This is a continuation of “Kyle’s Questions.” There were several questions submitted and so I have given Kyle his very own category. To get a complete listing of the answer to all the questions click the category link.
Question #2: Does A Person Have To Be Baptized By A Preacher Or Elder Of The Church Of Christ In Order To Be Saved?
In answer to the first part, it doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that a person has to be baptized by an elder, or anyone else of a particular office, in order to be saved. Questions like these show one of two things. Either the questioner has been sorely misinformed about the biblical teaching on the matter; or, they are being purposefully deceitful and misleading about the church of Christ. I have never taught, nor have I ever heard another gospel preacher (i.e. faithful preacher of the church of Christ) teach that a person must be baptized by an elder in order to be saved. I am not an elder and I have baptized many people. The premise of the question is false as it implies that this is something taught in the church of Christ. I can say with all assurance that it is not taught in faithful congregations of the church of Christ. If the questioner has encountered this teaching from those claiming to preach the doctrine of Christ then the person he heard it from was in error. It simply is not true!
The second question is, likewise, false. I have never taught, nor have I ever heard another faithful gospel preacher teach, that they were a necessary instrument in a person’s being scripturally baptized.
However, it can most definitely be said that a person must hear the word of God before they can be scripturally baptized. Insofar as that goes, it can be said the preacher is an important element in a person’s coming to the knowledge of the truth. The Bible says frequently that preaching is the means by which God calls people to salvation. Notice the following passages:
So, as much as in me,
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God,
Over and over again, in Scripture, we see both example and explicit statement to the fact that a person must hear the word of God, believe what it teaches, repent of their sins, confess that they believe Jesus is the Son of God, and be baptized to have their sins washed away. In the first century, before the completion of the written word, the only way for a person to hear the word of God was by the mouth of a preacher. The preacher was able to preach the truth of God’s word either by the possession of spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8-11) or by having been taught it by an inspired teacher (2 Tim. 2:2). Today, however, we have the peaching of the apostles and teachers of the New Testament in written form. A person my learn the truth of salvation from their study of the written word and be scripturally baptized by someone that doesn’t even believe in God, without effecting their salvation whatsoever.
If the person doing the baptizing matters at all then before a person could be scripturally baptized he would have to not only be sure he knew what he was doing but also that the one doing the baptizing was faithful to God. If that were true then anyone who was baptized by one who was later found to be unfaithful would need to be re-baptized to make sure their baptism was correct. Such a thing simply is not taught in the Bible!
If the person being baptized has learned the truth of God’s word (Rom. 10:17), they believe what the word of God teaches about Christ and his kingdom (Acts 8:12), they have repented of their sins (Acts 2:38), they have confessed their belief that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:10), and they are being baptized to have their sins washed away by the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:3, 4), then they are being scripturally baptized regardless of what the person doing the baptizing believes.
Think about this, if the spiritual condition of the one doing the baptizing matters at all to the one being baptized then that would mean a person would not only have to know the spiritual condition of the person baptizing them but they would also have to know the condition of the one who baptized that person, and the condition of the one who had baptized the person that baptized the person that baptized them, and so forth, all the way back down the line. If at any point in the descent down the line of baptizers there was one unfaithful person then everyone stemming from that baptism would not have been Scripturally baptized. This kind of “faithful descent” simply is not Scriptural doctrine.
In response to the final, misguided, point of the “question,” the preacher, or elder, or joe on the corner, is not the one performing a “saving act” on the person being baptized. It is Jesus Christ who is taking away the person’s sins as a result of that person’s faithful submission to the will of God. Peter was the one who told those on Pentecost in Acts 2 to “repent and be baptized…for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). But, when 3,000 of them obeyed the word of God in being baptized (Acts 2:41), it was Jesus Christ who added them to his church (Acts 2:47), not Peter. When Ananias told Saul to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16), when he obeyed the command, it was Jesus who washed away Saul’s sins in his own blood (Rev. 1:5), not Ananias. When I baptized someone I am not performing “a saving act upon them.” They are obeying the will of God in order to be saved by him, not me! The preacher, elder, or faithful member of the Lord’s church, typically has the great privilege and honor of taking part in a person’s baptism by virtue of their usually being the one that has taught the person, and helped them come to the knowledge of the truth by which they are saved (1 Tim. 2:4).
Again, a question like this comes from one who has either been deceived about what the Bible teaches or who is trying to reject clear Bible teaching by projecting error on others that they do not teach. I pray it is the former and that the questioner will come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved.
I agree but I have a question. Can a woman baptise and it be all right. Especially if there are men there also.
@janie54, the principle of male spiritual leadership (1 Tim. 2:8-12; et. al.) would prohibit women from taking the lead in baptisms. It is the same reason we do not have women serving on the Lord's Table, Preaching, Leading Prayer, etc. Of course, that is where men are present. If its all women then a woman can certainly do it.
We have tried to borrow the baptistry of a nearby Church of Christ (Freehold, NJ) whose leaders (no elders) assert that the bible examples of baptism all indicate that men did the baptizing in the New Testament.
