January 13, 2006

Interesting Quote, and some Background

I read an interesting post concerning the whole IMB controversy today at Scott Bridwell.com. The most interesting was a quote from a current IMB trustee, as published in The Northwest Witness associational paper.

Regarding baptism, Morgan noted there are increasing numbers of newer Southern Baptists who come from different denominational backgrounds and apply to the IMB.

Trustees were concerned that missionary candidates not only identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus by believer’s baptism, but that they fully identify with the doctrinal beliefs of Southern Baptists by their baptism, according to Morgan.

“We had candidates who came through where there were questions about the doctrinal beliefs of those who performed their baptisms,” Morgan said.

Emphasis, of course, is mine.

WHY are we worried about this? Why does it matter what the person who baptized me believes, as long as my baptism was as a believer by immersion? My baptism was performed by someone who is more conservative than anyone in the SBC, but what difference does that make? I don't share some of his beliefs -- some I never have, even when I was baptized.

There was a group, waaaay back in church history, that started questioning the doctrinal integrity of some people, and required anyone who those folks had baptized to be re-baptized. And I know that some Landmarkers consider those Donatists to be Baptist forebears, but they weren't, and we don't need to be following in their example on this issue.

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus.
That's from the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. There is nothing in that definition that indicates that baptism has to be performed only by someone whose doctrine is correct. I was baptized at the age of 8 -- I had no clue what doctrine I believed, much less what the pastor who baptized me believed. Now we are adding something to the definition of baptism that is accepted by a ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention, going beyond what the BF&M says we believe. Going, I believe, beyond what the Bible defines as baptism.

We are edging toward a sacramental view of baptism that is foreign to Baptist polity. We need to be careful in condemning people who oppose that change -- they just might be right.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 06:01 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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