Christian Baptism, Considered In Reference To The Act And The Subjects -- By: Albert N. Arnold

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 026:101 (Jan 1869)
Article: Christian Baptism, Considered In Reference To The Act And The Subjects
Author: Albert N. Arnold


Christian Baptism, Considered In Reference To The Act And The Subjects

Rev. A. N. Arnold

The body of Christians known as Baptists regard the act of immersion in water as essential to the validity of Christian baptism, and professed believers in Christ, irrespective of their age, as the only proper subjects of this ordinance. These principles, conscientiously held, make it necessary for them to treat as null and void every other act claiming the name of baptism, and every administration of the rite, whether objectionable or not in its form, which is not accompanied by an intelligent profession of faith on the part of the recipient. And as Baptists hold, in common with all other denominations of Christians, that the Lord’s supper was instituted only for the baptized, these principles oblige them to restrict their invitation to partake of the communion to those who have in their judgment duly received the previous rite. No sect repudiates more earnestly than they the iteration of baptism; none regret more sincerely than they the necessity for separation from their brethren at the Lord’s table; but while their convictions remain as they are, no other course is open to them. The reasons of these convictions they are always ready to declare; and, by the liberal courtesy of the Editors of this theological journal, they are permitted to do so here and now. In presenting the Baptist view of the act and subjects of Christian baptism, both convenience and brevity will be secured by the free use of the first person plural. The present writer has indeed no authority to represent his brethren of the same ecclesiastical fold in this matter; but it is presumed that no liability exists to important misrepresentation, as there is no noteworthy difference of opinion among us in regard to the sub-

jects here to be discussed. We shall speak first of the act of baptism, and then of its subjects.

I. The Act Of Baptism

What is the outward act of baptism? The answer to this question must be contained in the word which our Lord employed to designate the rite. We maintain that the word which he employed is not obscure, but plain; not vague, but definite; not general, but particular. We hold that, prior to any critical investigation of its meaning, there is the strongest presumption in favor of its denoting a specific and clearly defined act. Our Lord certainly would not purposely envelop in obscurity the rite by which he wished his disciples, in all nations and to the end of the world, to profess their faith in him and unite themselves to his people. He certainly could not be at a loss to find a word which would make plain to them what he required them to do. Whether the language in which he spoke the words of the autho...

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