Baptism, An Exploration: Preliminary Theories and Conclusions

JESUS BAPTISMTheories

We’re not finished. We have to work through Ephesians, Colossians, and some more beyond them. But I’m in the mood to consider what conclusions we might tentatively draw so far.

We could wait to consider the other passages, but I’m finding it difficult to go on without a working theory or two. I need a framework to work from. And the meanings of the remaining passages are all highly controverted.

So let’s speculate a little.

1. It could be that baptism is just as essential to our salvation as faith and that salvation therefore doesn’t occur until we are baptized in faith. Unbaptized believers would be damned under this theory.This would suit both the Lutheran and the Church of Christ understanding. We could defend baptism against Galatians (which insists that we are justified by faith, not works) by pointing out that baptism is no work of the Torah.

This conclusion is easily defended from such passages as Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:16, and Romans 6. A more subtle but, to me, more persuasive argument is that salvation is concurrent with receipt of the Spirit (as Paul argues in Gal 3), and Christian baptism is baptism with the Spirit, as taught by John the Baptist in all four Gospels as well as Acts 2:38. The prophets had promised an outpouring of God’s Spirit that would continue until the end of time, and John the Baptist and Peter at Pentecost plainly associate this with baptism.

But Galatians insists that not only is faith sufficient, but also we can’t add anything to faith as an additional condition to salvation without teaching a different gospel. That’s a serious problem. And Galatians is powerfully supported by dozens of passages teaching that all with faith in Jesus are saved. Indeed, this is also plainly a central theme of John.

2. It could be that we are saved immediately upon coming to faith, and baptism is merely obedience to a command (Zwingli taught this, and many Baptists would agree). But so far, we’ve not seen baptism expressed as a command to be honored. It’s rather spoken of as the moment the Spirit is received and therefore when salvation occurs. Remember, each of the four Gospels tells us that Jesus would baptize with the Spirit.

Some seek to reconcile baptism in Spirit with salvation at the moment of faith by insisting that Spirit baptism occurs at the moment of faith, with water baptism to follow as a sign of Spirit baptism. But Ephesians 4 says there’s but “one baptism” and the scriptures normally speak of a singular baptism. I can accept that “one baptism” is normative with exceptions, but I can’t accept that Paul would say “one baptism” when the universal practice is baptism with the Spirit upon faith followed by water baptism.

Moreover, I’ve never bought the argument that all New Testament references to baptism after John the Baptist are references to Spirit baptism separate from water baptism. That theory just can’t be made to fit (especially in light of Eph 4:5, but also in light of Acts and many other passages showing Christian baptism to also be water baptism).

3. It could be that we are saved at the moment of faith but when we confess our faith to the Christian community we are received into community (the body) through baptism. Again, this would be a very Baptist understanding. But how does such an understanding cope with the many references to the Spirit coming at the time of baptism? The Messiah baptizes with Spirit!

4. It could be that we are saved at the moment of faith but we receive from God, by means of baptism, the assurance of our salvation. This is the understanding of Thomas Campbell. Indeed, Gal 3:26-27 is assuring Paul’s readers of their salvation because of their baptism, in contrast to circumcision: why be circumcised to be saved when the baptism you already have assures you of your salvation?

Such a theory makes the opinion of the church — their acceptance of the convert’s confession — the basis of his assurance. And that’s not entirely unreasonable. In fact, I think there’s a lot of truth in it. It’s just that the Spirit is received at baptism.

N. T. Wright reaches much the same conclusion, but by different means. He points out that “justification” is a legal term, the verdict of acquittal read by the judge, announcing that the accused is “not guilty.” “Justified” means “found innocent.” But since it’s a judicial verdict, it follows the trial and testing. Therefore, Wright concludes that justification follows salvation. We are saved and then announced as saved. We are saved and then baptized. Baptism is God’s announcement that we’ve been deemed innocent!

Faith is the badge of membership, and, as soon as there is this faith, God declares ‘justified’. For Paul, faith is the result of the Spirit’s work through the preaching of the gospel (read 1 Cor. 12.3 with 1 Thess. 1.4-5 and 2.13); this is not driving a wedge between gospel and justification, but explaining how the gospel works to produce the faith because of which God declares ‘righteous’.

