all local churches should be teaching 100% of their members to fulfill the Great Commission under her authority"

I can agree with this statement. But I see this statement as being inconsistent with your previous few posts. The Great Commission involves making disciples, baptizing, and teaching. From most of the other comments on these posts it seems that those insistent on the local church's authority in these practices are perfectly fine for disciple-making and teaching to be done by 100% of the congregation. When it comes to baptism there are a lot of "buts". They seem to say anybody within the local church can baptize, BUT... usually it is the pastor, or usually it is one of the pastors or deacons, or but it can't be a woman, or but they have to be ordained, etc. This doesn't seem to reflect 100%.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to these questions. I hope that I do not sound too critical, although I confess that in writing I often do. I am just trying to solidify my understanding of the ordinances beyond what I learned in seminary or is stated simply in the BF&M.

IAMANM

CB Scott said...

Debbie,

Read Brad's last comment describing the "admistrator" and you will see one of the differences between the Landmark position and the historic Baptist position which is based only on Scripture.

cb

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Reynolds,

I travelled over to Tim's post. I do not know if you have read it. It is definitely worth a peek.

I trust I am not intruding here, but I thought i would paste my comments to him here. For some reason, I cannot seem to make this darn thing work over there. Perhaps he has a ban on long comments:)

Please forgive me in advance, Dr. Reynolds for it is long. Perhaps no one will care to read it and that's ok too. Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

Tim,

Hey Tim. I moved over here from Dr. Reynolds blog. I'm glad I did for your post caught my attention. I think it clears up for me from where you are coming.

I have some observations, Tim, though forgive me in advance for its length.

First, my Brother, I am confused about your quotes from the Confessions. Interestingly, you were rather selective in your choices.

For example, you start in 1644. May I ask why? "A True Confession" (Separate Baptist) was published in 1596, of which, according to Lumpkin, was the model the "seven Particular Baptist Churches of London used when they drew up their earliest confession in 1644" (p.81).

The Confession explicitly states "That being come forth of this antichristian estate...they are willingly to join together in Christian communion...to unite themselves into peculiar Congregations; wherein as members of one body whereof Christ is the head, they are to worship and serve God according to his word, remembering to keep the Lords day” (#33, Old English spelling edit mine).

Here what is valuable is Christ is pictured as Him being the “only head”, yet it is a local Church being spoken of—“”peculiar Congregations”.

In the next article, it speaks of Christ appointing “Offices” for the “public administration of His church, explicitly warning that “no Sacraments [Baptism & Lord’s Supper] to be administrated until the Pastors or Teachers be chosen and ordained in to their office”(#34, p.93).

An earlier Confession, then, than 1644—indeed the model upon which the 1644 was apparently based—a) speaks of the local Church as the church with “one head, Christ” b) ties the ordinances specifically to the local church body c) by forbidding no administration of the ordinances to be performed unless the body has “Pastors or Teachers chosen and ordained into their offices” to perform them.

Thus your opening statement that “There is no evidence that the command to Baptize was given just/or exclusively to a local church. It certainly was given to the followers of Christ. It was given to all those who were present at Christ’s ascension.” is seriously jeopardized, my Brother, if we are considering Baptist practice in history.

Another early Baptist Confession was “The Short Confession of Faith in XX Articles by John Smyth” (circa 1610). In it, are these words:

"That the church of Jesus Christ has power delegated to themselves of announcing the word, administering the sacraments {etc.}…That the ministers of the church are, not only bishops (“Episcopos”), to whom the power is given of dispensing both the word and the sacraments…” (Articles 13,16, p.101).

Once again, we see the local Body authorizing their officers alone to administer the ordinances. Baptism and the Supper was given to all who were present at Christ’s ascension? Not according to our Baptist ancestors.

Quite frankly, Tim, I could also quote similarly from the “Short Confession of 1610” (Art. 23, p.108), “The English Declaration at Amsterdam, 1611” (Art.13-15, p.120ff), “The Propositions and Conclusions, 1612” (Art. 76, p.138), all prior to the Confession you cite and even progressively led up to it.

Conclusively, the church was local not to the exclusion of the “mystical union” of the Body everywhere, but the sacraments--that is, Baptism and the Supper—were local Church ordinances administered by local Church “ordained officials’—definitively NOT the Church at large.

But I will by pass those momentarily and fast forward to another one of the early American Baptist Confessions—“The Articles of Faith of the Kehukee Association, 1777." Though of the 17 Articles, there is strangely no statement concerning the church proper, there are explicit statements about the ordinances of the Church or, as the Confession calls them “gospel ordinances.”

It reads: “We believe baptism and the Lord’s supper are gospel ordinances both belonging to the converted or true believer…We believe that no minister has no [sic] right to administration of the ordinances, only as are regularly called and come under the imposition of hands by the presbytery.” (Art. 12, 16, p.356). Again, the Church ordinance or “gospel ordinance” is both locally administered by local officials of the church.

Now let’s move back to one of the Confessions you did quote, Tim. You quoted the 1646 Confession as: ““Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, given by Christ.” That is, Baptism, in your words, Tim, “was given to the followers of Christ…to all those who were present at Christ’s ascension.”

However, the full statement in the 1644 Confession reads: “That Baptism is an Ordinance of the new Testament, given by Christ, to be dispensed only upon persons professing faith…” By leaving off the last part of the statement—“to be dispensed” Tim, it sounds as though the Confession makes a statement that lifts Baptism into practice that, because it belongs to Christ, no restrictions are placed upon on it.

In addition, Tim, I’m afraid your quoting The Philadelphia Confession 1742 makes your case even worse, from my view. Of the Confession, you write:

“The phrase “church ordinance” is not used. Instead, it reads, “Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus.”

Afterward you conclude:” Interestingly, the entire understanding of “authorized chuches”[sic] and “authorized administrators” that so many like to talk about today, has not been built by Biblical texts, but only by inference, presuppositions, and supposed implications.”

Had you read the 1742 Confession carefully, my Brother Tim, you would have noted that it concludes precisely the opposite than do you. Let me show you what I mean.

While you rightly quote the Confession above, you also leave out a significant portion of the statement. It reads:” 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.” You make it sound like that the only significant thing the Confession states is that Baptism and the Supper are “ordinances…appointed by the Lord Jesus.” But to whom are the ordinances appointed? In His church they are to be continued till the end of the world.

By the way, the proof texts offered include Matt. 28:19, 20—Jesus giving to His Disciples the command to Baptize, which you, Tim, contra the Confession, apply to “the followers of Christ. It was given to all those who were present at Christ’s ascension." The Confession took the words Christ spoke to the Disciples as He ascended to be to the Church ordinance of Baptism.

In addition, one may ask, according to the 1742 Confession, is there a restriction placed on those who administer Baptism to qualified subjects? Or, another way of asking it, Is it proper, according to the Confession of 1742, for those who qualify for Baptism to be Baptized only by one who is also a qualified official of the local Church? We must answer in the affirmative.

