A brother sent me an e-mail response a few months ago on the subject of re-baptism, when coming from a denominational church. He says that, even if one was in a denominational church and may have been taught error about certain things, one may still be saved if he has the proper understanding of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, and was baptized (buried) for the remission of sins (which some denominations teach). He admits, however, that one would still have to leave the denominational church because of the errors with worship, and other things relevant to rightly continuing in the faith (Matthew 28:20)
In this post, I would like a response to his reasoning behind what he believes. I have placed bold emphasis on the portion (below) that I especially want you to comment on.
In him saying that one can be saved in a denomination in the midst of erroneous teachings, but the faithful teaching of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection (i.e the plan of salvation) being intact , he says, "At what point does the messenger nullify the message? How much error can a church or person hold before those who are converted by his efforts are invalidated? No one seems to be able or willing to answer this question". In saying this, he is speaking in refutation of those who say you have to be re-baptized to be saved when coming from a denominational church, and into the church of Christ.
Would you comment on this? Thank you, and may God bless you.
That baptism is required for salvation is beyond doubt (Acts 2:37-38; Romans 6:1-6; I Peter 3:21; ...). However, Paul references his commission in answer to those who are emphasizing the one who performs the baptism. He clearly shows that who baptizes is not important; otherwise, he would have been commissioned to baptize!Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote:I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (I Corinthians 1:14-17)
Again, if the performer of baptism was important, why did Jesus not baptize anyone Himself? Why did He make His disciples do it? If some blessing was associated with performer of baptism, why did Jesus and Paul deny others that blessing? Elsewhere, Jesus taught that the nature of God is to give good gifts (Matthew 7:7-11), and Paul sought to bestow spiritual blessings (Romans 1:11). The very fact that Jesus and Paul both made a point to not baptize people indicates that it would have been misleading or troublesome to have done so! The blessing in baptism comes by Jesus' resurrection, from God - not from the performer (I Peter 3:21).John, an apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote:Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), (John 4:1-2)
Remember, given enough time, mankind has a tendency to over-emphasize things, even becoming superstitious (Numbers 21:6-9; II Kings 18:1-4). Can you imagine what would have happened if Jesus had baptized people on a regular basis?
That being said, I would offers some caution. JSM17's leading "if" is a BIG "if"!
My experience has been that most people coming out of denominational faiths do not exactly recall why they were baptized. Most believe it was for the remission of sins, especially after they have been studying NT baptism for a while. On occasion, some questioning will jar their memory; however, it can easily be resolved by one of two different ways:JSM17 wrote:If a person, that is a repentant, confessing sinner is baptized into Christ scripturally, then there is no reason for him or her to be rebaptized by a "Church of Christ" person.
- Be baptized again, just to be sure and remove all doubt. Are you sure it was for the remission of sins? Were you baptized immediately, or did you wait until a regularly scheduled date, or until enough people at the church were ready to be baptized too? Were you accepted into the old church once you confessed or witnessed, or once you were baptized? What did people say to you immediately before and after you were baptized?
- Go with the person in question, and tell the person who performed the original baptism (or preacher, deacon, or elder at the same church) that you are considering being re-baptized in water "for the remission of sins", because you believe it essential for salvation. Referencing a Bible passage or two always helps to clarify your intentions. Generally, an eye-opening discussion then ensues.
Should a person be baptized again, if they were baptized for the wrong reason? Absolutely!
In comparing the two baptisms, please note that the medium was the same (water). The reason was similar (both for repentance unto remission of sins - Mark 4:4). They both required confession (Mark 1:5). However, the authority and foundation was different. One was looking unto Jesus. The other was directly authorized by Jesus! Consequently, they needed to be baptized again. Similarly, if a person is baptized for the wrong reason (for example, because a person believed that he was saved, and baptism was required to join a local church), or if one is baptized under the wrong authority (for example, because a certain denomination commanded it), then such a one needs to be baptized again - but, not because the wrong person was preforming the baptism.Luke, the inspired historian, wrote:And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:1-5)
In summary, does it matter who baptizes a person? No. That facet is minimized in Scripture (I Corinthians 1:14-17; John 4:1-2). Can a person be re-baptized? Yes, and he should, if he were baptized for the wrong reason or upon the wrong foundation (Acts 19:1-5). Does this particular person need to be baptized again? I don't know. That is between him and God. After I questioned him, like above, if he assured me that he was baptized for the remission of sins, then I would trust him and God. (Trust him, because we are to give the benefit of the doubt - I Corinthians 13:7. Trust God, because He is the judge, and He has promised to chasten us and reveal our errors to us - Romans 14:4; James 4:11-12; Hebrews 12:6-9; Philippians 3:15.) Otherwise, as JSM17 said, we become like the denominations, who emphasize the "name". Or, we become like the earliest "denominations", who brought the name of Christ down to the level of man, and stood condemned (... or, "I am of Christ" - I Corinthians 1:12).