This year, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that started in Germany in 1517.
There are a couple of things we take for granted in our church services:
It is in an understandable language
We have Bibles
The Bible is read and explained
We pray together, sing together and take part in some way
The gospel is explained
If we were attending a church 500 years ago in Europe, none of these would have happened. Europe in Medieval times was a spiritually dark, superstitious place. The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) ruled supreme. All roads led to Rome where the Pope ruled over all things religious. The Pope was (and still is) believed to be the spiritual successor to the Apostle Peter and the Vicar of Christ i.e. Christ’s representative on earth. Without Father Pope there could be no church, without Mother Church there could be no salvation.
This post is about covenant baptism, that is, the baptism of new believers and their children.
Let me start by saying that we consider ones view about baptism an open-handed or secondary doctrine. According to the Bible there are close-handed or primary doctrines that you must believe in order to be a Christian e.g. God is Trinity, salvation by faith alone, the bodily resurrection of Christ etc. Secondary doctrines, however, do not affect our salvation and Christians may disagree e.g. view on form of church government, alcohol, and speaking in tongues etc. You might not agree with what I’m writing, however we can disagree as Christians.
Who do we baptise some babies and some adults at our church? Baptizing babies seems to be quite a controversial practise these days and often the baptizers are accused of flouting biblical principles for the sake of unbiblical tradition.
Convinced Baptists argue that we should only be baptising believing adults because there are, they maintain, only explicit biblical examples of believers’ baptism in the New Testament and because, they maintain, baptism is reserved only for those that have expressed faith in Jesus.
I would like to challenge both those assertions.
REACH SA is certainly not opposed to baptising believers, and regards that practise as biblical and indeed mandatory. Article 27 of our statement of faith (the 39 Articles of Religion) reads: