Archive for July, 2013

Scofield confuses law and grace

July 23, 2013 1 comment

Pink“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Exodus 21:24) and then quote against it,


“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39),


And then it is exultantly asserted that those two passages can only be “reconciled” by allocating them to different peoples in different ages; and with such superficial handling of Holy Writ thousands of gullible souls are deceived, and thousands more allow themselves to be bewildered.


If those who possess a Scofield Bible turn to Exodus 21:24, they will see that in the margin opposite to it the editor refers his readers to Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21, and cf. Matthew 5:28-44; 1 Peter 2:19-21; upon which this brief comment is made: “The provision in Exodus is law and righteous; the New Testament passages, grace and merciful.” How far Mr. Scofield was consistent with himself may be seen by a reference to what he states on page 989, at the beginning of the New Testament under the Four Gospels, where he expressly affirms “The sermon on the mount is law, not grace” [italics ours]: verily “the legs of the lame are not equal.” In his marginal note to Exodus 21:24, Mr. Scofield cites Matthew 5:38-44, as “grace,” whereas in his introduction to the Four Gospels he declares that Matthew 5-7 “is law, and not grace.” Which of those assertions did he wish his readers to believe?

Still the question may be asked, How are you going to reconcile Exodus 21:24, with Matthew 5:38-44? Our answer is, There is nothing between them to “reconcile,” for there is nothing in them which clashes. The former passage is one of the statutes appointed for public magistrates to enforce, whereas the latter one lays down rules for private individuals to live by! Why do not these self-styled “rightly dividers” properly allocate the Scriptures, distinguishing between the different classes to which they are addressed? That Exodus 21:24 does contain statutes for public magistrates to enforce is clearly established by comparing Scripture with Scripture. In Deuteronomy 19:21, the same injunction is again recorded, and if the reader turns back to verse 18 he will there read, “And the judges shall make diligent inquisition,” etc. It would be real mercy unto the community if our judges today would set aside their sickly sentimentality and deal with conscienceless and brutal criminals in a manner which befits their deeds of violence—instead of making a mockery of justice.

Arthur W. Pink The Application of Scriptures-A Study of Dispensationalism

One must trust the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved

Spurgeon 3That I may answer this question better, let me correct it, or turn it into another, and then answer that. The question is not so much what is to be believed, as Who is to be believed? For, in very deed, the believing of a certain thing to be true, though that maybe helpful, is not the whole of the matter. I, believing a thing to be true, trust myself to that truth; there is faith, the act of trust. But if we would be saved, we must trust a Person, we must trust the Lord Jesus Christ. You are not so much saved by believing a dogma, as by trusting a Person; you must believe the dogma, or you will not trust the Person but, believing the doctrine, you then come, and put your trust in the Person about whom that doctrine is taught. If you would be saved, trust yourself with Jesus Christ. He, who died, ever lives, and “he is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him.” Saving faith is trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting him truly, wholly, solely, constantly, trusting him now. Behold him, then, the Son of God, enthroned in glory; lay your soul and all its sins at his dear feet, and trust in him to save you, and he will do it.

Charles H. Spurgeon-Baptism Essential to Obedience-Metropolitan Tabernacle-Lord’s Evening-Oct. 13, 1889


Sprinkling Examined

broadusChapter 4. The Defense of Sprinkling.

In the face of such facts as have been stated, on what ground do any Christian people defend the practice of sprinkling for baptism? Well, some of them have really never known the facts, or never stopped to think about them. But others, with the facts before them, still defend sprinkling. Respect for my fellow Christians requires that this matter be as carefully considered as the time will allow. Yet I can but briefly mention and rapidly discuss.

There are several distinct grounds which are relied on by different classes of persons.

I grant that New Testament baptism was immersion, some hold that “the church has authorized a change.”

Yes; clinic baptism – baptism of a sick person in bed – began, as early as the third century, to be allowed by some ecclesiastics, e.g., Novatian. They poured water copiously around the dying or very sick man as he lay in bed. This practice arose from exaggerated notions of the importance of baptism. We should say, if the man was too ill to be baptized, it was not his duty; but they were afraid to let a man die without baptism, and as real baptism was impracticable they proposed a substitute which, by copious pouring, would come as near it as possible. There were many disputes as to the lawfulness of this, but it came by degrees to be generally recognized as lawful.

