Sunday, January 29, 2006


I was up at an extremely early hour today and was surfing when I came on a Wikipedia article on Baptism. I can't recall why I was looking into baptism. Anyway, I noticed a couple of things that needed changing, so... I changed them! I don't know why it took me so long to start on Wikipedia. I have a co-worker whose grandfather was the first head of the World Health Organization. She hates the many errors in his entry, which have been quoted all over the net, but told me that when she tried to edit the entry she couldn't. I don't know why. Perhaps I'll offer to do it for her.

As for the two edits I made, one was about the baptism of the Spirit. Someone had written that no one teaches that the baptism of the Spirit included additional gifts, such as speaking in tongues. Thats simply not true. Many Pentecostals believe the initial infilling of the Holy Ghost is accompanied by speaking in tongues. So I pointed that out. The question is, why would whoever made the post make a point of denying this teaching unless they had heard of it?

The other edit was much smaller. It said that Mennonites and Pentecostals share the Baptist teaching that baptism is not a necessary part of salvation (that it is, rather, an outward sign or testimony). Here I only added the word "some" to Pentecostals, because not all of us share in this Baptist interpretation. Myself included. I am saying "Baptist" interpretation both because the Wikipedia article identifies it as Baptist in origin and because many of those that I know to hold it are baptists. Actually, I think one of the strengths of the article is that it talks of the many understandings of this important rite and only lists the Baptist's as one of many. The Baptist interpretation has become predominant among North America's evangelical/nondenominational Christians and all too often those of us who don't share it find ourselves on the defensive. The Church historically, and most churchs even today, teach that baptism is a necessary part of salvation. The Wikipedia article has a nice quote from Martin Luthor on this subject:

To put it most simply, the power, effect, benefit, fruit, and purpose of Baptism is to save. No one is baptized in order to become a prince, but as the words say, to 'be saved.' To be saved, we know, is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil and to enter into the kingdom of Christ and live with him forever.
One thing that has always confused me about those who believe that baptism isn't a necessary part of salvation is that so many of them boast of the literal nature of their exegeses of the Bible. But shouldn't someone who promotes such conservatism start with the most obvious understanding of scripture? I mean "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." (Acts 2:38) And "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name." (Acts 22:16) What is baptism for in these verses? The cleansing from sin!

Don't worry! I am not going to spend the next month on baptism! Though if any Baptists -- or others -- want to discuss this subject, I think it could be an interesting discussion topic.


Palladin said...

Even among Baptist this is an issue of discussion.

The Baptist heritage I share believes that Baptism by immersion is the symbolic announcement in your salvation. It is washing away of sin and being reborn as a follower of Christ. Now does that mean that a person who accepts Christ and is not Baptized is not saved? To me, no, because it is the act of accepting Christ into your heart that is the key. What God puts together and does, I do not mess with. This is not a blanket Baptist statement.

David Bird said...

I know there are a lot of different kinds of Baptists, who actually hold a much wider spectrum of beliefs (certainly politically, but also on religious matters) than they are usually represented as having. (Yes, I've never met a parathetical statement I didn't like!)

Anyway... I am a Oneness Pentecostal. We believe that only the grace of god can save, but to share in that grace you must repent, be baptised, and be filled with His Spirit. The individual repents, the church baptizes, and God fills with His Spirit. Baptism washes away sin.

To be honest, coming from an Anglican to a Pentecostal position I am not exactly sure what "accepting Christ" means. Its a buit a phraseology that I have heard, certainly, but never really heard explained. (I'm sure we also use terms and phrases all the time, that are unique to our tradition.)