Saturday, September 04, 2010

Baptism: Another View (Part 4)

Read Part 3.

Shortly after writing my first several posts on another view of baptism a few years ago in a different blog series, it dawned on me just how I should characterize the divergent sectarian views of baptism: as traditions.

These are traditions which don't have enough Scriptural warrant to pass as binding law, but there are many defenders of these traditions that seem to think the bible mandates their view. This has, I think, been my problem. I've been asking this question: "Which view does Scripture mandate?", when I should have been asking, "Does the bible mandate a view at all?" Defenders of each view have taken to proof-texting, polemics, and a vocation of anathematizing their opponents. Confusion is often the dominating industry in the baptism debate with plenty of minimum wage, entry level positions. The following is a mock argument, the type of which I'm all too familiar with: (P=paedo-baptist, B=believer baptist)

P: Baptism is the NT equivalent of OT circumcision, so infants should be baptized.

B: There's no evidence in the NT of children being baptized.

P: But the households of new converts were, so there must have been children in those households.

B: You're making assumptions. It could just have easily been believers old enough to know.

P: Well history is on our side, because there's archaeological evidence that infant baptism was practiced as early as the second century AD.

B: But no earlier, of course. It was a Roman Catholic doctrine introduced to soothe the fears of parents who wondered if their unbaptized children would go to heaven if they died. The Reformation was a good thing, but they didn't go far enough in dealing with Rome's doctrines.

P: Well, let's just see what the Westminster Confession has to say.

B: Huh? This is a Scriptural issue, so we should limit our conversation to the bible alone and not bring history into it.

P: "XXVIII, IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized."

B: You're off course again.

P: "XXVIII, III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person."

B: Well, you and they both obviously missed the meaning of the Greek word, baptizo, which means literally "to immerse." The writers of the King James bible, through built-in fear of the dominant Catholic church, neglected to translate the word as "immerse," but instead transliterated the word as "baptize." The result is that the English speaking world is in confusion about even the biblical mode of baptism.

P: Say, you're bringing enough of your own history into this as well. You miss all the biblical references to sprinkling in the OT, and how Col. 2:11 ties baptism and circum...
On and on this goes. Jesus had a lot to say about traditions. He really didn't condemn those who held to traditions, but had a problem with those who held tradition equal or above the word of God. I'm afraid many throughout church history have done just this with their arguments about baptism. I know I did. Forgive me, Lord.

Read Part 5.
Read entire series in a single post.


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