Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Artifically Manufactured "Major-Minor" Controversy pt. 2

There is one God and He teaches one thing. There is one Truth. He doesn't deny Himself. For instance, He doesn't teach both amillennialism and premillennialism. We don't see Him anywhere in His Word permit more than one position on anything. God doesn't allow for the "Agag lives" practice, even if a Saul thinks He is too ambiguous. And the Word of God is always still operating, even if it doesn't "seem" like it to us. He doesn't like the golden calves at Dan and Bethel. He'll kill that elder son if you try to rebuild Jericho after His curse.

We arrive at today. Now two teachings are OK. In a sense, that's a superior idea in today's Christianity, the more than one position doctrine. It gives God this faux largesse that He doesn't even give Himself. It isn't big, but still it is the new big, like bald is the new hair. The reason for the new several possible belief doctrine has not been finding it in the Bible. This didn't come about through study. It doesn't jump out at you from any text. And it is in reality a denial of several historic and biblical teachings.

The main reasons for the several doctrines position are completely pragmatic: a coalition and significance. That's what I hear when I'm reading a defense of it. You can't keep a big enough group around if you take one position and, therefore, you'll be insignificant. Significance requires the numbers of a large coalition. You can't draw enough people with one doctrine, so you open it up to the extent that you can cobble together the crowd that will bring you suitable attention. "You must be doing something right if so many people think so."

There we go. That's what this is all about.

The Anecdotal Hypotheticals Buttressing Major-Minor Dogma

Advocates commonly argue with what I'll call anecdotal hypotheticals. They are nothing from which anyone should derive doctrine or practice. To understand what God wants, we should look at what God did say, the black part of a page of Scripture. The popular thing is to go with the white part on this, the stuff between the lines. The theological category is speculative theology. But we don't get authority from nor are we sanctified by opinion.

The coment section of part one of this series provided enough examples of these. One.

He argues as if there are no discernible way to differentiate doctrines in levels of importance. He wants to equate Pre-Trib vs Mid -Trib with the same degree of importance as the Deity of Christ.

I don't attempt to equate degrees of importance to particular doctrines. Certain doctrines are more foundational than others, but this does not prove anything relative to ranking doctrines for the purposes of separation or fellowship. Two.

Am I really minimizing what I really have conviction about if I don't push for full compliance to my personal conviction? If I fellowship with a pastor who believes Romans 6;1 is talking about water baptism and I believe its talking about spiritual baptism, would that negate my creditability as to what I believe the text is saying?

The Bible either teaches it or it doesn't. If the Bible teaches it, then we want "compliance," fellowship, unity, on that truth. There isn't such a thing really as a "personal conviction" in the Bible. We shouldn't expect people to believe the same as us on non-scriptural positions. Three.

Does the view that the sons of God are demonic angels in Genesis 6 constitute doctrine? Can two members of [a church] come to different interpretations? If so they surely are not speaking "the same thing" under your truncated definitions. If you want to interpret all the passages on separation this way then you must be consistent the whole way! You cannot cherry pick the doctrine of baptism as worth separating over and then reject separation of the doctrine of Angelology!

There is only one interpretation. The Genesis 6 passage teaches one thing, even if it doesn't inform us of any particular, unique belief about angels. But this is argument by hypothetical or by possible exception (gotcha!). We should be looking to find what the Bible says about unity, fellowship, and separation over doctrine, not garnering our doctrine from whether we think it is possible to be consistent. We should think it is possible by the grace of God to believe what God told us. Of course people won't be consistent, but the inconsistency doesn't become the new doctrine or position. All that does is provide an excuse for believing how you want in almost every doctrine except for what you deem personally the very few major doctrines or one major doctrine. We then become the standard of faith and practice, not God. It is a recipe for going your own way, rebelling against the truth. Four.

If Aquila and Priscilla had separated from Apollos the early church would have been without one of it's most influential men. He only knew the Baptism of John at the time. I think there's gotta be a balance somehow.

This is a straw man. Every genuine believer is growing. Apollos was willing to change when he heard or saw the truth. If he wasn't willing, that wouldn't have been tolerable for Aquila and Priscilla. If darkness is all doctrinal or practical error, we are are not to accept that, but rather reprove it (Eph 5:11).

How We Got Here

The several acceptable doctrines position starts by noticing that professing Christians believe in many different ways and give Bible passages many different explanations. So people are going to do that. We've seen that they do. Now how do we react to that?

