May a woman baptize?

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Josh Williamson

Puritan Board Freshman
I've got a church baptismal service coming up soon, and I've been asked by one of the ladies being baptised if another lady could baptise her (this is due to her discipling her). I'm reformed baptist in theology, and I can't find anything that addresses if this should be allowed. I was wondering, "can a woman baptise another woman during a church baptismal service?"

Thoughts? Comments?
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
I know that some (but I'm sure not all) baptists believe that any Christian can baptize... and if that is the case I cannot understand how they would argue for limiting the administrators of baptism to male believers only.

It seems to me that if you're a confessional baptist, the Confession clearly answers the question in favor of elders only, in the section on the Lord's Supper and Baptism, chapter 28. As a paedobaptist who confesses the WCF, I concur.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
Your confession states:

Chapter 28. Paragraph 2:
2.These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.
(Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 4:1)
 

Josh Williamson

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm aware of 28.2 in the 1689, but I've read reformed baptists argue the priesthood of all believers, so they say it can be applied to all. Also, their is much over the term "qualified". What makes one qualified to administer baptism?
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
I'm aware of 28.2 in the 1689, but I've read reformed baptists argue the priesthood of all believers, so they say it can be applied to all. Also, their is much over the term "qualified". What makes one qualified to administer baptism?

Are you then taking an exemption to your Confession? And if so, why? Please read the Scripture proofs given. 1 Corinthians 4:1 states:
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

This is talking about those who hold office in Christ's Church. The word sacrament (if I recall correctly) comes from the Latin translation of the Gk word for mystery.

This is one area of baptism that both the Presbyterian and Reformed Baptist agree in their confession :up:

If you believe in the priesthood of all believers (notice the word is 'all', not 'any') then do you believe that she could then administer the Lord's Supper?
 

Josh Williamson

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not putting forward my belief. I'm trying to work out the answer. As a pastor I'm facing a request from a person who wants to be baptised by a lady who baptisted them. My questioning is trying to get to the bottom of the situation.

As for 1 Cor. 4:1, I've read that some reformed baptists argue that verse in context is given to the apostles, and therefore cannot be brought over to apply to pastors / elders.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm aware of 28.2 in the 1689, but I've read reformed baptists argue the priesthood of all believers, so they say it can be applied to all. Also, their is much over the term "qualified". What makes one qualified to administer baptism?

The fact that all Christians are priests according to 1 Peter refers to the fact that God has given us direct access to him, so I don't see that as applicable to this question. Would you allow a woman to preach in your church based on the priesthood of all believers argument?
 

Josh Williamson

Puritan Board Freshman
Would you allow a woman to preach in your church based on the priesthood of all believers argument?

No I wouldn't. I've seen that argument made back to them in relation to this, and the reply that has been given was, "Preaching is expressly forbidden for females. However, the Bible is silent on the baptism issue."

I'm just trying to build an argument on how I should reply to this question.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
I'm aware of 28.2 in the 1689, but I've read reformed baptists argue the priesthood of all believers, so they say it can be applied to all. Also, their is much over the term "qualified". What makes one qualified to administer baptism?

The fact that all Christians are priests according to 1 Peter refers to the fact that God has given us direct access to him, so I don't see that as applicable to this question. Would you allow a woman to preach in your church based on the priesthood of all believers argument?

Precisely, and I'm glad you brought that up. If you use that argument, then certainly we can have this woman: preach the Word, administer Communion, and baptize. Things that otherwise Reformed Baptists would balk at.

---------- Post added at 08:39 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:37 AM ----------

Would you allow a woman to preach in your church based on the priesthood of all believers argument?

No I wouldn't. I've seen that argument made back to them in relation to this, and the reply that has been given was, "Preaching is expressly forbidden for females. However, the Bible is silent on the baptism issue."

I'm just trying to build an argument on how I should reply to this question.

Is your church confessional? If it is, then the argument is somewhat simple, especially if this woman is a member of the church.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Tell her "You can circumcise people with a stone knife like Moses' wife, but you can't baptise them" just to relieve the tension, then say due to confessional regulations you'll have to say the words but the friend can stand with you in the pool to give her the first hug.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
if an elder is overseer of the church and therefore its representative shepherd accountable before God, I don't see why someone would want a non-elder to baptize them. Seems to me, one's personal affinity to their discipler is taking priority over a churchly and corporate sacrament.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
No I wouldn't. I've seen that argument made back to them in relation to this, and the reply that has been given was, "Preaching is expressly forbidden for females. However, the Bible is silent on the baptism issue."

