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Steve H.

Steve N.,

Acts 22:16:

“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” (Acts 22:16)

MacArthur writes,

In Acts 22:16, Paul recounts the words of Ananias to him following his experience on the Damascus road: "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." It is best to connect the phrase "wash away your sins" with "calling on His name." If we connect it with "be baptized," the Greek participle epikalesamenos ("calling") would have no antecedent. Paul's sins were washed away not by baptism, but by calling on His name. (John MacArthur) http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/GCCBAP.HTM

In other words, according to Reymond,

“calling on his name” modifies the person designated in the second imperative, “wash away,” as the nearest antecedent. This means that the instrumental cause of Paul’s spiritual ‘washing’ was not his baptism per se but his “calling upon the name” of Jesus that accompanied the baptism, which ordinance was in turn the visible sign of his spiritual “washing.” (Reymond, Systematic Theology, p. 952)

Indeed, the Bible connects calling upon the Lord’s name without any reference to water baptism:

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21; see also Joel 2:32)

“For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:11-14)

Steve H.

Tim,

Two implications of Rom. 4 are that 1) circumcision is a work. And if circumcision is a work, so is water baptism, both being the marks of the church in different eras; and 2) man is justified by faith alone, which also implicitly rules out water baptism in salvation.

Keeping in mind, then, that water baptism is a work, consider the following verse:

“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3:5).

Notice it says, “not because of works.” As mentioned earlier, Romans 4 implies water baptism is a work. This is a clear distinction between water baptism and regeneration, since it distinguishes works as playing a role in salvation (which includes water baptism) from the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit--not the regeneration and renewal of the baptistery.

Consider also Matt. 3:14, 15:

“John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented.”

Jesus considered His water baptism as part of fulfilling all righteousness. Is not fulfilling all righteousness works? Compare “fulfill all righteousness” with “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness,” in Titus 3.

Moreover, Acts 10 and 11 are clear refutations of your refusal to distinguish between water and Spirit baptism. These men were saved by the Spirit prior to water baptism:

“While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, "Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.” (Acts 10:44-48)

“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?" (Acts 11:15-17)

Jony Cruz

no where does it say that baptism is a symbol so I am going to have to go with the people that say baptism saves because the apostle peter was the first one to say it saves and Paul confirms it.

Steve H.

Jony,
Which Scriptures?

Tim

Steve,

circumcision is a work. And if circumcision is a work, so is water baptism, both being the marks of the church in different eras

Not different eras, different covenants. The Old Covenant, of course, was works based: "If you do X, you will enter life." But since the New Covenant is NOT works-based: "Since Christ has done everything, you will enter life," you cannot simply assume a 1-to-1 correlation between circumcision and baptism!

But that's not even the issue. Let's say you're right; say "water baptism" is a work. If that's really true, then what is it doing in the New Covenant? What business does a human work have masquerading as a "mark of the Church"--a Church that's supposedly not based on works?

Is not fulfilling all righteousness works?

You keep saying this. I've been ignoring it for the following obvious reason: The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus at His baptism and the Father says, "This is my Son." For this reason, symbolists I've dealt with fight tooth and nail to avoid creating parallels between Jesus' baptism and our baptisms--because they don't want to admit that, when we're baptized, the Holy Spirit descends upon us and God calls us 'His beloved sons' (with whom He is well pleased). I am sure you have some clever explanation as to why Jesus supposed claim that 'his baptism is a work' applies to our baptisms, but that what actually happened at Jesus' baptism doesn't apply. I just don't want to hear it.

Moreover, Acts 10 and 11 are clear refutations of your refusal to distinguish between water and Spirit baptism.

Since you've flat out ignored my comments on Mark 1:8, your statement is a slap in the face. Doubly so because I actually referenced Acts 11:15-17 in those comments.

Steve, most of your comments derive from an obvious ignorance of the most basic tenants of baptismal regeneration doctrine. Since it's clear that this ignorance is self-imposed (you've ignored our many attempts at explanation), I want to know how you expect us to react. Should we keep explaining? Start ignoring you? What's your goal here, exactly?

Steve H.

Tim,

You really hurt your credibility when you ignore the obvious truth that Christians were baptized by the Holy Spirit (and therefore saved) in Acts 10 and 11 prior to water baptism.

You trying to explain this away is like trying to argue the sky isn’t blue. You would be laughed right out of logic class--unless it was a Postmodern logic class, I suppose.

You cannot get away from this by retreating to Jesus’ baptism. Since you insist that men are regenerated by water baptism, and you go to the example of Jesus' baptism to "prove" this, was Jesus regenerated by His water baptism? Are you then saying Jesus was dead in sin prior to his water baptism?

Salvation never was by works. Read Romans 4:1-12. Works never were for salvation, but for sanctification.

“Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.” (Gal. 3:21)

If men were saved by works, God’s law is arbitrary, and there would have been no need for Christ to die on the cross. He died because men could never uphold God’s holy law, and God's holy law cannot be changed.

The promise of Christ goes all the way back to Genesis 3; pre-New Covenant saints looked forward in faith to what Christ would accomplish, while New Covenant saints look in faith to what Christ has already accomplished. Romans 4:1-12 is clear on this.

If you insist that Christians should not keep the (moral) law, then I’d like to get your definition of sin.

Steve H.

Steve N.,

Happy Thanksgiving. Regarding 1 Peter 3:21:

• “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 3:21) (ESV)

Immediately, we can rule out this as meaning water baptism saving from a preceding text (and from the full counsel of God as well):

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (1 Peter 3:18).

As this makes clear, Christ brings His people to God—not the one doing water baptism, nor the one being water baptized. As the text explains, “that he might bring us to God …”--He being Christ.

Many zero in on “Baptism … now saves you,” to “prove” water baptism saves, but neglect surrounding context and other considerations.

Psalm 14:1a says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Taken out of context, one could eliminate consideration of the first few words while zeroing in on the words “There is no God,” and claim that the Bible teaches atheism.

So we must closely consider context in 1 Peter 3:21. We can’t just consider “baptism … now saves you” in isolation. Just some other words we must also consider are

1) “which corresponds to this”
2) “not as a removal of dirt from the body,”
3) “an appeal to God for a good conscience.”

In fact, we must consider

1) whether even baptism refers to water or Spirit baptism;
2) whether “saves” refers to eternal salvation, temporal and temporary salvation, or something else

Consider the word “saves.” If we try to impose “required for eternal salvation” on every thing that says “saves,” we run into serious hermeneutical problems. For instance,

• “But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” (1 Timothy 2:15) (NIV).

I doubt we ought to draw from this text that women must have children in order to be eternally saved.

In fact, the very sentence prior to 1 Peter 3:21, says in the NIV, “In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,” (1 Pet. 3:20b). This is clearly a temporal and temporary salvation—not an eternal salvation.

As for the statement, “which corresponds to this,” consider the King James version, which uses the phrase “The like figure”:

• “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 3:21)

On this Bob Ross writes,

• In verse 20 Peter had just spoken about the ark; he goes on to say that there is a like figure, or a similar figure, which is baptism. The Greek word for “figure” is “antitupon.” Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, defines the word as “a corresponding type.” He says, “It is not a case of type and antitype, but of two types, that in Genesis, the type, and baptism, the corresponding type.” (Vol. 2, page 96) (Ross, Campbellism: Its History and Heresies, page 101).

Ross adds that

• Cremer’s Lexicon says the word signifies an “image or similitude.” Thayer’s Lexicon defines it as “a thing resembling another.” (page 101).

While there are other understandings, such as Pipa’s (in the next post)—who contrary to Ross says it refers to an antitype, not a type, Ross’ explanation is something to consider.

There are several interpretations of 1 Peter 3:21. I haven’t come to a definitive conclusion myself as to the exact meaning of this text (it seems to me to be a complex text, but I know it can't teach baptismal regeneration, since this would contradict the full counsel of God) but here are a few interpretations, which consider the surrounding context of “baptism … now saves you.”:

To be continued in next post....

Steve H.

