Is "Self-Baptism" Scripturally legitimate?

Discussion in 'Baptism' started by CalvinandHodges, Dec 4, 2007.

  1. Yes

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  2. No

  3. Not Sure

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  1. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    Is "Self-Baptism" Scripturally legitimate?

    Why or Why Not?
  2. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Baptism is to be performed by ministers of the Church duly appointed with the authority to perform it. Baptism isn't something that we do to ourselves. Baptism is something done to us.
  3. sotzo

    sotzo Puritan Board Sophomore

    Not being rude, but why is this even in question?
  4. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    If only the Great Commission had been, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations to baptize themselves in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..."
  5. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Ever seen The Apostle? It's a movie but it's pretty representative of many Pentecostals and Charismatics who might not baptize themselves but they certainly annoint themselves for ministry.
  6. CDM

    CDM Puritan Board Junior


    Also, is this actually going on now? Who is doing this?

    I smell a trap :detective:
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    As Rich points out, baptism happens to a person. It is an act of the church. Insofar as it is emblematic of salvation, the recipient is passive. It is God who acts upon us to make us, revive us, reform us, and fit us for heaven. Self-baptism is a pretty strong statement in favor of Pelagianism and its cousins.
  8. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor


    If someone pronounced the name of the Trinity when washing their forehead, then those in favour of self-baptism would have to accept it as valid.

    Moreover, baptism is a sign of God's sovereign regenerating grace - it is something which is done to us - not something we do ourselves.
  9. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor


    Very well put Pastor Bruce.
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Tell me, how can infants baptise themselves?
  11. JoeRe4mer

    JoeRe4mer Puritan Board Freshman

    It is VERY encouraging to see that everyone said "NO" to the survey question.
  12. CDM

    CDM Puritan Board Junior

  13. tdowns

    tdowns Puritan Board Junior


    Maybe the poster is just pondering hypothetical situations, man is shipwrecked alone on an island, finds Bible in wreckage, reads it, repents, and wants to be baptized?
  14. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Excellent point! :lol:
  15. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    :2cents: The part about "infant baptizing self" really isn't especially relevant or helpful here. Let's keep the subject off infant baptism, since the question relates to a grown man, regardless.

    Now on to:
    This is a valid question, one we have addressed on this board before.

    My response: (blunt and pointed, although I'm not really being harsh or critical, just making a point)
    "It really doesn't matter what the shipwrecked guy wants."

    No, really, it doesn't matter at all. Since God has yet to bring the church to him, to allow him to join it, this Christian man must simply wait until he does. What is he "missing" out on, in term of the spiritual blessings that baptism signifies? Nothing personal. However, he is lacking that attachment to the Christian body, the actual connection and fellowship the church provides--one of the very things that the rite of baptism signifies.

    Now, if your ecclesiology is weak or defective, then I suppose this observation might not be so strong an argument against such a thing. Still, this sort of individual action really exalts the flesh. And it brings into question the necessity of the church and its offices and ordinances. The activity says that really those things aren't necessary at all, they may be dispensed with, provided some person thinks his situation is "exceptional" enough.

    Really? Then under what conditions must a person WAIT?
  16. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    What Bruce said ^. Really, I was going to say basically the same thing. There is no reason to be baptized until there is an opening to be a member of a church. We don't view baptism as some sort of magic water that saves us (at least I hope not!)
  17. christiana

    christiana Puritan Board Senior

    Not being critical but seeking validation; please give scriptural support for the requirement of baptism being performed by a minister.

    I have witnessed young men being baptized by their fathers, fellow believers and never questioned whether it was wrong. I'm speaking as a credobaptist. As long as the baptism is by a believer and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit why would it not be acceptable?
  18. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Baptism brings us into fellowship (covenant) with the baptized community of God. One person does not a communion make.

    Acts 2:41 "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them."

    1 Corinthians 12:13 "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit."
  19. tdowns

    tdowns Puritan Board Junior

    Great point.

    Excellent! Great re-focus for me on the purpose of baptism, Vic and Bruce!
  20. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    If he is one of the chosen, he need not worry about baptism. Unless of course the only legible verse in the waterloged Bible is "What must I do to be saved?" "Repent and be baptized"..
  21. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Adding to this is the fact that some are called to be "ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God." 1 Cor. 4:1. This is consistent with what Rev. Kok posted above. Baptism brings one into the community of God. That community has several parts, one of which is a called minister. It's a matter of recognition of gifts, calling, and order.

    I'll add that the London Baptist Confession expressly agrees that "only those who are qualified and thereunto called" are to administer baptism. (Chapter 28). This is in acknowledgement of the teaching of scripture outlined above.
  22. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I will try to condense this somewhat. So, feel free to ask the board for elaboration (others may chime in as I have duties to attend).
    1. Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit. Mark 1:8 This is the truth behind what is signified by physical stuff like water. Therefore, he is the fount from which all gifts and grace flows.

    2. Jesus alone can authorize who may act in his name. Hence, the Apostles were endowed with such power as was necessary for the establishment of the church (Acts 1:8; compare Rom 1:11, Rome a church that had not yet been "established" by any direct apostolic presence; and 15:20, Paul's wish not to "build" on another apostle's foundation).

