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Source: (consider it) Thread: Kerygmania: Romans 6 and Baptism
Gordon Cheng

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Infant baptism is fine.

What's being primarily symbolized in baptism (if 1 Peter is right) is God's washing away of our sins as we are included into Christ. And unless you somehow believe that children can't have a relationship with God, then the symbol, although optional, is appropriate.

Of course in the Anglican system the baptism of the infant is accompanied by the pledge of parents and godparents to instruct the child in the gospel. You can't have the symbol without the reality, and the reality is God washing us by his word.

Obviously though you can have reality without symbol, as I've been arguing.

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craigb
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Thanks Gordon,

I agree that Baptism is not important to salvation, in that you can be truly saved and filled with the spirit without it.

Do you see it as a important symbol, like a church membership inititation rite, or something that is totally optional?


Blessings craig b Sorry if I am making you repeat yourself, theres a lot of pages to plow through here.

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Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see... The Lord has promised good to me,His word my hope secures;He will my shield and portion be,As long as life endures.

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Gordon Cheng

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An allowable symbol, depending on context. At one extreme it can be pure superstition, and so a bad idea. At the other extreme it can be a really useful testimony to family and friends. I am thinking of friends from an Asian background who want to make it crystal clear to the folks back hom ethat they have switched religion, for example.

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craigb
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G'day Gordon,

I agree superstition is a bad thing to avoid, and your Asian illustration is a good one, do you think that was the meaning in Biblical times for Baptism, and do you think that baptism can help the new believer be established as a member of the church?

I'm thinking of the pastoral implications for new belivers.

Blessings craig b

--------------------
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see... The Lord has promised good to me,His word my hope secures;He will my shield and portion be,As long as life endures.

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
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I'm pretty sure the Acts 10:48 baptism is to show that these new guys, the Gnetiles, are definitely in (as with the Samaritans earlier). That's how Peter seems to use it in Acts 11.

Coudl be the others had a similar function too, although there's nothing explicit. Is there?

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craigb
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G'day Gordon,

Nahh theres not a great deal that is explicit going on in describing the reasons for Baptism.

I would say though that Peter describes the going into the waters as symbolising death, and coming up out of the waters as symbolising new eternal life, and that would be a very powerful symbol for the new believer to go through and remember why they went through the process of water baptism.

Blessings craig b

--------------------
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see... The Lord has promised good to me,His word my hope secures;He will my shield and portion be,As long as life endures.

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Psyduck

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Gordon Cheng:
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Gordon, did anybody say "baptism" was never used metaphorically? You seem to be attacking a man of straw.
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Psyduck tells me that baptism only ever involves water, unless he's changed his mind from when he posted this back on page one;

Gordon, you have got to stop thinking that people always said what it's convenient for you to say they said. I didn't say this. I said that the idea of baptism always involves water, so that when "baptism" is used metaphorically, the referent of the metaphor is always the water-rite. I'd go further, and say "the Christian water-rite", because I believe that passages like Mark 10 reflect the practice of the early church. But even if one doesn't believe this, I have consistently maintained that this is a "metaphorical" (if you like) extension of "water-baptism", not of some waterless spiritualized synonym for conversion. I think that's clear from my posts.

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The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.
"Lle rhyfedd i falchedd fod/Yw teiau ar y tywod." (Ieuan Brydydd Hir)

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
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Okaaay.... so as long as somewhere in history, we can demonstrate that baptism by water happened and happened regularly, then the extended metaphorical meaning is always going to be clear, anhydrous or not.

So if you or your pet frog say, "I'm confused, what's this word 'baptism' I keep reading here in the Bible?", someone can answer, well it originally means washing, dunking, immersion, blah-di-blah with water. But nowadays (and even back then) it can mean quite a number of things, sometimes involving actual water, and sometimes not. You can't be sure until you look carefully at the context in the passage.

That's OK isn't it?

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
What's being primarily symbolized in baptism (if 1 Peter is right) is God's washing away of our sins as we are included into Christ.

