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another great post. you just keep them flowing. i have really learned a lot on this site. thanks.


ps. i am typing with sticky hands....eating some of my christmas chocolate.



Thank you for your words. I have been thinking alot about this over the past several days. I simply am at a loss about what seems to me as what can only be called a skewed reading of our history.

I am no historian, I'll be the first to admit. But when I check on some of the evidences I hear coming from some of these guys, it stands much too selective to be of any good use.

Grace today. With that, I am...


p.s. "stickiness is next to godliness" I've been told...

cb scott


Excellent work. I think heeding to the thoughts of an English Baptist historian is also important when considering creeds and confessions.

W.T. Whitley stated: "Baptist are always restive when asked to signify their adherence to any confession as though it were standard."

He went on to say of Baptist: "If a later generation finds that it does not agree with its predecessors, whether in content or in emphasis, it has openly revisited and re-stated what it does believe or it has discarded the old confession and framed another."

With this in mind, let us consider the fact that even the First London Baptist Confession (1644) was, in 1646 "corrected and enlarged" according to Benjamin Cox, for a need to do so was very evident. Later it was visited again with changes.

Through the years confessions, catechisms, and creeds have been "corrected and enlarged" as the need or "perceived" need has arisen.

Of course, the true "creed" of Baptist has always been the Scripture. You have well stated the biblical truth of the Lord's Supper and Baptism.

That it was Dagg you used or any other work is not that important. (I realize you know this)

The important thing is that we must agree with Scripture in all things of faith and practice.

Jesus did mandate Baptism, and all things He commanded, to the church in the Great Commission. Thus presenting the commission and authority to the local church(visible at the time) to be the administrator of both Baptism and the Lord's Supper as a symbol and testimony to the church catholic and the world-at-large that those that receive such are related, by spiritual birth, to God the Father through the salvic work of God the Son.

Many things are revealed in the symbolism of both ordinances far beyond what I state here.

My point is that you have done well to present the biblical position as to the identity of the administrator and delegated authority of both ordinances.

For that I thank you.


Jonathan K.


This is my first comment in your blog. I was referred by Pastor Tim Cowin, a new friend in the faith to me, since both Pastor Tim and I are from St. Louis.

I applaud and commend your historical scholarship of water baptism in the Baptist denomination, your research is very thorough and well done. However, I do have one main concern, which I will phrase as a question:

Why should we take Baptist history, and form our theology on the basis of it, rather than on "sola scriptura," the basis of the Word of God, the Scriptures, alone???

I only ask this because while I see good historical documentation for the argument that baptism is an initiatory rite, I see no Scripture in your post about that.

I would also ask you about several of the baptisms documented in the Scriptures, where those who were baptized were not immediately identified with a local church. Two cases in point would be the Ethiopian in Acts 8, and the Gentiles in Acts 10. There is no discussion in the Scripture of how THEIR baptisms were entrances into a local church community, esp. for the Ethiopian, who simply went his way rejoicing, when his baptizer, Phillip, was transported away by the Holy Spirit. What do you think about these instances, in light of your historical view?


Ya know something, Peter? I find this incredible that we are even discussing this. It all seems so simple to me. You must be born again. Unless you are born of the water and the Spirit you can't enter the kingdom of God. When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, they went about doing what Jesus told them to do...going everywhere, baptizing & teaching.

I think you did a great job explaining the history of Baptists baptizing. (I'm no expert though.) And I think Brad did a superb job detailing baptism, the theology, etc. of it all.

In my humble opinion, most every reader of this blog is well-versed in the scriptures which support your post of this ordinance. And for you to have to cite every reference to validate what you clearly and simply just said would be rather like reading Handel's Messiah note by note to Handel himself, don't ya think?

Maybe I'm so simple-minded I cannot see it any other way than simply as it is. Can you tell me exactly where the fork is in the road on this issue? Who needs reassurance? For what reason? Does someone who is not a Baptist want to be called a Baptist without being a baptized Baptist?
Help me out here. SelahV

Michael Westmoreland-White

What do you mean by saying that Baptists have always understood baptism and the Lord's Supper the same way? That doesn't seem right. The earliest Baptists, the General Baptists, baptized by effusion rather than full immersion. The latter wasn't recovered by Baptists until the arrival of the Particular Baptists in 1641--30 years later.

British Baptists have largely retained the language of "sacrament," whereas Baptists in North America use the language of "ordinance."

One way to track the many different views Baptists have had on Baptism alone would be to check out major books on the subject: Compare George R. Beasley-Murray's Baptism in the New Testament; Dale Moody's Baptism: Foundation for Christian Unity; Warren Carr's The Drama of Salvation; Paul Fiddes, Reflections on the Water;Anthony Cross, Baptism and the Baptists: Theology and Practice in Twentieth Century Britain; Stanley K. Fowler, More Than a Symbol: The British Baptist Recovery of Baptismal Sacramentalism. One could easily show as much diversity about the Supper: Symbol or sacrament; closed to all but members of the local congregation or to all but other Baptists? Open to all Christians? To any who will partake? Held quarterly, monthly or weekly? Common loaf or little wafer? Real wine or grape juice?

In short, Baptists are at least as all over the map on the ordinances as on anything else.



Thank you for the encouragement, my Brother. And also the insightful comment you offer. Grace. With that, I am...




Welcome, my Brother. Thank you for your interest. First, there of course, are no Scripture in the post because the post was not intended to be Biblical exposition.

In a similar note, I would place the same concerns as you seem to imply by building one's theology on what either has been the case or on "confessions of others" rather than Scripture.

However, while the Church's theology is not final, surely it is not to be ignored either. We do not do theology in a vacumm.

Given that, Baptists generally employ their past descriptively not prescriptively. And, when we're discussing exactly how to identify who we have been as Baptists and who we should be now, considering our past becomes imperative. I should think that applies whether one is Baptist, Nazarene, Methodist, etc.

I will consider the two examples you offer further, Jonarhan, in Acts 8, 10. Iniatially, I find no real challenge in them to the ordinances being an institution of the visible church. Acts--virtually all NT scholars agree--was transistional in nature as the young church was birthed. Being so, it is not surprising we find several incidents that did not seem to become the normal practice for the pristine church, beginning with the little "socialist" experiment in Acts 4.

In addition, Acts being a narrative genre of Biblical literature, while surely we cannot say there is nothing for us to learn about Baptism in Acts 8 & 10, we must be cautious in what we affirm is definitively there.

Personally, I would be reluctant in building a doctrinal construct on a couple of passages in an historical narrative without also some definitive passages in say, the epistles. That's just me. Others may not.

Thanks again, Jonathan for dropping by. Grace. With that, I am...




Greetings. I trust your Christmas gracious. Actually, I did not know I spoke in such strong language, Michael: "Baptists have always understood baptism and the Lord's Supper the same way" Did I say that?

I did say, Michael, what's "virtually universal is Baptists' understanding of church ordinances..." But I went on to qualify precisely what I was saying, even offering exceptions, etc.

As for Baptist roots, you are much more aware than I, but there are at least four theories that contend for the honor, with some overlap between them. I am also aware of the "effusion"--believer's , of course--practise, but to place immersion in 1640's rather than 1620's may need a trip back to Shurden.

Finally, to suggest that Baptists have "been all over the map on ordinances" as "anything else," I should think, nicely qualifies us to rid ourselves of the Baptist name entirely.
No one disputes diversity, Michael--especially for a body that embraces the priesthood of believers.
But I see unity as well. And, from my reading of the confessional documents, there is more unity than diversity.

