November 30, 2005

IMB and Baptism, Round 2

OK, so in my other post about this, I mentioned my concern with the location of the baptism that the IMB was saying was unscriptural. Reading more about the decision, I have a LOT more concerns.

There is a concern that the IMB is overstepping it's boundaries. It is, in effect, telling churches that baptisms that they have accepted as Biblical and proper are, in fact, neither. The International Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has decided to tell churches what constitutes scriptural baptism and what doesn't.

There is a concern that the majority of the trustees of the IMB didn't vote at all on this issue. The meeting conflicted with some state conventions, apparently, which makes me wonder who was responsible for the scheduling in the first place. It does seem that the deck was stacked, to me at least.

There is a concern that this will expand to other areas. What happens when this is extended to other areas of Baptist polity -- ordinations, for example. I may not be ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention. I was baptized in an independent Baptist church, not a Southern Baptist church. My church has determined that my baptism is scriptural. The IMB would disagree, it seems. But that's not their responsibility.

I think that it's great that the SBC is moving away from the liberal influences of its past. I'm thankful for the conservative resurgance. But this is an area that we are wrong on. A missionary board has no business telling churches that the baptism they have declared Scriptural aren't good enough -- especially a mission board that is funded by those churches. If memory serves, the Soutehrn Baptist Convention was formed because of a disagreement about the qualifications of missionaries. Maybe the IMB folks need to read their history books a bit more.

{And I haven't even started about the "private prayer language" thing. Maybe that's one for another post.}

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:55 PM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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November 28, 2005

On Baptism

A tip of my nonexistent hat to Steve at the Missional Baptist Blog for this one. From the Baptist Press story:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 08:09 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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