Steve N,

1 Peter 3:21 cont'd....

1) Interpretation #1:
The first is from John MacArthur. While I hold to the Presbyterian view of baptism, and I’m not sure I agree with some or all of his points about "immerse," his other points are well taken. He writes,

• Water baptism does not seem to be what Peter has in view in 1Peter 3:21. The English word "baptism" is simply a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo, which means "to immerse." Baptizo does not always refer to water baptism in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; 7:4; 10:38-39; Luke 3:16; 11:38; 12:50; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 1 Corinthians 10:2; 12:13). Peter is not talking about immersion in water, as the phrase "not the removal of dirt from the flesh" indicates. He is referring to immersion in Christ's death and resurrection through "an appeal to God for a good conscience," or repentance.
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/GCCBAP.HTM

2) Interpretation #2:
Matthew Henry writes in “Matthew Henry Concise”:
• Noah's salvation in the ark upon the water, which carried him above the floods, set forth the salvation of all true believers. That temporal salvation by the ark was a type of the eternal salvation of believers by baptism of the Holy Spirit. To prevent mistakes, the apostle declares what he means by saving baptism; not the outward ceremony of washing with water, which, in itself, does no more than put away the filth of the flesh, but that baptism, of which the baptismal water formed the sign. Not the outward ordinance, but when a man, by the regeneration of the Spirit, was enabled to repent and profess faith, and purpose a new life, uprightly, and as in the presence of God. Let us beware that we rest not upon outward forms. Let us learn to look on the ordinances of God spiritually, and to inquire after the spiritual effect and working of them on our consciences. We would willingly have all religion reduced to outward things. But many who were baptized, and constantly attended the ordinances, have remained without Christ, died in their sins, and are now past recovery. Rest not then till thou art cleansed by the Spirit of Christ and the blood of Christ. His resurrection from the dead is that whereby we are assured of purifying and peace.

3) Interpretation #3
Joseph Pipa, in the sermon “How Baptism Saves”:
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1211071043114

• “Baptism … formally separates the church from the world, or the professing Christian from the world.” …

Now what does Peter mean by, “corresponding to that”? The word he uses here is the word “anti-type.” It’s one of those special theological terms that relates type to fulfillment. The word anti-type … the fact that he has given us a type, and baptism, in its fullness, is the fulfillment of that type. … Anti is against or instead of. … There’s a correspondence between what God did for the eight in the ark and what God does in baptism. Now, the correspondence between baptism is not primarily to the water.

If you go back and look at verse 20, the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah during the construction of the ark in which a few, that is 8 persons, were brought safely through the water. And corresponding to that, not simply to the water, but to the reality, that 8 people in the Ark were separated from the waters of destruction.

So that those who are in the Ark, the waters that would destroy the wicked, were the very waters that separated them from the wicked, board them up, and kept them preserved inside the Ark. So it is the Ark, in the water, that is the picture. And we also are made mindful that those who were in the Ark, not all of them were born again, but they all were members of the covenant community.

We know from subsequent details that Ham, and Ham’s Son Canaan were not regenerate. And yet they were part of the 8 who were in the Ark, separated from judgment— temporarily, and temporary. Now as such, the Ark is a type or picture of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we enter into the church, we are inducted into the church through the waters of baptism.

And the waters of baptism then separate the professor and his children from the world that remains covenantally under God’s wrath and destruction. Now that is the picture that is laid out here when he says, “and corresponding to that, baptism saves.” And so he’s saying that in the way that Noah and his family were separated from the waters of destruction formally by being inside the Ark, now those who are in the church, by induction, are formally separated from the world.

And I use the word formally to take into account that not all those in the Ark were born again; neither are all those in the church born again; but there is a reality that’s taking place here, as they were saved temporally and temporarily, those who are in the church will be saved temporally and temporarily.

And thus we see that baptism, by this language, is the sign of our covenant separation. Baptism is that which God has appointed to induct us formally into the church. And we are in the church in one of two ways: We’re in the church by profession of faith or we are in the church by belonging to a family unit that one of the head’s of that unit, the father or the mother, have professed faith."

God bless,
Steve H.

akira Kurosawa

Both Steve's I really appreciate both of you giving both sides of the coin in this debate. Gives me alot to chew on.

Tim, I find it amusing that when you get logically backed into a corner, you come up with....

insults and name calling...really...are we supposed to take YOU seriously.

The sad thing is that you are obviously are very intelligent and have alot of good things to say...

but then you say things like:

"Should we keep explaining? Start ignoring you? What's your goal here, exactly?"

Who is this, "WE" to which you keep referring? Did you appoint yourself speaker for all who comment here? OR are really all of these posts simply alter-egos and you are actually CHRIS ROSENBROUGH IN DISGUISE!!! OR you could be using the "royal" "WE" and actually you are the Queen of England...

Hmmm, I love a good conspiracy theory, LOL

Tim

Steve,

For the hundredth time, we do not believe that "water baptism saves" or "water baptism regenerates."

You really hurt your credibility when you ignore the obvious truth that Christians were baptized by the Holy Spirit (and therefore saved) in Acts 10 and 11 prior to water baptism.

Hmm. Didn't you ignore my obvious comments on Mark 1:8 and John 3:5? Respond to them and I'll give our very easy-to-understand "explanation" of Acts 11. Perhaps you won't ignore it.

You go to the example of Jesus' baptism to "prove" this, was Jesus regenerated by His water baptism? Are you then saying Jesus was dead in sin prior to his water baptism?

Try again. I am actually suggesting that just as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus when he was baptized, the Holy Spirit descends upon on us when we're baptized. And God that calls us "His beloved sons."

Salvation never was by works. [...] If men were saved by works, God’s law is arbitrary, and there would have been no need for Christ to die on the cross. He died because men could never uphold God’s holy law, and God's holy law cannot be changed.

Obviously.

[Re: 1 Peter 3:18-21] As this makes clear, Christ brings His people to God—not the one doing water baptism, nor the one being water baptized. As the text explains, “that he might bring us to God …”--He being Christ.

We teach that Christ is the one doing the baptizing. Thus your comment is meaningless.

Many zero in on “Baptism … now saves you,” to “prove” water baptism saves, but neglect surrounding context and other considerations.

Actually, we use it to prove that BAPTISM saves. Which is what the text says.

In fact, we must consider 1) whether even baptism refers to water or Spirit baptism;

Only the symbolist holds such a dichotomy. We deny it. Therefore, it should be clear that we'll not accept this. First you must prove the baptismal dichotomy. I refer you to my comments on Mark 1:8.

Consider the word “saves.” If we try to impose “required for eternal salvation” on every thing that says “saves,” we run into serious hermeneutical problems. For instance, 1 Timothy 2:15

"Required for eternal salvation" is the logic of symbolists and papists. We deny this. Christ has done everything that's required. Anyway, one can believe that 1 Peter 1:23 means "baptism grants eternal salvation" without imposing that understanding everywhere you see the word "save."

I haven’t come to a definitive conclusion myself as to the exact meaning of this text (it seems to me to be a complex text, but I know it can't teach baptismal regeneration, since this would contradict the full counsel of God)

Don't flaunt your partisanship.

1) Interpretation #1: [...] Water baptism does not seem to be what Peter has in view in 1Peter 3:21. [...] Peter is not talking about immersion in water, as the phrase "not the removal of dirt from the flesh" indicates

It could just as easily indicate that "the removal of dirt from the flesh" is not the aspect of baptism which saves.

2) Interpretation #2: [...] Let us beware that we rest not upon outward forms. Let us learn to look on the ordinances of God spiritually, and to inquire after the spiritual effect and working of them on our consciences.

Yes, let us learn that Christ combines water with His Word to save us through baptism.

Now we can examine the 1 Peter 3 passage:

In [the Ark] only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. [Baptism] saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Through water, God saved Noah from sin--washing and cleansing the earth of its wickedness. This corresponds to baptism: Through water, God saves us from sin, washing away our sins and regenerating us. However, though baptized, we--like Ham--are still sinners.

This much is certain: something, that's known as "baptism," saves us. If "baptism now saves you also" wasn't clear, "Baptism saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" is. Thus you question whether it refers to "water" or "spirit" baptism. (If it refers to "spirit baptism," there's clearly no problem.) Curiously, many symbolists recognize that its talking about "baptism involving water," so they play word games to avoid the obvious connection. (Or, like you, they simply decide a prior that the text can't possibly be saying what it says, because it would "contradict the full counsel of God.") Disappointing, but not my problem.

Tim

Akira,

One. Don't pester me unless you're going to back it up: at no point have I been "backed into a corner."

