28 September, 2006

A Defense of Baptism by Sprinkling

What defense?

There are many people out there (i.e. billions) who argue that sprinkling is acceptable because a specific mode of baptism is never explicitly mentioned in Scripture. They go on to say that baptism is based on faith; the mode in which it's done is of no relevance. In an alternative universe void of divinely set rules and commandments, these would be perfectly acceptable platforms to preach from. Unfortunately, this isn't that universe.

I also recently had someone tell me that because I don't believe in the Trinity, a discussion on an appropriate mode of baptism is impossible. I once told my math teacher that because I thought his views on the death penalty were wrong, 2+2 would no longer = 4 and that I fully rejected his further teachings of basic arithmetic. The doctrine of the Trinity has no relevance in an examination of the existence, or lack thereof, of baptism by sprinkling in Scripture. Telling the world that oranges are green won't affect the colour of apples.

The discussion about which mode of baptism is acceptable starts and ends with the very definition of the word. It's an awfully simply solution to a problem hundreds and hundreds of years old:

English: Baptize
Greek: Baptizo
1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one's self, bathe
3) to overwhelm

Now, I don't claim any kind of mystical powers of deduction, but as far as I'm able to understand from the definition above, baptism means "submerge". Therefore, the logic goes something like this: Baptism is full immersion because baptism means to "submerge". Sprinkling doesn't "submerge". Therefore, sprinkling isn't baptizing because sprinkling doesn't "submerge".

In any normal situation containing any number of normal, logical conversations, this would be enough to end the debate. But with enough fighting spirit to make a football team blush, supporters of sprinkling trudge on. After exhausting all of their appeals to "faith" and "grace" and Tertullian quotes, they will claim a baptism conversation void by invoking the "You Don't Believe in the Trinity So We Can't Talk About Baptism" rule, all because the Trinitarian formula (Mat. 28:19) is a must for any baptism to be considered valid.

Note: I wonder why it's wrong to defend a single mode of baptism and yet make the formula a requirement.

Much like the definition of baptism, the embarrassing facts surrounding the required baptismal 'formula' aren't hard to miss. Every time the Bible records the name or formula associated with an actual baptism in the New Testament, it describes the name Jesus. All five such accounts occur in the Book of Acts (the history book of the early church):

The Jews - Acts 2:38
The Samaritans - Acts 8:16
The Gentiles - Acts 10:48
The disciples of John (rebaptized) - Acts 19:5
Saul/Paul - Acts 22:16

References or allusions to baptism in Jesus' name - Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 1:13; 6:11; Galatians 3:27 ; Colossians 2:12; James 2:7.

Houston...come in Houston...

Anyone fervently defending the use of the Trinitarian formula in baptisms would be left with no choice but to claim these baptisms in Acts null and void. (Gasp) Did anyone ever tell Paul his baptism wasn't legit?

The baptisms were obviously accepted by God, and for obvious reasons: "...it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." (1 Peter 1:2) It's God the Father who has used Jesus Christ and his Spirit to work in the life of a believer. The so-called "formula" is surprisingly absent from the Bible given it's importance.

I don't know if Scripture could possibly be any clearer: Sprinkling isn't an acceptable mode of baptism because sprinkling doesn't submerge. The Trinitarian formula isn't necessary because there are numerous baptisms which occurred without the phrase ever being used.

There is no defense to baptism by sprinkling.

25 September, 2006

Infant Baptism - An Exchange With A Catholic Priest

Curious: I'm curious as to the Catholic view on infant baptism. Where is this rite supported in Scripture?

Catholic: ...from the Douay-Rheims to "Bible Believing Christians": Acts Of Apostles 16:15 "And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying: If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us." 1 Corinthians 1:16 "And I baptized also the household of Stephanus; besides, I know not whether I baptized any other." I am certain these households had infants and children in the families of both the freemen and slaves.

Curious: The support for infant baptism in Scripture comes from two verses that mention "household" and an assumption that these same households contained children?

"He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:16

"And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Acts 8:37

Both of these verses stress the need for knowledge (belief) before baptism can occur. Do infants believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?

"You are all sons of God through your faith in Jesus Christ, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ." Galatians 3:26 Here, Paul tells us that baptism is a result of faith. Do infants have faith?

"Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6 Since infants don't have faith and don't believe He exists and don't earnestly seek him (from lack of understanding due to age), then it's impossible for them to please God. Since baptism is a result of faith, baptism pleases God. Baptizing an individual without faith is pointless.

Catholic: The parents, godparents, and community profess the faith in the name of the child. Our parents and guardians feed and nourish us physically and spiritually as well.

Paul says: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child..." Undoubtedly Pauls parents spoke for him at a young age.

Curious: I understand but that's not evidence of infant baptism in Scripture. A belief in God and Christ Jesus is unquestionably required before baptism, would you not agree? Even Christ himself wasn't baptised as a child. Following his example is undoubtably the safest bet.

