Baptism: My Way or the Highway

Catacombs of San Callisto: baptism in a 3rd-century painting

A good friend of my is getting ready to move a new town and is in the process of looking for a group believers to hang with. During this process he ran across a small church that requires all new members to be baptized by their pastor, regardless of whether or not they had been baptized previously.

Needless to say, my friend did not…hmmm…shall I say, “like” this requirement. 😕

As I was talking to my friend about this baptism requirement, I remembered a story about my grandfather who was a Pentecostal pastor. In one of the areas where he pastured, there was a big disagreement on the words one used when baptizing a new believer.

  • Do you follow Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19, “…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
  • Or do you follow the early church in baptizing folks in “Jesus name only”? (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, etc)

The disagreement, which has roots back to third century AD, was so bad that neither group would accept the baptism of the other. And, of course, if you were not baptized, then you were not a ‘true‘ believer…or so the thought process went (this is why baptism certificates were such a big deal).

Anyway, my grandfather was not interested in this mindless, futile bickering. Therefore, he came up with a brilliant solution to the problem. He baptized folks in the “Name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and in Jesus name only!”

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