We Believe In: Water Baptism -- By: Arthur L. Farstad
JOTGES 3:1 (Spring 90) p. 3
We Believe In:
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19, 20).
If one were writing an article on baptism for a Baptist publication—or a Church of Christ, Presbyterian, or Roman Catholic one—the task would not be too difficult. Each group has well-defined positions on all aspects of this doctrine. The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, however, is for evangelical Christians who believe in salvation by grace through faith and yet are found in many separate groups. Our readership holds differing views not only on the mode but also the meaning of baptism, and perhaps most important of all, the proper candidates for water baptism. Difficult as it may be, in this article we propose to examine the consensus of nearly all Christians on water baptism.
Many sincere Christians get a little upset when such a controversial subject as baptism is broached; however, except for those who reject water baptism, this will not be a divisive or polemical article, but rather (we trust) a unifying and edifying one.
II. The Christian Consensus
For nearly two thousand years almost all who profess to be followers of Christ have sought to obey His command quoted at the head of this article. Through the centuries various groups have worked out differing traditions as to when, who, why, and how candidates are to be baptized.
Nevertheless there is a very broad consensus: People have universally
JOTGES 3:1 (Spring 90) p. 4
made contact with water in a rite signifying that they are Christians or that they are meant to be brought up in the Christian faith.
III. The Current Exceptions
Perhaps the handful of exceptions to the practice of water baptism constitutes an example of what is popularly called “the exception that proves the rule.”
Three groups in contemporary Christendom, one harking back to the seventeenth century, and two from the nineteenth, have chosen not to believe in or practice water baptism at all. Two of these, the Society of Friends (popularly called “Quakers”) and the Salvation Army, have been very active in valuable social work. The third group, generally identified as a ultra-dispensationalists” (though obviously not their own chosen designation) rests on such subtle...
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