Wednesday, February 3, 2010


(Photos by me)

Please forgive me, but writing the following is good (purifying and cleansing) therapy for me!

Every once and a while I feel a great need to swing the old baptism chestnut. Honest, I don't wish to cause any grinding of teeth, but I know that those of the baptistic persuasion won't admit defeat on the meaning and mode of baptism till the Lord returns! But it does drive me a wee bit bonkers (conkers?) when I read comments such as, "It would seem clear from Scripture that those who were baptized were fully immersed in water." O yeah, where in Scripture?

Talk about presuppositions: baptistic people always think "immersion" when the read the word "baptize" and its cognates - even to the point of refusal to even admit that Presbyterian or Reformed sprinkling and pouring are valid and Biblical. However, see where, for example, Moulton's "The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised" lists meanings of Baptism and its cognates which include "to dip", to dye", "an ablution", "immerse", "to cleanse or purify by washing".

The Reformed or Presbyterians believe "to cleanse or purify by washing" is the best definition of what Scripture teaches about baptism. Thus the meaning and mode of baptism is not an historical issue, but rather theological.

The quoted comment: "It would seem clear from Scripture that those who were baptized were fully immersed in water" was found in a book containing the entire KJV of the New Testament. See how the aforementioned quote squares with, for example, Mark 7:4: "And when they come from the market, except they wash (baptisontai), they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing (baptismous) of cups, and pots, and of tables".

I've heard of dunkin' donuts, but tables? Give us a break! Try sprinkling, it will save you heaps on not having to buy new furniture! And how does the one size fits all "immersion" fit with Hebrews 9:10's "divers washings (baptismois)"? What's "divers" about "immersion"? Can there be various "immersions"? I think I'll stick with: Baptize: "to cleanse or purify by washing", at least it's Biblical!

With the definition in mind, "to cleanse or purify by washing", hear what the writer to the Hebrews (referring to Exodus 24) says, "Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, saying, this is the blood of the testament which God has enjoined to you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of ministry." Hebrews 9:18-21.

Covenant Baptism (as opposed to baptistic baptism) pictures Christ's purifying blood and cleansing Spirit, ie, the Promise, the Covenant Promise of the Father, being applied to the passive recipient.

How does Jesus Baptize His Church with His Spirit? Does He dunk His Church in His Spirit or does He pour His Spirit on His Church? (See eg, Joel 2:28; Luke 24:49; Acts 2:17,33,38,39,41 etc. etc. etc. All of Scripture attests to the latter mode of baptism (ie, to sprinkling or pouring).

I'm glad to have gotten that off my chest (nut)!

(See also my "Baptism" and "The Baptismal Seal"):


  1. Neil, divers have much to do with immersion- did you perhaps mean diverse? At least you got me to look up the verse for myself!- Pauline

  2. Pauline, you make a good point about divers! However, look up Henrews 9:10 in Ye Olde King James' Version: "Which stood only in meats and drinks, and *divers washings*, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation."

    "Divers washings" is not a picture of people with scuba-gear on doing their laundry! Have you ever tried walking (never mind doing the laundry) with flippers on?

    The word "divers" in Strong's Concordance is: "varying." NKJV has "various." The Oxford English Reference Dictionary has: "more than one, sundry, several." Your own "diverse" covers it too!

    Therefore, the point I was making is that (most?) "Immersionists" allege that to baptise means ONLY "to immerse." Clearly the Holy Spirit (whom Jesus baptised us with, ie, poured upon us) begs to differ!