Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I Will Not Sign the "Time to Change" Statement

And the Baptist world is shaken to its core with this stunning revelation…

Before I go into my reasons why not, let me first say how much I appreciate the statement. After the subterfuge of last year's Garner Motion ploy, it appears that Wade Burleson's movement is finally ready to bring to our convention a straightforward presentation of the key disputed issues. Good for them. We can hold different opinions and still conduct an honest debate. Here are some of the reasons why I hope that they do not succeed.

Reasons Why I Do Not Support the "Time to Change" Statement

  1. "Time to Change" really stands for "Time Not to Change a Doggoned Thing." The authors of the statement invite us to take a tour of the Potemkin village that they've erected within the IMB. There we see that the IMB, with thousands of faithful missionaries, has no doctrinal problems whatsoever, even within such a large entity. Every missionary is thoroughly orthodox and is Baptist to the core. The administration of the IMB is forthright and honest. The finances of the IMB are transparent and well-managed. The only problem plaguing the IMB, it seems from reading the statement, is a group of hyperactive troublemakers who have advanced these two problem policies.

    Unfortunately for the authors of the statement, the pasteboard façades on the banks of the Dnieper have long ago fallen down to reveal what is behind:

    • A book produced by IMB personnel and championed by the administration at the highest levels has had to be revised multiple times to restore basic Christian orthodoxy to the book (by removing the Modalism inherent to earlier versions) and to keep IMB evangelistic practice in line with basic Christian ethics (by not lying to Muslims in an effort to convert them). None of these problems were pointed out within the IMB structure, but changes only took place when people outside the IMB pointed them out loudly and persistently enough.
    • Although these former IMB trustees want to tell us what champions of the BF&M they are ("BFM 2000 - a statement that we affirm as conservative Southern Baptists as the standard for IMB missionaries"), anyone who has even casually followed Southern Baptist blogging for the past two years knows that some of these trustees gladly consented to at least one trustee and at least one missionary stating explicit disagreement with the BF&M yet continuing in their positions of service. One of the advocates of this statement was precisely the person in charge of new trustee orientation when the caveat was granted. Where was the fabled and storied commitment of these trustees to the BF&M when those decisions were being made? Where was their commitment to the idea that the convention messengers and the local churches ought to make doctrinal decisions on behalf of the convention? Their real philosophy is revealed in their actions: Nobody but the convention ought to be able to enforce policies beyond the BF&M, but small groups or individuals ought to be able to set aside portions of the BF&M without seeking the consent of the convention or even notifying the convention of what is going on. That's what we mean by the "maximal" view of the BF&M: Nobody can go beyond it, but behind-closed-door winks and nods can waive articles by fiat and murder our statement of faith by the death of a thousand cuts.
    • Just last week the blogosphere was alive with an IMB missionary's controversial statement that Mormon baptism can constitute valid Christian baptism.
    • Louis Moore's book (just out this week) is a troubling revelation of IMB administration efforts to manipulate and circumvent trustee oversight.

    In the light of these items that have taken place in the plain view of every interested observer, it is impossible for me to agree with a group whose goal is an emasculated trustee board of sycophants. In contrast to my friend Alan Cross's beliefs ("IMB trustees should return to their role as the chief supporters of the missionaries on the field, instead of their perceived current role as suspicious managers"), I do not think that a board of trustees ought to be a pom-pom festooned band of cheerleaders. If that's all they are, then they are a complete waste of money. Trustees exist to hold the IMB accountable, and while dysfunction is not necessary or helpful, firm resolve and fiduciary seriousness is a necessary part of the job.

  2. I am not convinced by the "Time to Change" statement's assertion that the new guidelines undermine the autonomy of the local church. The authors inform us that the new baptism policy "has placed the board in the position of dictating to local churches what constitutes a legitimate Christian baptism." In their estimation, this constitutes a violation of the cherished Baptist distinctive of local church autonomy, because the IMB is daring to tell a local church that it considers invalid a baptism that the local church has ruled valid. By this definition, local church autonomy includes something like the federal government's "Full Faith and Credit" clause—a local church is not autonomous unless every other local church in the SBC is obligated to accept as valid everything that local church does.

    Of course, even the authors of the "Time to Change" statement don't really believe anything that preposterous—it is just a rhetorical argument that sounds good. In the selfsame paragraph these very authors feel quite comfortable in dictating to local churches that baptism must be by immersion and must take place in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Presumably, even if an autonomous local Southern Baptist congregation were to accept Oneness Pentecostal immersion or, as some local Southern Baptist churches have contemplated openly or have done quietly, were to accept sprinkling of infants as valid baptism, our trustees would nonetheless gladly presume in such a circumstance to override that church's determination and dictate to a local Southern Baptist congregation what is or is not Christian Baptism (Or would they? Two weeks ago I would have made bold statements that we were all agreed on the invalidity of Mormon baptism).

    If the issue at play here is one of local church autonomy, then what is the difference between rejecting local congregational judgment regarding the rightful administrator of baptism versus rejecting local congregational judgment regarding the rightful mode of baptism or the rightful spoken formula of baptism? No valid answer comes to mind. And that's because this question has absolutely not one thing to do with local church autonomy.

    Rather, we must acknowledge that local church autonomy consists of something akin to "freedom of speech" plus something akin to "freedom of association." My local church can affirm, denounce, practice, abstain from, support, or defund whatever we wish, and there's nothing that the SBC or the IMB can do about it. But one function of my church's autonomy is the fact that we get to choose with which churches and how we will partner for various tasks. In the SBC we make those decisions collectively through our annual meeting and the governing structures that we select and authorize through that meeting. Unless and until the SBC gains the authority to hire and fire our personnel or to buy or sell our property, no decision that the SBC or its entities make can ever imperil the autonomy of our local church. And the local churches that constitute the SBC are free to determine both the bounds of their fellowship and their criteria for employment of missionaries or any other thing.

  3. I am not convinced by the the "Time to Change" statement's theory of restricting IMB policies to strictly the primary doctrines identified in the Bible. The statement urges us to consider carefully that "the Bible at no point raises [the] issue [of so-called private prayer language] to a matter of primary doctrinal importance." Well, of course it doesn't. That's a tautology.

    The Bible doesn't mention "private prayer language" at all, nor does the Bible categorize doctrines into matters of "primary doctrinal importance" versus other doctrines, unless our sagacious trustees are directing us to 1 Corinthians 15:5-8. And if they are, then they must concede that the list in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 of doctrines "of first importance" is pretty sparsely populated. The doctrine of the Trinity isn't in there. The doctrine of immersion is not in there—baptism isn't in there at all. So, if our former trustees are only interested in enforcing the doctrines listed in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8, then we're going to have a pretty minimalist set of guidelines for missionary appointment, but if they have some other list of primary doctrines in mind, then they must concede that "the Bible at no point raises [any of the other issues that our trustees enforce as policies] to a matter of primary doctrinal importance."

