Francis Chan, Sinner’s Prayer or Repentance and Baptism

So, you and I are seekers of God and have been reading the Bible together.  We decide that we believe Jesus is the Lord and Savior and want to become Christians.  What would we do next?  Would we pray a “Sinner’s Prayer” as is so commonly taught among contemporary Evangelical Christians or would we seek to repent and be baptized which is what we find taking place throughout the book of Acts.  Watch the following video clip of Francis Chan, author of the book “Crazy Love” and a highly respected Pastor among Evangelical Christians:

My theology has been shaped by its roots within the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement.  There are many things that were “fed” to me by influential preachers and theologians within this movement.  I have constantly sought however to read the Bible for myself and never settle for the conclusions of others.  This has led me on occasion to go against the traditional theological stream of Restoration thought, including some of the nuanced understandings I have regarding the biblical teaching on repentance and baptism.  However, one thing which I believe the Restoration Movement has continuously taught correctly is that repentance and baptism are the  normative biblical means through which we become Christians.

I have posted this video clip of Francis Chan not to pat myself or the Restoration Movement on the back.  Instead, my intention is to show that reaching such a conclusion as Chan reaches, as the Restoration Movement has historically reached, is not so far fetched if we just would read the Bible for what it is.

Reaching such a conclusion opens one to the oft tired accusation of teaching works-salvation or baptismal regeneration, neither of which I believe in or want to teach.  In some future post(s) I will do some writing on the why of repentance and baptism as well as why embracing such practices as the normative biblical means of becoming a Christian can be done (and should be done) without either teaching a works-oriented salvation or baptismal regeneration.  In the meantime, go back and read the book of through the book of Acts and ask yourself why repentance, baptism, and being filled with the Holy Spirit were (and still are) so important to becoming a disciple of Jesus – a Christian.

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35 responses to “Francis Chan, Sinner’s Prayer or Repentance and Baptism

  1. Baptism is not a work simply because the Church does the action in baptism, and it is God acting in the Church, remitting sins, not the baptizand. Baptism, then, is a grace.
    And why the opposition to baptismal regeneration? Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit ….?

    And, once again, all this effort to re-invent the wheel. The Church did not disappear so as to need restoration. It needs to be found and submitted to. The Bereans were more noble, not because they simply looked at the Bible for themselves, but because they looked at the Bible in the light of the Apostolic Tradition and found that the Tradition presented the Scriptures in an accurate way. The Church after all is the ground and pillar , and not the individual, reading it for himself, alone. that is Interpretive Pelagianism, the notion of perspicuity that is implied therein.

    But yes, repentance and baptism with laying on of hands is Christian initiation. Hebrews 6, remember, laying on of hands is a foundation doctrine along with baptisms.

    Pray for me. Thanks!

    • Ben, at some point I think I souls do a blog on reading scripture within the church context, both present and historical. Though I embrace the idea of “Sola Scriptura”, when scripture is read apart from the church context we run a great risk of reaching and accepting very questionable views (e.g., burning Qur’ans in the name of Jesus). And it seems to me that those of us Christians whose family tree branch grows out of Protestant history ought to be able to embrace Catholic and Orthodox history as an epistemological resource without necessarily being in agreement with everything that is Catholic or Orthodox. I hope that makes sense.

      Grace and peace,

      Rex

    • Ben: “Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit…”

      I’m assuming you are referring to John 3:5. However, that verse is not referring to Christian baptism. If it did, one would have to believe it was a later addition into the text (ala Bultmann) to add sacramental significance because it would make no sense to Nicodemus, particularly when we consider 3:10 where Jesus scolds him that he, being a teacher of Israel, should know what He (Jesus) was talking about.

      It more than likely has to do with Eze 36:25-27; particularly when we consider John 3:8 and Eze 37. Nicodemus would known these texts and should have known about the cleansing from above. On the other hand, he would have no clue about Christian baptism (which would also make 3:10 a bit odd).

      “Of water…” even has a better chance of referring to amniotic fluid than Christian baptism; particularly when you consider 3:6 and Jesus’ comparison of flesh begetting flesh and Spirit begetting Spirit.

      Note: I’m not denying Christian baptism (in the slightest!); I’m simply denying John 3:5 is speaking about it.

      Grace to you –
      Jr

      • JR, that assertion seems only to be true if the ‘cleansing from above’ and Christian baptism are separate events. Jesus doesn’t seem to think they are; neither does Peter or Paul.