In Chapter 29, Articles 1 and 2, the Confession is clear: “Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances…appointed by the Lord Jesus…to be continued in his church to the end of the world. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.”

Thus, we see only qualified ones may Baptize according to the Confession. The way I understand your view, Tim, is that any professing Disciple of the Church may do so since, in your words, Baptism was given to “to all those who were present at Christ’s ascension.” That is, all Disciples are apparently qualified, the way I understand you.

Note, however, Chapter 27, On the Church, specifically Articles 8-9:

"A particular church, gathered and completely organized according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members; and the officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church (so called and gathered), for the peculiar administration of ordinances, and execution of power or duty, which he entrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are bishops or elders, and deacons. The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person…unto the office of bishop or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the church itself; and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition of hands of the eldership of the church…”


Thus, Tim, from the 1742 Confession it seems clear that
a) the church was both local and “mystical”

b) ordinances were administered at the local level

c) ordinances were administered only by those qualified

d) those qualified were only those sanctioned by the church, that is the ordained Body.

Time fails me, Tim, to look at what I observe as a strange view of 1 Corinthians 12.13. Quite honestly, I do not think I have ever encountered an interpretation of it exactly in your terms before.

Leon Morris comes close in his New Testament theology, I think. But Morris is an evangelical sacramentalist, not a Baptist. That makes a difference, of course.

Forgive my long tome. I usually do not do such. I trust you evening is well.

With that, I am…

Peter

Anonymous said...

If Acts 19 is speaking of rebaptism then 1. Why did John baptize in the first place? 2. Why did Christ want to be baptized by John? 3. All that John baptized would have to be rebaptized.

Wade Burleson said...

Brad,

You ask, "What if a member of another denomination were to join one of our churches and still maintain his belief that he could lose his salvation? What if such a one applied to be one of our missionaries? Or worse, what if we widened the tent to include all Assembly of God churches as Southern Baptist Churches?

Brad, I think we could simply ask the missionary candidate what he/ she believes about eternal security. Right?,

If the missionary candidate denies eternal security, we should, and will, reject the candidate. The International Mission Board of Trustees have always done it this way, and will always do it this way!

What in the world does 'rebaptism' do to 'firm up' the candidate's belief in eternal security? (i.e. 'rebaptism' defined as baptizing a person who has already been Scripturally baptized by immersion after having come to faith in Christ).

I truly don't understand your logic.

Anonymous said...

Brad,

I'm terribly sorry, but I still do not see the connection in the Bible that you are trying to make, here. I am especially concerned with this, because we are having baptisms at my church this Sunday (although we're not Baptist).

I think my question/concern boils down to this issue: When one is baptized, do you believe they are identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection with Christ, as such pertains to salvation; or do you believe they are identifying with a certain church or denomination (e.g. by being baptized in a Southern Baptist church, you are identifying yourself with that church); or do you believe BOTH are true, i.e., by being baptized, you identify yourself BOTH with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, AND with a local assembly as well???

It really as simple as choosing one of the three choices I listed above, and then I will understand your position more completely.

I am sorry to push this issue, but I still am not making the connection you are seeking to establish here on your blog.

Thanks for your patience in this area, and I look forward to your response as to which identification baptism produces.

Jonathan

brad reynolds said...

Wade
I will try and make it more clear for you. Rebaptism has to do with the proclamation of what was accomplished in one’s life. Not the personal understanding, which no one who is observing knows. If one is baptized into a Catholic Church then they have confessed to the watching world the Catholic Churches understanding of baptism…not their own.

I used the illustration to make the point that the Trustees were further guarding us from such a scenario.

Hope that helps
BR

brad reynolds said...

Peter
Excellent comment. Great research and well worth the read as always.
BR

brad reynolds said...

IAMANM

Excellent questions again. Forgive me for not being more clear.

The SBC was set up to allow local like-minded churches to come together and pool their resources for the purpose of Missions. In so doing the oversight or the Missions would be by the local churches.

Let’s say First Baptist and Second Baptist church of Tuckersville, were like-minded theologically and decided to work together in sending out M’s. They decided they would keep the M’s accountable to the local church through an organization made up of representatives from both churches who would oversee the M’s and the M’s would be going out representing the two local churches.

This is what we have with the SBC only on a much grander scale. The Trustees are elected by the local churches (through representatives) to oversee the IMB. They hire a president who is accountable to them and they are accountable to the local churches. The President hire’s staff to help oversee the daily operation. This daily operation should conform to the President’s wishes which should conform to the Trustees wishes which should conform to the local churches wishes. And so the accountability does ultimately reside with the local churches. It is my firm belief that the M’s should also be members of their local church and be held accountable there. But when a local church tells the M to do something contrary to the wishes of the group of local churches then the M should side with the IMB over his local church or resign for no one church has authority over the IMB.

I know that is a little confusing but hopefully it helps people understand how the SBC works.

Concerning Wade’s point. Local churches do have the authority to send out but when they come together and cooperate with other local churches for that purpose then they should submit to the representatives from the local churches (Trustees) who oversee the IMB or choose not to cooperate for again no single local church has authority over the entire IMB.

The doctrine of these local churches is the BFM2K. If another local church’s doctrine is contrary to that then she does not have to send M’s through the SBC

Doctrinal issues are never easy…but are necessary as is accountability.

The only other option is accountability to the universal invisible church which is intangible. Therefore such accountability is unaccountable.

You have never heard me place any “but” on baptism that I wouldn’t place on teaching (Matt 28). The local church has the authority to say who baptizes and teaches and goes out on her behalf.

Hope this helps
BR

brad reynolds said...

Debbie
John's baptism was one of repentance (Acts 19) and belief on the one who would come after him (Acts 19). John was pointing to Christ but was not the Christ. Whatever was accomplished in John's baptism of Jesus we know some things: 1)It had to be; 2) Jesus needed to repent of nothing but certainly testified to Himself as the Lamb who would take away the sins of man; 3) The Father was glorified through it and He exalted Christ through it. Yes, all that John baptized would be rebaptized to symbolize what really happened.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Jonathan

I think the distinction is the meaning of identity. Our identity in Christ is different than our identity in our local church although the two are connected.

Our identity with Christ paves the way for our identity in His body which is expressed in a local assembly.

Our identity with Christ has to do with the death of the old man with Christ and the resurrection of the new man in Christ. Baptism symbolizes that. Baptism also initiates us into the local church and thereby symbolizes both our agreement to her theology and teachings as well as our accountability to her.

Hope this helps
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
I've stayed out of most of this discussion because, to be honest, it's a bit boring. That is, I'm sure because either: (1) it's over my head, or (2) I'm not convinced of the 'magnitude' of the issue. It's probably the first possibility, though. :)
At any rate, I've enjoyed the interaction between you and Debbie and am curious (have never thought about it before reading this post), was Christ baptized by John in recognition of what His purpose was (akin to a believer being baptized as a proclamation of what he/she understands has haappened spiritually), or was Christ being baptized 'into the church'?