    See, I just thought that we were supposed to teach new converts to obey all that Jesus commanded us, not to make lists of Bible doctrines that aren't important enough for us to try to impart them.

    What the Southern Baptist people have to do, I guess, is to decide whether we believe that "Sheelrbaoehatoanta" is a grand utterance of divine origin. And if we cannot, then we'll have to determine whether our inability to achieve obedience to Christ at that point does or does not rise to such a level of importance as to prevent us from working together on those points at which we have reached agreement. The answer to that second question will probably depend upon how aggressive the Pentecostals among us will be in advancing their doctrines and practices. But this will be a practical question, and the adherents to this statement ought to stop pretending that there's some list of primary doctrines in the Bible from which our trustees must not stray.

I expect the East Coast political activists advancing this statement to bring measures to Indianapolis for the Southern Baptist Convention to consider. This is a critical year for them, for they will not have a committee structure and platform stacked so friendly toward them again anytime soon. Action has taken place this year "accidentally" to exclude duly elected conservatives from the governmental processes of the SBC by "inadvertently" failing to send them information forwarded to all other members of committees and boards and other groups until after the insiders had already finalized action. There's a deliberate effort underway at this moment to skew the SBC political process in favor of these measures. Those kinds of actions can only succeed for so long, and next week is the last, best moment of opportunity.

It is important for conservative Southern Baptists to go to Indianapolis. It is important to pay attention. Beware of vaguely worded motions or resolutions. If you aren't 100% sure what the wording of a motion or resolution means, if you aren't 100% sure that you recognize who is bringing forward a motion or resolution and what they are trying to accomplish by it, and especially if you see that any item of business before the convention is being disputed or debated, then you have a responsibility to the church that sent you and the Lord who saved you to inform yourself before you vote. I recommend that you bookmark SBC Today in your Internet browser and check it frequently next week, because this premier SBC informational blog will be providing comprehensive analysis of the convention as it unfolds.

90 comments:

Dave Miller said...

I signed the document because I believe that they were ill-advised - an attempt to foist a particular viewpoint among Baptists (extreme Baptist Identity for lack of a better term) and make that into normative Baptist doctrine.

Dr. Yarnell (and others) can believe his viewpoint on baptism and he articulates it very well. And he has every right to promote it and try to convince others of it. But there are many of us (I think, perhaps, a majority, but who knows) who do not accept that viewpoint.

I see the policies as an attempt to codify that viewpoint as THE Baptist viewpoint.

Even disagreeing with you on this one, I still appreciate the way you articulate your viewpoints.

Tim Guthrie has a scenario on his blog that I would love to get your read on. I am still trying to figure out exactly how the SBC works, and you have helped me in that.

I wish I could come to Indy to cancel your vote, but will not be able to do so.

Les Puryear said...

Wow, what a surprise. :)

See ya in Indy.

Ron P. said...

Well stated Bart!

Ron P.

Bro. Robin said...

Bart

Again, magnificent.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Les took the words right out of my mouth. :)

Ben Macklin said...

Bart -

There is a tremendous precedent for accepting the baptism that other churches accept as valid; it is the movement of "church letter" from one church to another. I would be surprised if you do not readily accept as members those who transfer to FBC Farmersville from other churches "of like faith and practice." Surely you assume that the many transfers of letter were done of similar practice to your own: of a believing subject, by immersion, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Surely you don't inquire as to whether their baptism was "scriptural" according to your standards. I would assume that you accept without a great deal of scrutiny the baptism that other churches practice, but maybe not.

Ben

Debbie Kaufman said...

I think you are overstating what was said concerning a "Mormon baptism." Linking to the actual conversation should be it in its proper perspective.

David Rogers said...

It seems like you guys don't want to let this thing about a so-called "Mormon baptism" lie.

For the record, I do not accept the legitimacy of "Mormon baptism."

What I said, and continue to say, is that the doctrinal correctness or moral integrity of the administrator (or administrating church) of baptism is not a crucial element for determining the validity of a baptism. If this were not so, we would be in the midst of a quagmire so deep we could never get out of it. If we were to demand correct doctrine of the baptizing church, many, who in good faith, followed Christ in baptism, will have to be re-baptized when they discover that the church or minister they assumed to be legit really was not. Some of these false believers, teachers, and churches, no doubt, have even masqueraded under the name of "Baptists."

That is why I asked you on another blog about the Donatist controversy. I see we are heading towards, or may already be enmeshed, in our own Baptist version of the Donatist controvery right now.

The whole "Mormon question" was one I did not choose to bring up. I was probably a bit naive to even go there, but I decided to answer Tim Rogers's rather pointed question openly, though from a highly hypothetical and theoretical perspective.

I have never personally met someone who was legitimately baptized by a Mormon, and I don't imagine I ever will. My point is, though, that it is not the doctrinal correctness of the one baptizing that makes a baptism valid. It is the intention of the one being baptized, having repented of their sins, and trusted in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus and Jesus alone for their salvation, to be obedient to Christ's command. As Baptists, taking into consideration the literal meaning of the word "baptizein," we assume this to include proper mode as well.

Also, I wish some of you would interact with Dave Miller's excellent biblical study of baptism, in relation to this whole question starting here.

Let's look at what Scripture says about this, okay?

Anonymous said...

I must be late to the party, but I have no idea what this paragraph means"

"This is a critical year for them, for they will not have a committee structure and platform stacked so friendly toward them again anytime soon. Action has taken place this year "accidentally" to exclude duly elected conservatives from the governmental processes of the SBC by "inadvertently" failing to send them information forwarded to all other members of committees and boards and other groups until after the insiders had already finalized action. There's a deliberate effort underway at this moment to skew the SBC political process in favor of these measures. Those kinds of actions can only succeed for so long, and next week is the last, best moment of opportunity."

Who is "they" and what "actions" have been taken in a "deliberate effort" to skew the political process? Please post on this paragraph so we know what you are talking about.

Todd Pylant

Bart Barber said...

Dave,

Too bad. I would have loved to meet you there.

Bart Barber said...

Les & Debbie,

I beat you both to the joke. See the first line of my post.

Bart Barber said...

Ron & Robin,

Thanks for the words of encouragement.

Bart Barber said...

Ben,

Did I write so poorly that you thought I was arguing that local churches CANNOT accept as valid the baptism of other churches? If so, I apologize.

What I was meaning to say was this:

It is not a function of "local church autonomy" (or at least ought not to be) that local churches MUST accept as valid the baptisms performed by other churches.

Bart Barber said...

David,

The "Mormon baptism" thing is HUGE. It illustrates the outcome of the error of suggesting that baptism need not be performed in any connection with the only human institution of which Christ, the Lord of baptism, is the Head—the church. Prior to your statements about Mormon baptism, I had always thought that we simply drew lines differently as to where the church starts and ends, and that our differences about baptism arose out of that disagreement. Now I see in your arguments an unwillingness to connect baptism with the church at all. It astounds me. I can't help but continue to ruminate upon it. It is that startling.

