How I was Technically Rebaptised… or not

As some of you may know, I grew up in the Methodist church. My unsaved parents had me baptised me (read… sprinkled me) as an infant because that was the done thing. They later sent me to Sunday School to learn me some morals. Both of these events happened within a Methodist church. By God’s grace (and to their surprise) I never left. Progressing through various stages of Sunday School, youth groups, and teen church, I studied the bible and heard the gospel many times. But it wasn’t until I was fifteen that I got saved. It was at the church’s youth summer camp that I finally actually repented of my sins and put my faith in Christ. The guest speaker at the camp, a Baptist (I think, memories are a little fuzzy), suggested those who professed faith go down into the river below the camp and get baptised. This so this is what I did, along with several others, most of whom had grown up in the church. So I had the privilege of being baptised, moments after my conversion, in a river. Thinking back, which I do often, it was a great and joyous time, and far more like the various examples in the bible (think Philip in Acts 8 ) that what I had hitherto seen.

Now if you know anything about the various theological positions on baptism, the above events sound the beginnings of a storm, that was just about to break. And it certainly did. When we got back from the camp, rejoicing at what God had done, the youth pastor informed the clergy of that particular Methodist church what had happened, they choked on the fact that a number of us had been baptised.

 

And I understand their position. Having read church history, I know that the fierceness of the debate between the various baptism positions is outweighed by the debate over whether it is possible to be rebaptised, and the practical implications of such an idea. For example, the first great schism in the early church involved the Catholics and the group today known as the Copts. The argument was partially over whether a person, who, under the threat of torture or death, renounced their faith in Christ, whether this person, if he should repent again, be allowed to come back into the church. The Catholics said “yes, we should offer them grace”, the Copts said “no, our brothers and sisters died, but he renounced his faith to live, now he wants to come back in? never” and long story short, they split. Baptism was involved here, because it was the primary separating factor between a church member and an initiate or pagan. when you renounce your faith, you renounced your baptism, ergo you need to get baptised again to join the church.

“say what??!!, but they have been baptised already, they cannot be baptised again.”

Jump forward to the reformation times. While reforming the church the Martin Luthers and the John Calvins changed many things, going back to the scriptures to get models for theology and conduct. One thing they didn’t change was their baptism theology, which we shall call “infant baptism” for now.

There was however, at least one group that read their bible and realised that, “hey babies aren’t baptised in the bible.” So they, as adults baptised themselves. This caused huge problems because both Catholic and Protestants
All three groups and myself agree that a person can only be baptised once. To get around the problem presented by its opponents, the Anabaptists claimed that infant baptism is not true baptism, thus adult baptism is the biblical “first and only”. The Catholics and the Protestants, disagreed and there was a fair amount of persecution that followed.overwhelmingly agreed (correctly) that a person cannot be baptised again. This new group of Anabaptists were not helped by their name, which meant “re-baptisers”.

Let us get back to the point in hand. Hopefully this gives a slightly clearer picture of the problem at hand. Myself and several others had just been “re-baptised” in the eyes of my church.

The end result was, the youth pastor was moved on, and I began growing in holiness, taking the first baby steps of being a Christian. That church, which I have since left for other reasons, considers my baby baptism the key event, I however don’t. That day I repented, that is the day I got baptised, and as I will try to demonstrate next few posts, the bible tells me so.

 

In this series I will seek connect our orthopraxis with our orthodoxy, that is, look at what the bible says before making up my mind about the subject. If you have any questions or testimonies, about baptism I would love to here from you; feel free to drop a comment below. However, I am not, at this time opening the comment section for debating this theology yet. Save it for later, your chance is coming.

 

Bearded gentleman, Christ follower, Christian and theologian blogger. Owner of Havelock the cat. Reader of Tolkien lore

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube