December 15, 2017

iMonk Classic: On Re-Baptism

Classic iMonk Post
by Michael Spencer
Series from Sept, 2008

Note from CM: A reader wrote me this week and asked about whether she should be re-baptized. After being baptized as an infant, she grew up in a nominal Catholic home, came “back to God” (her words) as an adult, and now the church she is attending requires her to be baptized to become a member. I gave her my view of baptism, which discourages the practice of re-baptism, since I view baptism as a sacrament through which God works rather than a human work by which we testify to God. At any rate, the exchange reminded me that Michael Spencer, a Southern Baptist, wrote quite a bit on the subject of re-baptism. Today, we present some of his classic thoughts, taken from posts that were published in September of 2008.

• • •

I know there are several angles to this subject, varying according to your own denominational preference. I am going to be writing from my position as an evangelical, a Southern Baptist and a lifelong minister to youth.

I’m going to write about rebaptism, an issue that has deeply affected and weakened my own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, and an issue that touches every Christian communion I am aware of in some way.

Rebaptism is a very emotional issue. One reason we don’t talk about it is how quickly it becomes an occasion for disagreement and division. I have seen many tears and heard many angry words over this subject. Just thinking about it and remembering what I have experienced has brought strong emotions back to me, even as I wrote.

Baptism stands at the entrance to the Christian experience. Christians may differ on exactly where that doorway occurs in relation to faith or forgiveness, and they may quibble about how directly that doorway leads into full communion in the church, but all Christians place baptism at the beginning of the Christian life, and assume that those who walk through it are, in some way, a part of the visible people of God.

In baptism, all Christians believe divine promises are heard. All Christians believe that baptism is, in various and very diverse ways, related to faith. All Christians believe that when the Church baptizes, it speaks a word from God to the one baptized, and a word to all Christians and all other persons who know the one baptized.

Amidst all the diverse and differing beliefs regarding baptism, there is a great common belief: This person is a part of God’s people, and is the recipient of God’s great promises in the Gospel.

I say all of this to make one point: For anyone to reject baptism- either their own or another’s- is a powerful and serious statement. It is powerfully divisive.

To reject one’s own baptism is to say something deeply revealing about what one believes about baptism, but more importantly, it is to say something revealing regarding the Gospel itself.

Rebaptism and the rejection of baptism that precedes it are full of ironies.

For example, my own Southern Baptist tradition does not believe in baptismal regeneration nor in the efficacy of baptism being tied to a particular congregation, yet Southern Baptists reject the baptisms of Roman Catholics- whether as adult believers or as infants- while the Roman Catholic church, which does believe the waters of baptism remove sin and that their church is the one and only true church, accepts the baptisms of Southern Baptists as valid.

It is Roman Catholics and most mainline Protestants who will refuse to rebaptize, while evangelicals often will rebaptize the same person multiple times over a period of a few years. Rebaptism by request for sentimental reasons- “My wife is being baptized and I want to be rebaptized with her”- is now commonplace.

Evangelicals will justify their own rebaptisms glibly, as if nothing were at stake at all in saying “I was baptized when I was 12, but I didn’t know what I was doing.” In fact, such a statement, while obviously meaningful as a description of an individual’s journey, has deep implications for the church and the Gospel.

In my own tradition, churches frequently refuse to accept other evangelicals baptized on their profession of faith, including other Baptists, without rebaptism. Such a posture has enormous implications regarding baptism, the Gospel and the church.

Those being rebaptized are seldom asked about their previous baptism, discipleship or Christian experience. Those who baptized and received them as Christians are left to assume they were wrong.

But most evangelicals seem clueless as to the seriousness of the issue of rebaptism. Submerged in the clamor for church growth, baptism has become a generator of statistics, and in that role rebaptism is seen as a blessing.

Only a few critics have the courage to point out that many “growing, evangelistic” churches are baptizing a percentage of their own members 2 and 3 times, while they are rebaptizing other Christians and acting as if these are conversions when they are not.

What does rebaptism look like among evangelicals today?