PS - this will be the first year EVER that my mom (or any group for that matter) will be at our house for Christmas - pray for my wife's sanity - if not for her, then for me. :)

Grace brother,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
I think in my answer to Debbie I expressed my understanding of Christ's baptism. We know it wasn't baptism into the ecclesia for that did not exist yet...further, he is the head of the ecclesia.

But you bring up a good point. John's baptism certainly did not initiate one into the local church, the baptism in Acts did. Which prompts the question of whether this was also part of the reason for rebaptism (initiation into the local church).

Hope you have a Merry Christmas.
BR

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my thoughts. It seems that we are talking around each other, so I will move on. I am honestly looking for answers to the situations and questions that I have brought up, but it appears that no one else is interested in pursuing them with me. I have been with the IMB for going on 15 years, so I do know how the organization works. I guess I just see logical ramifications of your conclusions on baptism in an M or church planter context that nobody else is seeing.

Again, thanks.

IAMANM

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
So then is it a reasonable deduction to assert that His was baptism in recognition of and proclamation of who He was? And, if so, why would that not be a picture of what believers are doing as well?

PTL

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Thank you. I believe you have selected what was Option 3, that baptism is an identification both with Christ, in His death, burial, and resurrection, AND is an identification with the local body, as an initiatory rite, symbolizing agreement to theology, teaching, and accountability.

I agree with the first half of what I just said. Baptism symbolizes our identity with Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection. However, I completely disagree with any notion that water baptism serves as an initiatory rite into a local body, and somehow symbolizes agreement with theology, teaching, and accountability. I find nowhere in the Scriptures that supports that assertion. Even from a cursory glance at the BFM2000 (and I'm not a Baptist, but I can read), I see nowhere in that document that implies this, as well.

I challenge anyone to show me in the Scriptures where water baptism was an initiatory rite, or where water baptism symbolized agreement with theology, teaching, or accountability in a local congregation. The entire argument is untenable and unscriptural to me.

Travis Hilton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Brad:What of Saul of Tarsus later known as Paul's conversion and baptism in Acts 9?

brad reynolds said...

Debbie
I am not sure I know what you are asking. And I try not to assume.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Jonathan

The BFM2000 states about baptism: “Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.”

I don’t know of any other way to read this than a reference to the local church. It would not make sense referring to some invisible universal church.

You said, “I completely disagree with any notion that water baptism serves as an initiatory rite into a local body, and somehow symbolizes agreement with theology, teaching, and accountability.” So what was the initiatory rite in the NT? Did they have church membership classes and take votes on who could join? In the NT the very clear implication is when one was baptized he became a member of the local church.

Further, according to such reasoning, one could be baptized into an LDS church and never need to be rebaptized as long as the individual knew what they were doing. Would you accept such a person into your church? If not, why not? They were baptized into the universal church.

Finally, the only other option you have is baptism into the universal ecclesia…which is not what the term means.

The challenge you issue can be reversed and issued back: I challenge anyone to show me from Scripture where baptism did not initiate one into the local church.

The only difference is that when one was baptized in the NT all indications reveal he then became a part of the local church…so the indications also conform to the meaning of ecclesia; and the ordinances being given to the ecclesia. Which is Scriptural.

Hope this helps
BR

brad reynolds said...

PTL
Not sure what you mean. Romans 6 explains spirit baptism which is symbolized in water baptism.
BR

Anonymous said...

Brad,
You missed something, I did not quote PP because the question was, of theologians today, who uses Gill as an authority? I may be wrong, I sat under PP for my systematic theology classes, but PP did not seem to hold Gill in any higher esteem than any other Baptist theologian of our history.

Peter,

Well done brother. My intention was not to build a historical precendent that my view was the "right" view, for I am well aware of the fact that Baptists have disagreed over this issue thoughout our existence. We see this directly from the fact that the 1644 Confession differed from previous confessions, as you pointed out, and even confessions after it turned it as they moved in different directions. Here was my thinking, so many times people will say "this is what Baptists believe" or "this is where SB have always stood" as used here so often. These statemenst are typically wrong in their attempt to discredit another view as not being valid. My point was simply to show that there is SOME historical precedence for understanding it this way. In other words, I'm not totally nuts.

On other matters.
There is no need to debate about the existence of the local church, I fully concur. But each local church is a local expression of a part of the Body of Christ of which Jesus is the Head. I am gaining a greater appreciation for the Body. It is something that, to me, is shadowed by a preponderance of discussion on the "authority of the local church." I am not sure we truly appreciate or care to emphasize that all the regenerated are part of the Body of Christ. I do not want to downplay the role of the Ekklesia, but no Ekklesia should misunderstand or downplay the fact that they are a part of a greater Body of which Jesus is the Head. I do not care to use "universal church" the Bible does not speak of it. It does, however clearly present that there is 1 body!

Brad stated:
"Our identity with Christ paves the way for our identity in His body which is expressed in a local assembly."

The NT does not refer to an Ekklesia as the expression of His body. This sectarian thinking is not supported in Scripture. In the day of denominationalism, we must remember that the Bible still says there is one body of Christ of which each ekklesia belongs. Each ekklesia is a part of the 1 body of Christ. But you cannot Scripturally say "that local church is The Body of Christ.'

Furthermore, Baptism and the LS are given to help us identify with the Body of Christ. They are used in the Church, but I am not baptized a SB. Brad is severly wrong here and the more he posts on this subject the deeper he seems to go with this idea. Nobody is Baptized into anything but the death, burial, and ress of our Lord. Nobody is bapt as a testimonty of SBC, or AOG, or anything else. Is that not what Paul told the Corinthians, it does not matter who baptized you! We all belong to Christ. As long as one was baptized by immersion, as a testimony of their previous salvation, they are properly Baptized. We are not baptized as a testimony to our belief in the BFM or the belief of SB. We do not have the authority to take baptism, the symbol of our unity with Christ, and make it a symbol of our unity with the SBC. Doesnt anybody else see the problem with this?

The LS, Wade stole my thunder with his current post about Spurgeon's view, which I fully concur with, the L.S. is not a just at testimony of a local churches fellowship, but also an identification with the fact that we are a part of the greater Body of Christ.

I don't know if this helps, but Peter come on over to my place and we can continure more specifically,

BRAD,
I know you want to give the BoT the benefit of the doubt, but their policy as worded is unBiblical and a usurping of the meaning and purpose of Baptism as given in God's Word. Nobody is to be Baptized in the name of the FAther, and of the Son , and of the Holy Spirit, and as a "Tetimony of the system of belief of SB. "

As the policy is Worded, Brad,not by what you think they were thinking, but how it is worded, how is this policy any different then Landmark understanding?

