Distinctive Baptist Beliefs:
Nine Marks that Separate Baptists from Presbyterians
Distinctive Baptist Belief #4—
Baptism by the Mode of Immersion

September 2, 2011


By Dr. Lemke, Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology, Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and Editor of the
Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


Introduction

All denominations that broadly share the Reformation heritage share more beliefs in common (orthodox Nicean Christianity plus key Reformation beliefs) than beliefs on which we differ. Despite these many points of agreement, it is the points of agreement on which theological discussions tend to focus. In an earlier post entitled “The Middle Way,” I asserted that centrist Baptists are “the middle way” between Arminians, on the one hand, and Calvinists/Presbyterians, on the other. In it, I listed twelve points of doctrinal disagreement between centrist Baptists and many Arminians. In this series I want to point out nine points of difference between centrist Baptist beliefs and the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition.

These nine Baptist doctrinal distinctives I will discuss do not include the five point summary of Reformed soteriology (best known in the TULIP acronym–for a critique of five-point Calvinism from a centrist Baptist perspective see our book Whosoever Will). In fact, most of the nine points that I will be addressing were explicitly held by the Particular Baptists in contradistinction from the Presbyterian or Reformed theology from which they separated themselves. These, then, are distinctively Baptist beliefs. The first Baptist distinctive I addressed was a cluster of interrelated beliefs — soul competency, priesthood of all believers, and religious liberty. The second Baptist distinctive addressed was the age (or state) of accountability. The third Baptist distinctive I addressed was believer’s baptism (or “the gathered church”).[1] In this article I am pointing out a fourth Baptist distinctive (in contrast with Presbyterianism): baptism by mode of immersion.

Distinctive Baptist Belief #4:
Baptism by the Mode of Immersion

The Second London and Philadelphia confessions differ strikingly from the Westminster Confession regarding the mode of baptism. According to the Westminster Confession, “Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.”[2] In stark contrast to this Presbyterian mode of baptism, the Second London and Philadelphia confessions affirm that “immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance (Matt. 3:16; John 3:23).”[3] Baptism by immersion is again affirmed in Article 7 of the BF&M.

Like all distinctive Baptist beliefs, believer’s baptism by immersion is not merely a tradition, but arises out of a careful reading of God’s Word. The Greek word baptizo literally means to immerse in water. Since many early translations of the Bible into English were done by persons from denominations which practice sprinkling, rather than translate the word baptize as “immerse,” they transliterated it into a new anglicized version of the word, “baptize.”

However, the main scriptural reason for affirming that baptism should be by immersion is what baptism signifies. According to Rom. 6:1-11, the proper symbol of baptism is not washing away sin, but of death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism looks back to the past as a memorial and reminder of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. As Paul affirms, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death” (Rom. 6:3-4). Regarding the present, baptism symbolizes the death to the old self and the resurrection to the new life in Christ. Paul refers several times to this symbol of our old sinful nature being “crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:6), but “should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). We should therefore reckon ourselves, Paul says, “to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11). Baptism also looks forward to the resurrection at the end of time, for “if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom. 6:5).

There are some Baptists today, however, who are willing to compromise this distinctive Baptist belief that even the Calvinistic Particular Baptists required. In our pluralistic world, it is common for many young married couples to come from different denominational traditions, and a spouse who comes from a different tradition may resist receiving Scriptural baptism in order to become a member of a Baptist church. The path of least resistance is to just allow anyone to join our church by statement of their faith in Christ. One danger of compromising doctrinal convictions in order to be tolerant or in the interest of ecumenical unity is that the call for one compromise after another never ends.[4] Once one starts down the path of compromising one’s own biblical convictions, it is difficult to hold any doctrine uncompromisingly. Should one ever compromise what one believes to be not merely a private opinion, but a scriptural teaching?


[1] To preview the entire series, you can see the larger article from which these posts are drawn, plus responses from three theological perspectives, from a paper presentation for a conference sponsored by the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. You can see them at Steve Lemke, “What Is a Baptist? Nine Marks that Separate Baptists from Presbyterians,” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry 5, no. 2 (Fall 2008):10-39; available online at http://www.baptistcenter.com/Documents/Journals/JBTM%205-2_Baptists_in_Dialogue_Fall_08.pdf#page=11. It is posted in this blog format in SBC Today to facilitate discussion on these issues. The next scheduled article in this series is “Baptist Distinctive #5:  Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as Symbolic Ordinances.”

[2] Westminster Confession, Art. 28, par. 3.

[3] Second London Confession, Art. 29, par. 4; Philadelphia Confession, Art. 30, par. 4. Dunaway cites the findings of the 1894 Presbyterian General Assembly that “Baptism by immersion is not Scriptural as to its mode,” in Dunaway, “Why Baptist and Not Presbyterian,” in J. M. Frost, ed., Baptist Why and Why Not (Nashville: Sunday School Board, 1900), 131. See also C. A. Stakely, “Why Immersion and Not Sprinkling or Pouring,” in Baptist Why and Why Not, 163-180.

[4] For one well-publicized example, John Piper, Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, (a Baptist General Conference church) presented a paper to the church’s elders in January 2002 called, “Twelve Theses on Baptism and Its Relationship to Church Membership, Church Leadership, and Wider Affiliations and Partnerships of Bethlehem Baptist Church,” in which Piper proposed the following amendment concerning the requirement for baptism for membership in the church: “Therefore, where the belief in the Biblical validity of infant baptism does not involve baptismal regeneration or the guarantee of saving grace, this belief is not viewed by the elders of Bethlehem Baptist Church as a weighty or central enough departure from Biblical teaching to exclude a person from membership, if he meets all other relevant qualifications and is persuaded from Bible study and a clear conscience that his baptism is valid. In such a case we would not require baptism by immersion as a believer for membership but would teach and pray toward a change of mind that would lead such members eventually to such a baptism.” [John Piper, “Twelve Theses on Baptism and Its Relationship to Church Membership, Church Leadership, and Wider Affiliations and Partnerships of Bethlehem Baptist Church,” p. 14 in “Baptism and Church Membership at Bethlehem Baptist Church: Eight Recommendations for Constitutional Revision,” by John Piper, Alex Chediak, and Tom Steller, available online at http://desiringgod.org/media/pdf/baptism_and_membership.pdf]. Piper’s proposed statement did not find initial agreement among the church’s elders, but Piper continued pushing the issue with the elders in multiple meetings over several years. Piper finally persuaded the elders to approve an amended policy in August 2005. Although expressing preference for baptism by immersion, the amended membership statement (somewhat echoing Mohler’s proposed theological triage) expressed the desire “not to elevate beliefs and practices that are nonessential to the level of prerequisites for church membership.”] Thus, according to the proposed amended policy, “Christians who have not been baptized by immersion as believers, but, as they believe, by some other method or before they believed, may under some circumstances be members of this church.” [“Eight Recommendations Approved by the Council of Elders, August 2005,” p. 11 in “Baptism and Church Membership at Bethlehem Baptist Church” by Piper, Chediak, and Steller, available online at http://desiringgod.org/media/pdf/baptism_and_membership.pdf ]. However, Piper and the elders later withdrew the proposal in December 2005 when some elders again doubted the wisdom of moving forward in response to a public outcry against the proposal. On a different (Bethlehem Baptist Church) web site, an undated statement is posted under the heading, “Present Status of the Baptism & Membership Issue.” This statement describes the timing and reasons for withdrawing the proposed amendment, and adds the following statement about future plans for dealing with this issue: “The elders realize that the issue cannot be dropped because the majority of the elders still favor the motion, including almost all the pastoral staff, and because that conviction puts most of the elders and staff in conflict with at least one literal reading of the Bethlehem Affirmation of Faith. Our Affirmation of Faith defines the local church as follows: “We believe in the local church, consisting of a company of believers in Jesus Christ, baptized on a credible profession of faith, and associated for worship, work, and fellowship. . . .” Noting that their current affirmation of faith differs from Presbyterian doctrine on this point, the elders state, “In view of these things, we will be praying and thinking and discussing various ways to move forward together as a church.” (See “Present Status of the Baptism and Membership Issue,” accessible online at http://www.hopeingod.org/CurrentTopicsBaptismMembership.aspx). In an interview done a year later and posted on the Desiring God web site, Piper repeats this information but states, “I still think it was a mistake” to withdraw the amendment, and “I would love to see this go forward someday if we could get more of our people on board.” (See “Can You Update Us on the Baptism and Church Membership Issue from 2005?” by John Piper at http://www.desiringGod.org). So despite temporarily withdrawing the amendment for pragmatic reasons in the face of a negative public response, Piper and the majority of the elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church remain adamant that the church should not require believer’s baptism by immersion for church membership, and express the desire to change the existing policy when opposition subsides. Again, this is a doctrinal compromise that our Particular Baptist forbears were not willing to make.

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Les

Dr. Lemke,

I’m really enjoying this series, especially since you are dealing with us Presbyterians.

On immersion as the only valid mode for baptism, of course I disagree. However, I do think it is certainly a valid mode and would/could use it myself. The WCF was careful to not condemn it as valid but to rather call it “not necessary.”

Since you assert that The Greek “word baptizo” always means immerse, I’d be interested in your thoughts on two passages.

Mark 7:4 and Luke 11:38.

