Born of Water

A book length series of essays–in 13 chapters with discussion questions–on whether baptism is essential. First essays in favor of its being essential, and then essays on against its being essential. And then I offer what I think is the answer. Born of Water.pdf


28 Responses

  1. Jay,
    I certainly haven’t reviewed all of this material, I’m working my way thru it. And ultimately, I’m going to leave the decision about immersion to God.

    But here is an interesting analogy — which may or may not be completely applicable.

    When Gerald R Ford granted a pardon to Richard M Nixon, the pardon did not take effect until Richard M Nixon signed the pardon. So, without Nixon’s signature, the pardon had no effect. Was Nixon’s act of signing the pardon, an act which warranted the pardon? No, of course not. But the signature was necessary to indicate Nixon’s acceptance of the conditions of the pardon.

    I think there is an interesting parallel between Nixon signing the pardon, and immersion.

    I will always teach immersion, because Jesus did. And ultimately, there is no real reason to object to immersion. But nor do I feel compelled to condemn people. It’s a great relief to let God be the judge of such matters.

  2. David,

    I think a better analogy would be to ask whether Nixon would have been pardoned had he misspelled his name when he signed the form or if he’d accidentally signed the wrong blank.

    As the signature requirement comes from the requirement that the person being pardoned must accept the pardon, unquestionably the courts would overlook such an error, as his intent would be obvious despite the mistake.

    Just so, an error in baptism where the intent to accept God’s grace and to yield to Jesus’ Lordship is evident hardly voids the baptism. God judges the heart.

    Baptism is not a test; it’s a gift that God wants us to have.


  3. We do know that whatever God decides on judgement day will be right and holy. How can you say that a man, if he is mistaken in the necessity of baptism for the forgiveness of sins and decides by ignorance that the blood of Jesus will save him anyway, how will he be saved without coming into contact with the blood? If that is the case, then man doesn’t need the blood at all. All spiritual blessings are in Christ.
    We are baptised into Christ. Salvation is a spiritual blessing.

  4. Allen,

    In all seriousness, have you read Born of Water? It answers your questions in detail.

  5. I know this is not totally on the subject, but are you sure that it’s a minority of CoCers that believe what you quoted on the first page? That is, that a church must have the correct “marks” in order for its members to be saved? In my experience, I have found it’s probably at least half. Of course, I’ve always lived in a pretty conservative area. Just seems kind of an optimistic estimate to me.
    I also noticed your quote: Some will note that I’ve skipped Mark 16:16: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” As just about every translation made after the King James Version notes, this verse does not appear in the oldest manuscripts of Mark, and so it was evidently added by a scribe some time after Mark wrote it.”
    I have never heard this before. What does this mean, exactly, about the legitimacy of the verse?

  6. Hi, Summer.

    Most in the CoC believe in the “marks” teaching, or at least most congregations are led by preachers who believe this. But what I said is a minority position is that the congregation “must have the correct position on all key doctrines for its members to be saved.” The idea that we have to get everything right is growing but still a minority viewpoint.

    Regarding Mark 16:16, the Wikipedia has a good article:

    A great introduction to textual criticism is Neil R. Lightfoot’s How We Got the Bible.

    There is very serious doubt regarding whether this verse was in the manuscript Mark wrote because the oldest manuscripts we have omit it. There are arguments both ways, but it seems likely that the verses were added by a scribe later. The verses on snake handling and drinking poison fit in the same category, so I’m quite okay with the conclusion!

  7. Hi Jay,
    I’ve only read the first few pages of your book so far. But your response to David P Himes (on Nixon’s pardon) sums it up for me.

  8. I have a lot to say, but I will refrain because I don’t think the page can hold it all. Besides, you already know my view on baptism from the little debate between Mark and myself. But I do want to respond to the argument you set forth that a certain minister was asked “Would you be disappointed if, when you get to heaven, you find the Baptists there?” and that he answered “Absolutely, I’d be disappointed! It would mean that God had broken his promises!” This answer you censure, saying that “Job teaches us that we have no business judging God, especially for his extraordinary generosity.”