TC

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Thanks for your reply. I understand what is meant by the fact that water baptism is a prerequisite to church membership and to the Lord's supper. However, that statement, regardless of whether it is scriptural, does not say to me that water baptism symbolizes an identification with a local body, or a denomination. It only says that it is a prerequisite to participate in church membership and the Lord's supper... that's all. If you believe the statement DOES infer/imply a symbolic identification with a local body, then I think you're reading too much into the BFM2K.

The fact is, I do NOT believe there was any initiatory rite in the NT. People were baptized, but the reason was solely to be obedient to Christ, and to identify with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. There was never any express purpose to initiate people into a local body, or to have baptism be a way to identify with a local congregation, symbolizing agreement with theology, teaching, and accountability.

I believe that the concept of water baptism being symbolic of the candidate identifying himself with a local church (or denomination) because it symbolizes agreement with theology, teaching, and accountability, is not a concept that originates in the Scriptures, but originates in man, with the whole idea of denominationalism, and that's not scriptural. The only scriptural meaning to water baptism is a symbolic identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (and thereby our salvation).

All of that being said, I will answer your questions and the reverse challenge you gave me.

You asked me, first, whether I would accept the baptism of someone who was baptized in an LDS church. The answer is NO, because LDS is a cult, and Mormons are not even considered Christians from my church, they are not part of the "universal" Body of Christ at all. But would I accept baptism from another source that IS Christian? Yes, I would, so long it is by immersion... but at my church, personally, water baptism is not a prequisite to anything. We're not Southern Baptist.

The 2nd question you proposed is you asked if I thought water baptism is for the universal ecclesia... and its not, I do believe it is an ordinance for a local body. But that does not mean the purpose of water baptism is to identify one with that local body. The sole purpose of water baptism is to identify with Christ.

Lastly, I will answer your challenged. You asked me to point to one Scripture where water baptism was not an initiatory rite. Let us look at Phillip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8:35-39, "Then Phillip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, 'Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?' Phillp said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' And Phillip ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Phillip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Phillip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing."

In this passage, did the eunuch join a local church after this event? Is there even any reference to a local church? The answer to both questions is no, at least if we're true to the text. We can guess and imply such and such happened later on, but this is clearly an indication that water baptism did not serve as an initiatory rite. The Ethiopian was baptized on the road, so to speak, and then Phillip was caught away. No further instruction was given to tie the Ethiopian to a local body at all. There was no initiatory rite.

I believe the water baptism in Acts 8 is clearly acceptable, and is an answer to your reverse challenge. Would you accept this baptism in your church, Brad?

brad reynolds said...

Timothy,
The policy was an in house policy thus they understood what they were saying. It would be like getting a memo I sent to my secretary and dissecting it.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Jonathan
I am not sure I would want to debate the nuances between prerequisite to church membership and initiation into church membership.

You still haven’t answered how individuals became members of a local NT church?

Further, identity with a local church is not the same as identity with a denomination, thus while you may argue identity with a denomination is man-made I think you will be hard-pressed to argue that individuals did not identify with the church at Rome or Ephesus, etc.

Also, You said you would not recognize baptism from a true Christian if he were baptized in an LDS church. To me this seems duplicitous. It’s like you say baptism is solely to identify with Christ death, burial, and resurrection and if an individual does that then it matters not what theology the church holds to who baptized him unless it is an LDS church. Then the church’s theology overrides the individuals theology.

Concerning Acts 8 I am not willing to assume that Phillip did not go out in the authority of the Church at Jerusalem. Further, I believe he continued to make sure the Ethiopian was discipled as the Great Commission commanded him. I don’t think he left the Ethiopian without any further instruction or accountability.

I would accept that baptism provided it was done by a M under the authority of our local church as Phillip was.
BR

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Thanks again, let me clarify a few questions you have for me.

So far as church membership is concerned, you asked me how one becomes a member. To me, the Bible is somewhat inspecific concerning this... I would say that in the NT times, someone who regularly attended and participated in church life was considered a "member" without any formal induction, necessarily. You are correct to suggest that membership classes and the like is a modern development.

No, I would never argue against members not identifying with specific, local congregations. I just do not see water baptism as the symbol of even local church identification. One identified by just being there, attending the services, and being a regular participant of church life. Perhaps we can read into history and assume the Ethiopian found a church somewhere and became a part of it. He didn't have to get baptized again once he got there.

Next, I need to clarify something. Someone who was baptized in an LDS church is not a true Christian. If you were once a Mormon, you need to repent of the fact you belonged to a cult. Mormons are not true Christians, and Mormon baptisms are not authentic baptisms. It is as simple as that, and I think you and I, Brad, would agree with that. What I meant is that so long as the person is baptized by a Christian church by immersion (and not by sprinkling, pouring, or another non-immersion method), its valid. So, it does not matter if it came from a Nazarene church, an E-Free church, AG, Church of God, Foursquare, or non-denominational. So long as the baptism was performed by a church that baptizes by immersion and is a standard, Christian church, then I believe that is sufficient. LDS clearly is not included in this list for the reasons I gave above. But I would recognize the baptism of another church, so long as it was by immersion.

Lastly, your interpretation of Acts 8 assumes a lot. You assume that Phillip continued to make sure the Ethiopian was discipled, and that the Ethiopian was not without any further instruction and accountability. But the Bible does not say this. You are assuming, Brad. The Bible says as soon as the two of them came out of the water, Phillip was caught up and transported away by the Holy Spirit. How in the world could Phillip do the things that you just suggested if Phillip was nowhere to be seen? Is there another passage in the Bible that references the future of the Ethiopian? I don't see that at all.

Anonymous said...

Brad: Let me clarify my question. Under what church authority was Annanias under and what church was Paul baptized into in Acts 9?

peter lumpkins said...

Tim,

Thanks, my Brother. And, of course, I would not think you nuts.

I would need to press just one matter though: my observation is, I am unsure one would discover any significant diversity in Baptist History pertaining to the practise of the Lord's Supper & Baptism. I think the Confessions that you cite even show that.

Good evening and grace for this Lord's Day. With that, I am...

Peter

brad reynolds said...

Jonathan

You give excellent answers but they continue to beg questions.

You said, “I would say that in the NT times, someone who regularly attended and participated in church life was considered a "member" without any formal induction, necessarily.”

So, in NT times could someone attend and participate in church life and not be baptized and still be a member?

Concerning the LDS are you saying it is impossible for a person whose parents are members of the LDS church to get truly saved and without knowing exactly the ramifications of baptism in the LDS church he gets baptized in it? If so, I would disagree.

If not, then please explain the difference is erroneous theology at an LDS church and erroneous theology at another church. Where do you draw the line? What about Catholics whose church believe in works salvation?

