November 28, 2005
Regarding a candidate's baptism, trustees voted by a 2-1 margin to establish a guideline that specifies (1) believer's baptism by immersion; (2) baptism follows salvation; (3) baptism is symbolic, picturing the experience of the believer's death to sin and resurrection to a new life in Christ; (4) baptism does not regenerate; and (5) baptism is a church ordinance.Well, it's pretty clear to me that the "baptism must be in a Southern Baptist Church" shouldn't refer to physical location -- after all, we baptize people every year at the national convention, and have at many of the state conventions I've been to. It has to do with support. Candidates for baptism must be supported by a local church -- at least that's the way I understand SBC polity.
The guideline establishes that candidates must have been baptized in a Southern Baptist church or in a church of another denomination that practices believer's baptism by immersion alone. Also, the baptism must not be viewed as sacramental or regenerative, and the church must embrace the doctrine of the security of the believer.
IF they are saying that a legitimate, Scriptural baptism has to take place INSIDE a church, then I have a HUGE problem with this language, and someone at the IMB needs to examine Baptist history, because indoor baptisms were not a part of early Baptist practice. Baptisms were public, performed in streams or rivers -- not in churches. Location does not, and should NEVER, matter -- what matters is that the subject of the baptism is a believer, and that he is being baptized under the guidance and authority of a local church. If THAT is what the IMB is trying to affirm, then I don't see any conflicts.
I've been planning on doing a series of posts concerning Baptist "distinctives," which would touch on Baptist polity issues such as church ordinances and offices. I've been holding off until I had a chance to take Dr. Moore's Systematic Theology III class at Southern (because ecclesiology is NOT my strong suit), but I think I feel a rush of independent study coming on. Maybe in a couple weeks.
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