Two. 'We' refers, depending on the context, to: 1) Lutherans, 2) the historic western church (i.e., Lutherans and Papists), 3) objective people (who can look at an issue from multiple sides).

Anyway, Steve commits the strawman fallacy incessantly (and on the most basic of points), and is oblivious to repeated correction. What remedy do you propose?

The sad thing is that you are obviously are very intelligent and have alot of good things to say

If I'm so intelligent, do yourself a favor and read a few of these "good things" that I allegedly "have to say." Please start with my comments on Mark 1:8, which call into question the symbolists' baptismal dichotomy proof-text.

Conclusion. Hmm. No. On second thought, I think I shall address Acts 11 after all: the Gentiles received the Spirit before baptism. Our answer? We teach that the Spirit operates through the Word. There. That's it! Easy, yes? But I'll continue: we are thus not remotely surprised when the Spirit converts and regenerates sinners through the Word. Rather, we expect it. Curiously, for all their posturing and talk, the symbolists actually deny this. For example, the symbolist version of Isaiah 55:11 goes something like so:

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it, except anytime it is combined with an ordinance or outward form, such as Baptism or the Lord's Supper.

As Luther said, it is not the water which does such great things, it is the Word of God which is in and with the water. God's Word makes a baptism a baptism. Meanwhile, the symbolist holds that the Word of God is void and powerless whenever it is associated with a ritual--particularly if that ritual was instituted by Christ Himself.

Steve H.

Tim,

First, I agree with you that Christ is all that is required for eternal salvation. Saving faith is an instrument of salvation, not the grounds of salvation.

Second, You said,
"For the hundredth time, we do not believe that “water baptism saves” or “water baptism regenerates.”"

Yes, you do. God’s word teaches, “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Rom. 4b). I take God's Word over yours.

So since the Bible teaches that water baptism is a work, as I have already demonstrated, you believe you are saved by works. You may deny this, but the truth is, you are deceived, just as I once was when I embraced this false gospel.

Your doctrine of “water baptismal regeneration” is like the doctrine of what we might call “circumcisional regeneration” that Paul warns about in Galatians.

The circumcisional regenerationists, like you, did not distinguish between a symbol and that which the symbol symbolized (the internal and the external). This was as opposed to the Christians, who understood the difference between a symbol and that which is symbolizes:

“For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” (Rom. 2:25-29)

I sincerely pray that God opens your eyes to your soul destructive doctrine, and that you repent from holding to it and teaching others to do the same. May you turn to Christ, and may God have mercy on your soul.

For those interested in understanding why the doctrine of eternal salvation by water baptism is a soul-damning false gospel, see my blog at:

http://flockalert.wordpress.com/

Lord willing, I plan to sometime this month put another post up that refutes the misinterpretation of texts used to “prove” eternal salvation by water baptism. (for example, Rom. 6; Gal. 3; Mark 16; etc.)

Tim

Steve,

Whenever anyone tries to engage you in dialogue, you spit in their face. You do not talk. You do not even argue. With your fingers jammed in your ears and you eyes slammed shut, you preach against what you willfully misunderstand. Your blindness makes you a fool. But your strawman preaching makes you pathetic. Go wallow elsewhere in your filth.

Saving faith is an instrument of salvation, not the grounds of salvation.

Willful ignorance keeps you from realizing the obvious: We teach that baptism is, likewise, an instrument of salvation.

Me: "For the hundredth time, we do not believe that “water baptism saves” or “water baptism regenerates.”"

Steve: Yes, you do.

There is no response to your stupidity.

So since the Bible teaches that water baptism is a work, as I have already demonstrated

"As I have already demonstrated." Such blind arrogance. If you wish us to care about your "demonstrations," first pay attention to what we have demonstrated.

The circumcisional regenerationists, like you, did not distinguish between a symbol and that which the symbol symbolized (the internal and the external). This was as opposed to the Christians, who understood the difference between a symbol and that which is symbolizes:

No one at any time taught that circumcision was regenerative. The Judaizers demanded it because they demanded that Christians keep the Old Covenant.

akira kurasawa

Tim, keep it up. Very soon you will be talking to yourself. You seem to want everyone else to leave and stop replying to your comments. I have a better idea, why don't you leave so that those of us who want to have a CIVIL discourse can get on with it.

You call people arrogant, you call people fools, ignorant, pathetic... way to go Christian brother...

Matthew 5:22
"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire"

Might want to turn on the air-conditioner, Tim, I bet you are feeling pretty warm.

LOL

JN

POISON ALERT!!!

Akira, well said!

Chris Rosebrough, look at the latest exchanges and take pride in the viperous excretions taking place on your site. A refuse station filled with spiritual trailer park trash. It is so noxious that you need a mask to read through all the comments.

What an irony! You spend so much of your time hunting down doctrinal error while your own backyard is polluted with the lowest form of Christian specimen there is. It has become a petri dish for bacteria grown opinionoids, with an ego taller than the Eiffel tower, using each other for target practice. By sitting back silent and not regulating the forum or interjecting to milk the venom from these vipers, you acquiesce and partake in their sinful behaviour.

Time for some serious detoxification and disinfection is long overdue!

Steve H. What is it with you? Are you a glutton for punishment who enjoys being verbally abused and berated all the time? This man has so far called you, a fool, an idiot, stupid, pathetic and is asking you to wallow in your filth, among other cosmetic adjectives. Verbally he has beaten you to a pulp and you continue to give him a podium to express his opinion? Why do you give a rip about what he thinks? So what if he can quote verses and outline an argument? Does that make him a valid Christian? “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him” There’s about as much of Christ’s spirit in his arguments as there is vitamin C in a Big Mac. The man has cyanide gargles every morning and squirts more venom than an Indian cobra. He is a bully with a Christian problem (not a Christian with a bullying problem).

He’s not gonna let you win, can’t you just walk away graciously with some dignity and self-respect? He is a chest-beating ecclesiastical faith gladiator ready to chop the head of anyone who disagrees with him. Are you so hung up on the baptism doctrine that you are willing to invite these tirades just to prove your point?

This has nothing to do with sound doctrine or love of Christ or contending for the faith anymore. The plot was lost past the second blogpost weeks ago. It is beyond me!

Is this anyone’s idea of ‘edifying’? I hope nonChristians don’t accidentally come across this site. It is the worst advertisement for the gospel. Way to go Lutherans! Say hi to Bin Laden for us.

EXTREME THEOLOGY??? EXTREME COPROLOGY more like it! Contending for the faith??? Give me a break!

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

Akira,

Tim, keep it up. Very soon you will be talking to yourself.

I've been talking to myself (not counting you and JN, of course) since square one. That is largely the point: "With your fingers jammed in your ears and you eyes slammed shut, you preach against what you willfully misunderstand." But I think I'll always have someone to talk to as long as the politeness police are on duty. Don't you agree?

Might want to turn on the air-conditioner, Tim, I bet you are feeling pretty warm. LOL

One shouldn't laugh at one's own jokes.

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

JN,

Hypocrisy speaks for itself; please exercise better quality control.

Take pride in the viperous excretions taking place on your site. A refuse station filled with spiritual trailer park trash. It is so noxious that you need a mask to read through all the comments.

Your own backyard is polluted with the lowest form of Christian specimen there is. It has become a petri dish for bacteria grown opinionoids, with an ego taller than the Eiffel tower, using each other for target practice. By sitting back silent and not regulating the forum or interjecting to milk the venom from these vipers, you acquiesce and partake in their sinful behaviour.

Does that make him a valid Christian? “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him” There’s about as much of Christ’s spirit in his arguments as there is vitamin C in a Big Mac. The man has cyanide gargles every morning and squirts more venom than an Indian cobra. He is a bully with a Christian problem (not a Christian with a bullying problem).

He is a chest-beating ecclesiastical faith gladiator ready to chop the head of anyone who disagrees. with him.

It is the worst advertisement for the gospel. Way to go Lutherans! Say hi to Bin Laden for us.

Perhaps we all hope that non-Christians don't accidentally come across this post.

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

JN,

Hypocrisy speaks for itself; please exercise better quality control.

Take pride in the viperous excretions taking place on your site. A refuse station filled with spiritual trailer park trash. It is so noxious that you need a mask to read through all the comments.