I believe both passages uses a form of baptizo. Are we to think that the couches in Mark should have been immersed? And that the Pharisee in the Luke passage expected Jesus to immerse himself before dinner?

Again, I see immersion as surely valid. I just am challenging that baptizo (and it’s forms) always means immerse.

Blessings,

Les

    Chris Roberts

    What did the Jews do with their hands when washing them? Or with their cups and pots and vessels? Couches were not likely dipped in water, but I imagine (speculation, not researched) that the others were immersed in water. That couches are included in the list does not alter the normal use of baptizo as immerse but it lumps one thing that is hard to immerse along with other things that are commonly immersed (the emphasis was not on how they did it, but that they had these traditions). And it should certainly be seen as significant that every instance which actually demonstrates the baptism of people at the very least strongly implies baptism via immersion.

      Les

      Chris,

      I don’t think you meant to, but you made my point. Dr. Lemme said, ” The Greek word baptizo literally means to immerse in water.” all one has to do is show one instance where it doesn’t mean that and the statement swirls down the immersion tank drain. That’s not to say that it doesn’t sometimes mean immerse. It does. At least you acknowledge that doesn’t always mean immerse.

      Further, what did the Jews do? Well I suppose they could have immersed the pots, etc. We both acknowledge not the couch. But they might have simply rinsed their hands and the pots. I’ve spent considerable time in Haiti where clean, running water is often not available. So what do we do? Well I’ll tell you. We don’t waste precious clean water by filling up basins and tubs with water to wash our hands and utensils. We carefully pour the water over our hands and pots and utensils so as to use as much as needful and not waste any. I’ve had more than one bucket shower and tubs are scarce.

      Last, your statement, “And it should certainly be seen as significant that every instance which actually demonstrates the baptism of people at the very least strongly implies baptism via immersion,” acknowledges that at best immersion is implied, not explicit. I agree. There is not one explicit instance of immersion in the NT (unless you insist that baptizo always means immerse), which you don’t.

      All that said, I’ve been immersed and have immersed many believers over the years. And I get that it is THE definition of a baptist. As I said above, I see both immersion and sprinkling/pouring as valid modes.

Chris Roberts

A good post showing the theological significance of baptism by immersion, a significance almost entirely missing from the Presbyterian mode of baptism.

Regarding Piper, I keep going back and forth. I’m sympathetic to his concern and his reasoning, but I keep wavering between his position and what you have said: if we allow people to join as members despite their disagreement with what is a fairly fundamental aspect of Baptist life and conviction, where does the process stop? While I have no concerns with Piper in that regards, it does open the door for others to do what has already happened in many Baptist churches: minimize convictions and distinctives for the sake of ecumenical appeal. This is not what Piper has done, but it is what many are already doing.

Scott Shaffer

I admire and appreciate John Piper, but he’s off-base on this issue. First, when you allow those baptized as infants into your membership you are no longer a Baptist fellowship. He might as well drop Baptist from the church’s name. Maybe that’s next. Second, this elasticity in the proposed membership policy opens the door to confusion in the flock. Do you allow those who were baptized as infants to serve as deacons or elders? They’d obviously not baptize infants, but on what basis when they allow those who haven’t been obedient to be baptized as believers join the church? Third, I’m baffled by the decision to put a statement on your web site that basically says, “The elders want to admit paedobaptists to church membership, but you (the flock) haven’t reached that level of maturity yet, so we’ll just keep trying and maybe someday you’ll see it our way.” That’s not very baptistic.

Les

Dr. Lemke,

Another thing you said begs for some historical documentation. You said, “Since many early translations of the Bible into English were done by persons from denominations which practice sprinkling, rather than translate the word baptize as “immerse,” they transliterated it into a new anglicized version of the word, “baptize.””

I heard that as well when I was a student at New Orleans Baptist Seminary back in the 1980s. I believed what I was told at that time. But I’m wondering if you can cite the sources for that statement. I’m not saying its not a true statement. I’ve just never been able to track the sources down. I’m just wondering if this is supposition or if there is documented evidence for the way they dealt with baptizo.

Thanks.

Ron Hale

The statements below are from a 2008 study by LifeWay concerning baptism and SBC membership practises:

Pastors also were asked about their church’s practice of receiving members who were baptized or sprinkled in other churches. The question was, “Our church admits people into membership of our church who have been sprinkled or baptized in the following ways (without requiring baptism in OUR local church).”

A full 92 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism of new members who were immersed after conversion in another church that has the same beliefs as a Southern Baptist church.

If the candidate for membership had been immersed after conversion in another Southern Baptist church, 84 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.

If the prospective new member had been immersed after conversion in another church that does not believe in eternal security, 26 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.

If the prospective new member had been immersed after conversion in a church that believes baptism is required for salvation, 13 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.

If the prospective new member had been baptized by sprinkling or pouring after conversion, 3 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism prior to admittance into membership.

If the prospective new member had been baptized as an infant by sprinkling, pouring or immersion, 1 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.

Scott Shaffer

Something doesn’t look right.

A full 92 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism of new members who were immersed after conversion in another church that has the same beliefs as a Southern Baptist church.
If the candidate for membership had been immersed after conversion in another Southern Baptist church, 84 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.

That means up to 16% of SBC pastors require re-baptism if the candidate had already been baptized by immersion upon a profession of faith in another SBC church! And it gets worse, only 8% of SBC pastors requires re-baptism if it was a non-SBC church but had the same beliefs as an SBC church. I have to be reading this wrong.

volfan007

Baptizo means to immerse. Its what the word means….and when Jesus came straightway out of the water, I really doubt if he was being sprinkled on top of the head. Why would you get out into a river to just cup some water in your hands and pour it over you?

Believers baptism by immersion should be extremely important to every SB. Its a doctrine, which is so clearly spelled out in the Scripture, that to do it any other way would be unBiblical.

David

Les

Volfan007,

I already showed above where baptizo doesn’t mean immerse. Do you have any reply to those verses?

As to Jesus getting the river to have water sprinkled or poured on his head, I doubt a handful of water would make it very far up the bank to be used. In any case, the fact thatnhe stepped in the river does not make immersion explicit, only perhaps deduced.

    David Campbell

    Calvin: “The very word baptize, however, signifies to immerse; and it is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church.”

      Les

      It certainly can signify. In any case, I just was pointing out that does not ALWAYS mean immerse.

Ben Stratton

Les,

John Broadus, the great preacher, scholar, and teacher answers your question about baptizo in Mark 7:4 and Luke 11:38 at: http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/Broadus.Immersion.Essential.pdf

Read pages 14-16

This is from his book “Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism”

I started to summarize what he says, but it is easier to just point to his work online.

Today, Baptists are very ignorant about their theology and doctrinal beliefs. So it is no surprise that many Baptists do not know how to defend the doctrine of believer’s baptism by immersion or that numbers of modern Baptists have joined pedobaptist churches. However it was different back in the 1800’s. Baptists knew what they believed. Numerous books were written on Baptists distinctives and debates with non-Baptists were common place. This is why in the 1800’s and early 1900’s you see multitudes of Methodists and Presbyterians joining Baptist churches.

Les

Ben,

Thanks for the link. I read it and though I greatly admire Broadus, I find his arguments very unpersuasive. Of course he comes at the subject believing that baptizo means immerse. So of course he cannot see anything but immersed couches, etc. in the Mark passage. And he does quite some speculation to get there.

Thanks again.

Les

By the way, I’d still like to see an explicit example of an immersion of a person in the NT if someone can point that out.

    Chris Roberts

    How about an implicit baptism of infants?

      Les

      Chris, absolutely. There are no explicit instances of infants being baptized. I grant that.

    Ron Hale

    Les,

    A good kodak moment is … Acts 8:
    36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”[f] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

    Les … they went down into the water and came up out the water.

    Les … don’t you think a little water sprinkled fails to protray the burial (watery grave) and raised to walk in newness of life?

    Blessings!

      Les

      Ron, so since the text says they both came up out of the water Phillip immersed himself too?

      I don’t think this example is explicit.

      Les

      And also, yes Ron I do think a little water sprinkled fails to portray the death, burial and resurrection. I think that’s a great thing immersion has going for it.

      But pouring has it’s merits too. There are plenty of pouring images in the bible, not the least of which was the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Acts where they were, guess what, baptized with the Spirit as had been told them. Hardly an immersion, by the way.

Ben Stratton

“The man who followed the wagon from Edinburgh to London to see when the back wheel overtook the front wheel went on a fool’s errand, but he was the personification of intelligence compared to the preacher who took a man down into the river that he might sprinkle a little water on his head.” B.H. Carroll

(The above quote is from a debate B.H. Carroll had with Orset Fisher on baptism in Davilla, Texas in September 1871. Fisher was a Methodist champion and was contending that while Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan and Philip took the Eunuch down into the water to baptize him it was done not by immersion, but by sprinkling.)

    Les

    Ben, that’s a quippy quote.

    But just last week I was in a part of Haiti which is extremely dry with cacti all around. Very little water is available. For miles around if you were there and wanted to immerse someone, well good luck with that. The closest water to the church we visited was a river, the bed of which was about 100 yards wide. Water in the river was no deeper than maybe a foot. We drove our vehicle across it quite easily.

