Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Is Baptism Essential?

I believe that the issue that is going to be discussed and debated among Churches of Christ in the 21st century is the essentiality of baptism.

Is baptism essential to one's savation? I know many Churches of Christ are embracing the ecumenical movement. There are more and more churches that are embracing instrumental music, women's involvement in worship as well as ministry and leadership roles.

But, I believe the issue that really needs to be discussed is the essentiality of baptism for salvation. If we are to be more tolerant, relevant, and ecumenical - is discussing this issue so important? If the church of Christ holds to the doctrine of the essentiality of baptism for remission of sins, what does that tell other denominations and believers? What message does that send to the rest of the Christian community? What reputation does it display? Does it show elitism? Do we become cultish when we make the statement that we are the only ones going to heaven because we have been baptism? Is it something that the Church of Christ is willing to compromise on? Is it something on which we can compromise? Are you willing to compromise on the doctrine of baptism? If not, why? If so, why should we? Does baptism save us? What is it that saves us from our sins? Do you see baptism as being an issue that is going to be debated in the years ahead?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

What do you think?
Share your thought.


Blogger Jason said...

Now you done it! Watch out... You're going to be written up in the next brotherhood paper for daring to even ASK the question. hahaha...

I'll just add this one thing...

Salvation is something between an individual and their creator. I will teach what is my conclusion on the matter (or any matter), but in the end God doesn't consult me on whether someone is in or out so I don't presume to make the call for Him. Do I think baptism falls under an "essential" category? Yes. Am I willing to willing to discuss and reason with someone about why I came to that conclusion? Yes. Am I going to be vitriolic and caustic in my teaching/discussion... NO WAY.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

Brother you are in my prayers daily.
On your question perhaps we can say that baptism is a "normative" faith response to God's grace in the crucified & risen Lord. Could there be exceptions to that "normativity"?
More than likely. Some will make not simply baptism but a particular understanding of baptism to be "essential" as well. Where does the slippery slope stop?

BTW I recently blogged about this to at this location:

Bobby Valentine

7:48 PM  
Blogger Soren said...

The Christian churches have been dealing with this issue for years. Our "tribe" is all over the map on this one. Some of us still hold strongly to the view of baptism being the normative response. The word "essential" leads to a lot of uneccessary debate, I think, but I teach that it is part of the salvation process and that one is not saved until he is immersed. Some of our guys, however, are much more open/inclusive in their approach.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

The Lord established a new covenant with man. The old covenant with Israel was entered into by means of circumcision. The new and everlasting covenant in Christ's blood is entered into by means of baptism.

The gospels and Acts and the epistles clearly attest to the normative place of baptism in the life of the Church.

Those who die before receiving baptism, but who expressed (implicitly or explicitly) the desire to do what is necessary to join Christ's Church (including receive baptism) receive that grace "by blood" (in the case of martyrdom) or "by desire" (in the case of incidental death).

That is the teaching of the Catholic Church on the matter, and I understand it and accept it.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soren, what about those Christians (like John Newton, William Wilberforce, many martyrs throughout history) who have been sprinkled as babies and have never been taught that credo-baptism is "necessary"?

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Must be the new "it" word. :)

11:42 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

I'm not really willing to compromise simply to please other people. It's more important to share God's understanding of things than to share other people's understanding of things, even though it may make me very unpopular with everyone.

However, I am willing to learn. If I have been wrong on a subject or inadequately educated about a subject (like baptism), I am willing to modify or change my understanding.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

(Kinney, I don't mean to debate or to sound confrontational, I just thought I'd make my beliefs clear. If this comment needs editing, please let me know.)

wjcsydney - I think getting to the bottom of what baptism IS and what baptism DOES would clear up a lot of misconceptions about infant-baptism.

If baptism is regarded as merely an after-the-fact profession of faith and act of obedience, rather than a salvific act which brings you into the covenant with Christ, then there's absolutely no reason to baptize infants.

But if baptism is actually a sacrament, if it confers grace and actually ontologically changes the person and brings them into the covenant with Christ, what father or mother would deprive his or her children of such a gift?

Taking into account that

1) Scripture records whole households being baptized,
2) St. Peter himself says that baptism "saves [us]" like the waters of the flood saved Noah and his family from the evil of the world,
3) Ananias tells Saul to "be baptized and wash away your sins",
4) plenty of other passages of Scripture attesting to baptism as necessary and effectual,
5) and the evidence of the practices of the Church for centuries...

I will accept what the Church has consistently taught about baptism, that it is a sacrament instituted by Christ which confers grace through outward signs, and that it is proper and wise to baptize your son or daughter as soon as feasible.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

"Essential" to what? The problem I have with this question is that it presupposes agreement with the traditional view of salvation inherited by the Restoration Movement from the Protestant Reformation (and which the latter received through Western Christianity's tradition).