Have a great day, Michael. With that, I am...


cb scott

Jonathan K.,

It truly does amaze me that you would ask Peter about Scripture alone when the very foundation of your entire Five-Fold theology is founded in a poor hermemeutic of Eph. 4:11-14 at best.

Your theology places more authority in the "prophetic interpretations" of "so called" contemporary apostles and prophets than "Sola Scriptura".

Five-Fold ministries is nothing more than a Neo-Montanist position which has invaded mainline Pentacostalism to its detriment.

For your own sake and the sake of those your may influence begin to study both Systematic and Biblical theology. Renew yourself in the Scripture with an open mind without superimposing extra-biblical "experiences" upon what you read and ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you to the truth of God without the "trappings" of vain men and their worthless philosophies.

Enter into conversations with good pastors of mainline Pentacostal churches if you wish or seek a conservative Southern Baptist that has proper theological training and the spiritual gift of the pastor-teacher.

Take heed and flee this thing that has entrapped you, brother and let Christ free your mind and soul.



I feel like I'm reading one side of a coversation. Has this carried over from another blog and if so can someone direct me to that blog?


I've found it. Now I have a lot of reading to do.

Steve Grose

Excellent post,
Salient and concise.


i wonder if those who feel that its ok for any christian to baptize someone anywhere at anytime, think the same way about the Lord's Supper? you know, would a bunch of friends on a camping trip be ok in taking the Lords Supper with cookies and pepsi? or, would a mother be ok in observing the Lords Supper with her children?

just wondering.


Jonathan K.


Thanks for your comments. I'm going to respond to a few of them. First, I do believe water baptism is a church ordinance. I think most Christians (Baptists or otherwise) would agree with that. What I have an issue with is whether baptism is an initiatory rite into the local church, as you, along with Dr. Brad Reynolds, and others, teach.

I've never heard of this "transitional" doctrine, which you mentioned. Where did you get that from?

Also, you mentioned a "socialist experiment" in Acts 4. Where does that come from as well?


Now you definitely will be receiving private e-mail concerning this. I will openly respond to you here, though.

You know very little about my actual theology, as I will discuss in an e-mail privately to you. You make a lot of accusations here, and your understanding is faulty at best, and ignorant at worst. Thanks.


So it seems like there are two separate points being discussed here 1) Who has the authority to baptize and 2) Is Baptism really meant to be an initiation into a local body of believers. I'm certainly open to correction if I've interpreted wrongly or over simplified. So I think I pretty much agree that Baptism is to be done under the authority of a church. I do not believe that as a member of the "Universal" church that I have the authority to baptize kids in my pool on a hot summer day. But I'm not sure I'm understanding the idea that it is ok to say it is an initiation into the local church. What if my Pastor is out camping, leads a fellow camper to the Lord and that camper wants to be baptized immediately in front of everyone at the camp ground. Would that be wrong? My Pastor is an authority of a church, the baptism is public. Isn't this what Philip did? The Eunuch (sp) didn't become a member of the church that Philip was from. As a practical matter churches have to have criteria for membership and I think saying if you haven't been baptized or if the baptizism took place under cicumstances that don't line up with what the church believes than you should be baptized to become a member. OK I'm rambling, hopefully someone can figure out what I'm saying LOL!



I have found your writing edifying and informative, thanks.

I find it troublesome that many churches feel the need to baptize immediately, and this may answer your question, Mary. I believe the pastor on the campout would be less than prudent at best to baptize the new convert in the woods. Given that to baptize immediately upon profession IS NOT a directive commanded in Scripture, and given the current state of the membership of our Baptist churches, it would be wise to heed Bunyan's advice on how to maintain regenerate church membership:

1) Introduce to the minister anyone who endeavors to ascertain whether there is an earnest desire to flee from the wrath to come. Here, they must exhibit sincere repentance (are they turning from known sin?); and, do they have a faith in Christ in personal manner- He is their only hope?
2) If they pass this test, then the minister mentions the candidate to the church. From here, visitors are appointed, deacons, to encourage the young convert and visit him, and scrutinize him to his moral character; then, follow-up to see if conversion has taken place.
3) If repentance and faith is evidenced, the candidate is invited to a meeting, and the church hears his testimony. If they believe his testimony, they admit him into membership. (I do not know the source of this quote from Bunyan, so consider it internet fodder until you want to prove its existence).

It would seem fitting to baptize the convert in order to admit him into membership. It is more than slightly troubling, as has been pointed out in various ways in the fantastic observations of our own Nathan Finn in his "ailing SBC" series, and in the writings of Hammett and Wills on Baptist history, that Baptists are failing to maintain the primary distinctive which has always set them apart from the religious and aligned with the Bible- regenerate church membership.

I do have one question for the panel: If we align the ordinances with the universal church, why do we not see universal church discipline?


the biblical example that we have is phillip baptizing the ethiopian eunuch immediately. paul baptized the philippian jailer and his whole house immediately.

i guess i would have to disagree with bunyan based on the bible's examples.


cb scott


Great comment and the closing question is gold.


You have stated your desire to "influence" Southern Baptist as to your theology "openly" on many blogs of late. Why is it, now, that someone as "ignorant" as I engages you, openly, you feel the great need to respond in a "private email"?

My ethics will prohibit me from publishing the contents of such an email and you know that due to the fact that you probably have the same ethic about emails.

Due to the fact that your goal is to "influence" Southern Baptists relating to "our" theological debates one would think you would welcome the opportunity to put an "ignorant" Southern Baptist such as I am in his proper "unenlightened" place, thus enhancing your position as an "influence" to other Southern Baptists.

On the other hand, could your desire for our dialogue to become private be due to you not being as confident as you would like us to believe that I am "ignorant" of Five-Fold theology and apostoles, prophets, set-men, church structure, authority and various other concepts that have been showered by the "Latter Rain".

Well, be it as it may, openly or in private, let us draw swords and strike iron, for iron does sharpen iron and the wounds of a friend is good.

I await your email and I will not publish it, but I most certainly will answer in all my "ignorance" and upon that you can be assured.

In all honesty we should take this away from the blogs of other people. Your emails will be private, but I do intend to post relating to the weak theology of Five-Fold Ministries.




Thank you for dropping by and leaving such a warm trail. Grace.


Sometimes it is difficult to be a Baptist--especailly when we tend to create issues where there seemingly are none.

And, as much as I enjoy my Brothers & Sisters in Christ of other persuasions, with you, I cannot accept the tactics of those who raid our barnyard and cook our chickens.


Thanks for your repsonse, my Brother. First, I do understand your reluctance about the terminology about "initiation rite." But surely we agree that Baptism & The Supper cannot be understood apart from the larger question of a developed NT ecclesiology. Did you yourself not state "First, I do believe water baptism is a church ordinance."? Personally, Jonathan, once you made that statement, all important ground for my position, appears to me at least, to be conceded.

Second, I regret I was not more clear about my careless statement. I wrote:"Acts--virtually all NT scholars agree--was transistional in nature as the young church was birthed."

And while that is perfectly true in and of itself, I think, the "transitional" principle is not a doctrine, but a hermeneutical principle that assists us in interpreting Scripture in consistent and responsible ways.

As for the "socialist" experiment I alluded to in Acts 4, note the "having all things is common", selling off property and "laying it all down at that Apostles feet", etc etc.