It looks like this:

  • A growing church requires anyone not immersed in a Southern Baptist Church to be rebaptized.
  • An evangelistic crusade at a church-related college results in over 200 decisions. Almost 2/3rds initially indicate that they are not Christians. Many will be rebaptized, even though they came to a Christian school after professing faith in Christ at their home churches for years. A local church will rebaptize many of these students who were baptized in their home churches.
  • After a revival, several of the deacons of a Baptist church- and the pastor’s wife and children- are rebaptized. The deacons continue serving as deacons.
  • A Baptist woman marries a Pentecostal man. The pastor who marries them says it would be a good idea of the man were rebaptized.
  • A woman is saved in a Baptist church. Her husband and children all ask to be rebaptized with her.
  • The entire youth group returns from summer camp and the youth minister asks the pastor that all the students be rebaptized. These are all the children of church leaders, and all were baptized in the past. The pastor baptizes them all at the next worship service.
  • A young adult woman asks her pastor to rebaptize her because, after a recent Beth Moore conference, she’s much more serious about her faith and wants to say that she’s starting over as a Christian.
  • A pastor tells the congregation that he is rebaptizing a man because, the man “just wants to be sure” that he’s a Christian.
  • A girl at a Christian school is rebaptized for the 4th time in 2 years. A teacher asks the pastor why, and he says “I don’t want to discourage her in her walk with Christ.”
  • A woman tells her pastor that she has not been living as a Christian the past few years, and now she wants to be resaved and rebaptized.
  • A man immersed in believer’s baptism in a Presbyterian church is told that in order to join a Baptist church he’s visiting, he must be rebaptized because Presbyterians believe in infant baptism.

Today, rebaptism is most often a witness to the decreasing meaning of baptism among Baptists and evangelicals.

Today’s rebaptism crisis exists because Baptists have largely evacuated their previous convictions on theology and the importance of the local congregation, and have replaced those standards with a complete surrender to personal experience and the wisdom of the church growth movement. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper create major issues for the agenda of today’s evangelical churches, and the inevitable response is going to be 1) a misreading of any doctrinal distinctives regarding baptism and 2) a subordination of the meaning and practice baptism to Christian experience and church growth.

The evacuation of theology and the triumph of the church growth mentality have left Baptists with few resources to understand what is meant by “one baptism” in Ephesians. Baptism has become an extension of denominational identity (“Baptist” baptism) and the servant of whatever religious experience the individual wants to report as re-conversion or appropriate for baptism.

Baptism’s place and purpose in the Christian life are narrow and not subjective. It is not open for reinterpretation as a witness to the distinction between Pentecostals and Baptists. It does not represent denominational distinctives, but the heart of the Gospel. Baptists who insist on rebaptism because a denomination speaks in tongues or believes in the possibility of apostasy are twisting baptism to have a meaning it does not have. It is a local church ordinance, but it witnesses to the oneness of all Christians in being joined to Christ.

Baptism is not available to bear witness to recommitments or other experiences. It witnesses to the inauguration of a person’s entrance into the new creation.

Further problems with rebaptism arise because of a lack of practical theology of the Christian life, in particular the normal experiences of growth and sanctification. Baptists and other evangelicals have become so confused about the Gospel that millions of Christians come for rebaptism when they have simply experienced normal growth, repentance, sanctification or other experiences that are part of the Christian life.

Christian leaders and preachers bear a huge responsibility for failing- or refusing- to discern the proper response to rebaptism situations. It takes a mature leader to lay aside ego and look at what is Biblically appropriate, rather than what will generate more baptisms.

Pastors must find the courage to raise issues related to baptism and to do the right thing. This may mean rebaptism in some instances. As Anglican Peter Mathews said, Baptists are showing integrity in their own principles when they define baptism in a way that excludes infant baptism. Where I might disagree slightly is on the “Piper Proposal” for accommodating those who believe that rebaptism violates their conscience and rejects a legitimate form of baptism. I see no damage to Baptist principles to allow a form of fellowship, an allowance for service and a freedom to come to the Lord’s table for those with different baptisimal convictions who are part of the larger “one church, one faith, one baptism” family.

Read the Original “Re-Baptism” Posts

Comments

  1. Luther likened baptism to marriage and said if the marriage falls apart and the couple separates, if they patch things up, no new marriage ceremony is needed.