My short answer is "yes." My long answer? I'll get around to blogging on it eventually....

11:50 AM  
Blogger Soren said...


Your question is a difficult one.
I'm grateful that God is the ultimate judge. I preach and teach what I believe the Scriptures command, but I'm okay with whatever the Lord decides about allowing people into Heaven :-)

I can't preach to dead people, but I can share the gospel with the living. It's a bit of a straw-man argument, I think, to say, "Well, John Newton is probably in heaven, therefore baptism is not important." (I'm not accusing YOU of saying that).

12:44 PM  
Blogger Soren said...


I agree with much of what you said. But you are forgetting something that is very important --baptism must be preceded by faith and repentance -- two commands that are impossible for infants to obey.

Parents are not commanded to baptize their children. Individuals are commanded to be baptized (based on their OWN faith and penitence).

12:51 PM  
Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

Soren's right. We can only go with what the Bible says. I've lost count of how many "what if" and "What about" arguments against immersion in water as part of becoming a disciple of Christ (and therefore "saved").

Life began to get a lot easier for me once I began to see more of the "big picture" in God's work of salvation. I figure I've still only grasped less than .00000001% of it, but that's better than where I was.

BTW, it isn't all about getting to heaven and avoiding hell. It's really about resurrection and New Heavens/New Earth. It's about God's great fresh work of new creation, which began when Jesus arose from the grave. It's about living Christ's reign NOW. This perspective has helped me immensely.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

the word "normative" is a good word. Has nothing to do with "it" ... for the sake of Ancient Wanderer

3:11 PM  
Blogger Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

Ohh Normative means "normal." There are "normal" rules and then there are exceptions to the "normal" rules are there not? Happens in English. Happens in Greek. Happens in Hebrew.

I have no doubt that Martin Luther will be in heaven ... to make it as concrete as possible ... or John Newton ... If Ancient Wanderer believes they will burn in hell (the necessary correlation) to saying baptism is "essential" under any and all circumstances ... I suggest ripping "Amazing Grace" out of the song book because it was written by a non-believer!

3:15 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

I'm late to the party here.. just wondering about the thief on the cross.. seems that baptism wasn't an option for him..

4:01 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

Regarding the thief on the cross, there are three possible answers to that situation from the Catholic Church:

1) either baptism was not a commandment until after the Resurrection (cf. Matthew 28:19-20),

2) or the thief was saved by "baptism of desire",

3) or the thief was already baptized.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

Kansas Bob,

He died under the Old Covenant when baptism wasn't part of it. Also, you may remember that the Son of Man was able to forgive sins....

4:16 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

4) Baptism isn't essential for new birth.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soren makes a very important point. We are in danger when we use human experience as a grid for understanding the truth of God's word.

I believe in water baptism. I was baptised at the age of 15 and I have baptised, or instructed every person to be baptised, that I have personally pointed to Jesus.

What I have not done is led anyone to believe that the act of baptism is shared with Chirst as the object, or ground of our faith. Not one verse in the Bible commands the repentent sinner to trust baptism and Jesus. The gospel is the good news about who Jesus is and what he has already accomplished on behalf of wicked sinners (a distinction we all shared). Baptism is not the gospel or a part of the gospel but one observable response to the gospel.

Is it essential? Yes! I can't imagine anyone refusing to be baptised while at the same time claiming Christ as Lord. Has God saved some who were not baptised in water, absolutely he has.

The sole object of our faith must be Christ. We must not depend on baptism, church, or any creed or act for what only Christ gives as a free gift. Far too many of our (coC) folks teach baptism in an almost mechanical understanding, (Anyone we immerse is one God is predisposed to save), that is obviously not true.

In the same way being a member of a church of Christ is not a ticket to heaven, neither is being immersed in water, no matter what you believe about baptism as you go into the water.


The most convincing evidence that water baptism has been incorrectly taught and given more standing than the Bible gives it is this. Twice, when a large group of perhaps over 500 people were asked "How many of you have been baptised more than once?" and then "..More than twice?", many, many hands were raised. It is obvious they wanted someting baptism could not give, assurance of their salvation.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

Kansas Bob,

Despite the overwhelming testimony of Scripture to the contrary? Based only on one passage?

I was raised Roman Catholic and left that church after investigating a number of different religions and eventually studying the Bible. I identified myself as evangelical and was pretty convinced that anything other than a belief in salvation "by faith only" was "works." I had a string of passages I thought proved my point.

One night in my dorm room I moderated a debate between two young men about baptism and also spiritual gifts. The fellow who argued for baptism made some shocking (to me) sense, such as when he pointed out that although Romans 10 talks about believing and confessing to be saved, this was preceded by Romans 6 where baptism is central to new life (plus, Romans was written to Christians, not unbelievers). It blew my mind.

