Where Hodge most vigorously opposes the immersionists, I think, is in the symbology of baptism. Where Baptists customarily describe baptism as an analogy of the death and resurrection of Christ - best represented, they say, by immersion- Hodge prefers a parallel with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Hodge directs us to Matthew 3:11, where John the Baptizer says, "I baptize you with water for repentance...", while in contrast, Jesus "will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." See also the parallel passages in Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:26, 33, and their recounting in Acts 1:5 and 11:16. Notice the baptismal imagery that Paul applies to the Holy Spirit in Titus 3:5-6, "the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior."
Hodge continues, "Baptism of the Holy Ghost, of which water baptism is the emblem, is never set forth in Scripture as an 'immersion,' but always as a 'pouring' and 'sprinkling.'" In the Old Testament, we find this usage in Isaiah 44:3, 52:15, Ezekiel 36:25-27, And especially Joel 2:28-29, "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh... [I]n those days I will pour out My Spirit..." And in the New Testament, we can see it in Acts 2:1-4, 32-33; 10:44-48; and 11:15-16.
As mentioned in Part 2, the Old Testament rites of purification were done by sprinkling. Confer Ex. 24:5-8, Lev. 8:30, 14:7, 14:51, Numbers 8:6-7, and Heb. 9:12-22.
From these references, I would conclude that the best mode of baptism would be by sprinkling. However, I repeat that I (and Hodge) do not consider the mode of baptism to be a critical matter. In fact, I myself was immersed as a teenager.
To go to part 4, the conclusion, click here.
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