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#13449 - Sun Apr 11, 2004 4:47 PM Question on Baptism  
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I have a question about how one should go about encouraging a new believer to be baptized. Many new believers are excited and want to be baptized, but many new other new believers are hesitant to be baptized. At the church I attend now, the pastor puts what I would consider undue pressure on new Christians to be baptized. I always considered preventing one to be a member of the church and preventing one to take communion as well as gentle urging from the commands of Scripture as the proper way to encourage one to get baptized. If they are a true Christian, eventually God will convict and change their heart so that it is something they will truly desire. But to force someone to be baptized against their desire because it's "what a Christian has to do" seems to me to be wrong. In the first place, many "new Christians" may not really be a Christian yet and their hardness of heart about baptism may be an indication of that. If they are baptized it may be confirming a false sense of their salvation to them. Secondly, for those who are truly regenerate but are resisting for some reason, to force them to be baptized when they are not ready seems to take all the joy out of the baptism. Since our motives are important, when a believer is being baptized out of "force", it seems we are in a sense forcing them to commit a sin since their heart is not right with God on this issue.

As for me, I grew up in a Baptist church but was never baptized until I was 22. I'm really not sure how that happened, but I think I just sort of fell between the cracks. Everyone assumed I was baptized because I had been going to the church so long and no one bothered to check. Because I didn't really want to be baptized (I thought it was embarrasing to go up in front of the congregation like that), I never brought it up. But when God finally moved my heart to obedience and I obeyed willingly when I was an adult, it was a joyful occassion for me. If someone had really forced me to as a child/teenager against my wishes I would have agreed just to avoid conflict, but I wouldn't have been happy about it. To be honest, now I'm not sure I was a Christian at that time anyway.

What do others think? What is the Scriptural view of how we should encourage new Christians to be baptized?

John

#13450 - Sun Apr 11, 2004 7:14 PM Re: Question on Baptism [Re: john]  
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John asks:
What do others think? What is the Scriptural view of how we should encourage new Christians to be baptized?

I have always believed that new converts should be encouraged/required to complete a "Christianity 101" course before they decide to join a particular congregation. This course would/should cover the fundamentals of the faith that congregation's particular doctrinal position, as well as the "experimental" aspects of the faith, which would of course, deal with the sacraments.

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#13451 - Sun Apr 11, 2004 11:59 PM Re: Question on Baptism [Re: john]  

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I'm with Pilgrim here on this one. Any new believer should be discipled first and then baptized. This of course sort of follows along with my credobaptist stance you know. They should be able to know what they believe before they become baptized.

#13452 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 3:36 PM Re: Question on Baptism  

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PrestorJohn said:
I'm with Pilgrim here on this one. Any new believer should be discipled first and then baptized. This of course sort of follows along with my credobaptist stance you know. They should be able to know what they believe before they become baptized.


As a paedobaptist, I have a different understanding than you do, sir. Most people we see converted here were baptized already at some point in the past (many of them as Baptists or credobaptist to use the less sectarian term). There is therefore no need to baptize them.

Also, we probably base our different understandings on the same passage; Matt. 28:19-20. In my understanding we make disciples by baptizing and teaching. The teaching follows baptism. Of course I do not think anyone who is outside the visible church should be baptized (until they profess faith in Christ). But our understanding of the visible church is somewhat different in Paedo circles, in that we see it as being constituted of not only believers, but their children as well.

#13453 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 4:01 PM Re: Question on Baptism  

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Antikathistas said:

As a paedobaptist, I have a different understanding than you do, sir. Most people we see converted here were baptized already at some point in the past (many of them as Baptists or credobaptist to use the less sectarian term). There is therefore no need to baptize them.


Well this comes as no surprise to me, in fact I'd be disappointed if you hadn't said something. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> But as I stated this comes from my credobaptist views. Besides in the original question posed it was in regards to a person who had come to Christ not an infant born to parents already in the covenant.
Quote

Also, we probably base our different understandings on the same passage; Matt. 28:19-20. In my understanding we make disciples by baptizing and teaching. The teaching follows baptism. Of course I do not think anyone who is outside the visible church should be baptized (until they profess faith in Christ). But our understanding of the visible church is somewhat different in Paedo circles, in that we see it as being constituted of not only believers, but their children as well.