A number of things have changed in my perspective over the years, hopefully for the better, but it has always remained blindingly obvious to me that baptism by immersion is the point of entrance into new life in Christ.

Again, what all that actually MEANS is something else....

4:28 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

Kansas Bob - what is your interpretation, then, of John 3:3-5? What did Jesus mean by "unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God"?

Royce - "Baptism is not the gospel or a part of the gospel..."

Perhaps you interpret "gospel" differently than I do. Why don't you consider baptism "a part of the gospel", but only a response to it?

The Great Commission is to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them [and] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matt 28:19-20) If the core of the Gospel is "repent", the next link in the chain of the Gospel is "be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins". (Acts 2:38) It is by being baptized that "souls" are "added" to the Church. (Acts 2:41)

Paul says we "baptized into [Christ's] death" (Rom 6:3) and that "by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" (1 Cor 12:13); Christ's death is part of the gospel, belonging to his Body (the Church) is part of the gospel, so baptism seems to me to be a part of the gospel.

Unless you and I define (and demarcate) "the gospel" differently. Are you defining it as just the kerygma, "that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3-4)?

4:43 PM  
Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...


You've probably read enough RM history to know that, oddly enough, baptism was considered by the Campbells, Stone and others to be a source of great comfort and assurance. It wasn't a matter of praying to God and hoping one was part of the elect, but something intangible for which they could experience something tangible as evidence. If they believed in Jesus and were baptized, they were saved.

The problem we have now is that people are putting their confidence not in Jesus, but in their understanding of a category of doctrine (soteriology). If their faith is in their own understanding, and not in Jesus, of course they will lack assurance!

4:43 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Hey, Preacherman! From my understanding of the scriptures, one is saved when they repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Jesus then calls us to be baptized, but that doesn't mean we're not saved until we come out of the water. Baptism is an outward expression or testimony of the rebirth that should have already taken place in a person's heart. If you go in a sinner, you'll be nothing more than a wet sinner, when you come out.

But is it necessary? Jesus says we should do it, so we should do it. While it does not save, in-of-itself, refusing to be baptized is rebellion against God (i.e. sin) and will keep us out of Heaven, as all unrepented sin will.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Keith Brenton said...

I believe that baptism is the way in which God chooses and wants to wash our sins from us. It's what He wants for us, not what He wants for us to do. He's already done the work, on the cross, in the tortured Person of His precious Son.

Baptism is a moment of minor miracle in our lives when we say we want to change and be less like ourselves and more like Jesus. It's the moment He does that work in us; through us.

Where we have too often failed is in communicating baptism only as "essential" and "command" and "salvific" (that's my new "it" word, Ancient Wanderer!).

We have failed to communicate The Gift of Baptism. It's one of those truly unique moments in our lives we can look back on and say, "That I day I was changed. That day I began living out my faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior."

God gives baptism to us - like every good thing He gives us - because it is intrinsically good (fulfills all righteousness; it is from heaven, not men) and we need it. He knows we need it. We need a starting place.

It is so much more than just part of a short list of minimum adult requirements for spiritual nutrition. That's our mistake: expressing it as some sort of end or finish line ... it's a place to begin.

A place where God begins in us.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Foggy Blogger said...

Holy Schnighkys Preacherman! You've been opening some wormy cans lately!

Baptism is a dicey question! I wrote a paper on it once and debated with an ex about it. But its a topic i avoid in public, due to the comments we see here! Proof texts and historical references get tossed and people hunker down in their arguments and that's pretty much all that happens.

In the end all that's revealed are your theological/cultural/ecclesiastical preferences.

However i must salute your cajones in asking the question in the first place! (makes saluting gesture)

3:17 AM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

This link addresses the questions and gives a cogent response to the question "Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?"

Another similar question from the old testament: "Was circumcision necessary for Abraham to be saved?".. Paul deals with that question by saying that Abraham was justified by faith and not circumcision. In that same thought I believe that it is biblical to say that we are saved by faith and not by baptism.

If you need to argue the point please check out the link.. I am really not into a bunch of copying and pasting from the link.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

Hey Kansas Bob,

You are bringing up points that the Restoration Movement has hashed over and discussed internally and with religious neighbors for decades and decades. I'm not particularly interested in engaging in this type of discussion online. In person always seems better, especially because emotions get involved and in print online this is more than a little tricky.

So, I'm just going to bow out of the discussion, with the invitation that if you are ever going to be in New York, let me know ahead of time and we can get together for lunch and throw this or any other topic around.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

No problem Adam.. I am a New Yorker by birth.. I plan to be in New Jersey to see my mom in April.. not sure I'll have the time to visit with you.. never know..