Personally, I do not think we would get too many takers today if we pushed for a sort of "Christian Socialism" to the exclusion of all private property.

My point being, Jonathan, we do well, I think anyway, to gain our understanding of the Church and her ordinances employing a full sweep of the NT on it rather than understand it based on a couple of incidents (Acts 8, 10) in the pristine Church.


Thanks for your participation here. I'm also glad you and Jonathan will be having a conversation on some other matters. I trust it will be fruitful for both of you...


Thanks for stopping by and your warm encouragement to me. And, I also appreciate your solid committment to discipling those who seek to surrender themselves to our Lord's reign.

With CB, I think your rhetorical question at the end of your comment is gold: who indeed would "administer" the ordinance of disipline in the universal body?


As always, you are welcome. I think you have a point about baptism quickly.

The Apostles made haste to do so on Pentecost as well as a host of other places as you point out.

Yet, I think Colin's use of Bunyan is not at all out of the question. Surely we could argue context could make a difference. In addition, the immediacy of ceremonial Baptism in Acts no one would question, from my view,

I would understand the timing of Baptism in similar fashion as I did Jonathan's examples he offered. That is, since no explicit instructions were left us about when to Baptize believers, it seems that could be left up to us.

Our chief concern, it seems to me, would be to insure, as much as possible, that the candidate bears a credible testimony to his/her faith in Jesus Christ.

Perhaps it is sooner for some than others. Personally, I think each Church works that out as they honor our Lord and His followers.

Grace to all of you. A delightful conversation. With that, I am...



CB: is five-fold ministry the same as Five-point Calvinism? What are the five folds? Is something inside each fold? Like a.b.c.d.e.f. in an outline? I've found that each point in the 5-points is pointed in such a way that one must start from the tip and follow the V downward in order to find out what the point is in the theology of it all. Thanks in advance. selahV

cb scott


I will debate the issues of the Five-Fold ministries no more on this blog, for this is Peter's blog and I think my methods of debate are too much the ways of a "dog of war" and not the ways of a Noble Knight and gentleman as is Peter, in all things, I have read of him.

He granted me grace in not deleting my original comment and went the second mile with my next comment on the subject. Grace seems to be a major virtue and gift with Peter.

Therefore, I will take my leave on the subject, here, and thank him for his grace toward me. I hope to comment here again,but on other matters, if permitted.

I will answer your question relating to any similarity between the "Tulip" and the "5-Fold". There is none. They are as far apart as is the west from the east and never shall the "twain" meet.


Jonathan K.

Bro. CB,

Again, I openly apologize for calling you "ignorant" about anything here. Mea culpa, I'm very sorry... it was a slip. :)

I will say openly that the reason why I wish certain dialogue to become private is because I believe the two of us need to pow-wow via e-mail, and discuss how we define some of the terms we use. These discussions can get rather technical, and I believe we even have different definitions for what it means to be "five-fold," as I've said on other blogs in response to you. It has nothing to do with me being not confident in your ability to articulate your knowledge of "five-fold" ministry.


I see a distinction between a church ordinance and an initiatory rite. I think it depends on how we define "church ordinance." I define that simply as something that is administered by the church. That's all. One of the things that I DO look at it is the pattern developed in the Scripture. I ask the question, "Was water baptism an initiatory rite in the Book of Acts?" To me, the answer to that question is no, and thus it is not an initiatory rite.

Peter, regarding the "transitional" period issue, I do not see that in my own hermeneutics. Maybe that is "bad hermeneutics," but I've never been taught to treat the church during the Book of Acts like that. I've always been taught, and perhaps you'll disagree, that ideally, the church should always be the same as it was in the Book of Acts, that we should operate like the early disciples did during that time period of the early church. As regards to Acts 4, I don't think that is what "having all things in common" meant. I don't think it was "socialism" as we understand that today. Feel free to e-mail me if you want to discuss that further. Thanks for your grace.

Tim Cook

I have to agree with Jonathan; there are miles between "orinance" and "initiation" to me. Here is an obvious question that, as far as I can tell, no one has yet asked: if baptism is to be an initiation right into a SINGLE local church, then shouldn't ALL candidates for membership be re-baptized? Even if they came from a SB church in another city with a valid baptism, that would be required for consitency. If it is an itiation into a local church, then no one should accept transfers of letter; in other words, just because you were initiated into First Baptist Podunk, that doesn't mean you were initiated into First Baptist Middle-of-Nowhere.

Now, if it is an initiation into the Local Church in general, as in, the local expression of the church universal, then we are in a different place entirely...or rather, right back where we started, having to admit a member or not based on the merits of thier baptism.

These are the only two options I see: baptism on joining any church, ever, or baptism into Jesus Christ and His church universal. Someone is going to have to explain to me where we get the idea of a medium, baptizing-into-the-SBC kind of thing. It just doesn't make sense to me.

In Christ,
Tim Cook

Michael Westmoreland-White

My Christmas was great, thanks, Peter. I trust yours was, too. I even managed to blog on the Virgin Birth in a way that liberals have found naive and conservatives have found troubling because--apparently--I am a heretic for even raising the question of its historicity. I thought conservatives would appreciate the way I used liberal methods to argue for a traditional viewpoint, but no such luck!

I agree that there is unity within diversity in Baptists view of the ordinances/sacraments (I have no problem with either term--properly defined). But it seemed to me that you were drawing that unity tighter than is warranted by the evidence. There is more unity in practice than in the theology of the ordinances, too. And these debates have been a part of us from the beginning: John Bunyan argued that communion ought to be open to all Christians. At the time, most of his Baptist colleagues in Britain disagreed--arguing for closing communion to all but those baptized in full immersion after confession of faith. But, today, most British Baptists agree more with Bunyan, to judge by practice.

I think that far more theological conversation needs to go on in Baptist churches around the world about baptism and the supper. I am horrified at the "toddler baptism" practiced so widely in the SBC. If we are going to baptize 5 year olds, we may as well baptize infants and be done with it.
We call it believers baptism, and argue that 5 year olds can "believe in Jesus" and love Jesus. True, but 5 year olds can love each other and we don't give them marriage certificates! Believers' baptism is also repenters' baptism, signifying dying to sin in solidarity with Christ and rising to new life and discipleship--that requires a more mature faith. I like the European and African Baptist practices in which it is rare for anyone under 12 to be a candidate for baptism.

I also argue for real wine in communion and for a common cup and for frequent communion. But Baptist practice is very diverse at this point.



Thanks for your reply and I Do do concur wit hthe concern you expressed about the age of baptizees. It's not, from my perspective, that I do not believe a young child can understand. To the contrary, I've know wonderful Christian people who testify to the experience of salvation at a very young age. Yet, I would feel more comfortable placing that in the "exception to the rule" category.

As for the real wine and common cup, I think I'll pass. Grace for the weekend, Michael. With that, I am...




Peace, my Brother.

As for your ideal, Jonathan, in neglecting the "transistional" understanding of Acts, I'd like to comment on that if I may.

You write: "that ideally, the church should always be the same as it was in the Book of Acts, that we should operate like the early disciples did during that time period of the early church."

That sounds really admirable, my Brother, but I'm afraid you won't get too many to agree with you. Let me show you what I mean.

Whether you accept that the pristine Church did or did not launch some type of "socialist experiment" in their early stage, is irrelevant. Acts 2 & 4 emphatically states, Jonathan, the Church "...shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared with those in need...And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had...There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need" (2.44-45; 4.32-35). That's a pretty straight forward text. I do not think it's difficult to comprehend, do you?

