Rebaptizing

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  • theophilus
    started a topic Rebaptizing

    Rebaptizing

    In discussions of baptism some advocates of infant baptism have said that a person should only be baptized once. A person who has been baptized as an infant should never by baptized again as an adult. There is one kind or rebaptism that I don't recall ever being discussed. What if a person chooses to be baptized and then realizes he wasn't actually saved when he was baptized? When he does get saved should be be baptized again?

    I was raised in a church that was liberal theologically and I don't recall ever hearing a clear explanation of how to be saved. I came to the conclusion that baptism was necessary for salvation and when I was 14 years old I was baptized and joined the church. A little over two years later I heard the gospel clearly explained and was saved. At first I didn't think about the need for baptism because I had already been baptized. Later I realized that baptism in the Bible always followed salvation and I came to the conclusion that my first baptism wasn't valid so I was baptized again. It wasn't at the same church where I was first baptized; I left that church because I realized that many of the things it taught were contrary to the Bible.

    I am certain that being baptized again was the right thing for me to do, but I am interested in what other members of this forum think about it.

  • Knotical
    replied
    Originally posted by theophilus View Post
    But Jesus said he came into the world t save sinners. If we have received the salvation he offers we don't need to ask God's forgiveness; we already have it.
    Um, yeah we do. That is all part of the process of accepting Jesus as our savior. Repenting, asking for forgiveness, and accepting salvation.

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  • theophilus
    replied
    Originally posted by Francis View Post
    I also think that nobody is saved because the Bible says everybody is a sinner.
    But Jesus said he came into the world t save sinners. If we have received the salvation he offers we don't need to ask God's forgiveness; we already have it.

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  • Francis
    replied
    I think that we should not be rebaptised. Many people do support the idea but we should be asking for God's forgiveness instead. I also think that nobody is saved because the Bible says everybody is a sinner. Those who say that they are saved also do sin and they must ask God to forgive them.

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  • Knotical
    replied
    When people are baptized multiple times it really only says to me they are doing it for vanity's sake. There is the school of thought that dovetails on "We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." that says that regardless of when the forgiveness happens, pre or post, the single baptism is all that is necessary as the outward sign. It is ultimately between the individual and God as to when forgiveness is facilitated, but multiple baptisms are completely unnecessary.

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  • Novelangel
    replied
    Originally posted by Knotical View Post
    This actually was a problem addressed by Paul. Basically his point was getting re-baptized was the equivalent of being recircumcized (since baptism replaced circumcision), which is completely unnecessary and tantamount to self mutilation. The are only two reasons for baptism, one is if you are born into a Christian family you are baptized as a sign that you are covered under the same covenant as the rest of the family. The other is when you are converted as an adult.

    Quite honestly you should really evaluate the reason for the re-baptism. More often than not it comes down to something to make you feel better for some reason.
    I LOVE this answer! Re-baptism does seem completely unnecessary, at least to me. I was baptized with water as a baby, and baptized in the Holy Spirit as an adult, so I guess that just about covers it. I see no reason whatsoever to go about the whole water process again. I never thought of being re-baptized as being tantamount to getting re-circumcised, what an interesting comparison, and very true. You don't need to get baptized again to belong to the family of God and it has always irritated me when I hear a pastor deliver the 'baptism ceremony' and say things like, "welcome to the family of God", to that person after dousing him/her. Some people act as if water alone could bring a person into the Kingdom of God, which it cannot.

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  • Smithee
    replied
    I know someone who has been baptized three times. She was baptized when she was a baby. That was the first time. Got baptized a second time in college as an adventist. Ten years later she was baptized again. This time she was a pentecostal. I think it's all a matter of choice. If baptism makes you feel you are starting a new life in Christ then I think it's OK to be baptized more than once.

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  • theophilus
    replied
    I assume you are referring to this part of the Creed: "We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." When I was baptized the first time my sins had not been forgiven so unless you believe that baptism is the way to have our sins forgiven my first baptism served no purpose.

    Leave a comment:


  • Knotical
    replied
    This actually was a problem addressed by Paul. Basically his point was getting re-baptized was the equivalent of being recircumcized (since baptism replaced circumcision), which is completely unnecessary and tantamount to self mutilation. The are only two reasons for baptism, one is if you are born into a Christian family you are baptized as a sign that you are covered under the same covenant as the rest of the family. The other is when you are converted as an adult.

