Friday, September 19, 2008

One more post on Baptism and the IMB (posted primarily so I don't hijack my brother's blog comment stream).

On the issue of Baptism and eternal security, I submit once again that a baptism should not be disqualified because of a lack of belief in the doctrine of eternal security (or because of what they believe about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, or any number of other doctrines). Thomas White, in a White Paper for the Center for Theological Research at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary made the following summary statement on the validity of baptism: “The determining factor is the ordinance itself. Was the ordinance performed with the proper subject, in the proper mode, and with the proper meaning by a true church? If so, then it is valid” (White 2006, 10). In most cases, for a person baptized by immersion in an Arminian church, the answer to all four questions is “YES.”

A person who disagrees with my statement can show me all kinds of beliefs from the AG or any other Arminian denomination that are in error and I would agree with them. I am a Baptist, afterall, because I believe Baptist doctrine. The fact that other doctrines are in error still does not change the fact that their view of water baptism is identical to ours. When I was baptized, I could have readily affirmed the BFM statement on Baptism, as could almost any Arminian who practices believer's baptism. Yet, some want to argue that one's entire doctrine must be correct for baptism to be valid. If you believe that, then it's time for YOU to be re-baptized :)

If baptism is a picture of salvation, then only two doctrines must be correct for their baptism to be valid: (1) They must have a correct view of salvation. Few would suggest that Arminians teach a false gospel (for those who do, I have addressed that issue here). (2) They must have a proper view of baptism. (Note to Baptist Theologue, I have already demonstrated that such is the case, but you seem unwilling to accept their stated view.) Let me be clear. My view on Baptism is no different now than it was when I wrongly denied eternal security. I will not submit to rebaptism nor require anyone else to do so merely because some other pastor, denominational leader, or trustee claims I or my former church did not believe what we in fact DO believe.

Further, while I do not expect all Baptists to agree with me on this, although they should because it is the biblical position :), I DO expect the Convention to support my right and my church’s right to differ on this view and to send missionaries through the mission board that we fund. If the belief that a denial of eternal security negates baptism is one that is important enough to disallow missionary service, it is important enough to put in the BFM, and important enough to disassociate my church.

Some have related the IMB trustees’ response to the differing views on baptism to its response to differing views of divorce. Namely, that the IMB does not allow divorcees to serve as full time missionaries. I do not know enough about the history or rationale of the divorce policy or any possible actions at the Convention level related to it to offer informed commentary on it at this point. However, I could envision a scenerio in which divorced persons are denied service on the pragmatic grounds much like they deny service of persons with high a Body Mass Index or certain medical concerns. If the trustees have based that decision on doctrinal grounds, however, and if the Convention has not spoken to the issue elsewhere, then I suppose I would add the divorce policy to the list of IMB personnel policies that should be reversed. Indeed, the Convention acknowledges there is no consensus on the issue. They also list a number of other doctrinal issues on which Baptists have not taken a stand. I do not think it is proper for the mission board trustees to make policy decisions on any of such issues, regardless of any perceived consensus among Southern Baptists. Doctrinal issues must be decided at the Convention level, not by trustees.

Back to the BFM… I think it is certainly demonstrable, that the BFM has intentionally left out certain tertiary doctrines (on tertiary doctrines see Mohler, “Theological Triage”). The BFM statement on election, for example, is intentionally worded to allow for varying opinions including Calvinism. The statement on end times is intentionally worded to allow for various views on the millennium and tribulation, etc. While Baptist polity allows for the IMB trustees to set their own policies, one should not support the Trustees if they were to set a personnel policy that disallowed Calvinists or Dispensationalists or people who preached from the NIV from serving with the Board? Incidently, the same poll that demonstrated a majority view on Baptism, showed a majority are concerned about the rise of Calvinism. Should Calvinist missionary candidates be worried that they may be the next target of IMB personnel policies? Let’s hope not. The poll shows that one fourth of SBC pastors do not practice the rebaptism of Arminians – a view allowed by the BFM. The IMB should not be making doctrinal policies at all, except those that are consistent with the BFM2000 – the consensus document of our Convention and the basis for Southern Baptist cooperation.




Joe Blackmon said...

I agree with you that the particulars of someone's understanding of doctrine should not invalidate their baptisim as long as they are 1) dunked in water and 2) they have had a sincere conversion experience and have professed faith in Jesus Christ and testify that they have repented of their sins. There is NO WAY that I understood all the doctrines of scripture, least of all enternal security, when I was baptized.

That's all I've got.

Todd Benkert said...


Thanks for chiming in. I believe that this is biblical position and the majority view among evangelicals, even if many Southern Baptists pastors would re-baptize.


Chris Johnson said...

Brother Todd,

You make good points based on scripture and not tradition. That is refreshing.

Thanks for the post.


Todd Benkert said...


I pray that basing our doctrines on Scripture rather than on tradition will be an ongoing consequence of the Conservative Resurgence and its emphasis on the Bible.

-- Todd

Chris Gustafson said...

I think we are dealing with a big problem here "how is the IMB, or any part of the SBC, going to be run?"
The present system, a few trustees running the show without any form of accountablity, may have worked in the past put it is no longer effective for the 21st century.
Something new needs to be found where problems like this can be addressed and agreed upon by a larger number of Baptist and not a select few.

James said...


I will confess that much of this goes above my full level of understanding, but what concerns me is that in this case the IMB has named itself judge and jury in determining whether someone's belief in Christ is valid and correct.

The truth of the matter is that we come to a full understanding of Christ, not instantly, but rather over a lifetime.

Over that lifetime even our doctrinal views may shift.

The IMB has every right to set guidelines for who it sends to the mission field. But the determination should be based on what an individual believes, not in where the person was baptized.

Asking for rebaptism of any born again Christian is questioning a persons "heart". Such judgements are reserved for God, not man.

Lastly, does the IMB continue to accept mission offerings from those churches who's views differ from their own? I think you know where I'm going with that question.