        Of course Nicodemus doesn’t know about “Christian baptism” – it doesn’t exist yet. You are right, I think, to say that Jesus expects him to understand the concept of the ‘cleansing from above.’

        But since “Christian baptism” is the moment of new birth, the moment of cleansing from above, and since it is a transformation of what Nicodemus would have understood, I think it underestimates the brilliance of Jesus (a la Bultmann, et al), to suggest that he couldn’t have been speaking about the transformative moment he would empower in a few short years, while (obviously) not expecting Nicodemus to understand it according to Christian terminology.

        Your assertion only seems to hold if one further asserts that Jesus did not create and institute “Christian baptism” – that it is an invention of the later church back-written into the gospels.

      • Nick: As a clarification concerning Bultmann, he doesn’t believe Jesus was referring to Christian baptism at all. What Bultmann says is that a later Ecclesiastical Redactor added εξ υδατος (from water) in 3:5 to make the verse sacramental (for Baptism). He also believes this same redactor added John 6:51b-58 for the Lord’s Supper. So, in regards to it being an addition by the church, that is a claim Bultmann would make. I would not. Bultmann even proposes that the writer of the Gospel of John was anti-sacramental.

        As an addition note, I refer to it as “Christian Baptism” because some would even refer 3:5 it to be speaking of the baptism of John the Baptist, and I wanted to make that distinction.

        Another comment: “But since ‘Christian baptism’ is the moment of new birth, the moment of cleansing from above…” is a statement antithetical to John 3:8.

        Lastly, why would a physical rite be attached to a spiritual one when in John 1:26 is set against 1:33? The focus in 3:5 is the baptism of the spirit; a new birth from above; and not on a physical rite. To attach the spiritual birth to a physical action (moment) isn’t the point of the verse.

        Appreciate the dialogue. Grace to you –
        Jr

  2. I find it pretty awesome that he says something to say both to critique his own tradition, and ours as well. “Would you come out thinking, ‘I need to repent, and be baptized, and be filled with the Holy Spirit?‘”

    • That is an important point Nick. One the nuanced ways in which my view of baptism has come to differ from traditional Restoration thought is that in Acts 2.38 the most important feature of baptism is not that it is “for the remission of sins” since John the Baptist had already been baptizing for such purpose but that this baptism is 1) done in the name of Jesus Christ, and 2) that it comes with the promise of the Holy Spirit.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

    • Me too, Nick. I was actually shocked the first time I saw this vid.

      • To be honest, I wasn’t shocked – but I was thrilled! This is precisely the kind of guy that Chan has seemed to be in the public square, and while I’ve lost many illusions in my travels and study, I have remained convinced of what he asserts – that the unindoctrinated reader would pick up Luke-Acts and be convicted of their need to “repent, be baptized, and be filled with the Spirit.”

      • I would like to ask Chan though if he would arrive at some of his Calvinistic theology from just sitting down and reading the Bible without being “fed” by others preachers and theologians.

        Of course, to be honest, I am sure we all would have very different theology and practice of the Christian faith if we just read the Bible without being “fed” by other preachers and theologians.

        Grace and peace,

        Rex

      • Rex: You wrote: “I would like to ask Chan though if he would arrive at some of his Calvinistic theology from just sitting down and reading the Bible”

        That is actually how he came to his theological conclusions. If you read “Crazy Love” you can’t help but see that. For one, his doctrine of man and doctrine of God is very biblical, but unlike what we hear out of a lot of our churches today.

        I am much more concerned with those whose doctrines of God and man are terribly skewed and approach the text with that frame of mind. The Bible is like a punch in the face to it. Or using univocal definitions to put God in an anthropomorphic, rational box. Or a simple fallacy like believing that having “choice” means one is “free” and not enslaved.

        Grace to you –
        Jr

      • Jr.,

        I read part of “Crazy Love” but did not see that. I stopped reading just because I did not find the book that engaging. Perhaps my statement was a bit gruff but I am just wondering what his views are on the free-will of man since obedience can never really be obedience if one does not have the choice to either obey or disobey. But then again, the idea that one has no free-will really ferments in Augustine (which is why I raised the question about his Calvinistic theology).

        Grace and peace,

        Rex

      • Rex: What I hear you implying is that if one has a choice then that one is also free. I do not see the necessity of such a link. Having a choice does not have to mean that one is autonomously free to make that choice apart from a Master, an external force, an inclination, or an enslavement of some sort.