As the centuries went on there was gradual progress. The more convenient substitute was preferred in other cases than illness, was further reduced to mere sprinkling, and became increasingly common. It was long with-stood by Popes and Councils, but grew in popularity through the Dark Ages, until, in the thirteenth century, one thousand years after clinic pouring began, the Pope finally yielded, and authorized sprinkling in all cases.

So the Reformers found it. And, unfortunately for our modern Christianity, they did not insist on a change. Luther repeatedly said a change ought to be made, e.g., “Baptism is a Greek word, and may be translated immersion, as when we immerse something in water that it may be wholly covered. And, although it is almost wholly abolished (for they do not dip the whole children, but only pour a little water on them), they ought, nevertheless, to be wholly immersed, …. for that the etymology of the word seems to demand.” Again, he says that baptism does not simply represent washing for sins, but “is rather a sign both of death and resurrection. Being moved by this reason, I would have those that are to be baptized to be altogether dipt into the water, as the word means, and the mystery signifies.” So elsewhere (see Ingham’s “Handbook of Baptism”, p.89).

In like manner Calvin. In commenting on the baptism of the eunuch by Philip (Acts 8:38), he says: “‘They descended into the water.’ Here we perceive what was the rite of baptizing among the ancients, for they immersed the whole body into the water; now the custom has become established that the minister only sprinkles the body or the head. But so slight a difference of ceremony ought not to be esteemed by us so important that on account of it we should split the church or disturb it with quarrels. For the ceremony of baptism itself, indeed, inasmuch as it was handed down to us by Christ, we should a hundred times rather fight even to death than suffer it to be taken away from us. But when in the symbol of the water we have a testimony as well of our ablution as of our new life; when in water, as in a mirror, Christ represents to us his blood, that from it we may seek our purification; when he teaches that we are fashioned anew by his Spirit, that, being dead to sin, we may live to righteousness – it is certain that we lack nothing which pertains to the substance of baptism. Wherefore, from the beginning, the church has freely permitted herself, outside of this substance, to have rites a little dissimilar.” (“Calvin on Acts”, viii, 38). The ancients, in the time of Philip and the eunuch, practiced immersion; a different custom has now become established, the church allowing herself liberty.

The leaders of the Reformation in England attempted a return – not, indeed, to the full New Testament plan, but that of the Fathers in the third century. The rubric of the Church of England has always been, from the Reformation till now, “shall dip the child in the water, …. but if they certify that the child is weak, it shall suffice to pour water upon it.” This is essentially the principle of the old clinic baptism. And this the Greek Church also tolerates as an exceptional practice.

But among the Reformers, on the Continent and in England, the custom of several centuries, with convenience, etc., triumphed over those attempts, and pouring – nay, even sprinkling – became the common practice.

In this sense, then, the church ” has changed the act of baptism. On this ground the Roman Catholics stand – the church has changed it – so they always meet the complaints and censures of the Greek Church. And intelligent Romanists see exactly how the matter stands among us who are called Protestants. Thus the famous Dr. Döllinger says: “The fact that the Baptists are so numerous, or even the most numerous of all religious parties in North America, deserves all attention. They would, indeed, be yet more numerous were not Baptism, as well as the Lord’s Supper, as to their sacramental significance, regarded in the Calvinistic world as something so subordinate that the inquiry after the original form appears to many as something indifferent, about which one need not much trouble himself. The Baptists are, however, in fact, from the Protestant standpoint, unassailable, since, for their demand for baptism by submersion, they have the clear Bible text, and the authority of the church and of her testimony is regarded by neither party.” (“Kirche und Kirchen,” s. 337.)

I may remark here, that on this subject the Baptists belong to the majority. It is often objected to us that we are an insignificant minority of the Christian world, and it is a point about which we are not greatly solicitous. But if anybody cares greatly for majorities in such a matter, let him observe that, in contending for immersion as necessary to the baptism taught in the New Testament, we have on our side the whole Greek Church, and the whole Roman Catholic Church, and a very large proportion of the Protestant world, particularly of the Protestant scholars.

To return. This is an intelligible position. New Testament baptism was immersion, but the church has changed it. Accordingly, in the Church of England, few scholars ever, for a moment, question that baptizo means immerse or that the New Testament baptism was immersion.

The church has changed it. Very satisfactory for a Romanist, but how can a Protestant rest on this? Chillingworth, the Church of England scholar, left a dictum which has grown famous: “The Bible, I say – the Bible only – is the religion of Protestants.” Was this all a mistake?