So, tell me, Jonathan, does your Church practise this? More significantly, I should ask, do you, Jonathan? I don't. While I do attempt to assist the needy, it comes nowhere near this abandonment here. Nor does it make a difference why they did it. They did. And, if the early Church is to be copied, as I am thinking you are saying, why do we fail so miserably here?

But that, Jonathan, is only the tip of the ecclessiastical ice berg as the young Church eases its way toward maturity and development as we discover say, in the Pastorals that Paul writes.

Note: We've got the Church assembled everyday--in the Jewish Temple (Acts 2.46). Oops! Can't do that anymore. I wonder if a synogogue will suffice?

Peter & John observed the Jewish prayer schedule (Acts 3.1ff). Do your Church leaders do so?

In addition, on the way to Temple prayers, they do not pray for the sick & needy, rather they COMMAND the sick and needy to "be healed." (Acts 3.6). Is this a common phenomenon in your life, Jonathan? That is, not to pray for the healing of someone, but to look the sick right in the eye and say "Sickness can go to hell. Be healed!"? I can't either. But if I could, I surely would and I'm quite sure you would too.

But we haven't seen nothing yet. Actually Peter doesn't even have to look at people. He only needs to pass by and let his shadow touch them and they will be healed (Acts 5.15), which, by the way, was a heck of a lot more effective than the Apostle Paul who had to send out his little handerchiefs for healing effect (Acts 19.11).

Peter seemed to be the most capable when it came to Apostolic powers. Perhaps our Catholic friends are onto something:) After all, what other Apostle could pronounce capital punishment upon people Johnny-on-the-spot (Acts 5.1-10)? Paul again comes in a distant second with the abiltiy to speak blindness to persons (Acts 13.11).

The only other person in Acts that comes close to this ability is Phillip who gets a 747 ride by the Spirit (Acts 8. 39). Now that, I just have to do some day!

Now, forgive my bit of fecetiousness, Jonathan. Yet all of these, are part of the Acts--the norm, so to speak--or, in your words the "ideal" which we should follow in being like the Church in that era.

Heck, virtually every Church would need to sell off ALL their facilities because I do not know of the Church in Acts meeting in facilities, except of course, the Temple courtyard which is no longer available. Do you? There is a "house church" movement alive and actve today but I remain unsure it's anything at all like what's in Acts.

Now, lest some gain the least wift that I do not believe the events happened as they are recorded in Acts, I want to lay that one to rest quickly. I believe every jot and tittle happened precisely as Luke recorded it. Period. For me, the miraclous is a given in a Christian worldview. However, to demand the miraclous or copy it is entirely another issue.

So, Jonathan, if we take the book of Acts as a "flat guide" to personal Christian experience, either indivdually as a believer or collectively as the Church, apart from other NT evidence about how we move along in the Spirit, for me, the scenario I offered above seems to be the picture that is painted.

Grace. With that, I am...



Peter, your last post was great. I read this quote and I can't remember who or where but it was something like "don't base your doctrine on the experiences of the Apostles, but on the teachings of the Apostles."



Thanks for your comment. As for miles apart between the terms "ordinance" and "initiation", I could not agree more. The terms are definitively not the same. It is because Christ has so "ordered" that believers be baptized that it becomes not only a "Church Ordinance" but the entrance way, if you will, into the Church. Thus the "initiation" so to speak.

One thing you wrote particularly gained my interest, Tim: "if baptism is to be an initiation right into a SINGLE local church, then shouldn't ALL candidates for membership be re-baptized?"

That is precisely part of the problem, Tim, as I see it. I, for one, am not arguing that Baptism is an initiatory rite exclusively to one SINGLE CHURCH. Who has said this? Rather, Baptism is the initiatory rite into the Church universal AND the local manifestation of that universal Body--The Local Church.

Nor is it ONE SINGLE CHURCH one is baptized into. One seems to be assuming those of us who are arguing Baptism as "initiatory rite" into the Church are arguing a protestant version of Catholic ecclesiology.

What is happening, it seems to me, in these discussions is that this point is being overlooked.

Ideally, when one is Baptized in a local Church, this rite is indicative of what happens on a larger scale--that is, a spiritual connection to the Body of Christ invisible.

However, we both know that the two do not always correlate. In other words, a person could be baptized locally but not be a part of the Body of Christ invisible.

From that, it seems reasonable to assume that if Baptism is viewed as an "initiatory rite" indicative of connection in the Body of Christ invisible, there is no reason not to assume the same for the visible Body locally.

In addition, Tim, it seems to me, necessary to conclude that the Local Church and the Local Church ONLY are to perform Baptisms. And that primarily, because Jesus gave the ordinance of Baptism to the Church--in same sense He gave The Supper, The Preaching of the Gospel, The Discipline--to the local Church. Now, one may object, and say, "No, He gave it the Disciples."

The only response I know to such a myopic discontinuity between the Apostolic followers of Jesus and the NT Church is total amazement. I simply have nothing else to say about that.

Grace. I trust your night is well. With that, I am...




Thank you for your participation. I like the saying you gave. I am not one who either ignores experience nor maligns it. But I think you are correct in affirming that we should be more concerned in properly getting Apostolic principles and letting the Apostolic power consequently flow from that.

Peace & Grace, Mary. Wit hthat, I am...



Oh Peter! That post on Acts is almost verbatim to what ol' Bobby said to me the other nite when we were discussing doing things in church today like they did in the first church. I loved it. And in my mind, it wasn't the least bit facetious...it was simply the simple facts of the church then.

If we were gonna get technical, you men would still be wearing robes you must gird up in order to run on your treadmills.

I don't know for sure, but I must've stepped on a toe when I asked my question about the five-fold ministries. Sorry to be so obtuse, but what does that mean? You can email me a short definition if you want, so we don't clog this blog.

Loved your explanation of baptism into the universal invisible church. That is exactly how I viewed my baptism when I was saved in '76. No one told me that was what was happening though. I kinda got that idea from reading Acts...wierd, huh? SelahV

cb scott


You stated: "In other words, a person could be baptized locally but not be a part of the Body of Christ invisible".

My Brother, you, in one sentence, have located over 9,ooo,ooo Southern Baptist that all the staff of every SBC agency and institution located in Nashville, TN have not been able to find in over 40 years of searching:-)

You, Peter, are on a ROLL:-)


Jonathan K.


First, as regards to Acts 2 and 4, yes, that’s what happened. However, there is a lot that we do not see. For instance, I believe that several of the disciples had multiple homes. They didn’t just sell their home and go homeless, because no one was in need. So, because this is historical narrative, and a summary of what transpired, we need to see the historical and cultural context of what happened, to get a greater understanding of the text, in this and other passages.

Regardless, I don’t think that this shows the church was in “transition” as you suggest. Now, you asked if my church practices this. I don’t have multiple homes, personally. In fact, I am a renter (I rent an apartment). However, I believe my pastor practices this, in two ways. First, my pastor has two homes. Recently, my church acquired a new home for our pastor to live in. Up until that time, my pastor and his wife owned and lived in a townhouse. But because of their new home, they obviously do not live in the townhouse anymore. Rather, they are going to make their home available for rent, as an investment property. And the first family that is going to rent from them is their son and his family (because their son and his family have put their current home on the market). So, they will share one of their homes.