I missed the question about the Donatists. Please direct me to it. I really should refrain from commenting on other blogs, because I'm never very good about keeping up with the ongoing flow of conversation once my attention has been distracted elsewhere.

Bart Barber said...

Todd,

That paragraph means exactly what it says.

Tim Guthrie said...

Maybe what some of the people who desire to reverse the guidleines miss is that this is all about local church issues and yet the convention must have a guideline when som many different churches are all over the map in regards to such issues.

No guidelines equal anything being accepted. The IMB, NAMB and others must have a standard. As the arguments reveal, how in the world could the IMB accept what some of our churches accept that would fit the scenerio of the Mormon response? Was there not a church in Oklahoma that almost split over the issue of "watering down" their stance on Baptism?

David Rogers said...

Bart,

The question on the Donatist controversy was over at Scott Gordon's blog.

Would you at least agree that what I am saying is not the equivalent to arguing for the validity of "Mormon baptism"? Things like this get twisted very easily, and innocent people get mischaracterized. Maybe you see it as the logical consequence of my argument. And, we have a fair debate there. But, when we lift something like this out of its context, it has the potential of leading a lot of people to think things that are just not true. As this thing keeps taking on a life of its own, it looks like to me like a lot of people are trying to make me a scapegoat because of this one comment I made on Tim Rogers's blog.

As a brother in Christ, I ask you to take this into consideration.

Ron P. said...

Bart,

You are correct that it is a huge issue that a Southern Baptist missionary stated the view that he did about a person being baptized by a Mormon could be legitimate. He even echoes that here in his comments minutes ago, he states:

I have never personally met someone who was legitimately baptized by a Mormon, and I don't imagine I ever will.

In the above comment David still leaves open the possibility that one can legitimately be baptized by a Mormon. He imagines that he will not meet someone... but does not unequivocally rule it out. WOW!

This is huge!

Ron P.

Pastor Hilliard said...

John 4:2 - I wonder if any of those who were baptized by Judas had to be rebaptized?
Luke 7:18-20 - or those baptized by John, who wasn’t quite sure of Jesus at one point?
Galatians - or baptized at the church of Galatia before Paul straightened the whole “saved by faith alone” issue?
Corinthians - or baptized at the church at Corinth before their toleration of sexual sin was addressed?
Acts 15 - or baptized at any of the churches that hadn’t figured out the law and grace issue until the council of Jerusalem set them straight?

Ron P. said...

David,
It is you who keeps muddying the waters on this. Notice my comment on your previous comment here. You still seem to leave the door open for a valid baptism done by a Mormon.

You need to make a clear and forthright statement that unequivocally states that under no circumstances would any baptism performed by a Mormon be a valid baptism. Anything less than that is not going to suffice.

Ron P.

David Rogers said...

Bart,

You say:

"Now I see in your arguments an unwillingness to connect baptism with the church at all."

I would personally word that a bit differently.

"I do not see a biblical justification for making local church authorization and administration of baptism an exclusive requirement for determining the validity of baptism."

I have been asking for someone to show me the biblical basis of this, but up to date, no one has been able to show me any compelling argument based on Scripture.

Dave Miller's series of posts on his blog, however, seems to me to clearly demonstrate the contrary.

What I am honestly looking for is someone who is willing to take this discussion up on the basis of Scripture. If they can show me where I am wrong, I am totally willing to retract.

Bart Barber said...

Pastor Hilliard,

Acts 19:1-7—As a matter of fact, yes, they were.

Ben Macklin said...

Bart -

Agreed. Churches do not have to accept as valid the baptism performed by other churches, but we very regularly do. Voting to grant letters of recommendation to sister churches of like faith and practice, and receiving the same, constitutes a very regular practice. My point is this; apparently the IMB is now scrutinizing the baptisms of missionary candidates to a degree not practiced among SBC churches. What church verifies that Mr. X's baptism was scriptural excepting that it was by immersion. Most churches don’t even verify immersion because it is assumed that if they are coming on the promise of a letter from a Baptist church, then they were obviously immersed. Every SBC church I know readily accepts members from other Baptist churches, but apparently the IMB does not.

I believe this issue is about association, not autonomy. If FBC of Chickencluck is sprinkling their infants and accepting adults who have been sprinkled at other churches, then they ought to be disfellowshipped at the associational or state level. But the IMB, as an entity wholly owned by the SBC, should not be able to disqualify a candidate from a church that is in good standing as a part of the same convention. I would agree that if the issue did come up, the IMB could put a missionary candidate’s advancement through the system on hold until the local association or the state convention, or even the SBC considers disfellowshipping / rebuking / correcting said church. But assuming that the local association, state convention, or SBC decides that a church’s practices DO constitute like faith and practice, then the IMB should not be allowed or encouraged to stop a missionary candidate from said church from advancing based solely upon those grounds. The churches (in common fellowship and cooperation through their association, state and national convention) who own the IMB would have spoken. In essence, if I understand you position correctly, you would allow and encourage an entity outside the convention of churches (as an institution owned by, and staffed by the churches) to rule a candidate (and therefore the church that sent him or her) out of order with regard to like faith and practice. That position would create a hierarchy that would, indeed, impinge upon local church autonomy by stating that decision they make are under scrutiny over and above the requirement to be considered in good standing by the local association, or convention.

If the IMB did discover a problem, report it to the association, state or national convention, and THEY disfellowshipped the church, then the candidate should likewise be disqualified.
Your brother in Christ,
Ben

BTW - Isn't the disqualification of missionary candidates that churches had approved the VERY issue that brought us to split and form the SBC to begin with?

Ben

David Rogers said...

Chris Hilliard,

You make a great point here. Bart and I already had the conversation about Acts 19:1-7 over at Scott Gordon's blog. It is true that the disciples of John were re-baptized there. But I believe it was because they had never truly been saved before that. Bart believe otherwise, though. It appears we are at a stalemate on this.

Even if you leave off your point about those who had been baptized by John, though, your other examples are able to stand on their own two feet. I wonder if Bart, or someone else, has an answer regarding them.

Bart Barber said...

David,

I said that you said that "Mormon baptism can constitute valid Christian baptism."

"Mormon baptism" = Baptism performed by a Mormon rather than by a Christian and performed under the authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

"can constitute" = is able to amount to. I do not put into your mouth the suggestion that Mormon baptism must always amount to Christian baptism or even does generally amount to Christian baptism. I merely said that you said that, under certain circumstances, Mormon baptism might possibly be Christian baptism.

"valid Christian baptism" = Baptism that is validly under the authority of Jesus Christ and in obedience to His command.

Now, that's what that phrase means. And that's what, it seems to me, you are still saying. I do want to be accurate. Can you show me how my wording is inaccurate? Because I do not want to misrepresent your viewpoint on a matter so serious.

Bart Barber said...