    By brother did go through a re-baptism and I pointed out he had been baptized as an infant (I know, cuz I was there for the ceremony).

    Quite honestly you should really evaluate the reason for the re-baptism. More often than not it comes down to something to make you feel better for some reason.

    Leave a comment:


  • William
    replied
    Originally posted by theophilus View Post
    In discussions of baptism some advocates of infant baptism have said that a person should only be baptized once.
    G'morning Theo,

    Mind you, it is not only advocates of infant baptism, but the Nicene Creed that the Church professes. I think the burden should be upon the shoulders of those that profess the Nicene Creed, and yet practice an act contrary to the profession.

    Individuals request rebaptism because they want to do the right thing. The pastoral goal should be to add maturity and understanding to that nascent faith and zeal. I was baptized as a youth, so young I didn't remember it, but I have the paperwork to prove it. A couple of years ago I was rebaptized, my then evangelical pastor hadn't any issue with rebaptizing me. He told the entire congregation why I was being rebaptized. Was he right or wrong? Lets just say that after he rebaptized me and communicated to others my reasoning at least one other person that was baptized young and couldn't remember asked to be rebaptized. No doubt, my action and the pastor communicated doubt towards those that were already truly baptized. Was I wrong being rebaptized, yes I was. My infant baptism was a true trinitrarian baptism, and it actually wasn't faith that brought me to rebaptism, but doubt. I am truly sorry that I caused other Covenant brethren to stumble.

    Controversy over rebaptism erupted during the Protestant Reformation. Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli agreed with Augustine and the historic position of the church regarding trinitarian baptism, as did their successors in both the Lutheran and Reformed communions. But more radical reformers associated with the “Anabaptist” movement insisted that converts from Rome be rebaptized. The Anabaptists rejected both Roman Catholic and mainstream Protestant baptism because it was administered to infants. Noting the close New Testament relationship between baptism and faith, and also that Scripture did not explicitly command the baptism of infants, Anabaptists argued that baptism is a sign of faith and an act of obedience which presupposes the active faith of the recipient.This argument, of course, is pressed endlessly in baptistic churches today. Such churches assert that a conversion experience and conscious acceptance of Christ are required for baptism.

    What exactly is baptism, and what does it signify? The Presbyterian and Reformed tradition has rightly insisted on the close relation between the sacraments and the covenant—the sacraments are “signs and seals of the covenant of grace” (WCF 27.1). This confessional language emerges directly from Scripture itself, where circumcision is described as a “sign of the covenant” and a “seal of the righteousness that he [Abraham] had by faith” (Gen. 17:11; Rom. 4:11). The application of these terms to baptism follows from the clear spiritual parallels between circumcision and baptism. Both symbolize repentance (Jer. 4:4; Acts 2:38), regeneration (Deut. 30:6; Col. 2:12), and spiritual cleansing (Is. 52:1; Eph. 5:26). Furthermore, baptism is identified as a “circumcision” done by Christ Himself in Col. 2:11-12.

    The covenant relationship must not, however, be viewed as a merely legal arrangement between God and human beings (similar to a modern contract). When the covenant is viewed in this way, legalism almost inevitably results, with disastrous consequences for the church. Rather, the covenant relationship is one of profound communion between God and human beings.

    The covenantal divine-human relationship comes to fullest expression in Jesus Christ—the God-Man and Mediator of the covenant (John 1:14; 1 Tim. 2:5). As a sinless human being, Christ kept the terms of the covenant for us (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15). As a perfect sacrifice for sin, Jesus bore the penalty of the covenant curses (Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:14-15). This divine-human communion is realized in the life of the Christian through spiritual union with Christ, in whom we are justified, sanctified, adopted as God’s children, and glorified.

    The New Testament sacraments reflect this christocentric character of covenant communion—they symbolize first and foremost the union of the believer with Christ. The Lord’s Supper signifies the “new covenant in his blood” (1 Cor. 11:25; cf. Mark 14:24), and it is Christ Himself who baptizes Christians into union with Him and His death and resurrection (Col. 2:11-12). As a sign and seal of the covenant promises, baptism finds its focus in Christ, the One in whom all God’s covenant promises receive their resounding “Yes” (2 Cor. 1:20).