And the classic Pauline way in which God makes this declaration, stating publicly and visibly that this person is indeed within the family, is through baptism — which obviously, in the situation of primary evangelism, follows at a chronological interval, whether of five minutes or five years or whatever, but which simply says in dramatic action what God has in fact said the moment someone has believed. Nothing is ‘interposed’; no ‘wedge’ is driven between the gospel and justification.

There is doubtlessly some truth there, but Wright doesn’t give due weight to the passages associating baptism with the receipt of the Spirit. Moreover, demonstrating that baptism is associated with baptism (which is true) hardly demonstrates that baptism is only associated with justification. Indeed, Romans 6 and Gal 3:25-27 say nothing of “justification” but speak of being baptized “into Christ” and “clothed with Christ” — neither of which sounds like just a metaphor for God’s declaration of “innocent.” Yes, it’s that, but the language certainly argues for much more.

(Rom 6:3-5 ESV)  3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Paul isn’t arguing for immersion versus pouring — he’s arguing that baptism puts us into Christ and therefore into his atoning work on the cross. This doesn’t sound at all like a post-salvation declaration that we’ve been saved. It’s sacramental — the baptism itself effects entry into the work of Christ and therefore into his reward: resurrection.

But Wright does get this right

John’s baptism, the foundation of Christian baptism, was not simply a special kind of ritual washing away of sin: it was an eschatological sign, the sign that the true crossing of the Red Sea and Jordan river was at last taking place.  Christian baptism, as we saw in Romans 6 and could note in Colossians 2 and elsewhere, was not a ritual designed to earn God’s favor, but the effective sign of joining the community of God’s renewed people.  It was all about forgiveness of sins, the long-awaited blessing promised by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

Wright struggles (as do I) in reconciling the association of baptism with forgiveness of sin and an assurance of salvation while also holding firmly to the many promises that all with faith will be saved.

5. Forgiveness occurs in heaven, where God is, and heaven is unquestionably outside of time as we know it. The Bible speaks of our forgiveness occurring when Jesus died on the cross, when we were baptized, and as we sin. The timing is unclear because, to God, we aren’t forgiven at a particular point in time.

And this is true: forgiveness doesn’t happen in earth-time. But we receive the Spirit at a particular moment. This is how it’s pictured in the Old Testament and in Acts and Paul’s epistles. Unlike John the Baptist, we Christians aren’t born with the Spirit in anticipation of our future faith. We receive the Spirit when we are saved.

(Gal 3:2-6 ESV) 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?  3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  4 Did you suffer so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain?  5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith — 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Paul clearly pictures the Spirit as received by the “hearing with faith.” Of course, he doesn’t say “immediately upon hearing with faith” but “by hearing with faith.” Nonetheless, Paul’s point is that the Spirit comes by faith, not faith plus something else, such as circumcision. That’s his argument.

Still, while the God-is-outside-time argument is valid, it doesn’t fully resolve the problem. God is outside time, but we’re not — and the scriptures plainly, repeatedly picture the saved as being moved from a lost to a saved state at a point in time.

6. It could be that the New Testament writers don’t even think in these terms. They see “believe, repent, confess, be baptized” as a single event, separated only by minutes or, at most, hours. Therefore, they see no need to carefully distinguish between one or the other. Thus, the event at which we are saved, receive the Spirit, etc. is any one of these, depending on the subject at hand or what’s rhetorically convenient. Call it metonymy.

And I think there’s a lot of truth to this. The writers aren’t dealing with infant baptism, where faith might follow by years. Nor are they dealing with a church that only baptizes quarterly. In New Testament times, the evidence of Acts is that baptism immediately followed faith — by hours at most. Therefore, it’s very likely that Paul gave no thought at all to what happened to a Christian between coming to faith and baptism.

But that observation, while true enough, doesn’t resolve the Galatians problem. Did Paul consider baptism as absolutely essential to salvation? And if so, how correct must the baptism be? And if baptism is essential, why isn’t it a work?

7. As I argued in Born of Water, it could be that, as a rule, salvation and the Spirit are received at baptism, but that God won’t deny salvation and the Spirit to someone with faith because of a misunderstanding regarding baptism. That approach has the advantage of being fully respectful of both the faith + baptism verses and the faith-only verses. It makes sense. But we aren’t nearly finished.