9:42 AM  
Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

What part of NJ? I live in Kearny, NJ, but work in NYC.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

In 1 Peter 3:20-21, the waters of the flood DID save Noah and his family, but only because he was in the ark. The waters of the flood saved Noah by washing away the evil of the world. If Noah had been outside the ark, that water would have destroyed him too.

Peter says that baptism is not an exterior/physical cleansing (not the removal of dirt from the body) but interior/spiritual cleansing (a good conscience).

"If someone maintains that baptism is necessary for salvation, is he adding a work, his own, to the finished work of Christ?"

The canard of "works" is very misleading. Jesus Christ clearly gave us commandments to obey: there is still a law for Christians, and it is God's law, the law of Christ. "Works of the law" are not the issue here. What happens if we break the law of Christ?

If, as CARM states, baptism doesn't save, does deliberately NOT getting baptized condemn? Does not WANTING to get baptized (and so not getting baptized) condemn? That seems to be a deliberate violation of the Lord's command to us, and we are only his friends if we keep his commands... unless we can be saved without being a friend of Christ. It would appear that at least the desire to be baptized is necessary.

The waters of baptism wash away sin because the blood of Christ washes away sin: as 1 John 5:8 states, the water, the blood, and the Spirit agree in their witness. Baptism in water IS being washed by the blood of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

Not to intrude, but I'm in Princeton. Wife's from Rutherford.

Anyway, thank you, Kinney, Adam, Bob, et al., for the question and conversation.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

My mom lives in Jackson, NJ.. I was born and raised on Staten Island.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

Kansas Bob,

Funny, I had a Brazilian contact me the other day saying she plans to come to the States this summer to work at Six Flags, and I think she said in Jackson. Does that sound right?


You're in Princeton now, right? I officiated a couple of weddings at the Princeton University chapel (looks more like a cathedral to me) a couple of years ago. Great venue and a nice town.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

I live on the other side of Route 1, but yeah, it's still (technically?) Princeton.

The chapel is quite impressive, and is a rather traditional-looking, cruciform church. The acoustics are also wonderful; I've heard and sung Gregorian chant in there on a few occasions.

10:03 AM  
Blogger LEM said...

1Pt:3:20: ---------------- wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
21: The like figure where unto even baptism doth also now save us----------
Baptism alone in my opinion, does not save souls. but I also believe it is the way by which we are saved.

If Noah had jumped off the boat, no way would he have been saved. Baptism is a ticket to get on the boat,but we have to stay aboard.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

LEM - Then the question is, "what does it mean to be 'saved'?"

"As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13)."

That implies, as you did, endurance or perseverance in the faith, which St. Paul writes about over and over again. Baptism saves, but it's just the beginning.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if one believes that baptism is necessary, then maybe they need to be baptized because that is where their faith is.

i was baptized in college, in a very cold lake. i can not tell you now all the reasons i had for it, because i do not completely remember.

i would think that there are many reasons for wanting to be baptized by water.

i think that God knows our reasons for being or not being baptized. maybe the reasons behind the belief is something to consider.

maybe we just went along with the croud, because someone said it was necessary, because we want to proclaim our belief in this way, or maybe we really believe it is necessary, or maybe we do not know and just want to cover our butt.

which one is the right reason? does it matter? maybe, maybe not, i do not know.

i thought that belief in Jesus was the only way to the Father. i thought that all we are to do is to believe in God and the one that God sent. and to treat others as we would want to be treated.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

nAncY - If "all we are to do is to believe in God and the one that God sent and to treat others as we would want to be treated" then there's a lot of padding in the New Testament!

Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ means obeying him too. And while the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor, they aren't the ONLY two commandments Jesus gave, and the other commandments tell us HOW to love God and our neighbor.

2:04 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

Jeff said, "Baptism saves, but it's just the beginning."

That is pretty much the way I read it Jeff. If this is not the way of things, a judgment day is pretty much unnecessary isn't it.

nAncy; even the demons believed.

2:55 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I think this is an important discussion. I appreciate everyone's opinions and hope we will be willing to treat everyone with respect as we discss or debate this isse. I will share scriptures that I woould want s to be open minded and to ponder on. The question I ask now is Acts 2 about repentance or baptism? On focsing on 238 have missed th message of repentance?

4:26 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

preacherman - "The question I ask now is Acts 2 about repentance or baptism?"

[Acts 2:37] Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" [38] And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [39] For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him."

Acts 2 is about both, because our initial repentance leads us to baptism, in which we are forgiven of our sins.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Here is an excerpt dealing with the Acts 2 verses from that link I mentioned earlier:

"What is going on here is simply that repentance and forgiveness of sins are connected. In the Greek, "repent" is in the plural and so is "your" of "your sins." They are meant to be understood as being related to each other. It is like saying, "All of you repent, each of you get baptized, and all of you will receive forgiveness." Repentance is a mark of salvation because it is granted by God (2 Tim. 2:25) and is given to believers only. In this context, only the regenerated, repentant person is to be baptized. Baptism is the manifestation of the repentance, that gift from God, that is the sign of the circumcised heart. That is why it says, repent and get baptized."

