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A well known Paedo-baptist minister spoke concerning true baptism

September 27, 2013 5 comments

Robert_Lewis_Dabney[1]All parties are agreed, that baptism is the initiatory rite which gives membership in the visible Church of Christ. The great commission was: Go, and disciple all nations, baptizing them into the Trinity. Baptism recognizes and constitutes the outward discipleship. Least of all, can any Immersionist dispute this ground. Now, if all other forms of baptism than immersion are not only irregular, but null and void, all unimmersed persons are out of the visible Church. But if each and every member of a pedobaptist visible Church is thus unchurched: of course the whole body is unchurched. All pedobaptist societies, then, are guilty of an intrusive errors when they pretend to the character of a visible Church of Christ. Consequently, they can have no ministry; and this for several reasons. Surely no valid office can exist in an association whose claim to be an ecclesiastical commonwealth is utterly invalid. When the temple is non existent, there can be no actual pillars to that temple. How can an unauthorized herd of unbaptized persons, to whom Christ concedes no church authority, confer any valid office? Again: it is preposterous that a man should receive and hold office in a commonwealth where he himself has no citizenship; but this unimmersed pedobaptist minister so called, is no member of any visible Church. There are no real ministers in the world, except the Immersionist preachers.

The pretensions of all others, therefore, to act as ministers, and to administer the sacraments, are sinful intrusions. It is hard to see how any intelligent and conscientious Immersionist can do any act, which countenances or sanctions this profane intrusion. They should not allow any weak inclinations of fraternity and peace to sway their consciences in this point of high principle. They are bound, then, not only to practice close communion, but to refuse all ministerial recognition and communion to these intruders. The sacraments cannot go beyond the pale of the visible Church. Hence, the same stern denunciations ought to be hurled at the Lord’s Supper in pedobaptist societies, and at all their prayers and preachings in public, as at the iniquity of “baby sprinkling.” The enlightened Immersionist should treat all these societies, just as he does that ’Synagogue of Satan,’ the PapalChurch: there may be many good, misguided believers in them; but no church character, ministry, nor sacraments whatever.” Robert L. Dabney, A Systematic Theology, Chapter 41, “The Dogma unchurches all”

Robert L. Dabney was a famous and well known Pedobaptist Presbyterian minister in the 19th century.

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Many argue from Christian liberty

July 26, 2013 1 comment

broadusChapter 5. The Plea of Christian Liberty.

Christian liberty is the ground on which others proceed.

They say Christians may choose for themselves about mere outward forms; these make no difference if you have the essence of the thing. Yes, and so says the Quaker, more strongly still. What would you say to the Quaker? I asked this question of an esteemed friend, who is an Episcopal clergyman. The Quaker tells us the mere outward form of baptism is unnecessary; the essential thing is to have the baptism of the Spirit, and water baptism need not be observed at all. What would you say to him? “I would tell him the Scripture teaches us to baptize in water.” Very well, I replied, and so it teaches us to baptize in water. If you have an outward ceremony at all, you have a form, and can you say that the form of a ceremony is of no importance? How will such an one answer the Quaker, except upon the Baptist principle?

The state of mind represented, the baptism of the Spirit, is of course the essential thing; without it, the outward ceremony is an empty form. But our Lord has appointed a form, a ceremony. We ought to observe this because he has appointed it; and plainly, therefore, ought to observe it as he appointed it. Either the Baptist ground or the Quaker ground.

“But suppose,” one says, that immersion is impracticable or excessively inconvenient; there is not enough water, or it is too cold; why not substitute another use of water and attach the same meaning to it?”

Well, suppose you want to observe the Lord’s Supper and there is no wine to be had – a thing much more likely to happen than that there should be no water, and which I once knew to happen in a country neighborhood – why not take some other beverage, and let that represent to us the same thing as wine? We should all unite in raising two objections. First, our Lord told us to eat bread and drink wine; if circumstances really prevent our doing that, let us do nothing, feeling that we are providentially hindered. Second, while any liquid, as water, might in some sort represent the blood of our dear Lord, yet it is obvious that wine much more clearly and strikingly represents it. Even if we did not perceive this, we ought to do just what he said; and much more when we do perceive it.

