I'm a Presbyterian, but I could easily be a member of a Calvinistic Baptist church as well because I see both sides of the infant baptism thing. It truly doesn't bother me either way. I could argue both sides, pro and con; however. . . what does bother me (because I see no biblical evidence for it) is treating baptism as a "public profession of faith".
I will allow a Baptist his credo position with no argument, but what I have seen in practice in baptist churches is that the person being baptized thinks that he is doing something for God rather than as something that God is doing/has done for the baptized. Also, according to the Great Commission, baptism is something done to you by the church vs something you simply choose to do. Jesus tells the 12 to go into the world and baptize. As an adult convert, the church tells you that you are to be baptized. You present yourself to the church for baptism, not the other way around.
Yesterday, I heard a 15 minute long "testimony" at a Baptist church. First, I just don't see examples of that kind of thing in my Bible. Second, whenever I hear these "testimonies" they all sound a bit moralistic: "I used to drink smoke and swear, and now I don't drink smoke and swear." Well, if I followed you around for a day, I would see that you have other, less obvious, sins, so please don't tell me how good you are, but please do tell me how good Jesus is.
The practice of treating baptism as a public profession of faith (it's something I do rather than something that is done for me i.e. union with Christ and HIS work) is unbiblical and therefore unhelpful for the Christian and the church. There is a tacit legalism inherent in the practice.
Anyone care to discuss?
Is Baptism a Public Profession of Faith?
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While I hold that no grace is imparted and there is certainly no saving efficacy in it one who professes faith in Christ but refuses to be baptized is not united to Christ by faith.
This is a statement about Baptist beliefs on baptism:
“...represents in an outward symbol the inward work of the Spirit, and shows how ‘according to his mercy, he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit,’ a work already performed on the heart of the candidate by an application of the cleansing blood of Christ” (Hisox, The Baptist Church Directory, 1911, page 32)
"Baptism has its retrospect. It points back to Christ in His humiliation, death, burial and resurrec- tion ; and keeps constantly in the minds of both candidates and spectators Him " who died for our sins and rose again for our justification." It testifies that He suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead, to perfect the work of redemption." (Hisox, The New Baptist Church Directory, 1941)
The above position is one that is drawn from scripture. Even though I might not fully agree with a Baptistic view of baptism, at least I can see this position is an interpretation of scripture; however, baptism as a public declaration of faith is nowhere to be found in scripture, and people giving "testimonies" during baptism is nowhere to be found in the pages of scripture. This is my point.
I think it’s fair to say that there are two understandings of baptism, one which emphasizes God’s call to us and our acceptance as his children before we have any ability to respond, and one of which emphasizes our response to that call in faith. I think the first is more consistent with Reformed theology. But this is one question where Scripture doesn’t clearly answer, so I think both understandings are acceptable. Even in Reformed theology, we do respond to regeneration in faith. So as long as it’s not buried in “decision theology,” believer’s baptism can probably be OK.
In such a church, baptism is a response to a public profession of faith. It’s not itself a profession, of course, since the person doesn’t baptize themselves. The Church baptizes, in this case following a public profession of faith. For a Reformed church I'd say the baptism is a recognition more of the fact that God has called the person than his own decision, modeled after Acts 10:47.
I don't believe that all Baptists believe that their baptism is "doing something for God". When I was baptized in a Baptist church, I did it to visibly demonstrate an internal change that Jesus Christ had done inside me and to join with a community of believers in Jesus Christ, that I was asking them to hold me accountable for my obedience to Christ.
Do some people have a misunderstanding of Baptism? Certainly.
"Also, according to the Great Commission, baptism is something done to you by the church vs something you simply choose to do."
I don't think these things are mutually exclusive. It is a both/and not necessarily and either/or. Salvation is completely a work of God in the heart of the believer, but the believer responds to salvation by obeying the word of God, by His grace. Part of the response of salvation is to participate in Baptism. Baptism is also a demonstration to the world that you have been changed, are being changed, and that you no longer follow the ways of the world, by the grace of God.