        But what I will question further is the premise that true obedience must be from some kind of autonomous freedom. Is not God in complete control over the winds and the seas and the stars? Yet in Scripture we are told that they obey His voice. Is creation’s obedience, then, not genuine?

        More to the point, what makes faith and obedience great things is not that “free” creatures bring them about; and so here I believe the insistence upon free will misses the point entirely. The beauty and goodness of faith and obedience is that these “states of mind” correspond to God’s “state of mind.” They fit our God-given nature, which is made in the image of God, has been destroyed by sin, but is destined for union with God in Christ. Entering these “states of mind” by grace and at the instigation of external stimuli (and not autonomously within ourselves) is a good thing because dwelling in them is the better thing. The insistence upon some idea of being autonomously free brings zero value to faith and obedience (yet it seems that is where you place all the value) and I believe that misses the entire point of faith and obedience.

        What truly makes men free is God; and God is truly the only free Being. The Self is not free apart from God. Outside of Christ, in the flesh, all are slaves to sin.

        I know this is not a popular message in our western, Enlightened, American, rebellious, make-my-own-way, freedom-loving, individual rights mentality in which we read the Bible; but autonomous free will (that is, natural man, born in the flesh under Adam, has the capability outside a work of God to abide in/have faith in Jesus) is something one must read into the text of Scripture. It is an eisegetical lens that I just do not find and in fact, what I find in the Scriptures are replete with the complete opposite case.

        But this is not a new disagreement. I more wanted to focus on the view that only autonomously free obedience is the only genuine obedience. As the Scriptures say, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes…” (Ezek 36:26-27a)

        “and cause you…” doesn’t sound like “free” obedience to me. But the value is not in “free” obedience. Instead, it’s in the obedience itself.

        Grace to you,
        Jr

      • Jr.,

        Of course I agree that God is in complete control over everything but I also believe God has granted us the freedom within his freedom to make choice to do good or evil, to love or hate, to believe or to renounce, etc… just as he gave the Satan in Job 1-2. God’s permissiveness did not cause Satan to do evil unto Job…it was still a choice that Satan made, although one that could not be made without the prior permissiveness of God (which also placed a limit on what evil Satan could do, by not being allowed to kill Job).

        That is the free-will choice I speak of. It’s the same choice in the garden of eden with Adam and Eve. God makes his own sovereign free-will choice to allow them the choice to either accept their role as God’s creatures (which by the way, is different by nature and calling than the winds and waves) or reject it as they do. If not for that choice, there is no love and obedience. Without that choice, appear to be meaningless since they are not commands I can obey or disobey but merely actions I am being coerced into by God.

        Grace and peace,

        Rex

  3. One small point might be offered here as well–the “desert island” scenario is in many ways contrived, because none of us reads the Bible objectively. We all come with cultural, linguistic, geographic, and temporal prejudices which shape our readings. The point being, there is really no such thing as a distinctly objective reading of the text.

    Furthermore, even though it has become the Protestant principle par excellence, I sometimes wish we didn’t so individualize the process and send the message that all people can and should read their Bibles and decide all matters ultimately for themselves. I’m not convinced that many people can (and should) do this. Mind you, I’m not advocating a Magisterium as the RC tradition would, but some kind of mediating position is important. Admitting right up front that theology is done within the context of community is an important first step…

    Peace, Matthew

    • Matthew,

      I think you are absolutely right about the way we read scripture. The individualistic, 100% objective desert island approach is the old myth of modernism that has been exposed for its fallacies. I too believe that scripture must be read within the context of the church community, both the present and historical.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

      • That is a good point Rex. The island analogy served the purpose of redirecting our hearts and minds back to the scriptures. Jesus said for his disciples to go and make disciples – he wanted them to do the same thing he had been doing. In the New Testament this is the pattern of conversion, God used men to reach out to other men. Even Paul, who God spoke directly to had Ananias lead him to the waters of baptism. I am very excited to see Chan’s heart to not be influenced by religious traditions (e.g. sinners prayer) but to take an honest look (outside of traditions) at the scriptures for guidance.

