Faith Bible Blog

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Why is Baptism a Big Deal?

Well…there’s the simple answer that Christ both modeled it (Matt 4) and mandated it (Matt 28:18-20).  But the disagreement’s usually aren’t about the need for baptism, so much as when and how.  Justin Taylor at Crossway recently interviewed Tom Schreiner about the subject of baptism, in light of Schreiner’s new book coming out.  Having read other books by Schreiner (who teaches at SBTS and pastors a church in Kentucky), I will understate the case by saying that he is a VERY sharp guy.

The interview itself is a good read.  Here’s a snippet to encourage you to read more:

Assuming that paedobaptism didn’t exist in the NT, when did it first arise historically onto the scene? What caused it?

differ as to when infant baptism began. Most agree that it probably
started sporadically in the 2nd century, and Steve McKinion argues that
it was not common until the 4th or 5th centuries. The “why” is hard to
answer. It certainly seems to have been at least partly because of
pastoral and parental concern about babies dying in infancy. Baptizing
them was a means of assuring their salvation in case of their deaths.
According to Augustine it was crucial for removing original sin and
entrance into heaven. . .

It seems to me that in the NT, baptism
followed almost immediately after a profession of faith–with little
time for instruction, confirmation that their faith was genuine, etc.
Yet it also seems to me that those churches that practice instant
baptisms upon initial professions of faith also seem to produce a lot
of nominal Christians. What are you thoughts?

That’s a
great question and it doesn’t have an easy answer. I think we have to
consider the difference between the NT era and our culture in the
United States. In the NT the Christian faith was clearly distinct from
the culture, and hence baptism was a dramatic indication that one had
given his life to the one true God and to Jesus Christ. Baptism was not
culturally acceptable but distinguished someone remarkably from their
culture. When we think of our culture today, we know that it is more
and more post-Christian. Still, baptism is part of the cultural
landscape. Many people in our culture mistakenly identify being an
American with being a Christian. . .

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Author: John Pleasnick

John serves as a pastor and elder at Faith Bible Church

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