4:57 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thank you very much for your thoughts on AonCTS 2. Is baptism essentiql to salvation? What does everyone think? If we claim to be the only ones going to have because of the cHURCH of Christs view of baptism does it make s a cult? WHat message does it send to other denominations?

5:11 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

Kansas Bob - "In this context, only the regenerated, repentant person is to be baptized."

What "regeneration" is that?

The "regeneration" I know is described in Titus 3:5 as "the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit".

5:12 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Where do you get the idea that baptism is washing Jeff? I see no evidence in scripture that the one baptized is washed (as in a bath given to a child) by the one baptizing. Dunking to me is simply not synonymous to talking a bath. I mean really.. if someone externally stinks before baptism they will surely stink just as much after.. unless you use soap when you baptize.

Guess I do have a question for you who hold to salvation by baptism.

Do you always keep the tank filled at church and do you immediately baptize after a profession of faith?

My thinking is that you must or you would be hindering a person's salvation because their salvation is no longer dependent on their faith alone but on yours as well and your preparation. In fact anyone wanting to be saved would have to wait until someone else got the water ready. Hope your pipes don't break.. people would not be able to be saved if they were.

Hope that didn't offend.. just a question about the practicality of your theology.

Shalom, Bob

6:10 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

Kansas Bob - "Where do you get the idea that baptism is washing Jeff?"

As St. Peter describes in 1 Peter 3:21, it's not a physical bodily scrubbing. It's a soul-scrubbing. In the waters of baptism, our souls are washed clean with the pure precious blood of Jesus Christ!

We who belong to the Church are cleansed, as She is, "by the washing of water with the word". (Eph 5:26) We are "washed", we are "sanctified", we are "justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" in baptism. (1 Cor 6:11) "[O]ur hearts [are] sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb 10:22)

I cannot detach myself from the Catholic Church's Scriptural, traditional, and historical theology of baptism. The evidence sides with her.

"Do you always keep the tank filled at church and do you immediately baptize after a profession of faith?"

Every Catholic church I have ever been in has a baptismal font with water in it; even if they didn't, there are holy water fonts at least at the entrance to the church. The Church teaches that baptism is valid and licit whether by full immersion, pouring over the head, or even sprinkling in cases of necessity.

And most priests (and deacons, possibly...) who are serious about the Church's sacramental theology carry a vial of holy water with them.

"Hope your pipes don't break.. people would not be able to be saved if they were."

If a person desires baptism but dies before receiving the sacrament, the Church believes that God can supply the grace to that person at the moment of death.

7:08 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

Bob,asked "Do you always keep the tank filled at church and do you immediately baptize after a profession of faith?"

Yes, and Yes.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

If baptism as some Church of Christ have taught is essential, than C.S. Lewis, Augustine and a whole host of other saints are not really saints, but dead in their sins.

The New Testament simply does not know an unbaptized believer. It's taken for granted in it. Unless of course you count the thief on the cross. Of course people would say that was pre-Pentecost.

No. I don't believe it is. By grace through faith. Spirit baptism happens at repentance and faith.

A great book to read on baptism, hands down the best I've seen, and helpful in a pastor way as well as exegetical, on this divisive doctrine. Strange (to me, though I guess it refers to diving into a difficult subject- baptism!) cover, but great book.

11:30 PM  
Blogger jeleasure said...

Hi Kinney,
No, The Lord requires a circumcision of the heart. So, in the case of circumcision having been an outward sign of commitment it was really meaningless in the aspect of real relationship.
I'd say the same applies to baptism.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

I agree with you Jeff about the washing of water with the word. I do not see that washing being baptism though.

I suspect that RC theology will trump anything that I offer though.. but I do like the idea of self-baptism via the holy water font.. even if is a bit extra-biblical.. at least it removes the clergy from a person's salvation experience :)

I do think it interesting how CoC and RC folks seem to have the same views on baptism.. next think you know you will be sharing communion together.

Here is another question: does your church recognize the baptisms performed in other churches? If not, why not? I'd ask the same question about communion but I wouldn't want to get the blog any more off topic :)

9:56 AM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Glad to hear that the tank is always full LEM.. never can tell when a sinner will show up.. of course it doesn't help if the Lord deals with them outside of the church.. seems like that situation would present a hindrance to salvation.. hope they drive safely to your church.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...


To answer your question about why I said baptism is not the gospel but one response to it....

You only have to read Peter's first gospel sermon. No mention of baptism. Paul's teaching about the gospel 1 Cor 15, no mention of baptism.

Repentance, faith, baptism, church membership, works are all necessary but none are the gospel.

