I'm Sorry, Your First Baptism Doesn't Count. You'll Have to be Baptized Again!

How many of you have been refried, twice-baked, or double dipped?

Maybe you were baptized as a child and don’t remember. Maybe you were baptized but really didn’t believe in God at the time. Maybe you were Roman Catholic or Lutheran, or even *gasp* Episcopalian. Maybe you were sprinkled instead of dipped. Maybe you were in a cult! These are but few of the many reasons that one may say you need to be re-baptized.

This line of thought is not new. During the reformation, there was a group called the “Anabaptists.” The name Anabaptist is derived from the Greek term anabaptista, or “one who baptizes over again.” This name was given them by their enemies in reference to the practice of “re-baptizing” converts who “already had been baptized” (or sprinkled) as infants. Anabaptists required that baptismal candidates be able to make their own confessions of faith and so rejected baptism of infants. The early members of this movement abhorred the name “Anabaptist”, claiming that since infant baptism was unscriptural and null and void, the baptizing of believers was not a “re-baptism” but in fact the first baptism for them.

As a result of their views on the nature of baptism and other issues, Anabaptists were heavily persecuted during the 16th century and into the 17th by both Magisterial Protestants and Roman Catholics. Some were even tortured and killed.

I think today’s Christians just might be a little more lenient. Just a few days ago, I was in a remote town that’s had quite a bit of Roman Catholic influence. I was sharing the Gospel with a family and telling some biblical stories. This was my 4th visit with this particular family. In the course of this visit, they told me that “they believed in God.” Great! Awesome in fact. But then…

Another person in our group of three “evangelists” said, “Okay, you believe in God, but are you a disciple of Jesus?” I suddenly understood the BIG BANG THEORY. The couple then asked, “what’s a disciple of Jesus?” After a lot of scripture and as much explaining, they said, “no, we are not disciples of Jesus.” Then I asked them if they wanted to be. They said yes.

We talked for a little bit more and then the woman asked, “we were baptized as children in the Roman Catholic Church, should we be baptized again?”

I’m not going to tell you what I said, but I would love to know what you would have said. And, I’ll do that through a few questions:

If someone was baptized in a state of unbelief, should they be re-baptized when they believe?

If someone was baptized into a wrong belief, should they be re-baptized when they believe correctly?

If someone is unsure about the validity of their first baptism, should we encourage them to be re-baptized?

If you’ve been baptized more than once, could you tell us why?   

 

0 thoughts on “I'm Sorry, Your First Baptism Doesn't Count. You'll Have to be Baptized Again!

  1. Dan O'Day says:

    Hmm… the Church has argued about this for 500+ years. Therefore, I have no intentions of defending my response by debating it’s underlying theology. I’d be happy to clarify or discuss it, concerning its defense I will simply refer you to a large body of literature. OK, now that the disclaimer is out of the way…. 😉

    So long as the individual knew that they had been baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with water, I would not advise (re)baptism. Their state of belief at the time of Baptism is irrelevant. A properly administered Baptism remains valid even if the recipient does not have faith, however that Baptism has no benefit for that individual. If they should return to the faith, they will begin to live out of the new life that began in their Baptism and experience the full benefits thereof. Concerning being baptized into a wrong belief, the only exception would be a improperly administered (invalid) baptism, i.e. the individual was not baptized into the name of Triune God and/or water was not applied in any way, shape, or form. With respect to someone questioning the validity of their baptism, if it was properly applied (as defined above) then we should instruct them further about how God is the active agent in Baptism, not man (it is a mysterious grace gift). If it was not properly applied, then they were never truly baptized, thus Baptism is indicated.

    • Miguel says:

      Dan,

      Thanks for the first time comment. Yes, the church has been arguing this topic for hundreds of years, but it’s interesting to me that it comes up quite naturally in the course of breaking gospel ground.

      I was reared, theologically speaking, in reformed circles. And so, your comment “Their state of belief at the time of Baptism is irrelevant,” is one I understand completely. I’m wondering how you arrive at that conclusion biblically. I know how to get there logically, but for the sake of the readers, perhaps you could explain it.