Not that I would want to misrepresent your viewpoint on a trivial matter, either.

Bart Barber said...

Ben,

That's exactly how it ought to work. However, when many associations, state conventions, and local churches have abandoned church discipline and doctrinal accountability, what's a convention to do?

Bart Barber said...

David,

You said, "I do not see a biblical justification for making local church authorization and administration of baptism an exclusive requirement for determining the validity of baptism."

It is that kind of statement that made me think you believed what I thought you believed before the Mormon baptism statement. Now, let me ask you a question that will illustrate the difference:

Do you see a biblical justification for making UNIVERSAL church authorization and administration of baptism an exclusive requirement for determining the validity of baptism?

And if not, can you show me biblical justification for someone not connected with the universal church performing valid Christian baptism?

David Rogers said...

Ron P.,

What about if someone was baptized in a Baptist church by someone who was a "closet Mormon"?

I know, I know, this example is so hypothetical as to be ridiculous. But that is just my point. From my perspective, the whole thing of someone, who is truly saved going to the Mormons to get baptized is just as hypothetically ridiculous.

We never know, when someone baptizes us, what their true beliefs are. Thank God He doesn't demand that we know either. He just asks us to trust in Christ, and be obedient to His commands.

Bart Barber said...

David,

As I said before, the "closet Mormon" thing just doesn't work as a problem for my position, nor do the other biblical examples given before.

I believe that baptism is a CHURCH ORDINANCE. I do not attach its validity to the individual doing the dunking. Valid Christian baptism is baptism performed in the name and authority of Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the church. If the person doing the dunking that day is a closet Mormon, Buddhist, atheist, Gnostic, Arian, Scientologist, or Methodist (just getting you all going, here!), that matters not a bit, because the person is being baptized under the auspices of a valid church of the Lord Jesus Christ and according to the biblical specifications.

David Rogers said...

Bart,

By the definition you give of "Mormon baptism" here, I would agree that it is never ever valid. However, I do not see that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has any authority to baptize. Any apparent "authority" they have is only that: illusory.

But, from my understanding, baptism does not depend on the authority of the administrator (individual or organization).

As far as the Universal Church is concerned, I would agree that a baptism not done by a "member" (quotation marks intentional) of the Universal Church is anomalous. This is because Jesus gave the Great Commission, which includes the command to baptize to the 11 disciples, and, by inference and extension, to all other present and future disciples.

However, the reality we must deal with is that many professed "members" of the Universal Church (just like many "members" or many "local churches," and a few entire congregations) have baptized others, and then proven to be wolves in sheep's clothing. That is to say, if we believe in eternal security (and I do), that they were never truly a "member" of the Universal Church.

Does this mean we must continually be revising the records and keeping track of who was baptized by whom and where, and what has happened to that church and that baptizer since then?

David Rogers said...

Bart,

Just curious. Do you believe some churches can be "valid" for some purposes, yet "invalid" for others (such as baptism)?

Ron P. said...

David,

Bart answered before I could (and of course he did a better job than what I would have). :)

Ron P.

David Rogers said...

Bart,

"If the person doing the dunking that day is a closet Mormon, Buddhist, atheist, Gnostic, Arian, Scientologist, or Methodist (just getting you all going, here!), that matters not a bit, because the person is being baptized under the auspices of a valid church of the Lord Jesus Christ and according to the biblical specifications."

If this is the case, then you will be over with me in the group of people unable to sign onto Ron P.'s "unequivocable" statement.

Interesting...

Bart Barber said...

Dave,

We must have cross-posted. My answer to your final question lies in the comment that appears just before it.

I'm not sure that I understand your reply correctly, particularly since you reference the way that I have defined "Mormon baptism." What confuses me is your statement that the LDS church does not have authority to baptize. I agree that they do not have authority to practice Christian baptism. However, of course they have authority to perform Mormon baptism.

With regard to the "Universal Church" you have answered something that I have not asked. I never mentioned anything about "a member" of the universal church. I merely asked whether, in your view, authorization and administration by the universal church in some sense is a requirement for valid baptism.

volfan007 said...

I believe Bart just said that whatever person is actually dunking the person under the water makes no difference if they are baptising for that church. So, a green-eyed Martian could be doing the actual dunking of the new convert, and it would still be a valid baptism if the local Church authorized the baptiser.

So, if someone was baptised by someone who then went astray, and turned into a heretic, the baptism would still be a Scriptural baptism...due to it being a Church thing, rather than a personal thing.

David

Bart Barber said...

David,

I don't think that Ron and I differ at all. I don't know that I can wrap my mind around the concept of a "closet Mormon" anyway to discuss it intelligently. But if you go to a valid New Testament church (and I believe that validity as a church is a binary matter) and receive baptism there, so long as you are validly qualified as a candidate and receive the New Testament ordinance.

Ron P. said...

David,

I guess I must clarify my unequivocal statement. By your comments that first started this, the impression you gave is that you could accept a baptism of a person who genuinely came to faith in Christ but was baptized in a Mormon ritual baptism. Because it mattered not to you what the baptizer believed only what the one being baptized believed.

I am not speaking of one who has deceived a group of believers and is serving as pastor of a NT, bible believing church. Just as I would not be speaking of an adulterer or homosexual or an unsaved person who has come in and deceived a church. Since it is a real NT church, the fact that they have been deceived does not in my mind invalidate the baptisms that they as a church have done.

Ron P.

Bart Barber said...

For those of you who just read or comment and don't blog yourself, here's what happens:

You write a lengthy, multifaceted blog post like this, and then, before you press "PUBLISH" you stop and think to yourself, "Which single sentence in this post will be the focus of comments that will forestall any conversation about the rest of what I have written?"

That's not just my experience; that's what bloggers on all sides of all issues experience. It's interesting. I picked the wrong phrase this time in my pre-posting guess.

David Rogers said...

Bart,

Maybe we are getting somewhere here, I don't know.

As I see it, the Universal Church is not an organization, so it would be hard to do something under its "authorization and administration," so to speak. The only way this supposed "authority ot baptize" could be carried out, then, would be through individual "members."

I should make clear that none of this precludes, as I understand it, local churches taking upon themselves the prerogative to administer baptism. But, as I understand it, they are doing so, merely as obedient "members" and "member congregations" of the Universal Church, not because they have "exclusive rights" to the prerogative to baptize.

Ron P. said...

Sorry Bart, you are correct. I did not intend to hijack your post on the single point we have been discussing. There are too many other excellent points in your post that should be highlighted and discussed as well.

Ron P.

Bart Barber said...

OK, David, maybe we are getting somewhere.

Now, a Mormon is not in any sense a member of the Universal Church, nor is he a part of a member congregation of the Universal Church. So how could he ever administer valid Christian baptism, either by my more local understanding of the church or by your more universal understanding of it?

Bart Barber said...

