Raised Episcopalian, McCain now attends a Baptist megachurch in Phoenix. But he has not been baptized and rarely talks of his faith in anything but the broadest terms or as it relates to how it enabled him to survive 5 ½ years in captivity as a POW.
Notice how the reporter takes the Baptist view of baptism as being definitive. I’m pretty sure McCain, if he was “raised episcopalian,” WAS baptized as a baby. Baptists, of course, don’t recognize that. They only baptize for church membership. Saying McCain hasn’t been baptized in the Baptist megachurch simply means that he has not joined the Baptist church. That the Baptist view of baptism is the only one secular reporters even know is evident again in the story about the Pope baptizing that Muslim journalist, saying that he was “baptized a Catholic.” As M. Z. Hemingway pointed out, you are baptized into Christ, not into the particular denomination that baptized you, at least according to non-Baptist theologies. Baptism makes you a Christian, not a member of a particular denomination.
But what do you think about the way John McCain keeps his faith private? He does write about it in his book recounting his five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp. A lot of people, actually, are reticent about talking about such things in public. Is that a sign of a lack of faith?
UPDATE: Some commenters are saying I don’t have the Baptist view of baptism right, that baptism is not for church membership. If that’s so, thanks for the correction, but I’d like to learn more. Growing up in a heavily Baptist community, I heard this teaching about baptism that I have described.
Isn’t it true that a person who joins a Baptist church, if he was baptized in another denomination has to be baptized again? I thought that held true even if he had been immersed. Or is the mode of baptism the key, not accepting sprinkling but accepting immersion? I have heard that re-baptism is done sometimes even when going from one Baptist congregation to another. Help me out, here. Are there any Baptist pastors reading this who could elucidate the Baptist teaching and practice?