      • Dan O'Day says:

        Hey Miguel, sorry for the delayed response. I’m too busy these days. I honestly don’t have time to give a complete defense, and the motivation isn’t there when I could simply give book recommendations that do the same. The reality is that there are so many underlying worldview differences in how I approach the faith that we’d have to begin by discussing those first. Especially what constitutes authority in the Church:

        I come at this from a different angle than traditional Reformed theology, I call myself an Eastern Lutheran (I’ve found it true that “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant”). Simply being able to proof-text any teaching with scripture is insufficient. I know quite a few Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who can proof-text their beliefs with scripture, too. Scripture alone can be twisted into all sorts of subjective errors. And “scripture is the only authority” isn’t what the Reformers meant by “Sola Scriptura,” They meant that scripture is the only unquestioned authority. This is evidenced by the fact that they continually cited the early Church Fathers to demonstrate that their teachings were in line with what the Church had historically taught. A great book explaining the history of the Reformation and how it is misunderstood due to ignorance of history is “Getting the Reformation Wrong” by James Payton. So to begin with, my source of authority in the Church is different. And this matters. Rather than asking, “Is this what Scripture says?” I ask different questions: “Is this what Jesus taught and modeled to the apostles, and is this what they passed down to us? Has the Church always done this or is it an innovation from a period in history?” These different questions change my approach to doctrinal issues. Allow me to elaborate.

        I’ve met many very intellectually gifted Protestants who share their hermeneutical approach to scripture and yet come up with widely varying positions on the interpretation of various passages. Hence 23,000+ Protestant denominations. We have seen from the scriptures themselves that they can be difficult to understand and even lead people into deceit and error. Peter acknowledges that Paul’s writings are difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16). Even the devil cited the scriptures in order to tempt the Savior (Matthew 4:1-11). My point is that scripture is always interpreted through tradition, whether we acknowledge it or not. Any close examination of church history will demonstrate that Holy Tradition guarded the faith in early Christianity, not an appeal to biblical texts (which hadn’t even been canonized yet).

        I do want to clarify that I believe that scripture contains all that we need to know Christ. But when it comes to interpreting scripture, the bible wasn’t intended to be a blueprint for the entire Christian faith (and early Christians didn’t see it as such). Rather, the bible contains all that is needed to point us to Christ as the Messiah in the Old and New Testaments and all that is needed for eternal life and salvation. It is given to us in addition to the apostolic tradition that was transmitted orally and in practice. One need only read the letters of Paul to discern that they were in response to problems within various churches. They don’t really describe the positive aspects of gatherings, only those things necessary for correction. John acknowledges at the end of his gospel that “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25). From Adam to Moses, there were no sacred books. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself delivered his divine teachings and ordinances to His disciples by word and example, not by writing. The same method was followed by the apostles also at first, when they spread abroad the faith and established the Church. The apostle Paul teaches Christians to “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word OR our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15, emphasis mine).

        Once you agree on the source of authority, you’d have to investigate what the Church has always taught and practiced concerning baptism. Scripture is of course in agreement with this (although it is largely silent on the issue because it was assumed). And the historical and archaeological record is virtually unanimous: baptism is of apostolic origin and the Church always baptized infants until the Anabaptists came along in the 16th century, with few exceptions (spurious heretical groups). There are some Protestant scholars today who try to say that infant baptism was a novel invention in early church history, but it requires one to ignore a lot of good evidence to the contrary. A book that makes this case solidly is “Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries” by Joachim Jeremias, and you should also read his followup to Kurt Aland’s refutation of his work, “The Origins of Infant Baptism: A Further Study in Reply to Kurt Aland.” They are actually VERY short reads (around 100 pages each), so they can be finished in one or two sittings.

        Once that’s out of the way, it becomes clear that infant baptism has always been the practice of the Church. Thus anything in scripture that is true for those who are baptized is true for anyone who is baptized – whether infant or adult. Concerning my statement that “Their state of belief at the time of Baptism is irrelevant,” the apostle Paul asks, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore 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. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:3-5, ESV). There is no mention of needing to be worthy to receive His gift of baptism and all its benefits, indeed ALL who are baptized into Christ are baptized into His death and assured of the resurrection of the body. In his letter to the Colossans, he says, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 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” (Colossians 2:11-12, ESV). Since this spiritual circumcision is “made without hands,” it is clear that God is the active agent in baptism, not man. Since we know that God gives generously and without partiality, we know that He bestows His gifts to all who are baptized. I hope this clarifies my position a little.