"Gospel" simply means "good news". And, the good news is about Christ and what he has already accomplished for sinners by his doing and dying and resurrection from the dead. The other things I mentioned are all "good" but not the gospel.


11:46 AM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said... more thing....Isn't it interesting that there is not a word about the disciples or apostles being baptised with the exception of Paul. I have absolutely no doubt that they were but wonder why it was not important enough for Luke or any other author to mention?


11:48 AM  
Blogger LEM said...

Ted said "If baptism as some Church of Christ have taught is essential, than C.S. Lewis, Augustine and a whole host of other saints are not really saints, but dead in their sins."

Ted, have you never read,where Jesus said just calling him Lord is not enough?

Mt:7:21: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Mt:7:22: Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

12:09 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

Bob said, "at least it removes the clergy from a person's salvation experience :)
I do think it interesting how CoC and RC folks seem to have the same views on baptism.. "

Bob I do believe you should read up a little on the CoC. I have never attended a congregation in the CoC who said a baptism had to be performed by clergy in order to be effective. If you have, put a name to them, and I will inform them differently. :)

12:19 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

Bob said, "hope they drive safely to your church."

Bob I could say something snarkey, like I hope they last until you fill the tank, and set a date. but I won't, because I don't know enough about your church to say that. Just like you don.t know much about mine.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Thx LEM.

Am I to understand from your comment that, by practice, baptisms are regularly performed in CoC congregations by people who are not pastors?

Does the CoC recognize baptisms that are performed at home or at other non-CoC congregations?

Thx, Bob

12:30 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Maybe it was snarky LEM but you didn't answer the concern about baptism becoming an obstacle in a theology that requires it for salvation.

The churches I have attended do not believe that folks are saved by baptism so the issue does not exist.

12:36 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

Royce, said " more thing....Isn't it interesting that there is not a word about the disciples or apostles being baptised with the exception of Paul."
Royce are we just supposed to ignore

Jn:4:1: When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

Jn:4:2: (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

12:42 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...


You are correct. And very likely that number Jesus never knew will include people who were baptised but trusted baptism and their "faithfulness" tather then Christ alone.


12:43 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...


Where is a record of the disciples or apostles (except Paul) being baptised. I didn't say they were not I just pointed out that it is not in the Bible that I can find.


12:45 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

Bob asked, "Am I to understand from your comment that, by practice, baptisms are regularly performed in CoC congregations by people who are not pastors?

Does the CoC recognize baptisms that are performed at home or at other non-CoC congregations?

answer; YES and YES all I have attended do.
Baptism has nothing to do with the dunker, it is between the dunkee and christ.

12:47 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

Royce I kinda took Jn:4:2: as an implied record.

12:50 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

Question, for all, but especially Bob and Royce, What is your interpretation of the following?

1Cor:11:27: Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

I will give you mine first, so you will have something to disagree with me on to start with.
I believe Paul is saying, unless you are baptized into the body of Christ, don't mock those who are.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Is it your contention LEM that everywhere in scripture that speak of baptism implies water baptism?

What about:

I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:8)

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)

4:07 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

Kansas Bob - "I do not see that washing [of water with the word] being baptism though."

Just like you probably don't see John 6 as talking about really, truly, and actually eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, the true Paschal Lamb of God.

"at least it removes the clergy from a person's salvation experience"

Well, seeing as how Jesus sent people and expressly commanded them to baptize, it seems appropriate that baptism be administered by a minister of the Church (clergy or lay). Or perhaps I'm misunderstanding your point.

"next thing you know you [CoC and RC folks] will be sharing communion together."

Riiiight. Not to offend, but the Catholic Church only recognizes the ordained priesthood in herself and the Orthodox Churches, so it is only in those Churches where the Church recognizes a true Eucharist. Even then, the Catholic Church only administers Communion to those who are in communion with her (except in extraordinary personal situations which are too off-topic to go into here). Yes, I'm sure you've seen pictures of people like Bill Clinton receiving Holy Communion at Mass... terrible no-no, serving only to confuse one half the population and enrage the other half.

"does your church recognize the baptisms performed in other churches?"

Yes. That was settled, at the latest, with St. Augustine during the Donatist heresy. The Donatists believed that only THEIR baptism was real because THEY were the pure and real Church, since the "Catholic" Church had all these sinners as priests.

The Catholic Church recognizes as valid any water baptism done "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". That politically-correct anti-patriarchal "Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier" baptism doesn't cut it.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

I don't think anyone here is teaching or preaching that baptism ALONE saves.

But faith in Christ, by itself, does not suffice if it is not "faith working in love".

4:36 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

LEM - Regarding 1 Cor 11:27-29, I recently blogged on three different plausible interpretations of "discerning the body" (v. 29).