Actually, Christian baptism is more than that, as even the 1 Peter reference attests to.
quote:
this water [of Noah's Flood] symbolises baptism that now saves you - not the removal of dirt from the body but the response of a good conscience towards God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ
Peter here is linking baptism to the resurrection. Just as Paul does in Romans 6 - in baptism we die and are risen with Christ. There is in the NT a sense of reality to the fact that we have already died to our old selves, and been raised again to the new life in Christ - and Romans 6, and other places, explicitely link that death/resurrection to baptism.

If you limit the idea of baptism to merely a washing away of sins (symbolised by a ritual bath) then it seems to me that you end up in a quandry when the NT picks up the other aspects. So, when Jesus asks "can you be baptised as I'm going to be baptised?" (and then adds, "you will be") there's no problem at all if baptism (symbolised by water) is a death and resurrection that has a reality that is embodied in Christ's death and resurrection.

Note also that the verse in 1 Peter explicitely links baptism with salvation. It's in the entering into the death and resurrection of Christ that we're saved - normally we enter into that through the waters of baptism. Though, some may enter into it directly (eg: the thief on the cross didn't need to be baptised in water, because he was really sharing the death of Christ and the resurrection that day into paradise).

Gordon, I think I've come to the conclusion that your view of baptism is too small. The NT has a much bigger idea, of a truly grand saving act of God, one symbolised and made real in the washing of water.

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MSHB
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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
MSHB, I'm in substantial agreement with what you say about washings Vs John the Baptist's baptism "eis metanoian". I don't say they were identical, I merely suggest it as a hypothesis to show where the use of water to cleanse might have found an Old Testament anchor. It is my theory to account for why, thousands of years after Moses, hardline Jews of the New Testament era might press for a range of baptismal practices to be observed.

We can perhaps speculate how the Pharisees might argue for an unbroken line of tradition right back to the Sinaitic covenant to show why it was so useful and important for people to now follow their prescriptions regarding baptism, even though no definitive piece of Torah could be adduced to substantiate their practice.

But it was John the Baptist who was pressing people to be baptised, not the Pharisees.

Yes, the whole action of baptising might make some sense to the Pharisees because there were some points in common with their washings (viz. the use of river water for John's baptism and also river water, say, for Naaman's sevenfold washing of himself).

But in general John and his baptism got up the officials' noses, didn't it? He challenged the Pharisees. I doubt that he was trying to placate them by pursuing a Pharisee-friendly ritual with the hope they might be enticed into turning to God. (I'm sorry, I am not really sure what you mean here - I cannot see how the Pharisees' views are particularly relevant to John's ministry).

In any event, wasn't John's baptism instituted by God? John refers to "he that sent me to baptize with water" (Jn 1.33). It wasn't as though John was making up this stuff by himself - nor making it up to please the Pharisees, whom he had no compunction about offending.

In any event, washing, and eating and drinking, are fairly universal activities - and certainly understood by many people who don't themselves practice washing. They are not culturally obscure like, say, taking off your sandal (Ruth 4.7).

As sacraments, they (in God's foresight) work for people who are well beyond the bounds of Judaism, as your Asian converts so well illustrate. Many non-Christians (i.e. Muslims, Buddhists, etc) who want to become Christians understand the "decisive dviding line" aspect of baptism much better than we do in our messed-up, 150-denominations, post-Christian culture do. They understand that by baptism they are stepping over THE line, the border-line, between whatever they were and being a Christian. This is the turning point for them: they are leaving behind unbelieving family and friends, turning their back on their old religion, and "cleaving" to Christ.

There is nothing especially Jewish or OT in this scenario.

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Gordon Cheng

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Some of this I can't quite follow, Alan. Isn't the washing away of sins and salvation, and resurrection, and... a hundred other glorious things, all part of the same package; a reconciliation with God through inclusion into the death and resurrection of his son?

I include all of these things with the idea of baptism. If the one thing I sometimes lack is water, then my view of baptism is not really that much smaller than yours. Just a few drops or a bathtub smaller, depending on your pref.

(x-post with MSHB)

[ 30. April 2006, 08:30: Message edited by: Gordon Cheng ]

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MSHB
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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
But Grits, would you agree that Jesus separates the two in Mark 10 and Luke 12/ He looks for a baptism (which James and John are going to share) that is water free?

Anyway, I wouldn't always separate them. If we are going to do water baptism, the ideal is that this reflect some underlying spiritual reality.

But the baptism Jesus is alluding to is not his conversion or regeneration, is it?

