The Staff's ROD
a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church
Our 4th emphatic belief is "that the mode of baptism should not serve as a litmus test for fellowship or church membership". But wait, isn't baptism important to the church? Yes, it is, but don't make the amount of water your "golden calf." My wife and I were shocked that a church would not permit us to partake of the Lord's Supper, because she had not been fully submerged at her baptism; yet, they would acknowledge she was a bona fide born-again Christian. Really!
Though we appreciate Baptists in the reformed camp, and those who valiantly hold to the KJV, yet we take exception to their modal stance. According to James M. Boice, Baptists insist on immersion based on archaeology: "The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change."
But therein lays the problem. This is called "drowning" or "submersion." Last time I bought a jar of pickles, they were still wet. Charles Hodge notes "the words bapto, baptizo, and their cognates, are used with such latitude of meaning, [that to] assert the command to baptize a command to immerse, is utterly unauthorized and unreasonable."
There are several notable places where baptism cannot be immersion. For instance, when Jesus went to dine with a Pharisee, he marvelled that He had not first washed (baptizo) before dinner. Mark notes when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things ° as the washing of °tables. Hebrews tells us there are diverse washings in the OT, where baptism started. The children of Israel were cleansed by Levites who would sprinkle water of purifying upon them. Isaiah said Christ would sprinkle many nations, which was read by the Ethiopian eunuch whom Philip baptized in the desert. Paul baptized the Philippian jailer's house at night, at home. The watery symbol of baptism as a cleansing agent is the point of the sign, not the amount of water used.