  2. Greg Gamble says:

    God says He counts what we have and not what we dont have.
    I’d advise them that whatever is of faith is not sin, and ask them if they were baptized in good faith,
    is a rebaptism a declaration that they are or were in doubt the first time.
    They should know that they are free, and responsible to determine their own faith in Him, guided by scripture and led by the Spirit.

    • Miguel says:

      Greg, thanks for participating in the discussion.

      At what point should we interfere, if at all, if they want to get baptized a third, fourth, or fifth time etc.?

  3. Baptism is intended as a conscious identification with Christ Jesus. It is recognising and confessing him as All. It is to be immersed into him so that all the “in Him” statements of the New Testament may become effectual. It is the public, conscious confession (and request) that I wish to partake in the work of the cross and the miracle of resurrection. It is agreeing to, and asking for the burial of the narcissistic ego and the birth of a new creation. And it is to do so consciously and knowingly, as did those who entered the ark and those who joined the exodus out of Egypt and through the waters. I would never rob anyone of this glorious public plea and declaration that it is no “longer I but Christ”. And so I would not hesitate to rebaptise someone who had none of this accompanying their first baptism. In fact, I would advise them to do so. Of course God does not need our baptism. But we do, and that (in my mind) is the point.

    Re your 3rd question: If a person has been baptised as a result of his/her confession of faith in Christ Jesus, yet later doubt the validity of their first baptism, (Was I truly saved? Did I understand the “identification” issue? etc.), I would not rebaptise but fill in the details which should have accompanied the first baptism (assurance of salvation, identification etc.).

    I must say I don’t agree with Dan. The validity of baptism can surely not depend on the way in which it was administered whilst having nothing to do with the candidate’s faith? We were not created for baptism. Baptism was created for us. If the heart of the candidate is acceptable before God, the mode of baptism is secondary (one dip or three, name of Triune God or name of Jesus etc.). Conversely, if the baptism is done technically correct but the candidate is not a believer, it is a meaningless and dead ritual.

    • Miguel says:

      naturalchurch,

      Thanks for the precise word usage in your comment. You said, I would not rebaptise but fill in the details which should have accompanied the first baptism (assurance of salvation, identification etc.).”

      Just curious, if after “filling in the details,” they still wanted to be baptized, would you?

      • I would not. All of us grow in our understanding of our union with Christ. Whilst our union with him is essential for the validity of our baptism (as pointed out in response to your first two questions), our grasp thereof is not. This increases as we grow in our knowledge of him, and the revelation thereof remains forever new and forever overwhelming. The more I see of Christ, the more I see how immature and incomplete my understanding of him is. If I were to rebaptize someone who had not seen the full picture, I would need to be rebaptized regularly. myself.

  4. Until baptism by water can be tied directly to being absolutely crucial for Salvation, I believe baptism by water shall ever be one of those topics that people like to debate, but one that lacks any salvific qualities.

    One baptism, one faith, one Lord. Simple.

    Like in a previous discussion about missions, I am jaded when it comes to baptisms simply because I have seen how it has been hijacked and bastardized through the stupidity of man, and has become an entity unto itself.

    Infant baptism is cultish and pagan at best, and accomplishes nothing apparently but to bring controversy later on in a person’s life when and if they are actually saved.

    I would simply answer Yes to the above questions you asked at the end of your post. Why not? Sure. Sounds like a plan.

    • Miguel says:

      Unapologetic,

      Even if “baptism by water can’t be tied directly to being absolutely crucial for Salvation,” isn’t it tied directly to being absolutely crucial for obedience?

      • Are you ready to state that baptism is crucial as an example of true obedience, and that our Father is looking for us to be water-baptized so He will be pleased with us?

        If water baptism is crucial, yet Spirit baptism occurs at Salvation, and there is only One Baptism in The New Covenant, then which is crucial: water or Spirit?

