Friday, December 09, 2005

More Discussion on the IMB and Baptism

I am thankful that Joe over at the The Joseph Kennedy Experiment took me up on my offer to give me his two cents on this IMB decision. I want to publicly apologize for my tone in my original post. It was unduly snarky and it didn't give him the benefit of the doubt. I regret my tone. It was unfair.

Joe and I basically agree on the tongues issue in that we believe that it should be taken before the SBC as a convention. They should not have made this decision without a precident, and I do not believe that they have the support for this that they think they have. I know many open but cautious types in the SBC, and I myself am one of them. (I should say paranoid-like cautious.)

Joe challenged me to read this statement again, and the more I read this, the more I dislike it. You already know what I think about the tongues decision. Now I am finding the last line of the statement particularly vexing. Here it is:

Also, the baptism must not be viewed as sacramental or regenerative

This is where we need to examine what they are saying. Up until this line, I am in the Amen Corner. What, exactly, do they mean by this? Do they mean that the person must not currently view baptism as sacramental or regenerative? Or do they mean that they could not have been administered a immersive baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit after a profession of faith if they believed at that time it was a sacrament? Does that make it an illegitimate baptism? Does it make them non-Christian? And what do they mean by sacrament? Are we going to have to have the Donatist/Augustinian debate again? What did the Reformers think coming out of Roman Catholicism?

All of these things can be avoided by omitting that one part of the sentence. Or, at least by clarifying it.


jnewman said...

I'm with you Sojourner in Cajun country! Keep on going with the statement though. All is on target with the 5 numbered items in the policy but then you reach the additions that follow. The one most troubling to me is, "and the church must embrace the doctrine of the security of the believer."

As important as this doctrine is, and loved among the SBC, and though few candidates may actually be affected by it, it is extra-biblical qualification to attach to validate baptism. My contention is this. If the trustees are concerned with doctrinal clarity, they are not helped by making extra-biblical policies. The baptizing church's stand on eternal security does not guarantee the candidate's position is the same. The candidate's position on the matter is covered clearly by the BFM. If the trustees are aware of some growing problem with candidates' view of eternal security, it should be dealt with in some direct manner that doesn't confuse it with their baptism.

Sojourner said...

I commented on this at another blog, but I can't find where to requote myself. Let me try to say it again.

The sentence in question is this:

Also, the baptism must not be viewed as sacramental or regenrative, and the church must embrace the doctrine of the security of believer.

On the second half of the quote, I was trying to give the IMB the benefit of the doubt. I read it as meaning that the church that they were coming from must believe in the doctrine of the security of the believer. That is, their current church. If it means that, it is poorly, poorly worded. The reason I read it like the first time is because I cannot imagine someone's baptism being invalidated because the administering church believed that one could lose their salvation. This whole thing seems to be ad hoc and just unwisely done. I am extremely dissappointed.

joe kennedy said...

I'm definitely going to over-read into that quote about sacraments when I say this, but it leads me to ask...

Who, in particular, do they want to "not view" the baptism as sacramental or regenerative?

If it's the candidate, that's not going to be a problem, because he or she is already a Southern Baptist and has agreed to the BFM. It's highly unlikely they even passed the paperwork part if they did. And even more unlikely that if they lied up to that point, they'd admit it in front of the committees.

But if it's the people who baptized that person, or were present, when the baptism was viewed as sacramental or regenerative, then, I can see why they would want a re-baptism. That re-baptism would be a signal of "good" theology to those who originally baptized. That almost sounds like saying, "our baptism is right, and we're going to make you renounce publicly those who baptized you before."

And yeah, I'm just anti-establishment to consider that thought, but I'm not so paranoid to seriously believe it, yet. I told you I was going to read WAY into it.

centuri0n said...

They mean that one cannot see baptism are inherently changing the nature of the soul. However, their use of the word sacrament here is too loose for their own good.