Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Pastors: training people for baptism is not in your job jar

Pastors worry about whether or not a person requesting baptism is ready. They shouldn’t. 

Scripture does not tell you to train extensively those seeking baptism. 


Scripture does not hold you responsible for “mistakenly” baptizing unbelievers. 


If you want to worry about something, you should worry about declining to baptize a believer who doesn’t measure up to your standards! I’d seriously worry about answering to that mistake before God.


Despite it being assumed without question (as “common sense”), there are no data indicating that your accuracy rate (which is unknowable anyway) is improved by requiring extensive training prior to baptism. You actually have no way of discerning whether someone is a believer or an imposter, at least not with any certainty.


There are no data that indicate the dreaded “false assurance rate” is better (i.e. reduced) if you train longer. 


“Bad” baptisms, such as we find in scripture (Simon the Magician, presumably the adulterer in Corinth, etc.) are not held up as examples as to how we must be more discerning in whom we baptize. The message is much more along the lines of: “Okay, time to move on.”


Think about this sobering truth: Most modern evangelical churches would not perform any of the baptisms in the New Testament. In all the scriptural examples we have, all that was required was a simple statement of belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He is the source of salvation. Churches I have been a member of would not have (in the same timely manner) baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, Lydia and her family, the Philippian jailer and his family, the multitudes at Pentecost or any of the other baptisms described in Acts, because those receiving baptism had not been thoroughly trained and tested. 


On this matter, pastors and elders need to get over themselves. You job is to teach and shepherd (don’t forget to shepherd-- you guys often neglect the shepherding) and to baptize those professing simple belief who seek baptism. Your job is not and never has been (as far as scripture is concerned) to do the impossible, i.e., determine the sincerity of their profession. Your job is not and never has been (as far as scripture is concerned) to impose a standard on the level of theological knowledge possessed prior to being baptized. Are you so self-centered that you imagine that the weight is on your shoulders? It’s not. Thankfully God did not deem to give you that responsibility, and yet you act as if he did. The weight of a bad baptism is squarely on those seeking baptism, not on those administering it.

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