Concerning my assumption of what took place with the Ethiopian, it is an assumption from silence but so is yours. I assume that Phillip was obedient to the Great Commission he had been given (baptize and TEACH) and thus kept in touch. You assume Phillip did not keep in touch and thus was disobedient. I think my conforms more to the rest of Acts and the obedience of the apostles.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Debbie
Saul was on his way to the church at Damascus, thus an assumption that Ananias was not a member there or was not under their authority to Preach, Baptize and Teach is an assumption I am not willing to make.

Further, it appears many are arguing from the time period which was the inception of the church. I would argue some things were obviously different then. Primarily, the Apostles with a capitol A. I haven’t seen any raise people from the dead like Peter and Paul.

Hope this helps
BR

Travis Hilton said...

Brad,

My comment was poorly written and unworthy of display on your blog. Hopefully, you got the point of my sentiments. I appreciate your post and hope it causes us all to think toward a more biblical view of baptism and church membership, even though we may disagree on some particulars.

Have a blest Christmas,
Travis

Greg Hicks said...

Dr. Reynolds,

Correct me if I am wrong here, but isn't policy the means SBC agency trustees use to provide guidance and direction for the agency?

How is it, then, that the baptism policy is an "in house policy... like a memo I sent to my secretary?"

Policies determine whether candidates will or will not be approved by the IMB. As such, they should be available to and written in a manner such that the meaning is clear to every Southern Baptist who reads the policy, taken at face value. They are most assuredly not like an internal memo you send to your secretary who may understand what you mean despite what you say.

Anonymous said...

Brad , You said to David (I believe)

"But I would argue that if the church at Philippi felt that a member of another church needed to be rebaptized upon joining their church then that is their decision. Local church autonomy."

I would agree with you, but it seems the whole baptism issue is that the IMB trustees have taken local church autonomy out of it?

Is this correct or am I missing what the political debate is all about?

I mean this sincerely because it really seems to me that is exactly what the discussion is about. That is; Should the IMB accept a local SBC churches Baptism of a candidate, even if that local SBC church accepted the candidates baptism by immersion from another evangelical church.

What I am missing?

brad reynolds said...

Greg
The IMB policy, as I made clear in earlier posts was a committee policy developed to deal with abuses on the field. It was to be a guideline. which was more fluid than policy, but some brought it before the entire board and the entire board voted on it, which made it policy.

Now while a public memo sent to my secretary may be public I certainly did not write it to the public but for my in-house purposes.

I do not write on this blog for anyone but me and have no idea the Trustees thinking in their guidelines, which were pushed into policy. But I do trust our Trustees and do not assume they are theologically errant.

Hope this helps
BR

brad reynolds said...

Anonymous,
What is missing is who has authority when a group of local churches cooperate in Missions. I argue it is the representatives elected by the local churches and the doctrines they have agreed upon. Thus, the Trustees and the BFM2K. I do not believe any one local church has the authority to tell the rest of the SBC who we must and must not pay with CP funds.
BR

Anonymous said...

Brad ,

HELP !

I confess I have not read all the threads and I may be seriously in error, so please help me see it.

In reference to the IMB Missionary I AM AN M and the Tuckersville illustration:

What should the Tuckersville churches do when the representatives from their churches go out on their own and vote to go beyond the stated theological agreement of the Tuckersville churches as to who could serve as a missionary from those churches?

It seems that this is what has happened, at least in my opinion. I mean it sincerely when I ask this question. It appears that the BoT's of the IMB have taken the theological "ball" into their own hands and developed some new theological guidelines not found in the agreement of the SBC churches, the BFM2K. They have sought to place upon missionary candidates, theological ideas not found in the theological SBC ageement.

Where am I missing it?

brad reynolds said...

anonymous,

The BFM2K says as SB we affirm eternal security. Secondly it states that baptism is a church ordinance. the very next sentence implies they understood the correct meaning of ecclesia as being "local church" ordinance. Thus one who has been baptized into a local church that does not believe in eternal security testified with his public statement intended to convey the meaning of his salvation that he did not believe in eternal security (although in his heart he may have). It is the public testimony that matters. If the public testimony does not matter but one's private beliefs than we are compelled to accept LDS baptisms provided the believer was truly saved and had the correct understanding of baptism.

There is a reason for rebaptism in Acts 19 and there is a reason for it today.

The other option is baptism into some invisible universal church, which is intangible and unknown. Further, it goes against the very meaning of ecclesia. Finally, this option opens the door for numerous cults as their is no accountability.

Of the two options I prefer baptism into a local eccleisa that the universal one. For the local one conforms both to the NT meaning of ecclesia and accountability.

Hope this helps
BR

Greg Hicks said...

Dr. Reynolds,

Precisely my point. When IMB trustess adopt policy it is not an internal memo. It is the official position of the agency - if not published, at least publicly available - and as such, requires precision to ensure the meaning is clear.

So let me ask you - do you agree with what the policy actually says (as opposed to what you have noted here that you think they had in mind)? Do you believe baptism is "a testimony of identification with the system of belief held by Southern Baptist churches?"

If your answer is no, is there any reason you would not support the call for the IMB trustees to revisit at least the language of the policy to ensure there is no misunderstanding as to what they had in mind?

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Thanks, not only for taking the time to answer, but also to the spirit of the answers, that is in the spirit kindness and graciousness. I appreciate that a lot! Have a Great Christmas and New Year holiday.

brad reynolds said...

Greg

I believe baptism is part of identifying with a local church and therefore it is essential for one who is paid by SB CP funds to be identified as one who believes in eternal security as outlined in the BFM2K which is a sytem of belief by SB churches.

Further, I was not at the committee meetings nor the Trustee meetings so I am unwilling to make assumptions about their choice of words or otherwise. I can say the policy protects the BFM2K and the SBC. And I can further say, I trust our Trustees.
BR

brad reynolds said...

I have received a couple of e-mails asking me to respond to Wade’s post and I will try to answer his questions as the pursuit of truth is always a good pursuit. But he is more than welcome here. He knows I post all his comments and he has certainly demonstrated graciousness and kindness.

Let me state clearly the idea of baptism being an initiation rite into the local church certainly did not originate with Brad Reynolds (Wade gives me way too much credit here, while I am grateful for such compliments, they are totally undeserved) nor through some unreliable internet sources, which I fear is prevalent in much of society today.

In fact, most who have seriously studied systematic theology are familiar with Dr. Milliard Erickson’s work Christian Theology (a standard in systematic theologies). His chapter on Baptism is entitled: THE INITIATORY RITE OF THE CHURCH: BAPTISM.

The idea that this is some new concept pushed by the leadership of the SBC is as naive as it is wrong.

I think one would be hard-pressed to say one of the greatest Baptist theologians of our day has a view of baptism, which is “completely contrary to the historic Baptist understanding of baptism and the clear Biblical teaching regarding believer's baptism.” Such statements speak for themselves.

Those who argue for baptism being given to the universal ecclesia rather than the local ecclesia seem to argue from certain Baptists ministers from the 18th century and emotional appeals, rather than the NT meaning of ecclesia. The clear biblical meaning of ecclesia is what this post is all about!