Your own backyard is polluted with the lowest form of Christian specimen there is. It has become a petri dish for bacteria grown opinionoids, with an ego taller than the Eiffel tower, using each other for target practice. By sitting back silent and not regulating the forum or interjecting to milk the venom from these vipers, you acquiesce and partake in their sinful behaviour.

Does that make him a valid Christian? “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him” There’s about as much of Christ’s spirit in his arguments as there is vitamin C in a Big Mac. The man has cyanide gargles every morning and squirts more venom than an Indian cobra. He is a bully with a Christian problem (not a Christian with a bullying problem).

He is a chest-beating ecclesiastical faith gladiator ready to chop the head of anyone who disagrees. with him.

It is the worst advertisement for the gospel. Way to go Lutherans! Say hi to Bin Laden for us.

Perhaps we all hope that non-Christians don't accidentally come across this post.

akira kurasawa

If you can talk to yourself, I can laugh at my own jokes.

And in all seriousness, I have appreciated your comments on baptism. They have been very illuminating.

Thanks Tim :)

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

Akira,

If you can talk to yourself, I can laugh at my own jokes.

Touché. :)

And in all seriousness, I have appreciated your comments on baptism. They have been very illuminating.

They're even better if you look past the smarmy sarcasm--honest! But thanks.

JN

Tim, you’re asking me to exercise better quality control? Is the pot calling the kettle black? Please don’t sign off with those epithets in your name/title now, I could be cynical to think you took them as compliments! Ok enough with the sarcasm.

You got a taste of your own medicine and it tastes putrid doesn’t it? Yesterday you read my raw emotions, today I’m going to give you my logic. I rarely go on the offensive like this but when I read the introductory paragraph in your last reply to Steve H. I had a sudden rush of blood to my head. Some weeks ago I tried to challenge you with theological reasons as to why this is not right. It fell on deaf ears. As I commented then, it feels like watching a fat kid getting bullied by a thug in the schoolyard. I had to say something, and as for the choice of words…well…… you don’t get in the ring with Hulk Hogan wielding a feather duster. Admittedly, had I typed the post the next day it would have been far more sedate. You got the unsanitized version. That’s what happens when you react in the heat of the moment. If you can’t be a good example, you might as well be a horrible warning, and this is MY problem unfortunately for which I apologize, or to be more biblically accurate, I ask for your forgiveness and the people who read it.

Ironically, like Akira, I also think you articulate your arguments quite well and even though I don’t agree with your position on baptism, if this was a televised debate you would have won hands down. And here’s the rub. NOBODY has an issue with you trying to present a theological thesis on baptism. But when you go on the attack with the most offensive comments toward a Christian brother, without blinking an eyelid, it offends all of us because we are all part of Christ’s body.

This is not a private email exchange between two people. This is a public forum and others read your posts. As Chris is neutral on these issues and does not regulate the forum, either because he’s too busy or doesn’t care, it has become open slather. As fellow Christians, we should be entitled to visit this site and engage in debate without being exposed to this verbal pollution. Other Christian blog forums have an expectation of a basic code of conduct, but this one here seems to be ‘open the door and let the wind blow in what it may’.

You commented that Akira acts as the politeness police. Let me digest this for a moment. Expecting a mature Christian like you NOT TO call a brother in Christ, pathetic, idiot, stupid, fool etc is being the politeness police? It is very disturbing that you don’t have the slightest inkling or conviction in your heart that this could be wrong??? It’s not about being polite Tim. It’s about being godly and biblical. What happened to “The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition…”? is this too much ‘fine print’ stuff and excludes you? Are you so short-sighted to see that while you present a robust theological argument on one hand, you REALLY let yourself down when you engage in such inflammatory rhetoric and degrading personal remarks?

And here’s my open challenge to Steve Newell who often takes your side on these blogs. Why do you acquiesce with your silence from the sidelines? This has now happened repeatedly throughout this debate. Do you consider this behaviour acceptable? Is this considered business as usual in Lutheran circles? You have so much insight on debating doctrine but are lost for words to confront this attitude? And don’t tell me it’s not your place or none of your business. Where’s your intestinal fortitude?

Tim, I would be curious to know what would the people say that are closest to you (perhaps wife, kids, close friends or pastor), if you printed your last reply to Steve H and showed them? Would they give you a pat on the back, well done, way to go bro? Does everyone in your circles consider this normal?

In closing, Tim, stay with the issue and don’t attack the person. If you think he’s too dense and doesn’t get it, let him be. You don’t have to win every argument. Don’t turn it into a mud wrestle. The body of Christ needs people like you in this age of rampant biblical illiteracy. If you can direct your theological acuity with gentleness and respect, I think you’re on a winner! I’d hate to see you discredited because you can’t bite your tongue from attacking people with different views. Just discipline yourself a little, it can’t be that hard. Here’s a wild thought, ask the Lord to help you in this area! (yep I know, I’m a bad example…I admit it).

Now, should I hold my breath and hope that you might consider you were a tad out of line and should apologize to Steve H and other readers? Not for your views but for your personal attacks, or is this too sissy?

Steve H.

JN,

I appreciate your thoughts. In regards to your question, “Are you so hung up on the baptism doctrine that you are willing to invite these tirades just to prove your point?”, while I am hung up on it in that many are deceived into going to Hell because of their views on baptism, I only continued the debate for the edification of observers--not that I thought he is teachable.

His arguments were silly, arbitrary, logically fallacious, and as you said, abusive. Tim complained that I ignored some of his arguments, but I didn’t answer most of them since answering a silly argument only gives that argument a platform. My purpose was to defend the gospel for onlookers.

He is certainly intelligent, as has been said, but he uses this intelligence to confuse the clear meaning of Scriptures. (Acts 10 and 11 is a case in point—he doesn’t like that these teach a separate Holy Spirit baptism from water baptism, so instead of confronting them head-on, he retreats to a red-herring interpretation of Mark 1:8, a passage which when taken for its clear meaning also refutes his theology.)

I do actually give a rip about what he thinks, as I do want him to repent and come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. God was merciful with me—the chief of sinners—so I pray God will be the same with him as well. He could then channel that zeal for Kingdom purposes.

Thanks for your thoughts. God bless,
Steve Halbrook

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

JN,

Regarding your rhetorical and emotional appeals: I ignore neither the command to love nor the command to condemn. Well? By his own (unnecessary) admission, Steve preaches; he does not dialogue. In dialogue, there is interaction; ideas are exchanged; there is learning and adaption. The value is self-evident. Preaching is an rigid one-way street. Example: All current arguments turn on whether there is one baptism or two. Steve argues against "water baptismal regeneration," assuming the dichotomy. When challenged, he offered a defense (Mark 1:8). He has ignored both my rebuttal(s) and my continued admonitions that we actually teach one baptism, while continuing as if the matter were settled.

Godly preachers have always faced harsh condemnation and persecution, particularly when preaching to the visible church: Jerusalem kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. In correlation, all right preachers condemn heresy and its preachers in the strongest terms. Conclusion? Preachers can't get a break.

Steve is preaching in 'enemy territory.' Each side considers the other guilty of heresy. He should expect harsh condemnation; it is commanded. (To his credit, this seems the case.) But intellectually honest dialogue would be infinitely more edifying. It's not that hard.

That being said, I agree with the basic thrust of your post. Charitability is great. I hope that is not surprising. The problem? Scripture reserves 'nice' words for the repentant and the weak. Not everyone, to put it crassly, either needs or deserves to be coddled. You do not have to look very far to see charity being exploited, at great expense to the Gospel. Rather, charity must serve the Gospel. (Indeed, charity for its own sake is of the devil.)

Thus your intentions are misguided. The fact remains that Steve is behaving dishonestly, and has been given ample opportunity to repent. Or by translation, he has been preaching against that which he willfully misunderstands. He is not a "weaker brother;" indeed, we are all big boys. Yes, there is a danger that third parties may 'choose' to ignore sound arguments and be turned off by harsh condemnation; you may be familiar with John 6. But you forget the danger of failing to condemn (or worse, facilitating) a false preacher.

I think it is not unfair to accuse you of valuing reasoned [theological] discussion. The same goes for Akira. And most everyone. (Even Steve.) Yes? Surely you can see that harshness is merely symptomatic of the real problem: intellectual dishonesty. In focusing on effects, you are ultimately complicit in the cause. If you are to police something, police that.

