His first point, which is actually not part of the 8 bullet points, is to list the main verses used by those (people like me) who believe baptism is necessary for salvation. He lists Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; and John 3:5. I find it interesting that he doesn’t even mention Acts 2:38 which is probably the staple verse for people of my camp. I hate to speculate on his motives but if I were going to attack Calvinism I would at least be expected to deal with the main verses they really use.
Secondly I would point out that the author falsely equates baptism being necessary for salvation with baptismal regeneration. He quotes from Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences written by Norman Geisler and Ralph Mackenzie. But the two are completely different doctrines. I shall quote from the book Believer’s Baptism to prove my point. It was written by some of the greatest Southern Baptist Scholars living today. The Southern Baptist denomination is the one that crossexamined is associated with.
What is baptismal regeneration?
- “Ex opere operato (baptismal regeneration) means that baptism (or any other sacramental action) saves by virtue of the action itself being performed.” (Loc 2118 Kindle)
- I believe baptism is necessary for salvation but I absolutely reject the concept that the act saves. The blood of Jesus saves us, it is reckoned to us based on our faith, but it is given to us at the time of baptism.
- “Among Christian denominations, disagreements over baptism persist around four issues: to baptize or not to baptize, how to baptize (immersion, pouring, or sprinkling), whom to baptize (infants or confessors), and the effects of baptizing (ex opere operato [”by the work worked”; baptism actually confers grace], remission of sins, or mere symbolism).” (Loc 6694 Kindle)
- Notice that the author distinguished between THREE different views on the effects of baptism. He said there is a difference between baptismal regeneration and baptism for remission of sins. So for the author of the blog I am contending with to equate the two shows a lack of scholarship.
- “Peter makes no allowance for anyone to suppose that water when used for baptism has magical powers to effect salvation (ex opere operato). On the other hand, by mentioning the ordinary use of water for cleansing filth from one's flesh, he makes it clear that he conceives of baptism as a sacred cleansing ritual that is an integral aspect of the reception of salvation, namely Christian conversion.” (Loc 7104 Kindle)
- I concur. The physical waters of baptism have no special powers. But notice how the author says that Peter ties baptism to reception of salvation.
- “The issue of baptismal regeneration arose in later church history when baptism was separated from faith, though those who promoted baptismal regeneration rightly saw that baptism was irretrievably tied to initiation into the people of God in the NT.”
- I am of the philosophy that we should structure the church organization and doctrine according to the apostolic pattern (Eph 2:20) and not Church tradition. The apostles were inspired; later church leaders were not (sorry Catholics). This Southern Baptist scholar teaches us that baptismal regeneration arose when the later church separated baptism from faith. Some understood how imperative baptism was to initial salvation but unfortunately reacted too strongly to the separation of baptism from faith and created the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Therefore, initially baptism was so closely connected to faith the two could not be separated. This is what we see in Colossian 2:11-15. Baptism is the location of salvation but only because of our faith in the working of God, as Paul puts it.
What have we learned today? We learned that equating baptismal regeneration with baptism for the remission of sins is wrong. It either comes from suspicious motives or ignorance (and I do not mean to be unkind when saying that). Scholars clearly point out the difference between the two:
- Baptismal regeneration thinks that the actual physical act of baptism holds some sort of mystical power to produce a change just by the act itself.
- Baptism for the remission of sins believes that baptism is the location when God reckons your faith as righteousness and the act holds no weight if a person does not have biblical faith.
I believe in the latter and completely reject the former.