  2. Randy Thompson says:

    My response to those who want to be rebaptized is to tell them that I will not rebaptize them, but that I will re-enact their baptism. I make it very clear to them that this is a re-enactment, not the real deal. You can’t get baptized more than once.

    I came up with this idea on my own, and then discovered, while reading Michael Green’s book on baptism, that the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand has such a service. I think it’s a good idea.

    By the way: Do these re-baptizers also re-marry couples after they have major fights??!!

  3. Doing ministry for 11 years in Baptist and non-denominational settings, I saw this over and over…Get your children “saved and baptized” at an early age, then they hit youth group, get “saved and baptized” again, because they “really didn’t understand the first time”. I grew up in the UMC, did a profession of faith and was baptized when I was 11. I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have faith in Christ. When I was ordained as a Baptist pastor, they insisted I be immersed, and I did it. I regret this decision deeply now. You know, many Baptist pastors I have encountered insist that people outside their denomination “aren’t saved”, because they didn’t walk an aisle, pray a prayer, and get immersed…Then they resent Catholics who feel you can’t be saved outside of the Catholic Church. Six of one, half-dozen of the other.

    Baptism is a sacrament. If more evangelicals would familiarize themselves with church history, and seek understanding of church tradition, rather than blindly taking the word of pastors who know little of the first 1500 years of Christianity themselves, then congregants could enjoy a deeper, richer, faith journey…and feel more secure in their faith along the way.

    • I once attended a fundgelical mega chruch empire over on Leebsurg Pike in the Tyson’s Corner area of DC. This was when I swallowed the kool-aide. I saw baptisms almost being treated to an asembly line process with mass baptisms of 30 to 50 at a time. They did this at retreats as well. It was done in such a mechanical fashion that in an email to the pastor I called them, “Mc-Baptisms…” which didn’t go over to well.

      But how fundys handle baptism is questionable. I was unaware that the Catholic chruch accepted Southern Baptists yet the SBC rejected the Roman Catholic. Wow….

      • To Roman Catholics and most of the mainline Protestant churches, as long as the baptism is done in a Trinitarian way, it’s considered valid. I don’t remember how it is with the Eastern Orthodox, though.

        • Richard McNeeley says:

          My oldest son converted to Greek Orthodox and was rebaptized. He was originally baptized in a Baptist church.

          • You know, I can live with being re-baptized, if you’re moving from a non-sacramental tradition to a sacramental tradition, just because of the lack of depth and meaning applied to the tradition in non-sacramental churches.

            Hmmm….It just occurred to me…I wonder if there will be a “NS” section in heaven? And I don’t mean “No Smoking”…:o)

          • I will add, though, as a pastor…I don’t think I would demand it, if someone moved from a NS tradition to a sacramental tradition. Personal opinion…

        • Though I think I was baptized with the Trinitiarian Formula when I was baptized in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), since the denomination no longer even requires belief in the Trinity for membership*, I requested (I wanted the full monty!) and was permitted to be rebaptized when I entered the Orthodox Church. (Trinitarian Baptism by other churches is accepted as valid, though perhaps imperfect, in the EOC, or at least in the OCA branch of the EOC). Because of the great variety of “Baptists” and unsureness of what any particular Baptist church might confess, my wife, who had grown up in a small country Baptist Church, was also rebaptized into the EOC.

          * http://www.disciples.org/AboutTheDisciples/OurConfession/tabid/759/Default.aspx I looked and looked but couldn’t find any doctrine or confession of the Trinity on the Disciples’ Website.

          In looking at the video of my baptism, I saw that one small area of my back didn’t get wet (we used a horse watering trough). Maybe that was the Achilles’ Heel that resulted in my leaving the EOC a little over 3 years later…. 😕

        • Some Orthodox jurisdictions receive merely by chrismation, others insist on re-baptism because the previous one was performed outside of the Orthodox Church and it is therefore not considered to have been a baptism at all.

      • Eagle, I know a lady who has been married four times, and baptized four times. I once joked that she got “saved” and baptized every time she remarried…This wasn’t received very well, either.

