Should a minister who has never been scripturaly baptized himself, be able to administer the ordinance?
In today's world of anything goes Christianity, the subject of what is Scripturaly Required for ordinances to be Valid comes into play. This is just the tip of the iceberg really and is a starting point from which we may understand how important is it to follow the Bible if we are to be the true Christians and Church that we are striving to be.
Conversation in a Bookstore
I met two men one day in a Christian Bookstore and a strange conversation ensued.
One Man had invited me to a Bible Study at his Church School where they would be discussing evangelism and Church planting and growth projects... he thought that I might like to meet some of the other ministers that would be there.. some of whom also speak English.
The Other man who was at a nearby bookshelf butted into the conversation and told me something like..."Better beware of that crowd... they are "C of C and believe in Baptismal Regeneration".
Now I am not unaware of what some of the other Churches are about... and I am quite aware of the fact that some Churches (Especially Ana-Baptist type) do not have a central government that determines what is preached in each congregation.
Therefore... with a little bit of knowlege reguarding CofC as a Church that has different factions that teach different beliefs, I asked the first man plainly... "What does your Church teach about Baptism? Is it a Requirement for Salvation?" To which he responded that "The thief on the cross next to Jesus was never Baptised... but Jesus saved him" An Answer that I accept usually as proof enough that the person is NOT a believer in Baptismal Regeneration.
So with that in mind and set aside for the moment... I talked with the other man some more... He was telling me about his Missionary Career and about how he planted Churches but at every point he kept trying to show me that Baptism was not necessary to salvation. In some points he would even start to sound rather Pentacostalish by the way he would "Spiritualize Baptism" by confusing the Water Baptism ordinance with the filling of the Holy Spirit.
While I am usually fairly quiet in such "Debates"... I tend to be rather quiet and just ask questions to see what people answer... allow them to declare what they truly believe with their own mouths.
After he had sufficiently declared his opposition to baptism as a necessary ordinance in todays Churches, I stopped him for a moment and just asked him plainly... "Sir... Do you Baptize in your Churches? By Sprinkling, by Aspersion or By Immersion? Do you Baptize new Believers with water at all?" To which he just stopped and said... "uhh...No".
I Asked him then... "Sir.. I just have one other question... Have you yourself ever been Scripturaly Baptized"
The Answer to which was again... a short Pause and the answer I knew was coming... he just said "No".
Now I thought that it was fairly plain why that he did not believe in performing Baptism... for him to do so would be hypocrisy. How could he teach the Ordinance Properly if he himself had never submitted his own will to Christ, (and the Church) in the way that the Bible taught.
The Precept in the Bible is clear: We as ministers are to "Go and teach... Baptize... teach them all things" that we were taught about Christ (Matthew 28:19-20)
Needless to say that he quickly drifted away at that point and wandered on out the store... His cover was removed... His folly was open and easily viewed by anyone who had heard the conversation and although he knew the foolishness of his contention, I doubt that he will ever change his opinions about Baptism... he has several Churches that he has allready started down that road of heresy.. and it would take a great amount of Humility to swallow the pride and reform not only himself... but needing to confess his sin to the the Churches that he has started off down the wrong path.
While that episode gave me some things to ponder... I set the whole thing aside and called it an oddity... did not think that sort of thing happened very often.. Just an isolated event... Right???Then the other day I was in one of the social networking sites and someone posted something about a book that was over a hundred years old... and since old books sometimes have great nuggets of gold hidden in them... I went to see If I could find something online by that author. What I found was a book from the late 1800's on the beliefs and discussions of the Landmark Baptist Churches in that time... The book titled "Old Landmarkism: what is it?" by J.R. Graves was written in that time to express concern for what was seen as an infectious problem in the Baptist Churches of that time period. One of the first things I noticed upon reading the Preface was that his concerns started with the problem of Ministers who themselves had never been Scripturaly Baptized being called upon to minister in Churches and in turn to perform Baptisms to the new converts in those Churches.
In his day he witnessed (at the Baptism of his own Mother and siblings) what he called a Pedobaptist minister administering several baptisms in as many different ways... The following is taken from the Preface of the book "Landmarkism" by J.R. GRAVES
...in 1832, upon witnessing the immersion of my mother and sister by a Pedobaptist minister, and the plunging of another subject face forward as he knelt in the water, and the pouring water upon another while kneeling in the water, the sprinkling it upon another in the same position, and the sprinkling upon several others while standing on the banks of the stream, and yet others out of a pitcher in the meeting-house. Those different acts for "one baptism" made an indelible impression, and the more so because the administrator seemed to he in ill humor when he immersed, and dipped his hand in water and laid it upon the heads of the candidates he immersed while he repeated the formula! The questions started were: "If he did not believe in immersion, was the act at his hands valid? If ‘what is not of faith is sin,’could his sin be an act acceptable to God?"
