Whitton Avenue Distinctives: Baptism

Rachael and I may have the distinction of being the only couple to fall in love over academically technical discussions about baptism. As I shared last week, my college years involved a significant theological shift from a semi-Arminian Baptist theology to a more Reformed understanding of how God saves his people. Rachael experienced a similar, though less angst-filled journey during college. As we, independent from the other, started experimenting with Presbyterian theology (these were crazy college days), we each asked the same question: if I was wrong about election, could I be wrong about baptism also?

We both emerged from that season of intense study convinced that the Baptist view is most scriptural. We appreciate the rich theology of the Reformers and their strong emphasis on God’s covenant relationship with his people. Yet neither of us found biblical evidence that the Old Testament sign of circumcision was replaced by the New Testament sign of baptism, thus justifying the baptism of infants.

Rather, as Whitton Avenue’s statement of faith says, “Baptism follows conversion since it is symbolic of the burial of the old life and the raising of the new life in Christ. Baptism is by immersion when possible.” Thus we baptize those who give a public, credible profession of faith in Christ.

This view of baptism still brings up a number of questions:

–How do we determine whether a person has a credible profession of faith in Christ?
–What is the relationship between baptism and church membership?
–What is the relationship between baptism and taking the Lord’s supper?
–At what age should we encourage our children to be baptized?

On Sunday, as we continue our “Whitton Avenue Distinctives” class, we will address our conviction about baptism from the Bible and talk through how we approach these and other questions about its practical place in the life of our church family. As we do, may our hearts delight in the spiritual reality which baptism portrays: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Pastor Chris

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