Concerning the questions posed by Wade:
1. Into which local church was Jesus Baptized? This question is wrought with theological problems. First Jesus is not baptized into any church: local or UNIVERSAL (the latter of which dismisses the very impact intended by the question). Second baptism symbolizes what took place in an individual the moment he was saved. Third, initiation into a local church does not deny in any way nor replace the symbolism of baptism.
2. The question of the Ethiopian Eunuch makes an assumption I am not willing to make: Ananias was functioning outside the authority of the local church in Damascus.
3. Obviously no. One wonders why such a question was even asked.
4. Again a total misreading of what baptism is. To become accountable to a local church when one is baptized, does not deny the symbolism of death, burial, and resurrection.
5. Will I fellowship and cooperate. Of course. Again the purpose of asking such questions alludes me, questions like this seem to be more along the lines of conspiracy theorists than intentional and rational discussion of the theological implications of holding to baptism into some sort of invisible universal church with no accountability. The question that should have been asked is should Southern Baptists pay CP funds to an individual who was baptized into an LDS church even if he was truly saved. Or should we require rebaptism?

The theological outcome of baptism into the universal ecclesia (which again is contrary to the meaning of ecclesia) would be akin to a person whose parents were members of the LDS church…but the individual gets truly saved. Not knowing the LDS belief of baptism he gets baptized into the LDS church, although he has truly been saved and he understands baptism correctly. According to those who hold to no accountability in this area, all churches should accept such a baptism as legitimate.

Further implications, would be individuals all around the world baptized into some invisible church with no accountability.

Fortunately, most of the Para church organizations are coming to realize the inherent problems with no theological accountability. So should we.

Finally, the perhaps non-purposeful misrepresentation of my beliefs; by wedding local church authority to landmarkism, begs questions. Wade apparently has read my post and comments and thus should have known the differences I clearly spelled out between the two. Further, he also knew my answers to most of the questions above, from my post and comments…thus one would wonder why he was not more honest in portraying my position. Perhaps he just misunderstood; I think his motives are pure and he is doing what he believes is right, but he does beg questions.

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Sure, I'll gladly answer your further questions and clarify a few things.

First, it was normative for any Christian to be water baptized as soon as he got saved in the NT. This weekend I am releasing Part 2 of a series in my blog, and it will document just how normative the experience was (we'll look at every single time there was a water baptism). Thus, in NT times a member would have to be a saved person, and it was normative for a saved person to be water baptized.

Then, you asked me about LDS theology. I'm not an expert in this area, but I know enough about Mormons to know LDS is a false religion (perhaps cult is the wrong word). It is just as false as Islam, as both are based on the teachings of a false prophet. Islam is based on the false teachings of the false prophet Mohammed, and Mormonism is based on the false teachings of the false prophet Joseph Smith.

Nevertheless, as I am sure you are aware, the Internet has an abundance of websites out there that detail the beliefs of the Mormon "church," and how those beliefs differ from Christianity. I would say, and I hope this answers your question here, that someone who even though is truly saved, if he gets baptized in an LDS church, has not received a proper baptism. They would then need to be re-baptized, as the Christian disciples were in Acts 19. The same would be true for someone who was not baptized by immersion in a Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, or Methodist church. Baptism is by immersion, or it is not baptism at all.

Then you asked me about works salvation. There are a few issues here. A baptism in an LDS church is not authentic (it is not a real baptism) because LDS is a false religion. The theology of the LDS church is false not because they believe in "works salvation," but because they have a wrong concept of God and Jesus. For instance, Mormons believe that God the Father has a body (flesh and bones), and Christians do not, because we believe God is a spirit Being. Mormons believe that they can attain godhood, and we identify this as heresy. Mormons do not believe that Jesus is the only son of God. Mormons actually believe that Jesus and Satan were siblings. As you can see, LDS theology is VERY false, without even discussing "works salvation." It is, in fact, a false religion and/or cult.

Roman Catholicism, on the other hand, while it does believe in works salvation... not all the adherents do. I've known Catholics who have believed in grace-based salvation, as we do. But a Roman Catholic baptism is not authentic because it is not by immersion, which is a whole other issue. Its not because it is a false religion, or they believe in "works salvation," but they really do not immerse people in water in the Roman Catholic Church. There is a big difference, but the same result.

Lastly, regarding the Ethiopian, I believe Phillip could NOT keep in touch, and yet still be obedient to the Great Commission. Phillip preached to the Ethiopian before he was baptized. After all, Phillip was an Evangelist. However, I believe it is a very poor argument to suggest that after the baptism, Phillip and the Ethiopian kept in touch. Nothing in the Scripture suggests that at all. So, I don't think your assumption "from silence" is very valid. I still believe this baptism defeats the initiatory rite position that you and Dr. Erickson hold, because even if Phillip and the Ethiopian "kept in touch," we never saw the Ethiopian become involved in a local church, immediately following baptism. I believe that we should make our arguments based on what the Scriptures say, and not on what the Scriptures do NOT say. When we assume and read into the Scriptures, we open up ourselves to major fallacies. Thus, back to the "reverse challenge," Brad, the baptism of Ethiopian in Acts 8 was NOT an initiatory rite into a local church at all. Satisfied?

brad reynolds said...

Jonathan

We seem to be talking in circles. I don’t think I am willing to make the assumptions it appears you have made.

First, I think you are assuming that when one was baptized in the NT he did not become accountable to a NT local body of believers. While the apostolic age and the inception of the church had certain obvious differences than ours, this is not implied. The assumption that the Ethiopian Eunuch was left to work out his own salvation without accountability to other believers is contrary to the rest of Scripture.

Second, you are right about much of Mormon theology, however, they do believe in a works salvation. You further state: “I would say, and I hope this answers your question here, that someone who even though is truly saved, if he gets baptized in an LDS church, has not received a proper baptism. They would then need to be re-baptized, as the Christian disciples were in Acts 19.” I assume you believe they did not receive a proper baptism because the LDS church believes errant theology, even though the individual doesn’t. What would be the difference between that individual and one who is baptized in a AG church, if the AG church believes errant theology (works salvation)?

Concerning LDS you seem to imply it matters what the church believes and not what the individual believes, but in all other churche,s you seem to be saying it matters what the individual believes and not what the church believes. To me this seems duplicitous.

Finally, you accuse me of arguing from silence and then appear to do the very thing: by arguing that the Ethiopian had no contact with Phillip or any other Christians after his salvation. That is an argument from silence. No where does Scripture tell us Phillip never had contact with him again.

Hope this helps
BR

Tim Cowin said...

Brad,

The policy was posted on the IMB web.

TC

Wade Burleson said...

Dr. Reynolds,

You have said in this comment string: The IMB policy (on baptism), as I made clear in earlier posts was a committee policy developed to deal with abuses on the field.

Would you please share with me, an IMB trustee, the specific abuses to which you refer? I am simply unaware of them.

