Is Baptism Merely Symbolic?

Citing passages like Romans 6:3-4, Acts 2:38 and 22:16, the preacher said that water baptism was merely symbolic; and that it was an ordinance, not a sacrament, and therefore not a means of grace.

I sat through the sermon cringing, wondering if the preacher had done work of truly researching and studying the matter, or was simply echoing one strand of a Baptist tradition.

I am hoping that he would put in the study and realize that water baptism NOT merely symbolic, but that it is so much more.

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6 Responses to Is Baptism Merely Symbolic?

  1. Robert Whitehead says:

    God word was not intended for only Bible scholars to understand. It is simply put and means what it says. Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:16 are pretty plain. All the converts in the book of Acts were told to be baptized. None were told to repeat a “sinners prayer” . Just as the blind man was told to wash himself in the pool of Siloam, and Namaan was told to dip seven times in the Jordan River as acts of faith in order to receive God’s healing, we are told to be baptized for God’s free gift of spiritual healing. It’s not a work as it doesn’t do anything. It is simply God’s way for us to receive the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. No one in any denomination would say that the blind man that washed Christ’s mud from his eyes in the pool of Siloam healed himself by performing a work. The Ethiopian Eunuch was not baptized as a public profession of faith or to join a church. He was in a desert with Philip and there’s no record that he was told to repeat a sinner’s prayer.

    • TC says:

      Mr. Whitehead, I understand where you’re coming from. But we must consider the larger historical-redemption sweep of Scripture, before settling on statements in two or three verses. I encourage to broaden your gaze and consider Romans 4ff, in light of covenant theology, specifically Abraham in the history of redemption.

  2. Robert Whitehead says:

    I will not try to rationalize God’s word any longer. God, throughout history, has given commands coupled with promises. The acts of obedience didn’t directly affect the promise. They were called to act upon their faith. Naaman rationalized the command to dip seven times in the Jordan River until the servant girl convinced him to simply obey and receive the promise. That is what we are expected to do, whether or not the command makes sense to us. The command in Acts 2:38 is directed to us, the new testament church, in Acts 2:39. We have only to obey it to receive the promise.

    • TC says:

      Yes to obedience! But don’t forget the rest of Scripture. We must interpret Scripture with Scripture. Prooftexting will not do. Period.

  3. Robert Whitehead says:

    I grew up in a Baptist Church. In the late 70’s God led me to approach His word with an open mind rather than just accept my Baptist heritage. I was baptized in the Baptist church In the mid 60’s because God commanded me to. I’m a member of a Baptist Church now and am happy there. As I searched the scriptures in the late 70’s I hoped I could confirm everything I already believed, and I did except for the purpose of baptism. I didn’t want to change my belief, but God revealed my error and I had to believe His Word. Truth is much more important to me than a denominational creed for convenience sake. So you see, these texts are definitely not just proof texts although they, along with the rest of scripture I’ve studied, do prove what I believe, even though I received it rather reluctantly knowing it could put me at odds with my Baptist family, friends and fellow church members. But they love anyway. I just can’t be a deacon anymore.

    • TC says:

      Robert, I appreciate you sharing your journey and your resolve to follow your convictions. Yes, you are odds, but you have to go where the Spirit leads, and who am I to contend with you?

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