        The thief on the other cross…never baptized…yet was told by our Jesus he would be with Him in paradise. Just throwing that one out there.

        • Miguel says:

          The command to Make Disciples wasn’t given until after the resurrection. There was nothing more for the thief to obey. He was already chillin in paradise when Jesus spoke those words to the disciples.

          • Nicely said about the thief. I guess it was lucky for Him he never had to do things for Jesus to prove obedience, and was simply welcomed into Him because of his proclamation about Jesus being who He said He was.

            Now can you answer the two other questions? Please?

  5. Jonathan says:

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Looking at this from the perspective of the church, we’re commanded to 1) Make Disciples, 2) Baptise them, 3) Teach them to obey God’s Word.

    There is an order to this and this is one of the many arguments/examples in Scripture for what we call “Believers Baptism”. To accept anything that is not Believers Baptism and then essentially call it Believers Baptism serves to confuse these new believers (if we’re flexible on this command, where else might we be willing to create exceptions?)

    • Miguel says:

      Just to be clear Jonathan, are you saying that we must “teach them to obey all that Christ commanded” before they’re baptized?

  6. Two points that come to mind:

    If an individual or whole family ask to be baptized as adults, when they have already received trinitarian baptism as children in a sacramental denomination, unless done hugely sensitively it looks like a slap in the face for all those who still belong to that denomination, especially others in the immediate family. It can cut them off from those who are in that denomination, and therefore be a negative witness rather than a positive witness. It will also surely signify a deliberate total leaving and rejection of that denomination, when such an overt signal may not actually be necessary.

    I recall David Pawson suggesting that using a form of words for such a baptism as ‘completing’ or ‘confirming’ the promises made at an infant baptist, could be helpful.

    • Miguel says:

      Tony, I love your comments!

      I’ve not thought much on this perspective of “slapping others in the face.” Several thoughts:

      If we postpone our baptism because of how others will feel and thereby not demonstrating our public commitment to Christ, then are we being obedient?

      Aren’t we creating a situation in which “back alley baptisms” might arise?

      Is there a way that baptisms can be done discreetly verses overtly?

  7. Greg says:

    Good point Jon. Scripture describes repentance as being vehement desire and carefulness, indicating extreme intention.If a pre baptises person recognizes they were not acting from full assurance, or discover they were baptised in the wrong name or any point that leaves them in doubt or fear to please the Lord, we should encourage and possibly exhort them to obey what they think. I was baptised by a rabid Pentecostal minister when I was 14, as a drug dealer. Someone recognized that God was beginning the process of conviction that eventually led to full repentance and a few people decided to give God a hand in hurrying up the process. I was baptised, half stoned, in the name of Father, Son & Spirit. 3 yrs later, converted and with a tender heart, I felt I had been rushed to the altar, as well as seeing no example in scripture of baptism in the name of Father, Son & Spirit. I was rebaptized in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ, which mysteriously got a few people very upset, and my conscience was clear and my heart was joyful, and has been since.

    • Miguel says:

      Greg,

      Thanks for sharing your compelling testimony. Wow! I hope you have peace now. If not, let us know how we can be of help to you as brothers and sisters in Christ.

      If the lord permits, I’d like to hear more about your journey.

  8. Tom LeCompte says:

    There is a scriptural precedent for rebaptism found in Acts 19:1-7. Paul came across 12 men who were baptized into the baptism of John, but didn’t completely understand salvation through Jesus Christ. After Paul did an upgrade to their faith, they were baptized and received the Holy Spirit. Whether this was presented as an option to them by Paul, or a command, we don’t know. All we know is that previously, their understanding of salvation was faulty and incomplete. Once these men understood completely, they felt compelled to be baptized again.

    Should this be a command, or a matter of faith for the individual? I lean toward the latter. I am not a believer in baptismal regeneration, so I see baptism as a conscious decision by the believer as a testimony to the new life he already possesses. Whether to be rebaptized should be left up to the individual believer.

    • Miguel says:

      Tom,

      I like your attitude here in this comment. It’s gracious. One thought your comment raised in my thinking is this:

      If we have people “praying the sinner’s prayer” multiple times and receiving Christ multiple times, then multiple baptisms are the logical result.

