When I was growing up my father would tell me to do certain things and I would do them. However, there were some occasions I would not follow my father’s command and I would reap the benefits of such disobedience. Just because I reaped the spoils of my disobedience did not mean that I was placed out in the barn and kicked out of the family. There were some spoils of disobedience that were worse than others. However, being disobedient to my father did not result in my not receiving my father’s inheritance, nor did it result in other blessings he chose to bestow on me.
Some months ago one well known Pastor expressed his conviction so strongly relating to immersion that he expressed those who advocate pedobaptism were in unrepentant sin. There was a huge outcry against such a statement. Within the blogging community of Southern Baptists we had one of our leading bloggers to take up this expression and was castigated as being harsh and divisive. His article The Pernicious Evil of Mere Preference brought about one hundred sixteen comments. While the article presented a thesis that Dr. Dever was correct in his assessment that a pedobaptist was in unrepentant sin, some commenters tried to hijack the comments in a direction of hypocrisy on the part of Dr. Dever. Recently Dr. Nathan Finn published an article at his blog that speaks concerning the guidelines on immersion at the IMB. In this article He adovcated accepting the immersion of adult believers within the conservative churches he listed that practiced peadobaptism. He listed conservative Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, and Lutheran churches as being “true” churches.
What does this mean? Well, it seems the debate has much to do with where we find ourselves as Southern Baptists. There are some that are Southern Baptist by conviction and some that are Southern Baptist by convenience. I am a Southern Baptist by conviction. I believe that the call for immersion is a command of Christ. While immersion has nothing to do with the Grace that brings one to Justification, it has everything to do with obedience that begins one walking in Sanctification. Thus, there appears to be a couple of questions that are screaming from the mountain tops. One question of a personal nature and one of a corporate nature.
These questions are very closely related to the argument presented by Drs. Dever and Barber. In these questions one concedes that we are speaking of Brothers and Sisters in Christ, thus there is no reason to place forth a comment about me questioning anyone’s salvation, or any church’s commitment to Christ.
Because we Baptist believe that immersion is the command of Christ. Because we Baptist believe that immersion comes after one has conscientiously responded to the free gift of salvation. Because we Baptist believe immersion is the identification mark that speaks to the world one has identified oneself with Jesus Christ. Would one refusing to be immersed be disobedient to Christ’s command? Also, would a church (one that preaches and teaches salvation by faith alone; in Christ alone; based on scripture alone) that teaches peadobaptism, but will immerse a person who has received the free gift of salvation if that person so desires in order to meet a need in their life, be openly disobedient to the command of Christ?
As a follow-up to these questions. While I believe there are conservative Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches, I still have difficulty accepting the immersion of these adults coming from these various churches. The reason? Let’s face it, theologically speaking, Anglican and Lutherans are really closet Catholics. Also, Presbyterian and Methodists are their kissing cousins–theologically speaking. Thus, I would be hard pressed to accept an immersion performed in any of the other churches due to the theological bend concerning their view of baptism and the Lord’s table.
Therefore, as you can tell, my answer to the above questions would be a resounding, Yes!