    3. The church becomes the main organ by which Jesus continues his kingdom work. He dilutes his gifts by giving them to "first" the apostles (1 Cor. 12:28) and then to the rest through the apostles. One thing this doctrine teaches is that the "lesser" and "ordinary" offices are subsumed into the higher. So Jesus has ALL gifts, but delegates down. So, Acts 6:2, the elders delegate duties to a new office--the Deacon. Those duties would otherwise be put to the elders. And in churches today, without deacons, the deacon duties don't disappear! They fall back into the elders' laps!

    4. Finally, Note I Cor. 4:1, which speaks of certain persons who are denominated "stewards" of the mysteries of God. Clearly, in the context, those "stewards" are none other than the "servants of Christ" which elevated personalities those Corinthians had been squabbling over, as far as being each one's followers. A steward was a person in whom a boss has reposed special trust. That special trust in this case are those "mysteries of God." What are they? The mystery of Christ is his gospel revelation (something once hidden, but now no more).

    But what of this plural? The gospel is the special (granted, not unique) provenance of the Minister, who is the preacher (herald) of Christ. The sacraments are also special gospel presentations; they belong to the church which has its administration (though not its existence, as Rome might say) through its ministry. They are to accompany and follow the gospel presentation. They support and strengthen the faith which has been imparted by the gospel.

    Not everyone is designated a steward. It is a special trust. You don't get to be a steward simply by generating a son or daughter. So, no, a father is no proper baptizer of his child. Neither is he a proper dispenser of communion. It is always a matter of the church's judgment whether a person is entitled to receive either of the sacraments, an act of their ministerial power, the use of which they will have to give an account of before God (Heb. 13:7).
  23. christiana

    christiana Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks so much for the helpful info on this topic! One more consideration based on your comment:

    If the pastor counseled the father prior to the baptism would it then be acceptable and 'within the church's judgment' or not? If the pastor delegated such does that make it acceptable?(I did not witness this at my home church but another)

    Again, thanks!
  24. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    To add to what Rev Buchanon already said, and to add a baptist pastor's :2cents:

    If you are asking about 'household' baptisms: The Lord ordained 3 institutions: the family, the church, and the state. The ordinance of baptism was given to the church, not the family or the state. Baptism is a church ordinance and should be performed by a minister of the church and for the benefit of the whole church. Baptism is not just a blessing to the individual, but the whole church.

    What reason would there be to deprive the church of the blessing of a baptism by abrogating the authority to the parent.

    Another way to look at it is this: Preaching is also an ordinance given to the church. Do we give that authority to each father in the congregation and expect them to preach to their own families? "OK, Mr. Davis, now that you are done preaching to your family it is time for Mr. Smith to come up to the pulpit and preach to his family." We must embrace biblical patriarchy without diminishing the role of the church.
  25. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Bruce, since the question is "is self baptism legitimate" - with no mention of adult or infant baptism - then I don't see how we can't bring infant baptism into it.

    However, even if we do restrict it to adults, then what happens if an ungodly pagan pronounces the Trinitarian formula when he is in the shower - would that count as a legitimate baptism if self-baptism is to be accepted.
  26. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior

    The Reason for the question


    On another thread I had to pull out my copy of "Baptists and the Bible" in order to look up a reference. This is a publication of the Southern Baptist Founders ministry and was written by two prominent Founders: L. Russ Bush, and Tom J. Nettles. The Book details the beginnings of the modern-day Baptist movement.

    The original founder of the Baptists, according to Bush and Nettles, was a man named John Smyth. Because there was no one who had the authority to baptize, including himself, he consequently baptized himself,

    In their own words:

    If Smyth considered that he could baptize Believer's only, then he would have done so without baptizing himself. It seems to me that Smyth's baptism was illegitimate, and, concurrently, all other "Believer Only Baptisms" as well up to today.

    One does not need to be baptized in order to be saved. God's saving grace is given to all of the Elect.


  27. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    That is a bit of a jump your making there brother; surely there are other Baptist ministers who were lawfully baptized.
  28. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    So you believe that an adult credo baptist who *repents* of his views and wishes to join a paedo baptist church needs to be rebaptized?
  29. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    No. As a "Minister of Word and Sacrament", to administer baptism is of the essence of the office, and may not be delegated away. In fact, since we no longer are receiving special revelation (as they were in Acts), we cannot create any new church officers beside the ministers, elders, and deacons we have, and all those functions which are essential will remain in those offices. For my part, I can no more conceive of failing in my duty to baptize proper subjects, than I can of failing to get up and preach.

    Since I am arguing that any self-baptism is illegitimate, I do not see how bringing in the question of the baptism of persons who can in no wise baptize themselves has much bearing. It only has any relevance if all persons under any circumstances may self-baptize. The question "is it allowed?" does not actually relate to any situation where a person is submitted to the rite (adult or infant, credo or paedo). If we state the obvious: "No infant can baptize itself," we have said nothing at all about the legitimacy of self-baptism.

    As to what happens to a showering pagan, I've already denied the first premise, so... nothing more to say.

    Re. Smyth: I wondered if this question would come back to this individual...
    I suppose from the baptist perspective, this was an "extraordinary condition" to top all. Clearly, this act draws Smyth ever-so close to the anabaptist movement, which taught that the true church had disappeared for nearly a thousand years, and was being reborn anew in the radical reformation.

    Additionally, his choice to "pour" rather than immerse would call his success (in actually being "Scripturally baptized") into question by all those who consider the mode a non-negotiable and essential to the symbolism of union to the death/resurrection of Christ.
  30. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior

    There were no other "Baptist" ministers - he was the first - according to Bush and Nettles.

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