Kevin Bauder begins the next section, entitled, "Alien Immersion and Rebaptism," with the sentence, "Landmark Baptists insist that a proper administrator is essential for valid baptism." He sets up a strawman by saying that proper administrator means "the succession of baptisms that leads back to John the Baptist." Graves himself denies that definition. Maybe there are churches and pastors today who say that's a requirement. I'm still saying I've never met one. If they do believe that, they didn't get it from Graves, because he wasn't saying that.
What I say, which is essentially what Graves said, and what I know other men say, who are local only in their ecclesiology, is that proper authority or a proper administrator is needed to be valid baptism. Bauder starts the next paragraph with the statement, "All Baptists agree that invalid baptism is not genuine baptism at all." Bauder himself writes that baptism must be valid. However, when he discusses valid baptism, he does not include proper authority.
Bauder doesn't write this, but his universal church theory has a lot to do with acceptance of a baptism regardless of authority. If the true church is the universal church, then someone out there can operate as a free agent without submitting to any church. Someone could just starting baptizing people without any authorization, because he could claim that he was getting it directly from Jesus in a spiritual way. This is not modeled in the New Testament.
Let's for a moment for the sake of this discussion argue from the standpoint that authority or proper administrator don't mean the ability to trace church succession back to the Jerusalem church. On many occasions here I've written about proper authority. It's obvious that authority matters in the New Testament. Jesus gave keys to Peter in Matthew 16. Each of the seven messengers, what are pastors, in Revelation 2 and 3, are in Jesus' right hand of authority. Churches can bind and loose on earth and, therefore, in heaven. Jesus speaks about possessing all authority when He mandates the Great Commission.
There is authority. What is disobedience? It is not obeying authority. When John baptized, he baptized with authority. The gospels make a big deal about his getting his authority to baptize from heaven. Jesus traveled 75 miles or so to go to John to be baptized by someone who had authority.
Some of what I'm writing about here relates to the authority of scripture. Are we regulated by scripture? Are we regulated by biblical example? If the New Testament speaks about how things are done, then we should assume that is how things are to be done. When worship was and has been violated, men laid out the regulative principle of worship. We know that methods should be regulated by scripture too. Paul said that preaching was God's ordained method for the gospel or salvation. Other means are not to be used.
The ordinance of baptism was given to the church. The church has the authority to baptize. It must be a church. What is often called a church can dip below the standard of being a church. When a church becomes apostate, it loses its authority. Jesus isn't welcome there any more. The candlestick has gone out, the glory is departed.
Baptist churches have believed and believe that only Baptist churches today have divine authority. I often call this "horizontal authority." The Bible remains an authority always in this world, what I call "vertical authority." A pastor, for instance, we see in a church has authority. He can rebuke, like Paul told Titus, "with all authority" (Titus 2:15). Hebrews 13:17 says, "obey them that have the rule over you." Pastors have rule. That is horizontal authority.
It is not a matter of checking out to see if the baptisms are chain link. It's looking to see if someone has been baptized by a church. The church must have authority. Roman Catholicism has no authority. It is apostate. Protestant churches came out of Roman Catholicism, so they don't have authority either. What does that leave you with? Baptisms must come from Baptist churches. I look to see if a church was started by another church. I'm suspect if it isn't a Baptist church. This is just following the example of scripture, being regulated by scripture, understanding how authority operates. Scripture says authority is necessary.
When you read Graves, his concern was that Baptist churches had accepted Presbyterian baptism and Campbellite baptism. A man sprinkled as an infant baptized someone, so the man baptizing wasn't baptized. He doesn't have authority to baptize if he isn't baptized. I'm not going to explain the Campbellite, because that should be obvious.
Bauder spends an entire paragraph explaining how that baptizing someone a "second time," rebaptism, confuses the gospel, like portraying a picture that someone lost his salvation. He says it is heresy and sin to rebaptize, just because of alien immersion. The paragraph is an ignorant one. It's hard to see how that he could have been serious. I believe he was, but it's difficult. It is rather simple if he spent a few moments, it would seem. See, Bauder himself thinks that some baptisms are not valid.
To Bauder, baptisms are not valid if they are the wrong mode, recipient, or meaning. So what would he do with those invalid baptisms? Would he rebaptize? Yes, he would. Or else, he would say, like I would, a person wasn't baptized in the first place. It isn't baptism if it is sprinkling. It isn't baptism if a person wasn't saved. Someone makes a profession as a small child, is baptized, later understands it was not a true profession, so this person is truly converted, and then is baptized. He was never baptized in the first place. It isn't a "second baptism" to Bauder because the first one wasn't valid.
Like Bauder believes baptisms are not valid, we believe that authority is another scriptural qualification for baptism. The Bible teaches this. Bauder leaves it out. He doesn't give good reason for leaving it out, because he doesn't deal with the scriptural basis of authority, debunking that at all. He doesn't get into the history either. He relies pretty much on conventional wisdom and his own opinion, what I call, seat of the pants. I could say that he is sinning by leaving it out. He should stop sinning. He is disobedient to the example of scripture. Jesus went to authority. Jesus gave authority to the church to baptize.
Bauder is selective or just loose about authority. This is being disrespectful to God, to the Bible, and to the church. It is careless with something really important. I get why people don't like authority. They like to free float and do their own thing without accountability. I get it. Someone can behave in a more ecumenical fashion, to make people who teach and practice false doctrine to feel accepted, because he accepts their baptism. It's just sentimentalism. It isn't loving. It's also very confusing, because it devalues actual baptism. Yes, I'm telling you what I really think (except it's actually a little more harsh than this).
A person not baptized with proper authority is not baptized. This was around before Graves and the 19th century. Consider the 1689 London Baptist Confession:
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.Then consider the first Baptist confession in the American colonies, the Philadelphia Baptist Confession in 1742:
1. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world. (Matt. 28:19, 20; 1 Cor. 11;26) 2. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ. (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 4:1)I can give a lot more historical evidence. It's all over the place. When Bauder says that Baptists accept irregular baptism, that's a newer concept, that comes after modernism began really taking its way in the world. His position is not the historical position. It's the new one, the one that fits well with a universal church belief that is more concerned with getting along with more people, even with doctrinal and practical differences.
More to Come