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MSHB
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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
So if you or your pet frog say, "I'm confused, what's this word 'baptism' I keep reading here in the Bible?", someone can answer, well it originally means washing, dunking, immersion, blah-di-blah with water. But nowadays (and even back then) it can mean quite a number of things, sometimes involving actual water, and sometimes not. You can't be sure until you look carefully at the context in the passage.

That's OK isn't it?

Not really, in my opinion.

There are three usages, now I think of it, rather than two:

(1) Baptizo has its secular, literal meaning (e.g. the Greek text that describes a sinking ship as "baptizing" - plunging into the deeps). This is the "original" meaning.

(2) It has its metaphorical meaning - e.g. someone "immersed" (we would say: "up to their ears") in debt.

(3) And thirdly, by NT times, baptizo had become a terminus technicus - a specialist technical term - within the Christian church for a specific Christian ritual of initiation "into Christ" (just as "eucharistia" soon became a terminus technicus, not just for any old prayer of thanksgiving, but specifically for the Prayer of Blessing at the communion of the body and blood of Christ.)

I see no evidence in the NT that the terminus technicus "baptism" (Christian initiation) ever refers to a water-less conversion experience of any kind. Christ's own metaphorical references to his future "baptism" of suffering (he had already undergone the watery baptism of John) was not, as far as I can see, an experience of conversion or regeneration. Nor was the future martyrdom of the apostles (which is what I take Christ's reference to their partaking of his "baptism" to mean) an experience of regeneration or conversion, but of physical death.

I do agree that our Christian ("water") baptism stands in a very real relationship to Christ's "baptism" of suffering, as the very going into water (burial) and coming out (rising) suggest. If this is not a physical baptism, how is baptism (as Paul means the b. word in Romans 6) a "likeness" of Christ's burial? As far as I can see, Paul uses "likeness" for something visible, tangible. A physical baptism in water makes sense here; a purely inward "change of heart" - no matter how theologically and pastorally important a change of heart may be - doesn't make sense as a "likeness" to Christ's burial.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
I include all of these things with the idea of baptism. If the one thing I sometimes lack is water, then my view of baptism is not really that much smaller than yours.

Sorry if I've been misreading you. You seemed to be saying that there's "baptism" (with or without water) and then there's all these other things for which baptism is at best just a metaphor - such as the "in baptism you died and rose again with Christ" of Romans 6.

It was almost as though you were equating baptism with a mere cleansing ritual, and hence (quite rightly IMO, from that small baptism starting point) saying that the baptism that most of the NT attests too is something qualitatively different. I'd agree that the baptism that the NT talks about is qualitatively different from the mere cleansing ritual, not because there's a different sort of baptism but because Christian baptism is qualitatively different from a mere cleansing ritual.

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Old Grey Whistler
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I am so grateful to MSHB and Alan Cresswell for their lucidity, patience and biblical good sense.

I think we have minimised baptism for too long and we need it (in its fullness) in the Western Wastelands which I suspect is partly a result of paedobaptist intellectualising around the subject and a weak understanding of the power of God to change lives.

It is the moment when conversion is sealed and completed and we can tell people they will derive a blessing and strengthening from receiving it.

The argument from baptism to continued discipleship in Romans 6 is so clear that only those with a prior agenda would want to muddy the waters. It only works pastorally where the person originally "owned" the Baptism and accepts the implications of their own commitment to Christ.

As an evangelical baptist I am tired of pretending that baptism does not matter in the cause of an evangelical or Christian "unity" which never results in anything.

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Prov 17:28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by Old Grey Whistler:
I am so grateful to MSHB and Alan Cresswell for their lucidity, patience and biblical good sense.

I think we have minimised baptism for too long and we need it (in its fullness) in the Western Wastelands which I suspect is partly a result of paedobaptist intellectualising around the subject and a weak understanding of the power of God to change lives.

With repsect I think it is the credo-baptist position that has minimised baptism by turning it into a Pelagian work rather than a sacramental ratification of God's priority in conversion and regeneration. Anbaptismal praxis is totally out of whack with Reformed covenantal theology: you can't have you cake and eat I'm afraid.