To eat or drink the Eucharist in an unworthy manner is to receive in a way unbecoming of WHAT it is you are receiving. Paul scolds the Corinthians in 1 Cor 10-11 about their manner of celebrating the Lord's Supper. He says that a man should examine himself before eating and drinking... one might even understand him to mean that one might examine himself and find himself unworthy at that time to receive.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Keith Brenton said...

In answer to your specific question about Acts 2:38, Kinney, ("The question I ask now is Acts 2 about repentance or baptism?") I would respond: Yes.

It is about repentance AND baptism. But neither of them is the totality of salvation, which is a process that God begins and completes through us, if we're willing. (And no, I have no time nor desire to debate Calvinism here.)

Baptism without repentance is just getting wet.

Repentance without baptism is just getting better.

Both of them without a changed life - a life that follows Jesus; a life of faith expressing itself in love (Galatians 5:6) - "doing" both is just a matter of saying and doing on a single occasion. That's not salvation, which we continue to work out with fear and trembling because God is near, working His will in us (Philippians 2:12-13).

5:20 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

Bob, said "Is it your contention LEM that everywhere in scripture that speak of baptism implies water baptism?"

Bob can you name one place where it mentions baptism without water.?

Acts:19:5: When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6: And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

seems Paul required water baptism in the name of Jesus before he would administer the Holy Ghost to these men.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...


You said, "Question, for all, but especially Bob and Royce, What is your interpretation of the following?

1Cor:11:27: Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord"

This isn't hard to understand at all. Verses 29 and 30 explain v27 and 28.

Why don't you read my post here:

6:04 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

"Bob can you name one place where it mentions baptism without water?"

Is it your belief that the 120 in the upper room were baptized in water LEM? My understanding is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke of in Acts 1 was fulfilled in Acts 2 but I do not read about water baptism in that context.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

I understand how you and I differ on this Jeff.. you are a Roman Catholic and dogmatically subscribe to the teachings of that religion. I subscribe to Martin Luther on salvation and the idea of justification by faith alone.. now why the CoC doesn't follow Luther in this is a mystery to me.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

1 Corinthians 10:2 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 are two more in addition to those mentioned that are not talking about water baptism.

I have a post on this too:

6:16 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

We may not change any minds here, but we might learn why others believe what, they believe. And that along might help.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Glad to be of service LEM :)

6:55 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I believe that the Church of Christ in the past have had the wrong mindset. We have been focused on how many people can we baptize instead of how many comitted disciples can we make. I believe that if you look at any chrch role sheet and you see the list of baptized people about half or more don't come to church becuase we failed to make disciples. We have had dunked them and left them. We were concerned all about numbers for that year or how better we looked than the church of Christ down the read. Doesn't Matthew 28:18-ff say go and make "Disciples"? Then baptizing them.
I think that will change over the years. I think ministers will strive to make disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. At least I hope and pray that is the fact.
___________________________________I want us today to think on this passage, such as, John 3:16-17, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that who ever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world throgh Him." As well as Ehessians 2:9-10, "For it is by grace that you have been save throgh faith, not of your selves it is a gift of God. For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus in which God has prepared in advance for us to do." Meditate on these passages!
___________________________________I will share countless other passages with you later on. It is my hope anyway.

Why do you think this is going to be a big debate or discssion among resotration movement churches as we strive to become more eccumentical? Does baptism matter when it comes to salvation? Is this a doctrine that we can copromise on? WHy or why not? WHat does it say if we can't to the rest of the denominational world? Do we become cultish in saying if you aren't baptized then you are lost?

Please lets keep the discssion going.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

We are short sighted in my view if when we share the good news with someone the goal is baptism. The goal should be to make Christ's story known to them and for them to come to Him on His terms and in His time.

Were are good at some things and better at others but we are not good at being the Holy Spirit.


7:42 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

preacherman said. "I think ministers will strive to make disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. At least I hope and pray that is the fact."

Kinney, I don't know that, that is something we can do. We can bring the word to the lost, but Jesus/Holy Spirit, is the savior.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

Royce - "We are short sighted in my view if when we share the good news with someone the goal is baptism."

The "goal" is not baptism. The goal is the person becoming an adopted son or daughter of God. That begins at baptism; it begins when they are incorporated into the Body of Christ.

To use a sports analogy (as St. Paul was so wont to do), the goal is not walking onto the track (i.e. baptism), the goal is winning the race.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

Some folks make it into and out of the water and not into the kingdom of the Son He loves. That I my point.


10:02 PM  
Blogger LEM said...

Royce said "We are short sighted in my view if when we share the good news with someone the goal is baptism."
Royce I don't know how much farther we can go, we can lead them to the door, and place them in greater hands than ours, supposedly they have already confessed and repented. when they rise up from the water, Christ either adds them or he don't, we can't help there.

