How About Baptism?

Just a few comments that may be of benefit to any who wonder about such things. They can’t understand, for instance, why Presbyterians pour water on someone’s head rather than immerse him.

Of course, there’s a reason—biblically!

The word Baptizo doesn’t mean “immerse” as some think. That is a kindred word, Bapto (used in Luke 16 where the rich man begs to have Lazarus dip [bapto] his finger in the water).

Baptizo, rather, has the idea of putting things together so that they stay together—joining. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 12:13 Paul speaks of being baptized (baptizo) into one body by the Spirit. Surely, we’re not dipped into the church and then removed!

In the Scriptures, baptize is used with such modal terms as poured out on, shed forth, sat upon, fell upon, came upon, and the like. Water baptism pictures Spirit baptism which is always a coming down upon. The water, like the Spirit, is applied to the person, not the person to the water. We believe in one Lord, one faith, one baptism (which is an inward reality with an outer symbol picturing it).

There—just in case you were wondering.

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Editorial comment from Donn Arms

The observant will note that this blog entry by Dr. Adams appears in the middle of summer when normally there is less traffic on our site. My baptist friends already wonder about me (a former GARBC pastor) and this blog will perhaps serve to confirm their suspicions. Fear not. Dr. Adams and I have wonderful and animated discussions about baptism (among other things) and we remain friends—so far. I happily post his blog on baptism for three reasons:

  1. It’s his site as well as mine—free speech and all that.
  2. My Baptist friends would do well to understand (and carefully think through) what a thoughtful Presbyterian believes rather than embrace the straw man we were taught in Seminary about covenant theologians who “won’t take the Bible seriously” (quote from one of my seminary profs).
  3. I learned a long time ago not to argue Greek with Jay Adams.

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