Ron,

I'm not accusing you. I'm not even accusing anyone else. I'm not even mad about it. I'm just saying that's how blogging works. A hijack is when you take something NOT IN the post and go after it, not when you go after some small element in the post.

Ben Macklin said...

Bart -

Have they (we) abandoned discipline of churches? The Austin association kicked University Baptist Church out in the early 90's for issues regarding homosexuality. I believe there are other examples of disfellowshipping churches. What I believe is going on is this, the IMB is not reporting back to Associations or conventions and then waiting for their action. instead, they are moving ahead and acting OVER the church's authority. The IMB is at fault here for not communicating to the churches in a given area the problematic behavior of their sister churches. The IMB should be directed to:

1. Notify local association and convention of problematic practices.

2. Wait for a ruling from the association or convention on the practice of that church.

3. Act according to the association's / convention's ruling EVEN if it conflicts with other association's practices. The issue of uneven practices is an issue for the national convention to act upon ONLY AFTER the associations and state conventions have ruled and found their decisions to be inadequate.

But it must be clear; the issue MUST be raised from the local area UP to the national convention, not the other way around.

If churches, states, national conventions fail to police their body of members, then the IMB (seminary, board, etc) cannot be allowed to do its own policing - it violated the terms of who owns whom.

For instance:
If a church permits a woman (who is a Ph.D.) to be employed as a professor at a seminary, and the church knows that the woman is employed by the seminary and yet doesn't mind, and the churches in the association do not disfellowship the church for permitting one of their female members from teaching at a seminary, and the state convention does not disfellowship the church from permitting one of their female members from teaching at a seminary, and the national convention does not disfellowship the church for permitting one of their female members from teaching at the seminary, then the seminary has no basis by which to fire the professor just for being a woman. That's a purely hypothetical case, though. :-)

Ben Macklin

Bart Barber said...

In other words, whether the command to baptize is given to local churches or to genuine disciples, a Mormon is not connected with either of those things, right?

David Rogers said...

Ron P.,

As far as I can recall, I never used the phrase "Mormon ritual baptism" or "Mormon baptism," for that matter (except in comments refuting others who say I was supporting "Mormon baptism").

What I have been talking about, from the beginning, is "biblical baptism," that happened to be performed, for whatever crazy reason, by a Mormon, or, for whatever even crazier reason, in a Mormon church building.

In regard to your 2nd paragraph in your last comment (if you have not posted again the meantime):

What if, not only the pastor, but an entire congregation, turns out to have been doctrinally defective, without the person being baptized having any way to have known about it?

Bart Barber said...

Ben,

I think that you presuppose a connectionalism that I didn't intend to underwrite. When I spoke of the way that things ought to be, I meant that local churches and associations ought to be vigilant about doctrinal matters. Do you think that BGCT is working on any plan to deal with Broadway Baptist in Fort Worth? Here's my advice to you: Don't launch a hunger strike waiting on that to happen, my friend. And TBA isn't going to do anything about it, either.

I did not mean to suggest that SBC entities are connectionally obligated to defer such decisions to local associations. I merely meant to suggest that such matters ought to have been dealt with by local associations before they ever show up at SBC entities.

Ron P. said...

Bart,

Thanks. I did think you were upset. I can understand that it can be frustrating that the comments have focused on one small part instead of the overall intention of the article.

I think that this document has multiple problems and you have clearly elucidated some of them here.

Ron P.

David Rogers said...

Bart,

Yes, I agree, "a Mormon is not in any sense a member of the Universal Church, nor is he a part of a member congregation of the Universal Church." It for this reason, that I said earlier that a baptism performed by a Mormon would be "anomalous" in that sense.

I guess the real question is to what degree are "anomalous" baptisms necessarily "invalid" baptisms"? And when is "re-baptism" therefore necessary?

Ron P. said...

David,

I said you gave the impression... You mentioned nothing of a closet Mormon in your original comment, therefore one would rightly assume you were talking about a Mormon baptism.

If an entire congregation... then they are not a NT Church, but a cult.

Ron P.

Pastor Hilliard said...

Sorry, I had to leave after I posted. Acts 19? Dude, clearly they were not saved. I just preached on that last year. No doubt about that ONE. I believe I gave other examples as well. But, alas, no response...

Pastor Hilliard said...

Supper time and then church. I shall return to give more info later...I've only just begun...muhahahahaha!

David Rogers said...

Ron P.,

You are correct. I mentioned nothing of a "closet Mormon" in my original comment. Neither did I, on my own initiative, bring up this entire question. It is all, as I keep repeating here, there, and everywhere, highly hypothetical. I realize, now, I should have been more careful in the way I worded what I said. Many people appear to be misunderstanding, and some, perhaps even intentionally twisting what I said to get political mileage out of it. I am sorry if you understood I was talking about a "Mormon baptism" as Bart has defined it here. I was not. My bad for potentially unclear language.

However, my point remains the same.

If an entire congregation did turn out to hold heretical views, then they would indeed be a cult. We are agreed here. But stranger things have happened. Is it not also possible that someone may have been innocently baptized by a "cult" that masqueraded as a biblical congregation? Or even, to tease it out a bit further, as a Baptist congregation?

Would their being deceived regarding the doctrine of that congregation (even though they themselves maintained biblically salvific doctrine) thus invalidate their baptism, even though they submitted to it, at first, in good faith, thinking they were really a biblically orthodox congregation?

That is the point I am making.

David Rogers said...

My verification letters for the last comment, by the way, were:

"libdrppl," which could be extrapolated as...

lib(eral) Dr. PPL

Is somebody trying to tell me something?

:-)

Bart Barber said...

Well, gee, Pastor Hilliard, if you just preached on that passage, then that settles it!

Where can I sign up for your DVDs? I'm sure you could have me straightened out in short order. :-)

Bart Barber said...

Actually, I responded to the others as well, but in response to another person. You do err in thinking that I attach baptismal validity to the PERSON rather than the CHURCH.

Ben Macklin said...

Bart -

Broadway is a good example. A church in TBA ought to vote to disfellowship them. I won't go on a hunger strike; I like food too much. But I do think that Tom Law ought to be asked if any other churches mind Broadway's practices. If not, then I ought to bring it up at the next BGCT meeting and ask that they be disfellowshipped, and I just might. Thanks for the reminder.

Now, I DO intend for there to be a connectedness in the name of integrity. The best thing the IMB, or a seminary, can do for their cause is to press the issue back to the local association and ask the local DOM to make it an agenda item at the next board meeting.

Ben

Bart Barber said...

David,

I believe that any person dunked by a cult has not been baptized.

Bart Barber said...

OK, folks. It's Wednesday night. I've got another little post to put up, and then it's church. Frankly, departure for Indianapolis is not far behind that. I've got to get there early, because it is my year to get the little white and black balls that we have to use in our secret meetings.

Hope to see you all there.

I'm not saying that I won't post or comment any more between now and convention—just that it will be hit and miss, with more miss than hit.

Bart Barber said...