  4. Rex, I am a regular reader of Wes’ Westcoast Witness blog, and have stumbled upon yours from there.. (I commented on this Chan video there). I loved your responses & balanced point of view (how refreshing!) and look forward to reading more from you in the future. Especially interested in hearing your take on “the why of repentance and baptism as well as why embracing such practices as the normative biblical means of becoming a Christian can be done (and should be done) without either teaching a works-oriented salvation or baptismal regeneration.”

    your newest follower,

    Jen

  5. Rex:
    Great topic! Read some of the other blogs, very interesting. I think of my own conversion and how baptism really was a no-brainer. And I was pretty much a blank page. It was such a simple act of faith, a sincere desire to want to be in fellowship with our Lord. I didn’t, and still don’t, fully understand all that happens at baptism. What, unfortunately, was stressed in my study with church members was the need to be baptized in order to be saved (not to argue that), because after all I could die the next day. What wasn’t stressed was the death I would have to endure so that I might live. To the would-be-believer we stress the getting wet part and don’t teach that when we dry off we begin a process of changing who we are. (Romans 6). It is a requirement as much as baptism. I suppose that is why their were letters to churches after the accounts of Acts.

    Enjoyed Jen’s comments on Wes Westcoast blog. I have also rolled my eyes!

    In Him
    amy

    • Amy,

      I always appreciate your perspective which I know is founded upon a deep faith in God that has not settled for complacency. I really like the way you describe baptism as the death one must die in order to live. That is what I believe is the most important aspect of baptism because everything else about the Christian life (discipleship, unity, holiness, etc…) cannot be pursued if I am still alive to self rather than dead to self and alive in Christ.

      Grace and peace,

      Rex

  6. New cov old cov.
    Old cov Spirit’s work.
    Was it to give life?
    New cov Spirit’s Work.to give Life or attest to faithfulness.
    Old cov faithfulness to god.
    Was it considered imputed righteous faith to God?
    Better have solid teachings.
    Now at the institution of the new cov. Life. what is the power the spirit or that god was faithful to his words?. Unto(for the purpose of)salvation.
    Rom 3;4 and. Rom 1 :16-17 respectively
    Seems like you guy’s are mixing metaphors.
    Remember the life bearer our lord.

    these are ROOT Questions
    Jesus says if you LovE me you do his words.although really WHOSE words WERE THEY.
    Hay rex

  7. Howdy. I came across your web site when looking for some Chan stuff and saw the video and loved it. I first became aware of Chan in 07 just stumbled across his churches webite listed to some sermon’s and was hooked on his preaching and more importantly his integrity. I didn’t know anything about his belief’s about baptism at that time but I presumed he was mainstream evangelical but because of the integrity I saw in him I felt I needed to share with him about baptism before I exited the mainstream evangelical community. I never got a reply but this is the email I sent him in 07…

    From: Robert Easler [mailto: *REDACTED* ]
    Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2007 9:59 AM
    To: ‘chan@cornerstonesimi.com’
    Subject: please consider this my friend…

    Francis,

    I was impressed and cut to the heart by your sermon “Lukewarm and Loving It”. I ran across it on GodTube. I reviewed your church website and your approach and focus is among the most honest and sincere attempts at true Christianity I’ve seen; calling people to truth that isn’t relative to our lifestyle or way of life but based on God’s standards and perspective.

    I have seen in you a deep desire for God’s truth regardless of how it may mean you need to change or what it may mean to your life to truly follow Christ. For this reason I pray your eyes will see this email so I can briefly try to tell you one crucial thing I think you may have overlooked in scripture. It’s not currently a mainstream view but it was mainstream in the days of Christ and the apostles and should have remained so. You’ve heard the argument before but with all of the integrity I can produce I believe it to be God’s truth despite the fact I didn’t want it to be true when I was first hit with it.

    I grew up with a genuine love for God, was involved in many churches, bible study groups, received my degree from Taylor University, believed I was following God and had done what I needed to be saved. Then I met some people who challenged me in the very same ways in which you are challenging people. I was challenged to be a Christian the way God defines a Christian according to His word, not the way American culture would. I was challenged with true discipleship which I think is essential.

    In addition to the true discipleship I needed, an additional piece of the puzzle was presented to me that I was missing. It was a challenge that rocked me to the core. It was the fact that I had not had my sins forgiven in the way the new testament instructs, through baptism. I know, I know, you’ve heard the argument before and have probably honestly considered it and reasoned why baptism is not be essential for salvation. However I want to present you with scriptures that I think speak for themselves. They are several verses that I believe cumulatively make an overwhelming case and that I believe with all my heart are clear in revealing God’s message about the role baptism plays in salvation. My life focus is not on baptism but true discipleship with baptism happening to play a role because of what God says. I don’t believe being baptized is a work any more than saying a prayer would be a work in the salvation process.