  9. Tom LeCompte says:

    Let me clarify my previous post. I DO absolutely believe that we are commanded to be baptized. Whether to be RE-baptized should be carefully thought out by the believer. It might be prudent to do so and it certainly wouldn’t hurt. Let it proceed from faith.

  10. Dori says:

    The key to the answer seems to hang upon the question “are you disciples of Jesus?” Baptism is simply a witness to others that you have faith (actively rely upon) Jesus whom you believe has given us eternal life from the Father that we can experience through the help of His Spirit.
    I recommend reading the chapter on baptism in Neil Cole’s book Church 3.0 for the best and simplest understanding on this topic.
    Also, Ephesians discusses that faith in Christ turns us away from relying upon our own works and rituals to earn salvation. People want to become baptized when they personal decide to follow Jesus and not rely upon what they did in the past ect.

    • Miguel says:

      Dori, thanks for bring up Neil’s Book “Church 3.0

      You’re right the section on “Pragmatic Concerns” can be quite helpful here. Neil, in this section states:

      Baptism symbolizes so much: a cleansing, but also a tomb (death and resurrection), and a womb (being born again). It is being completely immersed in the name of the Triune Godhead with nothing held back. It is the end of an old life and the birth of a new one.*

      He also says:

      “Baptism is a clear way for the new believer to confess publicly that she or he has an internal belief in salvation. In the New Testament the disciples who made a decision to follow Christ took their first step into the water. Baptism is, in a sense, much the same way walking an aisle for an altar call was a few years back. Once again, we have an example of our substituting a nonbiblical practice for the one first established by Jesus. The “sinner’s prayer” is another example of this. Neither the altar call nor the prayer is an adequate substitute.”

      I happen to agree with the idea that for the most part, biblical baptism has been replaced with unbiblical sinner’s prayers and other mechanistic facsimiles.

      For those interested in the Kindle version of this book, CLICK HERE

      *Cole, Neil (2010-01-22). Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) (Kindle Locations 3499-3501). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition.

  11. Tom Schultz says:

    Relative to the first two questions, the key phrases I see are ” state of unbelief”, “wrong belief”, and “should.” Only God (and perhaps the individual) knows the true state of a heart at any moment, so I would be very slow to add my ‘should’ to anyone’s load. Doubt comes to everyone, but the first instance does not invalidate all that went before.

    Even more so would I hesitate to suggest re-baptism for ‘wrong belief’ unless it was in a blatantly non-Christian setting. We are baptized into Christ, not a particular movement or specific set of doctrines. I don’t even go with my Baptist roots and declare sprinkling or infant baptism invalid. As far as I can tell, Scripture does not unequivocally set a standard…the only thing that seems interesting is the fact that baptism usually happened within a day of believing…no catechism…no special classes…no period of waiting to be sure it sticks.

    If someone is unsure, my advice would be, “Go for it”…you just want to let your (new) friends and associates know you have made a commitment…the outward sign of an inward change.

    In all of this the feeling I have is that any decision by an individual should come from their own heart by the prompting of the Holy Spirit…not because of any pressure by someone who feels it is important to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s.

    • Miguel says:

      Tom,

      You said, “the only thing that seems interesting is the fact that baptism usually happened within a day of believing…no catechism…no special classes…no period of waiting to be sure it sticks.”

      I have proposed “immediate baptism” upon receiving Christ in the past, but this is the objection I most commonly receive back:

      People in the Bible were baptized quickly because they “already” had an understanding of what baptism was. It didn’t need to be explained. These days, however, it does need to be explained. We must, some say, be educated into obedience.

      What do you think? What do others of you reading this think?