John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism



I. The First Persecution, Under Nero, A.D. 67

The first persecution of the Church took place in the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome. This monarch reigned for the space of five years, with tolerable credit to himself, but then gave way to the greatest extravagancy of temper, and to the most atrocious barbarities. Among other diabolical whims, he ordered that the city of Rome should be set on fire, which order was executed by his officers, guards, and servants. While the imperial city was in flames, he went up to the tower of Macaenas, played upon his harp, sung the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared that ‘he wished the ruin of all things before his death.’ Besides the noble pile, called the Circus, many other palaces and houses were consumed; several thousands perished in the flames, were smothered in the smoke, or buried beneath the ruins.

This dreadful conflagration continued nine days; when Nero, finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a severe odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon the Christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties. This was the occasion of the first persecution; and the barbarities exercised on the Christians were such as even excited the commiseration of the Romans themselves. Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that the most infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs until they expired; and others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them. This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.

To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesians, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy.

John Foxe-Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

Question 28-Puritan Catechism

CharlesSpurgeonQ. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?

A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us (John 1:12) by his Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5,6)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism

Confession statement 35

Published in 1646

The Text used: There has been some updating of Old English words but otherwise no changes have been made to the original texts.

CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London. which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.

XXXV. AND all His servants of all estates (are to acknowledge Him to be their prophet, priest, and king;) and called thither to be enrolled among His household servants, to present their bodies and souls, and to bring their gifts God hath given them, to be under His heavenly conduct and government, to lead their lives in this walled sheepfold, and watered garden, to have communion here with His saints, that they may be assured that they are made meet to be partakers of their inheritance in the kingdom of God; and to supply each others wants, inward and outward; (and although each person hath a propriety in his own estate, yet they are to supply each others wants, according as their necessities shall require, that the name of Jesus Christ may not be blasphemed through the necessity of any in the Church) and also being come, they are here by Himself to be bestowed in their several order, due place, peculiar use, being fitly compact and knit together according to the effectual working of every part, to the edifying of itself in love.

Acts 2:41,47; Isa.4:3; 1 Cor.12:6,7, etc.; Ezek.20:37,40; Song of Sol.4:12: Eph.2:19: Rom.12:4,5,6; Col.1:12, 2:5,6,19; Acts 20:32, 5:4, 2:44,45, 4:34.35; Luke 14:26; 1 Tim.6:1; Eph.4:16.

The First London Baptist Confession 1644/46 

Man bears a stamp of immortality; so that only a fool would deny God

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The powers and actions of the soul, a proof of its separate existence from the body. Proofs of the soul’s immortality. Objection that the whole world is quickened by one soul. Reply to the objection. Its impiety.

5. But my business at present is not with that stye: I wish rather to deal with those who, led away by absurd subtleties, are inclined, by giving an indirect turn to the frigid doctrine of Aristotle, to employ it for the purpose both of disproving the immortality of the soul, and robbing God of his rights. Under the pretext that the faculties of the soul are organized, they chain it to the body as if it were incapable of a separate existence, while they endeavor as much as in them lies, by pronouncing eulogiums on nature, to suppress the name of God. But there is no ground for maintaining that the powers of the soul are confined to the performance of bodily functions. What has the body to do with your measuring the heavens, counting the number of the stars, ascertaining their magnitudes, their relative distances, the rate at which they move, and the orbits which they describe? I deny not that Astronomy has its use; all I mean to show is, that these lofty investigations are not conducted by organized symmetry, but by the faculties of the soul itself apart altogether from the body. The single example I have given will suggest many others to the reader. The swift and versatile movements of the soul in glancing from heaven to earth, connecting the future with the past, retaining the remembrance of former years, nay, forming creations of its own — its skill, moreover, in making astonishing discoveries, and inventing so many wonderful arts, are sure indications of the agency of God in man. What shall we say of its activity when the body is asleep, its many revolving thoughts, its many useful suggestions, its many solid arguments, nay, its presentiment of things yet to come? What shall we say but that man bears about with him a stamp of immortality which can never be effaced? But how is it possible for man to be divine, and yet not acknowledge his Creator? Shall we, by means of a power of judging implanted in our breast, distinguish between justice and injustice, and yet there be no judge in heaven? Shall some remains of intelligence continue with us in sleep, and yet no God keep watch in heaven? Shall we be deemed the inventors of so many arts and useful properties that God may be defrauded of his praise, though experience tells us plainly enough, that whatever we possess is dispensed to us in unequal measures by another hand? The talk of certain persons concerning a secret inspiration quickening the whole world, is not only silly, but altogether profane. Such persons are delighted with the following celebrated passage of Virgil: —


Know, first, that heaven, and earth’s compacted frame,

And flowing waters, and the starry flame,

And both the radiant lights, one common soul

Inspires and feeds — and animates the whole.