    If I were intending to sprinkle water on someone’s head I would not use the little clean drinking water available. No, I would take the person to the river and we would likely both walk down into the river (as I said, it’s about a foot deep at the deepest part) where I would bend over, cup my hands and then stand up and pour it over his head. Then we would both come back up out of the river.

    If you wanted to immerse the person, well it would be impossible at that location.

    That’s in a part of Haiti that reminds me of what the middle east looks like.

    Anyway, that’s my St. Louis to Haiti story to go along with the Edinburgh to London story.

Steve Lemke

Les,
I think Chris has exposed your double standard — you want an explicit, no possible doubt example of immersion, but you’re willing to have the broadest possible inference to find any possible justification for infant baptism. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!

Second, in your application of the two texts which are not speaking of the practice of Christian baptism (Mark 7:4 and Luke 11:38), you’re confusing the characteristic use of words in the New Testament in two ways . . .
(a) First, what we said is that baptizo translated as baptism meant “immerse.” The two examples you cite (Mark 7:4, Luke 11:38) have nothing to do with the practice of baptism. In addition to what John Broadus said in the link provided by Ben, surely you recognize that words can be used in different settings with different shades of meaning, while being consistent as applied to the same specific referents. For example, diakonos consistetly refers to the office of “deacon” in 1 Timothy 3 and other places. However, if you applied the word literally in all references, Jesus could be said to call himself a “deacon” in Matthew 20:28. Of course, 1 Timothy 3 is a noun and Matthew 20:28 is a verb. Jesus was saying He came to minister or serve, not to be ministered unto. And yet, the basic sense of “serving” is present in each case. So it is with baptizo. When speaking of the religious practice, it consistently refers to immersion. Sometimes, as in the examples you mentioned (Mark 7:4, Luke 11:38), the word is used analogously as “wash.” In all cases, it obviously refers to a thorough cleansing, not just a sprinkle.

(b) Second, you overlook the fact that in Mark 7 there are two words for washing, nipto and baptizo. Obviously, since they are used in adjacent verses, a contrast of some kind is intended — the mere washing of hands in v. 3, from the more complete bathing in v. 4.

Thanks for raising the issue of baptizing couches, Les — it perfectly throws your argument on its head! First of all, the “couches” (kline) often referred to pallets, not modern day couches like you buy from Nieman Marcus. This word kline is the same word used in Luke 5:18 of the man with palsy let down through the roof so Jesus could heal him, which Jesus told him to pick up and walk out with. Second, it would be absurd to sprinkle a pallet, table, or couch. In cases of a dirty mat which was on a dirt floor, or perhaps that a sick person had been on, the only thing that would make sense would be to immerse and thoroughly wash a mat or pallet. Thanks for making our point!

And yes, I’m sure Philip got wet in Acts 8: I know I would when I baptize if I didn’t wear waders! To that Scripture which Ron suggested, I would add the account of Jesus’ own baptism, in which he “came up out of the water” (Matthew 3:16). And again, what makes non-immersion wrong is not just some shallow formalism. It is that it does not match the meaning of baptism as described in Romans 6.

Just one further historical reference. The churches which cling to the Catholic form of baptism by sprinkling claim this was the historical pattern of the church. Recently some scholars went into some areas in North Africa, including Hippo, long excluded from Christian pilgrims. As they went to these ancient churches, what did they find — baptismal fonts for sprinkling? NO, THEY FOUND BAPTISMAL POOLS FOR BAPTISM BY IMMERSION!

    Les

    Dr. Lemke,

    To quote you, “The Greek word baptizo literally means to immerse in water.”

    I believe you’re the one who said that the word “literally means to immerse in water.”

    Now, when it’s pointed out instances where it obviously does not mean that you say, “a) First, what we said is that baptizo translated as baptism meant “immerse.” No, sir, that’s not what you said.

    But that’s ok. At least NOW you’re agreeing that baptizo doesn’t always mean immerse. That’s all I was pointing out.

    As far as a double standard, I think I’ve been clear that there is no explicit example of infant baptism. My only reason for asking for a clear and explicit example of immersion is to demonstrate that there aren’t any. So, we pourers and immersers are on equal footing.

    And yes, I certainly understand words having different meanings in different contexts. That was at least part of what I was pointing out. And as I’ve said and stipulated, I believe immersion a very valid mode for baptism. I’ve not said otherwise.

    And you’re welcome for bringing in the couches to the discussion. You may be right that they were like a small pallet. But maybe not since we don’t know for sure. Or maybe the point is the traditions of the Pharisees and the Jews as the text says having to do with ceremonial washings, which would not have been ceremonial immersions!

    But I’m afraid I didn’t make your point. Rather, you have made mine.

    And no one really dealt with the Luke passage. But maybe that one is a little tougher.

    And, I would still like to see, if possible, the references for your assertion that the translators transliterated baptizo because of their non-immersion bias.

    As for this, “The churches which cling to the Catholic form of baptism by sprinkling claim this was the historical pattern of the church,” I suppose some do. I do not. I realize that both modes were practiced so such a discovery doesn’t surprise. We in the PCA accept both the sprinkled/poured upon AND the immersed since both are valid.

    And we prefer the little c when using catholic. After all, we all trace the same origins.

    Oh, almost forgot. You said, “And yes, I’m sure Philip got wet in Acts 8: I know I would when I baptize if I didn’t wear waders! To that Scripture which Ron suggested, I would add the account of Jesus’ own baptism, in which he “came up out of the water.”

    Well of course you would, as would I get wet in my Haiti example above if I waded into the river and poured some water over the candidates head. But my point to Ron and to you is what the text says. If you want that text to prove immersion, it proves too much. In your citation it would also prove Phillip immersing the both of them.

Jeremy W

I am a Reformed Baptist leaning towards going fully Presbyterian. The big issue for me, as with many RB, is the issue of baptism. Here are some questions/points I am wrestling with: of the 10 instances of baptism in the NT – 6 refer explicitly to children or to households (Pentecost, Cornelius, Lydia, the Philippian jailer, Crispus and Stephanas. Of the remaining four instances, 2 concern bachelors who had no house (Paul and the Ethiopian eunuch). I think God puts a high concern on redeeming families and not individuals, per se.

My Baptist upbringing has always focused on a person getting saved but in the NT, the Lord was concerned with families coming into covenantal relationship with the Living God. Of course this is entirely true of the OT people of God. The obvious connection to the OT is circumcision.

Lydia’s example is critical. She is the one who believes but her entire household is baptized. That tells me something of the new covenant and how it relates to the old. There were surely young children in her family and they would have been baptized. Not because they believed but because their representative head – Lydia – believed. The children, through baptism, came into the covenant of God.

Of course this means that baptism is far more than just the basic definition given by most Baptist. Baptism certainly encapsulates what Lemke has described but in my mind it seems to represent far more than that.

By baptism a person is admitted into the visible church. Just as circumcision used to be the entry point into the covenant people of God in the OT. It is also a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of the believer’s ingrafting into Christ, of rebirth, of remission of sins, etc.

Just as in the Old Covenant, the New is similar: for example, Abraham believed in God and then his household was circumcised. Why? Because the head of the household has now believed in God and has entered into covenant with Him. Isaac was circumcised as entrance into the covenant community, not because he had believed. His belief would come later. So you can see how this corresponds to the New Covenant and how baptism replaces circumcision just as the Lord’s supper replaces the Passover.

Probably the best delineation of the Reformed/Presbyterian position has been done by Richard Pratt, OT professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. You can Google his video presentation and watch it for yourself: “Why We Baptize Our Children.”

    David Campbell

    Here is a “reformed” Southern Baptist founder’s view of infant baptism. You have been well listening to the siren song of paedos. I suggest you prayerfully read this work as it addresses all of your confusion as well as the identity crisis you mention in “fully presbyterian”.

    http://www.reformedreader.org/history/howell/evilsofinfantbaptismtoc.htm

      David Campbell

      And while you sit upon the fence, refer to yourself as a reformed evangelical, not reformed baptist… I wish John Piper would do the same

Les

Dr. Lemke,

One thing I forgot last night (it was late) was something you wrote when you actually modified your definition of baptizo=immersion. You wrote:

“what we said is that baptizo translated as baptism meant “immerse.””

So it made me think of the translation in Mark 10:38:

“Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?””

Do you believe that Jesus was referring there to immersion?

Thanks,

Les

    Ron Hale

    Les,

    As a sidebar issue … what about John’s baptism? Did he immerse or pour?

    Remember … John 3:23?

    He was baptizing in Aenon because there was MUCH water there. The crowds were great and the water was deep and wide — it was a glorious day for being a Baptist! Can a Brother get an Amen? :)

      Les

      Ron, I can give a hearty amen when someone is baptized by immersion after their profession of faith. It is a glorious thing to see. Our organization works with a baptistic church in Haiti and I eagerly await the day when I see for the first time them baptize a new convert. I’m told they save them up and have baptisms in the nearby waters of the Caribbean.

      That said, I’ve read on that passage thatbthe Greek is better translated “many waters” rather than “much water.”. And that exegesis was from a Baptist. He and others say that that particular area is historically known for many shallow streams and that deep water was not available there. I’ll see if I can run down that reference.

      Les

Ron Hale

Bro. Les,

In reading this verse:

1 Corinthians 12:13
English Standard Version (ESV)

13For(A) in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—(B) Jews or Greeks, slaves[a] or free—and(C) all were made to drink of one Spirit

…. could the words “poured” or “sprinkled” into one body … fit? I don’t think so. We were all baptized (immersed, plunged, etc.) into one body.