  4. As a life-long Methodist and son of a Methodist pastor, I was taught from a very early age that John Wesley was very firm on the “one and done” aspect of baptism. As someone a long time ago told me, Methodists don’t re-baptize because “God doesn’t make mistakes – He got it right the first time.” Instead, our Discipline allows for a reaffirmation of the baptismal covenant, as long as there are no words, symbols or gestures that can be interpreted as an actual baptism. Usually, in place of the usually trinitarian formula used in most baptisms, the phrase, “remember your baptism, and be thankful” is used.

    And I agree with Lee – far too many pastors and other church leaders, even in my own United Methodist denomination, tend to dismiss any theological writings that aren’t on the current Christian best-seller list as “out of date and out of touch” with “contemporary issues and concerns”. Personally, I keep finding that both the biblical writers and prominent Christian authors and thinkers, from Clement of Rome, John Chrysostom and Augustine to Wesley, Borden Parker Bowne, Albert Outler, and William Willimon, all have something relevant to say about almost any “contemporary” topic you can name.

  5. If it is understood (rightly) that God is the One who is doing the baptizing, then it would follow that once is enough.

    But if it is our decision, our faith, our commitment that is the focus…than I would suggest that re-baptizing every other day would be in order (for what all that is worth).

    .

  6. I was baptized once when I saved in a pentecostal church at 19, then at least three more times after becoming a southern baptist. I would jokingly say that it didn’t stick the first time.

    For years I held to the baptist theology of immersion, then a reformed minister loaned me a little old book written on baptism, it tackled both affusion and infant baptism. That little book taught me that immersion is not the only valid type of baptism, and that infant baptism was practiced in the early church.

    Coming from such a strict background on immersion, it was a new idea that other forms could be valid and I found it liberating. But it wasn’t until I looked at Baptism as a full sacrament that I feel I finally understood its full implications.

    -Paul-

    • In my case baptism was also sold as a meal ticket to dealing with problems. Struggle with alcohol…? Get baptized!! You’ll be a new creation and the old is gone, yet the new is here. I thought baptism would help me with lust,. and was shocked and disappointed to see it still being an issue. Many fundgelicals market baptisms and as a result it is cheapened. Multiple baptisms in my opinion are kind of like that cheap, plastic junk imported from China.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I wonder if to Baptists, baptism (by immersion, of course) has become nothing more than a tribal identity mark. I mean, “Baptist” is their church’s name!

  7. Randy Thompson says:

    I would imagine that all this re-baptizing must make a lot of people very insecure about their relationship with Christ. Can someone speak to that?

    Confession: I have never lived within the Southern Baptist cocoon, so I don’t get this at all. It seems completely crazy to me. I guess it makes sense if you think that you and those (just) like you are the true church and no one else counts.

    My only visit to a Southern Baptist church led me to believe that it was all about getting people to come forward and be born again. If that’s what happens week in and week out, there isn’t a whole lot more for people to do except get baptized over and over again. Unless, of course, you become a preacher, and then you do it to others over and over again.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      My only visit to a Southern Baptist church led me to believe that it was all about getting people to come forward and be born again.

      Altar Call Christianity. (Once you’re born again (TM), then what?)

      If that’s what happens week in and week out, there isn’t a whole lot more for people to do except get baptized over and over again. Unless, of course, you become a preacher, and then you do it to others over and over again.

      Well, in a lot of those non-liturgical church cultures, the only prestige career path IS a preacher or a missionary…

  8. Here’s a terrific mp3 audio on ‘faith’ (what is it?) and ‘re-baptism’.

    http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/re-baptism/

    It’s not too long and has some great quotes from Luther on re-baptism.

    Enjoy.

  9. Robin Cranford says:

    I was rebaptized because I was convinced that I wasn’t saved when I got baptized the first time. I thought this would relieve the terrors of my conscious. The minister that I spoke with confirmed as much because he said it was God speaking to me, telling me to follow him in rebaptism because I would be professing in public my inward change. He said if I didn’t confess him before men then he wouldn’t acknowledge me.