Addendum:

Intellectual honesty consists, at the minimum, of acknowledging your opponents' arguments, particularly those intended as rebuttals and/or those to which your opponent has drawn your attention. In this way parties agree they are being treated fairly, and may "agree to disagree."

A possible first step to intellectual honesty: Recognize that all people have reasons (almost always compelling) for their beliefs--especially if they are willing to defend them.

What is the alternative? Recall why people disagree: in descending order of charitablity, they are either ignorant, suffering from cognitive dissonance, stupid, or lying--typically some combination thereof. (It may be instructive to visit debate sites and categorize the ad hominem attacks.) Are the millions of educated Roman Catholics are liars? What about the IDists? The atheists? No. They all make compelling arguments which demand and deserve consideration. That the overwhelming majority of such arguments are, of course, wrong is irrelevant. What matters is intellectual honesty; one must believe his arguments have been treated fairly. Tragically, this is why many Christians who are badly catechized fall to the first compelling atheist argument. The conversion experience can be summarized: "Wow! You guys aren't stupid like I thought." Of course, this applies generally.

As fellow Christians, we should be entitled to visit this site and engage in debate without being exposed to this verbal pollution. Other Christian blog forums have an expectation of a basic code of conduct.

Correct. But Christians are not entitled to come here and behave dishonestly or preach false doctrine. Very few errorists, you'll notice, come here to actually debate. And I have yet to see a code of conduct stipulate intellectual honesty, which is necessary for civilized debate.

And here’s my open challenge to Steve Newell who often takes your side on these blogs.

You have it backwards. (And I do not take his side; we are on the same side.) But perhaps you ought to take your own advice and denounce Steve's intellectual dishonesty. Or do you consider it acceptable--business as usual? Have you so much insight on charity, but are lost for words when it comes to confronting dishonesty?

It’s not about being polite Tim. It’s about being godly and biblical.

Condemnation is also godly and biblical.

I’d hate to see you discredited because you can’t bite your tongue from attacking people with different views.

I don't mind being "discredited" for harshly condemning either intellectual dishonesty or false preachers.

But when you go on the attack with the most offensive comments toward a Christian brother, without blinking an eyelid,

Actually, I 'blinked' several times. "Guns blazing" is never my first response.

Now, should I hold my breath and hope that you might consider you were a tad out of line and should apologize to Steve H and other readers?

I apologize to all for the last three sentences of the first paragraph in my offending post. If I could delete them, I would.

In conclusion, I am afraid that "Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator" is far too hilarious apt badass awesome to not adopt.

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

Steve,

Moving on. I still expect you to address the following:

1. Mark 1:8, when considered in light of Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:4-5, clearly speaks of Pentecost, not a generalized spirit baptism. Therefore, find a new source for the baptismal dichotomy.
2. We teach one baptism, not two; why claim otherwise?
3. The Holy Spirit operates through the Word, which is why conversion usually precedes baptism, in adult cases.
4. When we are baptized, the Holy Spirit descends upon us and we become the Father's beloved sons.
5. According to a plain reading of John 3, "born again" = "born of water and the Spirit."
6. 1 Peter 3 clearly teaches that 'something' known as "baptism" saves us. Yet many symbolists teach that 1 Peter 3 refers to "water baptism."
7. Why do you teach that works are part of the New Covenant? (Recall that "water baptism is a work.")

Acts 10 and 11 is a case in point—he doesn’t like that these teach a separate Holy Spirit baptism from water baptism

It is plain from Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:4-5 that John's reference to a "baptism of/with the Holy Spirit" speaks of Pentecost. Now consider Acts 10 and 11.

Acts 10:44-47. While Peter was still speaking [the Gospel], the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."

Acts 11:15-17. As I [Peter] began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?"

Read carefully: "The Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'"

Would it be wrong to think Peter is referencing Pentecost, particularly when he references John's prophesy concerning Pentecost? I think not. Now, carefully note that Acts 10-11 marks the ingrafting of the Gentiles:

Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. [...] You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile; [...] I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation. [...] The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. [...] When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.

Is it going too far to suggest that Acts 10 records a "Pentecost" for the Gentiles? That seems to be what Peter thought.

The point is that all confusion over "spirit baptism" is ultimately linked to Pentecost. If symbolists really want to show a generalized dichotomy of "water" and "spirit" baptism, they should produce sources that are disconnected from Pentecost.

Finally, the comment, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have" is worthy of consideration because, on the surface, it just doesn't sound like something a baptismal regeneratist would say. In fact, one could easily take it to mean that Peter believed that reception of the Holy Spirit was intended to precede baptism. But with a little open-mindedness, I think we can see that such an interpretation is not exactly cast in stone.

Recall, firstly, how reasonable it seems to call this a "Gentile Pentecost." Next, recall that Peter had a significant problem with Gentiles. Indeed, Peter's entire demeanor reflects an attitude of, "I know this is wrong, but who am I to oppose God?" Thus we can fairly surmise that Peter, like his party, was "astonished" to see God pour out the Spirit upon the Gentiles. (Random comment: How often are contemporary pastors astonished to see God's Word create repentance and faith! Oh we of little faith...) Is it then so terrible to think that Peter's exclamation is simply a joyful admission that his belief system is being overturned, rather than an ex cathedra doctrinal pronouncement of two separate baptisms? Does Peter say, "Now that they have received the Holy Spirit, we can go ahead and baptize them with water"? He does not. Nor is such an interpretation really in keeping with the context.

Oh yes. Perhaps the disconnect is illusory, but:

JN: I also think you articulate your arguments quite well [...] if this was a televised debate you would have won hands down

While you present a robust theological argument on one hand...

The body of Christ needs people like you in this age of rampant biblical illiteracy.

If you can direct your theological acuity with gentleness and respect...

Akira: I have appreciated your comments on baptism. They have been very illuminating.

Steve: His arguments were silly, arbitrary, logically fallacious...

I didn’t answer most of them since answering a silly argument...

JN

To the ‘Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator’ (I’m never going to be able to get this image out of my head now, I’m ruined for ever!) I see constant glimpses of humor on your post. I consider people with humor to be interesting.

May I live you with this and you can slice it anyway you want. I realize my posts have sidetracked the debate, but it had degenerated to a bar brawl anyway. Don’t mean to sound rhetorical or preachy and am certainly NOT the moral cop, but I read somewhere that we should encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness and to consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Condemning false teaching (if that’s what you honestly believe your intellectual opponent is) is a biblical imperative - no problem there. But you went waaayyyy beyond that, it got personal, nasty and toxic (note, past tense). There is a middle ground between coddling and attacking. Paul rebuked Peter’s hypocrisy in public but didn’t call him names (though we don’t know what kind of ‘names’ they were using back then, but I’m sure they had some). He rebuked Peter’s actions but didn’t make judgments about his heart or soul. So, to your point that Condemnation is also godly and biblical, YES IT IS, but the issue here is not whether condemnation is biblical, but what the object of condemnation should be, namely, the message/doctrine/teaching, not the person. It is noble that you don’t mind being discredited, but be discredited for the right reasons. On a personal note, the Greek meaning of Tim-othy means ‘to honor God’ (my son’s name too). A legacy to live by!

I shudder when I think of Jesus’ words: But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. And don’t give me the Lutheran cliché that I confuse the law with the gospel. Yes, through the gospel we find freedom from sin, but do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature…

We know Jesus attacked the Pharisees and called them ‘unmarked graves’ and ‘whitewashed tombs’ but there’s a slight difference between him and us. He knew exactly what was in people’s hearts, we don’t, we speculate. Let’s entertain the remote possibility that we could be wrong… So let’s stick to condemning the message not the messenger because even if they are ‘evil’ they may repent later and we might bump into them in heaven. [Q. Oops, (head scratching) I thought you’d be getting barbequed with Lucifer, what are you doing up here? Did God have an afterthought? A. No, I actually…repented. - Nooo……get outa here! Really???]

Having a formidable intellect is a great gift, but let’s not be too clever that we rationalize our outbursts (yours truly included). Some of us have been holding a hammer for so long that everyone is beginning to look like a nail! As the newly knighted gladiator, call a spade a spade (ok, weak pun).