Ben,

I agree that they OUGHT to do so in an informal sense, because I like it better when it works that way. I will not agree that they are formally obligated to do so. In my warped mind, that is the difference between connectionalism and associationalism.

Pastor Hilliard said...

Sorry Bart,
We are a small church and unable to record our messages at the moment (plus, we are rebuilding after a fire that consumed all our equipment). Rats! Missed another convert...

Anonymous said...

If an area was involved in a severe drought, and a mormon church recycled the water from a baptist church's baptistery which was later recycled by another baptist church. If the water was filtered and transported more than five miles? Then how many gallons would that be?


;-)
Just trying to lighten the mood a little.

Bubba Sims

Alan Cross said...

Bart, I'm glad that you consider me your friend. I feel the same way about you. It is funny that I consider many of the guys on the "other side of the aisle," so to speak, as my friends, even though the near totality of our relationship involves us disagreeing with one another, often sharply. I guess that the unity that we have in Christ is stronger than any of us realize. Now, back to disagreeing! :)

When did I ever say "that a board of trustees ought to be a pom-pom festooned band of cheerleaders"? That is a silly caricature of my point and it takes my words and shapes them in a way that I never represented.

Being supporters for missionaries on the field is not contrary to holding people accountable and overseeing their work. I have a staff in my church. I am their biggest supporter. I give them everything that they need to do their job and I try and encourage them. They feel free to disagree with me and they also feel free to be honest about problems that they see. But, if they do not do their job or they step out of line in some way, they and I both know that it is my duty to bring correction as their boss, their pastor, and their brother in the Lord. Holding people accountable does not mean that you do not support them or that you are their chief advocates. That is a false dichotomy. By the way, I see you as someone who would be an encourager in your own setting of leadership, so I don't even believe that you would practice a false dichotomy in this situation. All that I am saying is that we should not put one on the trustees.

For the record, I fully support the trustees role as overseers to our work on the field. But, there are good ways to do that and harmful ways. I believe that the trustees are acting in ways that are harmful. If you recall, I supported your view of the Camel Method from what I read and agree that trustees should step in with situations like that. But, according to the view of many missionaries that I have heard from and the increasing voice that is coming from the field, the perception is that the trustees are no longer overseeing in a constructive way.

By the way, I am not going to Indianapolis but I will be watching the events closely. If the way that people reacted to events last year is any indicator of the reaction that will come this year to things, I look forward to interacting on blogs like SBCToday and Praisegodbarebones. Expect to see me a good deal.

Tom Bryant said...

Bart,
Read the post, read the comments... still think you're right. Good post.

See you in Indy!

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

Good points. I read you wrong. I wish all of that had been in your post, not that your post contradicted it—it just left it unsaid.

Read Moore's book. We need strong trustees.

Pastor Hilliard said...

Would someone have to be rebaptized if they were baptized in these churches?

Romans: Church of Rome - Paul had to straighten out the Jews and Gentiles who still had various opinions and understandings about salvation (circumcise or not, law or not).

Ephesians: Church of Ephesus, needed to have the nature of the body of Christ (the true Church) explained to them further.

Church of Thessolonica - which was a little confused about the return of Christ and the end times



Revelation 2 and 3

(With the following, notice that all of these were called "church" by Jesus Himself, and thus, we have to recognize them as such)

Church in Pergamum - Allowed those who held to false teaching in the church

Church in Thyatira - Allowed an immoral false prophetess to teach her false doctrine in the church

Church at Sardis - A dead church with unrepentant sin

Church of Laodicea - An arrogant, lukewarm, naked, blind church

So, it appears to me, especially with the Revelation churches, that you don't have to have all your theology straight to be called a "church" by God. Now, He wouldn't stand for them remaining in the error. But he did recognize them as a church and didn't require any rebaptisms of their converts once they got things straightened out.

So, even though (enter any denomination you want to here) churches have the basics down but struggle in other areas, it does not mean they are not a real church. The early churches were often MESSED UP theologically. That is why Paul was inspired to write the inerrant Word to them. It was not "okay" that they were in the wrong. They needed to get things right. But they were called a church nonetheless. And thus their members were a part of the church. Their baptisms were valid even though some of their teaching was not.

Bart Barber said...

Dear Mr. Hilliard,

Man, you're loaded for bear if you can just find someone somewhere who believes what you're refuting.

Ben Stratton said...

Pastor Hillard,

You wrote: "it appears to me, especially with the Revelation churches, that you don't have to have all your theology straight to be called a "church" by God."

You are quite right about the churches of Asia and some of the other churches in the New Testament being in error, yet still being true churches. Yet what about verses such as:

Romans 16:17 - Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them

2 Thess. 3:6 - Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us

2 John 1:10 - If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed:

It is apparent from these verses that if a group fell into false doctrine they and their baptisms should be rejected.

This is why just a few years after the New Testament was written Tertullian wrote that the baptisms of heretics ought to be rejected.

I am convinced that if a group during the days of New Testament had have starting sprinking infants and calling it baptism, Paul would have broken fellowship with them and rejected their baptisms.

This is why the VAST majority of Baptists have historically rejected alien immersion.

Elisarose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pastor Hilliard said...

Bart,

No comment huh? I kinda figured...I'll let you think on it awhile.

Ben,
"It is apparent from these verses that if a group fell into false doctrine they and their baptisms should be rejected."

Where do you get that from your verses? If a BROTHER or SISTER, fell into false doctrine, they would be called to repentance (as Jesus did to the churches in Revelation). As 2 Thess. 3:6 points out, if they refuse to repent, you withdraw fellowship. This is all church discipline and restoration stuff.

How does 2 John 1:10 fit? Of course you don't allow a false teacher into your house.

The issue here is whether or not a person who is converted (truthfully) and is baptized at a church that doesn't agree with us SBCer's doctrinally should be welcomed into our fold. Is there baptism legit? Clearly the Lord Jesus Himself acknowledged many churches that don't have it together morally and theologically. Does that mean they aren't a legit church? Well, He called them a church and I'd rather not argue with Him.

Interact with the list of churches I gave you and tell me how they fit into your quote above?

Jerry Corbaley said...

Bart is right.

Read Moore's book.

If you love the SBC, read Moore's book. If you love/hate the SBC, read Moore's book.

Bart Barber said...

Hilliard,

But I DID comment. Who's saying that, if an individual church has problems or has INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS with doctrinal problems or ethical problems or the like, that church is not a valid church? Who's saying that? Anybody? Anywhere?

So, as I said, you're loaded for bear if you can ever find anyone who believes the doctrines that you are refuting.

Bart Barber said...

To all:

As I said last night, I'll probably not be able to comment much today—final preparations to depart early in the morning for Indianapolis.

Pastor Hilliard said...

"Who's saying that, if an individual church has problems or has INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS with doctrinal problems or ethical problems or the like, that church is not a valid church? Who's saying that? Anybody? Anywhere?"

