Dr. Mike, I recently witnessed a family member being baptized and was so excited about it, I brought it up at the dinner table discussion. One family member ,who is a devout Catholic, questioned why someone would get baptized if they had already been? I decided not to engage in debate, but to rather seek out wisdom on this subject. How would you reply to someone who rejects baptism outside the realm of birth baptism?
Post by Mike Miller on Aug 10, 2015 8:54:01 GMT -5
Thanks for this question! It's one I get a lot since I live in an area heavily populated with Catholics. Also, since I became a Christian in a Methodist church, this was an issue for me when I became a Baptist--both dealing with immersion (since I was sprinkled as an adult) and timing (since my wife was baptized as an infant).
Essentially, I try not to be critical of the baptism of others. I have friends who are members of denominations that practice infant baptism and who do not immerse. I just try to explain my position. First, according to Scripture, we are saved by the grace of God alone through faith alone and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-10). Therefore, according to Scripture, baptism has no saving effect. In fact, even though baptism is very important, we even see one person saved in the Bible who was not baptized. The criminal who was crucified next to Jesus asked Jesus to save him, and Jesus assured him that they would be together in Paradise that very day. The man was not baptized. I am very strong in my conviction that baptism does not make a person a Christian.
Of course, many--such as Presbyterians--practice infant baptism for different reasons. They do not believe that baptism saves a person. Instead, they see it as a sign of the covenant, still believing that a person must trust Jesus for salvation later. However, the Bible does not contain even one example of a baby being baptized. In fact, every single baptism in the Bible took place after the person trusted Jesus for salvation. Every single one. Incidentally, I once heard a Methodist pastor preach on the baptism of the Philippian jailer and his family in Acts 16 as proof that babies were baptized. He neglected to point out that the Gospel was presented to every member of the household and that his entire household rejoiced afterward. This means that they were all able to comprehend and then rejoice. Moreover, the command in verse 31 to believe and he would be saved, him and his household, can't possibly mean that if that one man believed, then every person in his house would be saved (a household was family members as well as servants). I know of no one who would teach that if a man is saved, everyone living with him is saved also. Therefore, this has to mean that everyone in his household who believed would be saved.
All this is to say that I wouldn't try to argue with a person to convince him that he is wrong. I would simply state what I believe about baptism. First, the Bible teaches clearly that baptism does not save. Second, the Bible never indicates that babies should be baptized. In fact, it demonstrates just the opposite. I also explain that I only want to do what the Bible teaches, as it is my sole source of authority for faith and practice.
Therefore, if a person was baptized as an infant, or even as an adult before conversion, and then that person places his faith in Christ, he needs to be baptized as a believer. This is his public profession of faith.
Thank you! As always, very informative. I have battled in my mind how I would ever have this discussion with this family member. He is hardcore Catholiic in that he has openly stated that every other religion aside from Catholicism is false. Your reply, in the least, gives me information in the event he decides to engage debate on this topic.