I am not disputing your word, but I have asked repeatedly for some documented, anectodal evidence of the 'problems' on the field regarding baptism and our missionaries and have yet to receive anything.

If you have information that I do not have as a trustee, I would love for you to share it. Who knows, with the information you have (which, again, I don't have), I might view things a little differently.

Thanks for your earnest attempts at keeping this blog about the issues at hand and a repository of truth.

I agree, we should discuss the issues, and keep personalities out. You have made a statement that goes to the very heart of the reason for the new policies.

I just want to make sure there is a valid basis for such a statement and I'm sure you will be able to provide it.

Merry Christmas,

Wade

Anonymous said...

Brad,

I'm going to get right into this. I do not assume that when one in the NT became water baptized, then there was no accountability. Of course most water baptisms occurred in the context of a local church. Even I agree with that. However, we cannot make an exception for the Ethiopian. What I see there is that the Ethiopian probably sought out a local body; its just that his baptismal experience was NOT initiatory. As I will be explaining this weekend in my own blog, baptism is NOT an initiatory rite, esp. in light of what happened in Acts 8. I believe many in the Southern Baptist denomination have made water baptism an initiatory rite, but as Rev. Wade Burelson has so eloquently said in his blog, it really is not an initiatory rite, and Scripture does not teach water baptism is initiation into the local church. It sure was not for the Ethiopian.

Second, as someone whose theology is personally closer to AG than anyone else here, I do not believe you can call AG's theology "errant." Let me define some terms before I delve into this issue. To me, "errant theology" means deviating from the basic tenets of the Christian faith, i.e. something really heretical. Just because you do not believe in eternal security does not mean you are a heretic. I know Southern Baptists hold near and dear to eternal security, and the AG denomination does not. Personally, I do not believe in eternal security. However, that is not "errant theology" because it is not heretical, nor essential, to the Christian faith.

That being said, so that everyone here knows, I believe the only way you can lose your salvation is by unbelief and denying Christ as your Lord and Savior. That's all. I do not believe mere backsliding produces loss of salvation. I know the AG denomination does, however, that is not even "works salvation." As I understand "works salvation," that concept means you are saved by your works. The AG denomination does not believe that. But Roman Catholicism does. However, so long as you believe you are saved through grace and faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9), then you are not heretical, and not in "errant theology" or "works salvation." In other words, just because you do not believe in eternal security does not place you in the camp of "works salvation" or "errant theology." Thus, I believe that a baptism in an AG church would suffice for one in a Southern Baptist church, in my view, but I am neither AG nor Southern Baptist (I am non-denominational).

Concerning LDS, it matters what the "church" believes only because LDS is a false religion. I would not acknowledge an LDS baptism, just like I would not acknowledge an Islamic baptism, or a Buddhist baptism, or a Hindu baptism, assuming those things existed. I would not recognize a JW baptism, either All of these groups are false religions, and therefore their baptisms do not qualify.

Finally, concerning the Ethiopian, I am confident he had contact with other Christians after his water baptism. However, this is not an argument from silence. Rather, I am just noting we have no account of it in Scripture. However, because we have no biblical account, we cannot argue that the Ethiopian's baptism served as an initiatory rite, and that is my point. Baptism is NOT an initiatory rite for the Ethiopian, nor for anyone else.

Tim Cowin said...

Brad,

You have said that ACT 19 is some kind of proof-text as to why it is ok for the IMB to demand rebaptism of those who were already immersed. If someone else has made the point I am going to make, you can disregard, but I looked over the stream and did not see it clearly addressed.

There is no correlation between what the IMB is doing and what happened in Acts 19:1-5:

"It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism." Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus." When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Brad, look closely at the passage, “we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” These men were not “genuine Christ followers.” They “believed” yes, but in what? We do not really know specifically the nature of thier "belief" and to act as if we do would be to argue from silence. What do we know? They were not regenerated yet, they did not know about the Holy Spirit. They were baptized by John, but clearly they were not around on the day of Pentecost because they did not even know about the Holy Spirit, and now were baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Furthermore, I think it is important for our discussion to really look at what happenend next,

"And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying."

This passage does not parallel the issue of the IMB policy. These men had never been baptized in Jesus name and had not received the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. They had not been converted yet. They had repented and were baptized by John, preparing for the Messiah, but somehow they missed much of the excitement in Jerusalem.

This text cannot be used to support the re-baptism of those who were already regenerated and immersed.

TC

brad reynolds said...

Wade,
I think the baptism and tongues policies were developed together to deal with charismatic abuses on the field. You would obviously know more about this than me.

But I think Dr. Eitel’s two papers demonstrate adequately that they were taking place.

Hope this helps
BR

brad reynolds said...

Jonathan
You assumption that he sought out a local body is no more evidenced in Scripture than my assumption that Phillip and others from a church stayed in touch and kept him accountable (personally I think it is less so, for it does not conform to the great commission as mine does). Further, the assumption that Phillip was not baptizing under the authority of the local church in Jerusalem is again an assumption I am not willing to make…so while your confidence in your position is admirable it is not inerrant.

By errant theology and works salvation I mean that if one can lose one’s salvation by works than one logically should be able to gain it by doing so, even though it is denied. A loss of salvation by evil works implies Christ’ work was not sufficient for all our sin.

Finally, I think you and I are close about the denying of Christ. Only I would say the person was not ever saved in the first place. “they went out from us for they were not of us.”

Concerning LDS, they baptize in the name of Jesus…Islam, Hindu’s and Buddhist do not. There is a difference in a cult and a different religion.

My point being LDS churches baptize into Jesus with errant theology so why would we distinguish between them and other churches who baptize into Jesus with errant theology.

Concerning, the Ethiopian you correctly point out we can not argue that his baptism served as an initiatory rite, but incorrectly assume you can argue from scripture that it was not an initiatory rite…Scripture does not tell us it was not an initiatory rite.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Tim
I have not said Acts 19 was a proof text for allowing the IMB to desire only SB be our M’s. What I have said, is we have evidence of in the NT or rebaptism taking place when one’s baptism does not convey the gospel message (including eternal security).

Further, your comment reveals the difficulty in taking the apostolic period and equating it to today. How many of us would baptize or even re-baptize a person, like was done in Acts 19, before the Holy Spirit had come upon them. And yet, I am not willing to say Paul was wrong here, rather I confess there are some differences during the apostolic period.
BR

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Before I respond to your post, I want to wish you, and everyone else, a very Merry Christmas, this being Christmas Eve.

As regards to the Ethiopian, I am confident that he sought out a local church --- this is not an assumption. Rather, I am expresing a hope and expectation that the Ethiopian would do that. That's all. I am not assuming anything, like you are. But really this part of the discussion is besides the point. The fact is the water baptism of the Ethiopian was in no way an initiatory rite, and therefore you cannot argue that water baptism should normatively be an initiatory rite, because Acts 8 provides a gaping exception if you do. That's the bottom line here, regardless of what happened with the Ethiopian.

