Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Mode of Baptism, According to the Scriptures, Part 1

As a Presbyterian, I often run into people who claim that I would support only baptism of adults by immersion, if I really believed in the Bible, instead of merely accepting tradition. However, I deny that the Scriptures require any such thing.

I have addressed the proper objects of baptism before (such as here), advocating paedobaptism (baptism including the children of believers) over credobaptism (the baptism of professing believers only). Now, I will address whether baptism by immersion only is required by Scripture. However, let me hasten to add that I believe that no particular mode is required, but rather a matter of indifference.

I am borrowing the argumentation here from Archibald Alexander Hodge, the son of the better-known Charles Hodge.

First, an analogy is often drawn to the baptism of John the Baptist (or, more properly, the Baptizer). Hodge excludes the parallel for several reasons: 1) John was the last Old Testament prophet, not a New Testament apostle (Luke 1:17); 2) his baptism wasn't in the trinitarian formula; 3) John's baptism was unto repentance, not faith in Christ; 4) his baptism didn't mark the engrafting of the believer into the church, in contrast, for example, with Acts 2:42 and 47; and 5)  those baptized by John were rebaptized by the Apostles when they were converted (Acts 18:24-28 and 19:1-5).

To proceed to Part 2, click here.

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