It's Not "Re-Baptism": It's Baptism
Note: The arguments presented in this post deal chiefly with the baptismal regeneration view of paedobaptists, and not the covenantal view of baptism particular to Presbyterianism. If we are discussing the covenantal view of baptism, that would require whole different talking points. Please direct your comment accordingly.
The website, Examiner.com, has published an article called “Baptism for the Christian: Rebaptism is Not Biblical.” I whole-heartily agree. Being baptized a second time is not biblical. This is, of course, if we let the term baptism be defined by the Holy Scripture and, by default, God Himself.
The article, from the very beginning, suffers from some common myths, misconceptions and hermeneutic fails common to paedobaptists.
The controversy over whether a Christian should be rebaptized if the person has already been baptized in one church or another denomination is cleared up using Christian creeds and confessions that explain the Bible about this doctrine of Baptism.
A broad generalization, indeed. First, the Christian creeds commonly used to define orthodoxy (the Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed) are silent on the issue. Secondly in the matter of confessions in particular, it depends entirely upon whose confession you use. For example, the 1689 London Baptist Confession certainly wouldn’t define pouring water on the head of an unrepentant unbeliever (I refuse to the word ‘baptism’ in defining that ritual) to be actual baptism.
The question only comes to us from Baptists because of their belief about what baptism is. The Lutherans, Presbyterians, and other paedobaptist Christian bodies believe that baptism is the work of God and should only be done once in a lifetime.
One must wonder why this ‘work of God’ has to be done by the hands of men upon unwilling and unregenerate recipients, which is what every infant who receives this libation ritual is.
[Baptism] is considered by the Southern Baptist Convention to only be applicable for those who understand the Gospel. Rather than a fully monergistic stance, the credobaptist position requires the person respond to the Gospel proclamation in order to be considered a believer in Jesus Christ.
There’s a reason that credobaptists believe that baptism is only applicable (IE should only be applied) to those who understand the Gospel. It is because only those who have heard, understood, and received (their is no receiving without understanding) the Gospel to the point of repentance should be baptized. It is only believing, repentant individuals who are baptized in Scripture. It is for this reasons that paedobaptists must resort to hermeneutic absurdities to claim the command to coerce unwilling recipients to receive the ordinance by force (for that is precisely what infant baptism is) is biblical. As they turn to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), for example, to insist that our command to disciple and then baptize the nations is a command to baptize infants, they fall squarely away from reason. Unconverted heathen are in the nations. Are we to baptize them against their will and prior to their conversion? Muslims are in the nations. Are we to baptize them against their will and prior to their conversion? Or clearly, are we to preach the Gospel, disciple, and baptize those who have placed their trust in Christ? I don’t see my Lutheran friends baptizing the tribal third world pagans against their will. Why are they baptizing their infants – also pagan in nature – against their yet-unregenerate and depraved will? And yes – obviously one must respond to the Gospel proclamation in order to be considered a believer in Jesus Christ. Is that even up for debate?
The article from the Southern Baptist Convention website, How to Become a Christian, states: “As soon as you have decided to receive Christ into your life, you can and should be baptized.” This statement explains the position: you decide to become a Christian (not monergistic) and you then are allowed to be baptized.
Here’s where I take real exception. The Baptist believes (at least, let me speak for my Reformed Baptist brethren who hold to our confessions) that when one “decides” to become a Christian (a terrible way to phrase it, granted) it has been a work done in them solely by the Holy Spirit. That is very, very Monergistic. We believe that God works in us both to will and to do (Philippians 2:13). Sadly, some in the SBC have become decisional-regenerationists, which is as much a damnable teaching as baptismal-regeneration. Let me throw this back at the paedobaptist author of the aforementioned paragraph…one who believes people are saved (to be technical, made regenerate) by pouring water on the head (which, of course, is so not baptism anyway) without their consent and at the hands of priest, pastor or parent has to suffer from cognitive dissonance to call that position “Monergistic.” While it is true that the child him or herself didn’t have anything to do with their own salvation (or to be technical, regeneration), certainly God had Synergistic partners in the whole endeavor, chiefly the hands that pour water upon the head of the unwilling participant. Of all things, that is not Monergistic.
Yes, of course the individual needs to repent of their sins and believe the Gospel in order to receive the mark of Baptism. But as any good Reformed Baptist will tell you, that is an act of God that’s wrought by the Holy Spirit alone (confer with John 3).
The article then goes on to assert that even if one had water poured or sprinkled upon them (once again, that’s not baptism) in the pagan Roman Catholic church (which the last time I checked, confessional Lutherans and Presbyterians believe is led by the anti-Christ) they need not be “baptized” again. As I’ve said for some time, the move to confessional Lutheranism, for many, is just a rest stop on the way to Rome. How far Lutheranism has come, that some consider a rite administered in what they’ve confessed to be an unchristian church now accounts for Christian baptism. When Lutherans feels themselves closer with pagan Catholicism than evangelicalism, this unfortunate papal slide continues.
There is no recorded instance in the Bible where someone was rebaptized in the Trinitarian formula: in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Baptist must form the conclusion that rebaptism is biblical from a source other than the Bible or from the misunderstanding that a person must be saved by Jesus Christ first and that if they realize later that they were not truly saved, they should be rebaptized to obey what they consider to be a work to be done after regeneration.
This is a hilarious claim for the paedobaptist to make, considering there’s no recorded instance in the Bible of babies, dogs, or aliens being baptized (and baptism does all of the above three the same good). The idolatry of ritual, in the author’s view, is so pervasive that even if the ordinance is not conducted in the name of the Thrice-Holy God it still counts as legitimate. Here, they separate the ordinance from the ordinance-maker, giving baptism the status of idolatry. Once again, the Baptist does not believe in rebaptism, because this water-pouring ritual perpetrated upon unwilling recipients isn’t baptism. Note: There are some Baptists that believe one must be “rebaptized” if they were baptized in a church not affiliated with their denomination. This should be soundly rejected, so long as the unaffiliated church actually baptized the individual in a biblical fashion (for believers and by immersion), as it would actually be a case of “rebaptism.”
To be clear, the Bible’s stance against so-called “infant baptism” has nothing to do with the age of the recipient. The prohibition against baptizing infants is because they happen to be in the same number as many of the lost, unconverted, unwilling heathen of the world that need to first hear, receive and embrace the Gospel before following Christ into discipleship and being called “Christian.”
How terrible it is to tell so many lost people that they’ve been born again because water has touched the tip of their head! And how wrong it is to steal from an individual their blessing to profess faith in Christ by the means he’s given us to do so! This is why, at my Baptist church, we rejoice when folks whose parents forced them against their unconverted will to take part in a water ritual, make the decision to, for the first time in their life, be baptized.
[Contributed by JD Hall]