Baptism only once? (WCF 28.7)

Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by TomVols, Dec 30, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. TomVols

    TomVols Puritan Board Freshman

    The WCF at 28.7 mandates that a person is to be baptised only once - no repeat baptisms (this is also a standard for the Methodist church, btw). What is the rationale? I think I understand but would like to hear it directly from those from the Presby tradition. Thanks!
  2. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Fundamentally, it is because of Ephesians 4:4-5: "There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." This is how it came to be in the creeds: "I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins." With the Bible and the interpretive tradition in the creeds, Presbyterians have always posited that there can only be one baptism.
  3. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    What if a person repudiates their baptism, claiming they made it under false pretenses, and now, genuinely repentant, wishes to be re-baptized? Would a Pastor be within bounds to do so?

  4. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    It is only possible for a person to be regenerated once (baptised with/by the Spirit by Christ into Christ) , therefore they should only be baptised with water once.

    in the case of the other sacrament, we come by faith to Christ for nourishment repeatedly, therefore it is appropriate for it to happen time after time.

    In God's providence this person's water baptism happened at this point. Now that he/she has saving faith or are sure they have saving faith, contemplation of their water baptism and the sacramental union between it and regeneration can be blessed to them. "Rebaptism" would only mar this.

    In the Old Covenant, the nature of the sacrament meant repetition was impossible, and yet the sacrament was also about the same things as baptism. What were the priests to do if a man who had been circumcised as an adult came to them and said, "But I didn't really believe in Yahweh when I was circumcised." Surely "Now you believe in Yahweh, improve your circumcision!"
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    An invalid "baptism" is no baptism. Thus, baptists, too, believe in only one baptism.
  6. TomVols

    TomVols Puritan Board Freshman

    Pergamum, what you assert is that Baptists believe that - despite how many times it happens - one baptism a person chooses is valid since it reflects their conversion. However, what Richard asserts makes sense. I'm still collecting data and sorting through my position. I'm Baptistic, but I've never been fully at ease with a person stirring the baptismal waters more than once.
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes, I am uncomfortable with that, too. But I see no other way out. If a person is baptized as a false professor (unbeliever) then it is simply not believer's baptism and thus not baptism to most baptists.
  8. ericfromcowtown

    ericfromcowtown Puritan Board Sophomore

    My wife grew up in a pentecostal church, and has been baptized at least twice. From talking with her and others from similar backgrounds, it sounds as though they don't understand that baptism is God's declaration to the person being baptized, but instead look at it as some sort of commitment ceremony - a declaration from the individual to God. If they're right (and I believe they're confused), and one screws up, then a second baptism to really commit themselves to God (seriously this time!) makes some sense.
  9. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    The vitally important related question to this is: who gives validity to baptism? Does God do it, or does man do it? Whose sacrament is baptism? According to the WCF, it is God who gives validity to baptism through the Trinitarian formula (which is from the Word of God) and the lawfully ordained pastor. This is why Baptists who believe this don't baptize more than once. On any other view, the recipient is the one who decides which baptism is valid. However, if baptism is really a sign and seal, who does the signing and sealing? Isn't it God who does this? In which case an unbeliever doesn't need to be rebaptized, for God's promises don't become void just through human weakness, sinfulness, and unbelief. God's promises stay no matter what. Therefore, if belief comes afterward, the sacrament is still valid. This, by the way, if you follow its logical conclusion, leads to paedo-baptism. But even for those who don't believe it, it is definitely a way to think about baptism that leads away from constant rebaptizing based on the mood-swing of the person.
  10. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I have for a long time understood the Ephesians passage cited above as referring to the real spiritual baptism which water baptism represents, and happens only once at conversion. To baptize twice would be to mess up that symbol. It is for this reason that I have a problem requiring someone who was baptized as an infant to be baptized a second time after conversion.
  11. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    Rev Keister, do you baptize former RCs?
  12. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Since the OP mentions the WCF, we should further consider that the no man has the ability to fully baptize: the efficacy is not based on the man administering the sacrament, but on the God who stands behind the covenant sign. From a Presbyterian perspective the faith of the receiver would not be the issue either, but rather the emphasis is on the God who saves. For adults, the person would be examined for a credible profession of faith, excepted as a member, and baptised, because the only ones who may participate in the sacraments are members of the church. If that person "backslides" for a number of years, the original baptism remains -- it is the same sign for all times and is either a means of grace to the receiver, or a means of cursing (for those who did not continue in the faith -- something true for both infants and adults).
  13. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    At the moment, I do not. I am aware of the tremendous debate in Reformed circles about this issue, and I have not come down finally in my thinking on it. The majority opinion in the Reformed tradition has been that RCC baptisms are real baptisms. However, a vocal minority denies that they are valid. I see pluses and minuses on both sides, but at the moment lean more toward not re-baptizing a RCC who repents.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page