"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..." (1 Jno. 4:1)
|Volume One, Number Two||Spring 1991|
I am surprised at Jerry's repeating the thinking on baptism which is the usual approach of those who endorse and perpetuate the "Restoration Movement," which was instigated in the early 1800's by Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and Walter Scott. I am surprised because Jerry heard my debate with Bill Jackson in which I thoroughly exposed the invalidity of this movement, its claims, and its theories on baptism.
By affirming this proposition, Jerry is ADMITTING that he had no personal faith in Jesus Christ before baptism which was such as that faith specified in such passages as John 3:14-18, 3:36; 5:24; 6:47 -- faith which is born of God, as overcome the world, and has the victory (I John 5:1, 4, 5). Has Jerry ever believed on Christ for salvation? Did he believe on Christ for "no condemnation"? Did he believe BEFORE he was baptized? Jerry's proposition forces him to admit that he did not believe on Christ for "no condemnation" BEFORE baptism.
When one believes, he is OBEYING; Christ saves those who obey; therefore He saves the believer(Hebrews 5:9). Will Jerry deny that BELIEVING IS OBEYING? will he deny that the BELIEVER OBEYS BEFORE HE IS BAPTIZED? If not, then he cannot deny that CHRIST SAVES THE BELIEVER.
The fact is, Jerry cannot afford to admit that FAITH IS ALIVE AT ITS ORIGIN; if he admits this, then he cannot deny that one is BORN OF God before baptism (1 John 5:1,4,5).
I reply to Jerry's points as follows: (1) He has assumed -- or merely "parroted-off" -- the "authority" theory of "explicit statement, implicit statement, and approved exampIe." He cannot produce "book, chapter, and verse" for this "hermeneutic." All he can produce are statements from his predecessors in the "Restoration Movement." He offers no scriptural proof whatsoever for this theory.
(2) Jerry has not substantiated his concept which is termed a "total situation." This is not a SCRIPTURAL term, so it is purely a subjective concept. Jerry must define it and substantiate it. He is merely assuming its validity. The Bible does not authorize us to establish authority by ASSUMPTION -- a thing all too often practiced by those in the Restoration Movement."
(3) Jerry's use of Acts 22:16 has no bearing upon his proposition. Paul was already a converted man before his baptism, as is easily seen from reading Galatians 1:11,12. He received the Gospel directly from Jesus Christ. Also, he was already called and "sent" by Christ before he was baptized (Acts 26:16-18).
Surely Jerry does not believe that baptism washes away sin in any sense beyond its symbolical significance. He talks about "contacting the blood," but this is NOT Bible language, neither is it a Bible concept. Such terminology, and concept originated with Jerry's predecessors and he is merely "parroting-off" what others before him have taught. If he can produce a single verse which says, or teaches, contact the blood," I will concede the debate. Let him give us a verse which tells us how and in what sense one "contacts the blood"; he cannot do it.
(4) His application of Mark 16:16 does not substantiate his position. Instead of showing any relation of the verse to his proposition, he trys to prove his point by a perverted reference to what I believe about the verse! He says that Ross "believes it is required only for eternal salvation." He says Ross "believes that baptism is essential to eternal salvation." This is certainly NOT the case. Ross believes that one is saved, born of God, not condemned, etc. when he believes on Jesus Christ as per John 3:16-18, 3:36, 5:24; 1 John 5:1, 4, 5, etc.
In my debate with Jackson, I simply showed that THE BELIEVER'S eternal destiny is CONTRASTED in Mark 16:16 with THE UNBELIEVER'S eternal destiny.
Jerry cannot preclude or interdict such passages as John 3:16-18, which do not mention baptism, by referring to Mark 16:16. I can accept BOTH passages because that which characterizes the one Born OF GOD is stated in both passages -- FAITH. Jerry cannot accept John 3:16-18 because he holds that this believer is the one who shall be eternally saved; therefore, he that believeth and is baptized shall be eternally saved, as the scripturally baptized one is already a born again believer.
The fact is, every blessing promised in any verse of Scripture which mentions baptism is in other verses promised to FAITH before or without any consideration to baptism; however, NOWHERE is a blessing ever promised to baptism without consideration of faith. Jerry cannot refute this. Whatever he quotes in regard to baptism, I can show is attributed to faith prior to baptism.