    Please consider and dissect the following scriptures in context with the same radical integrity and trust in the word of God that I have seen in you so far. For a moment please try not to filter the scriptures through what you have thought about the issue in the past. Take them at face value. Consider for a moment that these scriptures are true. There are more but these 5 are meaty ones.

    Col 2:11-13
    In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

    1 Peter 3:21
    …when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also —not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

    Acts 2:38
    “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

    Gal 3: 26-29
    You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    Rom. 6:3-7
    Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

    With Godly intentions,

    Rob Easler

  8. Rob,

    I had a similar experience as you describe in your email when I saw Chan’s archived sermon ‘Holy Spirit 3’ from Fall of 07. Did you move to a COC congregation and get re-dunked or what? I am praying about a similar move, but I don’t want any more traditions. That whole a capella thing is a far stretch in light of God’s impression of David and his musical worship.

    Jeff Smith

  9. There wasn’t any re-dunking because there really wasn’t any baptism as part of any conversion I had prior “asking Jesus into my heart”, although I had been immersed once at a Jesus music festival in the late 70’s but that was not connected with salvation as I understood it at that time. In 88 I studied the Bible with folks from the ICOC and it became completely clear how Baptism is an essential part of the conversion process. I had to come to grips with a lot relative to where all my religious friends were at and I had to leave a lot including the musical worship experiences I loved as I was very much into musical worship and the ICOC just wasn’t into or very good at that.

    *sidebar*
    [The ICOC if you don’t know (but you probably do) was kind of a break off movement from the COC. Too much sordid history to go into, and it took me a while to understand it all. It was pretty controversial for a long time and some of the negative things it was accused of as a movement were true. However all of that changed dramatically about 8 or so years ago and the arrogance and heavy handedness is completely gone from my perspective and has not returned. The COC and ICOC really are family, just a family with a tough history.]

    Anyway back to the point. The ICOC has no issues with instruments as part of worship because the Bible clearly doesn’t have issue with it. The instrument ban is an example of how it’s so easy to create doctrine from tradition or what people are comfortable with. Traditions are in every church, we just can’t make them so established that they morph into doctrine. In the last few years we really have done amazing things with incorporating more worship into our Sunday Services. I am part of the band in our congregation and we regularly play and sing worship songs at services with instruments. So I am pretty happy here because the salvation doctrine is right and we try to or want to strive for the same tenants about true Christian life that Chan espouses, and now I get the music stuff.

    What I love about finding this video of Chan’s baptism conviction’s is that it gives me faith that people with integrity and honest hearts in any church can potenntially become part of the Kingdom of God. It has always bothered me that God’s Kingdom seemed to be restricted to a few COC like “denominations”. That’s why I get so excited about Chan’s message.

    • Rob,

      Whose work is baptism? God’s or ours? In Roman 6, like many other passages that speak of believers being baptized, the language is in the passive tense. That means as believers who “have been baptized” we were passive…it was God doing the work. So was God not at work in your baptism back in the 1970’s?

      The only requirement necessary for a valid baptism is belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Lord and Messiah. That does not mean it is a bad thing to understand the relationship of baptism to certain salvation promises of God, such as forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2.38) but it does not mean that one must understand these doctrinal promises associated with Baptism to have a valid baptism. Our call is to trust (faith) God and not our intellectual understanding of the doctrine of baptism.

      This is an old heresy that has floated around the Churches of Christ for some time going back to a man named Austin McGary in Texas and the Firm Foundation Journal…that one has not been baptized into Christ if they did not understand that baptism was for the remission of sins (in other words, if they did not understand the precise point when salvation is received in relation to water baptism). Not only has that led to a gross sectarianism (ironic for a movement that began as a unity movement seeking to end sectarianism among Christians) but it has also led many people to continually seek rebaptism numerous times because they are always question if they got it right.

      They miss the point of the passive language. We don’t do a thing. God does and God always gets it right and it matters not how much we do or do not understand about the biblical doctrine of baptism because it is God doing the work not us.

      To say that a valid baptism depends on us have a correct view of baptism makes the object of faith to be our intellectual ability rather than God. Faith is our trusting in God even if we fail to understand how God is working (i.e., the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22). But if baptism depends on knowing correctly about baptism, what if then we are still wrong? How much knowledge is enough? Again, that is faith in our intellectual ability (human ingenuity) and not God.