And so, if immersion be really impracticable, we should make the same two points. First, we must do what he told us or do nothing. What is really impracticable is not our duty. Second, while sprinkling with water may represent purification, yet even this part of the meaning of baptism is much more strikingly represented by immersion; while the other part, the idea of burial and resurrection, which the apostle twice connects with baptism, sprinkling does not represent at all. Even if we did not perceive that what he appointed is more expressive, we ought to do just what he said, and much more when we do perceive it. Either, then, what he told us to do, or nothing.

But someone is dying – shall we deny him the satisfaction of being baptized? Why not? How was it with the thief on the cross? Suppose the same dying man wants the Lord’s Supper, and you have no wine?

Nay, my, friends, such pleas look like making too much of baptism. In this, as I said, began clinic baptism; and pray notice how the argument we are discussing – a favorite argument with some – just comes back to the same thing, attaching an unwarranted importance to baptism. If baptism or the Lord’s Supper be providentially impracticable, as under certain circumstances may well be the case, surely there is nothing lost, and no guilt incurred, by failing to observe it.

John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism

The scriptures teach that immersion is true baptism

broadusChapter 2. The Teaching of Scripture.

What, then, do the Scriptures teach as to the action which constitutes baptism? Everyone should try to decide this question for himself. It is the duty of Christian people to settle every religious question, if possible, by their own personal examination of Scripture. Luther contended for the right of private judgment; is there not a corresponding duty of private judgment?

A plain man of average intelligence has become a believer in Christ, and knows that he ought to be baptized. He knows, also, that there is a difference among Christians around him as to what is baptism – that three different actions are called baptism. He takes up his New Testament, to read in his own tongue, and to see if, as a matter of private judgment, he can determine what constitutes the baptism which his dear Saviour enjoined? What does he find? The word baptize is only borrowed into the English language, and for him does not determine anything, being used, he knows, by different persons in different senses. And he is not acquainted with Greek.

But he finds the record of our Lord’s own baptism; that it was in the river Jordan; that after his baptism he came up out of the water. Does some one feel like interrupting me here to say that, literally, it is “came up from the water” (Matt. 3:16)? I answer, that is true in Matthew; but in Mark, according to the correct Greek text, it is “out of” (Mark 1:10). And in Matthew, while the word “from” does not itself show that he had been in the water, it does not at all show that he had not; and the connection makes it so plain that he had, that the versions of Tyndale, Cranmer, Geneva, and King James all render “out of.” The expression is like “Let me cast out the mote from thine eye,” and the statement in Tobit that “a fish leaped up from the river and wished to devour the lad.” So our friend is not misled by his English Bible as to this expression.

He finds also that when John, after long baptizing in the Jordan, left it for another place, he went to Aenon, “because there was much water there” (John 3:23). In reading Acts, he finds that when Philip was about to baptize the eunuch they went down into the water (Acts 8:38-9), and after the baptism they came up out of the water. In reading Romans 6:4, he finds the apostle likening baptism to a burial, and arguing that believers must not and cannot continue in sin that grace may abound, seeing that their very baptism, at the beginning of their Christian course, had reference to the death of Christ, and they were buried with Christ by baptism unto death, in order that, as Christ was raised from the dead, even so they also might live a new life.

Now, what can this man conclude but one thing? Pardon a homely story. The summer after the battle of Gettysburg I was preaching in a brigade at the camp below Orange Court House, during the great and blessed revival in Lee’s army. Many soldiers were finding Christian hope. After I had preached one day in an old church near the camp, a Presbyterian chaplain arose, called up several soldiers, and proceeded to “baptize” them, as he termed it, from a little bowl of water. When the services were about to close, a Baptist chaplain invited the congregation to go, after dismission, to a baptistery which had been prepared at the foot of the hill, where the ordinance of baptism would be administered. He handed me his Bible as we went down the hill, asking me to read some passages and pray. I read the account of the baptism of Jesus, the commission in which he enjoins baptism, the account of Philip and the eunuch, and the passage in Romans, and then many soldiers were baptized.