This active mind, infused through all the space,

Unites and mingles with the mighty mass:

Hence, men and beasts the breath of life obtain,

And birds of air, and monsters of the main.

Th’ ethereal vigor is in all the same,

And every soul is filled with equal flame.


The meaning of all this is, that the world, which was made to display the glory of God, is its own creator. For the same poet has, in another place, adopted a view common to both Greeks and Latins: —


Hence to the bee some sages have assigned

A portion of the God, and heavenly mind;

For God goes forth, and spreads throughout the whole,

Heaven, earth, and sea, the universal soul;

Each, at its birth, from him all beings share,

Both man and brute, the breath of vital air;

To him return, and, loosed from earthly chain,

Fly whence they sprung, and rest in God again;

Spurn at the grave, and, fearless of decay,

Dwell in high heaven, art star th’ ethereal way.


Here we see how far that jejune speculation, of a universal mind animating and invigorating the world, is fitted to beget and foster piety in our minds. We have a still clearer proof of this in the profane verses which the licentious Lucretius has written as a deduction from the same principle. The plain object is to form an unsubstantial deity, and thereby banish the true God whom we ought to fear and worship. I admit, indeed that the expressions “Nature is God,” may be piously used, if dictated by a pious mind; but as it is inaccurate and harsh, (Nature being more properly the order which has been established by God,) in matters which are so very important, and in regard to which special reverence is due, it does harm to confound the Deity with the inferior operations of his hands.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 5-Henry Beveridge Translation 

Dispensationalism casts sound principles of exegesis to the wind

Arthur PinkInstead of being engaged in the unholy work of pitting one part of the Scriptures against another, these men would be far better employed in showing the perfect unity of the Bible and the blessed harmony which there is between all of its teachings. But instead of demonstrating the concord of the two Testaments, they are more concerned in their efforts to show the discord which they say there is between that which pertained unto “the Dispensation of Law” and that which obtains under “the Dispensation of Grace,” and in order to accomplish their evil design all sound principles of exegesis are cast to the wind. As a sample of what we have reference to, they cite


“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Exodus 21:24)


and then quote against it,


“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39),


and then it is exultantly asserted that those two passages can only be “reconciled” by allocating them to different peoples in different ages; and with such superficial handling of Holy Writ thousands of gullible souls are deceived, and thousands more allow themselves to be bewildered.

Arthur W. Pink The Application of Scriptures-A Study of Dispensationalism

What is to be believed in order to be saved?

Spurgeon 3I want to do my part to-night as far as my feeble voice will permit me; and I will speak a few words, first, concerning belief; secondly, concerning baptism; and, thirdly, concerning being saved. We shall get the whole text clearly in considering those three points.

I. First, CONCERNING BELIEVING. This is the main point, this is the hinge of salvation, for he that believeth in Christ is not condemned; he that believeth in him hath everlasting life.

Now, concerning believing, let me, ask, first, What is to be believed? Well, you are to believe that you have broken the law of God, and that consequently you are under condemnation; but that God, in his infinite mercy, has sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world that you might live through him. His Divine, Son, his only-begotten Son, was born of Mary, as a man of the substance of his mother, feeling as we do, and was in all respects most truly man. Being here, he obeyed his Father’s will; and. When the time came, he gave himself up as a sacrifice for guilty men. He died, “the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” Himself being without sin, he took upon himself the sin of his people: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” Being found with human sin imputed to him, he suffered in the room, and place, and stead of those whose sins he bore. On the cross his blood was shed, for without the Shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, but by that shedding of blood he blotted out the iniquity of all those who put their trust in him. This is what you have to believe, that —


“He bore, that you might never bear, His Father’s righteous ire.”


He was laid in the grave; and on the third day he came forth from the tomb, rising again for the justification of his people as he was crucified for their offenses. After a while, he went up into the highest heaven, and he is now enthroned there, King of kings, and Lord of lords. He sitteth at the right hand of God, even the Father, and there he pleads and makes intercession for sinners. Believe this “Through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” He is exalted on high, a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and remission of sins. That is what is to be believed. I might go into a great many details; but I shall not do so tonight. The essence of what is to be believed is that Jesus Christ is given of God unto us, that by his death he might put away sin, and we might be reconciled to God, and that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

Charles H. Spurgeon-Baptism Essential to Obedience-Metropolitan Tabernacle-Lord’s Evening-Oct. 13, 1889

The Greek ‘baptizo’ means immersion and nothing else

broadusChapter 3. A Correct Translation.