And that’s a whole bunch of could-be’s. It doesn’t take a lot of humility to realize that the traditional Church of Christ position, while entirely sensible, isn’t necessarily exactly right. It has serious problems, the most serious of which is insisting that there are hundreds of millions of people with submissive, genuine, obedient faith in Jesus who will be damned because the church taught them an erroneous doctrine of baptism.

I don’t have to have all the answers to know that one answer is certainly wrong — and it’s certainly wrong that 99% of all penitent believers are damned because they were baptized too soon or without enough water or an incomplete understanding that was incomplete the wrong way.

The mikveh lesson, again

And this takes us back to the lesson we learned weeks ago regarding mikvehs. Before John the Baptist, those wishing to become ceremonially clean in a mikveh washed themselves. There was no immerser — just a person immersing himself.

But John the Baptist baptized people. The rite involved two people, and that has been the universal practice of Christianity ever since. A Christian baptizes a non-Christian.

A Christian can’t baptize someone who hasn’t confessed, because there’s no other way to know whether the convert has faith! Therefore, since the beginning, the gospel has been preached by the church to the lost, the convert has come to faith, repented, and confessed his faith to a member of the church, and a member of the church, accepting that confession, baptizes the convert. That’s how it happens.

(I’m not remotely saying that someone on a desert island with a Gideon Bible can’t baptize himself. But I don’t know if that has ever happened. It’s certainly not the design of baptism. Nor am I saying that a baptism is invalid if administered by a lost person. But baptism is, in fact, always administered by someone considered to be a member of the church.)

Now, a critical part of the gospel, often overlooked by Westerners, is that our baptism into Christ is baptism into his body, which is baptism into a community of believers. The command to “love one another” can only be obeyed in community. And the design of baptism compels a convert to be in contact with the Kingdom community. That is, in part, Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 1 when he argues that, because we’re baptized into Christ, we can’t be divided. The church is the body of Christ, and we are baptized into a community that is Christ on earth and therefore must not be divided. There is but one body — and Christians must be a part of it.

If the convert comes to a genuine, penitent faith in Jesus and the one presenting the gospel teaches a false doctrine of baptism, the sin is on the teacher, not the victim of the teacher. The church is charged to baptize its converts (Matt 28:19, for example). If the church gets it wrong, the church violates Jesus’ command — but it’s impossible that God damns the convert with genuine faith who obeys what he knows to obey. After all, the Bible says over and over that all with faith will be saved. I believe it.

It’s a mistake, I think, to put the burden on the convert to sort out the Biblical doctrine of baptism at a level that even the great scholars of history can’t agree on. It would be like damning over, oh, I don’t know, Premillennialism. Who would be that Pharisaical?

Of course, we tend to insist that baptism is a non-negotiable because it’s part of the “plan of salvation.” It defines the Churches of Christ as separate from and superior to “the denominations.” And we very much want to be separate from and superior to the denominations. Yes, the Bible teaches baptism and commands the church to baptize its converts. No, the Bible doesn’t damn those who are imperfectly baptized by a church that ought to know better.

What is quite clear is that God expects converts to be baptized. Call it a “pattern,” “plan,” “ordinance,” or whatever, the outcome is much the same: get yourselves to the baptistry! Therefore, I’m a big fan of this YouTube video –

[more to come]

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23 Responses to Baptism, An Exploration: Preliminary Theories and Conclusions

  1. Grizz says:

    Jay,

    You voice all of these doubts (praise God you feel able to voice your feelings) because of questions folks now ask who have heard so many things other than scripture about baptism. You go so theological and technical on the scriptures that you don't trust what Patrick Chan says and what was actually taught when YOU heard the Gospel.

    Are there people with bad attitudes or false ideas about things on both sides of the aisle that separates people God calls to life together in unity? Of course. We even read about THAT in the scriptures! But the questions…????? Where do we read about that?

    I ask you, why is there even a question? Patrick asks the same thing.

    And I have just one follow up question. Why this whole series instead of just showing the video if you are such a fan of Patrick's video?

    Grizz

  2. aBasnar says:

    But Galatians insists that not only is faith sufficient, but also we can’t add anything to faith as an additional condition to salvation without teaching a different gospel. That’s a serious problem. And Galatians is powerfully supported by dozens of passages teaching that all with faith in Jesus are saved. Indeed, this is also plainly a central theme of John.