Remember why Jesus did not baptize anyone in water? Because He is the “Spirit” baptizer! At salvation I/we were immersed into the body of Christ. Later I was immersed in water (picture of a watery grave) and raised up to walk in newness of life.

The greek word defines “immersion” along with N.T. practise of the baptism, and with the N.T. imagery of Spirit baptism … all point to the plunge under water.

Blessings!

    Les

    Ron,

    I believe that verse is referring not to an immersion but to our union with Christ. Here is what the ESV Study Bible (no particular advocate for paedobaptists) says on that verse:

    “in one Spirit we were all baptized. The same Greek construction (the verb baptiz? plus en [“in”] plus the dative of pneuma, “Spirit”) is used here as in the other six “baptism in the Holy Spirit” passages in the NT (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16), and here it seems clearly to refer to the cleansing and empowering work that the Holy Spirit does in a new convert at the point of conversion. Baptism is used metaphorically here to refer to the Spirit’s work within the believer to unite him or her to the body of Christ, which is also the corporate body of believers. Water baptism is an outward symbol of this reality (cf. Rom. 6:4)”

David Campbell

Ron Hale,

Unfortunately your interpretation of I Cor 12:13 is spawn of the catholicized, paedo reformer’s imagination… invented for the purpose of mysticizing the Catholic Church Universal into an ungathered invisible assembly. I think you would do much better to apply “baptize” figurately as in “baptized into Moses”…. Just a few pages back in this letter.

    Ron Hale

    David,
    My previous post gave no indication about being baptized into the Catholic church. The “one body” is Christ (in Christ).

Steve Lemke

Les,
Yes, I said baptizo means to immerse in water. And it does. If you won’t look it up for yourself, here is a short summary of lexical and exegetical authorities:

According to Thayer’s lexicon, one use of this word outside the Bible was with reference to sunken ships. G. R. Beasley-Murray, in his article on baptism in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Colin Brown, editor), stated that in Classical Greek it meant “to cause to perish (as by drowning a man).” BAGD defines baptizo as “dip, immerse” and points out that even in non-Christian literature it meant “plunge, sink, drench, overwhelm.” J. D. G. Dunn wrote in the New Bible Dictionary (J. D. Douglas, editor) that New Testament baptism was “probably by immersion.” Even Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, in giving the Greek root for “baptize,” defines baptizein as “to dip.” Those proficient in Koine Greek are fairly well agreed that baptizo generally means immerse: “Despite assertions to the contrary, its seems that baptizo, both in Jewish and Christian contexts, normally meant ‘immerse,’ and that even when it became a technical term for baptism, the thought of immersion remains. The use of term for cleansing vessels (as in Le 6:28) does not prove the contrary, since vessels were normally cleansed by immersing them in water” (Brown, NIDNTT, I, p. 144).

Notice in Mk 1:9-10 that Jesus and John were not just “by” the Jordan, but were down “in” (eis) it. Then, after being submerged, Jesus came up “out of” (ek) the water. All this would have been unnecessary if full immersion were not the mode used here. Similarly, according to Jn 3:23, why was John baptizing at Aenon near Salim? Because it was such a lovely place? Because it was conveniently close to the synagogue? Neither of these. The text says it was “because there was plenty of water.” It doesn’t take much water to sprinkle; the entire populace of a large city could be sprinkled with a washtub full of water. John’s method of baptism was by immersion, and that takes “plenty” of water.

According to Ac 8:36-39, Philip and the Eunuch “went down” (katebesan) “into” (eis) the water and after the baptism “came up” (anebesan) “out of” (ek) the water. J. L. Dagg commented that “the style in which [Philip] traveled forbids the supposition that he had no drinking vessel, in which a sufficient quantity of water might have been brought into the chariot to wet the hand of the administrator. But, if they chose not to perform the rite in the chariot, there was certainly no need for both of them to go into the water, if the mere wetting of Philip’s hand was sufficient (Manual of Church Order, 36). It appears that when it came to baptism, the eunuch was all wet!

Since God promised to “pour out” (ekcheo, Ac 2:33; 10:45) His Spirit, wouldn’t pouring water be a more fitting mode of baptism? Well perhaps, it if could be shown that baptizo ever meant “pour,” but there is no lexical evidence that it ever meant anything other than “immerse.” Those who believe in pouring argue that Ac 1:5 (viewed in light of ekcheo in 2:33) is just such a case where baptizo means “pour out.” But this is faulty reasoning. One might just as forcefully argue that ekcheo in Ac 2:33 really means “immerse” since it is paralleled with baptizo in Ac 10:44-48! A more likely explanation for ekcheo in Ac 2:33 is that, just as in the days of Noah when God opened the floodgates of heaven and poured forth the waters resulting in the immersion of every living creature (except those with Noah), so at Pentecost God poured out the Holy Spirit resulting in the immersion of His people into the Spirit.
(copied from “Baptism’s Practice” by Steve Atkerson, at the Reforming Today’s Church with New Testament Practices webpage at http://www.ntrf.org/articles/article_detail.php?PRKey=38.

So, “immerse” is simply the proper definition of the word. Obviously, my comments about it was part of a conversation about the church practice of baptism, not washing dishes, but you are going to some rather extremely strained interpretations to miss the obvious and plain sense of the text. We have demonstrated how the baptism of Jesus and the Ethiopian was consistent with immersion. We have given archeological evidence that the early church practiced baptism by immersion. We have patiently explained that dirty pallets and dirty dishes are thoroughly washed by immersion in water, not sprinkled. We have pointed out that baptism in the Spirit is obviously and of necessity a complete immersion in the Spirit, not a sprinkling of the Spirit in our lives.

As for evidence that the Anglicans and others who translated the earliest English Bibles knowingly transliterated rather than translated baptizo out of expediency, I’m rolling my eyes. Think about it. This was a time in England that the wrong move by someone in the church could bring execution from the civil authorities. Do the names Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley mean anything to you? Translating “immerse” instead of transliterating “baptize” would have dictated that the King, every Duke, every Vicar, every Priest, and every Brit had been unscripturally baptized, and they needed to be baptized by a Baptist. Think that would have been a popular decision? Give me a break!

For a more recent historical reference, Spencer Cone resigned in 1836 from the American Bible Society in protest of the anti-immersionist translations being utilized, and he formed a separate Bible society (the American Bible Union, later the American Baptist Publication Society) which produced several Baptistic versions of the Bible, using excellent scholars, including faculty members of the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. Obviously, mainline denominations would not accept it.

So, Les, if you don’t want to accept all this evidence, and want to keep clinging to tangental possible alternative translations, so be it. That’s your choice. That’s why you’re not a Baptist. But then, all your discussions simply reinforce the basic point that this article was about in the first place — that Baptists and Presbyterians disagree on this issue.
swl

    Les

    Dr. Lemke,

    Thank you for your lengthy quotation and response. Before I get to my reply, could you answer at least one of my previous questions, especially since you just wrote, “I said baptizo means to immerse in water. And it does.”

    I asked said and asked, ““Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?””

    Do you believe that Jesus was referring there to immersion?”

    I look forward to your response.

    Les

    ?Dr. Lemke,
    Thank you for the quote from Thayer. Here is a quote of my own from Dr. Robert Reymond and his A New Systematic Theology Of The Christian Faith. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1998. I know it is rather long, but Reymond, both in his comments and in the excellent notes, refutes pretty much everything you have said. See especially the reference to Dale’s argument on the meaning of baptizo in note 37.

