Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Two major issues with baptism: subject and mode

When it comes to the issue of the sacrament or ordinance of baptism there are two major questions:  (1)  Who are the proper subjects of baptism?  Should only professing believers be baptized or should we also baptize the infants of believers?  (2) How should we perform the baptism?  This is the question of mode.  Should we pour water upon, sprinkle water upon, or immerse the person in water?

 There seem to be at least three options that have been proposed (that is among those who hold that baptism with water as a sacrament or ordinance should be practiced--Quakers and some ultra-dispensationalists would argue against the practice altogether):

A. Roman Catholic/Lutheran/Anglican/Presbyterian:

Proper subject:  A professing believer or the infants of believers.

Proper mode:  pouring, sprinkling, or immersion.  Note:  Some would insist on only the mode of pouring and sprinkling, while other would allow immersion for professing believers.

B.  Eastern Orthodox:

Proper subject:  A professing believer or the infants of believers.

Proper mode:  immersion only.

C.  Baptist:

Proper subject:  A professing believer only.

Proper mode:  immersion only.


As a Baptist, I obviously hold that the third of these options is most faithful to Scripture.  For a further exposition of the Baptistic view on the proper subject and mode of baptism, see Spurgeon's Baptist Catechism (with Scriptural proofs) Questions 75-78.


Mad Jack said...

My adult believer's baptism was conducted out of doors in the summer season in a backyard swimming pool. My pastor was in the water, my elder brother was on the deck standing slightly behind me.

On a prearranged signal, my elder brother pushed me into the pool where I landed in a classic cannonball splash.

When I came up my pastor's eyes were as large as dinner plates, and about a third of the congregation was laughing quietly. I gave my testimony and was baptized.

I think the Lord had fun that day. I know I certainly did.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


I'm note sure where the cannonball fits into the Regulative Principle of worship or how it fit with the reverence and awe of the service....

I heard of an SBC church that had confetti canons by their baptismal pool so that every time someone from their "children's ministry" was baptized the canons could be shot off. It served as a great enhancement in recruiting pre-pubescent baptismal candidates.