a baptist perspective


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Jason Sampler
New Orleans, Louisiana

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B.A. History Education, SWOSU
M.A. Theology, NOBTS
Th.M. Theology, NOBTS

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The IMB and Baptism

In a recent article published by ABP, the IMB has recently voted to change guidelines for new missional appointees. While I am grateful for the trustees' stance on wishing to ensure IMB appointees are Baptistic, I am concerned with a certain caveat of their understanding of baptism. The ABP article states, in part, the following:

Also on Nov. 15, IMB trustees elaborated on their policy for the forms of baptism acceptable for missionary candidates. The new policy declares that candidates must have been baptized in SBC-affiliated churches or have received believer's baptism by immersion in another denomination or non-denominational church. If the candidate received baptism in another tradition, it must be viewed as symbolic rather than sacramental or regenerative. Also, the church or denomination in which the baptism took place must adhere to the doctrine of the "security of the believer," or the belief that one cannot lose one's salvation.

I am concerned with the final sentence. In an email I sent to some friends of mine earlier tonight, here are my thoughts on this issue:

Regarding the IMB's stance on baptismal qualifications, I think, for the most part, this is fine. In fact, for the most part, this seems consistent with what the BFM2000 states (trusting that it is a faithful guide to what Baptists believe and not a creedal formula of incantation, as if Baptists would ever spend the time to memorize it if they had to). As representatives of the SBC, IMB appointed missionaries should, I believe, submit to BFM guidelines for baptism. I think baptisms located outside the SBC are valid, so long as they are baptistic (as the BFM describes baptism as an act of obedience symbolizing identification with Christ, for believers by immersion).

However, I am troubled with the last statement of the paragraph. I find no link between the validity of one’s baptism as being performed upon a right recipient (a regenerate believer) in a scriptural manner (by immersion) with the statement that the church/denomination must believe in the eternal security of all believers. While the doctrine of eternal security has been an historical part of our baptistic confession, I do not ever remember it being linked to the validity of one’s baptism. I do not mean to misrepresent the article, and hopefully the article accurately represents the IMB trustee’s position. However, I read this to mean that one being baptized in a Free Will Baptist church (for example), as a regenerate believer, by immersion, as a symbol of his/her union with Christ, still constitutes an invalid baptism in the eyes of the IMB. Even if a person was baptized in non-“eternal security” church, how does this impact his understanding of baptism? And even more, if he/she is applying to serve as IMB missionaries, there is a very high probability that he/she does believe in the eternal security of all believers.

If there was a change in a person’s theology regarding this issue, I see no reason to rebaptize them. I don’t think Calvinistic churches rebaptize people who become Reformed Baptists if they came from more of a General Baptist background (or vise versa). Churches do not rebaptize those who come out of a deacon led church into an elder led church (or vise versa). My point is that a change in a person’s understanding of security, as far as I’m concerned, should not dictate the need for another baptism so as to be seen legitimate in the eyes of the IMB. It is altogether a separate issue to be appointing those who do not hold to eternal security as missionaries by the IMB, but this does not seem to be the point. Simply because baptism is performed by a church not endorsing eternal security, the IMB deems such a baptism unqualified for missional appointment. This seems to go too far for me.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you see baptism as a legitimate link to service in the IMB? Do you see any link between baptism and eternal security?

posted by Jason Sampler at 9:57 PM


Blogger D.R. said...

I think this goes to far as well. So does Wade Burleson. You should check out Steve McCoy's Blog "Missional Baptist Blog" at www.stevemccoy.blogspot.com/sbc to read more. Steve, along with Marty Duran at SBC Outpost and Joe Thorn are the SBC founders when it comes to blogging. You should check out their sites now that you are entering the blogging world.

Try to get listen on some Baptist/Christian/Reformed blogs as well. That will help you to circulate, as will commenting on others blogs. This can be time consuming, but often useful for networking.

It looks good, just add on some links and run with it.

8:50 AM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger martyduren said...

DR is a smart cookie also, Jason.

Man, this thing just befuddles me. I've spoken to about 4 or 5 trustees over the phone and practical application of this is even worse than it sounds. One friend of mine is very concerned that it will eventually make its way to those already on the field. I hope not.

3:29 PM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger Jason Sampler said...


Thanks for the post. Not sure about your comments about DR. That may be the first time i've ever heard anyone call him a smart cookie! Just kidding. DR and I used to be roommates at NOBTS. We go back a long way.

I can honestly appreciate the IMB trustees working hard to protect the interests of IMB missionaries as well as the SBC in general. In part, I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but if Burleson's comments are correct, there is little left to the imagination that they didn't consider all of the ramifications. Even moreso disturbing is the fact they would vote on something as restrictive as this without a greater number of participation among the trustees.

we'll have to see how this plays out, but it doesn't look good so far.


3:36 PM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger martyduren said...

I've received a dispute on the total number attending being in the 43-45 range, but I can't get an accurate number confirmed. The IMB report has taken out the vote total, so that's no good. I think I'll call them and ask how many signed in at Huntsville.

5:56 PM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger martyduren said...

Did you know Joe Kennedy from NOBTS?

2:42 PM, December 02, 2005  
Blogger James Douglas said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:09 AM, December 05, 2005  

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The views presented on this blog do not represent the opinions or positions of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the SBC, any local, or state Baptist association, or of Edgewater Baptist Church. The views represented here are solely the personal views of the author. Also, it should be made public that I am a rabid University of Oklahoma sports fan . . . BOOMER SOONER!


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