In the NT church, do we see anyone baptizing who is not an apostle or someone directly appointed or commissioned by an apostle?

We have to be careful with the argument above. I could see someone making the same argument from the Great Commission passage (i.e., since we should all evangelize, we should all also baptize). But that commission is directly given to the disciples who told to make disciples by baptizing and teaching. If women are restricted from the one office, why not the other?
 

Rufus

Puritan Board Junior
I'm aware of 28.2 in the 1689, but I've read reformed baptists argue the priesthood of all believers, so they say it can be applied to all. Also, their is much over the term "qualified". What makes one qualified to administer baptism?

I've heard the priesthood of all believers used to justify female pastors. :2cents:
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm aware of 28.2 in the 1689, but I've read reformed baptists argue the priesthood of all believers, so they say it can be applied to all. Also, their is much over the term "qualified". What makes one qualified to administer baptism?

I've heard the priesthood of all believers used to justify female pastors. :2cents:

No, you may have heard it used to attempt to justify female pastors.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
The priesthood of all believers references 1 Peter 2 where Peter is calling the people of God to suffering and service. Within the context of the entire epistle, it is clear that not every person has the same role. All are called to serve, as Christians, in a way that makes them identifiably Christian to the world around them. Wives are called to be wives, slaves to be slaves, husbands to be husbands, elders to be elders: sacrificially, suffering with joy, for the glory of God, and ready to give an account for the hope that is within them.

It is an unstable twisting of Peter's intent to flatten out all roles to assume that there are no longer any roles that people play within the context of Church or society. Were this not so, Peter would address all the same but he gives specific exhortation to the roles that God has ordained. The common role of "priest" is seen as (in another passage of Scripture) presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God as opposed to giving in to the lusts of the flesh.

While it ought to be commended that a woman in the congregation was instrumental in proclaiming the faith to this new believer, baptism is an admission to the visible Kingdom of God. It is to be performed by those who hold the keys to such things. A person ought to be presented to the leadership of the congregation to determine if the party is to be baptized and they become the responsibility of the Church's leadership. The minister, acting as God's commissioned agent, is to be the one who performs baptism on behalf of the Church.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Perhaps the argument a typical evangelical Baptist will most readily accept is this one: Baptism in the New Testament is closely associated with teaching ministry.

- John was not only a baptizer, but also a preacher with authority to speak from God.

- In the Great Commission, Jesus associated the work of baptism with the duties of making disciples and teaching them.

- The initial Christian-era baptisms in Jerusalem (Acts 2) were connected to Peter's preaching, and the initial baptisms in Samaria (Acts 8) to Philip's preaching.

- The Corinthians apparently aligned themselves with particular teachers based on which of these teachers had performed their baptisms (1 Cor. 1).

All this points to evidence that a baptizing ministry is closely associated with preaching ministry. Therefore, baptism ought to be administered by a person we would also find qualified to preach and teach in an authoritative capacity in the church.
 

JonathanHunt

Puritan Board Senior
AS I said on facebook Josh, and as someone else has said here, you need to baptise her. If her friend wants to stand in the pool and be the first to hug her/hand her a towel etc, I see that as a valid compromise. I think the brothers here have laid out pretty clearly the ground for refusing her request.
 

rookie

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree with the posts that say the elders should be the ones commissioned to the baptizing. And if the other woman wants to be in the pool ( I see this more as emotionalism, and without realizing it, taking the credit for leading someone to Christ). We are all in the priesthood, however, the priesthood doesn't mean we are priests that teach, preach and baptize.
Priesthood means that for men, women and children that are saved, no longer need a "middle" man to offer their worship and prayers.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Would you allow a woman to preach in your church based on the priesthood of all believers argument?

No I wouldn't. I've seen that argument made back to them in relation to this, and the reply that has been given was, "Preaching is expressly forbidden for females. However, the Bible is silent on the baptism issue."