Yes I am aware of that also, how could I not be and be a member of this board? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/rofl.gif" alt="" /> But are you suggesting that a person who makes a profession of faith in Christ, but who doesn't really know what that all entails should be baptized first and then discipled, especially if they are of an age where they can be taught(as opposed to infants)?

yours,

#13454 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 4:31 PM Re: Question on Baptism  
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PrestorJohn said:

Well this comes as no surprise to me, in fact I'd be disappointed if you hadn't said something. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> But as I stated this comes from my credobaptist views. Besides in the original question posed it was in regards to a person who had come to Christ not an infant born to parents already in the covenant.


Yes, I am a paedo-baptist myself, but as you say, a discussion of credo/paedo-baptism views really wasn't the point of my question. I am specifically interested in people who come to Christ as adults and have not been baptized before. I am still not sure I made my question sufficiently clear. How far should one go to get a new Christian to be baptized when they don't have a desire too. Should you badger them every week at church about it until they relent, or should you take a more a passive approach such as explaining what the Bible teaches about it with some gentle encouragement every once in a while and then waiting until they make the decision themselves. The main reason I ask this is that I have been seeing alot of the first style at my church recently.

John

#13455 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 4:34 PM Re: Question on Baptism [Re: Pilgrim]  
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My previous church had this sort of class for people interested in becoming members. I went through it and found it to be a very valuable class. It was very nice to get a good idea about the churches beliefs before becoming a memeber.

John

#13456 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 5:54 PM Re: Question on Baptism  

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Dear PrestorJohn,

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PrestorJohn said:Well this comes as no surprise to me, in fact I'd be disappointed if you hadn't said something. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> But as I stated this comes from my credobaptist views. Besides in the original question posed it was in regards to a person who had come to Christ not an infant born to parents already in the covenant.


But a careful reading of my response will reveal that my answer was that there are very few who come to Christ in these days in the southern USA who have not previously been baptized. Whether they come from a covenant home may be in question, but they have been baptized in water in the name of the Holy Trinity. Thus we regard them as being baptized. Now the situation is quite different when I am on the mission field (where I spend about 1/4 to 1/3 of my time). There it is quite UNcommon for a convert to have been baptized previously. Still, when we baptize we baptize the entire household...we do not wait for each person in the household to be able to explain a particular level of understanding of this or that catechism. When the head of the household comes to faith in Christ, we baptize the house. Interestingly (and correctly, IMO), on the mission field in which I work it is typical to count church membership in terms of houses and not individuals.

Quote
But are you suggesting that a person who makes a profession of faith in Christ, but who doesn't really know what that all entails should be baptized first and then discipled, especially if they are of an age where they can be taught(as opposed to infants)?


I am asserting that a person who makes a profession of the true religion should be baptized if he has not previously been baptized. If they can be taught (which I am not convinced is untrue of infants, fwiw), then then should be taught before, during, and subsequent to their baptism. This is my understanding of the reformed faith.

#13457 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 6:02 PM Re: Question on Baptism [Re: john]  

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Dear John,

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john said:I am specifically interested in people who come to Christ as adults and have not been baptized before. I am still not sure I made my question sufficiently clear. How far should one go to get a new Christian to be baptized when they don't have a desire too.

If they don't have a "desire" to be baptized, then they have not professed the true religion have they?

Quote
Should you badger them every week at church about it until they relent, or should you take a more a passive approach such as explaining what the Bible teaches about it with some gentle encouragement every once in a while and then waiting until they make the decision themselves.


Of course all that we do should be with gentleness. At the same time, we in the Presbyterian faith, who follow the Westminster Standards, understand baptism to be the initiatory rite of the Christian. This implies that if they have not undergone the initiatory rite, then there is no reason to regard them as Christians in the sense of them having the privileges of church membership. The WCF refers to neglecting baptism as "a great sin." How many other great sins would the session or consistory of a church tolerate in someone who claims to profess Christianity? I am sure that there would be more than "nudging" for the person to quit living in adultery or sodomy, for example. The difficulty here is that many otherwise reformed people simply do not believe that the neglect of baptism is a great sin.

Quote
The main reason I ask this is that I have been seeing alot of the first style at my church recently.