Now, since this is ‘enemy territory’ for us non-Lutherans, here’s a quote worthy of reflection as posted on May 30, 2008 by Chris Rosebrough The Great, who runs / owns this website:

I know that I have been guilty of the very behavior I am decrying in this post and I am deeply sorry for committing this sin and repent of it. That being said, I am appealing to all of my Christian brothers and sisters who have a passion for defending the truth and defending the gospel to repent of ad hominem and personal attacks and let your actions and statements and debates always be seasoned with love, compassion, gentleness and respect.
Contrary to what you may think, love, gentleness and respect do NOT compromise the Gospel. Instead, love, gentleness and respect are the fruits of the gospel in our lives and they only make our defense of the truth even stronger and more convincing. In fact, it doesn't matter if your theological precision is accurate to one one hundredth of a percent and all of your apologetic arguments are irrefutable. Attacking and demeaning and belittling are not actions that are in keeping with the gospel.

Bottom line, you have already aplologized for ‘for the last three sentences of the first paragraph in [your] offending post’ and I take it at face value that you meant it. As such, it would be unfair to keep hammering that point. We move on.

For my part once again (in case anyone has missed it), I unreservedly apologize for my 10 paragraphs, 43 lines, 433 words and 1991 characters that made up my outburst a couple of days ago.

So, how was your cyanide smoothie for breakfast this morning?

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

JN,

I agree with the essential thrust of your post. Plus more.

Anyway, I am curious as to what makes you a symbolist. No pressure. :)

So, how was your cyanide smoothie for breakfast this morning?

Very refreshing. Kill the flesh and all that.

JN

Tim, I’m glad you got the joke. I wasn’t trying to offend. What makes me a symbolist? Never thought of it really, I guess my brain can relate to imagery easier when trying to interpret concepts and express thought. Many eons ago I studied to become a film director but it never got past my internship stage and in desperate need for income I ended up in banking and finance where I’ve been for 20 years now.

8 of those 20 years I was in dispute resolution where I had to deal with emotionally charged customers who loved expressing their anger in colorful language (that’s probably where the ‘bring it on’ streak comes from). I found that uneducated and simple minded customers were often angry about a problem they could not understand and when I had to explain it to them I found the use of symbols got the point across easier. Ironically, many times I didn’t say anything new to them, I simply ‘reframed’ what someone else told them earlier in different words but somehow the point got across. This helped me appreciate the value of linguistic variety. If you do something long enough, it becomes a habit I guess. Symbolically speaking, there’s more than one way to skin a cat!

I also found that when engaging in apologetics with non-Christians, careful symbolism is more forceful to explain certain aspects of the truth, than a one-dimensional intellectual debate (which I also find boring). I could be accused of being ‘technique oriented’ but it wasn’t by design, it has become more a survival tool in the world I live in.

And while we’re on confession mode, I did enjoy Tim Allen’s humor in ‘Home Improvement’ and Ray Romano’s and Peter Boyle’s (the old man) sarcastic one liners in ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’. Truth compels me to admit I’m a little ‘piety deficient’ in this dept and my unhealthy fascination with sarcastic humor reminds me of my perpetual need for sanctification……

Now return the favor and tell me where your train-of-thought style comes from?

JN

I know we're digressing a bit but this got me thinking.... Akira, you are using the alias of one of the most famous Japanese film directors of all time. What's the connection? Do you appreciate his cinematic art or is it just a random alias?

Akira kurasawa

I love the films of Akira Kurosawa. Especially the ones starring Toshiro Mifune. My favorites are Yojimbo and Sanjuro. For those who have not seen them, they show a wandering samurai who drifts into town one day and winds up caught in the middle of a feud between rival clans in both movies... very Fist Full of Dollars for Clint Eastwood fans. I thought the parallels between the nameless samurai character and myself on this blog was a kind of private joke. So I took the alias.

Have a great weekend all of you. :)

Steve H.

Tim,
You said,
"Mark 1:8, when considered in light of Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:4-5, clearly speaks of Pentecost, not a generalized spirit baptism."

Not necessarily.

In your eagerness to prove your theology, you have not considered the possibility that Pentecost marks a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the New Covenant era to all New Covenant saints, which in this case would mean it is not simply a unique circumstance.

But even if it is a unique circumstance, the example in Acts 10 and 11 destroys any requirement that Spirit baptisms and water baptisms are the same—which renders your refusal to distinguish between water and Spirit baptism speculation at best.

Thus, you are under the burden of proof to produce a Scripture where the context demands (an explicit text that spells out your theology or a necessary inference from a text for your theology) that water and Spirit baptism are the same.

Your analogy that what happens at Jesus’ baptism is equivalent to what happens when a believer is saved—while highly imaginative—is in no way a necessary inference from the text, and I have already touched on why it is futile to make such an analogy.

And, you engage in special pleading when you read your theology into Jesus’ baptism. On the one hand, you want to make the Holy Spirit baptism at Pentecost a UNIQUE historical baptism, and yet you want to make (your reading into) Jesus’ baptism an analogy to what REGULARLY occurs to the baptism of believers.

And to add to this, you say the following:

"The point is that all confusion over "spirit baptism" is
ultimately linked to Pentecost. If symbolists really want to
show a generalized dichotomy of "water" and "spirit" baptism,
they should produce sources that are disconnected from
Pentecost."

Regarding “The point is that all confusion over "spirit baptism" is ultimately linked to Pentecost,” Jesus’ baptism is linked to Pentecost as well:

“And John bore witness: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." (John 1:32-34)

Moreover, even if Acts 10 and 11 are unique circumstances, they destroy the futile doctrine that one needs to be baptized by water in order to be saved. These men were clearly saved prior to water baptism. The Acts 10 and 11 example is not unique in that it is consistent with the rest of Scripture—from Genesis to Revelation—that no works (such as water baptism) justify or regenerate man.

You are under the burden of proof to produce one single example (not by speculating) from the entire Bible where the context demands water baptism saves, and that water and Spirit baptism are one and the same. (Insisting that every reference to baptism is water and Spirit baptism combined is as irrational as insisting every reference to circumcision is physical circumcision and circumcision of the heart combined.)

You have yet to make a positive case for your theology by demonstrating from the text of Scripture—not by reading into Scripture.

JN

Oh Steve...now you're asking for it! Let it go brother.

Steve H.

One correction:

I wrote "Your analogy that what happens at Jesus’ baptism is equivalent to what happens when a believer is saved"

which should read:

"Your analogy that what happens at Jesus’ baptism is equivalent to what happens when a believer is baptized in water"

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

Hi JN,

What makes me a symbolist? Never thought of it really, I guess my brain can relate to imagery easier when trying to interpret concepts and express thought.

Maybe that's not what I meant. I use "symbolist" to denote groups which reduce baptism and the Lord's Supper to symbols. Usually I just call all y'all baptists, but someone might have corrected me on that point.

I also found that when engaging in apologetics with non-Christians, careful symbolism is more forceful to explain certain aspects of the truth, than a one-dimensional intellectual debate (which I also find boring).

Hmm. In my experience, such discussions fall into two categories. Some unbelievers are open-minded, and talking with them is usually very productive as it takes very little effort to explain Christianity in a way totally unlike the pathetic caricatures made by the media, pop culture, and (sad to say) a variety of prominent Christian leaders. On the other hand are the atheist attack dogs, who are almost always clueless. Yawn.

Truth compels me to admit I’m a little ‘piety deficient’ in this dept and my unhealthy fascination with sarcastic humor reminds me of my perpetual need for sanctification…

Aren't we all? :) Btw, I love(d) Everybody Loves Raymond. No coincidence, I think.

Now return the favor and tell me where your train-of-thought style comes from?

I'm afraid I don't understand the question. But I suppose my style has developed during my lengthy journeys through the internet. Sometimes I am extremely terse, the better to be understood--particularly if I need to make consecutive points. Or I can wax verbose, if rhetoric is appropriate. This is not really an answer.

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

Steve,

Explain why the Word of God becomes void when it is combined with water.

You have not considered the possibility that Pentecost marks a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the New Covenant era to all New Covenant saints, which in this case would mean it is not simply a unique circumstance.

No. John prophesied that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Recall that Mark 1:8 and Matthew 3:11 are the same event.) That is why, aside from Acts 1:4-5, we know he is speaking of Pentecost. And we know Pentecost was unique because it was the only baptism with fire.

