Monday, 29 November 2010

Baptism: Is Immersion in Water Necessary to Receive Forgiveness of Sins?

I took the title of this post from the blog of Steve Finnell, a commenter on the previous post. In it he states categorically that yes, immersion in water is necessary to receive forgiveness of sins. I must state equally categorically that I believe he is completely wrong. His arguments seem, to me, to be characterized by non sequiturs and going, "...beyond what is written." (1 Cor 4:6)

I don't pretend to able to elucidate completely the Baptist position on baptism, even though I attended a Baptist church for 7 years and having only received infant baptism myself. I must also state that I could not have been more warmly received by the Baptist congregation I attended, in spite of our obvious differnces in this matter, nor could I think of a more Godly congregation of saints. But I understand that at the very least, they see baptism as a sign and a public declaration of one's faith in Jesus Christ after coming to faith in him.

Nor will I attempt to argue the issue at length. A couple of links
and Here...
...explain things very nicely. That is not to say they will convince anyone holding the Baptist position, but they attempt to explain why those who baptize their infant children feel it is not an unreasonable postion.

What I would like to do is address the one passage often used as a proof text to by proponents of believer baptism, and just ask a few questions about it. The passage is Acts 2:38.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I have had people take this verse to the point that Peter's words, "...repent and be baptized..." are to be understood as a chronological requirement for all time. You have heard the saying that a text without a context is a pretext. So let us ask the questions.
Q. To Whom was Peter speaking?
A. He was speaking to God-fearing Jews from every nation (Acts 2:5)
Q. When was he speaking?
A. He was speaking on the day of Pentecost, the first pentecost after Jesus' death and resurrection, and upon the occasion of the first ouptouring of the Holy S[pirit; what we now recognize as the birth of the Church.
Q. How many of his audience would previously have baptized in Jesus' name?
A. None.
Q. Is it necessary, in light of the order in which Peter mentioned things, to be baptized before receiving the Holy Spirit?
A. No. Even Baptists would agree that one must have received the Holy Spirit before being baptized. No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 12:3)
Q. Is it necessary, in light of the order in which Peter mentioned things, to repent before receiving the Holy Spirit?
A. No. In fact, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin, so one cannot truly repent apart from the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit must come first.
Q. Had any of those who received the Holy Spirit that day, including the apostles themselves, been previously baptized in Jesus' name?
A. There is no evidence to indicate so.

In other words, it was a first on many levels; an occasion unprecedented and never to be repeated -- a one time occurrence. Now, we Christians would all agree that someone who has never been baptized, and who comes to faith in Christ, should indeed be baptized. And frankly, every one of Peter's audience would have been in that position on that day, so every one of them should have been baptized. But to take Peter's command in such a wooden, literal manner without really thinking it through; insisting on the chronology of repenting and being baptized, but ignoring that, in the passage, both precede the giving of the Holy Spirit, does it an injustice, and lays upon those who would be followers of Christ, a burden they do not need to bear. In short, it is a proof text that doesn't prove what they want it to.

Take Care

PS: Just a couple of more things.
1. In the very next verse, (Acts 2:39) Peter tells his audience, an audience of adult men, that this is for their children as well. What did he mean? I just ask the question, even if my tongue somewhat in my cheek.

2. This is anecdotal only, but I have been told by a pastor friend who has been to the place in the Jordan River where John is said to have done his baptizing, that the river is so shallow that total immersion was most probably impossible. Christian groups do baptize there today, but apparently an area had to be dug out deep enough for the purpose.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Poverty is a Matter of Immorality

Not that poverty, as some would have it, is immoral in itself. Rather, poverty, as I have said many times before, is to a great extent a result of immorality. Here is more evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, as if any more is needed.
...the large majority—80 percent—of poor, unmarried couples were romantically involved at the time of their child’s birth. In fact, 50 percent of the couples were living together. Fathers almost always visited the mothers and children in the hospital and usually gave financial support. Even better, most of these new parents said that there was a 50/50 chance that they would eventually marry each other. They spoke highly of their partners’ commitment to their children and of their supportiveness.

But within five years, a tiny 15 percent of the unmarried couples had actually taken wedding vows, while a whopping 60 percent had split up.

Read it all here...
The problem is, of course, that the liberals and the left will never, indeed can never admit, that this type of sexual immorality, or what they might euphemistically call sexual freedom, (that is, a sexual relationship of any kind outside of marriage), is the primary cause of child poverty in our culture.

But the evidence is clear, and until it is recognized and addresssed, our Western culture and society will continue to circle and eventually go down the drain.

Take Care

Thursday, 25 November 2010

How Long, O LORD...?

Some of my freinds in the Anglican Network may be feeling rather devastated over the recent court decision against them in BC regarding their church buildings and property. The BC decision may well, and probably will be, used as a precedent in lawsuits in other areas. I won't get into a great discussion of the issues here. I have made my thoughts clear. But for any who feel betrayed; for any who feel unjustly treated, by their former church or by the courts, I have been thinking of Habakkuk, and offer the following excerpts:

A plea...
Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. (Hab 1: 3-4)

The LORD's answer...— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.(5b)

Another plea...
LORD, are you not from everlasting? Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (12a, 13)

And again, the LORD's answer
"Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
For still(E) the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. (2:2b-3)

Then follow a number of woes which may or may not apply. I leave it to the reader to decide for himself.

But then the assurance...
The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. (v20)

And finally the author's own prayer of trust and confidence.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (3:17-18)

Read the whole book. It's only three chapters. Read it again, and rejoice at what the LORD will do.

Take Care

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Offensive Images

Photograph by: Greg Southam, The Journal, File, Edmonton Journal


This story brings a number of thoughts to mind. Barb Tarbox died of lung cancer a few years ago and even up to death was unable to kick her cigarette habit. But she became a campaigner against smoking, delivering her message in schools and to all who would listen, continuing to do so courageously and selflessly until the very end. As the story relates, it was even her wish that pictures of her, as ugly as possible, be taken and shown to demonstrate the evil results of her smoking habit.

Apparently the U.S government is considering putting these pictures on cigarette packages. The Canadian government has been hesitant to do the same. Frankly, in my opinion, rightly so. Why? Because, although I don't take a particular position on the pictures themselves, I believe they will do no good whatsoever. Smokers don't care what pictures are on the pack, they will buy them anyway -- the addiction is just that strong. Even Ms Tarbox smoked right up to the end of her life, unable (or unwilling, if I may be forgiven for presuming) to quit. Government do-good social dictators forcing manufacturers to put offensive pictures on cigarette packs, a legally saleable and heavily taxed product, is just a joke, in my opinion.

And of course the other thing is that pro-life demonstrators at Carleton University in Ottawa and elsewhere around the country, are arrested for showing images of the results of abortion, because they may be offensive to the public.

Just as history is written by the winners, so is what is offensive, decided by those with the power to declare it.

I'm not sayin'... I'm just sayin', y'know?

Take Care

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

This Is So Funny

Especially the strident lady in the red jacket who just keeps digging herself deeper and deeper into embarrassment (I gather someone eventually explained the meaning of, "Keynesian"Although in this case it is at the expense of who would probably be on the liberal side of things, such silliness is not exclusively theirs. It's just that I find it funny when someone so headstrong wades in on something they know nothing about. A number of years ago I remember a similar survey with members of the American public being asked the question, "Did you know that Ronald Raegan is a self-confessed heterosexual?"

By the way, I'm not completely familiar with economic theory, but I suspect he is Keynesian, isn't he?

Thanks to The MCJ

Take Care