John, I'm not sure exactly what you mean by the first style. Badgering, I guess? IMO, it is the responsibility of those whom God has set in the teaching office to teach that church privileges cannot biblically be extended to those who neglect baptism. Is that badgering?

#13458 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 6:37 PM Re: Question on Baptism  
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Antikathistas said:
If they don't have a "desire" to be baptized, then they have not professed the true religion have they?


I'm not sure I agree with this statement. I really do think that there are people who truly come to Christ and say so, but are still hesistant about baptism for a variety of reasons. In some culteres being baptized will cause great conflict within a family. I'm not defending not being baptized though. I do believe it is a command to all Christians and not being baptized for whatever reason is a sin. Also, new Christians who have very little Christian background often do not understand baptism very well and so are hesitant. I also am not 100% sure what your meaning of "professed the true religion" is, so my reply might not be entirely on the same page as your point.


Quote
Of course all that we do should be with gentleness. At the same time, we in the Presbyterian faith, who follow the Westminster Standards, understand baptism to be the initiatory rite of the Christian. This implies that if they have not undergone the initiatory rite, then there is no reason to regard them as Christians in the sense of them having the privileges of church membership. The WCF refers to neglecting baptism as "a great sin." How many other great sins would the session or consistory of a church tolerate in someone who claims to profess Christianity?


I agree with you here. I think denying church membership (as well as communion) until after baptism is correct because to not be baptized is definitely a sin that can be recognized by the church. It shows a hardness of heart, lack of submission to the will of God, and a refusal to repent. This is one of the more "passive" ways I was talking about in getting someone to be baptized.


Quote
John, I'm not sure exactly what you mean by the first style. Badgering, I guess? IMO, it is the responsibility of those whom God has set in the teaching office to teach that church privileges cannot biblically be extended to those who neglect baptism. Is that badgering?


An example of what badgering is to me is during the church service to ask all the people who have professed faith in Christ and who have not been baptized to raise their hands, and then to single them out individually in front of the congregation and make a point that they should be baptized. To me, this can be can be embarrasing/distressing for a new believer and is not very loving. Do we really want to embarrass someone in this manner into being baptized.

John

#13459 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 7:13 PM Re: Question on Baptism  
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Antikathistas said:
Still, when we baptize we baptize the entire household...we do not wait for each person in the household to be able to explain a particular level of understanding of this or that catechism.

Let me pose a hypothetical scenario for you to respond to so I might fully comprehend what you mean by this statement:

There is a "household", consisting of a man/husband/father, his wife, her mother, and 5 children. The children range in ages of 3 to 14.

Should I conclude from what you said that you would baptize ALL, i.e., each and every individual in that "household" without exception on the basis of the man's (head of the household) profession of faith in Christ? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/scratch1.gif" alt="" />

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#13460 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 8:40 PM Re: Question on Baptism [Re: john]  

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john asking to return to his first question said this:
Yes, I am a paedo-baptist myself, but as you say, a discussion of credo/paedo-baptism views really wasn't the point of my question. I am specifically interested in people who come to Christ as adults and have not been baptized before. I am still not sure I made my question sufficiently clear. How far should one go to get a new Christian to be baptized when they don't have a desire too. Should you badger them every week at church about it until they relent, or should you take a more a passive approach such as explaining what the Bible teaches about it with some gentle encouragement every once in a while and then waiting until they make the decision themselves. The main reason I ask this is that I have been seeing alot of the first style at my church recently.

John


Well John personally speaking if t'were me I would explain to the new Christian that being baptized is a command that we are to obey. That its not a grey area (there is that greek word that Pilgrim knows but I can't think of right now). If s/he has put their trust in Christ as savior and Lord then they must do this and do this quickly. If they continued to consider it an option I would seriously reconsider their profession. Now this sounds like badgering I suppose but consider this that in some countries baptism can equate to death for the person yet they still do it. This shows the seriousness of the command in my opinion.