The example in Acts 10 and 11 destroys any requirement that Spirit baptisms and water baptisms are the same—which renders your refusal to distinguish between water and Spirit baptism speculation at best.

This is misdirection. You are the one who requires that "spirit baptism" and "water baptism" be divided. We, however, don't "require" that they go together. But pay close attention and don't misinterpret: Yes, the Spirit always accompanies the water, because the Spirit always accompanies the Word, and, in baptism, water and word go together. But water does not always accompany the Spirit. Why? Because you can have the Word without water. (E.g., a sermon.) The point is that Spirit regenerates us and converts us through the Word--especially if that Word is combined with water. Therefore: 1) Stop attacking strawmen; our position is not difficult to understand. But if it is difficult, why don't you ask for clarification? 2) Stop denying the efficacy of the Word. Is water some kind of demonic pollutant that magically nullifies the Holy Spirit's activity? Baloney. The Word is powerful, even when it is combined with water.

Thus, you are under the burden of proof to produce a Scripture where the context demands that water and Spirit baptism are the same.

Except we don't teach that "water baptism" and "spirit baptism" are the same, because we only teach one baptism. It's the symbolists who wrongly think we teach it. What we teach is that the Spirit always operates through the Word, particularly if that Word is combined with water. What you need to prove is that God's Word becomes powerless in the context of water.

And, you engage in special pleading when you read your theology into Jesus’ baptism. On the one hand, you want to make the Holy Spirit baptism at Pentecost a UNIQUE historical baptism, and yet you want to make (your reading into) Jesus’ baptism an analogy to what REGULARLY occurs to the baptism of believers.

Close! But no cigar. It would be special pleading if we got the whole idea of baptismal regeneration from Jesus' baptism. But we didn't, so it's not. Now, you "claim" I'm reading my theology into the account, but aren't you being a little silly? When we are baptized, we receive the Holy Spirit; we are clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27). We become sons of God, and God is well pleased with us. (That's the point of salvation, yes?) Merely pointing out that this looks something like what happened at Jesus' baptism doesn't constitute me "reading my theology" into anything.

Moreover, even if Acts 10 and 11 are unique circumstances, they destroy the futile doctrine that one needs to be baptized by water in order to be saved. These men were clearly saved prior to water baptism.

Tell me if the title of this topic is, "Only Baptism Saves!" Steve, we don't teach that justification, regeneration and faith come ONLY through baptism. We do, however, teach that they come ONLY through the Word--especially if this Word is combined with water.

The Acts 10 and 11 example is not unique in that it is consistent with the rest of Scripture—from Genesis to Revelation—that no works (such as water baptism) justify or regenerate man.

If you teach that "water baptism" is a work, what's it doing in the "New" Covenant?

You have yet to make a positive case for your theology by demonstrating from the text of Scripture—not by reading into Scripture.

Well, I guess that road goes both ways. Now that you've evidently backed down slightly on Mark 1:8, where's your proof-text for multiple baptisms? Still, if you insist:

Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

God's Word is included in baptism. God's Word is efficacious for salvation. Therefore baptism is efficacious for salvation. QED.

Symbolism's big problem, Steve, is that it puts people into "denial" mode. As soon as you say, "water cannot save," you lose the ability to look objectively at all the passages which indicate that water is doing something salvific. It's all, "Deny! Explain away! Deny!" Instead, take a step back and ask yourself a very simple question: "How can water do such great things?" The answer is rhetorical, because water can do nothing by itself. Just like we are nothing, apart from Christ. Rather, it is the Word of God which kills and makes alive, which regenerates and converts. The Word saves us. Particularly when it is combined with water.

What follows is new. One of my favorite baptismal passages is Colossians 2:11-12. (I lie, of course, they're all my favorites.)

In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Some claim that "water baptism" is a human work. Wrong! In baptism, we are circumcised not by human hands, but by Christ. (Even symbolists know this passage speak of baptism "with water," because they use "burial" to prove that baptism must be full-immersion.)

akira kurasawa

Tim, stepping away from throwing verses and chapters back and forth, what would you say to these arguments...

My personal belief on baptism is that it is a miraculous occurrence when joined with the Word. My reasoning for this is that animal sacrifice, circumcision and most old testament observances were symbolic in nature and did not forgive sin, create faith or anything miraculous in nature.

However, with the coming of Christ, we have these symbolic practices be fulfilled in miraculous ways by God. Specifically I am thinking of communion and baptism. Circumcision was a symbolic marking of Israel as God's own people, but nothing more. Passover was a meal remembering the deliverance from Egypt and pointing to the messiah, but nothing more. Animal sacrifice reminded Israel of it's sins and their need for a savior but it didn't forgive sins.

Then we have Jesus who comes and by what can only be termed a miracle, dies, rises again and by this miracle, takes away our sin and gives us eternal life.

Jesus is baptized and the heavens open and the Father Speaks, the Holy Spirit descends and we have the Trinity present. Miraculous.

I think the pattern is that Jesus replaces the symbolic with the real, the miraculous.

Your thoughts?

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

Akira,

Right on.

I think the pattern is that Jesus replaces the symbolic with the real, the miraculous.

The juxtaposition is fantastic, really: under the Old Covenant, God instituted rituals so that, through them, men could become righteous--and, failing that, reconcile themselves to God.

But under the New Covenant, God uses rituals to reconcile us to Himself.

I can observe circumcision and Sabbaths and holy days and purity rites and all the rest of the Old Covenant rituals forever, but I'll always fail to measure up. I can butcher lambs and goats all day long, but there will never be enough blood to cover my sin.

But when Jesus circumcises me through water, He makes me righteous and holy. When Jesus gives me His Body and Blood to eat and drink, He covers up my sin.

The bottom line in Christianity is bodily resurrection. Our hope is not in some nebulous afterlife. Death doesn't release us into an ethereal spiritual existence. God made us body and soul; that is how we were created in the beginning. This is why Christ came to us in a body; this is why He instituted rituals: we are a material people, and Christ's love is not abstract. His real body shed real blood, for us. Nor has time and space made his love abstract. Even today, He washes us with real water, and feeds us with real food. He comes to us as we are.

God has always embraced the fact that we are embodied. It is no surprise that Christ comes to us through physical means. Indeed, that is where He means us to seek Him.

JN

Hey Tim,

This is a short post between rounds. What is it now, round 11 or 12 between you and Steve?

It seems I misunderstood your question. I don’t mean that kind of symbolism the pathetic caricatures. I’m into hardcore, warts-n-all gospel, not effeminized softly-softly symbolism. In my conversation with non-Christians I never rephrase words like hell, sin and repentance, crucifixion or resurrection.

I refer to ‘symbolism’ in the broad sense by way of imagery, analogies, metaphors and allegory. God used it extensively with most OT prophets as you know to convey his message (think X-Rated Ezekiel 16 & 23) and Jesus used parables often which he later deciphered to his disciples. Jesus could have explained the message of the prodigal son on an intellectual level, but the analogy of a wayward son squandering his inheritance and the pigs refusing to share their lunch with him, drove the point home forcefully because we can all relate to it.

Now back to your point, I guess you see a fundamental difference between a ‘symbol’ and a ‘sacrament’?

PS I’m not a Baptist.

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

JN,

I have misused the term 'symbolism.' I've been using it to refer to baptist-like teachings on baptism. Baptists (and, more generally, the Reformed) teach that baptism is merely a symbol, just as having an ashen cross painted on your forehead during Lent is merely a symbol. (Although, of course, the latter wasn't instituted by Christ.)

The point of contention is whether baptism is more than simply a symbol, as the church has historically taught, or whether it is merely a symbol. Symbolism, itself, is not the issue; there is no question that God employs symbolism throughout Scripture.

Now back to your point, I guess you see a fundamental difference between a ‘symbol’ and a ‘sacrament’?

Not necessarily. I have no problem if the sacraments are symbolic in some sense; e.g., they may be symbolic of heaven or something. The point is that sacraments are not merely symbols.

For example, sacramentarians say that the bread and wine symbolize Jesus' body and blood. Wrong! The bread and wine are the Body and Blood. They also say that baptism symbolizes conversion (or whatever). Wrong! Baptism is conversion.

