Errors of the church of Christ (30) – Baptism

“Being raised in the Church of Christ, I began a lifelong devotion to the Word of God. But there was an incident that began to shake my faith in the Church of Christ. When I was in college, a boy I knew was killed in a car accident on his way to being baptized. He had gone through an extensive process of learning the Christian faith at my church, had professed his deep and abiding faith in Christ, and had fulfilled every requirement to being a Christian—except being baptized. Most of my friends in the church believed that because he had not been baptized that this boy was in hell for eternity. This event started me questioning the teachings of the Church of Christ. In time, I studied my way out of this sect.”     —-Edward

Please see our article 101 Reason Why Water Baptism is Not Necessary to be Saved before proceeding. We also highly recommend this article Moser on Baptism for those who want to think deeply about the Bible.

1. Are we saved by water or by Christ’s blood?

RT – We are saved by the blood of Christ.

2. Next, if you are a Church of Christ person with an open mind, we ask you to read Leroy Garrett’s article about “one baptism”— chapter 37, One Baptism. Among many other points in this article, Garrett says, “We as immersionists must rid ourselves of the ungracious notion that those who do not baptize the way we do have rebellious and disobedient hearts. They can be mistaken without being degenerate. And they can be mistaken and still be Christians who are pleasing God, just as we can still be Christians when we are mistaken.” What is the difference, according to Garrett, in the etymology of a word and the meaning of a word?

RT – I do not know what Garrett said, but I can give a dictionary definition. As a noun it consists of the process of immersion, submersion, and emergence (from bapto, to dip) (Vines, pp. 98-99). That is the meaning of the word. In Scripture one is baptized in order to wash away sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), in order to be buried with Christ and resurrected with Him as well (Romans 6:3-7; Colossians 2:12), in order to enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5), and in order to be saved (1 Peter 3:21). If one is baptized apart from what Scripture says they have not been baptized.

The purpose of this section is not necessarily to try to show that the view of the Church of Christ—baptismal regenerational of mature believers by immersion—is wrong, but rather to attempt to show that such a view should not by itself be used to as a hatchet to separate from other Christian groups. CC theologian Everett Ferguson in his book instructs against such practice (page 403): “Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 protests against any view of baptism which would make it a badge of distinction among Christians instead of a unifying act.”

RT –Yes, that is what he said, but it is evident you have not read him very well if you think he minimizes the subject of baptism in New Testament theology.

3. Ferguson also warns (page 195): “Baptism provides an objective assurance of having received God’s promised salvation in Christ. That may lead to the subtle temptation to trust in baptism for salvation instead of trusting in God, his act in Christ, and his word of promise.” As it seems that many within the CC have yielded to this temptation, it is asked, is your faith in Christ or in baptism (chapter 13, Sectarian Baptism)? What is the difference, according to Hook, in baptism for remission of sins and baptism to receive the Holy Spirit?

RT – Yes, that is what he said also. You should, however, included the remarks he made in the next paragraph with regard to those who put other things into a misplaced column, such as faith or experience, or doctrinal correctness, etc. a faithful Christian will always, and without exception, says his (her) faith is in Christ.

4. First, just a point of logic. Physical life, we’re sure you will agree, begins at conception rather than at birth. Similarly, we argue along with Cecil Hook that spiritual life begins with faith and not at baptism (chapter 27 beginning on page 98, When Life Begins). In the rest of this section we will attempt to prove this biblically. Comment?

RT – Spiritual life begins where the Lord says it does. Any analogy used to mitigate this is a false analogy. Biblical baptism is not to be understood or applied apart from what the Scripture says. Those baptized into Christ will be because of their faith (Mark 16:16).