The second way, and perhaps the more precise way, in which my pastor practices with is with their current home. After the new home was purchased, my pastor’s daughter and her family decided to sell their home, so they could pay off all their credit card debt, and then moved in with my pastor and his wife. That is, there are two families, in effect, living in my pastor’s home (its large and spacious), one family being my pastor and his wife, and the other being my pastor’s daughter, her husband, and their two kids. So, I believe my pastor does practice this, and we should all aspire to practice this ideally as well, that we should have multiple homes, so if anyone has a need, we have something to give when God so directs. The same goes for cars, and everything else.

We do fail miserably compared to the early Church. As my own pastor says, this is because “the Church has held hands with the world” for so long, and we’ve become carnal, and sadly enough have lost our saltiness. I think even you would agree with that, just look at modern culture. But God is in the restoration business, praise God, and is bringing us all to repentance, to a real knowledge of the truth (along with practical application), so we can be once again like the Church in the Book of Acts.

Along the way, there has been a gentilization of the Church. This happened in Acts 15, where the Apostles abandoned the OT Law. I think you would agree that if one is in Christ, then one is no longer bound by the Mosaic Law. In other words, the Law is only in effect for non-Christians, but we are freed from that when we are born again. Praise God!

Then you mentioned Acts 3:6, and the commanding of sickness to go away and for the sick person to be healed. Acts 3:6 says, “Peter said, ‘I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – walk!” The next verse goes on to say that Peter seized the lame man by the right hand, raised him up, and immediately the man’s feet and ankles were strengthened, and he walked and leaped and praised God. So, this was not exactly a commanding of sickness to go away. Although, there are times when Jesus did command sickness to go away, and other instances where the disciples did the same. As a charismatic, I firmly believe that we can speak in faith and take authority over sickness, disease, and infirmity, and command such to go away. The Bible exhorts us to pray for the sick. Jesus said in Mark 16:17-18, “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will… lay hands on the sick, and see them recover.” This is normative for EVERY Christian believer.

Then you discuss Peter’s shadow, and Paul’s handkerchiefs. I think it is wrong to be sarcastic about this kind of stuff. Rather, we need to believe for the power of God to remove all sickness, disease, and infirmity in our lives. It doesn’t matter whether it goes away by means of someone’s shadow, a prayer cloth, or by the believer laying on of hands. All of these methods are valid by the Scripture, so long as God gets the glory for the healing.

Then you said, and I in part agree, “all of these, are part of the Acts--the norm, so to speak--or, in your words the "ideal" which we should follow in being like the Church in that era.” Absolutely, all of this is normative Christian life in the Kingdom of God. It is certainly the biblical pattern. Do we see this in a lot of churches today? Absolutely not, but God forbid we develop doctrine on the basis of experience (or lack thereof) rather than the pattern expressed in the Word of God.

Peter, now I want to comment briefly in your response to what Tim said. You said, “It is because Christ has so ‘ordered’ that believers be baptized that it becomes not only a ‘Church Ordinance’ but the entrance way, if you will, into the Church. Thus the ‘initiation’ so to speak. I am sorry, but I don’t understand this reasoning. Christ did order that all believers be baptized. It certainly is an ordinance both of Christ and the church. However, Jesus did not say, “enter the Church by way of baptism,” or otherwise say that one enters a local church by means of baptism. So I don’t understand the reasoning here, and I do not think it is based on sound exegesis. I believe that when one becomes “born again” and is regenerated, they are baptized into Christ, and water baptism is the symbol of that. It is not an entrance into a local church, nor the universal church, either. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and that one must enter the Father through Him (Jesus). So, to suggest baptism as an entrance sounds wrong and against the grain of what Jesus said. What do you think?



Thanks for the response. No need for me to say anything else about Acts. Your rationalizing of the obvious differences between the Church then and you & me now is classic and for sure seals shut the door to any hope that we can copy them in an "as is" approach. I thank you for that, my Brother.

Also, Jonathan, I did not expect you to agree with me about what I wrote to Tim. You made it clear you do not agree that "initiatory rite" captures the description of NT baptism.

Yet the alternative you propose, while attempting to retain Baptism's significance for The Church invisible, guts the ordinance of any significance whatever for the only ones it actually effects--the local, visible Body of Christ. Actually, I think I like my option better, if you don't mind, Jonathan.

So, in the end, I give you my express permission to disagree, if you so choose.

Grace to you today. With that, I am...




Thank you, my SelahV. It's not surprising that folks who are not in the Baptist stream of Christianity would question our understanding of the Ordinance. It has been so since the 17th century.

What is interesting, however, is that such a stir would be made in Baptist circles. Even if there may be competitve nuances within Baptist life, Baptism viewed as initiatory rite into the local Church is a richly embedded view within our movement with surely no cause for sounding the alarm.

Personally, I think some of the fuel behind this latest fiasco is a carefully developed unappreciation for the local Church and her autonomy. It is true we sometimes forget that the Church is bigger than our local fellowship or even our particular, visible manifestation. Yet sacrificing the NT focus on the local Body, her autonomy, her Ordinances, from my perspective, stands as no Scriptural solution to the problem. Baptists possess as good a record as any Christan group historically in attempting to balance the local/universal aspects of Body life.

In addition, who would dispute our era being the day of non-denominationalism, perhaps even anti-denominationalism?

That's why I think Dagg was so relevant.

Peace today. With that, I am...



Jonathan: Wow, and I thought I was verbose! Hee, hee, just kidding. :) A few comments on your last post to Peter, if you will allow me permission. If you don't give me permission, then just scroll down and skip over me. I don't mind being ignored. I'm use to it. Hee, hee.

YOU SAID: "First, as regards to Acts 2 and 4, yes, that’s what happened. However, there is a lot that we do not see. For instance, I believe that several of the disciples had multiple homes."

1) Do you base your theology on what you believe happened even if it is not in the scriptures? Just wondering.

YOU told Peter how you thought you pastor was practicing the sharing of property and such by the way he was helping his family. Then you said: "So, I believe my pastor does practice this, and we should all aspire to practice this ideally as well, that we should have multiple homes, so if anyone has a need, we have something to give when God so directs. The same goes for cars, and everything else."

2) It's a whole different story being a Walton family than it is sharing homes with a new convert or brother and sister in the Lord. And sharing vehicles, and stuff is simply the same as when Jesus says when someone needs your coat, you should give him your cloak, also. (My paraphrase here.) And when someone is in need of a coat, we should give him the one we just got for Christmas, not the one we were gonna give to Goodwill and take a tax deduction for. We don't need multiple houses to be able to give when others are in need. God can multiply our can of beans. Ya know what I mean? He wants us to give of what we have. I dare say in the early church there were a bunch of folks kinda like the widow with only a mite. And they were among those sharing all things in common. No?

You said: "We do fail miserably compared to the early Church. As my own pastor says, this is because “the Church has held hands with the world” for so long, and we’ve become carnal, and sadly enough have lost our saltiness."

3) Personally, I think the reason is because we are too self-centered, selfish, and think we deserve every blessing from God and we are the owners of all we possess. It has nothing to do with the world. I can't blame the world for my self-indulgent appetites or my self-satisfying approach to life. Nay, nay. It's me, Jonathan. God ain't gonna judge anyone but me for the way I take care of the "talents" He's given me.

And the ideal, my brother, is not the early church. NO NO NO. The ideal is the living breathing walking example of Jesus Incarnate before He was crucified for our selfish self-centered useless lives.

You said: "...just look at modern culture. But God is in the restoration business, praise God, and is bringing us all to repentance, to a real knowledge of the truth (along with practical application), so we can be once again like the Church in the Book of Acts."

