My Dual Baptism Proposal

Over at New Leaven, T.C. Robinson ponders about the merits of my proposal in EvTh about a dual baptism view whereby churches could accept or even practice both modes of baptism. Robinson concludes:

It’s a valiant proposal.  But some Baptists will not find Bird’s proposal satisfactory, concluding that he has fallen short.  Why?  Because a staple of the Baptist identity is the belief that local church membership is restricted to those who have professed faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer’s baptism.

I don’t know. I think the essence of baptist ecclesiology isn’t the practice of baptism itself, but the idea of a regenerated membership (good luck with that!). Even the great Baptist leader John Bunyan practiced dual baptism and it does occur in places like the EvFree churches if I’m correct. For me, if you put the doctrine of the gospel over and above the doctrine of baptism, then, I think you’ve got a theological framework in which dual baptism makes a lot of sense. In other words, where the church is gospelized, there you will find the baptized!

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  • Brandon Jones

    Michael, the sticking point in the literature on this subject from a Baptist side of view is the meaning of baptism itself. Many Baptists conclude that infant baptism and believer baptism cannot mean the same thing. Some of these Baptists would then go on to conclude further that only one of them can count as baptism at all, namely believer baptism. Thus, there cannot be any sense of “dual baptism” for such Baptists. I discuss some of this literature in my study on the meaning of believer baptism entitled “Waters of Promise: Finding Meaning in Believer Baptism” (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2012).

  • Richard Myerscough

    I’ve ministered in a couple of churches (including presently) where the church’s governing documents provide for both paedo- and credo-baptism. In neither church would a minister be required to perform a baptism that was contrary to his understanding of scripture; if necessary, a minister from another church could be invited to handle the baptism. In both churches, credo-baptism came to be the more prominent – in part, due to many people coming to faith as adults from non-Christian backgrounds and possibly also in part due to the conviction of the minister(s) at the time.

    One downside is that it becomes hard to teach on the subject, given that the church endorses both viewpoints. It does allow for the gospel to remain uppermost, albeit most of us are pretty adept at finding other things to hinder the gospelising of the church.

  • Jonathan Leeman

    If Jesus commanded baptism, are we authorized to say otherwise? Yes, the gospel is more important than any one act of obedience, but it feels like you have pitted the gospel against the obedience which should follow from it, as in, “Because the gospel is most important, we can disobey any command that issues from the gospel.”