One of the most interesting things about baptism and being a Baptist is that we are very dogmatic about certain things. We truly believe that the Bible teaches that one must be submersed in water to be baptized. We believe that baptism is a step of obedience– a symbol of our relation to Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection– but nothing more. We don’t believe that it saves you. We don’t believe that you should be baptized unless you have a clear confession of faith in the Lord as your Savior and that you have repented of your sins.
So far, no problem. What is interesting, however, is that we place a lot of emphasis in baptism in our sermons, but, in practice, we don’t seem to make it out to be as important as we say. What do I mean? Well, I have been in two or three different Baptist Churches in my lifetime, and most of them will have a set day (sometime in the future) that will be a night of baptism. We hold courses, in some cases have a test, and have an interview with the church deacons.
At the end of all of this, the candidates have a baptism inside the church, in a “tub” or “baptismal tank” in front of usually the congregation and maybe families, and then, in some churches, we have a vote on them to become members.
However, for all of our emphasis on the New Testament mode, we aren’t following the rest of the patterns laid out in the Bible!
Check out this chart and see how we compare…
|Biblical Baptism||Today’s Baptisms|
|Occurred immediately following salvation.||Occurs days, weeks, months, years (!) after salvation.|
|Done in a public place.||Done inside a church building.|
|Done by immersion.||Done by immersion.|
|Were a testimony to the public.||Were a testimony to those that are in the church (primarily) and anyone the candidate can get to attend.|
So, the question I have is, if we’re going to be dogmatic about immersion, what about all of these other factors? Some of these other points seem to be pretty important too, and yet we are very dogmatic on the mode and not everything else!