Monday, August 19, 2013

Of Baptism

I was really taken aback by Mike Bergman's article on "The Priority of Baptism" posted on 08/15/13 at the SBC Voices blog.  The SBC is known for its focus on numbers; mainly on how many members a church has and how many baptisms were performed that year.  Mr. Bergman's call to baptize professing Christians sooner is not in the best interest of the individual and can be detrimental to the visible church.  I definitely agree with Mark Dever's view in the article that baptism should wait until the profession of faith is confirmed.  Sometimes the decision for baptism is an emotional response or an outcome of peer-pressure.  Unfortunately, once the person is baptized, it is not politically correct to question that person's salvation; therefore, if there's no fruit in that person's life, (Matt. 7:17-27), that person becomes resistant to further evangelization because he's been baptized.

Mr. Bergman's concludes:
"Instead, the testimony of Scripture is that baptism belongs as the proper response to the gospel—it is a profession of one’s faith in and allegiance to Christ and not an event that should come after a profession. Practically, this means we should seek to perform baptisms as soon as possible after a person hears the Gospel and is moved to repent and follow Jesus."

This is a very weak and passive view of the requirements for baptism.  Hearing the gospel is required for faith, (Rom. 10:17), but just because someone hears the gospel does not mean that they have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.  In addition, the phrase "is moved to repent and follow Jesus" is not the biblical requirement.  I can be moved to do a lot of things, but actually following through and acting on that motivation is another story.  This goes back to my post about heart motivation; in that post I talk about how Christians cannot just sincerely desire to follow the word of God, but they must do it.

The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 29 "Of Baptism", paragraph 2, specifically outlines the proper candidate for baptism:
"Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance."  (Emphasis mine)

"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them," (Matthew 7:20).