The wrong reaction was the following. Since people have so many different beliefs in so many different areas, that must mean that the Bible is difficult to understand. Scripture doesn't teach that, but that must be what it means anyway. And other professing Christians don't like hearing they're wrong. That bit of criticism is hard to take. And they think it is unloving. And how can we all get along if we aren't willing to ignore a certain number of differences. What will we do?

Something was figured out to deal with the contradictions and conflicts. Rank doctrines! Certain ones will be minor and certain ones major. The degree of unity you have will be based upon the number of doctrines you will be willing to shift over to the minor category. Minor ones do not affect unity or fellowship. That's the rule. Only major doctrines could affect fellowship, and even then, probably not. Now all we've got to do is find that in the Bible and we'll be all set. So a brand new doctrine of majors and minors and unity is born. We now can get bigger and, therefore, more significant. We can be big enough to matter.

But alas, the minor doctrine category expanded exponentially, and the major doctrine column shrunk down to just one. The gospel. Several new coalitions formed around agreement on only that one doctrine, deemphasizing and devaluing and reducing all other doctrine but the one to near meaninglessness.

The doctrine chosen as irreducible also happens to be the one of ultimate importance to man's future well-being. Without the gospel, men would be condemned and damned. So men have got to keep that one intact for their own good. They don't want going to hell. But all the other ones that are more vital for the glory of God are deemed disposable, so much doctrinal debris.

Is this how we see God work in Scripture? No. All the doctrines still matter to God. He wasn't making suggestions. And He said He was being clear. His Word is plain and understandable. And nowhere does the Bible base unity on purposeful discount of certain teachings.

The Minor Doctrines

In no particular order, I want to consider some of the teachings our church believes and practices that are called minor doctrines and especially why I believe they are called minor doctrines today. To start, as I have been writing, ranking doctrines allows for big coalitions and craved significance. That's the biggest reasons for doing it. On an individual level, however, many of these so-called minor doctrines are unpopular. The ones that are marginalized the most are those that are not popular in the world. This, of course, does go back to size and significance, but some of these clash with the world system more than others.

The young fundamentalists in the survey of Jeremy Sweatt said:

It sometimes seems like some fundamentalists have a judgmental edge towards anyone who is not just like them in their eschatology, ecclesiology, dress standards, music philosophy and practice, etc.

Most of that type of comment is ambiguous. It means almost nothing. What is a "judgmental edge"? What they mean is that they want fundamentalists to accept them or tolerate them if they believe differently, to act like differences in doctrine and practice don't matter much. "Not just like them" are loaded words, as if the point is to have everyone a clone of you or me personally. Almost all of this is straw-man type material. I've never met anyone like who they are describing or are arguing against.

One of these minors mentioned are "dress standards." I agree that no one should separate over a non-scriptural dress standard. Is there any point that dress standards become serious? Maybe these young fundamentalists would say that nudity is serious. But why? Why are dress standards not as important as the gospel or the deity of Christ? Should it matter to anyone if the whole church was a church of nudists? Are dress standards found in the Bible? Of course they are. And that's what I'm going to talk about first. Dress standards become a minor, not because they don't matter to God, but because they were important to become a minor for the purposes of size and significance for evangelicals and now fundamentalists.


jg said...

Brother Brandenburg, I'd like to approach this with a slightly different question.

The Scriptural injunctions towards unity are geared around the local church.

The major/minor discussion, in most cases, is used in terms of inter-church/extra-church fellowship. You and I live thousands of miles apart, and it isn't really practical (or profitable) for me to figure out everything you believe and practice (or for you to figure out everything I believe and practice). What would be the point? The only thing gained would be for me to feel proud that "there's someone just like me way out in California."

Yet, we can still have a level of fellowship, because we are brothers in Christ. If I make it out to CA, I'll come see you.

If you wanted me to preach in your church, you would want to know more, because then we'd be moving into local church fellowship, right? But aren't you somewhat extrapolating the clear teachings of unity in the local church to apply them to non-local church fellowship?

Does God really tell us to become experts on the beliefs of another local church in order to be sure that we can have any fellowship with them or their members at all? Perhaps that isn't what you are saying, and I'm just being obtuse.

It seems to me that your extrapolation of local church instruction to extra-church fellowship is almost universal church in its underlying philosophy. What am I missing?

PSFerguson said...