  12. Ed Franklin says:

    Thanks for this very interesting discussion. I’m a newcomer here and will try to temper my dogmatism. This thread has reactivated some thoughts I’ve had percolating for 30 years or more…..1. How about the confusion and sometimes conflation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with water baptism?…..Seems to me the scriptures referring to those two separate events are often confused and sometimes misapplied. 2. Happy to see you bring up the idea of “waiting a bit to see if it sticks” Long a believer in more-or-less immediate immersion upon profession of faith, I have quite recently been in a congregation where the leadership does the “wait and see” thing. For my part, in answer to the original questions, I think the expression “believer’s baptism” (with respect to immersion in water) is self-explanatory. If one was not a believer, say one is a child coerced into doing a good thing, later realizes that he was never converted……upon genuine conversion, of course he should be immersed. Though a second wetting, it is in fact only a first “baptism” Those who were in non-orthodox assemblies or cults……same with them…..if they were not converted, they were not baptized–only made wet all over. Now, the extension of that–such as “you were baptized in brand Y denomination; now you are in brand C, you must be re-immersed”…..that’s a bit much.

  13. chosenrebel says:

    Very little time. Haven’t read the whole thread. My take.

    Overall: I would back them into the Scripture with more questions. And let them come to their own conclusions.

    Questions might include things like:
    1. What is a follower of Christ?
    2. How important do you think it is to follow the example of Christ and the earliest Christians?
    3. Do you know what the earliest Christians did with this question?
    4. Would you like to study the Scripture to see how and when and with whom baptism took place in the early church?

    Let them study the text.

    5. What have you concluded? Should you be baptized?

  14. Jonathan says:

    No, the “them” that we are to teach are those that we have made disciples of and have baptised.

  15. Greg Gamble says:

    I’ve been out of church circles for the last 40 yrs and might be naive to ask if there are really folks who
    want to get baptized 4 or 5 times?
    I dont know what Id say to them.
    I would probably assume they were suffering from the same lack of revelation of Christ that has much of the church wandering around in a fog.

    After almost 35 yrs of literally being in the outback of christian culture, I started reading blogs, articles, listening to radio etc and was both stunned and saddened.
    What I see makes me constantly think about Jesus lament of Gods people wandering the hills like sheep without a shepherd, as well as being able to discern the weather but not the kingdom.
    It makes me upset and I cry.

  16. Greg Gamble says:

    Miguel, your’e pretty sharp. I’m at peace, thanks.
    We are passing through the valley of the shadow of death though, which is maybe what you sense.
    The only way out is through it.
    My blog has tame bits of our chaotic story, but I cant tell it openly as some folks might be hurt.
    I can say this.
    When God births a vision to someone or even better, to a church, to be His witness in their generation and place, He then allows it to die. And we have to go into the ground with that seed, and wait for Him to bring it back to life.
    The shakeout from that process is equal to death or divorce, and its supposed to be that way so we lose confidence in ourselves, and learn not to give God a helping hand to build His kingdom.
    God does that with forerunners, so when He takes the rest of His beloved children through the fire, there are some who can be facilitators, pointing everybody to the Lord.
    We are going to soon go through fire.
    But you know this, brother.

  17. Heather G says:

    I don’t think baptism needs to be this legal thing we make it out to be. We’re in a love relationship with Jesus – I think as long as a baptism is coming out of sincere place of relating to Jesus, it should be encouraged. Just like married people have no NEED to renew their vows, sometimes it’s very compelling and real for them to do so between one another. Additionally, I think Christians can’t really understand baptism without seeing it from a jewish perspective. There’s a reason that Jews understood what this guy John the baptist was doing when he showed up and started baptising people for repentance. If you de-religiousify the word Baptism, it really just means to immerse, to submerge, to dunk. In other words, baptism is the Christianized word for a Jewish mikvah. And Jews would take mikvahs on all sorts of occasions. I have been baptised a few times and each time I had a reason for feeling I should get baptised again. The first time was probably the least meaningful – it’s when a bunch of people scared me to death and told me my salvation was dependant on being baptised (I was 14 years old). Eight years later, I felt like I wanted to have a better baptism between me and the Lord – one that was more personal between me and Him than one that was based on fear and law like the first one was. Years later, I had an experience with the Lord where I came to a totally new and deeper understanding of what it meant for me to be crucified with Him – and I wanted to be baptised again just to step into that in a deeper way. Etc. So I think…baptism doesn’t have to be a thing we make into a bunch of rules and regulations – it is something meant to be done out of response and relationship to Him, and at different points in our lives, we may sense that there is something real between Him and us that would be well expressed in reenacting being buried with him in those waters again.