    Now, I would ask a similar question, or series of questions:

    What if I got to heaven and the very Catholics who had sent my brothers and sisters in Christ in the first few centuries of our era into the coliseum to be eaten by lions were there in heaven? And I don’t mean that they were there in heaven because they had been remorseful and converted in bitter tears and sackcloth and ashes and all that, but because God (as you so eloquently put it) had chosen to show them “extraordinary generosity.” What would I think? and what would it imply about God?

    Or again, what if I found the Beast and the False Prophet in heaven? By your argument, I couldn’t judge God. Even though Revelation 14:11 promises that they go to hell “and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever” and then verse 12 referring to this, that is referring to the expectation that the Beast and False Prophet go to hell, says “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” The patience of the saints is that we expect the Beast and False Prophet to go to hell? Apparently that is part of it. Why? Because we expect God to keep his promises. We don’t expect that when we get to heaven we will find Satan there sitting on God’s throne or that God will allow him to jab us with his pitchfork! Nor do we expect to find that everyone has made it to heaven. Not after all that business about “strait is the gate and narrow is the way and few there be that find it.” Not after Paul was thrice beaten with rods, once was stoned, thrice suffered shipwreck, and a night and a day was in the deep! After Isaiah was sawn asunder and John was thrown off the temple to splatter in the street just because he was a Christian.

    In other words, if God’s plan is to put us through things like this, just to at the end say “Surprise! I decided to save everyone! Aren’t I so great?” then doesn’t that strike you as a tad sadistic? Can the foolishness about judging God or putting God in a box. When we expect the Almighty who saith of himself that he cannot lie, to abide by his own word, we are neither judging him nor putting him in a box, but rather are having FAITH in him. And isn’t faith of great important to you, Jay?

    Why, in other words, would God instruct us to “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” if people who spit on that faith and defecate on the Bible are going to be in heaven? Or if those who trample the Son of God under foot their whole lives make it to heaven, why is it a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God? How can God say, as in Malachi, “I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen” if he allows all the heathen into heaven in their heathenism? And why, if the words of Hymenaeus and Philetus eat as a canker, do they make it to heaven?

    I dare assert that the All-Wise and Almighty God has a weakness, but only because Paul himself has first asserted it int he Scriptures, when he says in 1 Corinthians 1:25 that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” What is God’s foolishness and what his weakness? Both are simply that he is Perfect in Honesty and cannot lie. God will not contradict the Scriptures. As Jesus interjects in John 10:35 “the scripture cannot be broken.”

    Now I will close my brief comment on this matter with this. Jesus says “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” He says not “Sanctify them with wishful fancies and old wives tales.” We can’t stake our eternal souls on the wishes and wouldn’t-it-be-nices of dreamers, but only on the word of God.

  9. Josh,
    Are you making implications in your arguments that the Catholics who murdered Christians, The Beast, and The False Prophet…all had Faith in Jesus which would put them in like standing to those in the Baptist Church (or other chruches) who live in Faith, but have not been baptised or were baptised differently than most in the Chruch of Christ?

  10. That was a very good writing on baptism. I think it hit the mark. I agree that the appointed and normal way to salvation is through baptism, but that there are exceptions. Exceptions tend to tie us in knots when we think we have it all down and God is not allowed to do things any other way. I learned a lot about exceptions when studying John 5:13-17 and James 5:13-16. It seems that God sometimes forgives our sins on the basis of someone elses faith rather than our own. The prayers of righteous men for someone elses forgiveness is effective. When I first came to that realization my thoughts were “God can’t do that”. But yes He can. We must bow before God, not our “correct” doctrine.

  11. I do not think that this is a good analogy at all.
    Faith precedes baptism, and we are baptized because we have been saved not the other way around. An analogy would be that of marriage. A young man or woman may say: ” I am getting married for love.” In the COC mode the man was getting married to receive/give love. In reality, the man or woman (ideally) is getting married because they are already in love.

