Friday, October 5, 2018

Baptism according to Scripture. (Do Protestants Really care about the Bible?)

In the course of my apologetics, I've come to the astonishing conclusion that it doesn't seem Protestants really care about what the Bible has to say. They don't do this intentionally, but when it comes to many Biblical doctrines, I've found in my own interactions and with reading their major theologians, that they have a very bad habit of leaving out key details when formulating doctrines. And when you confront them, they just shrug it off and have no real interest in what the Bible says. In this post, I will list all the Biblical verses that refer to the Sacrament of Baptism and let readers see what the Bible plainly has to say on the matter. I have yet to find any Protestant who has actually sat down for half an hour and read through the 25 or so verses that mention Baptism to see for themself what the Bible says. Rather, they will only quote a few verses and just go with whatever their denomination or pastor says. When I ask them to just read these verses, they act like I've asked them to deny Christianity.

I think the best way to educate yourself is to actually read the Bible for yourself, and since there are only about 25 short verses to read (texts with a * indicate the term "baptism" isn't used), this should take you less than 30 minutes to get fully informed on the matter. I will then briefly analyze the data. In the Conclusion, I will speak about the general Protestant view of Baptism contradicts the Bible, while showing that the Catholic view is fully in line with Scripture.

  • Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
  • Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
  • Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy SpiritFor the promise is for you and for your children
  • Acts 2:41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
  • Acts 8:12-13 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip.
  • Acts 8:16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  • Acts 8:36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” Acts 8:38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
  • Acts 9:18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized
  • Acts 10:47-48 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
  • Acts 16:15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.”
  • Acts 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.
  • Acts 18:8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.
  • Acts 19:3-5 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  • Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
  • Romans 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
  • 1 Corinthians 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
  • Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
  • Ephesians 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
  • Colossians 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
  • 1 Peter 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
  • * John 3:3-5 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
  • * 1 Cor 6:11 But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
  • * Eph 5:26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word
  • * Titus 3:5-7 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 
  • * Ezekiel 36:25-27 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  
Analysis of the plain teaching from the Biblical evidence
You become a Christian by Baptism; you are forgiven of your sins and receive the Holy Spirit; families/children are baptized; it is said to "save"; it is said to "justify"; it is said to forgive sins and cleanse; it is said to have you participate in Christ's Death and Resurrection; it makes you become a member of Christ's (one) Body; it makes you "put on Christ" (Gal 3:27); and there is only "one" Baptism (Eph 4:5).

The passages John 3:5, 1 Cor 6:11, Eph 5:26, Titus 3:5, and Ezekiel 36:25-27 are most certainly talking about Baptism, and indeed the universal consensus of the Early Church Fathers confirms this. In John 3:3-5, it teaches Baptism (Water and Holy Spirit) is what makes us born again, i.e., adopted children of God, and required to enter heaven. In 1 Cor 6:11, the text suggests sanctification/justification result from Baptism. In Eph 5:25, the text indicates cleansing of sin. In Titus 3:5 it says "washing of regeneration," which thus indicates Baptismal Regeneration. And Ezekiel 36:25 it speaks of cleansing, getting a new heart, and receiving the Holy Spirit. 

All the above plainly Scriptural details Catholics fully embrace, without must need for qualification. On the other hand, most Protestants would take much issue with many of these ideas about Baptism. They would be disgusted by them and do whatever it takes to nullify these verses into irrelevance. For most Evangelicals and Baptists, baptism is merely symbolic, an outward sign that you've already been saved and already had your sins washed away, so baptism doesn't have to be done anytime soon after conversion, and not to be imposed upon your children. This is all plainly contradicted by the plain Biblical evidence. For Protestants of the Reformed traditions, while they hold to many of the above descriptions, they add some significant traditions of men, namely that baptism: (1) only signifies the believer will receive these divine blessings, but not necessarily at the moment of baptism, and (2) more problematic, they say not all who are baptized will actually receive its saving effects it signifies. They hold that only the elect actually receive the full blessings of baptism, while the non-elect who receive it only get incorporated into the visible church. The idea that baptism doesn't work for many who receive it, and at most incorporates one into the visible church, is nowhere suggested in the above Biblical evidence. The closest they come is Simon Magus in Acts 8:12-13, but the text suggests he was validly baptized; and if not, then he technically wasn't baptized at all. Finally, for Lutherans and most Anglicans, their view of baptism is close enough to the Biblical evidence that there isn't much dispute, though they would have reservations on the 'regenerating' nature of Baptism. The main issue they face is how holding such a view of Baptism can fit with Imputation and Faith Alone, and this tension is recognized by other denominations. 

So given the above, it can be said that, for the great majority of Protestants, they are in grave error about what the Bible plainly says about Baptism, and much of their rejection of God's Word on this matter is due to presupposing the doctrines of Imputation and Faith Alone, causing them to overlook/ignore/downplay what the Bible plainly says about Baptism. The result is a religion in which people claim to hold their holy book in high regard, but in fact denigrate it by ignoring what it has to say.

1 comment:

Nick said...

This is a "for the record" post regarding the 'official' Confessional Reformed interpretation of Titus 3:5 as indeed referring to Baptismal Regeneration (just as Catholics and Church Fathers have always taught):
WESTMINSTER CONFESSION 28:1 "Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, >>>of regeneration [footnote: Titus3:5]<<<, of remission of sins,[6] and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life."
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM #71 - Q. Where does Christ promise that we are washed with his blood and Spirit as surely as we are washed with the water of baptism?
A. In the institution of baptism, where he says: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.” This promise is repeated when >>>Scripture calls baptism “the water of rebirth” [footnote: Titus 3:5]<<< and the washing away of sins.
By >>>the washing of regeneration I have no doubt that he alludes, at least, to baptism<<<, and even I will not object to have this passage expounded as relating to baptism . . . Now the Apostles are wont to draw an argument from the Sacraments, to prove that which is there exhibited under a figure, because it ought to be held by believers as a settled principle, that God does not sport with us by unmeaning figures, but inwardly accomplishes by his power what he exhibits by the outward sign; and therefore, >>>baptism is fitly and truly said to be “the washing of regeneration.”<<<
LUTHER'S SMALL CATECHISM (BAPTISM): How can water do such great things? It is certainly not the water that does such things, but God's Word which is in and with the water, and faith which trusts this Word used with the water. For without God's Word the water is just plain water and not baptism. >>>But with this Word it is baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of rebirth by the Holy Spirit. Where is this written? St. Paul says in Titus, chapter 3<<<