Great! So, if the Assembly of God, the Methodist, the Prebyterian, etc. are valid churches (maybe a theoligically off in some areas as the churches I listed from Scripture), then their baptisms are valid as well. Glad we could settle this issue! Now...let's get that baptism policy changed and move on to the Great Commission!

Ben Stratton said...

Pastor Hilliard,

You're right that Jesus would have called individuals or groups with false doctrine to repentance. That's why we see some of the warning passages in the N.T. that you have refered to. But what happens when a group refuses to repent of that false doctrine?

Assemblies of God, Methodists, the Prebyterians, etc. refuse to repent of their doctrine error and go right along continuing to believe and pratice their false doctrine. So what should Baptists do about this?

Paul says to "avoid" them. Pastor Hilliard says to receive their baptisms. Paul says to "withdraw" fellowship from them. Pastor Hilliard says to recognize their baptisms as valid. John says not to "receive" them. Pastor Hilliard says their baptisms as fine and dandy.

I'm going to stick with the Apostles and continue to reject alien immersion.

Pastor Hilliard said...

Ben,
This comment thread doesn't grant enough room to respond to what you've said.

I'll be short. If you think that Southern Baptist are completely, without a doubt, 100% correct in every area of our doctrinal convictions and beliefs...that is an arrogance I can’t agree to. I assure you that when we all meet Jesus face to face, we will discover that there wasn't a one of us that didn't miss it in some area of our theology.

Think about it, all these churches (that I listed) were started by the apostles and believers of the early church years, and yet many were messed up morally and theologically early on. And you think we have it all figured out?

And, to claim that we have followed through on some type of Matthew 18 process on all these other churches/denomination is misguided.

Ben,
If you are going to be consistent, then you must follow completely our Lord's commands when it comes to church discipline. Therefore, I would hope that you don’t hang out with anyone from these other denominations, that each one who seeks to join your SBC church from one of these other denominations is told repent of ever being a part of them (make sure they know it was a sin to ever have been a part of that Methodist church), and that you don't even fellowship or EAT with one who is from these other denominations. Hang out in our holy huddle of SBCer's while I mingle with my brothers and sisters (and my own wife) who are baptized by churches that doing the best they can to understand and preach God's inerrant Word just like I am.

Listen, I’m all about church discipline (http://pastorhilliard.blogspot.com/2008/05/after-last-years-convention-i-was-very.html ). I know the issue well. Even in the argument you present, the IMB policies don’t stand. Nowhere in Scripture are the professions of faith or the baptisms of individuals in these messed up NT churches called invalid.

I could go on but I’ll take a breath for now…

Alan Cross said...

Bart,

One other question:

Who are the "Pentecostals" among us? I know that you are more theologically informed than that. There are NO Pentecostals in the SBC. NONE. ZERO. ZILCH. Oh, there might be a few in some churches somewhere, but I've never met one in the blogosphere. I've never met or heard of a Pentecostal pastor. I've never met or heard of one in leadership anywhere.

What in the world are you talking about? Do you know what a Pentecostal is? It is virtually impossible to be a Pentecostal and a Baptist at the same time.

Belief that a PPL is biblical does not a Pentecostal make. Being a Pentecostal REQUIRES a belief in a separate baptism in the Holy Spirit with tongues as the sign. Please tell me who in SBC life believes and advocates that?

Pastor Hilliard said...

Paul says to "avoid" them.
- He said to avoid individuals in the church who caused problems. Of all people, Paul wrote to and visited all those messed up churches.

Paul says to "withdraw" fellowship from them.
- He said to withdraw from those who don't repent (of course, this is assuming you've gone through all the Matt. 18 steps first). He doesn't negate their testimony or their baptism. In fact, notice he calls them "brothers". They are believers. Their baptism is not in question. They ARE in sin and need to repent. But...I don't see where they need to be rebaptized.

John says not to "receive" them.
- This was the most abused verse of all. It doesn't even fit the discussion. John is referring to false teachers who come to your door. You do not let them in. Either way, are you saying that you never allow a Methodist, Presbyterian, Charismatic, etc. into your house? Ever? You ever get lonely?

Ben, thanks for engaging me in this conversation. Your fear of heresy is valid. We all desire to avoid it and to fight it. But I think many are beginning to attack their own and they don't even realize it.

volfan007 said...

Pastor Hilliard,

I would not receive the baptism of a Methodist for many reasons. The main one being that they sprinkle for the most part instead of immerse.

Also, I would not accept the baptism of someone who was sprinkled on top of the head as a baby...like the Presbyterians are so fond of doing.

And, I would accept the baptism of someone who came from a Church that a)believes in the Trinity; b)believes that salvation is by grace thru faith and not of works, and that it's eternal in nature; c)believes in Believers Baptism by immersion only; and d)does not believe that baptism has something to do with saving a person.

Alan, I cant speak for Bart, but most people use the term "Pentecostal" to mean anything that resembles Pentecostalism...like speaking in tongues, faith healing, etc. The term "charismatic" is also used that way. Thus, praying in tongues is spoken of using this term many times, and the person using that term is not implying that they dont believe in the Trinity, or that you can lose your salvation, etc. It's just a general term for Pentecostal type behavior.

David

David

I Mitchell said...

Bart,

I don’t think the Baptist Identity people agree with what these Baptist Theologians had to say.

Title: The Believers Study Bible
Author:

Corinthians 12:13 At conversion, the believer is born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-6). He is also baptized by the Holy Spirit, which unites him to the body of Christ, the church, and to Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Rom 6:3-5). Thus, by this one baptism (Eph 4:5), he is in Christ indeed (Gal 3:26, 27). The Lord
Jesus Christ was described by John the Baptist as the baptizer (Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33), in the sense that He poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit (the Promise of the Father) after He had been crucified, buried, and raised to glory. Christ Jesus is the ultimate source, for He sent the Spirit as an ascension gift at Pentecost (cf. Acts 2). Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is the agent who is baptizing; the Lord’s body is the element into which all believers are immersed.
Spirit baptism is a miracle of God at the New Birth. We are then added to the body of Christ. Baptism by the Spirit must be distinguished from the filling with the Spirit: the baptism is never commanded; the filling is (Eph 5:18). After Pentecost (cf. also Acts 8:14-17) the baptism is once and for all at conversion, while the filling needs to be repeated (Acts 2:4; 4:31). The baptism is positional; the filling is experiential. The baptism does not bestow power, but the filling does (Acts 4:31). Confusion arises because on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) the baptism of the Spirit (Christ’s ascension gift) and the filling with the Spirit happened almost simultaneously.

Wayne Smith

Ben Stratton said...

Pastor Hilliard,

No one is saying that Southern Baptists are perfect in all their theology. What we are saying is Baptists are fundementally different in their major fundamental doctrines from Methodists, Prebyterians, Assemblies of God, Churches of Christ, etc.

Baptists believe in a secure salvation that is by grace alone through faith alone. These other groups do not.