    BEGIN REYMOND QUOTE

    “Baptist apologists support their claim by contending that (1) baptizo, has the root meaning “to dip” or “to immerse”, [36]
    36. Alexander Carson in his classic treatment, Baptism in Its Mode and Subjects (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, I845), argues that the root meaning of baptizo, is to “dip, and nothing but dip,” with no intimation in the word itself that the object “immersed” is to be withdrawn from the substance into which it has been immersed. Emersion in the case of the ordinance of baptism necessarily follows simply as a matter of course since the living subject cannot be left in an immersed state in the baptismal water.??
    (2) John 3:23 implies that immersion was the mode of baptism John the Baptist employed from the fact that he was baptizing in Aenon near Salem “because there was plenty of water [hydata polla, literally “many waters”] there,” (3) New Testament descriptions of actual acts of baptism (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:9, 10; Acts 8:36-39) support immersion as the proper mode of baptism, and (4) Romans 6:3-6 and Colossians 2:11-12 explicitly make the burial and resurrection of Christ the pattern for the mode of baptism, that is to say, just as Christ was buried so also to represent his death to sin the baptized party is to be immersed in water, and just as Christ rose from the dead so also to depict his resurrection to newness of life the baptized party is to emerge from water.
    None of these contentions can be sustained. With reference to the meaning of baptizo, [37]
    37. James W. Dale argues in his monumental four-volume work on baptism (Classic Baptism Judaic Baptism, Johannic Baptism, and Christic and Patristic Baptism) that baptizo, does not mean “to dip” (that is, “to put into [and to remove from]”) but rather “to put together so as to remain together,” with its import “in nowise governed by, or dependant upon, any form of act” (Classic Baptism [1867; reprint, Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1989], 126). He shows that the word in classical Greek means a variety of things, including to plunge, to drown, to steep, to bewilder, to dip, to tinge, to pour, to sprinkle, and to dye! He concludes by saying:??Baptism is a myriad-sided word, adjusting itself to the most diverse cases. Agamemnon was baptized; Bacchus was baptized; Cupid was baptized; Cleinias was baptized; Alexander was baptized; Panthia was baptized; Otho was baptized; Charicles was baptized; and a host of others were baptized, each differing from the other in the nature or the mode of their baptism, or both.?A blind man could more readily select any demanded color from the spectrum, or a child could more readily thread the Cretan labyrinth, than could “the seven wise men of Greece” declare the nature, or mode, of any given baptism by the naked help of baptizo. (353–54)???Therefore, Jay Adams in his foreword to Dale’s Classic Baptism rightly declares that “water baptism is an appropriate ‘uniting ordinance’ that permanently introduces Christians to the visible Church, just as Spirit baptism permanently unites Christians with the invisible Church.”??
    while it may sometimes mean to dip,” there are several New Testament contexts where it must mean simply “to wash,” with no specific mode of washing indicated. For example, ebaptisthe, hardly means “was immersed” in Luke 11:38, where we are informed that a certain Pharisee, “noticing that Jesus did not first wash [literally “was not baptized”] before the meal, was surprised.” Surely this Pharisee did not expect Jesus (note that Jesus the person is the subject of the verbal action and not simply Jesus’ hands) to be immersed in water before every meal! Surely his surprise was provoked by Jesus not ritually washing his hands before eating, in keeping with the ceremony referred to in Matthew 15:2 and Mark 7:3-4, most probably by having water poured over them (see the practice alluded to in 2 Kgs. 3:11 and Luke 7:44).
    Speaking of Mark 7:3-4, in verse 4 we read: ‘And [when they come] from the marketplace, except they ceremonially wash [baptisontai, literally ‘baptize themselves’] they do not eat.” Surely again, baptisontai, cannot mean that “the Pharisees and all the Jews” immersed themselves every time they returned home from the market. [38]
    38. A variant reading in A and B actually reads rhantisontai, literally, “sprinkle,” the thought being: “except they sprinkle [themselves, or what is] from the market place, they do not eat it.??
    Verse 4 also refers to “ceremonial washing [baptismous] of cups and utensils and copper bowls,” with the Received Text even adding “and beds [klinon].” While klinon, is textually suspect, at least it must be acknowledged that this textual tradition saw nothing incongruous about the idea of “baptizing” beds (see Lev. 15), an act which could be carried out quite simply if the beds in question were sprinkled but which would be quite difficult if the beds, sometimes quite elaborate in construction, were immersed.
    To say that John 3:23 implies something about the mode of baptism from its notice that there were many [springs of] waters” at Aenon (which proper name means “springs”) where John was baptizing is a stretch of exegesis. The “many springs” would have been necessary to any great gathering of people such as came to the Baptist to hear him and to receive baptism from his hand, but hardly for baptismal purposes. They would have been necessary for the very sustaining of life! And the streams of Israel which are formed from springs are usually rather shallow.
    Then it is often argued that the expressions, “went down into the water” and came up out of the water,” used in connection with Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:9, 10) and that of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:36–39) indicate that immersion followed by emersion was the mode of baptism practiced in these instances. But a careful reading of the text in each instance will show that the act of baptism, whatever mode was being employed, was a separate act that followed upon the going down into and preceded the coming up out of the water. It should be noted too, in the case of the eunuch’s baptism, that Luke records that both Philip and the eunuch went down into and came up out of the water. Clearly these acts in no way constituted any part of the baptismal act itself. Therefore, nothing can be definitely determined from these expressions regarding the mode of the baptismal act itself which occurred between the acts of going down and coming up. [39]
    39. However, because the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost is described in terms of a “pouring out (Acts 2:17-18, 33), because both John the Baptist (Matt. 3:11) and Jesus (Acts 1:5) call the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost a “baptizing” work by Jesus, and because both John and Jesus compare the formers baptismal activity with the latter’s baptismal activity, the intimation is that the mode of John’s earlier baptismal activity, like the latter’s, was by affusion or sprinkling.??
    Moreover, never does the New Testament describe the act itself of baptism as going down into or coming up out of water. It is a distinct possibility that what made the Ethiopian eunuch even think of and request baptism in the first place, reading Isaiah 53:7-8 as he had been doing, was his having read just moments before the words of Isaiah 52:15: “So will [my Servant] sprinkle [yazzeh, that is, cleanse] many nations.’ [40]
    40. By his study of yazzeh, the Hiphil imperfect of nazah, in Isaiah 52:15, in his Studies in Isaiah (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1954), 199-206, Edward J. Young demonstrates that the root, which occurs twenty-four times in the Old Testament, is a technical ritual word found mainly in the Levitical legislation (see Lev. 4:6; 6:27; 8:11; 14:7a; 16:14; Num. 19:18) denoting ceremonial sprinkling with oil, oil and blood, or water, and means “will sprinkle” and not “will startle” or “astonish” as the Septaugintal thaumasontai, suggests. In light of all the evidence, I concur with Henri Blocher’s judgment (The Songs of the Servant [London: Inter Varsity, 1975], 61: “the burden of proof … rests with those who would reject ‘sprinkle.’”?It should be noted that some Pharisees asked John the Baptist, after he had denied that he was the Messiah, Elijah, or the Prophet, “Why then do you baptize?” (John 1:25). Where did they get the notion that the Messiah would baptize? Without a translation such as “sprinkle” in Isaiah 52:15, there is no other prophecy in the Old Testament that expressly states this. But then this suggests that john’s mode of baptizing was by sprinkling, because it was his activity that provoked the Pharisees question in the first place. They saw him sprinkling, and knowing of the prophecy in Isaiah 52:15, they asked him whether he was the Messiah.??
    (He also may have been familiar with Ezekiel 3625: “I will sprinkle [wzaraqti] [41]
    41. The Hebrew Old Testament employs two verb roots, nazah, and zaraq, both meaning “to sprinkle,” when it speaks of ceremonial washings. For the usage of the former, see footnote 40. The latter root seems to denote a heavier sprinkling than the former, executed with the whole hand rather than with the finger (Exod. 9:8; 29:20-21). It occurs thirty-five times, and, like the former root, is found mainly in the Levitical legislation (e.g. Exod. 24:6; Lev. 1:5, 11; 3:2, 8, 13; 2 Kings 16:13, 15; Ezek. 36:25; 43:18). Combined, the approximately sixty references to various sprinklings in the Old Testament, according to the author of Hebrews, may all be described as “baptisms” (H eb. 9:10) !??
    clean water on you, and you will be clean.”) Thus the preponderance of evidence suggests that the eunuch’s baptism was accomplished by sprinkling. Finally, it may also be noted that the act of going down into the water, say to the knees or thighs, would have been an appropriate procedure for a baptism by sprinkling or by pouring, making it much easier for the baptizer to raise the water from the water’s surface to the top of the subject’s head.
    In the case of Saul’s baptism, the baptism of the household of Cornelius, and that of the household of the Philippian jailer, since each of these acts of baptism was carried out within a home (Acts 9:11; 10:25; 16:32), and in the last case sometime after midnight (Acts 16:33) but before dawn (v. 35), it is virtually certain that these baptisms would not have been by immersion, since few homes in those times would have had facilities for such an act (and again in the last case Paul would have hardly taken the jailer’s household to a river after midnight) but most probable that they would have been performed by sprinkling.
    Furthermore, the author of Hebrews characterizes all of the ceremonial sprinklings of the Old Testament–the sprinkling (rhantizousa) of those who were ceremonially unclean with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer (9:13), Moses’ sprinkling (erantisen) of the scroll and all the people with the blood of calves mixed with water and scarlet wool (9:19), and his sprinkling (erantisen) of the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies with blood (9:21)–as “baptisms [baptismois],” that is, as “ceremonial washings” (9:10). Moreover, the same writer immediately thereafter and Peter as well speak of Christians as being “sprinkled” with Christ’s blood:
    Hebrews 10:22: “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled [rherantismenoi] to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (See Ezek. 36:25)?Hebrews 12:24: “[You have come] to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood [haimati rhantismou] that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”?I Peter 1:2: “who have been chosen … for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling [rhantismon] by his blood.” (See Isa. 52:15)??
    Surely the universe of discourse of the Book of Hebrews would warrant the conclusion that the author would have regarded the Christian’s “sprinkling” with Christ’s blood–the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament typical sacrifice–as a spiritual “baptism” as well. And just as surely “it would be strange if the baptism with water which represents the sprinkling of the blood of Christ could not properly and most significantly be performed by sprinkling.” [42]
    42. Murray, Christian Baptism, 24.??
    Finally, Christ’s baptismal work (see Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 2:33; 1 Cor. 12:13), by which he baptizes the elect by or with his Spirit, is invariably described in terms of the Spirit “coming upon” (Acts 1:8, 19:6), being “poured out upon” (Acts 2:17, 33), or “falling upon” (Acts 10:44; 11:15). Note also Romans 5:5; “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” Now what work does the outward ordinance of baptism signify and seal if not the Savior’s spiritual baptismal work? After all, no other saving work is termed “baptism” in the New Testament epistles. Therefore, if the ordinance of baptism is to signify Christ’s baptismal work, which is uniformly described in terms of affusion, then it follows that the ordinance should reflect the affusionary pattern of Christ’s baptismal work.
    With reference to the alleged pattern of baptism in Romans 6:2-6 and Colossians 2:11-12 as being that of burial and resurrection, a careful analysis of these passages will show that Paul’s basic thesis is the believer’s union with Christ in his crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection as the antidote to antinomianism. Baptism by immersion does not modally reflect our crucifixion with Christ, which is one of the four aspects of our union with Christ which Paul mentions in the Romans passage. Murray is right when he affirms:
    It is arbitrary to select one aspect [of our union with Christ, namely burial] and find in the language used to set it forth the essence of the mode of baptism. Such procedure is indefensible unless it can be carried through consistently. It cannot be carried through consistently here [since baptism by immersion does not and cannot visually reflect our being hung on the cross with Christ, which is as much an aspect of our union with Christ in the passage as our burial with him] and therefore it is arbitrary and inva1id. [43] ?43. Ibid., 31. It should be noted too that Christ was not “buried” at all in the sense that the Baptist mode of baptism requires. That is to say, his body was not placed under the ground. Rather, his body was temporarily deposited in a new tomb preparatory to what his disciples thought would be a permanent entombment after the Passover festivities.??
    We should no more single out our union with Christ in his burial and resurrection and make these two aspects of our union with him the pattern for the mode of baptism than we should appeal to Galatians 3:27 (“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ,” see also Col. 3:9-14) and argue on the basis of its statement that baptism should be carried out by requiring the new Christian to don a white robe, that is, by a “baptism by donning.”
    The fact is that there is not a single recorded instance of a baptism in the entire New Testament where immersion followed by emersion is the mode of baptism. The Baptist practice of baptism by immersion is simply based upon faulty exegesis of Scripture. The ordinance should not be represented as signifying Christ’s burial and resurrection (aspects of the accomplished phase of his saving work, which the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper memorializes) but rather his baptismal work (the applicational phase of his saving work). I would conclude therefore that “dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person.”
    END OF REYMOND QUOTE