Jeff said, "the goal is not walking onto the track (i.e. baptism), the goal is winning the race."
Jeff you are right but that goal should be theirs you can't run that race for anyone except yourself. It kinda compares to death no one can make that trip for you.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

Royce - "Some folks make it into and out of the water and not into the kingdom of the Son He loves."

Of course! Not everyone who says "Lord, Lord" will enter the Kingdom of Heaven... only those who do the will of our heavenly Father.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

John 6:40
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

8:42 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

I do think we can have a passion to make disciples of Jesus Christ. I believe that Matthew 28 in Christians comission wants us to make disciplines.

You are right on that the fact that many have entered the waters of baptism and not the kingdom.

I don't read the brotherhood papers. If I am written up for daring to ask the question then great we need to think seriously about isses that will be confronting the church of Christ in the years ahead. I want even those brotherhood papers to think. I want to thank you brother for sharing your thoughts on personal salvation. Can we know the hearts and thoughts of men? No. Only God and I am so glad it is God's job.

9:10 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I would like to challengeeveryone to go take the time to time to read the gospel of John and how many times it meantions believing in Christ and what happens to a person they choose to blieve that Jesus is the Son of God. It is wonderful.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

You are right Preacherman. And, either we can trust and depend on what Jesus said or we can't. Indeed what he said is true and nothing else in Scripture contradicts what he said. God speaks with one voice. His yes is yes and his no is no.

If you find a verse or two that seem to go against what the weight of scripture teaches its time to dig a little deeper. Two opposite view of anything can't both be true. I'll take what Jesus said over any theologian or preacher any day.


10:56 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I again thank everyone so much for their thoughts on this important topic that many churches will have to deal with over the next several years. I love what the theologian C.S. Lewis has to say about this topic and would like to leave you with it. C.S. Lewis says and I quote, "Don't bother at all about that question of a person being "Made a Christian" by baptism. It is only the usual trouble abot words being used in more than one sense. Thus we might saya many "became a soldier" that moment that he joined the army. But his instructors might say six months later "I think we have made a soldier of him." Both usages are quite definable, only one wants to know which is being in a given sentence. The Bible itself gives us one sotrt prayer in which is suitable for all who are struggling with the beliefs and doctrines. It is: Lord, I believe, help Thou my unbelief."
(The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis Vol. III)

3:37 PM  
Blogger Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

Kinny it was really good to speak with you on the phone earlier today. Blessings be upon you and your family.

Bobby Valentine

3:59 PM  
Blogger Christop said...

I think that death and resurrection are essential, and that baptism is a a very experiential way of symbolising that.

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I teach Jesus and I teach baptism. What the other guys next door do isn't going to change that.

Will there be people in heaven who haven't been baptized? Probably so, but that's not up to me.

I see my job as helping people respond to Jesus the way the folks did in the Bible.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baptism gets its meaning from Christ - His death and resurrection. Its not about a ritual or a church tradition, it's about Christ and His death and His resurrection - and how He has appointed that it be dramatized as He, and we, passed from death to life. These are not small thoughts - these are HUGE thoughts. When someone is buried in water and comes out of the water, it is not a game, it is not a charade. It expresses union with Christ and we show our faith, by which we have been justified, in the act of baptism. It is a symbol of the covenant with God.

Romans 6 says that we are buried with Him in baptism in the water. We are immersed. There was no debate in the first couple centuries that baptism was immersion.

Baptism has taken the place of circumcision as the covenant relationship sign.

Colossians 2:11-12
"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead."

Galations 3:26-27
" Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ"

Recognize, this only happens in faith. Unbelievers cannot be baptized; nor can children.

Matthew 28 - Jesus commanded us to make disciples by getting them baptized and teaching them his commandments.

Here's the point. Do it. Make disciples by baptism and teaching His commands. That is what Jesus told us to do.

Why is this even an issue?

4:47 PM  
Blogger Warren Baldwin, age 49 said...

Interesting comments. I've preached in the church of Christ for 26 years. I've never heard anyone specifically say a person must be baptized by a minister within the church of Christ for it to be "effective," but I've known many who were suspicious if they were not! In our congregation we accept anyone who says they were baptized anywhere. I don't feel it is our right to decide for them about their baptism.

I came into this discussion late and don't know if it is still continuing, but I found many interesting comments. I have a 3-part series on baptism at

I also have an article on the Holy Spirit and His role in leading us.


12:42 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

Harding, Lipscomb, Jesus etc taught that the word as "seed" starts the process because it justifies meaning one is not ceremonially impure.

However, the birth process demands baptism only "those who have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine are then free from sin (Rom 6).contrary to the false teachings about Harding, he said

In 1889 James A. Harding debated J. B. Moody for sixteen nights in Nashville, during which Harding affirmed: “Baptism to the penitent believer is for (in order to) the pardon of his past sins.”

A fertilized egg has not yet been born.

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