RFC: Questions and Answers – Believer’s Baptism


I’ve been in IT most of my life. RFC’s are part of my life. An RFC is a Request For Comments: “a memorandum describing methods, behaviors, research, or innovations and a request to comment there upon.” It’s basically a handy way of soliciting comments and picking up stakeholder concerns early enough in the development cycle to address them.

I was looking for a short succinct handout that covered enough on Believer’s Baptism to satisfy the interest of some and created interest in others. I’m publishing an RFC: What do you think about the attempt below?

Believer's Baptism

To find out more about Crystal Park Baptist Church click here. Click the image to enlarge.

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9 thoughts on “RFC: Questions and Answers – Believer’s Baptism

  1. Hmmm – maybe I’m nitpicking, and this might be too theological for your purposes here, but…

    I might add “baptism is by single immersion into the Triune name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

    This is because of the presence of triple-immersion in some circles, which I don’t think is valid baptism. To dip someone three times is not only to border on a tritheistic view of the Trinity, but it pictures Christ dying, being buried and rising again three times.

    • Hey there,

      All great points and you’ve got me thinking. I’ve got a couple of questions that are practically relevant to my ministry right now; maybe you can help me bend my mind around them?

      Firstly, if someone had of been dunked three times rather than one would I need to rebaptise them before they could pursue church membership?

      Secondly, if someone has been baptised in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38) and not the Triune name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19) do they need to be redunked?

      Thirdly, if a person, genuinely saved, was baptized by a church that teaches what amounts to baptismal regeneration does it nullify their baptism?

  2. Good questions – and I’ve faced all three as well.

    Just for starters, we need to distinguish between irregular baptism and invalid baptism. Someone being baptised at some youth camp is irregular (since I think only the local church should baptise), but it is not necessarily invalid. If someone has been baptised this way, I wold not re-baptise them, because that would break the image of Christ dying and rising for us once.

    So onto the hard practical stuff.

    In the first case, I would probably lean towards a re-baptism. It might be difficult and thorny, because the person may simply have trusted the pastor in question to do his job. However, I think with some patient explanation, the person could possibly see that dipping three times destroys the image, and that single immersion is true baptism. Depending on their teachability, they may or may not submit to that.

    In the second case, I would investigate their understanding of the Trinity. I don’t think it is wrong to be baptised simply in the name of Jesus. (One rather strong dispensationalist I knew believed that Trinitarian baptism was Jewish baptism, and Christian baptism is alone into the name of Jesus. Suffice it to say, I don’t agree.) If the person was baptised by a Oneness Pentecostal, or some other form of Sabellianism, then I would see it as invalid baptism.
    Given that the name of Jesus brings us to the Father and results in the indwelling of the Spirit, it need not be a problem. If Trinitarian orthodoxy is present, I would see it as a little irregular, but not invalid. Given a choice, we should always ourselves use the Trinitarian formula of the Great Commission.

    In the third case, I would definitely re-baptise. Baptists have seen true baptism as valid subjects, valid mode, and valid meaning (Landmarkers add valid administrators). In baptism from one of the Campbellite groups, mode and subject might be correct, but the meaning certainly isn’t. For them, baptism is one of a series of acts by which an individual is saved. Regardless of how the saved individual saw it, the group they were under meant it as a means of justification. This would make it invalid baptism.

    • “…we need to distinguish between irregular baptism and invalid baptism.”

      That’s the key and those questions have been bothering me for a while. I think the answer’s been unlocked for me.

      I like the summation of valid subjects, valid mode, valid meaning and valid administrators. I think that my four ‘Believer’s Baptism’ paragraphs are an attempt to cover each (although the final paragraph is a bit muddy).

      Interestingly the final paragraph sums up the first three points and ignores the last. Was there method in that madness? I need to refine my thinking regarding the adminstrator and administration.

      Thanks for the reply.

  3. Administrator is one where we have to be careful. Landmarkers insist on valid administrator, and by doing so, claim an unbroken line of Baptist churches back to the apostles. [They reason: Valid baptism is baptism administered by a valid Baptist church. A valid Baptist church could only have been established by another valid Baptist church administering valid Baptism. Therefore, Baptist churches have always existed, back to the apostles.] Landmarkism is wrong. In truth, the Bible says little about the administrator. If the Great Commission is for all, it seems that one disciple may baptise another. This ought to be done in and through the local church, since the church is responsible for the Great Commission.
    However, valid baptism is right subject, right mode and right meaning.

  4. I’m a bit of a textual weirdo, so I might be the wrong guy to ask. I’m not a Textus Receptus man, so I don’t think that Acts 8:37 is original (It’s not necessary to the flow of the text, anyway.)

    Mark 16, I’m a little different. I agree with Maurice Robinson’s Byzantine Priority hypothesis that the Byzantine family is more reliable and represents a more ancient witness (Gasp! Hack! Delete from blogroll!! ) – You can read more at http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/v06/Robinson2001.html and at http://www.galaxie.com/article/8112 . That means I think the longer ending of Mark is genuine.

    Mark 16:16 doesn’t support baptismal regeneration anyway.

    Like this:

    If Sally goes to the circus and sits with Joe she is happy.
    If Sally goes to the circus and sits with Fred she is happy.
    If Sally goes to the circus and sits by herself, she is happy.
    If Sally stays at home, she is unhappy. What makes Sally happy? What goes before ‘and’.

    “Sally goes to the circus”= ‘believes’
    “and sits with”= “and is baptized/ confirmed/-add-your meritorious-work-here”

    Coordinating/subordinating conjunction does not make end result dependent upon subordinate/coordinate verb.

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