Does someone think our friend’s translation has misled him on this subject? That would be strange, for the translation certainly was not made by Baptists. The translation he reads, our cherished Bible, was made by Episcopalians, members of the Church of England. And what we Baptists ask of everybody is, Do read your own Bible, with your own eyes, and earnestly and prayerfully try to find out this matter, and all such matters, for yourself. But it is asserted that here the plain and obvious meaning of our English Bible is not the true meaning. That would seem matter of deep regret. Is it so that an honest inquirer, who has sense but not erudition, will be led astray on such a point by the common English version of the Scriptures that we all read. Still, it is insisted that our inquiring friend must not trust his own judgment of the meaning of his own Bible – he must ask scholars what the original means. For the sake of the argument, we consent that he shall do so.

This word baptize is said to be borrowed from the Greek baptizo, which is said to be the word invariably used where our version has baptize – what does that Greek word mean?

Well, whom shall we ask in our friend’s behalf? It is a question of scholarship. Therefore we ought to ask those who are unquestionably able and leading scholars.

And they ought to be, as nearly as possible, disinterested in regard to the matter in hand. Such are the conditions required when we refer any matter whatever to the decision of others.

Now as to the meaning of this Greek word, I will just consult, in our friend’s behalf, the three most recent standard lexicons, one of classical and two of New Testament Greek, which are acknowledged by all scholars as scholarly, scientific, and eminently authoritative. They are first, Liddell and Scott’s Lexicon of the Greek Language in general, prepared by two scholars of the Church of England; second, Grimm’s edition of Wilke’s Lexicon of New Testament Greek, published in Germany, and translated by Thayer, a Congregationalist scholar in this country; third, Cremer’s Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek, published in Germany and translated in England.

Liddell and Scott say (sixth edition), baptizo, “to put in or under water” (seventh edition, “to dip in or under water”). And they go on to explain various secondary and metaphorical uses as derived from this, e.g., to sink a ship, a man soaked in wine, over head and ears in debt, drowned with questions. They do not recognize or hint at any other meaning.

Grimm’s Wilke translates it, (I) “to dip repeatedly, to immerse, submerge;” then, (2) “to wash by immersing or submerging, to bathe, to cleanse with water,” adducing as examples Mark 7:4, and the cases of Naaman and Judith; (3) figuratively, “to overwhelm,” as with debts, misfortunes, etc. So much he gives as to the general use of the word. In the New Testament rite, he says, it denotes “an immersion in water, intended as a sign of sins washed away, and received by those who wished to be admitted to the benefits of the Messianic reign.” Grimm gives no hint of its meaning anything else.

Thayer simply refers to some works as giving passages from “the Fathers” in regard to “the mode, ministrant, subjects, etc., of the rite”; viz., as practiced by Christians of the early centuries, but makes no addition as to the meaning of the Greek word or its use in the New Testament.

Cremer gives as the general meaning, “immerse, submerge,” and says that, in the peculiar New Testament and Christian use, the word “denotes immersion, submersion, for a religious purpose.”

Such is the rendering of this word by the three most recent lexicons of acknowledged scientific value; the three which any competent scholar, if asked to recommend lexicons to a student of New Testament Greek, would be sure to name.

I might add that the two German commentators on the New Testament, who are the foremost of the century as to full and accurate scholarship, Fritzsche and Meyer, furnish like testimony as to the meaning of the word.

But why, it may be asked, do some Greek lexicons, besides the renderings “immerse”, “put in or under water,” etc., give the meaning “pour”, “drench”, etc.? The classical lexicons which give this meaning base it on such expressions as I have mentioned, viz., baptized with wine, sleep, misfortunes, debts, etc. Now in these cases (all figurative, you will observe) some such other sense would be possible, perhaps appropriate – the idea then being that wine, debts, etc., are poured over one so that he is drenched with them – but certainly it is not necessary. This is shown by Liddell and Scott, who explain all such uses as derived from the primary sense of “put in or under water,” comparing such English expressions as soaked in wine, over head and ears in debt, etc.; and we may add, immersed in business, in study, sleep, debt, troubles.