Baptists stand for only symbolic believer's baptism by immersion. Many of these other groups do not.

Now I guess we can say that believer's immersion and eternal security are small, insignificant, non-essental doctrines, but I have a major problem with that.

I realize that Romans 16:17 and II Thess. 3:6 were written to local churches. Yet it is clear that these verses not only apply to individuals within a local church holding to false doctrine, but groups of individuals outside a local church holding to false doctrine. You will notice that all of the verses I referenced refer to "doctrine" or "traditions", not just moral issues.

The bottom line is what would Paul have done if a group in Sparta starting calling themselves a Christian church, but they were sprinkling babies and calling it baptism. Or maybe they were teaching that salvation could be secured and then lost, then secured again, and then lost again...

Paul would have rebuked them and attempted to teach them the truth. If they refused to listen, based on the verses I posted he would have broken fellowship with them and rejected all baptisms they administered. I don't see how anyone can say Paul would have done anything else.

It seems mightly illogical to say we are going to "avoid" and "reject" of group holding to false doctrine, but we are going to accept and receive the baptisms they administer.

Pastor Hilliard said...

Dave,

I completely agree with your comment, in the sense that immersion is rquired. So, if someone was saved at those denominations and immersed after conversion (many of those denom. such as some Methodist churches, will stil immerse at times), I have not issue what that.

A quick comment on "pentecostalism". You are right in what you wrote but I can say that those are very familar with charismatic/pentecostal churcesh and/or is involved in them, the two terms are in no one synonmous. A Charismatic will be quick to point out that they are not a Pentecostal. So, we should be careful with the terms.

Pastor Hilliard said...

Ben,

If I were to send your quote ,"Baptists believe in a secure salvation that is by grace alone through faith alone." 99.9% of the denominations we are referring to would say "Amen!" I know. I have family members who are Wesleyan and believe salvation can be lost (not just by sinning as many assume but by rejection and apostasy). But they would completely agree with the above statement.

As for your statement:
"Paul would have rebuked them and attempted to teach them the truth."
Amen, and he did do that

"If they refused to listen, based on the verses I posted he would have broken fellowship with them"
Absolutely.

"and rejected all baptisms they administered."
Don't see that at all in the Word. Conjecture.

Paul would have still seen them as brothers/sisters but in sin (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15) and would not have fellowshipped with them except to continue to try and convince them to repent. He would not have automatically placed their sin on the back of a new convert who trust Christ and is baptized at their church with no knowledge that their doctrine was in error.

You seem to imply that this "withdrawal" is a permanent, "we are done with you", washing of the hands type of thing. That's not church discipline. In the end, you do withdraw FELLOWSHIP but you still see them as a brother/sister and your only contact with them is to try and get them to see their error and repent. If they are truly saved and have been baptized, that is not the issue. Their unrepentant sin is the issue.

If you are implying that their baptisms are invalid because of the unrepentant sin that is in the church, THEN NONE OF OUR BAPTIMS ARE VALID. Every church, I would argue has unrepentant sin in it (either in theology or activity or both).

Ben,
If you feel the need to respond again, that is fine. But I have to move on to other assignments (and maybe other blogs ). Thanks again and God bless.

Chuck Bryce said...

Someone help this BIVO. I am at work and don't have time to read all the way through the comments. My question: Does the IMB "policy/guideline/whatever" refer to rejection of the baptism of someone due to the person performing the baptism, the church who authorized it or both?

Pastor Hilliard said...

Chuck,

The church.
http://www.imb.org/main/news/details.asp?LanguageID=1709&StoryID=3667

Pastor Hilliard said...

In case the above link doesn't work, here is the wording:

Baptism Guideline
That each candidate’s baptismal experience be examined, during the application process, in light of the Baptist Faith and Message statement and the points listed below:

BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE: ARTICLE VII – BAPTISM
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior; the believer’s death to sin; the burial of the old life; and the resurrection to walk in the newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.

POINTS TO BE COVERED DURING THE APPOINTMENT PROCESS:
1. The Individual

a. Believer’s baptism by immersion
Baptism by immersion follows salvation

b. Baptism is symbolic, picturing the experience of the believer’s death to sin and resurrection to a new life in Christ.
Baptism does not regenerate.

2. The Church
a. Baptism is a church ordinance.

Baptism must take place in a church that practices believer’s baptism by immersion alone, does not view baptism as sacramental or regenerative, and a church that embraces the doctrine of the security of the believer.

b. A candidate who has not been baptized in a Southern Baptist church or in a church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his/her Southern Baptist church as a testimony of identification with the system of belief held by Southern Baptist churches.

3. The Candidate
The candidate is responsible for meeting this doctrinal commitment to the above points.

4. The Consultant
While the candidate consultant should have a working knowledge of many denominational groups, he is not expected to investigate every church.

APPLICATION
1. This guideline is not retroactive.
2. Any exception to the above guideline must be reviewed by the staff and the Process Review Committee.

Tim Guthrie said...

Pastor Hillard,
I still do not see the problem with the guidelines. They are simple and clear and even allow for "other" than Baptist depending on the belief of the person and church.

r. grannemann said...

One thing wrong with the Baptist Identity position on baptism is that it makes too much of "authority" to baptize. I don't think this was ever the focus of baptism in the NT.

Jesus did say "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go ..."

The idea, however, is that we can go throughout the world declaring the gospel of the Kingdom because the world is the Lord's and therefore we have the right to do so in spite of men who may forbid us. It is not about creating an ecclesiastical authority that validates baptism. It is saying we have God's authority to baptize regardless of those who may forbid us. It is not about creating a "free church ecclesiastical authority" to perform "valid" baptisms. The kind of authority spoken of by Jesus in more akin to "having the right" to perform preach the gospel and perform baptism that is above human laws.

This is not to say that baptism shouldn't conform to an intuitive sense of what is proper, because baptism should represent one's entrance into the Kingdom of God and hope for resurrection. Therefore, being baptized by a cult strikes us all as improper. But that has nothing to do with some validating matrix of "ecclesiastical authority" to perform baptism. There is just no biblical emphasis on this.

All this talk of authority sounds more Roman Catholic than Baptist to me. Baptism was not meant to be put on this kind of pedestal.

Ben Stratton said...

Pastor Hilliard,

I think we are going in circles, so I will make this my last response on this post. Since baptism is a church ordinance, the baptisms adminerstered by churches holding to false doctrine on fundamental issues should be rejected. I think the verses I mentioned as well as others are clear on this subject. We love the individual, but we reject the acts (baptism incluced) that the group has performed.

Non-Baptist churches do not hold to ONLY believer's baptism by immersion and a SECURE salvation by grace alone through faith. They pratice sprinkling and / or hold to apostasy. Baptists do not need to accept baptisms identified with those false doctrines.

r. grannemann said...

When things are so clear to you, how can the opposite thing be so clear to someone else?