Thoughts on the Diversity of Baptism

This is a response to a friend of mine who posted this article by The Gospel Coalition on Baptism.  The article talks about baptists inability to accept membership of those who have not been immersed.  I feel that the argument, which boils down to, “Our conscience doesn’t permit it,” and seems to leave out the diversity of baptism forms in scriptures.  After spending three years in the Methodist church, and coming to terms with Infant Baptism, here is my quick thoughts from the scriptures and from early Christian sources (if you want citations post in comments).

This was my comment:

He’s being true to his conscience, and that’s cool, but this whole debate hurts the church imho. I’ve seen churches debate this, and it hurts those who make a profession of faith though have been infant baptized (and that has been special to them).

It seems to me that there are allowed through scripture different types of baptism:

(1) John the Baptist’s example in the Jordan River baptizing adults who repent to live a holy life. This is taken up by the disciples and Jesus tells us to baptize and teach in the Great Commission.

(2) In Acts three whole families were baptized together. Kind of a Covenantal view of grace where the whole household comes under God’s guidance.

(3) If we allow the early church fathers (only a few generations from Jesus and who were under persecution, so were not tolerant of strange new forms) condoned forms of baptism for places where there wasn’t much water. (ex. Sprinkling what water they had, or even using sand if there was no water).

To deny membership to someone who openly professes to be a follower of Christ and who shows it in their life through holy living – and bears fruit of holiness! It seems to me like the time when the disciples saw some people preaching the good news and they went to Jesus and Jesus did not see them as his enemy. In fact, they probably joined up with the same communities the disciples worked in later on.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last three years, and I think that this narrowness hurts people who genuinely are seeking the community of Christ.


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