We recently had an episode in our congregation (who do not own a church building) had some women studying alone together did so until the point in time where one of the women wanted to be baptized (at the same hour of the night). The woman who wanted to be baptized stated that she felt uncomfortable with the one or two men standing around (having only just unlocked the building) and the baptism proceeded with a woman baptizing the woman. This has led to no small amount of stir among both churches.
Now if the one doing the baptism matters not, and has no particular qualification, the in any case, the baptism is a valid one. Furthermore, it seems the 1 Timothy 2:8-12 passage speaks to women teaching, preaching, praying, or whatever, and might well simply not apply to the silent act of one woman baptizing another late at night, with no men invited (but only standing around waiting to lock the building). It seems the only issue here would be the violation of the prohibition for women leading men, but I don’t see how that happened here.
In any case, the notion that the New Testament “examples” of baptism all included only men. Is this notion accepted, or is this some “doctrine of men” that has no validity?
The only thing that matters to that woman’s salvation is whether or not she was scripturally baptized. If she believed the truth of God’s word regarding salvation: 1) She heard the word of God (Rom. 10:17); 2) She believed the teaching of God’s word regarding Christ and His Kingdom (Acts 8:12); 3) She repented of her sins (Acts 2:38); 4) She confessed her faith that Jesus is the Son of God (Rom. 10:9, 10); 5) She was baptized for the remission of sins to be added by the Lord to His church (Acts 2:38, 41, 47); 6) She came up from the watery grave of baptism resolved to live the new life in Christ (Rom. 6:3, 4; Eph. 4:17-24; Col. 3:1-11), then she was saved and became a New Testament Christian. Is anyone raising doubt over the validity of her salvation because she was baptized by a woman?
With that said, I need to point out that it is possible for someone to be saved through obedience to the gospel while, at the same time, the person doing the teaching is not saved because they have disobeyed God. For example, in Philippians 1:15-18 Paul refers to those who preach Christ out of envy and with a desire to cause problems for Paul. Their preaching of Christ was not in sincerity. But, Paul says that he gives thanks that Christ was being preached. So, the people hearing Christ being preached were being saved while, at the same time, those preaching Christ from impure motives were themselves condemned. Again, it is possible for someone to learn the truth and be saved while the one doing the teaching is, themselves, lost.
However, just from the very limited information that you have provided, I would not say this is the case of the woman in question. At worst, I would say that there may have been some poor judgment exercised on the part of those involved. If the man coming to unlock the building believed that a man should be doing the baptizing, he should have volunteered to do so. If he did volunteer to do the baptism but the woman being baptized was uncomfortable being baptized by a man she didn’t know, then the man should have excused himself from the area while the baptism was taking place. I do have a problem with a woman being in a position of spiritual authority with men present (1 Tim. 2:8ff), which would include conducting a baptism. If there are men present then the man should do it. Again, if the woman was uncomfortable being baptized by a man that she didn’t know then that man should have excused himself from the area. He could have very easily waited in his car while the baptism was being done and then locked the building after the women had left.
From what you have described, it was a women’s Bible study group where one of the women in that Bible study wanted to be baptized. It is most often the case that a person wants to be baptized by the person who taught them. It is completely understandable that this woman would want to be baptized by the woman that taught her. And there is not a thing in the world wrong with that! What if this happened at a ladies retreat? Or a ladies day at the church building? Would they say this woman should postpone her baptism until they could contact a man to do the baptizing. I would say that the important element of the examples in Acts 8:38 and 16:33 is not the gender of those involved but the urgency they placed on their baptism. Just as I pointed out in the body of this post, what really matters is the faith of the one being baptized. Not the baptizer! Certainly, if there are men present then a man should be the teacher and baptizer. However, if it is a situation where it is all women, or women and children, and a woman is doing the teaching then there is nothing wrong at all with that woman baptizing any women that might respond to her teaching the gospel of Christ.
I think you got the picture about right with respect to what the woman was taught and did.
However, several men of the church where the baptising was done assert that none of the New Testament “examples” of baptism indicate women administered it. Only men are offered as “examples” for us to follow. I’d like your thoughts on whether such a practice in the New Testament is an “example” for us to follow or not.
Then the second question merits some discussion as to whether the “discomfort” one might have by violating I Timothy 2:8 ff in the context of a late night baptism would rise to the point of invalidating the baptism. Whether the individuals lack specific teaching on the particulars where I Timothy 2:8 ff applies (i.e. a worship service or a late nite baptism, etc.) or whether they are fully aware of that teaching and just did not share your discomfort in the context of a late night baptism, does it matter?
My own sense of this is that the doctrine of baptism itself precludes the importance of the administrator and/or the witnesses in the act. This is true no matter what else is going on in the environment surrounding the act of one person baptizing another.
In the act of one woman baptizing another, there is no reason to think that the authority of any man is challenged, especially in the context of men who would not wish to “lord it over” others.