This post has been edited to remove an offensive insinuation on my part – Al sends
Via Email I received a note from a Baptist brother of mine. He asked a few questions about my 5 points post. Really it was just one question with the “are you sure you wanted to say that, that way” thrown in there for good measure 🙂 Here is what he asked:
In the 5 points post you said:
“Baptism has a shot, scripturally speaking, of making one a Christian.”
Are you saying that water baptism “has a shot…at making one a Christian?” It would seem that you are equating sacramental participation in baptism with “making one a Christian.” Am I reading that correctly? If so, then it would be acceptable to look to my baptism as the moment of my being made a Christian. Or have I misunderstood you?
No Tom you have not misunderstood me.
Your last statement seems to confirm my understanding of what you wrote:
“WHO makes one a Christian.” It is being buried WITH Him in Baptism.”
Or maybe you are refering (sic) to someone who is already in Christ as a result of their having come to Christ in faith.
Well, it applies to one who already expressing belief in Christ, but it equally applies to those (the children of believing parents) who are expected to come to faith, being born into the covenant God established with Abraham so long ago.
The emphasis on WITH, meaning what exactly? Does the emphasis on WITH mean that they are already in union with Christ through faith? So that your sentence would mean:
You may look to your Baptism as proof that you are a Christian, as long as you were in actual union with Christ when you were Baptized.
Baptism is not so much something we do, rather God places His seal on us and unites us to Christ. We are encouraged to look back on our Baptism as a sign of our engrafting into Christ and an encouragement to faith. This does not mean that all who are Baptized are elect, rather they are united to Christ in some way. John 15 applies here.
The question I was attempting to answer in my original post is “what makes a Christian?” I said there are more objective/biblical ways to discern if someone is a Christian.
In the two texts on Baptism I mentioned (you did not reference them, strange)
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism , in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Baptism points to our union with Christ and fulfills the promises of God to Abraham, whose children were included in the promises. In Acts Peter brings these promises to bear in talking about baptism in particular:
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them,”Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
What promise is Peter talking about here? The promise of regeneration and inclusion into the household and family of God seems to fit. And if they are included in the promise they should receive the sign of the promise (Rom 4).
Either way, I have trouble with the statements that Baptism “has a good shot… at making one a Christian” and “[being made a Christian is synonomous (sic) with] being buried WITH Him in Baptism.”
I am sure you do Tom. You are a credobaptist and see a division between the covenants that is foreign to the NT. Let me leave you with this quote I saw today on Wilson’s Blog…
Paedobaptism and Porcupines
“The hermeneutic of requiring express warrant from Scripture for all elements of a worship service is essentially a baptistic approach. For example, because we have no express mention of infant baptism in the New Testament, infant baptism is prohibited. Presbyterian strict regulativists try to get away from this by allowing for express warrant through ‘good and necessary’ deductive consequence. But the case for infant baptism (a compelling one, I believe) is theological and broad and not analytic and narrow. It is not on the order of ‘God made all porcupines, this is a porcupine, and therefore God made it too'” (Mother Kirk, p. 122).
You are welcome Tom…