Hi Kent,

I am honoured that my comments made it into a posting. However, I note that you (and Gary) still have not answered my question as to what constitutes a "doctrine" in Romans 16:7. I am sure that you are cognisant that the word means a “teaching,” which surely includes the interpretation of doctrine. Now you tried to skip round the Genesis 6 doctrine/ teaching on Angelology by arguing that it is just an “interpretation.” I could cite another one of the “spirits in prison” of I Peter 3:19, but no doubt you will use the same tactic.

Now, if you can press the dichotomy between a doctrine (must have unanimity) and the interpretation of a doctrinal passage (wiggle room permissible) then I have a number of questions for you:

(1) What Scripture gives you the right to adopt this position? I don’t find the doctrine/interpretation of doctrine paradigm in the Bible.

(2) Who makes this distinction between doctrine/interpretation of doctrine?

(3) Do you separate over some interpretations of doctrines and not others? If so, on what basis do you rank them?

(3) Why cannot others apply the same thinking to passages such as Romans 6. We all believe in the doctrine of baptism. We just disagree on the interpretation of who and how it is applied. That is different from the liberals who outright deny the doctrine as existing and binding.

Lets put your words to the test. You say, "The Bible either teaches it or it doesn't." So does the Bible teach the sons of God in Genesis 6 were fallen angels or not? As you say "There isn't such a thing really as a "personal conviction" in the Bible" then what is the absolute biblical teaching on this interpretation?

Jonathan Speer said...

There is something wonderfully different between this world's idea of "unity" (Toleration is the same as loving unity) and what one experiences within true, Biblical unity (Unity is loving, patient forbearance working together toward maturity in Godliness as seen in Ephesians 4).

One "unity" is based on wisdom that is described in James 3 as "earthly, sensual, devilish" and is accompanied by the fruits of its un-Godly roots.

The other unity is based on the wisdom of God found in such passages as 1 Corinthians 1 and Ephesians 4 and is accompanied by the fruit of the Spirit.

The question everyone should be asking is this: Which unity am I pursuing?

d4v34x said...

"We then become the standard of faith and practice . . ."

One could argue that you make yourself the standard of faith and practice when someone must believe exactly the same thing about doctrines that are "less foundational". Those that differ from you are exactly as certain as you are that they are right and you're not based on the Word of God.

Have you ever separated from someone over something you have later changed your position on?

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks for dropping in again. I appreciate your recognition of fellowship and unity passages being church passages---many won't acknowledge that point. As well, I don't believe scripture shows fellowship to be "getting together." If we take the "yoke together" metaphor of 2 Cor 6:14 among other fellowship texts, it is working together in common ministry. Neither do I believe we should "cut people off"---we are to be patient with all men. The goal is unity and to get there, we shouldn't diminish doctrine as this more-than-one-doctrine teaching does. I don't assume people believe wrongly or differently. Thanks.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your willingness to talk about this. I thought that Gary had first asked you what Romans 16:17 meant. I believe Gary intimated, as would I, that we shouldn't assume that Romans 16:17 isn't speaking of everything that the Bible reveals in doctrine and practice. Any wrong practice is a sin. Does unrepentant sin break fellowship?

Love rejoices in the truth. I'm happy for all right doctrine and practice. I rejoice in it. I don't accept more than one doctrine. The fellowship of our church is based upon all the doctrines. I don't know of anyone in our church that takes a different teaching on Gen 6. I believe we all take the same teaching. Same in 1 Peter 3. I understand these are controversial passages among professing Christians. Our church is also the same on baptism in Rom 6. Some passages don't teach any doctrine. They have one interpretation, but they aren't going to separate us from another church on doctrine, because there isn't any particular doctrine or practice advocated. I believe the doctrine of Gen 6 is "don't marry the ungodly." We would separate with a church that taught: "marry the ungodly." 1 Peter 3 teaches that water baptism separates us from the world. Romans 6 teaches that our water baptism identifies us with a different relationship with the world and with Christ.

This would probably help JG too, but our church decides its fellowship with others, and key to this is, "Will the person or other church cause division in our church with the doctrine?" (Rom 16:17-18) Every church will believe differently somewhat, just like I believe differently than I did 20-25 years ago. Everyone needs time to grow. But doctrine and practice is still the basis of our fellowship, not the disregard or diminishing of doctrine.

Jonathan Speer,

I agree completely. Thanks.

Kent Brandenburg said...