    The way I understand Acts 2:38, is that we are baptized into Christ because we have repented and our sins have already been forgiven and we have been saved.

    Now I do believe that immersion is the more correct way, but a dying person who requested water baptism after a profession of faith in Christ would be saved without immersion by sprinking or a small pouring of water from a cup. Even then, if I turned my back to get the water, and the person died suddenly before I could pour water on their head: they are still saved. It is faith that saves from first to last, and not any human act. The Baptists are right about this one.


  12. We contact the blood on our heart by faith in Jesus Christ.
    The blood is not in the water.


  13. The long ending of Mark 16 is spurious and was concocted by some scribe to fill in a blank or to provide the lost ending. Maybe it ended like it should in verse 8. There are at two other endings better than the long ending in the KJV. The traditional long ending means we all have to speak in tongues, drink poison, pick up serpents, and that Jesus came back in another form.

    Forget Mark 16:16, it teaches nothing. Acts 2:38 teaches that we are baptised for our sins have been forgiven, nothing more.


  14. All judgement belongs to God. Sin and evil will be pardoned only by faith and repentance through the shed blood of Jesus. Not all Catholics participated in the Inquisition. Those who did not and had true saving faith in Jesus, I expect to see in heaven. The same goes for other Christians in similar institutions which committed horrible atrocities? Many German in WW2 were Christians and had nothing to do with the holocaust. Will they be in hell because their church supported Anti-semitism or did not work against the Holocaust? Likewise, the Churches of Christ were basically white racist churches from 1898 to 2002. Were all members damned because their churches supported the Jim Crow laws of the South, belonged to the Klan, or supported Segregation? Very interesting, when the question is turned around.

  15. Exactly Gary,

    Acts 2:38 Repentance brought forgiveness of sins and then they were baptized.

    2 Peter 3:9
    The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

  16. Gary

    I appreciated your post on June 12, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I had been in a study with some men and one wanted to be baptized for some time. I went to a hospital and there he was dying. I was setting by his side, holding his hand and he died. I told the men at our local congregation about this unusual circumstance and they lowered their heads and said “well, that will be in Gods hands”. Sadly, in the next month the preacher preached a sermon on “if not baptized, all is lost, should of thought about that before the not being able became a reality”, No exceptions, and it was obviously directed at me and the clear answer to anyone I had asked the question.

  17. I have been there many times. Baptism does not save. In cases like the one you mentioned, faith in the heart counts as baptism. Like Abraham, people are accounted righteous by God because of their faith in the Lord Jesus.

  18. We, you and I share an understanding connection that many do not, dare I say, CANNOT understand.

    To many we are rogues in the faith and church, when in reality we are simply men that have lived it rather than debated it.

    It does make a difference!

  19. Alabama,
    I went rogue from the COC back in 1971. So far I have never seen a reason to return to it. Jay is helping lead the way to a new understanding for the RM 2.0 folks. That is a good thing. Personally, I could never fit there, and do not want to. My salvation by by faith from first to last, for Christ finished my salvation at the cross. I do not need any person to add to it.

  20. I understand you well and feel a lot like you but different in one respect.

    I still feel a deep responsibility to fight for and attempt to change folks from what may be a harsh judgment, even harsher than what they place on others.

    On the other hand, God in my opinion is understanding and just, so, He knows those of us that are not simply talking the talk, but have walked the walk to use an old metaphor might have a better undrstanding. He might of just put us in those circumstances where we would understand better and do the things we did.

    Sure wasn’t approved in phamplets, but we did the best we could by improvising!

  21. Gary,

    I’d call it RM 3.0 — there’s the original RM founded by Stone and the Campbells (1.0), the hijacked version created by Daniel Sommer, Austin McGary, and the largest part of the 20th Century Churches (2.0), and now this (3.0).

    You could break it down further (and many have), but that’s the broad outline.

    Or maybe it’s better called Restoration Movement Classic.

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