BAPTIST PRINCIPLES RESET
BAPTIST PRINCIPLES RESET
MADISON C. PETERS, D. D., OF NEW YORK.
BY W. R. L. SMITH, D. D., RICHMOND, VA.
It is safe to say that
Hastings? "Dictionary of the Bible" and "The International
Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures," when completed, are likely to
contain the finest body of biblical learning in the English-speaking world.
While these work's are not radical, they do candidly accept many of the
decisions of recent critical research. Their spirit is perfectly loyal and
reverent, while their method is constructive, and not destructive. Of course,
they must be read with care and caution. Having on our shelves two installments
of the first work and five of the latter, we have naturally sought to discover
their quality of scholarly fairness by examination of their treatment of New
Testament baptism. The inspection has been of the most gratifying and assuring
character. Controversial evasions, shifts, and dodges are abjured as irreverent
and contemptible in its eyes. The calm, dispassionate, impartial spirit of
scientific inquiry has at last seemed to enter victoriously into the realm of
It will be useful and interesting
to set in order, briefly, their learned testimonies on the subject of baptism.
"The simple verb
?baptein? in the Old and New Testaments is frequent in the sense of
?dip? or ?immerse:?"
"The verb is sometimes
followed by a preposition, indicating either the element into which or in which
the immersion takes place."
Speaking of proselyte baptism, it
is said: "His sponsors took him to a pool, in which he stood up to his neck
in water; and he plunged beneath the water, taking care to be entirely
Again: "Scripture tells us that repentance and faith are requisite for baptism." "Not only is there no mention of the baptism of infants, but there is no text from which such baptism can be securely inferred." Yet, strange to say, right in the face of these brave admissions, the writer goes on to make the usual impotent pleas for infant baptism
—such as the silence of Scripture, household baptisms, the
naturalness of it, &c. But it is the witness of his scholarship in the
revealed word that concerns us, and not his confessedly unwarranted conjectures.
Coming to the great Commentary,
let us take
GOULD ON MARK.
Mark 1:4?The baptism of
repentance: "This rite of immersion in water signified the complete inward
purification of the subject."
PLUMMER ON LUKE.
"Baptizo is intensive
from bapto. Bapto, "I dip"; baptizo, "I
immerse." "It is only when baptism is administered by immersion
that its full significance is seen."
SANDAY ON ROMANS.
symbolically a series of acts corresponding to the redeeming acts of Christ.
Commenting on Romans 6:4, he says: "When we descended into the baptismal water, that meant that we died with Christ
—to sin. When the water closed over our heads, that meant that we
lay buried with him, in proof that our death to sin, like his death, was
Thus these men, learned,
reverent, and conscientious, speak of our Lord's sacred institution. They are
all Pedobaptists, and yet not one of them seems to have heard that any man ever
tried to fix "affusion" or "sprinkling" as a definition of bapto,
or baptizo. The candor of these scholars on this long belabored and
stubbornly contested doctrine has given us a delightfully comfortable confidence
in their intellectual honesty. This is a great point gained, and alas for the
teacher or writer who fails to inspire it!
This profound and illustrious
German theologian has the following in his recent book on New Testament
Theology: "It is the symbolism of baptism, of immersion and burial in the
water, that causes Paul, in Romans 6 and Colossians 2, to connect the being dead
with Christ with baptism rather than with faith." "There is no mention
in his (Paul's) writings, or in any part of the New Testament, of a baptism of
children." "All that has been read into the Acts of the Apostles about
the baptism of children is pure fancy."
Here is the unequivocal,
unqualified statement of another great Pedobaptist scholar. It is a good sign.
There has never been a time when biblical learning was nearly so masterful or so
fearlessly honest as it is today. Its massive intelligence impatiently
overwhelms the tiresome and outworn discussions of "pouring" and
"sprinkling." Real learning knows nothing, absolutely nothing,
of either in the New Testament. And yet a great and reputable body of American
Christians solemnly stated, not long ago, to an intelligent world, that
immersion is not Christian baptism? It was a courageous thing to do, but it does
not enhance respect for the intellectual powers of the human race. It is a
terrible thing to have the Bible against you.
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