Please supply understanding ...

Discussion in 'Credo-Baptism Answers' started by Brian Withnell, Nov 6, 2009.

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  1. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    First, I am a covenant baptist (I think baptism administered within the covenant*family is true baptism, and so it never needs being re-done).

    What I am curious about is what credo-baptists believe about the following situation, and how they respond to it.

    Suppose a person who is outside the church hears a sermon, responds through an emotional call, and "comes forward" and is subsequently baptized. The individual "falls away" and years later hears the gospel again, appears again to believe, and then asks for baptism because he thinks the first time "didn't stick" and thinks he probably was not a Christian before, but now he is.

    1) Would credo-baptists insist on, allow, or prohibit the person from being baptized a second time (by the person's own testimony they were not a Christian the first time).

    2) If the response to 1 is to baptize the individual "again", would the response change if it happened more than once? (That is suppose the same individual left, came back in another couple of years, and asked for baptism a third time.)

    I am not going to respond here (except for clarifying questions to make sure I understand) so please feel free to help me understand your view.
  2. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor


    You put your finger on one of the things that gags me. Our pastor just re-baptized a fellow a couple of weeks ago. He came to faith as a teen, was baptized, drifted away from the faith, and recently rekindled his chuch involvement. He was "baptized" in a public service.

    Frankly, Brian, that is one of the reasons that led to begin questioning my lifelong commitment to credo-baptism as the norm.
  3. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    No, I would not support rebaptism in that case.

    I'm quite confident that many other credo churches would not either.
  4. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for the short answer ... could you explain the reasoning? I would have thought "re-baptism" would be the norm from a credo standpoint, and I've seen several churches that would not (much as you have said). I would want to know why, as the person "baptized" could be seen as not having believed before, and therefore the baptism would be no different than an infant's. Your views are exactly the ones I'd like more insight into.
  5. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    As far as being a Covenant Baptist well. I would agree you have a view on Covenant Baptism. But when you say Covenant Baptist that seems to have some implication of being a Reformed Baptist for the most part.

    Here is a link where this was discussed a very tad bit.

    I guess I would first find out what the person believed the first time and see if it lines up with the Gospel. I believe that Baptism is way of confessing and proving God to be just and truthful by submitting consciously to baptism.

    I first submitted to an invalid baptism believing that my sins would be forgiven. I was incorrect and just wanted fire insurance. I had no idea what baptism was about. I was completely clueless to what Baptism was and signified. I was not seeking union with Christ in the way that the scriptures prove what that means.

    Here is something I posted many years ago.

    Here is the antipaedobaptist John Tombes' catechism.

    I believe we do participate in what baptism shows to be truth concerning the one being baptized. Now is this true of every individual? I would say not. I would also point that it wasn't true for every individual that partook of the Lord's supper. Everyone is admonished to examine themselves in it. I do believe if someone did it in vain than it definitely was not Christian baptism because there was no submitting to the will and truth of God and they only have judgment to look forward to unless they repent. I do believe part of the validity of baptism has to do with our response in submitting to it also. It isn't valid if we are doing it in vain. It only leads to judgment.

    Do I have you thoroughly confused now?
  6. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    No, but I do have a few questions. I guess the first is what I saw in your post pointing to John's baptism and associating that with Christian baptism. I had never seen anyone tie them so closely, knowing that Acts 18.25 and into 19.7 shows a clear difference between the two.

    I see that you would in fact purpose to re-baptize someone. That sounds a lot more consistent than those that would not (if a person truly did not believe, then their "baptism" it would seem was false from a credo point of view).


    Oops, forgot the second question ... if a person thought they knew intellectually what was implied, but felt strongly they did not truly believe, would you say they were eternally damned, or would you re-baptize them anyway?
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2009
  7. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Actually I believe that Murray and Calvin declare that John's baptism was considered Christian baptism. That is the baptism the disciples were baptized with.

    We discussed this here.

    Let me also emphasize that if I found that they understood their first baptism to line up with what I believed to be soundly Gospel I wouldn't encourage rebaptism. I would encourage repentance and restoration into the fellowship. They should have been disciplined and excommunicated if they refused the discipline from falling away.

    Concerning your second question...
    I can not judge another persons heart necessarily. If they declared that their first baptism was vain and invalid I would encourage them to examine their heart again. Church discipline should have taken place already. That should have curbed something and lead to a better understanding for the Elders. If they were being vain and placing themselves in judgment I couldn't tell. I couldn't tell the second time. Their confession is theirs as is their testimony. I do believe we are to act upon that just as the Apostles and early church did. As Roman's says..., Confession is made unto salvation.

    Romans 10:9,10
  8. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry Brian, I was rushed and didn't expand.

    Perhaps I have a minority view, but I see baptism as a church ordinance, not a personal one. True there is a personal aspect, and it is objective: a profession of faith. If a person professes faith in the context of a body of believers, and the body (as a body) performs the ordinance (or sacrament), his baptism is proper regardless if he backslides. When he comes to himself, he is restored to the church through repentence, not another baptism.