I'm just trying to build an argument on how I should reply to this question.

Josh, what do YOU believe? Don't concern yourself with what others believe or else you'll be constantly pulled in multiple directions. Do you believe the ordinances of the church are open to all to administer or only those who have been duly appointed?

sent from my most excellent Motorola Atrix.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
If the practice of your church typically allows any believer to baptize, and not just the pastor or an elder, then I'd see why a woman would be allowed. A non-office male has no access to the Lord that a female doesn't. So if Joe Schmo can do it, I see, logically, why Jane Doe could also. However, I think unless it's an emergency situation baptism should be done by one's pastor. (Well, in my husband's family we have a couple pastors and my in-laws have had the uncle, who was not their pastor but was in the same denomination, baptize the baby so the father could take the parental vows. I think that is allowable, too.)
 

Josh Williamson

Puritan Board Freshman
I honestly do not have a position. I've never thought about this. But after reading these posts and others, I'm strongly leaning towards not allowing it.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Allow me to better explain my counsel to Josh. I am not suggesting that he act as a heavy-handed tyrant in his church. If he has elders it is wise to seek their input. Congregationalism does not mean lack of structure, it means that church governance is limited to the local church. If Josh and his elders are of one mind they do not need to seek the approval of the membership. If Josh' church subscribes to the 1689 LBC they can cite 28.2:

These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.
( Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 4:1 )

I would certainly use it as a teaching moment for the two women involved.
 

Josh Williamson

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for all the advice. The situation is further complicated in that the lady who has been doing all the discipling is an elders wife, and they believe it should be OK for her to baptise. From reading, and studying, I am going with "no", but I need to make a solid argument on this.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The whole concept of a minister of "Word and sacrament" is based on the biblical principles and explicit statements of Scripture that God calls some to be apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, etc. (Ephesians 1).

The sacraments are (holy) ordinances of corporate worship, done by those ordained and called to administer them.

"Holy" means set-apart (from the common).

The Biblical command for officers is men explicitly (II Timothy 3 and Titus 1), and the pattern of creation makes that implicit.

They are not "common" (that is anyone can do them any way they please).

I Corinthians 12

28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
This is one of the Scripture proof texts in the Westminster Confession of Faith for the sacraments being done by one who is a minister of the gospel, "lawfully called thereunto." In context, this makes a case that the sacraments are not to be commonly handled.

Josh, this whole area would be a good sermon series for your church, and would be beneficial to leading people to a biblical understanding of a "high" view of the church and a "high" view of the sacraments, characteristics of reformed theology!

Hebrews 5

1For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

2Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

3And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

4And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
 

[email protected]

Puritan Board Freshman
I am surprised that anyone evangelical and reformed would ask this question! The Bible is clear on subject of male leadership. One compromise will usually lead to another; possibly, possibly female Elders.
Dennis Fetherbay, RPCNA, Endicott, N.Y. (Reformed Baptist, would like to be totally Presbyterian and would except the Baptism issue)
 

Joseph Scibbe

Puritan Board Junior
I am surprised that anyone evangelical and reformed would ask this question! The Bible is clear on subject of male leadership. One compromise will usually lead to another; possibly, possibly female Elders.
Dennis Fetherbay, RPCNA, Endicott, N.Y. (Reformed Baptist, would like to be totally Presbyterian and would except the Baptism issue)

That's quite a jump from allowing a female friend to baptize to ordaining women.

I take exception to the Confession at this point. I think an elder should oversee the baptism but would allow her to baptize. I know I among the minority on this issue (I do that a lot here).
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I am surprised that anyone evangelical and reformed would ask this question! The Bible is clear on subject of male leadership. One compromise will usually lead to another; possibly, possibly female Elders.
Dennis Fetherbay, RPCNA, Endicott, N.Y. (Reformed Baptist, would like to be totally Presbyterian and would except the Baptism issue)

That's quite a jump from allowing a female friend to baptize to ordaining women.

I take exception to the Confession at this point. I think an elder should oversee the baptism but would allow her to baptize. I know I among the minority on this issue (I do that a lot here).

Joseph, do you care to share why you think it acceptable for the female friend to baptize the young lady?
 
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