4) Is He now? Who is "all"? Everyone? Personally, (and I may be totally off base here) but I think modern culture has nothing to do with anything but modern culture. (unless, of course, you are talking about the present church cultural practices). I don't think God is bringing me to be the church of Acts. He's bringing me much closer to Himself than that.

I think the early church development was a wonderful group of baptized believers in Jesus Christ, getting together and doing their best to be all Christ wanted them to be as they understood His desire for HIS church. Today, we are all still doing our best to be all Christ wants us to be as we understand His desire for HIS church and HIS BRIDE.

You further said: "Along the way, there has been a gentilization of the Church. This happened in Acts 15, where the Apostles abandoned the OT Law."
5) Abandoned?

You said: "...that if one is in Christ, then one is no longer bound by the Mosaic Law. In other words, the Law is only in effect for non-Christians, but we are freed from that when we are born again. Praise God!"

6) I'm sorry brother, Jonathan, but I think that is ludicrous. We as Christians are more so bound by the law than ever. Sure, I can't be circumsized, but I surely must put God first, keep the Lord's Day, and NOT commit adultery, steal, lie, or murder. Why would non-Christians care about the laws of Moses? They don't give a flip. Look at our Congress & Senate and those liberal idiot godless judges who rewrite laws to include protection for women who murder unborn, who rape children, who sodomize anyone they choose with a quick rap on the knuckles for punishment. I'm sorry. I got carried away thinking about how the Mosaic law is for non-Christians.

Jesus didn't come to abolish law. He came to fulfill it. He is our propitiation for our idiotic translations of the law and our breaking of every law and our ignoring every law.

You further discussed the healings and praying about sickness, then you said:
"but God forbid we develop doctrine on the basis of experience (or lack thereof) rather than the pattern expressed in the Word of God."

Gosh, Jonathan, I'm tired. I simply can't figure out why I'm writing all this to you. Guess your post just stimulated a response. You have a lot of things going on in your dear sweet mind. Some of which is very "ideal" indeed. Personally, I'm not one to get all hung up on the word doctrine.

7) Who made up that word, anyway? I went to my concordance and couldn't find it. Your doctrine, my doctrine, their doctrine, his doctrine, her doctrine. I'm not one to lean to heavily on doctrines. I just get out the old Amplified Version of the Bible and let God tell me, yes, yes, yes. And He really has covered about anything I might question in there.

Some of it, He just wants me to trust Him about. I have no problem with that. After all, who else can we trust? I've said more than enough. I may have been more verbose than you, my brother.

Happy New Year, everyone. SelahV

Jonathan K.


I don't see what I said about Acts was rationalization. I know you do, but we'll probably have to agree to disagree. I'm sorry you cannot buy into the aspirational and ideal power and authority that has been given to the entire church.

With regards to baptism as an "initiatory rite," I do think water baptism simply as a church ordinance affects all congregations because they are commanded to baptize as a part of basic discipleship. However, I think the symbolism is even more important than that, in portraying what occurred at salvation to believer, and to everyone else (its a public proclamation of the believers' identification of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ).

Peter, one last question for you, which you may be able to comment on: What is the scriptural basis for distinguishing between the invisible and visible church? Why do Baptists use that dichotomy? Thanks.


Jonathan: I'll make my own stupid simple stab at that question regarding visible and invisible. Peter may do better than I, but here goes:
Visible: People gather and worship together. Assemble if you will. Today in buildings, houses and tents.
Invisible: Jesus is coming back for Her...his church. The one all who believe in Jesus is the Bridegroom will come together and get to honeymoon in Heaven with Him. Part of the invisible are the saints who've gone before us, like my son. Part are the ones who'll come behind us (if the Lord tarries) like my great-great-great grandchildren (if my grandchildren follow all the words of the red-letter edition of God's holy word). That's my stab...selahV

Jonathan K.


I'm sorry for being verbose. At times I have a lot to say. That's why I started my own blog, where I discuss some of these issues at length. But I will take some time to respond to your comments and post.

(1) I base my theology on what the Scripture says, considering the historical/cultural context around that. The Book of Acts, as we discussed last Thursday in the young adult group at my church, is a historical narrative. It is not like the epistles that Paul wrote. Its more like a story, or a depiction, of events that happened. There is a lot that happened that we do not see covered. For instance, in Acts 11:28, we see Agabus stand up and prophecy a famine "all over the world." But in the next verse (29), each disciple contributed specifically to the relief in Judea, but NOT the whole world.

Why was this? One historical idea is that the disciples did not see the whole world as we did, they had a limited scope of the world. Another issue is how was it decided they would contribute to the relief at Judea? We don't know, because surely, there were unrecorded conversations. The same point is made in John 21:25.

And yes, I honestly believe that what my pastor is doing (and what I've heard testimonies of others NOT in my church do) is practicing the sharing of property. I believe this is aspriational for everyone...

(2) Sorry to say this, but I think what you envision in modern-day life concerning the practice of sharing property is far less ambitious than what I see. We should have multiple cars so we can bless others when God tells and leads us to do so. Same for multiple homes. My pastor has more than one car. In fact, he has a Mercedes he received as a gift. He recently said that if God told him to give that car away, he would certainly do so and obey. I believe this should be the attitude of all Christians, don't you, Selah?

(3) I think holding hands with the world is indicated by being selfish and self-centered, as you suggest. But that is just ONE symptom of the issue, of many. The Church, as a whole, has become too much like the world, really, by becoming tolerant of sin, and so forth. That's why we have so many "carnal Christians" who really are not doing what they are called to do, and are not obeying God.

And I am not blaming the world, either. If you thought I was doing so, you completely misunderstood my point. It IS our fault (each one of us) for compromising with the world, and I think both you and I would agree we need to repent of that, individually, and corporately.

And I agree with you the real ideal is to be just like Jesus, to go around healing the sick and raising the dead, and so forth, and so one. I believe the early Church was a lot closer to that kind of ministry than we are today, sadly enough.

(4) I agree with that... but I think we need to ask why isn't everyone engaging in what Jesus commissioned us to do in Mark 16. There is a real aversion to supernatural living in the church today. You do not see believers laying hands on the sick in most mainline denominational churches. You do not see the casting out of demons in the same. We SHOULD be seeing this, because this IS the biblical model expressed in the Scriptures, is it not?

(5) Yes, there was an abandonment of the OT Law in Acts 15. It was decided that Gentile believers would only need to abstain from sexual immorality, things sacrificed to idols, and meats strangled with blood (see Acts 15:20). Thus, Gentile converts were not requried to become circumscised, or keep kosher, or any of the other ceremonial aspects of the Law of Moses.

(6) Christians are only bound by the Law of Christ, which is a greater law than the Law of Moses. It IS, as you suggest, a HIGHER law and principle, that we must live by. But we are not bound to keep kosher, or be circumcised, or anything like that. Yes, it is the Law of Christ that compels us to put God first, to tithe, to go to church, to not commit adultery, or steal, or lie, etc. etc. etc. etc.

However, it is the clear teaching of the Bible that the Law of Moses applies to non-Christians, regardless of whether they give a flip or not. Would you like me to cite you some verses on that?

(7) The comment about not creating doctrine on the basis of experience, or lack thereof, deals with something that Peter said, actually. A lot of people think "We do not see such and such happening, and therefore it is not for us today." What I am saying is such an argument is not valid. We should base our doctrine on the pattern we see expressed in the Scriptures, and not on what we see other people do, or NOT do, today. That's all.