[ 02. May 2006, 12:13: Message edited by: m.t-tomb ]

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daronmedway
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Water Baptism - another definition: water baptism is the burial service of the 'old self' and the inaugeration ceremony of the 'new self'.

A funeral service does not kill the person for which it is held, but it does ratify the fact that they are dead. Likewise a baptism service (ceremonial immersion in water) does not kill the flesh, but it does ratify the fact that old self has in some sense died.

A question: if Christians under the New Covenant have in some sense 'died' spiritually, is it therefore inappropriate to mark their eventual physical death with some form of ceremony? No.

Likewise, if a Christian has in some sense died to the 'old self' is it therefore inappropriate to mark that death with an acted parable (water baptism) that ratifies that death?

[ 02. May 2006, 14:35: Message edited by: m.t-tomb ]

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by m.t-tomb:


Likewise, if a Christian has in some sense died to the 'old self' is it therefore inappropriate to mark that death with an acted parable (water baptism) that ratifies that death?

Although, as i understand it, you are arguing that the sign comes before the person has died to their old self, or at least before we are sure if they have, which seems to be the source of some of the confusion.

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daronmedway
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Baptism is the sacrament of grace, of course it should come before actual regeneration. Grace always comes before regeneration; any good Calvinist knows that! [Biased]

The idea of paedo-baptism is that is asserts the priority of God's activity in salvation (the water is an outward and visible sign that we believe in unconditional election): the baby (like us) does not 'choose' God.

The baby is presumed regenerate on the basis of God's covenantal faithfulness until such time as either they become prodigal or 'confirm' their faith in Christ.

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craigb
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If a baby became a prodigal, doesn't that therefore mean the effectiveness of baptism is not true?

Blessings craig b

--------------------
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see... The Lord has promised good to me,His word my hope secures;He will my shield and portion be,As long as life endures.

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Barnabas62
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Not in my understanding. Prodigals do return to Father. And the Father awaits their return in the meantime. He is a good Father, expecting their return and spotting them on the way back "from afar off".

(BTW, to avoid confusion, craigb, I belong to a church which practises believers' baptism.)

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by craigb:
If a baby became a prodigal, doesn't that therefore mean the effectiveness of baptism is not true?

Blessings craig b

I've made no claim that baptism is effective in any way: it is the sacrament of grace. We have no control over God's grace, the infant has no control over their baptism. We have no control over God; he dispenses grace as and when he sees fit. Infant baptism is an acted parable of God's sovereignty in His dispensation of grace: it is not fitting for a person to choose when to be baptised.

In the case of adult baptism, the person does not choose when to be baptised: they are baptised upon conversion which of course is the result of God's grace in election.

In the case of infant baptism, the child does not choose when to be baptised: they are baptised upon the basis of inclusion in the New Covenant by virtue of thier parent's faith (1 Cor 7.14b) until such time as they prove either their rebellion or confirm their election (i.e. break covenant or confirm covenant).

[ 03. May 2006, 08:14: Message edited by: m.t-tomb ]

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Barnabas62
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How do we read baptism in the light of Exodus 33:19 or Romans 9:15? "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy". I say we trust in the goodness and rightness of the God we love. As exemplified to us in, amongst other places, the story of the Prodigal. Some people who have been baptised as infants or as adults ignore, or rebel, or lose interest in following God. None of us is consistent. Human judgements about effectiveness are, I guess, a normal part of our theologising, but cannot in the end resolve the operation of grace in human lives. In the end, we will know more fully.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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daronmedway
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I'd say that all true saints persevere to the end: they do not fall away or give up. I say this on the basis of Romans 8.29-30:
quote:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Being glorified is spoken of in the past tense in this passage: it is a given, not an optional possibility. I therefore conclude that those whom God has 'had mercy' will not fall away but will be glorified. Thier glorification is so assured that - at least from the eternal perspective which Paul has glimpsed - it is already so.

Therefore those people who do fall away were not soundly converted in the first place. This is a classical Calvinist answer and I know it doesn't satisfy many people who hold to another view.

However, I would also say that a perosn has not truly fallen away unless they never ever think about God or consider his influence upon their life in any way shape orr form. Anyone who falls away from church or outward observance but still maintains even an inkling of faith has not truly fallen away.

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Moo

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{bump}

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Kerygmania host
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See you later, alligator.

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