  18. Jailer says:

    This is obviously a popular discussion. I’m actually a member of the twice-baptized club, though perhaps for unique reasons. Baptized as an adult by sprinkling, I was rebaptized in a Baptist church for the simple reason that I wanted to be a member and they required immersion. There was some angst involved, but in the final analysis I decided it was appropriate to be submissive to the authority of the church I was in.

    I tell the story in some more explicit detail here: http://www.philippianjailer.com/2009/06/sprinkled-and-immersed-but-no.html

  19. […] Jailer on I’m Sorry, Your First Baptism Doesn’t Count. You’ll Have to be Baptized Again! […]

  20. gary says:

    “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

    The fact that children die shows that they are subject to the consequences of sin just like adults. If children are not held responsible by God for the Original Sin inherited from their Grandfather Adam, they would never die until they reach an Age of Accountability, when “their eyes are opened to the knowledge of Good and Evil”.

    But the Bible never mentions an age of accountability. Instead, it teaches that “the whole world (is) held accountable to God” (Romans 3:19), Psalms 51:5, Eph. 2:3.

    Just because something doesn’t seem fair, doesn’t mean it is not true. As Paul says in Romans, who are we the created to question the Creator?

    All human beings, including infants, are born sinners and are in need of a Savior to redeem them from original sin and the penalty of that sin: death…both physical and spiritual.

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

  21. Brenda says:

    Hi!
    I’ve read this thread and have some different perspectives from some of you. This makes me grateful that we can read the same scriptures and share Jesus, while having vibrant dialogue on things where we don’t come to the same conclusions. God will sort it out in heaven.

    Does Jesus not command a Trinitarian baptism here? (Help me. I had not ever heard this was disputed)
    Matthew 28:19
    “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

    Ephesians 4:4-6
    “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

    I grew up Lutheran and believe that God gave me receptivity to Him in my baptism at 3 weeks old. I can’t remember a day not knowing and loving Him as a child. We celebrated (remembered) my baptism every year and talked about what it meant to be adopted into God’s family.

    My story may sound unfamiliar to you, but I’d like to suggest that the two distinct views on baptism have to do with whether the main thing accomplished in baptism is something we do or something God does. If it’s something we do, then believers baptism makes total sense. Once you believe, do it.

    If it’s something God is doing through the thing He commanded us to do, then His work is not hindered by who does it, at what age (He is not bound by time), or in what manner. He will accomplish His purposes.

    I was born in the image of God, fallen into sin, and dead in my trespasses and sin. I had no receptivity without His divine intervention. I’m so grateful for my baptism. I believe a baby can love and trust without knowledge the same way s/he automatically loves and trusts his/her parents.

    It’s ok with me if we don’t all agree on this. I know we won’t, but I just wanted to add an additional perspective to an already good conversation. 🙂

  22. gary says:

    Why is the New Testament silent on Infant Baptism?

    Baptist/evangelical response:

    The reason there is no mention of infant baptism in the New Testament is because this practice is a Catholic invention that developed two to three centuries after the Apostles. The Bible states that sinners must believe and repent before being baptized. Infants do not have the mental maturity to believe or to make a decision to repent. If God had wanted infants to be baptized he would have specifically mentioned it in Scripture. Infant baptism is NOT scriptural.

    Lutheran response:

    When God made his covenant with Abraham, God included everyone in Abraham’s household in the covenant:

    1. Abraham, the head of the household.
    2. His wife.
    3. His children: teens, toddlers, and infants
    4. His servants and their wives and children.
    5. His slaves and their wives and children.

    Genesis records that it was not just Abraham who God required to be circumcised. His son, his male servants, and his male slaves were all circumcised; more than 300 men and boys.

    Did the act of circumcision save all these people and give them an automatic ticket into heaven? No. Just as in the New Covenant, it is not the sign that saves, it is God’s declaration that saves, received in faith. If these men and boys grew in faith in God, they would be saved. If they later rejected God by living a life of willful sin, they would perish.

