Conclusions on Baptism

by Chad Shaffer and Mike Stine

* This is the final part of a five part discussion on baptism.  Links to the previous sections are provided below the article for your convenience.

In our research we have discovered a lot of the attitudes which the early church fathers recorded. We also come from very different backgrounds as far as baptism is concerned. Mike was baptized as an infant (although it was pretty much a dedication) and was later triunally immersed as a believer. His church is open to all forms of baptism. Chad comes from an Anabaptist and was immersed once. Neither of us find anything contrary to scripture with any method of baptism. We neither hold to infant baptism as a necessary thing. We find scripture to be very permissive on baptism but we hold it to be a commandment that is to be observed by believers.  Finally, baptism is a matter of the heart as so many things are in the Christian life. In baptism we associate ourselves with Christ and make a public statement that we are his followers. This is truly what baptism is about and it matters not what form it takes.

Intro

Infant Baptism

Believer’s Baptism

Three Modes of Baptism

 

Three Modes of Baptism

by Chad Shaffer and Mike Stine

*This is a brief five part breakdown on the various views of baptism.  For convenience sake, links to the other sections are provided at the bottom.

Now that we have looked at the forms of baptism we must look at the methods of baptism. This topic is a very hotly debated topic within the church. Many methods are used but which methods are the correct methods of baptism?

The Bible itself is silent on the methods of baptism. We know that Jesus himself was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River . Beyond this we know very little about the methods of baptism used in the New Testament.

The earliest statement of how baptism was performed came from the Didache. The Didache was a manual that was written around 70 AD. In the Didache it says this:

“After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water. If you have no living water, then baptize in other water, and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Didache 7:1 [A.D. 70]).

This is the earliest writing that we have on the method that baptism is supposed to take.

Let us look at the three different methods of baptism that are used. These methods are sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. So which one of these is the proper method? Let us look first at sprinkling. We can find no real explicit reference of this method of baptism. Those who adhere to this method of baptism note in the Old Testament that the priest sprinkled blood on the altar and see this as a foreshadowing of baptism. There is little to no reference to sprinkling being used as a method of baptism until the Middle Ages though.

The next method of baptism that we will look at is pouring. Here again there is no explicit reference to this in the New Testament. It is very likely though that in Acts 8 when the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized by Phillip there would not have been enough water for him to be baptized by immersion. Pouring would have been more likely to have been used but we cannot be sure of this. We can see from the writings of the early church father’s that pouring could be substituted for immersion if the person was not able to be immersed on account of extenuating circumstances.

The third and final type of baptism is immersion. This method has the most scriptural basis of all the methods of baptism. It is probable that Jesus was baptized by immersion in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. As well as having scriptural support this method of baptism also has almost unanimous support from the church fathers. This method gives us the best picture of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

Surrounding immersion is also the debate concerning triune immersion. This is just as heated a topic as any surrounding baptism and churches have split over this as well. There is no indication from scripture one way or another as to whether a person should be immersed three times or one. What is plain is that a person is to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The question is whether a person should be immersed once in all three names or once for each name. From the records of the early church fathers, there would appear to be strong evidence that a person who was baptized was done so three times, once for each name.

Intro

Infant Baptism

Believer’s Baptism

Three Modes of Baptism

Our Conclusions

Believer’s Baptism

by Chad Shaffer and Mike Stine

*This is a brief five part breakdown on the various views of baptism.  For convenience sake, links to the other sections are provided at the bottom.

The second form of baptism that is performed by the church is believer’s baptism. It is clearly illustrated throughout the New Testament that people were baptized after they professed a belief in Christ.  This is illustrated most vividly in Acts 8, when the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip to baptize him after he put his faith in Christ. Believer’s baptism is also mentioned repeatedly throughout the writings of the early church fathers. Nearly every church father agreed on believer’s baptism.

What is not agreed upon by all is whether baptism is required for salvation.  This is outside of the scope of this discussion but is certainly a worthy topic.  For our purposes, Christians have almost universally seen believer’s baptism as something that should be practiced.  The debate surrounds whether it is a “best practice” that is recommended for Christians to grow in their spiritual walk or if it is a requirement that has been mandated for all.

Intro

Infant Baptism

Believer’s Baptism

Three Modes of Baptism

Our Conclusions