Baptism Notes and Bio

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
-John 1:29

I was baptized by Paul Cox, a Presbyterian Reverend, when I was about 5 years old.  Based on the traditions of that church and my parents wishes, they waited till I was 5, so that I could be baptized the same day as my brother, who is 2 years younger than me.  My father would have also had the occasion to be baptized in that season, because he had just come to faith in Christ; while my mother was already a believer and would have had the opportunity to be baptized either in the Congregational Church of her childhood or the Brethren Church of her teen and early adult years.

Years later, when I was in high school, I was forced to go to confirmation classes, at our Covenant Church.  The class culminated with baptism for those of us who completed it; but was optional.  And I opted not to do it.  

A few years later, I attended a Foursquare Church, and they had an annual baptism, at the beach, with a luau.  One of my close friends got baptized on one of those occasions; which was preceded by a one hour class, at the beach, where they made sure that you knew what you were doing or what the whole thing was about.

Some more years later, I joined the Vineyard Church, which I later found out had Quaker and Calvary Chapel roots.  Quakers do not water baptize, while having a strong belief in the baptism of the Spirit.  And Calvary Chapels do water baptise, having their roots in the Foursquare church.  

A few years later, I worked at the Salvation Army for two years.  They neither baptize nor take communion; but they are not against nor forbid it.  When the Quakers and the Salvation Army began, Christians were very divisive over baptism and for various reasons they formed their convictions to stay out of the fight.

Baptism is not a major doctrine.  Disagreement on the who, how and when of baptism should never be a cause for division.

Baptism is a blessing, a means of grace; spiritually beneficial, a joyful experience, strengthening and encouraging.  Jesus even commanded baptism.  But baptism is not necessary for salvation.

To say that baptism or any other act is necessary for salvation is to say that we are not justified by faith alone.

Baptism is not a major doctrine, a hill to die on.  Major doctrines are:
  • The authority of the Bible
  • The Trinity
  • The deity of Christ
  • Justification by grace through faith alone
To me, it is just silly or foolish and sad for someone to believe that one must be baptized, and perhaps in a particular way, in order to be saved.

I always say, "what about the thief on the cross?"  I recently read someone who said that won't fly because it was still the old covenant time.  The truth is, that the new covenant took effect when Jesus died and he died before the two thieves died, so they died under the new covenant.

Baptism is also not necessary for salvation, because our justification from our sins takes place at the point of our saving faith.  By faith, through grace, we connect with God's faithfulness in Christ and enter into salvation.

The backdrop for believers baptism is that the church is made up of believers, with seekers and pre-christians or children-who-are-not-old-enough-to-believe.

The backdrop for infant or young child baptised churches is that the church is a covenant community, made up of believers and children of believers who are not yet old enough to articulate their faith or have not yet had a personal salvation experience or decision for Christ.

In the NT we have all these occasions of baptism:
  • People being baptised after coming to faith
  • Whole households, including children and slaves being baptised, with no evidence of their faith
  • People being baptised in masses immediately after they say yes, Jesus is Lord
  • An individual being baptized after personal study, tutoring and hearing the gospel
  • People being baptized with water after they were baptized with the Spirit
And, any believer can baptise people.  We really do believe in the priesthood of all believers.  Priestly functions are to pray for, listen to, serve, and administer baptism and communion.