Regarding Baptism part three

Continuing on from here and here if you may recall this came about because of a conversation I had with a young man regarding his lack of baptism.

Now Mid-Acts dispensationalists use this verse to defend their position:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1Co 1:17 ESV)

Their reasoning is that Paul’s purpose was to preach the gospel and not to baptize people. And because Paul’s gospel didn’t have baptism as Jesus’ gospel did therefore Christians under this dispensation do not need to get baptized. In fact Jesus’ baptism only applies to circumcised jewish believers before the Church began. Presumably this would again apply during the millenial age as Jesus’ kingdom message teaching would once again be in effect.

But let’s look at that verse in context:

For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1Co 1:11-18 ESV)

So what is Paul talking about here? He is reproving the Corinthian church for dividing into schisms. He’s pointing that baptism into Christ (and notice that the Corinthians who were gentiles were baptized) means that they are followers of Christ not of Paul, Cephas (Peter), or Apollos. But Christ and Christ alone. What Paul is doing here is emphasizing the fact that their baptism associates them with Christ and not with any other teacher. Paul then goes on to emphasize his calling as a teacher of doctrine (1 Co 1:17) which doesn’t mean that he was disparaging baptism but instead emphasizing how the Corinthians needed to understand the gospel.

In fact in Romans Paul uses the believer’s baptism as an example of how the believer has died in Christ and just as Christ was raised so to we were raised into a new life in Christ.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
(Rom 6:3-4 ESV)

Now if Paul wasn’t baptizing people why then would he use baptism as an example of our transformation from death into life? It would be a complete non sequitur unless those Christians to whom he was writing to had actually been baptized.

To summarize: The false hermeneutics of the Mid-Acts dispensationalists actually ascribes to Paul commands and instructions that he did not give. By setting aside the commands of Christ regarding his ordinaces they are producing a false gospel. I’ll end this with what Paul told the Galatians:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9 ESV)

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4 Comments

Filed under Baptism, Christian, Theology

4 responses to “Regarding Baptism part three

  1. Good review of the Mid-Acts Dispensationalist view on baptism.

    However, while I hold that baptism is taught explicitly as an act of immersion of a believer, by a believer, I have some questions about
    practises of the early church (Tertullian, Origen, Justin Martyr and Clement) where they differed about one immersion vs. three. Also, I am curious why fasting and prayer started being required prior to baptism for the baptiser as well as the one being immersed and whether a “heretic” could be baptised by a non-believer. I don’t see any evidence in scripture supporting this or even the eventual idea, supported by Tertullian, that persons to be baptized had to participate in training and preparation as Catechumen before being allowed to be baptized. This involved a period ranging from a few days to several years!! Quite a few accounts of martyrdom reference the deaths of people who were considered Catechumen vs. confirmed Christians. I wonder about the spiritual fate of these who were not allowed to be baptized until they were approved?

    I believe the traditions of men began to be introduced very early under the guise of apostolic tradition. The evidence is clear in scripture, especially in Acts, that baptism was the immediate course of action for anyone repenting and believing in Christ as the risen Saviour. Why or how anyone could reach an opinion that baptism isn’t an integral part of the conversion process is beyond me. Does baptism play a part in regeneration? If not, why the emphasis on it even by Christian denominations who claim it isn’t essential for salvation? These imply that baptism is required, is not optional, and is performed in obedience to a command of Christ. This, in and of itself, indicates to me that baptism is an essential and critical part of the believer’s initial confession of faith.

    While some hold that they cannot emphasize baptism too much, because it would then become a work, how do they justify the fact that Christ, who needed no baptism, did it “to fulfill all righteousness”? Isn’t that a “work” on the very part of Christ? As was his willing sacrifice on the cross?

    I hold to the view that Christ consecrated the act of baptism for the very purpose of indicating it’s necessity for salvation. Some will inevitably rely on the example of the thief on the cross. However, only Christ has the authority to make any exceptions to the rule. Enoch and Elijah were exceptions to the rule that “all men must die”, but that doesn’t change or make ineffective the general rule. Certainly Christ baptized the disciples, and if not Him, who did (John 3:22-26)? Obviously John’s baptism wasn’t sufficient, as seen in Acts 19. I am aware that Christ wasn’t physically baptizing anyone Himself at the time described in John 4:2, but obviously someone baptized the disciples at some point.

    I’m very curious how one can emphasize yet de-emphasize baptism simultaneously, while declaring it essential to obedience, yet not an absolute to avoid the idea of works being added to the grace of God.
    The bible is clear that we are created “unto good works” and that “faith without works is dead”, so why the bug-bear over baptism being a “work”?

    Thanks and God bless!

  2. Pete Nelson

    That sir may take another post to answer completely. I’ll bend my time and resources to it.

  3. Thank you sir! I, for one (pun intended), will look forward to your response. Have a great day!

  4. Brynn

    hi i enjoyed the read

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