    To say that those with faith in Jesus are saved does not stand in conflicz with baptism, since all of those with faith in Jesus ARE baptized in the NT. I think, you atre trapped by a wrong dichtotomy:

    (Wikipedia difinition)A dichotomy is any splitting of a whole into exactly two non-overlapping parts, meaning it is a procedure in which a whole is divided into two parts, or in half. It is a partition of a whole (or a set) into two parts (subsets) that are:

    * jointly exhaustive: everything must belong to one part or the other, and
    * mutually exclusive: nothing can belong simultaneously to both parts.

    The two parts thus formed are complements. In logic, the partitions are opposites if there exists a proposition such that it holds over one and not the other.

    Having faith is preceded by repenting and coming to faith, which happens in baptism – so where, Jay, is the problem? I canm read the same texts as you and find them in perfect harmony … but I had a time when I thought faith is what you believe and works is what you do. Which was a misundestanding. A serious error, even.

    Alexander

  3. Terry says:

    Thank you for sharing Francis Chan's video.

  4. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    You baffle me in all of this wrestling about how faith and baptism are related. Evangelicals wrestle with it because they have missed the essential characteristic of baptism. It is God's action, an expression of His grace. So many people try to press apostolic teaching about baptism to urge that it is a "church ordinance." Not according to the apostle to the Gentiles. So… how about turning attention to Ephesians 2. For by grace are we saved through faith draws all of this together. Paul's words are simple, clarifying, and worth out soaking up and teaching to others.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  5. Price says:

    Jay, thanks for dealing honestly with the text…It is difficult for persons who have already made up their minds to consider the text with fresh eyes. But, being honest with the difficulty of have a "set of rules" that isn't consistent with ALL of the text is much more preferred than trying to come up with a theology that includes making it up as you go….
    Many today are struggling with what they see are clear inconsistencies with the "rules." And, when the "rules" are important, read eternal salvation or damnation, then getting it right is only appropriate. The Bereans were applauded for their skepticism and not just accepting what someone said as truth without examining the issue for themselves…I find it extraordinarily refreshing to be able to examine anew the tenents that some use to segregate some from others to make sure they are without flaw or error. If we are allowed to review the material if and only if we agree to come to the same conclusion that we had to begin with then the review is worhtless and tainted. Anyone who is offended by an honest review and discussion is less certain of their position than perhaps they would like others to know…It seems to me that even in a rules based theology..getting IT right is more important that ME being right. Keep the discussion going…it is important for the Truth to be proven to stand against criticism or doubt…If it can't, it's not Truth.

  6. HistoryGuy says:

    Jay,
    Transparency is good. I wish more people could have a mature conversation about this topic by weighing in with strengths and weakness. My point-counter-point style has driven some away from me, and for that I am sorry. I find many on here making conclusive statements, but few supporting their positions. I have changed my view several times, but I continue to search for answers. Though I am unsure about your stance on several points on this issue, I have enjoyed your openness, as well as comments from others. Now, if I could just get you open to exclusive a cappella (lol)… moving on!

    In regards to baptism, I have done my best to offer a consistent view of what God is doing based on Scripture and ECFs. I really would like to know where my view suffers. More importantly, some have called me a "progressive," and though a change from my normally being called a "legalist," I have done nothing more than post quotes from Scripture as my highest authority and answer like Christians of the 1st-3rd centuries, even posting their statements.

    People seem to have the most problems with the "exceptions." Therefore, in a future post, could you by chance ask people a specific question, get the response in email, and post the top 5 or so for everyone to comment? Specifically, "If somebody who really trusts Christ’s for salvation dies before immersion, (1) where do they spend eternity, and (2) how does one arrive at that conclusion?" The response could be submitted to you with a premise and up to 10, [1 sentence supporting bullets]. People must respond heaven or hell and specifically sate how they arrive at that conclusion. Agnostic "I don’t know," and Calvinists need not reply since those positions are of no help to us.

    This method would force people to be honest, transparent, give a short affirmative position, and would be more centrally located when people start giving feedback. I would be interested in seeing how several on this forum, like Grizz, Bruce, Alexander, you, and one or two others arrive at their conclusions. I would also participate for a critique of my view. I think it would be fun and thought provoking.

  7. guy says:

    Alexander,

    You said:
    "but I had a time when I thought faith is what you believe and works is what you do. Which was a misunderstanding. A serious error, even."

