Christians love to argue! If you have any doubt about it just get a few believers together and bring up any doctrine you can think of. You’ll see in a hurry that we are a contentious bunch to be sure. Lord have mercy! We’ll argue over just about anything. We’ll argue about the second coming of Christ, the purpose and meaning of communion, spiritual gifts too and the list goes on and on. The debate about Christology has gone on for nearly two thousand years and shows no sign of slowing down. We all know there is no shortage of debatable points to argue about. Name any topic you like and you’ll see our motto seems to be “Let’s argue”.
Let’s Argue About Baptism
Baptism is an especially notable flash point. Many of Jesus’ disciples have been put to death by other Christians for their beliefs about baptism! There are lots of arguable points concerning baptism and believers love to debate all of them. Is baptism really necessary? If so, should we baptize infants or adults? Should we baptize by immersion or by sprinkling and by the way, who gets to do the baptizing? Do we baptize in the name of Jesus Christ or invoke the phrase “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”? The list of nuanced beliefs and disputes about baptism seems endless.
The First Argument About Baptism
Interestingly enough, the first argument about baptism occurred on the very day Jesus himself wanted to get baptized. Christ had come to John the Baptist to be baptized but John objected to the whole idea! The Baptist was silenced when Jesus said, “Suffer it to be so now to fulfill all righteousness.” At that point John quit arguing about baptism and simply did what Jesus asked. We think that was a good idea then… and we think it’s still a good idea today.
If Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, wanted to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness where does that leave us? Jesus was baptized Himself and instituted baptism for His disciples, so we are baptized. He was baptized in the Jordan River by immersion so likewise, we preach baptism by immersion. (In fact our word baptism comes from baptizo which means to dip or submerge). Somehow baptism fulfilled righteousness in Jesus’ life and somehow it fulfills righteousness in our lives too. This isn’t complicated!
If you still feel inclined to argue about baptism please consider John the Baptist and his response to Jesus. John had an opinion about baptizing Jesus but quickly abandoned his personal beliefs in favor of Christ’s. Maybe you should abandon your personal opinions too. Instead of arguing about baptism why not simply do what Jesus commanded? Someday you’ll be glad you did.
Copyright 2023 by Bob Shutes