    Now, I wish I had not done this because it sent me into a tail spin that nearly sent me out of the church all together. When those terrors didn’t cease, I assumed I was damned from the beginning; one of those predestined to damnation. Only through a pure gospel message one evening via the internet, a lot of Martin Luther, some solid Lutheran guys and gospel addict Anglicans who took the time to minister to me via email and blogs did I even begin to be at the place where the gospel was finally good news for me.

    I highly discourage rebaptism because often people are encouraged to do this in an effort to “seal the deal” in getting right with God after a time of wandering. In the Baptist church, which I spent my whole life until recently, it was nothing more than showing you were really, really committed to Jesus.
    I am sure there are devastated people out there who did this over and over thinking those terrors would leave and it just never made good on its promise.

    I often heard in my circles that all of these denominations that baptized infants and the like thought of baptism as a “good work”. I wonder now who really is the one making it a “work”? Rebaptism becomes a sign that you are really taking the “challenge”, “sold out”, or whatever other phrase they can use to up the ante on being a Christian. It is a heavy burden. In some cases too heavy to bear.

    I really hate the word challenge now because that word was used over and over to sale a lot of young people on Christianity. It was like a sporting event or something. What if I don’t succeed with this new challenge? What happens when I fail or my baptism doesn’t prove to make me better? Well, I guess I failed the challenge. And failing the challenge doesn’t just mean that I don’t go to the National title game. Failing this challenge means I get a one way ticket to hell. Oh wretched man, or in this case woman, that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thank goodness the rest of that verse doesn’t say “you’re saved by being really committed and getting dunked over and over until you get it right and everyone knows you got it right and can see all of the miracles that are happening in your life all the time and want to be just like you because you got it right!

    • Robin, I can sympathize greatly with your story. In many Evangelical circles, eternal security is preached, but there is such pressure during the altar call…”Come if you need the Lord as Savior”…”Come if you’re not sure about your salvation”…”Come if you prayed the prayer before, but you didn’t really mean it”. These things make salvation seem like our work, not God’s, and our efforts are shaky as best. In a decade of service in these circles, I can’t tell you how many times I saw people re-answer altar calls, and be re-baptized. It was almost as if the pastors preached security, then put forth their best efforts into making us insecure! The same pastors would preach “saved by faith alone”, then make you believe you weren’t saved if you weren’t following the Ten Commandments, or at least have them on a sign in your yard. People would be labeled…”backsliders”…”not really saved the first time”…etc.

      I hate coming off as a total cynic…I will say that I’m glad that you had some folks to give you solid counsel during difficult spiritual times. I love the church, and she is beautiful at times…

      • Robin Cranford says:

        Yes, I was becoming disgruntled with the church but yes she is beautiful. I was ministered to to at the right time and begin to hear that old, old, story of Jesus and his love. Only then was love for him even remotely produced in me. The words that “He first loved us” finally begin to make sense. Those type of scriptures were always used as threats or passages that were made to make the congregation feel guilty because “look at how he loves us and we don’t love him back!”
        I love true preaching of the gospel. It doesn’t try to manipulate me. It tells me of my sin and how fallen I really am but, it then tells me that God himself came down to earth to buy me back for himself. Thank God for the internet and specifically internetmonk because without those resources I am not sure what would have happened to me a year and a half ago. I suspect that I would have just been rebaptized again…

      • Robin Cranford says:

        Lee, I checked out your website and see you are in GA. I live in Alabama and was wondering if there are any churches like yours in my neck of the woods?

        • Robin, I’m ordained in the Anglican Church of North America. There’s actually a few ACNA churches in Birmingham that I know of, several throughout Alabama. Here’s a link to the ACNA church locator…

          http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/locator/us

          Hope that’s helpful!

          I will admit, because we have a new baby, and the closest ACNA body is over an hour from us, we’ve recently been attending a local UMC body. It’s a great community, as well…

        • And thanks for looking at the site! A couple of folks from the IMonk community have stopped by lately! I’ll try to get something new up soon!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It was almost as if the pastors preached security, then put forth their best efforts into making us insecure!