As the crowd went away, a soldier said to the chaplain: “I tell you what, parson; this that you did down here was a great deal more like them Scriptures than what they did up yonder.” Can anybody wonder that he thought so? Would not this be the general verdict of plain men, if they would just look on and consider? And the soldier of my story, though he had been sprinkled in infancy, never rested till he was baptized “like them Scriptures.” If any one should say that this was but an ignorant man, I will add that an Episcopal gentleman of high position and culture once said to me: “Anybody can see that immersion is baptism, and I grant that it takes a good deal of argument and explanation to show that something else is baptism too.”

Now remember that the Bible is a book for the people – given in order that the people may read, and learn, and judge for themselves. We who are called Protestants all contend for this; we are not afraid the people will be misled if they humbly and prayerfully search the Scriptures. It follows that the obvious teachings of Scripture – the ideas which lie plainly on its surface, so as to commend themselves to ordinary readers – are, to say the least, extremely apt to be what Scripture was meant to teach. We all insist much on this principle as regards the divinity of our Lord and the fact that he died to save us. So, here; the plain teaching of the English New Testament, to a plain man, who comes to it for information on this subject, will be that baptism is not a sprinkling or pouring, but an immersion.

John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism

Immersion is scriptural and essential to baptism

broadusChapter 1. The Question at Issue.

The object set before us is to maintain the proposition, that Immersion in water is essential to Christian Baptism.

The point here involved is not by any means the most important of those upon which Baptists differ with many of their fellow Christians. The questions: Who ought to be baptized? and, What does baptism signify and effect? appear to us, so far as it is proper to assign degrees in matters of divine ordinance, to be of far greater consequence.

To insist on the Scriptural act of baptism is a necessary consequence of a great fundamental principle, which was once held by Baptists almost alone, but which many of our brethren of other connections are now coming to share-the exclusive authority of Scripture. We do not say simply the authority, nor the paramount authority, but the exclusive authority of Scripture. Baptism is performed at all, simply because the Scriptures direct us to perform it; therefore we feel bound to inquire what it is that they direct, and to do that. We cannot acknowledge any other authority. The opinions and practices of eminent Christians in past ages, yea, of our own best friends, our pastors, our parents, must not be regarded, except in so far as they may help us to determine what is taught on the subject in the Scriptures.

And it is not an inquiry as to the mere manner of performing a duty. The popular phrase, “mode of baptism,” seems to us to beg the question. The real question is, What is baptism? Compare the case of the Lord’s Supper. No Protestant insists strongly on any particular mode of observing the Lord’s Supper. We may have our preference, and may recommend it – as sitting around a table, kneeling around a railing, sitting in the pews, etc., – yet we do not insist. But when the Romanist gives only the bread to the laity, reserving the cup for the priests, all Protestants cry out. The Romanist might say, “Why, does not the bread really represent the great fact that Christ gave himself for us? Does not the body include the blood? May we not get all that is essential to the ordinance in taking the bread alone?” We – all who are commonly called Protestants – answer two things: First, to take the wine also, makes a more complete and expressive representation. Second, our Lord told us to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of him; what right have we to alter that which he appointed, is if we knew better than he?

Now just the same ground do Baptists take as to baptism. They do not insist strongly on the mere manner and circumstances of its administration. Thus, it is a mere question of taste and convenience whether it shall be performed in a stream or a baptistery. Dr. Judson preferred to baptize face foremost. Even the practice of trine immersion, which was once very common, and still exists in some quarters, while it is in our judgment unwarrantable and improper, may be considered a matter of no great importance. The question is, not what is the most appropriate manner of performing baptism, but what is the act to be performed. And when any think proper to alter this act, we object most earnestly, and for the same two reasons as in the other case. First, the act enjoined gives a more complete and expressive representation of those things which baptism denotes; in fact, without it the representation is grievously defective. Second, our Lord told us to baptize; what right have we to alter his appointment? He did not tell us to recline at a table as he was doing, and take bread and wine, but he told us to take bread and wine; and we do not insist on the reclining: we insist on the bread and wine. He did not tell us to be baptized in the Jordan, or in a river, as he was, but he told us to be baptized; and we do not insist on the Jordan, or any river, or any other mere circumstance, but we insist on the baptizing.

John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism