Ethics: Baptism by Pouring-Joining a Baptist Church

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What would you do Wednesday!

The following scenario takes place in a Baptist church. However, non-Baptists may give share their perspective too. The situation has to do with new members being brought before a local Baptist congregation for membership affirmation.

The congregation is gathered and five new members and one family are being affirmed. The first two have all ready been introduced, gave their testimonies and were accepted into membership. The to be affirmed is a family of three. They are introduced and stand up to give a brief testimony.

They moved from a town an hour away where they attended ABC Baptist church. The wife explains how sad they were that they had to leave ABC, especially, since that is where she and their 10 year old son were baptized.

Once the wife is finished her husband then shares a brief testimony. As he finishes, one curious church member has a question so she raises her hand.

“Where you also baptized at ABC Baptist?” she asks excitedly, “How neat it would be if the whole family were baptized in the same church!”

The man answered, “Unfortunately, I was not. I was baptized 20 years ago when I was 15 at XYZ Methodist church. They poured water over me in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit upon my profession of faith.”

At that moment the pastor’s heart grew heavy. He realized that he unintentionally never asked about this man’s baptism. He assumed that the whole family had been baptized at ABC Baptist church.

The pastor stands and makes a motion to postpone affirming this family into membership at this time. He suggests that it is time  to hear from the two other membership candidates who are waiting.

What would you do?

  • Affirm the pastor’s motion?
  • Ask for affirmation anyway?
  • Move to affirm just the wife and son?
  • Or…?
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tagged as , in Culture,morality

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jim De Arras September 14, 2011 at 10:47 am

Affirm the pastor’s motion

2 Josh C September 14, 2011 at 11:06 am

Patience is a virtue for a reason. I definitely wouldn’t want to see an up-or-down vote on the family (with a big possibility of their being rejected for membership, at least the dad, in most churches I have been in) done with new information coming to light during the meeting itself. It isn’t fair to the congregation or the family to make a rushed decision at that point.

The practical side of me would want to go ahead and affirm the son and mom immediately and deal with the father after discussions have been made. But, say the leadership of the church (or the by-laws themselves) will in no way accept the father’s baptism and the father refuses immersion, it would be pointless to accept the son and mother into membership until that issue is resolved, as they may immediately be finding another fellowship. Better to wait and discuss the options with the family as a whole even though an immediate vote would be more efficient business-wise.

3 Micah Burke September 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Rebaptize them since the first one “didn’t take”, or maybe because it “wasn’t a true profession” or some other unbiblical reason.

4 Darrin September 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Ask the father if he might prefer taking the family to the Methodist church down the street, since they probably have essentially the same doctrine as this one, but may not be as dogmatic about the proper mode.
Except in the unlikely event that the family is Reformed – then refer them to the PCA, which will accept members baptized by either method, and even whether infants or professors at the time.

5 Steve Martin September 14, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Well…since God is the One who actually does the Baptizing, I would say “Well…you have already been Baptized and once is enough if we trust God’s Word in that Baptism. Welcome to ABC Baptist!”

6 Mark September 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

Jim and Josh, I too would rather wait and work the issue out considering that this is a Baptist church which does subscribe to a particular understanding of baptism.

Darrin, I’m not sure I would offer them the exit door. 🙂

Micah, would you’re answer have been the same nine months ago when you were Baptist?

Steve Martin, I suppose that since God is the One who baptizes then why bother using water at all? Or are you saying that God baptizes through our physical act of baptism?

7 brig September 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm

It’s best to postpone in this case and note that the profession is credible, but the pastor ought to instruct the family in private in regards to the Baptist view of baptism and membership.

It’s understandable that from the Presbyterian view there are no “hoops” to jump through, it’s not really fair since the family is already committed in spirit to a local body that they have no doctrinal qualms with. Only should the issue of his former baptism prove to cause significant friction should he be recommended to another body.

8 Carl Holland September 17, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Brig, I think you have the most complete answer. Unfortunately it falls into church politics. Having been raised Baptist and Methodist, I have a perspective from each, but what the Word of God says trumps any denominational doctrine or dogma. Yes, we are supposed to follow Jesus’ example of water baptism, but the act of baptism does not save you. If it did, then it would be adding a work to the grace through faith which does save us. The Baptist denomination tends to be very heavy on legalism, despite its own teachings against it. I was attending a Baptist church not long ago and was basically run out because my wife and I dared to want to start a food ministry through the church… gasp! We were already finding food sources on our own to feed the poor literally under the shadow of their steeple, even though it was way out of our way and most of the others could walk to church. We just wanted to formalize it and get the support of the country club… I mean church. I was called there by the interim pastor who has been my discipler for seveal years. They have now run him off and rejected the pastor that was actually called by God to be their full time pastor. Legalism and thinking/acting in the flesh will destroy a church and ruin their reputation. I am now attending a non-denominational fellowship that is using the Word as our guide, not the doctrines and dogma of men, and doing our best to live out the life Christ has called us to. Many of the other attendees have been run out of legalistic churches, as well, for daring to hold up the Word and question the “leadership.”

9 Luther November 28, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I would despair at the requirements of my church over issues that are not clear in Scripture, and leave and go elsewhere, where profession of faith in Christ as Lord is more important than following man’s predications.

10 Rebecca March 10, 2013 at 10:57 pm

I am so glad I have seen this. I grew up Methodis, and was baptized as a baby. I consider it still a baptism, and have also looked the the Bible as the fact that baptism is not your saving grace. My husband is Baptist. We had went to his old Baptist church for awhile until I was told that the only way I could become a member was to “denounce my entire Methodist ways”. We have since found a new wonderful Baptist Church, but are hesitant in joining – I refuse to be baptized again. We plan on talking to the Pastor once we confirm our choice to make this church our home.

Is this the policy of every Baptist church?

11 Mark March 11, 2013 at 9:21 am

Hi Rebecca, I’m not sure if what you ask is the policy over every Baptist church, but I guess that it is. The reason is because you would still be considered unbaptized in a Baptist church. Baptists consider baptism to be administered only to professing believers in Christ.

12 John May 22, 2015 at 4:15 pm

It makes sense that a Baptist church would be very particular about baptism lol! To them it symbolizes not only scripture requirements but also to show others you’ve been baptized. No where in the bible is a person required to be baptized twice. If you are joining a Baptist church you accept their belief in the matter. Why would you join if you didn’t?

For the record, I do not share the Baptist viewpoint. I can find no place in the bible that says baptism is essential for salvation or that it is required to join a church.

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