“Baptists do not baptize converts scripturally ‘for the remission of sins,'” complains a preacher who is not of that denomination. “The Baptists I know baptize only to join their local church.”
* * *
I don’t know what your Baptist neighbors do, but Baptist brethren of my acquaintance (whether Southern, American, National, Conservative, General Association, Free-Will, Missionary, Hard-shell, Seventh-day or Reformed) baptize for various biblical reasons, including:
(1) Baptism follows Jesus’ own example.
(2) Baptism obeys Jesus’ command for his disciples to baptize new converts.
(3) Baptism is the New Testament way of expressing saving faith and of completing conversion. (A Baptist pastor friend of mine in Alabama related this to Acts 2:38, saying that repentance is going into the U-turn of conversion and baptism is coming out of the U-turn.)
(4) Baptism marks entrance into the visible Christian community. It does not make sense, a Texas Baptist pastor friend explained to me, to admit someone to church membership who is unwillling to obey this most basic of Jesus’ commands.
Unfortunately, some Christian fellowships (including Landmark Baptists) recognize the validity only of baptisms performed by themselves. Such conduct reduces baptism from a Jesus-commanded faith-response to the gospel, to the mere joining of a particular denomination or congregation. Others (including some Christian Churches, some Churches of Christ and “Oneness” Holiness Churches) acknowledge only baptisms accompanied by the recitation of particular language. I have no sympathy for either practice, for the New Testament includes neither and it is broader than both.