While it is true that there are no examples of baptismal testimonies in the Bible, that does not necessarily mean that it is wrong to do such a thing. There are many things that we do in contemporary churches that is not specifically defined in the Bible, but that does not mean that those things are wrong. God gives us certain freedoms as we walk our Christian walk.
Can baptismal testimonies be poorly done? Yes.
Can baptismal testimonies sometimes glorify man rather than God? Yes.
Does that mean that testimonies should never be done? No, I don't think so.
Is there a potential for legalism in baptism? Certainly.
Many churches could definitely go a lot farther on examining a person before baptism to see if they are truly walking in the faith. And in some cases, baptism is very wrongly looked at as a indicator of church growth, that the more you baptize, the more your church is growing. This is a very dangerous path that leads to many a false convert.
I would rather see one person baptized in a year that has seriously been examined by the church, to see that they are showing the fruit of repentance and obedience to Christ (as a reflection of their salvation), than to see 2,000 people baptized in a year that have never been examined by the Pastor or Elders and that of those 2,000, all of them were false converts because they responded to the gospel solely on the emotions. Unfortunately, there have been churches bragging about their church swelling by more than 3,000 members in the past year because of their baptisms, but many of those people are more than likely goats.
Baptismal testimonies are a completely different thing. I see no examples of them in the Scriptures and find them to be mostly about "me" instead of about Christ and His Gospel. We are to do nothing to draw attention to ourselves, Matt. 6:1-7.
Biblical example of baptism were all immediate.
Q. 190. Why did Christ ordain baptism for believers?
A. For a sign of fellowship with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection unto newness of life.
Scr. “Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him from the dead.” — Colossians 2:12 See Also Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:2-5Q.
191. Who may be baptized?
A. Those who actually profess repentance toward God, faith in Christ Jesus, and obedience to Him.
Scr. “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit… Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:” — Acts 2:38- 41
Thank you for this posted question. Sorry for such a late reply to post, but I just came across it today.
I appreciate your heart to bring to light a truth that indeed binds up people in regards to baptism. The danger we all face is getting caught up in following doctrine or traditions of man that are not biblical. We can reason together and be like those from Berea that Paul mentions in Acts 17.
I found that the teaching of baptism to be a public confession/profession of faith belittles the spiritual meaning behind the act of obedience. Baptism is a spiritual act of obedience and not declaration of my faith to other believers.
Today I would be baptizing four people in a swimming pool! Oh my!
I have taught them that they are doing this because of their heart to follow Jesus.
Acts 8:36-38 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Those that I will baptize today make this same stand as the Eunuch, understanding also that which is spoken of by Paul in Romans six, that they are no longer to live for themselves but for Jesus.
Just for sharing.
According to Matt 6:1, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." ----- "Watch out! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven", praying, almsgiving, and fasting are all spiritual things pleasing to God. And Our LORD Jesus strongly advices us not to perform this publicly, it should be practiced in secret seen only by God. Baptism should be done in the same way. The purpose of baptism Is about one's commitment of his relationship with God, a covenant made between one and God alone. I don't understand why it became a "showing-off" party in the church in our generation. When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan river, it happened to be a crowd there. That was a crowd not because every one was there to watch him get baptized, it was because the crowd were being baptized too (Luke 3:21). And the Bible does not tell us that we should applaud, celebrate, make a party, or to show off, to proclaim to everyone proudly that they have been baptized. The unbelievers will discover us as a Christian when they see the changes in us when we learn to become more like Jesus, the way we speak, we think, we reason, followed by daily repentance and how we react during trials not through baptism.
I seriously doubt that baptism is a public profession of faith simply because it's unbiblical. According to the Bible, just like praying, almsgiving, and fasting, Baptism is an act of righteousness before God. It's not a practice to show off publicly but a commitment to be done in private and a pleasure to God alone, the audience of one.