And I like, on occasion, the Amplified Bible, too.

I do have one question for you, Selah: You seem to imply in the last paragraph or so of your post that God is the only Person in whom we can trust. So, does that mean that you cannot trust your pastor, or others in your life?

I just wanted to know, because if the answer is yes, I'd like to help you through that, if you'd let me. Thanks.

Jonathan K.


Yeah, I understand the concepts behind what Peter is saying, but what I want from him is chapter and verse explanation. Thanks.

Tim Cowin


For the most part, I think your post was great. I do not think we differ very much, except on one issue.

I fully agree with Dagg, as you quoted him in sayin: "Baptism is a prerequisite to membership in a local church."

Baptists have a long history of talking about Baptism being a "prerequisite" for membership. It is something that is done before membership. But using the word "initiation?" Knowing how many of our leading Baptist's were also Masons, I think they would know the term, but yet I am not aware of it being used, do you?




You are welcome to comment here. However, I ask you to stay on track. You're bringing up many theological issues that not a few of us would be delighted to engage you in but they are simply off subject.

As for your speculation about the disciples possessing multiple homes, Jonathan, that serves quite nicely as an example of rationalizing the text away to which i was refering. Thank you.

Of course, I do understand why you would do so. When Scripture says they sold "everything," that places you in a dilemna if you are going to be consistent with your working principle about copying the Acts Church. Solution? Carve it down to a bite-sized chewy so that you may manage it.

I should think with that approach, my Brother Jonathan, we may all boldly proclaim our absolute total moral perfection now. Why wait for Heaven? The solution is simple: lower the bar of perfection so we may all qualify. While that makes us appear really cool and feel quite spiritual, I'm secretly wondering how our Lord may view that approach.

In addition, Jonathan, from my perspective, as I've noted, the view of Baptism I sense you're advocating guts the corporate experience of Baptism between believer and the local Church reducing it to little more than an "add-on" with no real spiritual benefit.

By the way, Baptism carries with it more than simply identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. To be sure that is a significant part. Yet, it's most basic sense is that of "cleansing" and "ritualistic washing"--as in Pauls' testimony "arise and be baptized, washing away your sin, calling on the name of the Lord." Thus, the idea of cleansing of sin is intrinsic within the public ordinance of Baptism.

As is one's own proclaimation that just as Christ was buried, we are buried with Him, and consequently "raised to walk in newness of life." Again, a public declaration one is now living a new life in Jesus Christ.

And to whom is this proclaimation made? The Church historically is virtually unanimous here, despite major differences on Baptism elsewhere--the proclaimation of one's faith is made to the Community of one's faith. That is, the Church. Thus, again, Baptism becomes a community event not an individual event. It's made in the context of the people of God, Jonathan, the Church.

As for the visible/invisible distinction when viewing the community of faith--The Church--actually, the distinction is not unique to Baptist understanding. Rather, it's more of a Reformational recovery of an entire corpus of Biblcial ideas that had been eclipsed during the Medieval Church. Indeed Catholicism had become so fixiated with the VISIBLE CHURCH ON EARTH, all outside the VISIBLE CHURCH organization were lost. Focus was regained for the invisible aspect of the Church.

Of course, it's hard to miss the double nuance in the NT. The overwhelming majority of passages where the CHurch is mentioned, it is a local visible Body to which the passages refers. For example, Paul write to the "Church of God at Corinth" and John to the "seven Churches" in Asia. These are local Churches, Jonathan.

On the other hand, there are passages that obviously must be interpreted in much broader terms, virtually a Cosmic body--"take care of God's flock--His Church--which He purchased with His own blood," the Apostle tells the Ephesian elders (Acts 20.28). Did not Jesus die for Corinth too? Most centainly, but Paul was speaking to the Ephesians. These passages could be multiplied.

One thing must be kept in mind which, again, I sense has been lost somewhere in this discussion.

On the one hand, when we speak of the invisble, cosmic Body of Christ, we're not talking about one church here is a part, another church in Europe is a part, one denomination here, one there, etc. Rather, we're talking about the complete, full Body of Christ. Christ's Body is definitively not divided.

On the other hand--and here is where some fall off the wagon, at least from my view--when we're talking about the local, visible Church, we're definitively NOT talking about part of the visible Body there, part here, part Methodist, part Pentecostal, Baptist, etc. Rather, just as the cosmic Body of Christ is whole and not a part, so is the local Body of Christ not divided but is the full, complete Body of our Lord. Christ is NOT divided.

If the Church of Jesus Christ is embraced as the Body of Christ both visible and invisible, it seems easy, at least for me, to understand the full significance of the Baptismal rite properly belonging to the local Church indicative of entrance to the Body of Christ both visible and invisible.

If you do not agree, Jonathan, you simply can work it out for yourself. For almost four centuries, Baptists have stitched their view concerning Baptism with, at least in the beginning, threads of their own blood. I remain confident that no one is going to think up a question that unravels that garment.

Finally, the reason I did not use Scripture in my post is simple: the post was an historical point, an an exegetical one.

Grace. With that, I am...


Tim Cowin


I wanted to take the time to point out a couple of things, since I think I am the person you speak of having a discourse with…I have withdrawn some quotes from your posts that I will, with brevity respond to. I truly think if we sat down in a coffee shop we would understand each other much better and maybe even find we are not that far off from one another.

First your sentiments about all bowing before Christ… Awesome!

1. “The Supper remain central as those ceremonial institutions Christ ordained to be perpetually observed in His church.”

I agree fully, they are ordained to be observed in His churches.

2. "These ordinances are symbolic portrayals of literal realities,"

Amen, this is exactly what my point is when I reference 1 Cor 12.13, We are baptized by One Spirit into One Body. The literal reality is Spirit Baptism into the Body, the symbolic portrayal is Water Baptism.

3. "Baptism was designed to be the ceremony of Christian Profession...”

Dagg said this and I fully concur!

4. "Some seem to argue against the ritualness of the Ordinances"

I am not one of these. I believe in the “ritualness,” as you say.

5. "Pointing out to my dear and observant Brother that the 1963 & 2000 Messages only called them "church ordinances" after it had already acknowledged them as "ordinances of Jesus Christ" in a prior article fell as fall leaves."

You write so eloquently, yet in retrospect, observing all the confessions that came before, the falling of the leaf that was the phrase “…being ordinances of the church…” first fell through the air of the 1963 BFM. I do not like the term that I felt that it “corrupted” anything. I do not feel that way.

6. Mullins stated, "Baptism is an ordinance of Jesus Christ established for perpetual observance by his people"(p.68).

Amen, I fully agree.

Peter, I am not saying that the ordinances were not given to the churches. I am not saying that they are not to be perpetually used in the church. I AM saying that Baptism does not symbolize our identification with the SBC as the IMB BoT clearly state in their new policy.

I was baptized as a testimony to my faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord, not as a “testimony of identification with the system of belief held by Southern Baptist churches,”(IMB BPT POLICY).

Thanks for your part of the “iron!”




Thanks, my Brother. And with you, I honestly think we are not at all far apart. As you indicate, the language hindrance may be a major part of it

As for others employing term "initiation" pertaining to Baptism, I do not know. Dagg being our first writing theologian AS Southern Baptists wrote in 1856-7. That's pretty early, earlier than even SBTS being chartered, is it not?