    But what about the relationship between baptism and faith? While a close relationship between faith and baptism is evident in Scripture (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:12; 18:8), we should not conclude that baptism is merely a sign of faith. Notice that in Gen. 17:11 circumcision is commanded by God as “a sign of the covenant” between God and Abraham. Furthermore, in Rom. 4:11 Abraham’s circumcision is described as a “seal of the righteousness which he had by faith.” Again, the emphasis is upon the content of God’s covenant promise (the righteousness that was to come through the greater Seed of Abraham—Jesus Christ), and not on Abraham’s response of faith. Baptism, therefore, is not a sign of faith. Rather, it signifies God’s covenant promises to the believer and applies or “seals” those covenant promises and benefits to the believer.

    Baptism also constitutes initiation into the church as the Body of Christ, the covenant community, and the sphere of divine salvation (Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27). The Nicene Creed rightly asserts that there is “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” There is but one Body of Christ, and Paul explicitly ties the singularity of baptism to this glorious unity of the church in Christ in Eph. 4:4-6: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

    Thus we see that baptism is a sign and seal of the covenant promises to the believer, and that these covenant promises find their substance and realization in Jesus Christ, who is Himself the content of the covenant. Furthermore, Jesus Christ Himself baptizes the Christian into union with Himself and into the covenant community. In short, baptism is the once-for-all initiation of the Christian into union with Christ and into the church as the Body of Christ and covenant community.

    The external form of the sacrament is specified in the New Testament. In Matt. 28:19 Jesus tells His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In obedience to this Great Commission, the church has historically insisted on baptism with water in the triune Name. Insistence upon the triune form also stems from the fact that deviations from this form usually signal deviations from orthodox trinitarian doctrine.

    The question remains, what about baptisms performed by groups with which we have doctrinal disagreements? As we have seen, trinitarian orthodoxy was the historic test of baptismal validity. Only since 1845 have some Presbyterian churches in this country rejected certain trinitarian baptisms outright, generally on grounds that the Roman Catholic rejection of justification by faith alone is a departure from fundamental and necessary Christian belief. We must remember, however, that the church’s understanding of biblical doctrine has often been imperfect. For example, despite St. Paul’s teachings on this point, the doctrine of justification by faith alone was largely obscured until the Protestant Reformation. Do we conclude from this that the church ceased to exist between the death of Paul and the Reformation? Of course not! Such a suggestion contradicts Christ’s promise in Matt. 16:18, and it ignores the fact that the rich doctrinal heritage of the early and medieval church was transmitted to the Reformers and to us by the Roman Catholic Church. When speaking of a “true church” we should recognize that there are degrees of adherence to the truth. We Presbyterians maintain that the system of doctrine enshrined in the Westminster Standards faithfully summarizes the teaching of Scripture, but we also recognize that the church must always be reforming itself in obedience to God’s Word. There are sound theological and historical reasons, then, for continuing the classical Christian practice of requiring adherence to the Trinitarian orthodoxy as the only test of baptismal validity.

    ECCLESIAL APPLICATIO

    The theology of baptism suggests that rebaptism in instances where a valid baptism has already occurred runs counter to the symbolic nature of the sacrament itself. The confessional prohibition on rebaptism is well-founded and ought to be observed. But here, of course, pastoral considerations must not be ignored. Pastors and elders do not wish to squelch the zeal of new church members and converts and the temptation to grant requests for rebaptism is sometimes strong. The irony here is that in acceding to such requests the pastor or session squanders a tremendous pastoral opportunity to teach about the true significance of baptism and the grace we have in Jesus Christ. Also, the rebaptism of some will inevitably cause others to doubt the validity of their infant baptism. Geoffrey Bromiley phrases it well:

    In view of the biblical significance of baptism, churches should not give, and their members should not expect or request, a repetition of baptism when some first or new experience of the work or gifts of the Holy Spirit is enjoyed. Instead, they should be taught more effectively the meaning of the baptism they have as a sign and seal of the saving work of God and thereby be led to see in any new experience the fulfillment of this work and of baptism as its sign. God is one, the covenant is one, and the work of God is one. So, too, baptism is one. There may be many experiences as we enter into God and his work, but there cannot be many baptisms, only a richer identification with that which baptism signifies.
    God bless,
    William

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