    From my reading, it seems Jay's entire series has equivocated on that very view. At points it seems denied, and at others points it seems his case depends on it. i think this issue–defining faith and works–is what has muddied the waters most in this discussion of baptism (and most other discussions for that matter).

    –guy

  8. aBasnar says:

    From my reading, it seems Jay's entire series has equivocated on that very view. At points it seems denied, and at others points it seems his case depends on it.

    That's my inmpression, too. Sometimes he seems to switch between two different positions, and then I am not sure what to make of this … But that's the way it is when you are in the process of rethinking your faith.

    Alexander

  9. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay, in reading your document and all the comments. I had been taught and fully believe that it is very important to analyze what is said in the scriptures in light of who is doing the writing and who is being written to and as we look into some of the messages delivered. What would give anyone the concept that writings to any of the churches or to any christian would cause the reader to believe that it was setting forth instructions to non Christians? In other words these people being written to had already followed the instructions, shouldn't we understand that they obeyed according to the examples in Acts. All writings otherwise were to exclusively Christians. Therefore, they having a complete understanding of their entry into Christ, do not get the exact detail that is totally necessary for the non Christian. Larry Cheek

  10. Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    It's a legitimate argument within certain bounds — and it cuts more than one way.

    Paul's and Peter's epistles were certainly written to those already converted and baptized. None is an instructional handbook on baptismal ritual. But they do tell us a lot about the doctrine of baptism.

    Acts gives several conversion accounts, but it's a history and not a liturgical manual. We can infer that some accounts are intended to be normative, but we have to be very careful. The accounts aren't consistent and the exceptional nature of some of the accounts seems to even drive the plot.

    The Gospels in their accounts of John the Baptist tell us quite a lot about baptism, and it's likely we are to understand that John's baptism is a precursor and model for Christian baptism (else the synoptic Gospels say next to nothing about Christian baptism).

    As much as we focus on baptism, you'd think the scriptures would have left us with a how-to guide!

    As I just noted in a comment earlier this evening, I think Acts 2:38 is perfectly good theology. I just don't think it's the totality of the baptismal theology.

    Rather, I think we are given all the verses for good reason and need to build our understanding on the totality of the witness. And, frankly, I think the Churches of Christ have it largely right on teaching believer immersion into the forgiveness of sins.

    We've just been mistaken in supposing that God will damn those with a genuine faith who've been wrong taught on baptism. Yes, we need to teach and practice baptism correctly: believer immersion into the forgiveness of sins.

    But those believers who disagree with us will be saved, too — and those doing the bad teaching will be SO embarrassed when God explains it to them inside the pearly gates!

  11. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay, I have also grown in a knowledge that the Church of Christ has went beyond many boundaries in defining baptism. I noted that we were condemning Christians because we didn't believe they understood what baptism was for or about when they obeyed, how utterly sad for us. If we tried to apply our concepts to those at Pentecost none could have been accepted. It is always an enlightening experience to look at other views and compare with the scriptures. I truly enjoy reading your material and noticing the comments it brings. Larry Cheek

  12. Patricia Harrod-Wyro says:

    I am from conservative – south Alabama. It has been a question and concern of mine for some time the way the churches of Christ – in my area – judge and condemn any church who teaches and believes that salvation comes by faith and then baptism follows. It is taugh and is the belief that you are baptized and then saved; otherwise, you are lost – damned. If a person converts from a Baptist church to the church of Christ, they will have to be baptized again or they will be in a lost state. To show the extent of this belief, one local congregation allowed a Baptist (non-rebaptized) convert to take an active role in the Lord's Supper and praying in the assembly. Some of the men did not approve, the man was confronted, the church split and then closed. The man and his family, who were faithful to assemble and in their private life, no longer attend anywhere because of the manner in which he and his family were treated. It has always been taught in the cofC that the order and understanding must be correct or you will be lost.

  13. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    I will highlight a study worth attention. Everett Ferguson's Baptism in the Early Church (Eerdmans, 2009) gets at the root of where sprinkling and pouring seem to have originated. They did not originate in apostolic teaching. They represented a corruption of such. E.g. ancient Isis worshippers, for example, poured water on another as a libation.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  14. aBasnar says:

    This, Bruce. is not a sufficient look on the subject. To see that Isis worshippers used sprinkling is not enough to conclude that sprikling or pouring has been brought into the church by them. In fact, this is the fallacy of historical critical theology (and I fear some of this has crept into ACU, even into E. Furgoson's theology) to assume that everything "unique" in Christitianity has its roots in the surrounding Pagan or Jewish society. Thus denying (implicitly) the revealing guidance of the Spirit, saying the church adopted and transformed ancient ideas and concepts into their world view.