(5) He refers to Romans 6:3-5 and says this is "implying that baptism is essential to becoming a Christian." There is no such implication in this passage. The fact is, baptism is simply called "the likeness" of Chrlst's death and resurrection. Is Jerry going to tell us that one is LITERALLY put into the death of Christ by an act which is SPECIFICALLY said to be a mere "likeness"? Surely, that is not the sense of the passage. I have personally been baptized and thus I was baptized "into Christ's death," but this was only a "likeness" of the real death of Christ. I was a believer, therefore born of God, prior to this act of obedience.
(6) Acts 16:30-33 certainly does not prove Jerry's point. Salvation is here promised to one who believes on Christ; baptism then follows. One might as readily prove that the washing of Paul's stripes is essential to salvation as to say that baptism is essential. The promise of salvation is not made to baptism, but to faith. Jerry's argument about the "same hour of the night" is inconsequential; the fact that the jailer washed Paul's stripes before being baptized shows that it was more "urgent" to comfort Paul than it was to be baptized!
(7) Acts 8:36-39 is said to be an "example." If so, then it is not one which proves Jerry's proposition. Nothing in the passage teaches the theory which Jerry advocates. Notice that FAITH IN CHRIST is required BEFORE baptism NOT FAITH IN BAPTISM -- which is actually what Jerry is advocating, as he holds that one must understand and "believe in baptism" for the "right purpose," otherwise it is invalid. This is "McGaryism" (See West's Search for the Ancient Order, Vol. 2, pp.404-408)
(1) Ephesians 5:26 does not prove his point. Jerry, here, finds "water" so he thinks he "finds" baptism. He Cannot prove that "water" means baptism. Even if he could prove that "water" means baptism it would not prove his proposition. If baptism is a "likeness," a figure," then that is how we are to understand it. By what is called "trope," a figure may be put for that which it symbolizes. For example, Christ called the bread and the cup His body and His blood. (Matthew 26:26-28) This means no more than that the bread and the cup STAND FOR, or REPRESENT, or SYMBOLIZE the flesh and blood of Christ. So it is with water baptism -- it STANDS FOR, or represents, as a "likeness" and "figure," the death and resurrection of Christ, and we thus show, in that manner, our identity with his death and resurrection by this symbol.
(9) The quote from A.T. Robertson is not of any significance for Jerry. If he will just read a little further, he will see that Robertson repudiates the position of Jerry: "Neither the [I Corinthians 6:11] nor here [Ephesians 5:26] does Paul mean that the cleansing or sanctification took place in the bath save in a SYMBOLIC fashion as in Rom. 6:4-6." I will accept A.T. Robertson on baptism; will Jerry? Certainly NOT! (Robertson has numerous repudiations of Jerry's view all through his works).
(10) Jerry finally goes to Acts 2:38, but there is no comfort for him there. "Eis" does not prove his proposition. If he can prove that baptism does the same thing that Jesus' death did, then he can prove his point -- but he cannot do that. Jesus' death "eis the remission of sins" is certainly to be understood in a sense quite different than baptism "eis the remission of sins." Notice Jerry does not offer any argument to prove that baptism remits sins in the SAME SENCE that Christ's death remits sins. Christ LITERALLY died for our sins; baptism is but a LIKENESS of that death.
It is a "straw man" for Jerry to talk about "eis" not being translated as "because of." I have always held that "eis" is merely a preposition of REFERENCE having reference to," "with reference to," "concerning," "unto, etc. It does not inherently indicate the SENSE of reference. Baptism has a reference to the remission of sins, but what is that sense? Baptism is but a "likeness," a "figure." In this sense it is similar to the Lord's Supper. Both refer to the work of Christ and when we practice them we are showing our relationship to that work. However, before we practice either of them we have "new birth" relationship by faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God. "Hebrews 11:6)
Baptism cannot do what is not possible for it to do. It cannot create the new birth; this is the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-7). Unfortunately, Jerry does not profess to believe in such a new birth, other than what he conceives in relation to baptism. His predecessors have handed down his theory on the place of baptism, wrongly interpreting the Scriptures. Campbell and Scott were the advocates of the "gospel in the water" and the "water is the mother theories. But Jerry won't find baptism is any more than a "likeness," if he will simply abide by the Scriptures. May the Lord help him to do so! blr
CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.