Baptism by Immersion Only?
One of the surest signs of the erroneous nature of "sola scriptura" is surely the confusion which arises over baptism. Questions and disagreements abound among Protestant and Baptist churches: does baptism save, can infants be baptised, how should it be administered: by immersion only, by sprinkling or by dipping? Is re-baptism necessary for apostates? And so the story goes. The following is a piece to demonstrate the erronoeus notion of Immersion Only baptism as practised by most Baptists.
Objection 1: Acts. 8:38-39 " And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water,..."
Notice they both went into the water. They both came up out of the water. You can't do this if you're sprinkling! The Greek word "baptizo" always and only means to "immerse".
Response: i) Hebrews 9:10 presents a problem for this position:
Heb 9:10 "Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation".
The word for "washings" in this verse is "baptismois". This verse alone does not disprove immersion, but it certainly dispels the idea that baptism must be always by immersion.
Numbers 29:4 gives an example of an Old Testament baptism (cermonial washing), where Aaron and his sons were "baptized" at the door of the tabernacle. Total immersion would be highly improbable at this point. There were many "diverse" types of baptisms (cermonial washings) under the OT system.
ii) Regarding "went down into the water", that does not necessarily prove immersion. Water is always in a depression, and you must always go "down" to get into it. in early Christian art, you see baptism candidates standing <>in water.
John 20:5: "He went to (eis) to the tomb but did not go in."
You can go "down into the water" to catch tadpoles but that doesn't involve getting wet all over (unless you fall in!). It very well could have been immersion, but from the wording it also could have been sprinkling or pouring. We simply are not told HOW he was baptized, just the fact that he was. If baptizo is not always immerse, then we cannot assume the Eunuch was immersed simply because "baptizo" is used.
There is another exception to the idea of "immersion" in Mark 7:4:
"And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. "
The word "wash" in this passage is again a form of baptizo - baptismous. Immersion could be a possibility for many of the things listed, but when you get to the world "tables" we have another problem. The word could also be translated "couches" or "beds". It seems clear that the word is used here for a ceremonial washing, not dipping.
Objection 2: Romans 6:4 How would you consider Romans 6:4 which compares baptism with burial? I would hope if you bury someone that they would be completely submerged under the ground.
Response to 2:
That depends on what baptism is being discussed in Romans 6:
"3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. "
So... either this passage does not refer to water baptism (since Baptists say baptism does not make us dead to sin, they should be consistent and say this passage doesn't refer to water baptism), or else it DOES refer to water baptism, in which case baptism makes us dead to sin and so cannot be merely a symbol as the Baptists say. Note that it does not, in any case, make a case for Immersion Only.
Jesus referred to another baptism in Matthew 20:22 "But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able."
Clearly this wasn't a symbolic baptism. The point being, this baptism that Jesus speaks of certainly wasn't just a mere symbol, so why should the baptism in Romans 6:4 be merely a symbol?
Objection 3 : Paul.
Saul was in
Response to 3:
Read the account carefully. One sure does not get the impression that Paul left the house. He "got up" and was baptized and then had something to eat. There is no evidence whatsoever that he went to be dipped in a pool somewhere.
Objection 4: The Philippian jailor
Paul had gone through the earthquake at the jail in
Response to 4: Read the account more carefully. Paul DID NOT leave the prison (Acts 16:36-37).
Objection 5: The case of Cornelius:
Cornelius is another case. After he was saved, it was asked, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days." This refers to the pools and or aquaducts in that region at the time.
Response to 5: Not being allowed to travelling out to a pool or an aqueduct is hardly "forbidding water." Obviously Peter was talking about using a perserve of water for the baptism of Cornelius in that house.
In fact, "immersion only" cannot be proven from the Bible, since the word "baptizo" does not always mean "immerse" and nowhere in the Bible is there a requirement for "Immersion Only" as proven by examination of the Scriptural paassages above. The insistence of immersion only by groups such as the Baptists just shows how conflicting and contradictory important doctrines can become when subjected to the erroneous notion of "sola scriptura".