    LEMKE: Notice in Mk 1:9-10 that Jesus and John were not just “by” the Jordan, but were down “in” (eis) it. SEE REYMOND IN THE QUOTE FOR AN EXCELLENT REFUTATION OF THIS.

    LEMKE: According to Ac 8:36-39, Philip and the Eunuch “went down” (katebesan) “into” (eis) the water and after the baptism “came up” (anebesan) “out of” (ek) the water. SEE REYMOND IN THE QUOTE FOR AN EXCELLENT REFUTATION OF THIS.

    LEMKE: Since God promised to “pour out” (ekcheo, Ac 2:33; 10:45) His Spirit, wouldn’t pouring water be a more fitting mode of baptism? Well perhaps, it if could be shown that baptizo ever meant “pour,” but there is no lexical evidence that it ever meant anything other than “immerse.” SEE REYMOND IN THE QUOTE FOR AN EXCELLENT REFUTATION OF THIS. THE JAMES DALE QUOTE IN PARTICULAR.

    LEMKE: So, “immerse” is simply the proper definition of the word. SEE REYMOND IN THE QUOTE FOR AN EXCELLENT REFUTATION OF THIS.

    LEMKE: Obviously, my comments about it was part of a conversation about the church practice of baptism, not washing dishes, but you are going to some rather extremely strained interpretations to miss the obvious and plain sense of the text. We have demonstrated how the baptism of Jesus and the Ethiopian was consistent with immersion. SEE REYMOND IN THE QUOTE FOR AN EXCELLENT REFUTATION OF THIS.

    LEMKE: We have given archeological evidence that the early church practiced baptism by immersion. We have patiently explained that dirty pallets and dirty dishes are thoroughly washed by immersion in water, not sprinkled. We have pointed out that baptism in the Spirit is obviously and of necessity a complete immersion in the Spirit, not a sprinkling of the Spirit in our lives. SEE REYMOND IN THE QUOTE FOR AN EXCELLENT REFUTATION OF THIS. AND I APPRECIATE THE PATIENCE OF YOU ALL. VERY KIND OF YOU.

    LEMKE: As for evidence that the Anglicans and others who translated the earliest English Bibles knowingly transliterated rather than translated baptizo out of expediency, I’m rolling my eyes. Think about it. This was a time in England that the wrong move by someone in the church could bring execution from the civil authorities. Do the names Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley mean anything to you? Translating “immerse” instead of transliterating “baptize” would have dictated that the King, every Duke, every Vicar, every Priest, and every Brit had been unscripturally baptized, and they needed to be baptized by a Baptist. Think that would have been a popular decision? Give me a break!
    NO NEED TO ROLL YOUR EYES. I JUST ASKED FOR EVIDENCE AND AGAN YOU PROVIDE SUPPOSITION. THAT’S FINE. AND IM WELL FAMILIAR WITH CRANMER, LATIMER AND RIDLEY. MY VISIT TO AND STAY IN CAMBRIDGE A FEW YEARS AGO EVEN STRENGTHENED WHAT I’D ALREADY LEARNED OF THESE MEN THROUGH STUDIES.

    LEMKE: So, Les, if you don’t want to accept all this evidence, and want to keep clinging to tangental possible alternative translations, so be it. That’s your choice. That’s why you’re not a Baptist. But then, all your discussions simply reinforce the basic point that this article was about in the first place — that Baptists and Presbyterians disagree on this issue.

    DR. LEMKE, YOU HAVE NOT PRESENTED EVIDENCE. YOU’VE PUT FORTH AN ARGUMENT. SO HAVE I. YOU’VE PROVIDED SOME QUOTATIONS. NOW SO HAVE I. AS TO THE POINT OF YOUR ARTICLE, GOOD AND GODLY MEN WILL DIFFER ON BAPTISM.

    AT THE END OF THE DAY, I THINK IT IS BEST TO MAKE ARGUMENTS THAT ARE BASED ON SOUND REASONING AND ESPECIALLY SOUND HERMENUTICS AND SOUND LEXICAL WORK.
    WHEN YOU AND OTHERS SAY THAT BAPTIZO ALWAYS MEANS IMMERSE IN WATER, WELL YOU HURT YOUR ARGUMENT. IT WAS VERY EASY FOR ME, A NON-SCHOLAR, TO DEMONSTRATE THAT YOUR CLAIM IS UTTERLY FALSE. YOU CAN GET TO MMERSION WITHOUT RESORTING TO TWISTED AND TORTURED MISUSE OF BAPTIZO.?

Steve Lemke

My friend Jeremy,
I find the references you mention about households being saved to be entirely unconvincing for infant baptism (which is not the theme of this article, but the last one). We all know cases in which after one family member is converted, others or perhaps all the adults in the family are converted. But this does not disallow what is stated as the prerequisites for salvation.

In cases such as the household of Cornelius (Acts 11) and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16), there was follow-up provided in which Peter or Paul shared with the family what they had shared with the individual. Cornelius gathered his family (Acts 10:33) to hear Peter preach what he had heard, and after they believed they were baptized (Acts 11:15-18). So, they were saved the same way that Cornelius did — upon his respentance and profession of faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. The same is true of the Philippian jailer — he famously said, “What must I do to be saved?” and Paul responded “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you (and your household members who do the same) will be saved.” Paul then shared with his family, and they believed (Acts 16:32).

Also, the word translated “household” (oikon), is very general in reference. It can refer to the actual physical house, or to its inhabitants. But be cautious about imposing modern Western notions about personhood on ancient society. Ancient society (espeically Jewish society) had rather firm divisions between Jewish men, women, nonJewish men, and children. You’ll remember that the count of people fed in the crowd of 3,000 or 5,000 was ONLY Jewish men. They did not normally consider infants in conversations to the degree that we do until bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, which was their official inauguration in adult personhood. So, the focus of the “household” was adults (even slaves), not infants. When added with the minimum requirement for salvation being faith in Christ, it is clear that infants are not automatically saved by their parents’ salvation, any more than lost husbands are automatcally saved if their wives are believers (1 Cor. 7:14). In both cases, children and unbelieving spouses are more likely to believe if they have believing spouses, hence they are “sanctified” by their believing spouse or parent.

So, the saving of households is actually not strong evidence for infant salvation, but in fact, the opposite is true.
swl

Steve Lemke

Les,
The one thing we can be SURE about that Jesus did NOT mean when he said “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” is . . .BEING SPRINKLED!

What He DID mean is that a would-be disciple should not underestimate the cost of what it means to IMMERSE your life in His. That Jesus is suggesting that His would-be followers might be “sprinkled with the sprinkling with which I am sprinkled” is absurd. Nothing less that complete immersion in the life of Jesus will do (i.e., deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him). So the root meaning of “immersion” (applied metaphorically) is clearly indicated.

    Les

    Oh, and for the record I do NOT think those passages mean sprinkling or pouring. The point is to expose the fact that baptizo cannot ALWAYS mean immerse, with or without water. Those who think it does simply have allowed their bias govern their hermeneutics.

Les

Dr. Lemke,

I didn’t really think you would do it, but you did. You stretch credulity with that very forced interpretation. But you have to. When you say that baptizo mean immersion (and you said with water, even though in the space of a few sentences you even deny that here with your metaphor) you have no choice but to try to force it.