Now an important general principle is here involved, a principle indispensable to all reliable interpretation of language, namely, this: We are not at liberty to assign to a word a new meaning, quite different from its primary and established meaning, until we find some passage which absolutely requires it. Examples in which such a new and different meaning would be possible, or even appropriate, or even most natural, will not justify our assigning it as long as the established meaning will suit even tolerably well. Only when the common meaning is impossible or utterly unsuitable is it proper to give a new and very different meaning. Unless this principle be followed, interpretation of language, I repeat, becomes utterly uncertain and unreliable.

Now it cannot be said that the notion of immersed in debts, etc., is an unnatural or unsuitable image. To say that the other conception of having debts poured over one would also fit, is nothing to the point. We must, of course, hold on to the common and recognized sense so long as that will answer. It will thus appear that the classical lexicons in question have no right to give such a meaning as “pour,” because it differs widely from the established and familiar use of the word, and the examples they cite do not require, and therefore do not warrant, any such meaning. As to the lexicons of New Testament Greek, which claim that some passages in the Bible justify the meaning, “pour,” I shall speak afterward. Such, then, is the testimony of the leading lexicons.

To this I need add but one fact, namely, the practice of the Greek Church. Their rule is, and always has been, to immerse. I myself saw a child thus baptized in a Greek church at Scanderoon, or Alexandretta, at the northeast corner of the Mediterranean. An educated Athenian, belonging to the Greek Church, in conversing with me laughed to scorn the idea that their Greek word baptizo can mean sprinkling or pouring. Now the Greek is not really a dead language; scholars in Germany, England, and America are every day seeing this fact more clearly, and recognizing more fully its importance.

I remember when at Athens, a Scottish gentleman who had spent most of his life in Greece and had given very close attention to the language, told me of his own accord that, although a Presbyterian, he thought the Baptists were quite right about the meaning of the word baptizo; and he hunted up a book, in modern Greek, on natural philosophy, in which I found the word repeatedly employed. The Greeks usually leave this as the sacred word and take other terms for common actions. But this writer, in describing the mode of determining specific gravity, explained that we first weigh a body in air, and then immerse it in water and weigh it thus, being suspended by a cord; and this action of immersion he constantly and naturally describes by “baptize.”

There has been published in this country a copious and valuable lexicon of Greek usage in the Roman and Byzantine periods, from B.C. 140 to A.D. 1000, by Professor Sophocles, of Harvard College, who was himself a Greek, long resident in America. He defines baptizo as meaning to dip, to immerse, to sink, and then gives a great variety of uses, all explained as having this same force, e.g, soaked in liquor (intoxicated), sunk in ignorance, bathed in tears, he plunged the sword into his own neck; then, derivatively, to bathe. And as to the New Testament use, he says expressly: “There is no evidence that Luke, and Paul, and the other writers of the New Testament put upon this verb meanings not recognized by the Greeks.”

This, then, is the practice of the Greek Church and this the testimony of the living Greeks who belong to it. The word involved is to them not foreign, but their own word. And one of their constant complaints against the Latin Church – the Church of Rome – is that this has altered the ceremony of baptism. A modern Greek scholar has said: “The Church of the West commits an abuse of words and of ideas in practicing baptism by aspersion, the mere statement of which is in itself a ridiculous contradiction.”

Soon after the taking of Constantinople, five centuries ago, as we learn from Dr. Döllinger (Kirche und Kirchen, p. 188) and others, a council of Greek patriarchs agreed, not that they would practice pouring or sprinkling, but that they would recognize it in the Westerns as valid baptism. They were almost ruined, in danger of being utterly swallowed up by the conquering Turks, and wanted to make friends with the Latin Christians. But at a later period the Greek patriarchs retracted this. It is still observed in Russia, but those to whom Greek was the native language could not stand it. They said that instead of a baptismos the Latin Church practiced a mere rantismos – instead of an immersion, a mere sprinkling. To a man who spoke Greek every day this was “a ridiculous contradiction.”

Such, then, is the evidence which may be given our unlearned friend from scholars, the lexicons, and the living Greeks concerning their own word. Much more might be added in the way of confirmation, but he would probably say: “Well, it is plain that I can trust my English Bible. What these great scholars say – none of them Baptists – and what the living Greeks say and do accords exactly with the impression I got from my own Bible; and so the evidence is enough; I care for no more.” He, for his part, might stop there, being concerned only to determine his own conduct. But I have another and a different task to perform.

John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism