Monthly Archives: November 2016

Why is the mode of baptism so important?

Lord willing, and to the praise of His glorious grace, we will be baptizing two young men in a  couple weeks. At our church, we make sure we completely immerse someone in water. Unless someone is completely immersed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I am inclined to say it might not be Christian baptism. Many of my professors from seminary would say it much stronger than that. And I understand. Either way, everybody should think the mode, or the method or the form, of baptism is important.

Why do Baptists care about the mode of baptism so much?

  1. Westminster Confession of Faith says “Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.”–mind you, it was Presbyterians who wrote this, who largely disagree with Baptists on the mode of baptism. But we all believe Christ appointed something “until the end of the world,” and that something means a lot of good things for the believer. We should want to do exactly what Jesus commanded when it comes to the sacraments.
  2. Related to this, the word “baptize” in the Bible clearly means either to immerse or dip or wash. Paedobaptists believe “wash” can include sprinkling. Baptists are famous for over-emphasizing “immerse” as the only meaning of that word sometimes. I have been guilty of that. But I do assert that “baptize” means “immerse.” It can mean other things, but it does also mean “immerse.” And if burial with Christ is really meant to be communicated in baptism (Rom 6.4), then immersion is a fine form, is it not? Some argue that Jesus was buried above ground, therefore, you do not have to “bury” someone under water. Even if Jesus’ tomb was above ground, I am fairly confident you could not see any part of his body sticking out of the tomb. In other words, he was buried! Because of all this, why not err on the side of caution when it comes to one of Jesus’ sacraments, and immerse?
  3. When Jesus says “be baptized” regarding baptism, it is the equivalent of him saying “take and eat” regarding the Eucharist. Some have argued that for Baptists to care about mode so much means they should never have grape juice for the Lord’s Supper! Nice try. We can argue about what “fruit of the vine” means later, but that is an argument about outward elements, not mode. We all agree water is the outward element in baptism (please tell me we all agree on that!). But the issue in this post is mode. The equivalent of “be baptized” in baptism is “take and eat” in the Lord’s Supper. Do you think Jesus cares whether you actually put elements in your mouth and swallow in Communion? Then you should equally care whether you are immersed or washed or sprinkled.

To not care about the mode of baptism is like saying “I’m going for a run” and then walking, or “I’m going to kiss my wife” and then shake her hand. To not care about the mode of baptism is to not care about what baptism is. And if you do not care about what it is, it is probably because you do not care enough about what it means.

Thankfully, there are probably millions of believers who do not care much about anything I’m talking about here, yet because of God’s grace, will receive all the benefits of the Son, and baptism, through their faith in Him.

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Response to the Anti-Trump Christians

I just saw a post today from a great brother in Christ, Thabiti Anyabwile. You can read it here. He admitted his blog was not from well developed thought, and he may change some of his opinions in the near future based on more conversation. I appreciate that. But this is something that has been brewing for awhile in our country.

There are many Christians who were #NeverTrump-ers. Full disclosure: I was one of them, I think. What I meant by that was I could not in good conscience vote for Donald Trump. But there is now a strange fallout in our country, and apparently even in the Church. A quick response to 3 possible Anti-Trump groups:

  1. There are many Americans who are protesting the fact that Trump is the President-elect. It’s all over the news. This is downright silliness. We all thought Trump was crazy for saying he would protest if he lost the election. We have to think this group is just as crazy for doing what they are doing. I, personally, think he is not going to be a good President (I hope I am proven wrong). But it does not change the fact that in 21st Century America, with our system of democratic-republic government, Donald Trump is the President-elect. If you are a citizen of the U.S., he will be your next President. Case closed. You owe him honor.
  2. There are many Christians who voted for Hilary Clinton. Thabiti said he was one of them. If Christians like Thabiti argued that they could not vote for Donald Trump for moral reasons, then there was no defense for voting for Hilary. I may be missing political reasons that I do not understand. But from what I read, Christians argued that Trump was more evil than Hilary, and that Hilary was the status quo. Based on that line of thinking, my brothers and sisters are simply de-sensitized to the horror of the murder of unborn children. I am not saying Trump was less evil. You can even argue Trump is more evil. But if “evil” is going to cause you to not vote for someone, then you should have voted for neither. Again, you may have other political reasons for voting. That is fine. But I am saying if the reasoning has to do with morality, forget it. Neither was worthy of a vote of moral support.
  3. There are Christians apparently who think the evangelical church has lost credibility for supporting Trump. That is the gist of Thabiti’s post. He bases a lot of this on exit poll surveys that say about 80% of Trump’s votes came from white evangelicals. This is one reason I hate statistics! Just because a bunch of self-professing evangelicals (according to the Washington Post, mind you) say they voted for Trump, it does not mean much. Thabiti knows this, I’m sure. How many professing Christians in America do we think are actually Christians? And of those true born again believers who voted for Donald Trump, how many do we believe are mature Christians? And of those mature Christians, how many do we believe voted for him because they think he is a morally good choice? I venture to say the answer to that last question is near zero.

Maybe in 2020 nobody should share who they are voting for. As a good friend of mine said, he thought America ran on the “silent ballot” system! To be clear, I love Thabiti Anyabwile and am grateful for his ministry. I just think this whole election season brought out some strange thinking within the Church, and I am more thankful than ever for a four year-election cycle, for election season being over, and most of all, that our citizenship is in heaven where we await the King of the Nations to return from soon.