So look at even another passage, Luke 12:49ff. As with the other passage in Mark, what is referred to is not some metaphor. It’s the suffering and death of our Savior! Can that be any plainer? It has nothing to do with some sort of metaphorical immersion.

    Ben Stratton

    Les,

    This passage is easily answered. Jesus was immersed or overwhelmed with sufferings. Only immersion fits this picture. Jesus did not have a little suffering as pouring or sprinkling would picture.

    Can you show one verse in the Bible where immersion does not fit? Being overwhelmed fits every time, whether it is water baptism or not.

Les

Ben,

The imagery of God pouring out His wrath is all over the bible, especially in the prophets. I suggest that the imagery of God immersing people in His wrath is not to be found. Do a search of pour or pouring.

As to showing you one verse where immersion doesn’t fit, see the Luke and Mark passages above. Imagine Jesus saying in Luke 12, “I have “an immersion” to be “immersed” with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!”

Rather silly. As would inserting sprinkling in the verse. But the idea of God’s judgement being poured out on our behalf fits perfectly. In any case, immersion makes no sense here.

    Ben Stratton

    Les,

    Yes, God’s wrath was poured out, just as the baptism of the Holy Spirit was poured out. However these happened in such a sense that the individuals were overwhelmed (i.e. immersed, dipped, plunged, etc.) with them. I have talked with family members who were baptized by pouring in Presbyterian churches. They told me they remember a little water running down their head. This is NOT being overwhelmed with water. This is why baptism by pouring or sprinkling is wrong.

    John Broadus answered your objects in Mark and Luke.

    When Jesus spoke of a baptism of suffering, He spoke of being overwhelmed with suffering. Can you show how being baptized by pouring is being overwhelmed with water? I don’t believe you can.

    This is why multitudes of pedobaptist preachers in the 1800’s became Baptists. Men like A.C. Dayton, Joseph Taylor, A.T. Pierson, Luther Rice, Adoniram Judson, etc.

      Les

      Ben,

      You know we can go back and forth and most likely we won’t change each others’ minds.

      I will say ask just how did those individuals in Acts get “dipped” and “plunged?” I don’t remember the text that way. And how about Jesus in Luke 11: “The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner.” Were they surprised he didn’t immerse himself before dinner?

      And you said, “They told me they remember a little water running down their head. This is NOT being overwhelmed with water. This is why baptism by pouring or sprinkling is wrong.”

      Would standing under an overwhelming shower work then since according to you the amount of water is what makes pouring or sprinkling wrong?

      And you again, “Can you show how being baptized by pouring is being overwhelmed with water?”

      Can you show me how being momentarily put under water is overwhelming?

      Finally, remember Dr. Lemke writing above, “Yes, I said baptizo means to immerse in water.” How does that fit with individuals being immersed with/by the Holy Spirit? Oops.

David Campbell

Haha, Ive really enjoyed watching this thread… Dr. Lemke… I find it very encouraging the lengths you went to give Les his answers… With all that is on your plate…. I hope he realizes the priv. you have graced him with… unfortunately… talking to les about baptism appears to be about as fruitful as talking with Jeh. Witn. about the trinity… why God allows regenerate men to fall victim to demonic confusion Ill never know…

Les

David,

So Christians who believe in infant baptism are victims of demonic confusion? Really? Men like RC Sproul and D. James Kennedy and Jonathan Edwards are/were demonically deceived? Is that all you’ve got? Quite lame. Have you got anything substantive to offer of your own?

    David Campbell

    Yes, all of the men you mentioned perverted the simple doctrine of believers baptism by immersion. Infant baptism is an evil, demonic practice. I do believe, with all of my heart, that satan has blinded you and those you mentioned.

      Les

      Oh, and that feeling in your heart? Might want to get some Tums. Probably indigestion. Theology from the heart is usually a digestive issue.

        David Campbell

        Yes, Tums did help me digest the proper view of sovereign election, but Im sitting here looking at my 3 week old praising God he will not be taught the same modified Catholic heresy I imbibed while raised in a presbyterian church, concerning baptism.

      Les

      David, this was meant to be for you re your viewing me and other reformed paedobaptists as under demonic influence:

      “You are a sad representative of the valid credobaptist, immersionist position. Sadly also, your brethren viewing this will likely not call you out on it. Says a lot.

Les

You are a sad representative of the valid credobaptist, immersionist position. Sadly also, your brethren viewing this will likely not call you out on it. Says a lot.

Les

Thanks for the tip. I’d like to visit there some day.

Brad Whitt

Dr. Lemke,

Thanks again for this great series of posts. I reallly appreciate your research and writing, and most of the comments that have been posted here. They have helped me to clarify some of my beliefs as a bible-believing Southern Baptist. I believe that it is always helpful for us to be challenged on those doctrines that we have long-held to help avoid believing something simply because we’ve always believed it.

Like the subtitle of this blog states, this place is “A forum for Baptists to dialogue about how best to fulfill God’s calling in our lives.”

Thank you for allowing us to dialogue about doctrine, ecclesiology and ministry as Baptists in general and Southern Baptists in particular.

    Les

    Phil,

    God bless your ministry. I looked at your site and see that we share a common seminary. I graduated from MABTS as well.

    Les

      volfan007

      Les,

      I also graduated from Mid America…what year did you graduate?

      David

        Les

        David, I graduated in 1987. How about you?

          volfan007

          I graduated in December 1988. So, we went to school together. What’s your last name? I am David Worley.

          Les

          Last name is Prouty.

Ron Hale

Les,

Did you mean “Brad” … not Phil?

Les

Ron, you’re right. I meant Brad.

Steve Lemke

Les,
Thanks for the dialogue on this subject, but it appears that the conversation is reaching the point of diminishing returns, and I think further debate would be counterproductive. I am frustrated with your continual attempt to interpret what I have said about the practice of Christian baptism with a leaden literalism, and to transpose what I said about Christian baptism into conversations in completely different settings. I have repeatedly explained that it is common for New Testament words used with a specific reference in some settings to be used analogously or metaphorically in other settings, but you keep coming back to leaden literalism. I see nothing edifying about continuing this conversation.

Regarding the other issues, I am content, comfortable, and confident in allowing my references to stand beside yours for the impartial reader to consider. I have cited standard, authoritative lexical references like Thayer; Liddel and Scott; New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology; the Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament; the New Bible Dictionary, etc. You have quoted a single work by a Presbyterian polemicist, published by a second rate religious publisher. I rest my case and ask the jury to render the correct verdict.

Sorry I couldn’t change your mind. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink (or be immersed)!
swl
swl

    Les

    Dr. Lemke,

    I agree that the conversation is no longer productive. Yes, I cited one highly credentialed professor who is as you say a “Presbyterian polemicist,” much the same way you are a Baptist polemicist. It should be no surprise to me that you make a case for credo immersion and no surprise to you that Dr. Reymond makes a case for paedobaptism. What is surprising is your thinly veiled slam at Dr. Reymond by referring to his “second rate publisher.” I would think a man of your position and stature in academia would be above that sort of childish reference to a fellow academic, even if you disagree with his views. I know Dr. Reymond and he is a first rate scholar and a true gentleman.

    As far as my “leaden literalism,” I have only quoted you. My whole point was to make the case that baptizo does not ALWAYS mean to immerse. I believe I’ve proved that point in just a few quoted verses. As I’ve repeated several times, I believe it surely can mean to immerse. I’ve studied the same lexicons you have. I’ve also seen in those lexicons other uses besides immersion. Well so be it.

    Thank you for your patience with me through these discussions. It surely has benefited me.

    I remain a Presbyterian and an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

    Blessings,

    Les

Steve Lemke

Les,
Your remarkable gift for putting a negative cast on whatever I say forces me to respond briefly. Yes, for the purposes of this series of articles, I am intentionally and openly a Baptist polemicist. I have seen Reyland’s polemics before in places like the Five Views on Election book, in which he advocates an extreme “consistent supralapsarian” position on election, a view so extreme that SBTS Calvinistic theologian Bruce Ware disagrees sharply with him (from an infralapsarian position). Reymond is indeed a polemicist, and is extreme even for a Presbyterian. However, let me call your attention to what you appear unable to answer — the long list of standard reference resources I provided (Thayer; Liddel and Scott; New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology; the Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament; the New Bible Dictionary, etc.) which side with this polemicist (me) on this issue over against that polemicist (him). The standard scholarly resources are the tie breaker.

As for Thomas Nelson, they are clearly not America’s best known academic publisher. They are best known for publishing Bibles and devotional books. It’s no embarrassment for a scholar to publish with them, but they would not be the first option for most scholars. It is indeed a second tier religious publishing house, and that’s all I was pointing out. The one polemical text you mentioned does not hold a light to the many standard reference works I cited.

    Les

    Dr. Lemke,

    I apologize if I seem to be looking for negativity. I’m not. Your comment about his publisher appeared to be a slam at a fellow academic. As for his supra views, that’s not the subject of this post but I’ll say that I’m in Dr. Reymond’s camp. I don’t find him extreme. And of course you’re both polemicists. But he is far from extreme for a Presbyterian. I’ve been in the PCA for 20 years and graduated from Covenant Theological Seminary, so I’m pretty familiar with Presbyterianism. Dr. Reymond is not extreme. He may seem so to a Baptist or a baptistic person and/or a less than fully Reformed person.

