Our new pastor has insisted that my husband and I get re-baptized. Shouldn’t my pastor just accept both of our previous baptisms?
Here’s the whole question:
Our new pastor has insisted that my husband and I get re-baptized. I was baptized in a Baptist church at 12, my husband at a non-denominational church. My pastor, a very conservative Independant Baptist) says that he would accept MY baptism because it was in a church with the same beliefs, but not my husbands. He has also requested that I also get re-baptized just so my husband would feel more secure about going through it a second time. Is all of this really necessary or Scriptural? Shouldn’t my pastor just accept both of our previous baptisms?
There are a lot of issues in this question that point to the problems of denominationalism and “churchianity”.
Before we discuss the notion of “re-baptism”, let’s talk about the Pastor’s scriptural duty and authority.
The Pastor, Shepherd, Elder, Bishop (all the same meaning and position in Scripture) are responsible for the spiritual oversight and teaching of the flock as well as protecting the purity of the church. They must not fall short of their God-given role, but neither should it be surpassed.
Is a Pastor responsible to evaluate and judge the baptism of all who come under his/their care? No… and yes.
If a person comes in from a true non-Christian cult or religion, then it is certainly an issue but it starts with the same question that should be asked of anyone coming from another flavor of orthodox Christianity too:
When you were baptized, did you believe that you were a sinner condemned eternally and that Jesus Christ the Son of God shed His blood to pay the penalty that you owed God?
Were you baptized in obedience to God’s command to do so?
If the answer to both of those are “yes” then the Shepherd’s reasonable duty to make sure that those who come into the flock are professing belief in accordance to Scripture is complete.
To go past that is to simply start applying conditions and judging factors that have NO Scriptural basis or authority.
- What church did you attend? Sorry, wrong denomination, we have some differences with them.
- How old were you? Sorry, I don’t think you were old enough.
- Why did you respond? Sorry, I don’t think that is a sincere reason.
- You believed correctly about sin and Jesus, but what was your belief about _________ (pick one: baptism, Bible versions, the Trinity, the Sabbath, original sin, Calvinism, eternal security…)? Sorry, I don’t think you really understood what true Christianity is.
- How has your life been since then? Sorry, I don’t think you were really saved because you haven’t lived the way we think a Christian should.
- “I, THE PASTOR/PREACHER/ELDER HAVE DECIDED YOU MUST BE BAPTIZED ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO SCRIPTURAL COMMAND, PRECEDENT, EXAMPLE OR PRINCIPLE THAT GIVES ME THIS AUTHORITY (but I can make some great sounding logical and authoritative arguments for it anyway).”
I’m going to get an earful from my Pastor/Elder friends for going after this sacred cow because the “power” to declare someone’s need for re-baptism based on things other than “were you baptized in a genuine cult/non-Christian setting?” has been wielded with impunity for as long as denominations have existed. Memberships (a WHOLE other issue) are denied; fellowship is denied; leadership is denied; the ability to teach or counsel has been denied.
I was once told by a Pastor that I needed to be rebaptized at a new church where they wanted me to lead despite NO question about my salvation. However, I baptized in a different church that some people, including the Pastor, would have disagreements with.
When I questioned the authority or Scripturalness of such a requirement (and there was no doubt in their mind I was an authentic Christian), he simply said it would help me “fit in” and like Paul, be “all things to all men”.
Hmmm… sounds good but that fact remains that it is simply not Biblical. And isn’t the point of Shepherding and teaching to be faithful to Scripture?
Not to be too hard on their motives, I understand that most Pastors are simply trying to protect the unity of belief and teaching in their flock. But are we accomplishing that by going BEYOND what the very same Bible beliefs we are trying to preserve actually teaches? Think about the actual logic of this:
“We want to preserve the unity and purity of this group of people who follow the Bible by applying a test and standard that is not even in the very Bible we are trying to make sure everyone is following.”
The Bible makes no mention of or even acknowledges “re-baptism”. It is a by-product and phenomenon of denominationalism and religious schisms.
Think about this: no matter how logically it is presented, the unavoidable conclusion must be that a person wasn’t saved if re-baptism is necessary. Why?
In churches that believe baptism is essential to salvation, then it is obvious. If you have to be re-baptized, the person requiring the re-baptism MUST believe you are not truly saved or else being rebaptized is utterly meaningless.
For churches that believe baptism is a public act of obedience following repentance and saving faith, what possible reason could there be for requesting re-baptism? If the person’s beliefs about the Gospel were so askew as to disqualify their act of baptism as acceptable to God, then you can conclude nothing else but that they did not having a true saving knowledge of Christ to begin with. If it was acceptable to God, does any human have the power to say it should be repeated?
Think… what is so doctrinally complex about obeying the command to be baptized? We’re simply commanded to do it. Scripture doesn’t say “Repent and be baptized, understanding the dotrines of election and the Trinity, accurately stating the theological principles of original sin and eternal security, and above all else, make sure the name across the door of your church is the right one”.
No, the Bible says “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2.38). It doesn’t qualify age, church affiliation, understanding or Biblical knowledge. The qualifying factors are belief in Jesus and repentance. The essential ingredient is obedience.
Entire households, single individuals and groups of people were simply baptized immediately upon believing the Gospel message. There were no classes, initiations, membership requirements or programs to attend. They believe the gospel and then obeyed the command to be baptized. Plain and simple with no denominational confusion or complexity.
All that to say this: my personal opinion is that this whole idea of a spiritual leader evaluating everyone’s baptism (beyond whether or not you were baptized OUTSIDE of Christianity) is first of all UNSCRIPTURAL and seems to be more about control, tradition and usurping authority where God has not ordained it as a whole even if the individual doing it is simply following what they’re denomination has always done.
To declare that one person who does NOT need to be re-baptized accompany the person who DOES for the sake of comfort, is taking it to an even further, almost absurd extreme.
Where is Scripture concerned about our feelings or comfort when it comes to obedience? Re-baptism goes beyond Scripture, and re-baptism for someone who doesn’t need it, passes into the realm of human foolishness.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS RE-BAPTISM SCRIPTURALLY. Why? Because if a true “re”-baptism needs to occur (perhaps because someone was baptized in a cult) then there was no Christian baptism to begin with, so the baptism is not “re-baptism” any way. It is the first.
This is what “churchianity” is all about: going beyond God’s word and declaring things a “test of salvation or fellowship” that God has NOT. The name of your church, instruments or not, Bible versions, charismatic gifts, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, eschatology – when these things going beyond being “issues”, even doctrinal positions, and are elevated to tests of salvation and fellowship, this is man turning Christianity into “religion”.
It is not a Pastor’s duty, nor do they have the authority to “accept or reject” anyone’s baptism unless there is a question about whether or not it occurred outside of “Christianity” completely.
In closing, if an individual Christian for what ever reason his Holy Spirit led conscience leads him to believe it is necessary to be rebaptized does so, that is strictly a matter between the Lord in an individual. If a person wants to be rebaptized because he believes God is leading him to do so and that it will honor God, we should accept that at face value and let it be between him and the Lord unless there is some very obvious and extreme reason to question the decision.
Readers, what do you think? Should people be required to be re-baptized for switching churches or denominations? Is re-baptism for any reason Biblical? Let me know here: https://www.seriousfaith.com/message_boards/toast.asp?sub=show&action=posts&fid=5&tid=1211