        Not “almost” — make that a “definite”. I saw the phenomenon a lot with on-campus ministries during my college years. There I observed a definite infinite-regression tactic that went like this:

        Witnesser (after usual prelims steering the conversation to “spiritual matters”): “Are you SAVED?”
        Mugu: if “No”, Witnesser goes right to the Four Spiritual Laws and Altar Call, with some digression into Hellfire. If “Yes”:
        Witnesser: “How do you KNOW you’re Saved?”
        Mugu: Gives a reason. Any reason. Whatever the reason…
        Witnesser: “How do you KNOW you’re (whatever reason the mugu just gave)?????”
        Whatever reason the mugu gives, the witnesser throws it right back at him, “Are you sure? Are you certain you’re sure? Are you sure you’re certain you’re sure?” etc, chipping away at whatever faith or assurance the mugu had until it’s all in pieces. At which point, the Witnesser takes out his Bible for the Altar Call/Sinner’s Prayer and cuts another notch in his Bible.

        I saw this so many times. I had it used on me about half a dozen times.

      • Lee, I hate to do this, but I’m linking to an essay by Langston Hughes called “Salvation”:

        http://www.courses.vcu.edu/ENG200-dwc/hughes.htm

        It speaks to the works-salvation, bean-counting, altar calls that we’ve all at least heard about if not experienced. It’s a tough thing for some of us to read, but I think it’s the kind of bad news that we need to take seriously if we’re in the evangelism business.

        • That’s heart-breaking, Ted.

        • I agree with Damaris, Ted. What an amazing, heartbreaking story. I can say that I have witnessed parents nudging their children, saying, “Don’t you want to go forward?”, and once had a grandmother who asked me to counsel her four year old before being baptized, to make sure she “understood salvation”. She didn’t. Grandma was distressed because others in the child’s class were “getting saved”, and this child wasn’t. Eventually, she took the child to the senior pastor for “counseling”, and the child was baptized the next Sunday. And I’m sure she will be baptized again, once she hits youth group age.

    • The Guy from Knoxville says:

      Robin,

      Having been raised in an SBC church I can identify with all this more than there are words to tell. I think the biggest part of my problem in having been brought up in an SBC church is the constant insecurity that I and others in the churches I’ve been a part of have felt no matter what we did. I have been terrorized, just as you, about security about whether I had “really” been saved – I have been baptized twice and come close to making it three in the past and I’ve determined that I will not be baptized again and have come to embrace “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” which has been a very big help to me.

      I can’t begin to tell the terrors I’ve had about insecurity, the struggles with life issues that made me question salvation, security and even God at times – I’ve heard all the “are you sure about” sermons, the sermons that are supposed to assure one only to come out more unsure than before – it’s a no win situation. Only those coming from this background whether, SBC, independent baptist, missionary baptist, pentecostal, old hard line COC etc can know the sheer terror that can result from the constant insecurity of not ever knowing if you have been “saved” and all the sermons to help you know for sure result in more insecurity – it’s horrible beyond words and the effects are with me to this day at 48 years of age.

      Folks – One Lord – One Faith – One Baptism……… this is the way it should be and I really don’t know if the SBC and similar will ever embrace this and to that end a great host of people who could or would be effective in the kingdom will wonder around in the wilderness of uncertainty and insecurity all their lives with little, if anything, to show for all the searching and attempts to “know for sure”.

  10. While reading through this post, I found myself reminded of Damaris Zehner’s “Chapter Two” posts awhile back. (For those who missed them, they were a series of posts on growing towards spiritual maturity after the initial joy of redemption – I hope that’s a fair summary.)

    I wonder if some of these people who want to be re-baptized do so because they don’t have a good understanding of that “Chapter Two” of the Christian life. If you’re expecting to be suddenly, literally made perfect (like Eagle talks about above), you’re in for a disappointment after baptism, and it’s no wonder that people panic and feel like it didn’t “take” the first time. The prevalence of rebaptism suggests that a LOT of churches are creating unrealistic expectations in their members.

  11. Steve Newell says:

    It is my experience that those who engage in “re-baptism” tend to disregard the historic creeds. In the Nicene Creed, it clearly states “We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins”.

    Also Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Ephesus 4:4-5 “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”.

    • Steve, I totally agree.