    As for the lexicons, I’ve tried to avoid having to cut and past or worse, typing some evidence that baptizo does not ALWAYS mean to plunge in some manner under the surface of a pool of water. But I’ll see if I can get to it.

    Sept. 4, 8:02am. Dale’s classic 4 volume work on baptism is cited by Reymond. Dale’s work is hardly lightweight.

    As to Reymond’s commentary, scholarly as it is, the intended audience is not entirely scholastic.

    I know we said yesterday the conversation is really unproductive at this point, but could you just answer one thing? And maybe you did earlier and I missed it. But in Luke 11:38, “The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner.” Were they surprised he didn’t immerse himself before dinner? That’s baptize in the Greek I think.

    Does it mean immerse there?

    Thanks again for the interaction. I look forward to your future posts since I have a foot in both Baptist and Presbyterian worlds.

    Les

    Dr. Lemke,

    Never mind on the Luke passage. I looked back up in the comments and saw where you provided your answer.

    Again, thanks for the interaction.

Steve Lemke

By the way, Les, if you want to see Reyland’s extreme views not only refuted but slam dunked, read the Five Views on Election book. He doesn’t fare so well when he’s not preaching to the choir of people who already agree with him.

Steve Lemke

One further question, Les. Since you say you a Mid-America graduate, I’m wondering if my friend Jimmy Millikin’s Calvinistic theology impacted your own theological development? If not, to what would you attribute initiating your movement toward Presbyterianism?

Les

Yes. I’m a MABTS graduate. No, Dr. Millikin didn’t influence me. Dr. Nettles a little. Mostly I did a lot of reading on my own and came to embrace the doctrines of grace mostly after leaving MABTS. I later got a degree at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis.

Of course if we were in the same room having a cup of coffee I could just answer in a smart way and say, “I read my bible.” but I would have a smile on my face and we’d hopefully both laugh.

    volfan007

    Dr. Lemke,

    Back in that day, Dr. Nettles had influenced a large group of students. I’d bet it was Dr. Nettles, along with some of the students he led that way, that influenced Les a lot more than he realizes, or is willing to admit. In fact, Dr. Nettles was eventually asked to leave Mid America due to his extreme, 5 pt. Calvinist views…..especially his view of regeneration before salvation. But, the sharp division this was all causing in the school was another reason for his departure. The tension was thick back then…..

    David

Les

David,

I did acknowledge Dr. Nettles. ButI had him for only the second half of church history. I had the first half at NOBTS where I for sure did not get any push toward the Reformed faith.

And his views may be extreme in the context of MABTS, but not within the Reformed faith. His view that regeneration precedes faith is surely not extreme at all but is quite biblical.

Les

Les

Last (I’m sure hopefully last for many),

In summary, here is all I was contending for in my comments, and I believe I was and still am correct and have been vindicated.

Dr. Lemke: “The Greek word baptizo literally means to immerse in water.”

Me: “Again, I see immersion as surely valid. I just am challenging that baptizo (and it’s forms) always means immerse.”

Dr. Lemke: “First, what we said is that baptizo translated as baptism meant “immerse.””

[NOTE: As all can see, that is not what Dr. Lemke said in the original post]

I have shown several instances where baptizo does not and cannot translate immerse. It surely can mean that but does not always mean that. I didn’t even call in to witness Hebrews 9 where baptismois (washings) is used and surely does not mean “immersions,” unless one uses the argument that wherever “baptizo” is translated it means “immerse” which is a very bad argument. If that is the case, then one can always claim baptizo means immerse based on the translators. That’s kind of a circular argument. But that only proves my original point that baptizo (the word) does not always mean immerse.

Case made and it has been fun.

Steve Lemke

For what it’s worth, Les and David, Tom Nettles was both my Church History teacher at SWBTS and my Sunday School teacher (exegeting Romans 9-11, of all things!). He taught me much. Jimmy Millikin and I are former faculty members of Southern/Williams Baptist College. I was not on faculty the same time as Dr. Millikin (he was at MABTS by then), but he was a frequent speaker in Chapel and in our Bible conferences, and I came to appreciate his preaching very much. Of course, we do disagree on that “doctrines of grace” thing . . .

    volfan007

    Dr. Jimmy is a fine fella. I had him for Systematic Theology at Mid America. I enjoyed his class….except for all the reading we had to do! I had Dr. Nettles for Church History, while at Mid America. Believe me, we learned all about 5 pt. Calvinism in his class….we heard about it every day. His followers in the school…some of them are good friends of mine….were intent on converting everyone in the school to extreme, 5 pt. Calvinism. They tried to convert me, as well. I seriously considered it, but I just couldnt get past many passages in the Bible, where that system falls short of explaining clearly. So, I stayed out of this “ism.” But, I do thank God that it drove me to a deeper understanding of the doctrines of election, predestination, etc. For that, I am thankful.

    David

Joshua

David,

What do you mean by “extreme 5 pt. Calvinism?” Is this to be distinguished from “5 point Calvinism?”

volfan007

Well, Joshua, there are fellas, who are 5 pt. calvinist, and then there are fellas, who are 5 PT. CALVINISTS. I do distinguish between the two. I’ve known people, who believed in the 5 pt. theory, and you really wouldnt know it by the way they preached. And, you could actually have a private, personal conversation with them without the 5 points beng a factor in the conversation.

On the other hand, I’ve know people where the 5 points are the emphasis of their preaching and of their private conversations. They tend to be the type, who are seeking to convert everyone to the 5 points. I believe another word for this would be “obsession.”

David

Joshua

I’ve known people, who believed in the 5 pt. theory, and you really wouldnt know it by the way they preached

Really? Could you share who these people are?

    volfan007

    Joshua,

    No, I wont name them. I dont like doing that…besides, some of the churches where they’re at dont know that they are 5 pointers.

    Besides all that, why would this apparently be so hard for you to believe? I mean, they just preach the Gospel and teach the Bible; so that’s all you hear when they preach. I mean, they’re not trying to convert anyone to 5 point-ism, nor are they obsessed with it. They’re more concerned about preaching the Gospel and teaching the Bible.

    David

      Joshua

      Because the foundation of the 5 points are actually found in the Bible. If a pastor is a 5 pt. Calvinist, his “dividing the word” would surely be marked by exegesis that “sounds” contrary to the default libertarianism found in most SBC churches. The grace of libertarianism is hardly the grace of Calvinism. It is not a matter of language that “seeks to convert” others but a matter of exegeting and preaching the text.

      The anecdotalism associated with the discussion of Calvinism in the SBC is unacceptable amongst people who profess to be “lovers of truth.” There are hardly ever names of real people associated with such claims, only mere assurances.

      I’m not suggesting you are lying David. However, it would be beneficial for everyone if we all stopped making claims we are not willing to support with evidence.

        volfan007

        Joshua,

        Wow, you really know some big words. Good for you. And, no, I will not tell the names of these people for the very reason I gave you above. You can either believe it, or not. No skin off my nose.

        David

          Joshua

          Again, no interaction, no meaningful dialogue, just insults.

Steve Lemke

Joshua,
I don’t particularly mean to speak for David, but let me say that I think I understand the distinction that he is trying to make. I described Robert Reymond’s “consistent supralapsarian” view as extreme, in that someone like Bruce Ware, whom most would recognize as a very strong Calvinist in the SBC, has a much more “moderate” infralapsarian position. So, both are five pointers, but Reymond’s view is more extreme. Of course, Reymond would not stop at five points — he’s probably more in the ten point category (I mean that literally, in that he embraces many points of Calvinism both in and beyond soteriology that Calvinistic Baptists tend not to accept).

I also know of some preachers/pastors who are four or five pointers, but they didn’t make a big deal about it. It isn’t a hobby horse with them that they bring up in every sermon and every conversation. In fact, sometimes people might actually be surprised to discover what their position is on these issues, even though an astute theological listener would pick up on it. Others are more “evangelistic” in their Calvinism — they speak and blog almost daily about Calvinism, they go to Calvinistic meetings rather than broader denominational meetings, and they are sometimes accused of being more zealous or evangelistic for Calvinism than for Jesus (I’m sure that is an inaccurate claim, but they talk so much about Calvin that they set themselves up for this criticism).

And, it a broader sense, it’s probably true that in almost every belief system, among its adherents there are some more “extreme” in their advocacy of it than others. So, I think that’s what David may have meant — not “extreme” in the sense of “extremist” or “terrorist,” but in the sense of people who go further than others on an issue. There may be better words to describe this phenomenon, but I believe the phenomenon is real.

    volfan007

    I meant exactly what Dr. Lemke said in a much, much better way than I did. Thanks, Dr. Lemke.

    Joshua, in the future, if you dont want people to respond with sarcasm, then dont accuse them of lying; or trying to be sneaky in a debate, and bring in things that arent really real. I said I know people like what I described. I know them personally. So, believe it, or not…God knows, and I know it to be true…even if it doesnt fit into your way of thinking on this issue; or the way you want this issue to go. I understand that you probably have a hard time understanding how someone could be 4, or 5 point calvinist; and not be obsessed with the teachings of it. There are many people, lots of them younger people, who do just what Dr. Lemke so aptly described above. Those are the ones that I call extreme 5 pointers….or, obsessed 5 pointers.

    David

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