To what particular unity, separation, or fellowship passage would you be referring with your comment? I ask that question because it seems to be one of these anecdotal hypotheticals from which we get no doctrine. Our goal is to sort out what the Bible teaches and do that. I believe we can do it.

I say that certain doctrines are more foundational, but that doesn't mean that I believe that they are not important to believe. And yes, they are a basis for fellowship and separation. If anyone thinks he can find one way that me or our church has been inconsistent in separation or fellowship, that should not be the basis for a new doctrine. I don't believe we are inconsistent when we our direction is consistency and that we are working at being consistent.

We have not separated from any church in an area that since we have changed in our own belief and practice. The areas where we have changed are those where I wish we would have been thinking about more seriously as to even consider that.

jg said...

"As well, I don't believe scripture shows fellowship to be "getting together." If we take the "yoke together" metaphor of 2 Cor 6:14 among other fellowship texts, it is working together in common ministry."

Good. I agree. Suppose I show up, and you say, "Oh, we're just going out street preaching," or door-to-door, or handing out tracts in the park, or at the Gay Pride day, or whatever. Suppose I say, "Oh, that's great, Kent! Mind if I come along?"

Would you then feel the need to examine me to find how well we are in agreement? Or would you feel that since I hold to the same faith, am a Baptist, hold to the preservation of Scripture, etc, etc, that a visiting missionary could jump into the traces beside you for a brief time where we are in 100% agreement on the Gospel and on what kind of church we would like to see any converts join?

How far does this need for 100% agreement go? Is there any kind of fellowship where we don't have to cross-examine each other (and perhaps our church doctrinal statements) for hours?

I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm trying to get a clearer picture of what you are saying by pushing at the edges.

I like this question of yours: "Will the person or other church cause division in our church with the doctrine?" (Rom 16:17-18)

That isn't really the same as 100% agreement, is it? If that question is really the standard you apply, I would suggest that your articles have given a different impression.

Thanks for the discussion.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Fellowship in a technical sense is still about doctrine and practice. Truth. Doctrinal and moral light like we see in 1, 2, 3 John. However, I don't assume you and I don't believe and practice differently, and if we do, I don't assume that it will stay that way. No sanctification could occur if we did not give anyone room to grow or space to repent.

What I'm writing about is this major-minor, more-than-one-doctrine teaching, that is a basis for what we are seeing in evangelicalism and fundamentalism. We separate over more than the gospel and dress and worship music, for instance, are not minor as parsed by those two factions.

As this relates to your comments or questions, you are welcome to come evangelizing with our church. You aren't causing division over our doctrine and we believe the same gospel. We will never be in fellowship unless we try to be ih fellowship. At this point, I don't see you as antagonistic toward the doctrine of our church. You are quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. Our relationship could change much like a church member's would change when he would show belligerence to our doctrine and practice.

Whether I have you teach our church people, preach to them, is something different, a different level of trust. I have guys I'm in fellowship with that I would not have preach in our church. Whether we send mission support is also a different level of cooperation that is of a different level than even fellowship. Paul was in fellowship with John Mark, but he wouldn't take him on a missionary journey.

I believe we would be looking for 100% agreement, but we can't get there if we never spend any time talking about it. There is one Truth, so that's what we are looking for, that Truth. I believe we can know it and practice it. We won't get there by ranking doctrine and making some minor and some major. That just dismisses doctrine and practice.

PSFerguson said...


I must confess I am totally confused now what you believe. Initially, I understood you were arguing that there had to be complete unanimity of mind about doctrine before there could be any fellowship:

(1) Within Bethel Baptist
(2) Between BB and other churches

Now, when I point out that the Greek word translated “doctrine” means also teaching and therefore the interpretation of the text you seem to be retreating from this. Indeed, you now admit that you have changed your views on doctrine so you now could not fellowship with Kent Brandenburg of 1985!

I see that you appear to have added a ranking system into your wiggle room areas of interpretation of Scripture as you now will permit differences after you ask the question, “Will the person or other church cause division in our church with the doctrine?" I take it from this that you now say other churches that you fellowship with can have differing interpretations of some doctrines e.g. Genesis 6, I Peter 3:19 but as long as that does not impact on your “fellowship meetings” then that is acceptable. Now, can you explain to me how that is different from the fundamentalism concept of fellowshipping around the fundamental doctrines of agreement, whilst respecting differences?

