I'd put in months worth of work organizing, understanding, and categorizing both sides, debated online in multiple venues, listened to hundreds of hours of sermons and podcasts, and this was where they were going to counter-attack? No. My initial assumption in the introduction to this series that the two views were pretty close together was wildly off base, I'm certain of that. It was a foregone conclusion then that my Pastors were going to lose this one. Take a look at how the Baptists all frame baptism as our profession of faith.
The London Baptist Confession of faith, chapter 25, part 1 satates that baptism is,
a sign of his fellowship with Him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.
The Baptist Faith and Message which guides the Southern Baptist convention is even more explicit about this when it says,
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water. …It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus.
The prince of preachers Charles Spurgeon says about baptism,Baptism, an act of full immersion following Christ’s example, is undertaken by those spiritually mature enough to understand its profound, symbolic significance: resurrection to new life in Christ.
William Pinson who runs the website 'Baptist Distinctives' says:...It seems to me that baptism is connected with, nay, directly follows belief…Again, baptism is also Faith’s taking her proper place. It is, or should be one of her first acts of obedience. Reason looks at baptism, and says, ‘Perhaps there is nothing in it; it cannot do me any good.’ ‘True,’ says Faith, ‘and therefore will I observe it. If it did me some good my selfishness would make me do it, but inasmuch as to my sense there is no good in it, since I am bidden by my Lord thus to fulfill all righteousness, it is my first public declaration that a thing which looks to be unreasonable and seems to be unprofitable, being commanded by God, is law, is law to me.”
Bob Vradenburgh of Friendship Baptist church (and who could not sound more like a typical baptist if he tried) says the following,Thus, baptism is symbolic and not sacramental. Baptists believe that the Bible teaches that baptism symbolizes that a person has been saved and is not a means of salvation. Baptism is not a means of channeling saving grace but rather is a way of testifying that saving grace has been experienced. It does not wash away sin but symbolizes the forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ.
Baptism is the only true expression of one's profession of faith in Christ as Savior and Lord that is set forth in the New Testament. It is a true picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. When a person is scripturally baptized, he is openly identifying himself with Christ, acknowledging that he has both died and is raised again. He has died to self, to sin, and to false religion, and he has been resurrected spiritually…
In the early days of Christianity, the sign or badge of being a follower of Christ was baptism. Christians were hated and persecuted. A man might profess Christ as much as he liked, but until he submitted to baptism he was not willing to be "branded for Christ". He wore no badge that identified him with the despised Nazarene in the eyes of the world.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency in contrast says,Today, Christianity as an institutionalized religion is much more fashionable (at least in the western world), but the badge remains the same. Are you a believer of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? Have you sincerely repented of sin and received His mercy and forgiveness? Then PROVE IT by publicly wearing the "badge"?
Notice how different that is. The Reformed see baptism first and foremost as beginning with God and reaching down to us, not vice versa."Baptism enacts and seals what the Word proclaims: God's redeeming grace offered to all people. Baptism is God's gift of grace and also God's summons to respond to that grace. Baptism calls to repentance, to faithfulness, and to discipleship. Baptism gives the church its identity and commissions the church for ministry to the world."
Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life.
And B.B. Warfield is really on point for Presbyterianism when he says,God's sign, communicated to a child as by an impressed seal, confirms the promise given to the pious parent, and declares it to be ratified that the Lord will be God not only to him but to his seed; and that he wills to manifest his goodness and grace not only to him but to his descendents even to the thousandth generation."
Baptism is the form that the circumcision which God gave Abraham in the old covenant takes in the new. The apostle therefore called it "the circumcision of Christ," Col. ii. 11, the circumcision, that is, which we have received in this new dispensation in which Christ is now Lord and Master. In the passage from the old covenant to the new the form of the rite was changed, not its substance. It remains a "sign" which God has given his people, marking them out as his, and a "seal" binding them indissolubly to him and pledging them his unbroken favor. Baptism, as circumcision, is a gift of God to his people, not of his people to God. Abraham did not bring circumcision to God; he "received" it from God. God gave it to him as a "sign" and a "seal," not to others but to himself. It is inadequate, therefore, to speak of baptism as "the badge of a Christian man's profession." By receiving it, we do make claim to be members of Christ, and our reception of it does mark us out to the observation of our fellowmen as his followers. But this is only an incidental effect. The witness of baptism is not to others but to ourselves; and it is not by us but by God that the witness is borne. We have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and God gives us this sign as a perpetual witness that this faith is acceptable to him, and as a seal, an abiding pledge, that he will always treat it as such. He who has been baptized bears in himself God's testimony and engagement to his salvation.More could be said of course, but I think that's sufficient to demonstrate the real and substantial difference that exists between this and this. Presbyterians and Baptists have a very different understanding of what baptism is. This is undeniable.
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