Monday, August 16, 2010

Baptism: Another View (Part 3)

Read Part 2.

Now for my explanation and personal history of my views of baptism. I've held to both the paedo-baptist and believer-baptist views, and have attended at least one church that held to each, and have been part of more than one theological circle that held to each. I have switched from each view to the other, and held to each view at least once. I admit much confusion over the issue throughout my first 10 plus years as a Christian. I've listened to fierce debaters on the subject from each side, always seemingly one-upping the other in terms of clever arguing, and have read numerous articles, as well as book chapters and systematic theologies on the topic. About five years ago I realized why the subject was so difficult for me, and once I realized why, I gained peace before God for the first time ever. I had a reason for "another view."

The reason is that for all the views I have ever heard or believed, doctrines of baptism have relied so heavily upon systematic views of the new covenant. These views vary wildly, and as a result, so do views on baptism. Baptismal distinctives that I've been exposed to, I believe, are based more on man's theology than on Scripture, with Scripture used to proof-text the view. But one thing is clear to me, believers in Jesus Christ should (at some time and in some way) be baptized in water.

Some views of baptism nullify or partially nullify other views. For example, many believer-baptist churches will require re-baptism of newly professing believers that were baptized as children and raised in Presbyterian or other Reformed churches, but who believe themselves as never having previously come to faith. Some paedo-baptist churches require the same thing. Some Baptists will accept the infant baptisms in paedo-baptist Protestant churches, but at the same time reject infant baptisms in Roman Catholic churches, as will some paedo-baptist Protestants. This last group of modern paedo-baptists, who decry "the error of the anabaptists" of centuries ago, do the same thing they reject.  Early reformers generally viewed baptism within the Roman church as valid.  Some protestant churches I've been familiar with have lists of churches, cults and movements whose baptisms won't be recognized when considering a believer new to their church. Some views not only hold other views in contempt, but reserve the harshest charges of sin in the practice of those views. I'll discuss this in future posts.

In trying to be consistent with my statement of "another view", I've decided that if a Christian (whether Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Presbyterian, Christian Reformed, Pentecostal, etc) is individually satisfied with his own [reasonable] circumstances under which he was baptized, I will allow him that liberty and view his baptism as valid. I will have more to say about this in upcoming posts.

Read Part 4.
Read entire series in a single post.

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