Gary L. Hutchens
Baptism is a doctrine that is as clearly taught as pretty much any New Testament doctrine one can think of. If a person simply reads what the scriptures teach on the subject of baptism, he will most likely come away believing correctly. It is truly a pivotal doctrine. It is rather difficult to not understand what the Bible teaches on baptism. The scriptures are, simply put, just that clear on the subject!
Somewhat amazingly, though, there are probably few New Testament doctrines over which people are more confused than over the doctrine of baptism. The devil has really worked a number on folks, including most supposed Christian leaders, when it comes to baptism. What the scriptures teach on baptism is very straightforward and easy to understand. Yet, the teachings of the denominational world on this basic New Testament doctrine are incredibly divisive.
Almost all religious groups that call themselves Christian believe in and practice baptism in some manner. Some teach that baptism is required for salvation, that baptism is the point at which a person’s sins are forgiven. Others teach that baptism is not required at all for salvation but that the Bible teaches that people should be baptized. Some teach baptism to be something like an open demonstration of faith, after a person has already been saved. Still others would probably hold that being baptized is really not necessary at all and is optional to the individual.
Some denominations teach that baptism can only be by immersion. Others teach that sprinkling and pouring are acceptable for baptism. Many of those would probably hold that either immersion, sprinkling or pouring can suffice.
Some teach that a person has to be old enough to believe in Jesus and understand the difference between right and wrong before he can be baptized. They would hold that an infant cannot understand the concept of sin and is therefore innocent and guiltless.
Others insist that newborn babies need to be baptized, because they are born already guilty of the sins of their forefathers, dating all the way back to Adam. Still other groups would probably let parents decide as to whether or not to have their babies baptized, that it doesn’t really matter one way or the other.
Some believe that people should be baptized in running water, not in a manufactured baptistery. Some practice baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, while others insist that baptism should be performed only in the name of Jesus.
The devil must take particular pleasure in seeing such confusion, so many contradictory positions and so much outright error being taught on such a simple, fundamental New Testament doctrine. In the next article we’ll look at what the scriptures actually teach on baptism…
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Gary L. Hutchens