Further, I never assumed Phillip baptized outside of the authority of the church of Jerusalem. Quite frankly, I acknowledge that Phillip did so baptize under such authority. However, again, I do not believe that makes a difference to my argument, that this particular water baptism served no initiatory purpose.

I completely disagree with your statement that, "if one can lose one’s salvation by works than one logically should be able to gain it by doing so, even though it is denied." I do believe that back-sliding can be a "first-step" to losing one's salvation, because once one starts back-sliding, and refuses to repent, such conduct can ultimately lead to unbelief and denial of Christ. I do not believe that back-sliding per se automatically produces loss of salvation. However, even if a denomination (like the AG) believes evil works, per se, will necessarily cause one to lose salvation, to me that is not "works salvation" as you describe it. I do not believe your statement logically follows. Regardless, it is totally incongruent with the Scriptures, because salvation is by faith, not by works, and I believe one loses salvation ultimately by doubt and unbelief, although evil works may put one on that path.

Now, if a denomination believes that back-sliding per se causes loss of salvation, to me that is not an issue that produces what you call "errant theology." You argue that this "per se" approach "implies Christ's work is not sufficient for all our sin." I think you would be hard-pressed to find an AG person, or someone with similar theology who agrees with that. I sure do not agree. Most AG people agree with Southern Baptists in the "finished work of Christ," i.e. the atonement was complete. Roman Catholics do not, but they DO believe in works salvatio (and thus that is errant). But AG, nah, they're safe so far as I am concerned.

Call LDS a cult or a false religion... it does not matter... Mormons are NOT Christians, they are not part of the Body of Christ or the Kingdom of God. Same for Jehovah's Witnesses. Just because you baptize in Jesus' name does not mean you are truly Christian. Both of these groups have doctrine that is so aberrant, they are considered a cult or a false religion. I think I covered this before.

Lastly, you stated, "Scripture does not tell us it was not an initiatory rite." Do you know that statement is a double negative, and thus you generally infer water baptism to be initiatory from such a statement? My point is that because this baptism is not initiatory, one cannot argue water baptism is normatively initiatory, and make this an exception. It just does not work that way.

Finally, I need to ask you a question concerning your statement to Tim. You said that there is a difference between the "apostolic period" and the current age. Can you explain that a little further, please, I'm not sure if that bears any relevance on OUR discussion about the concept of initiatory rite, but it might help me better understand your perspective.

Thanks,
Jonathan

brad reynolds said...

Jonathan,
Thank you and a Merry Christmas to you also.

I think in the spirit of such we will probably need to let this one die. We seem to be having problems with each others presuppositions and as such will never reach a conclusion.

My assumption that Phillip baptized into the Jerusalem church under its authority and your assumption the baptism was not into the church are both assumptions from silence. I can see mine and hope you can see yours. I feel the rest of Scripture including the Great commission itself provides a rule which we have no reason the Etheopian was an exception to…you disagree.

Concerning works salvation if one can lose it by works than the Cross was logically incomplete (not all evil works were atoned for), which in my opinion is works salvation. You feel my logic does not flow and thus again, we disagree.

LDS is a cult…we agree:)

Yes, I know it was a double negative…it was intentional. You claimed Scripture does not tell us baptism was an initiatory rite and thus I argued from silence, to which I responded Scripture does not tell us baptism was not an initiatory rite, either. Hope that makes sense.

Concerning the apostolic period. I have already mentioned the transitional period of justification/sanctification between the OT saints and the NT saints as implied by Acts 19 (a situation where apparently baptism took place before a resting of the Holy Spirit). This transitional period was different in some regards, further we saw things which we have not seen since (raising of the dead), although that is not to say we will not see it again (Revelation). We also had Apostles with a capitol A. These are just part of the differences that seem apparent to me.

BR

Anonymous said...

Alright Brad,

I'll let this die. However, you're more than welcome to come over to my blog and debate these issues on my turf. :)

Merry Christmas,
Jonathan

Tim Cowin said...

Brad:
You stated:
"I have not said Acts 19 was a proof text for allowing the IMB to desire only SB be our M’s. What I have said, is we have evidence of in the NT or rebaptism taking place when one’s baptism does not convey the gospel message (including eternal security)."

1. I did not say that you were using Acts 19 to allow only the support of SB's as M's, not sure how you got that.

2. Again to equate this rebaptism with the rebaptisms that the IMB is demanding, is truly comparing apples and oranges. In this passage, these men were not regenerated. Their baptism was on the wrong side of their regeneration. The IMB is not doing anything similiar to what is happening in this passage.

TC

brad reynolds said...

TC

Are you saying Paul made a mistake in the rabaptism in acts by reversing it with the regeneration that took place?

BR

Tim Cowin said...

Brad,

No, I am not saying that Paul made a mistake. I am simply saying that this experience in Acts, does not correspond to the rebaptisms demanded by the IMB policy. Asking one who had been immersed by Free-will Baptists, is not the same as these men who did not even know of the HOly Spirit and who had never been baptized in "Jesus" name.

TC

TruthOfActs said...

Brad,
On another post, you told me, “The key is not the pastor but the authority of the local church.”

I related the story of a man reading a Bible and was saved without anyone leading him to Christ. At some point in time, 20 people believed and all were baptized. They asked my uncle (IMB missionary) to organize them into a church.

You agreed that he did not need to rebaptize them as you wrote: “According to Dr. White’s essentials of the existence of a local church, they were a church before they declared themselves to be: for the gospel, the ordinances, and the purposeful gathering was present.”

The question arises: How would you have told them to baptize themselves for it to be acceptable by the IMB?

Would you say, “You ten baptize these ten, and then they’ll baptize you?”

Would you say, “Select one person to baptize the rest, then the last would baptize him?”

What if they baptized themselves? Don’t laugh; my brother saw this happen. The preacher talked so long, the ‘uneducated’ dance hall lady thought she had to do it. He couldn’t find her until her leg hooked over the glass. She had invited all her friends to attend since she was so happy about being saved. Wonder if she would be accepted as a missionary today?

What if the first man baptized the second person before anyone else was saved? Did a church authority exist? What if he baptized each one individual when they accepted Jesus without the others being present—like Ananias and Paul or Phillip and the Eunuch?

You seemed to have answered this question already when you wrote: “If your question is whether I think a person can be saved and go around witnessing and baptizing without any accountability, I would say no. There needs to be disciplining (intentionally gathering.)”

Your word, “accountability” is a strong word. (It was used to force missionaries in signing the BFM.) Do you agree our “accountability” is first to God and obeying his commandment of witnessing and baptizing?

You say there needs to be ‘intentionally gathering.’ Jesus said, if there be two or more, he would be there. I believe if Jesus is in the “gathering” of two, that’s good enough for me.
Rex Ray