      All that to say…I am glad you sought to be “rebaptized” because I trust that you did it wanting to obey God and hence it is still and act of faith. But I do believe your baptism in the 70s was valid…not because of yourself but because of God.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

  10. Thanks for the great reply. I hope we’re not cluttering the blog with this exchange, but it’s good to find someone who has had a similar experience.

    I’ve known some COC folks but not personally because of the ‘anything but praying is a work’ doctrine that is pounded so thoroughly that it alters one’s associations.

    For 35 years I’ve had a pretty ‘anemic’ walk and I did not know quite why until I heard Chan’s 8-26-07 sermon. Now that I know why I want to be careful not to get involved with another group of tradition followers again. Not that I would be easily influenced but I need a re-dunk and want it to be with a like-minded group and leaders.

    I don’t know if Chan’s Simi congregation is completely ‘there’ yet (take a look at their service recordings) but I would like to find something similar near by. Such as: 50% minimum of donations go to missions/charity, basic building (or none), baptistry on the platform and well used during the ‘alter call’. We discussed the instrumental worship but it shouldn’t be grandstandish or absent. I think my area (mid-south) has the most congregations per capita, but I can find nothing of the sort.

    Let me know if you know of anything. Sounds like I may be able to work with an ICOC.

    Jeff

  11. Thanks for your comments Rex. I’m listening, but not sure I agree completely with you on the fact being baptized without understanding at least what baptism for is enough. I thinks it’s too much of a core issue to not need to understand. Of course what God does at baptism is not my work, it’s all God but my faith plays a role as Col explains, I must have faith in the power of God to do. If you say you don’t need to understand what baptism is for when you’re baptized because God knows, then you could just as well say you don’t need to understand what Jesus death was for in order for salvation to occur because God knows. I think you need to understand more than just there was some guy named Jesus and you have faith that he lived in order to be saved. I believe you do also as when you said the only thing necessary for a valid baptism is belief in Jesus Christ, you added “as the Son of God, Lord and Messiah” so you are saying for a valid baptism you must at least understand some basic things about who Jesus is/what he came for ie. he is the Son of God, Lord and Messiah. In the same way I would say you must understand the basic concept of what baptism is for.

    I don’t mind considering what you are saying. I’ve never seen anyone get rebaptized in the years I’ve been around so it’s not a rampant issue at the moment. Most people in the world have never been really baptized at all so for most it’s a non issue and for myself I’d rather be baptized twice than not at all. I’m sure you agree. If you are right God won’t penalize someone for getting baptized again. If your not right that would be an eternal risk I wouldn’t be willing to take.

    (By the way, always open to thoughts and discussions. Thanks for the blog.)

    • Rob,

      Let me clarify a bit.

      I don’t mean to imply that baptism is valid without knowing anything. I do believe in “believer’s baptism”. That is, I do believe one must know enough to be able to confess faith in Jesus. And I do agree that in Colossians, baptism presumes faith. The question is faith in ________. Should we fill in the blank with “the redemptive work of God in Christ” or “our interpretation of scripture”? The former is faith that trusts in God even as we do not understand exactly in what time frame. The later presumes are certain infallibility about our ability to interpret scripture and ultimately places faith in that ability. The problem with the later is that our understanding could be wrong…and what if, on the day of Judgment, we find out it is indeed wrong? Would we then be lost because our obedience to God was ultimately based on a misinterpretation of his word?

      Like I said in the earlier comment…this is an issue that has dogged the Restoration Movement (and Churches of Christ) for many years. If you want to read more about this, you can do so at the blog of John Mark Hicks (www.johnmarkhicks.wordpress.com). Though he takes the position I am advocating (or trying to advocate), as a historical theologian, he also provides a lot of the arguments for each side of the issue as they developed within the history of the Restoration Movement. Just scan through his posts on baptism, the Tennessee and Texas Tradition, David Lipscomb, James Harding, Austin McGary, etc…

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

  12. Hey Jeff. Send me an email at redeye@wideopenwest.com. I don’t want to hijack the blog.

  13. Pingback: Francis Chan: Repentance, Baptism, & the Holy Spirit « Kingdom Seeking

  14. I would never have expected to hear someone like him say that about baptism, but I believe he is right on with what the Bible teaches. I wish more men of faith had the conviction and courage that he has.

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