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The mode of administering the ordinance has also been the subject of many a dispute among eminent theologians and learned divines. Pedobaptists hold that "Baptism with water is an emblem of baptism with the Holy Ghost. The two baptisms, the material and the spiritual, are the one a shadow or figure of the other, and the mode of the material as resembling that of the spiritual" (Edwards).
To the earnest seeker after the Truth, the question will come: Can Christians have "two" baptisms when Paul says, There is one baptism? (Ephesians, 4: 5.) Christian Scientists are satisfied with this plain declaration of the great apostle, and for them there is but one baptism, as there is also but one Lord, one faith, one God and Father of all. Christian Scientists leave a clear field to those who care for shadows and emblems; they seek only after the true Substance, and are satisfied therewith, and do not concern themselves about the river Jordan, the water of the baptistery or of the font.
Another question will be asked: Is water baptism the baptism of Christ, or the Christian baptism? Jesus, the apostles, and the evangelists answer this question. They all say it was "John's baptism," or "the baptism of John." (See Matthew, 21: 25; Mark, 11: 30; Luke, 7: 29; 20: 4; Acts, 1: 22; 10: 37; 18: 25; 19: 3, etc.) John's mission was to prepare the way for Jesus; to make him manifest to Israel, and to those who, through repentance, were willing and ready to acknowledge and receive Jesus as the long-promised Messiah; he administered his baptism. "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me . . . shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Matthew, 3: 11). "There cometh one mightier than I after me, . . . I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost" (Mark, 1: 7, 8). "I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not, . . . The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water . . . . And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost" (John, 1: 26-33). Here John is telling us why he was baptizing with water, and also what the baptism of Christ, or the Christian baptism, was to be.
No one but John was ever sent to baptize with water. In 1 Corinthians, 1:17 Paul says: "Christ sent me not to baptize" (with water), and if he was not sent to baptize thus, neither were the other apostles sent to baptize with water.
Our Christian friends will say, Jesus was baptized in water and we must also be thus baptized. Very well; Jesus was circumcised also, and what about that? Our friends will say that Paul baptized Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. (1 Corinthians, 1: 14, 16.) Yes; and because he had baptized only few he thanks God, for, says he, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." If water baptism were the baptism of Christ, or that baptism with which Jesus commanded his apostles to baptize all the nations (Matthew, 28: 19), would Paul thank God that he had baptized but few with water? The apostles were commanded to baptize the nations in the name of the triune God, but nowhere can we see that they were commanded to baptize into water. In the fulfilment of their mission we see them baptizing "into the name of the Lord," into the life and character of the Holy One of Israel. Why into that name? Because there was "none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts, 4: 12). Could the Corinthian believers be saved if they were baptized into the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians, 1: 13). Although among them that were born of women there had never risen a greater man than John the Baptist (Matthew, 11: 11), could mortals be saved if they were baptized into his name? No; for there is but one Saviour, one Lord, and one Christ.
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark, 16: 16). Our friends will tell us that water baptism is meant here; but if they are right, how could Paul bring salvation to the Gentiles since he was not sent to baptize (with water)? Paul was sent to preach the Gospel, and "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (1 Corinthians, 9: 16), and it is by the preaching of the Gospel of Truth that the nations were to be baptized or washed clean into the name, life, character, and holiness of the Son of God.
Water baptism was but for a season. John says, "He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease" (John, 3: 30). After John had been put in prison, we hear Jesus asking: The baptism of John whence was it? from heaven or of men?" (Matthew, 21: 25; Mark, 11: 30; Luke, 20: 4.) When Jesus asked this question water baptism had already ceased to be the baptism with which converts were to be baptized, for if it had been yet in force Jesus would not have asked, "whence was it?" but "whence is it?" It is true, water baptism was yet administered after Jesus had disappeared. In the case of the eunuch (which our friends never fail to cite as their main proof) we see a man coming to Jerusalem from the distant land of Ethiopia. Everywhere he had heard about John's baptism, and how immense multitudes had been baptized by John. He was undoubtedly like the Jew named Apollos and like the twelve disciples Paul found in Ephesus: he knew only John's baptism. (Acts, 18: 25; 19: 1, 2, 3, 4.) And when he saw some water he asked to be baptized. Note Philip's answer: "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Not "thou must," but "thou mayest." (Acts, 8: 37.)
Philip knew well that if there was no good in water baptism neither was there any evil; and since the eunuch desired John's baptism, Philip having first required faith in Christ, granted the request with "thou mayest." But our friends will say that if water baptism was not the Christian baptism, Philip had no right to administer it. He had as good a right to baptize the treasurer of Queen Candace as Paul had the right to circumcise Timotheus, a Christian believer and disciple whom he found at Lystra. (Acts, 16: 1, 2, 3.) Paul writes to the Galatians (5: 2, 6), "If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing . . . . For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." To the Corinthians (1 Corinthians, 7: 19) he writes: "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God." To the Romans (2: 28), "He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter."
To Paul, "circumcision which is outward in the flesh" was nothing; yet he circumcised a Christian believer, and why? Because this was deemed expedient for the success of his mission among the Jews of that region, for those Jews knew that Timothy had not been circumcised, since his father was a Greek. Philip knew that "water baptism" was not the baptism that saves us. He knew that the true baptism, or the true washing or cleansing, is "that of the heart in the Spirit, and not in the letter," not in material water. But when the eunuch had expressed his desire in these words: "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Philip saw no wrong in granting the request of the eunuch and he baptized him. But because the eunuch was baptized in water, it does not follow that believers must be thus baptized. Because Timothy was circumcised it does not follow that Christians must be circumcised, and until our Christian friends shall prove that John the Baptist was a false prophet Christian Scientists will continue to believe that "He [Christ] shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit," and will recognize this baptism as the only true Christian baptism there can be since it is that "one baptism" with which Christ was to baptize and is now baptizing all true believers. Christians are followers of Christ, not of John.
NOTE. All the italics used in the above article are the author's.
The Christian Science Journal, November, 1898
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