In these words written almost two centuries ago I found the heart felt convictions of another minister who looked at the practices of his day... and asked the obvious questions: Is this Biblical? Where is God in all of this? What should we do? How can we restore the Biblical Way to our Churches? Is it even possible to reform this mess?
Then of course there are the others... who would look at the whole Bapstism issue and either say "It does not matter." or draw the conclusion (like the man in the bookstore) that the Ordinance of Baptism is like an unnecessary Appendage of tradition that the Churches of today have outgrown.
What... on earth... are we to believe.... or receive... in this last generation of Christianity.
While I am indeed a Baptist... and fully believe that if it is not "Sola Scriptura" which means the Bible alone that determines all of our beliefs and dictates our practice. I also do not deny that it is only The Word of God which is capable of bringing a person to the point of Salvation. Any Person who has received the gift of Eternal Life that Jesus offered has done so only by hearing the Word of God and by placing faith in that word... Regardless of who it was that told them about that word.
In other words... if an atheist picked up Gideon's bible in a hospital at the request of an ailing parent... and started to read it out loud... If that reading of the Word of God was accepted by that person on their deathbed and that person then bowed their head and said "God... I'm a sinner... I know your word is true... Please forgive me and save me"... It would not have mattered at all that the person reading the word was an atheist. God's Word would not return void... and Salvation is the Gift of God, and not man.
Likewise It is my belief (and this belief may be quite different from that of Pr Graves) that Baptism is a matter of "Submission" to God's ordained plan, on the part of the Recipient as much as it is also a matter of Submission to God's plans on the Part of the Ministers who were given the example of how to perform the ordinance properly... some of which are not so inclined however to follow through with properly.
I recently had the opportunity at a family birthday party of a person who comes to our church now and then... to talk with a few pastors of a major Protestant religion. The subject of Church Government was talked about... and the subjects of the authority to Ordain Pastors, and also the method of Baptism came up as a result... and to my surprise these men, Schooled in Protestant Seminaries at the hands of other Protestants,,, while still performing Baptism by the wrong methods (Sprinkling and or Aspersion etc) had more convictions about the fact that they knew it was wrong.. than many so called Baptists that fill the pulpits today.
These men not only knew the scriptures regarding Baptism... that the very word means Immersion and that studied in context there is no place in the bible where Sprinkling or Aspersion is even taught or hinted at... But they also had a not so small problem.
They were Ordained and are under the employ of a Major Denomination... and they have no power to change the Ordinances of the Church they are in... or in fact to preach about that which they feel led to... Because they are under an authority that is not the biblical Church Government authority.
Doing that which is right in the eyes of God is never easy or comfortable.
The fact is that following God ALWAYS carries a high price tag... sometimes it will mean the loss of income, sometimes the loss of friends and or family.. this is why Jesus said in Mark 10:
Mark 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,
30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
But is all hope lost? is there nothing a person can do if they find that the way in which they have always done it.. .is wrong?
No... all hope is not lost...
Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
It will never be easy to do those things which you know that you need to do.
In the case of one such minister that I never met... When he came to this cross roads on Baptism with his own congregation of a Protestant Church he went to the church body with his conclusions and found sympathy in the congregation as a whole. This "Protestant" Congregation was a congregation of people who had spent years silently praying about this situation and with broken hearts asking the Lord what should be done... When that minister talked to the congregation that day a change happened among the people... (Some left of course...) But the majority came to the side of that pastor and wanted that the Church perform the Baptisms in the way prescribed by the bible... The Church then underwent a time of transformation... and Revival. To this day the Church still has some people that retained only their original Pedobaptism... but many others who have since come forward and been Scripturaly Baptized. The woman who told me of this transformation was one of the most sincere and active Christian elders I have had the pleasure to meet in recent history.
I want to encourage you today dear fellow Christian... If you know something is not right in your Church... make it a matter of prayer.
If the Lord leads you to bring it to the attention of your pastor, or to the deacons and elders, then do so. If as a result of this you find your self on the Outside of the Fellowship... then take heart... look up.. and keep the faith.
Ask the Lord where he would have you go to now... and what he would have you do.
Many men and women have been down this road before... you are not alone.
Jesus promised that he will never leave you, nor forsake you if you are following him... so please dear Brother/Sister... FOLLOW.
While it may be benefitial to write at this point a treatise on Baptism and study why I believe the only Scriptural Method to be by Immersion... there are plenty of other Hubs to discuss this right here in Hub pages... You may also view my article http://mrmaranatha.hubpages.com/hub/The-Importance-of-Christian-Baptism
That deals specifically with this subject in more detail.