    This pattern of including the children of believers in God’s covenant continued for several thousand years until Christ’s resurrection. There is no mention in the OT that the children of the Hebrews were left out of the covenant until they reached an Age of Accountability, at which time they were required to make a decision: Do I want to be a member of the covenant or not? And only if they made an affirmative decision were they then included into God’s covenant. Hebrew/Jewish infants and toddlers have ALWAYS been included in the covenant. There is zero evidence from the OT that says otherwise.

    Infants WERE part of the covenant. If a Hebrew infant died, he was considered “saved”.

    However, circumcision did NOT “save” the male Hebrew child. It was the responsibility of the Hebrew parents to bring up their child in the faith, so that when he was older “he would not depart from it”. The child was born a member of the covenant. Then, as he grew up, he would have the choice: do I want to continue placing my faith in God, or do I want to live in willful sin? If he chose to live by faith, he would be saved. If he chose to live a life of willful sin and never repented, and then died, he would perish.

    When Christ established the New Covenant, he said nothing explicit in the New Testament about the salvation of infants and small children; neither do the Apostles nor any of the writers of the New Testament. Isn’t that odd? If the new Covenant no longer automatically included the children of believers, why didn’t Christ, one of the Apostles, or one of the writers of the NT mention this profound change?

    Why is there no mention in the NT of any adult convert asking this question: “But what about my little children? Are you saying that I have to wait until my children grow up and make a decision for themselves, before I will know if they will be a part of the new faith? What happens if my child dies before he has the opportunity to make this decision?” But no, there is no record in Scripture that any of these questions are made by new converts to the new faith. Isn’t that really, really odd??? As a parent of small children, the FIRST question I would ask would be, “What about my little children?”

    But the New Testament is completely silent on the issue of the salvation or safety of the infants and toddlers of believers. Another interesting point is this: why is there no mention of any child of believers “accepting Christ” when he is an older child (8-12 years old) or as a teenager and then, being baptized? Not one single instance and the writing of the New Testament occurred over a period of 30 years, approximately thirty years after Christ’s death: So over a period of 60 years, not one example of a believer’s child being saved as a teenager and then receiving “Believers Baptism”. Why???

    So isn’t it quite likely that the reason God does not explicitly state in the NT that infants should be baptized, is because everyone in first century Palestine would know that infants and toddlers are included in a household conversion. That fact that Christ and the Apostles did NOT forbid infant baptism was understood to indicate that the pattern of household conversion had not changed: the infants and toddlers of believers are still included in this new and better covenant.

    Circumcision nor Baptism was considered a “Get-into-heaven-free” card. It was understood under both Covenants that the child must be raised in the faith, and that when he was older, he would need to decide for himself whether to continue in the faith and receive everlasting life, or choose a life of sin, breaking the covenant relationship with God, and forfeiting the gift of salvation.

    Which of these two belief systems seems to be most in harmony with Scripture and the writings of the Early Christians?

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

  23. Gary says:

    If you are an orthodox Christian, and have labored for some time trying to convince a Baptist or evangelical family member or friend of the strong evidence that the Early Church did baptize infants, you will frequently get this response:

    “Ok, so what. The church in Corinth was practicing baptisms for the dead during the Apostle Paul’s lifetime! This fact demonstrates that just because the Early Church may have practiced Infant Baptism does not mean that it was taught by the Apostles or that it is Scriptural.”

    True. Very true.

    However, there is something in this Baptist/evangelical Christian’s statement that is very telling:

    1. Baptism for the Dead caused a controversy in the Early Church. We have written record of this controversy.

    2. There is zero evidence that there was any controversy regarding the apostolic origin of Infant Baptism. Even Tertullian did not dispute the apostolic origin of Infant Baptism.

    The next response from these Christians will usually be this:

    “The Catholics destroyed all evidence of the controversy over Infant Baptism.”

    Really? Can you show us any evidence of this mass evidence burning by the Catholics? And why would the Catholics destroy all evidence of dissenting views on Infant Baptism but did not destroy the evidence of much worse heresies: Arianism, Gnosticism, Pelagianism, etc. etc.

    The Baptist/evangelical argument against Infant Baptism…does not hold water!

    Gary

    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

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