Saturday, July 29, 2006

New Question on the Oklahoma Baptism Issue

Let me first start by saying that I have friends on both sides of the current dialogue over baptism and church membership. I love our Oklahoma churches and pray for God to give His wisdom to all involved. In this article I want to address a question I don't see being discussed. Maybe the reason it isn't being addressed is because it isn't important. I will ask the question anyway.

I believe that baptism is a believer's first public profession of faith. What is the first sign that a person has truly become a believer? They are willing to be baptized. I believe baptism is by immersion, and I agree that a person can't be a church member without being baptized. My question is, "can a person be baptized without being a church member?" The reason I ask this question is because there is a division among Southern Baptists on this issue.

Several years ago at Falls Creek, the preacher for the week got the idea to go ahead and baptize the kids that had received Christ up to that point. So they did. There was a big uproar by some pastors who said that was unbiblical and that the youth would have to be rebaptized in their church once that got back from camp.

We also have the situation in Iraq. One of our troops gives his life to Christ and wants to be baptized and is. Does this baptism count since it wasn't for church membership, but as a testimony that he belongs to Christ?

Did anyone notice that a big deal made about it at the SBC Convention this year. Surely everyone remembers that before each baptism a person announced over the intercom, "The person baptizing them represents the church they will attend." Did it matter?

Now I do feel that 99% of Christians that get baptized in a church want to be members of that church, so this may be a very small issue. Would your church receive someone into church membership who hadn't been baptized into church fellowship, but had been biblically baptized?

Hope this discussion continues to bring baptism to the forefront and sheds some light on my question, "Can a person still be Baptist and believe that you don't have to be a church member to be baptized?" or "If a person wasn't baptized in a church should they be rebaptized?"

One last word, this article isn't meant in anyway to be political. I want to start a dialogue that brings light to these questions. Share what you believe and do, so that we can learn from one another.


Anonymous Always reforming said...

Some thoughts...
What church was Jesus baptized into? What church was the Ethiopian baptized into? What church was Paul baptized into? In Acts 2 we have record that 3,000 were baptized. Were they baptized into the church in Jerusalem? Although many believe that most of those who made decisions that day were not from Jerusalem both other surrounding areas and following Passover went back to their cities. So what church were they a member of? Good discussion question regarding baptizm. It will be interesting to see the discussion following.

Blogger David Rogers said...

Funny you should mention this. I was just in a conversation with a national pastor and his wife here in Spain over this question. A new convert of theirs wanted to be baptized, but was not quite yet convinced about local church membership, preferring to give some time in order to study and think about it. Yet, a lot of people have pointed out that in the N.T. new converts were always baptized immediately. This all gets a bit thorny when you openly and honestly dive into it, in my opinion. It would be great if the the Bible spelled out these things more clearly, but the truth is it doesn't. And I think we need to be more open and merciful on questions on which the Bible is not as clear as we would like it to be.

Blogger OKpreacher said...


I agree with you. Plus, I believe treating other believers with grace and mercy is a pretty good idea.


Blogger GuyMuse said...

This is a big issue for us as well. Both our children have been biblically baptized, but were not baptized into the membership of any particular church. So, yes, I believe a person can be baptized without being a church member. Where in the NT does it even talk about church membership? As believers we become part of the Body of Christ and members of Him. I would welcome anybody pointing out where believers were asked to "join" a church. If they were believers (baptized) they were automatically part of the Body of Christ--the church.

P.S. Thanks for posting my responses to your Seven Questions. We really appreciate the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with your vast readership.

Blogger Shane said...

I am frankly amazed this can be even debated. To suggest that baptism has anything to do with church membership smacks of legalism.

I shouldn't say that. You need to be baptized to be a member. That is fair. But to require that the baptism be performed as part of the process of church membership, or that the baptism represents in any fashion the joining of a specific church - well the first thing that springs to mind is Paul talking about divisions - this man claiming to follow Apollos, this man claiming to follow Paul, this man claiming to follow Christ. There is no question - we are all followers of Christ, first and last. What specific church body or denomination we belong to is of secondary importance and should never be put anywhere near the respectability and meaning of baptism.


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