      To this Catholic (and with NO disrespect intended) once you have been baptized, it is a done deal, just like losing one’s physical virginity. It doesn’t matter if it was a sacred moment on your wedding night or a drunk moment in a van….you are NOT a virgin, and you can’t become one again.

      You can’t un-ring a bell. Certainly there are many, many times we need to re-new our committment to God in a public way, but “re-baptism” is NOT it!

  12. Re:the Eastern Orthodox. Some, like ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) and the Greek Orthodox, require immersion baptism for converts. ROCOR insists on it, and the Greek Orthodox may or may not require it. But the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochean Orthodox jurisdictions generally receive baptized converts who’ve received Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Trinitarian formula) by Chrismation.

  13. I was baptized as an infant (Presbyterian) but years ago as an adult went to an American Baptist church that insisted on rebaptism before I would be admitted to membership. I went along with it out of obedience to that community, but I was never convinced of its necessity and am still highly skeptical of rebaptism as my views lean more toward the sacramental. Though baptized as an infant, I also went through a confirmation process in my teens with several friends. It was a missionary community with a wide variety of denominations and backgrounds present, and the confirmation training and questions had real meat and depth — far more so than anything prior to my second baptism. And no one in that very diverse missionary community thought rebaptism was needed; only in America years later in a Baptist church did that become the case.

  14. As for me, I stick with what is written in the Bible- “one Faith, one Lord, one Baptism”- and what I profess in the Creed- “I believe in one Baptism for the remission of sins”.

    Besides, Baptism is God’s work in any case. And God doesn’t mess up the first time.

  15. I grew up in a baptist church (general conference, not southern) and never heard of or witnessed rebaptism. As far as I know I have never seen the same person baptized more than once. The one exception I am aware of are those who were infant baptized doing a believer’s baptism – and at their own volition, not mandated by the church. I was baptized at nine years old, and though I wandered a little in my college years I have never felt convicted or compelled by others to be baptized again.

    I bring this up merely as a counterpoint and example that not all evangelical or baptists churches have jumped the rails on this.

  16. It is amazing that all of this talk of rebaptism and no one mentioned Cyprian in the third century?!?!?!

  17. MelissaTheRagamuffin says:

    I got baptized once when I was 12. Although I do not think I understood the significance of what I was doing (I regarded it more as a correction of something that should have happened when I was a baby) I have never felt the need to be baptized again. Maybe it has something to do with having gone to Catholic School for 10 years.

    However, in raising my own son I discouraged him from being baptized before he was 18. I told him that being baptized is like getting married. You’re making a commitment that you’re going to live a certain way for the rest of your life. I don’t think a child is capable of making that level of commitment. My five year old niece and the five year old boy next door claim to be eachother’s true love, and that they want to get married. Who knows? They might get married when they’re adults. But, nobody in their right mind would allow a pair of five year olds to get married. But, we’ll let a five year old get baptized? I actually refused to allow my son to be baptized when he was like 5 or 6 and said the magic prayer in children’s church. That got me a lot of strange stares at church. The children’s church teacher always tells me how much she loves my son because she was with him when he said The Prayer. My son has absolutely no memory of this event.

    And just to throw a wrench in the works – neither Quakers nor Salvation Army practices water baptism.

    • “My son has absolutely no memory of this event.”

      It is our job as parents to remind our children of their baptism at what God has promised us in the bible about it.

      I have 3 baptized girls at home 5,8,10. In the evening, before bed, we read the bible, the small catechism parts for memorization, and I remind them that our sins are forgiven because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Next, I point out to them the scriptures tell us that that forgiveness is brought to them individually at their baptism. What do they do? They believe these promises given to us in the scripture, i.e. “baptism now saves you” 1 Peter 3. If they believe this promise they have received what it promises and only Christ can create that faith. The cross 2000 years ago brought to 3 small girls in the 21st century.

    • All of my children were baptized as infants. The congregation we were part of made beautiful baptismal banners with their names and the date of their baptism with an appropriate scripture verse. We hang theses in the kid’s rooms, and during evening devotions occasionally bring out the many photos of their baptisms and talk about what it means.

      We look at Baptism as God’s work not ours.