    But this presumes that the baptism was performed in the context of a church or assembly of believers. I'm not very keen on the revival style come-one-come-all one-off baptism mills I've heard about, and that is because it is not done in the context of a church.

    I have sympathy for those who are convicted that they were playing games in a previous baptism, but I am very cautious about playing games a second time, too.

    How 'bout this variant: an adult, never baptized before, undergoes a Roman Catholic baptism after going through membership classes. Years later is converted and convinced of credobaptism. Leave out the mode issue, baptize again?

    The person I know who faced this opted for rebaptism after reading Dabney.
  9. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for pointing out the thread again (mine was the last post on it :) ). I still think Calvin and Murray wrong, and Luke right. :)
    I have always thought that the goal of excommunication was repentance and restoration as well (the goal of all church disciple I see as repentance and restoration).
  10. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The question is not whether the man "backslid" but whether he ever slid forward in the first place.
  11. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    Comments of mine from a previous thread on this subject:

  12. msortwell

    msortwell Puritan Board Freshman

    As Credo-Baptists it would seem that a priority is to ensure that all genuine believers receive this sign and seal, this means of grace - as commanded.

    It would seem to be a lesser issue if the sign were to be applied in response to a false profession. It would also seem to be a lesser issue if an individual was baptized a second time.

    While I certainly do not want to cheapen the Sacrament (Ordinance if you prefer), it seems that, when considering the possibility of either 1) possibly undermining the integrity of the Sacrament by administering it when it should not have been, or 2) depriving a believer from ever being biblically baptized . . . we will generally deprive the individual of baptism. It just seems that there is a connection here to Jesus' admonition that, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:” (Mr 2:27b AV).
  13. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Michael, not sure I am following you here. Why would you deprive a believer of the sign of baptism?
  14. msortwell

    msortwell Puritan Board Freshman

    Sorry for my lack of clarity. When I said "we will generally deprive the individual of baptism," it was intended to be a bit of a slight toward our tendency to be more concerned with the correctness of our application of doctrine than with the well being of our brothers in Christ and the grace that we might show them. It may sound trite but in many cases would it not be better to er toward grace, toward that which would bestow grace upon our brother, and allow them to be baptized as a believer.
  15. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Michael, as Baptists, we believe in believers-only baptism. Therefore, we apply the sign of baptism to those who profess Christ. If that profession is credible there is no reason to withhold baptism. In fact, we should apply the sign in all haste once a person has confessed Christ. I don't know what more we can do in order to err on the side of grace.
  16. msortwell

    msortwell Puritan Board Freshman

    What we can do is, under those situations where an individual that credibly attests to be a believer, that further asserts that he has not previously been baptized as a believer, to allow that baptism, even when circumstances, similar to some described in previous posts on this thread, seem to complicate matters.
  17. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    You really have me confused. If a professed believer has not been previously baptized, how can their baptism complicate matters? It would seem to uncomplicate matters by being obedient in baptism.
  18. msortwell

    msortwell Puritan Board Freshman

    Reading some of the previous posts in this thread will identify situations that some consider to challenge to propriety of administering baptism. Generally, it relates to an individual who had been previously baptized, but under questionable circumstances (e.g., a questionable ministry, or prior to a genuine conversion). Under such circumstances we are often (and I believe, incorrectly) too reluctant, to administer baptism "again."
  19. Manuel

    Manuel Puritan Board Freshman

    I have joined three baptist churches in my life and every time at the interview with the pastor I was asked if I thought I needed to be baptized again. Weird!
  20. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    That seems very reasonable, and yes, I was presenting a sanitized hypothetical as much as possible ... the course of action taken by your church (going back to the original church) would seem very reasonable.

    But the reason for the sanitized hypothetical is that the hypothetical seems to be true in some cases (earlier in the thread there are several actual incidents). Sigh. It seems like a "credible profession of faith" is so person centered ... I know of at least a couple of times what I thought was a credible profession of faith I later learned was thoroughly denied as having been sincere ... and at least one case where the person later "returned" to faith (but I am guessing this was a return, but I am doubtful as to the original faith because of the admission of faining faith in the first place). I have not talked to the individual in many years since ... knew them in high school, and that was more than 35 years ago now.
  21. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Not sure how helpful this is, but here's a perspective:

    Though we are baptized believers and presently have assurance of our salvation through the Holy Spirit, there is that possibility that we may walk away from God for a period of time in the future, even to the point of leaving the faith. After which time, when we are drawn back to repentance and assurance, we would wonder if we needed to be baptized again. I would say no.

    In the event that anyone is baptized, leaves Christ, and then returns again as a prodigal son, his original faith should not be negated or questioned. On the contrary, it was the original faith that placed him in the firm grip of Christ and ensured his return in the first place.
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