#13461 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 8:54 PM Re: Question on Baptism  

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Antikathistas said:
But a careful reading of my response will reveal that my answer was that there are very few who come to Christ in these days in the southern USA who have not previously been baptized. Whether they come from a covenant home may be in question, but they have been baptized in water in the name of the Holy Trinity. Thus we regard them as being baptized. Now the situation is quite different when I am on the mission field (where I spend about 1/4 to 1/3 of my time). There it is quite UNcommon for a convert to have been baptized previously. Still, when we baptize we baptize the entire household...we do not wait for each person in the household to be able to explain a particular level of understanding of this or that catechism. When the head of the household comes to faith in Christ, we baptize the house. Interestingly (and correctly, IMO), on the mission field in which I work it is typical to count church membership in terms of houses and not individuals.



Wow so are you saying here that if I as the head of my household came to faith but my wife and children were still living the life of voodoo priestesses you'd baptize them too? Now this is obviously reductio ad absurdum here but I'm sure you see the implications. If I as the head of the house force my children and wife to baptized isn't that an abomination before the Lord? But if you are saying that all the members of the household professed faith and then you baptized the household under my authority as head then perhaps I can see your point. Not agree with it but at least see it.


yours,

#13462 - Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:50 PM Re: Question on Baptism  
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PrestorJohn said:
Well John personally speaking if t'were me I would explain to the new Christian that being baptized is a command that we are to obey. That its not a grey area (there is that greek word that Pilgrim knows but I can't think of right now). If s/he has put their trust in Christ as savior and Lord then they must do this and do this quickly. If they continued to consider it an option I would seriously reconsider their profession. Now this sounds like badgering I suppose but consider this that in some countries baptism can equate to death for the person yet they still do it. This shows the seriousness of the command in my opinion.


I don't consider this badgering either (as long as one is not abusive in the way you go about it). But, I don't think this is the same as the situation I provided above. I agree that even in a country where baptism could lead to death, it is still a command of God and should be obeyed. I agree that it is not a grey area at all. What I'm not 100% sure about is how much pressure you should put on the un-baptized person. I mean do you bring it up every single time you see the person until they relent just to get you off of their back? Do you single them out during a church service and hold them up for all to look down on. I'm not saying we should just let it drop completely though and not say anything about it at all. If their faith is real, I think God will eventually convict them of their stubborness and they will submit to be baptized. And I also agree that if they continually refuse to be baptized over a period of time, then I would also question whether their profession was real.

John

#13463 - Tue Apr 13, 2004 9:22 AM Re: Question on Baptism [Re: john]  

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Dear John,

There were a number of replies to my previous post, so please understand that while it is not my intention to give less attention to one than another, I may inadvertently fail to answer your question as fully as you would like. If that should be the case, ask away some more. I'll eventually get what you're asking (maybe?).

Quote
john said:
I'm not sure I agree with this statement. I really do think that there are people who truly come to Christ and say so, but are still hesistant about baptism for a variety of reasons.


I think the possibility of that being a hypocritical profession is much higher than the possiblility of it being genuine. Sure, it will likely cause persecution. All who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. It is a gospel promise.

You give an example,

Quote
In some culteres being baptized will cause great conflict within a family.


Yes, we are called to hate father and mother when that happens. This does not mean we explosively begin seeking revenge. It means, however, that we deny the world when we come to Christ.

Quote
Also, new Christians who have very little Christian background often do not understand baptism very well and so are hesitant. I also am not 100% sure what your meaning of "professed the true religion" is, so my reply might not be entirely on the same page as your point.


Perhaps the reason "new Christians" don't understand baptism is that they heard a very truncated and thus incomplete version of the gospel. It is impossible to explain the gospel message in 25 words or less, even though many ministers claim they are doing so, rack up a bunch of decisions, and make virtually zero difference in the lives of their hearers (except perhaps to make them twofold the children of hell as themselves). Even in the very short presentation of the gospel message in Acts chapter 2, Peter exhorted his hearers that they must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (i.e. because of the remission of sins, not in order to the remission of sins). No optional "add-on," baptism is part and parcel of the gospel mandate (Matt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15-16; etc).

Quote
An example of what badgering is to me is during the church service to ask all the people who have professed faith in Christ and who have not been baptized to raise their hands, and then to single them out individually in front of the congregation and make a point that they should be baptized. To me, this can be can be embarrasing/distressing for a new believer and is not very loving. Do we really want to embarrass someone in this manner into being baptized.


I've never seen that happen, John. Guess I live a "sheltered" life. But, like you, I would find that action to be shocking and unacceptable.

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