Incidentally: a mechanistic approach to the sacraments (one could easily accuse both the Papists and Calvinists of this) is at best very tacky. In practice it is divisive, harmful, heretical, and not a little blasphemous (i.e., elevating man's mind to God's level). All that matters is what Jesus said and that Jesus is God (and will therefore do what He said). Why sweat the details?

JN

Tim I’m learning more about Lutheran beliefs from these blogs as time goes.

I couldn’t agree more that those things you mentioned are more than symbols, but when you say they are the very thing they symbolize do you mean transubstantiation (in the case of communion for example) like the Catholics?

Steve Newell

JN,

Lutherans do not believe in "Transubstantiation" in Holy Communion. We do believe in the real presence of Christ in the bread and in the wine. If you search ExtremeTheology, you can see a posting that I wrote on this subject.

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

JN,

like the Catholics

You mean the Papists. ;) Lutherans are, of course, the True Catholics, because we are evangelical and catholic.

Anyway: No. Transubstantiation falls under what I am calling a "mechanized" approach to the Sacrament. The problem is obvious, of course. We observe only bread and wine in the Sacrament. We observe only water in Baptism. For that matter, we observe only words in Scripture.

Nevertheless, this does not stop us from believing that the Holy Spirit operates through the Word to convert the unregenerate, or that the waters of Baptism wash away sin, or that we eat and drink Christ. We accept all this on faith. Why? Because Jesus said so, and Jesus is God.

Regarding the Eucharist, when you boil away all the fancy theology, disagreement comes down to a few simple points.

1. Do we eat and drink Christ's Body and Blood? (Yes, Jesus said so.)
2. Do we eat and drink bread and wine? (It sure looks that way, and Jesus didn't say otherwise.)

Question 1 separates Lutherans from the Reformed.
Question 2 separates us from the Papists.

Anyhow. Transubstantiation is not necessarily worse than a pious theological opinion. It might not even be wrong. But it does speak where the Word is silent, which is clearly something to avoid. At any rate, our problem with the Papists is that they demand everyone subscribe to transubstantiation, when it ought to be sufficient to agree on point 1.

when you say they are the very thing they symbolize

To be precise, I didn't quite say that. I am saying they are what Jesus said they are.

JN

Steve Newell, interesting point you made. Please elaborate a bit more. I’m not teasing I just want to pick your Lutheran brains if I can.

Is the real presence of Christ you’re referring to any different from ‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them’?

Is Christ becoming more present during the Eucharist. If so, how so?

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

JN,

Merry Christmas!

Is the real presence of Christ you’re referring to any different from ‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them’?

Is Christ becoming more present during the Eucharist. If so, how so?

Yes, and yes. Christ is certainly present spiritually. But in the Eucharist, He is present bodily, for us to eat and drink.

Steve
Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

Steve,

Did you forget? There's no such thing as "water baptism." So of course the Bible never teaches that it saves. That's like saying that the Bible nowhere teaches that altar calls save. Baptism, however, does save, as explained by any number of passages that have already been discussed:

1 Peter 3:21. [Baptism] saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:27. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Titus 3:5. He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:26-27. Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

John 3:3,5. "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. [...] I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."

Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Proof that baptism saves: God's Word is included in baptism. God's Word is efficacious for salvation. Therefore baptism is efficacious for salvation. QED.

You make several points in your blog posts which I will address as follows:

You suggest that baptism is a work, and thus that salvation by baptism denies justification by faith. Except baptism is Christ's work, not man's work:

Ephesians 5:26-27. Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Titus 3:5. He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Colossians 2:11-12. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Thus your argument is moot. When we rely on baptism, we rely precisely on the work of Christ.

Circumcision is a work, and by implication, water baptism and any other thing added to justification by faith.

Baptism (not "water baptism") isn't implicated as a human work by circumcision, because Paul explicitly says in Colossians 2:11-12 that baptism is the circumcision done by Christ. Moreover, baptism is not "added" to justification. Rather, Christ grants us access to justification through baptism. (That's baptism, not "water baptism.")

3. To believe water baptism plays any role in salvation whatsoever is to misunderstand saving faith.

Precisely the opposite is true. To deny that baptism plays any role in salvation is to misunderstand saving faith.

4. To believe water baptism plays any role in salvation is boastful:
Baptism is done by Christ, not man. Therefore we are allowed to boast about it.
II. The consistent pattern in the Bible is that religious rites do not save:

It's not a very consistent pattern, because the Bible teaches that baptism saves and that eating the Body and Blood of Christ saves.

III. Water Baptism is not part of the Gospel

True. Water baptism is a made-up human work that's found nowhere in Scripture. It is not apart of the Gospel. Baptism, however, is clearly at the heart of the Gospel, which is why Jesus left the Church with the command to baptize all nations. What's very strange is that symbolists still demand that everyone perform water baptism. Why is that, if it is a human work that's got no part in the Gospel? Why is "water baptism" part of the "New" Covenant?

IV. To hold that water Baptism plays a role in the forgiveness of sins is to hold to a false gospel

No argument there. But to deny that baptism forgives sins is to also hold to a false Gospel.

V. In closing, saving faith is a belief in what Christ has accomplished, not a belief of what God will do for one should he meet certain conditions in the future (e.g., circumcision, water baptism, etc.).

Exactly right! And one of the things that Christ has accomplished, for me, is my baptism. I believe that Christ died on the cross for my sins, has baptized me, and now feeds me His true Body and Blood for the forgiveness of my sins. What saving faith does not do is to embrace some of Christ's accomplishments and reject others.

VI. Historical Condemnations of Baptismal Regeneration

These guys aren't precisely historical. What about the Fathers?

Steve

Tim,
Your arguments are pretty desperate. But I didn't post this for you, but for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Steve

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

Well, Steve, they're the same arguments you've been ignoring since the beginning. And they're just not going to go away! Fun times.

Eppiegal

Steve,
Yes you are baptized by man, sorry let me refrain what I said.
-You are baptized into the Holy Spirit by God through Christ, when you are baptized by man through water- I thought you understood what I said, sorry for

Bob Anderson

You know Bro, i listen to you pretty frequently and although i agree with most of what you teach as it lines up with scripture i must totally disagree with this belief you have about "water baptism" .
Scripture is very clear, Holy spirit baptism as a result of "believing the gospel" IS THE ONLY BAPTISM that "Grants one entrance to the reedemed family of God, adoption takes place at that time and NOT at the follow up event of "water babtism". Belief is what saves, NOT obedience to directives or sacraments. Secondly, false teachers who by thier lies may stop even one human being from receiving the "gift of God" and therefore escaping "the wages of thier sin" is anything but funny, sarcastic, or satirical in nature. Impersonating False Olseens etc for laughs is a cheap trick and almost as bad as "laughing at sin" as you rightly accuse many churches of doing as that "sin" is what caused the crucifiction of Gods son. There is nothing funny about it or mocking those who abuse and misuse thier position to help others understand the seriousness of it. Therefore i would humbly ask you to repent from doing so in the future. In Jesus name, amen. I just noted you refused to reply to a fellow commentor which i hope doesnt then bracket you with other spiritual dictators who declare boldly, "believe as i say and not as i do"?

Bob Anderson

As a quick follow up to my last comment and equally as important, if infant baptism was enough to save for eternity then God is a very unjust God as only those born into a "christian" background would be guaranteed eternal life even if they do not "live as believers" for one second after thier head is "sprinkled" with "holy water". I personally know athiests who get thier children " christened" just cause they "think" its the right thing to do?. You clearly state in one of your teachings "that no one comes to Jesus, therefore salvation, unless the Father calls them? but then you are declaring a child is "saved" before he can possibly answer that call or even speak!!. The whole idea is prepostorous and as you often say "WHERE IS THAT IN SCRIPTURE". You know bro, im about ready to stop listening to or reading anymore "thoughts of men" and stick to the Bible alone and prayer as there is so many "winds if doctrine" and "religious boxing rings" out thier promoting the next BIG SHOWDOWN " that im sick to my back teeth of it, well at least the one i have left, and it is clear why the "power" and "blessings" God longs to adorn us with are not forthcoming.....because thier is NOT the "Unity" required for God to do so as he for one cannot contradict himself and reward disobedient children. Thank God though his grace at least meets our basic needs, now that is truely unconditional love.

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