Also, I understand about the Masonic Lodge issue. But for me, I would remain reluctant to think the Lodge influenced their view unless, of course, evidence to the contrary surfaces. Then we must deal with the evidences.

From my perspective, if one holds a proper NT balance between the Local Church and the Broader Church in Scripture as well, viewing water Baptism indicative of entrance into both the local Community of Faith and Cosmic Community of Fatih, then the language of "initiation" makes perfect sense. It's all in the perspective one embraces, it seems to me.

Grace to you Tim. I trust Lord's Day tomorrow a gracious time in the Lord. With that, I am...


Tim Cowin


I can't believe we have been talking about this for several days, and when I pop over here, there is already, what 40 posts? Peter, you should have invited me to the party:)

Your explanation of the body and the ekklesia=supurb.

I would disagree about the One Body being "invisible" it is visible to all on earth. There is one body, and that is why we must disagree with our brothers in other denoms with the attitude and love of Christ, with His mind. We have each our own distinctives, but we are all part of the one Body,

And YES, each ekklesia is autonomous and also undivided! I have been trying to get people to understand this concept for months; the understanding of the nuances of the Biblical teaching concerning the difference between the ekklesias and the one Body. That being said, I do not agree in calling the local, autonoumous, ekklesia, the Body of Christ, I do not blieve that any ekklesia is referred to as Christ's Body in that sense, but they certainly are part of the One Body. Great job.




I must thank you for your post. It is refreshing. Also, I fully concede: your language did not require me to assume you implied the 1963 BF&M "corrupted" the Confession.

And yes, coffee has a way of calming one's passions:) Only, of course, if it's Tanzanian Peaberry or Kenya AA. Perhaps in or around Atlanta sometime.

Peace. With that, I am...



JONATHAN: You crack me up! I know you are very very serious about the above post. But I wonder, how old are you? Under thirty and above 21?

YOU SAID, I quote: "I do have one question for you, Selah: You seem to imply in the last paragraph or so of your post that God is the only Person in whom we can trust. So, does that mean that you cannot trust your pastor, or others in your life?

I just wanted to know, because if the answer is yes, I'd like to help you through that, if you'd let me."

Dear dear Jonathan: While I would love you to help me with the "trust" issue, I'm afraid I must simply say, hon, you can't.
People can be trusted with some things at some times and in some situations. However, my brother, only GOD can be trusted with all things, at all times in all situations.

Of course I can trust my pastor. But only with some things, dear-heart. I cannot trust him with everything. That would be rather presumptive of me to even think he had such power or that God would expect him to have such responsibility. After all, he is a human--near perfect in some ways and very flawed in others. (his admission, not my accusation)

Others in my life? My my NO. Emphatically, positively, absolutely NOT. Even my dear sweet adorable humble husband of nearly 42 years is not that trustworthy. My lands, dear Jonathan, he is just a man. How can he be trusted with all that I am in every moment with every fear and emotion? And I certainly wouldn't want him to feel as though he must be trusted to answer every why, correct every wrong, level every playing field, render justice for every injustice, meet every single solitary need I have. I'm a very very needy gal. Only God can be trusted to meet those needs. Only God has that amount of grace, mercy and provision.

And as far as brothers and sisters in Christ? I don't expect anymore from them than what they want to impart to me. I learned a long time ago that people are simply people.

I'm glad you have set up a blog for sharing your thoughts. It is a great method of communicating the wandering mind and establishing brothers and sisters who are like-minded. (and some not so like-minded who sharpen our own minds and help test our own beliefs)

As much as I would like to travel over and visit your site, I can't. Ever since I had little one-eyed icons following me around on the web, I have sworn off all but two sites. This one and Brad Reynolds. So I do hope you find a great following of commenters with whom you are able to help, guide, encourage and maybe even correct if need be.

OH, by the way. I do trust Peter. But then I've known him a very long time. And one of these days he's gonna pay his wife to keep his promise to me to paint me a painting to replace the one she gave me and I gave back to him for sentimental reasons.

(Bet ya thought I'd forgotten the Quaker Lady, huh, Peter?)

So it all comes back to my last paragraph in my first post to you, Jonathan, in which I wrote:
"Some of it ["it" being the unknown unanswerable questions], He ["He" being God Almighty]just wants me to trust Him about. I have no problem with that ["that", being not having all the answers]. After all, who else can we trust?"

Man will always disappoint us Jonathan. Always. Not all the time...in every situation, or with every thing...but always in some. After all, man is NOT omnipotent, omnipresent, omnicient. Is he?

Jonathan K.


I apologize for going off in tangents. Unfortunately, I see in some blogs, the authors encourage that to a degree, and in others (like yours) they do not. Sorry again.

I don't think I am lowering the bar or standard for moral perfection at all, whatever that means.

But the topic here is baptism, and I am going to respond with your allegation that my view "guts the corporate experience of baptism between believer and the local Church reducing it to little more than an "add-on" with no real spiritual benefit.” I totally disagree with this. You are assuming that I believe baptism is an experience between the believer and the local church. It absolutely is not a “corporate experience,” but rather an individual between the believer and God. It is only a church ordinance because the church is charged with administering it. Also, there is no real spiritual benefit to water baptism. The benefit comes from your salvation, and the fact you are baptized into Christ. Please tell me where in the Scripture there is a spiritual benefit to water baptism.

I do not believe water baptism washes away sin. That is the purpose of salvation. Unless you believe in baptismal regeneration, Peter, you are treading on thin ice, here. I believe Paul is speaking of the symbolism of the washing, but the only washing that I see in the Scriptures comes from the “washing of the water of the Word of God,” which is the Scriptures, Peter.

I also agree that water baptism is usually celebrated in a community of faith. We just had water baptisms at my church last Sunday. I completely agree with you there, Peter. Where I disagree is this visible/invisible distinction. I do not believe the Bible really teaches it. One of the pastors I respect in my theological community, Dr. Mark Chironna, likewise says there is no such thing as this distinction. It’s a man-made distinction as far as we’re concerned.

But I do not see baptism as an entrance at all. It is not even symbolic of an entrance to me. It is just symbolic of our baptism into Christ and of our salvation, our union, and our identification with Christ, and His death, burial, and resurrection. I do not see any symbolism of our entrance into the church, local or universal, unless you can show me anywhere else in the Scriptures where it says otherwise.


Yes, I am 26 years old. Why did you guess that my age was between 21 and 30?

I agree that I cannot trust my pastor with everything as well. I was just trying to determine whether you had a deep “trust” issue that some do have, and have serious issues with. I realize you are a very needy person, as you admit, and that I myself cannot help you. I just pray that you would really find the help you need in the Helper, the Holy Spirit, and I pray He will touch and heal you. Amen?



selah guessed your age, because you are talking like someone that age.




Please, my Brother. If you cannot rightfully associate concepts, the better thing to do would be to question rather than assert or assume.

To suggest that I somehow meant baptizimal regeneration by alluding to "rise and wash away your sins" is, from my vantage point, ridiculous. I am a Baptist, remember?

From a Baptistic standpoint, Jonathan, if you have not gathered this from our conversations, ordinances are OUTWARD SYMBOLS of INNER/OTHER REALITIES. I think I said that in the original post. Given that, baptism SYMBOLICALLY "washes away sin." Most linguistic studies of Baptism points out the corelation of "Baptism" and "washing", Jonathan.

Finally, note, my Brother. If you do not believe this, fine. I for one am not here to convince you otherwise. Grace.

With that, I am...


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