Catholic: ...as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, I defend her Holy Wisdom through the Deposit of Faith which is Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium, which is the teaching authority of the Church. For me and 1.4 billion Catholics it cannot be simply Sola Scriptura.

Thanks again.

Curious: Scripture seems silent then regarding infant baptism. Thank you for your time. Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.


Infant baptism follows hard on the heels of purgatory, limbo and heaven & hell going. It's not Biblical and therefore not recognized by God. Infant baptism appeals to the emotion of mankind and this is why it's a common practice nowadays. As with most doctrinal discussions, inevitably a defense is sought in the authority of the Church (i.e. the Bible doesn't say it but the Church does) and numbers (e.g. billions of Catholics can't all be wrong).

15 September, 2006

The Jewish Economy

Fascinating news out of Israel, cementing the idea of a nation blessed by God as laid out in Deu 7:6: "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." As a side note, there are those (many) critics who will argue that Israel has 'lost' it's right to these blessings and promises but it's an argument based on jealousy (why Israel and not me?) and a misunderstanding of the place "worldly nations" play in God's plan. The burden of proof rests with the critic to show where, in Scripture, God doesn't keep His promises and where we're told these promises have been 'moved' to another nation.

Nonetheless, with history has a guide, it's not difficult to see the amazing results of God portecting His chosen people. The rebirth of the nation of Israel, the regathering of the Jews, and their ability remain a nation whilst surrounded by millions of Jew-hating religious fantatics. God's protective hand cannot be denied.

According the Israeli sources, this was, by far, the best year in the country's economic history:
• The surplus for the first half of 2006 reached 5 percent of GDP - historically unprecedented, globally rare and with huge positive implications for the future of the country.
• To compare, Canada's 2006 surplus is forecast to 'only' hit 0.6% of GDP. Canada was the only G7 country to record a surplus in 2005.
• Incredibly enough, Israel's surplus occurred against a background of a sharp rise in oil prices which traditionally creates a significant negative impact on the economy.
• Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East.
• Agriculture in Israel is very effective, as is able to covering about 75% of domestic needs, despite the limited land available.

An opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post reads as follows: "Let's interrupt at this point to note that the foregoing can be simply rephrased: The Israeli economy as it existed in the first 50 years of the state...is no more. This is a rich country, getting rapidly richer. The government budget has also been in surplus, government debt has been declining and the government's role in the economy has been steadily shrinking. The labor force is growing, employment is rising and inflation is not an issue for anyone except professional economists."

One could argue that God doesn't dable in 'trivial' issues like a nation's economy but the fact of the matter is that ever since God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob their descendants would be blessed above all people", the Israelites have enjoyed unparalled success and good fortune, in everything ranging from wars to economy to individual personal wealth to sustainable argiculture in a rather small area. This theme can be traced back to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt to their time in Promised land to today. But this isn't the interesting point. What's really worth remembering is the inevitable reaction of the Israelites after they had enjoyed periods of incredible blessings: they turned away from God, often put their trust in themselves, and invariably they were punished, often severely, because of their behaviour. It's always been a rollercoaster of faith and dedication for the Jews and it's quite apparent that the Jews are on a personal high, especially with the way their economy is booming and the power of their military. This misplaced trust has set the scene perfectly for the invasion of the land as prophesied in Scripture. This is to be the punishment of the Jews. And exactly as in times past, once the Jews realize they've neglected their God and it's only through Him can they be saved, they will cry to him, and He will listen.

"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. Zec 13:9

Muslims vs. The Pope

This is going to be something worth watching. I wonder how it's going to play out on the big stage?

Muslim anger grows at Pope speech

A statement from the Vatican has failed to quell criticism of Pope Benedict XVI from Muslim leaders, after he made a speech about the concept of holy war. Speaking in Germany, the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things.

Pakistan's parliament passed a resolution on Friday criticising the Pope for making "derogatory" comments.

The Vatican said the Pope had not intended to offend Muslims. "It is clear that the Holy Father's intention is to cultivate a position of respect and dialogue towards other religions and cultures, and that clearly includes Islam," said chief Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi in a statement. But in spite of the statement, the pontiff returned to Rome to face a barrage of criticism, reports the BBC's David Willey in Rome.

The head of the Muslim Brotherhood said the Pope's remarks "aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world".

04 September, 2006

The Everlasting Covenant

Down through the ages, many Churches have deliberately taught millions of people that the Jews and Israel, were permanently excluded from God's favour, something completely opposite to Bible teaching.

An Everlasting Covenant.
The promises to the ancients were eternal promises described in Gen.17:7-8 "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and they seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee...and to they seed after thee...And I will give unto thee and thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger...all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession."