    The earliest reference to pouring is in the Didache. And the reason given for pouring have nothing to do with external cults but with limited access to water. It is as simple as this. To my knowledge, sprinkling or pouring were always treated as exception to the rule until the 600s – and in the Eastern churches immersion was always the rule.

    So the Isis-theory is not at all necessary to explain the phenomenon of a mode baptism contrary to its root-word-meaning.

    Alexander

  15. Jay Guin says:

    Patricia,

    You'll be interested to know that Alexander Campbell and David Lipscomb both taught that Baptist baptism is effective, even though both considered salvation to occur when the convert is immersed in water.

    In fact, Campbell condemned those who required Baptists to be re-baptized as "heretics" because they divided the Lord's church by denying the salvation of Baptists!

    It was Austin McGary who founded the Firm Foundation to teach that baptism doesn't save unless for the purpose of obtaining remission of sins. That view was rejected in much of the Southeast until Foy Wallace took over the Gospel Advocate in the middle of the 20th Century. His influence was such that by my time the old view was nearly forgotten and even considered heretical!

    In teaching that Baptist immersion is entirely sufficient, we return to the teachings of the Restoration Movement of the 19th and early 20th Centuries and correct some deeply flawed theology.

    I'm thrilled to see that those who took the most recent poll uniformly refuse to damn Baptists.

  16. HistoryGuy says:

    Jay,
    Thanks for mentioning the McGary – Lipscomb controversy. As I recall, McGary was in an uproar because Lipscomb considered every immersed believer a Christian, even Baptist (how dare he – lol). I think McGary even said something like Lipscomb was "shaking in the Baptists" into the COC. Your note about Campbell was spot on and telling of how much the RM has changed according to my history study of it. Have a great a night!

    You said elsewhere that God doesn't save unbelievers, which is why you are big on evangelism. I also noted your view of Hell. Thanks for clarifying your view of those issues for me. I believe God both foreknew every believer, will not lose one [non-apostate] believer, and will only save believers. I am big on evangelism as well.

  17. Bruce Morton says:

    Alexander,
    I appreciate your note. To be clear I agree that we do not have a sharpened view of how sprinkling and pouring entered use. Indeed, entrance may have varied somewhat by region. Yes, we know supposed "exception" played a part. We also know that later writers "Christianized the significance of the [mystery religion] ceremonies." (Ferguson, 29). Everett Ferguson's 953 page study is very careful. My brief weblog note was clearly too brief.

    If we have any question re just how much apostolic teaching was under siege even relatively early, we have but to look at the second century writing The Acts of Paul and the story of the baptized talking lion — supposedly baptized by Paul. That puts an exclamation point on the thought that a lot can enter peoples' minds even within the short space of a hundred years.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  18. aBasnar says:

    Are the Acts of Paul you refer to the same as the Acts of Paul and Thecla? If so, Tertullian mentions, that the author, an elder from Asia Minor was removed from his ofice therefore … errors have been rebuked sharply back then.

  19. Theophilus Dr says:

    It seems to me that in his post, Jay was setting a foundation for a discussion about baptism by summarizing in an organized and objective fashion as many interpretive views as he could. Wouldn't it be contrary to this goal for Jay to push his own favorite interpretation? Why should people say that they couldn't figure out what Jay's position was, as if that were a weakness? If he had given his own interpretation, the resulting discussion wouldn't be as instructive, because people would mainly be reacting to what Jay said rather than to the subject of understanding baptism. As it is now, people are directing their discussion more toward another poster's idea. That is iron sharpening iron, which I would think was Jay's intent in the first place.

    I think that people not being able to discern Jay's personal position is not a criticism, but rather a compliment to Jay's objective presentation.

    Being so objective isn't easy. I could not have written something like this, because I have a particular interpretation about baptism that very unobjectively straightens everything out. (lol)

    Good job, Jay. Thank you.

  20. Bruce Morton says:

    Alexander:
    Yes, it is sometimes called The Acts of Paul and Thecla. I appreciate your note. Yes, the elder needed rebuking!

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

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