There are three important things to note in this Scripture:
1. The Father made an everlasting covenant with Abraham which has NEVER been revoked
2. Under that Covenant, Abraham and his seed after him, the Jewish nation, was promised everlasting possession of the Land of Canaan, which stretches (under promise) from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates River
3. The covenant and the possession promised to Abraham demands the resurrection and eternal life of Abraham, to whom the promises were made.

To all those critics of the Jews, I challenge anyone, anywhere, to show from the Scriptures where the covenant promises to Abraham were revoked. The Psalmist of Psalm 89:34, assures us of the certainty of the Father's promises by writing "MY COVENANT WILL I NOT BREAK, NOR ALTER THE THING THAT IS GONE OUT OF MY LIPS."

The claim by many Churches that the 'promises' of the Father now only apply to the 'church', falls down badly in the face of plain Scripture. Luke was moved to warn that there would be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" when some see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom and "yourselves thrust out". The promises of "the Gospel preached to Abraham", included "his seed", so it's improbable that Abraham , Isaac and Jacob would be in the Kingdom on their own, the more so as Jesus told the Disciples that in the Kingdom they would "judge" the twelve Tribes of Israel. (Matt 19:28) (See also Revelation 7:4)

Not only so, Moses told Israel before they entered the Promised Land for the first time that the time would come when they would be scattered to all parts of the earth, but also that He (God) will "have compassion on thee and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord hath scattered thee." (Deut 30:3) Amos, the Prophet to the ten Tribes, wrote of Israel "I (God) will bring again the captivity of my people Israel...and I will plant them upon their own land and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them." (Amos 9:14-15. Ezekiel adds to Amos' words of the future for Israel: "I have gathered them to their own land ....I have poured out my spirit upon the HOUSE OF ISRAEL." (Ez.39:28-29

The scattering of Israel was the Lord's doing. The regathering of Israel is also the Lord's doing and their possessing the Land for an everlasting possession will be the Lord's doing. And even though Israel did not do all the things expected of them, the promises of the Father were never rescinded and thus they are still to be fulfilled. Not only so, the promise that all nations should be blessed through the "seed", has also not been fulfilled.

We read in Deuteronomy 28:58-68 the steps the Father promised He would take if Israel did not "observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD". These verses are like a pre-written history of the Jewish race for the next 4,000 years, but no where, in any other part of the Bible, are we told that the Father would permanently cast aside those who were selected as His special and "peculiar people". (Deut.14:2)

Twice in the prophecies by Jeremiah, the Father promised Israel, that white He undoubtedly was going to punish them for their waywardness and their refusal to obey His requirements of them, "yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure and will not leave thee altogether unpunished." (Jer.30:11). The reason was: "I will be sanctified in you before their (the heathen) eyes". (Ez.36:23) We must keep in mind that it was the Father's decision that His great Name was to be sanctified and vindicated to the whole world, through Israel, not through any other nation.

In Deuteronomy 28:58-68, there is listed all the things the Lord said He would do to Israel for their unfaithfulness and every word of it came true, particularly verse 64: " And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other:"

The simple reason why God scattered Israel was that they had turned their back on Him and because they had worshipped "other gods" of wood and stone. But was this to be the end of the promises to Israel? Absolutely not.

In Deuteronomy 30:3-9 we read of the final purpose of the Father: "That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee. And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:"

Again, no where in the Scriptures have any of these promises to the Jews of Israel, been rescinded, but rather Israel is fulfilling the promise of the return to the land, in this, our day.
• "And I will bring them and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem." Zech. 8:8
• "I will settle you after your old estates..." Ezekiel 36:11
• "Like as I have watched over them to pluck up......so will I watch over them to build and plant." Jeremiah 31:28
• "Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old." Micah 7:14
• "I will plant them upon their Land and they shall no more be pulled up." Amos 9:15
• "They shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting , the work of my hands..." Isaiah 60:21

The Apostle Paul, writing in the letter to the Romans, explains very carefully to the New Covenant Church "GOD HATH NOT CAST AWAY HIS PEOPLE which He foreknew" (11:2) In Romans 11:24-28, Paul prophecies that the natural branches of the Olive tree (the Jews of Israel) would be "graffed into THEIR OWN Olive tree" and he warns Gentiles and Gentile Churches "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the gentiles be come in. And so ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED. For this is my covenant unto them, WHEN I SHALL TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS..."

The Israel Paul is referring to is not the "Israel of the Churches", but the nation of Israel, with whom the Father made the Covenant in the first place.

01 September, 2006

Jews in Society

Very interesting words from an editorial in the Jerusalem Post:

"History has proven that no society can flourish in which the Jew feels unease."

While no facts or figures were presented, in light of Biblical prophecy and the powerful verse in Genesis "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee..." (Gen 12:3), the force of this statement cannot be ignored. The Jews are God's chosen people. 4000BC to 2006AD, they are still His. And we would do very well to remember this in even our mundane day-to-day dealings with the modern day Children of Israel.

(the full article can be read here.)