Liam O'Brian said...

Some might disagree with the position that Romans 6 actually teaches water baptism. For one thing, not every place in the Bible where the word "baptism" occurs does it refer to water (note the words of Christ referring to the Cross "I have a baptism to be baptized with"). Romans 6 is in reference to "ta hammartia" (The Sin, or the principle/nature of sin inherited from Adam - see Romans 5). If proof of this is needed, look at the Greek every time Romans 5-7 uses the word "sin" it is always articular and singular - the one and only Sin. Obviously, there is some spiritual benefit to the baptism mentioned therein. To say then that water baptism is refferred to in Romans 6:3 or in Peter's statement about "baptism doth now save us" then makes the one who holds it sacerdotal.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I've not retreated one iota from what we believe and practice at Bethel Baptist Church. This isn't a fully orbed presentation of ecclesiastical separation. This is a short expose on the major-minor issue/doctrine. It turned to a discussion on the application to separation, but I like keeping it about the point of the post. I have written a lot on this subject here and jackhammer. I've written on how we separate and it is just like what I've written here. We are this year in our third year of talking about this in our Word of Truth conference with a book coming out the end of this year from that conference.

We baptize new converts into our church. A new convert becomes a church member. He doesn't even know all of what he believes yet. We have people join our church who do not know all of what we teach at our church. If I'm teaching through Luke, as I am now, and I come to a passage, studying it, and then preach it, everyone comes to that teaching on Luke. I haven't even taught it before. Everyone is growing. I have less contact with people outside of the church, but it is the same on how we would come to the same doctrine and practice. That's why, I believe, Paul says to mark and avoid those who cause division. Sanctification is a process. Unifying is ongoing. We learn something, we believe it, we unify on it.

You now call this retreating and ranking doctrines. I'm not ranking them. We have a regenerate immersed church membership. Conversion is a gateway to Christian fellowship. There is no fellowship with an unsaved person. That doesn't mean the gospel is the only basis of fellowship. All the teachings are important. Any violation of biblical doctrine and practice can be a basis of disfellowship or separation. Unity is on all doctrine.

Unanimity is what the Bible teaches about fellowship. That is the standard. I don't think this is hard to understand. That's what scripture says. But it is something you have to be patient with. Stengthen the feebleminded. Support the weak. Bear ye one another's burdens. People need an opportunity to get there. I've never taught otherwise.

However, the fellowship is based upon everything that God said. We divide over what Scripture teaches, all of it. This isn't contradictory. You may need me to lay it out more for you, but I believe most people get what I'm talking about.

We get our doctrine or teaching from what Scripture means. Let me give you an example. Acts 2:38. Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. The doctrine is not baptismal regeneration. Does "for" mean "because of"? Some might say it does. I don't think so, but I still believe it doesn't teach baptismal regeneration for other reasons. Whether it means "because of" or not doesn't change the teaching or the doctrine. That's what I'm talking about. You seem to be spinning this into "ranking doctrines." This is the "gotcha" game also that I mentioned.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Believing Rom 6 and 1 Pet 3 are water baptism doesn't make someone sacredotal at all. For instance, we are water baptized "into his death." Water baptism identifies with the death of Christ. We should think about that, remember it, and live like it. "Into" (eis) doesn't show position, but identification there, like it does in 1 Cor 10, where it says Israel was baptized into Moses. Were all the children of Israel "in Moses." No. They identified with Him through their baptism in the Red Sea.

In 1 Peter 3, baptism saves. But how does it save in that passage? Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh. It isn't salvation from sin, but salvation from the world. How were Noah and his family saved by water? The water saved them from the world. That's what baptism does for a believer---saves him from the world. In the context of suffering in 1 Peter, it makes a break from the world that is persecuting Christians, that was mocking Noah in his day.

Joshua said...

I think I'm starting to get a handle on this.

I think what some people are expecting is for Kent to publish a "Brandenburg Manifesto" or "El Sobrante Confession of Faith", with a complete list of every single Bible teaching he believes demanding that all who read either submit to it or be disfellowshiped.

The only other option some see to this is that there are Major Doctrines that all must assent to, and Minor's that it's okay to not agree with.

What is actually being presented is a third way:

The goal for fellowship is always complete agreement. No doctrine is demeaned or relegated to second position. Practically, Kent assumes Christians he meets and who desire to fellowship with him are actually in agreement with him. Should it turn out that they be not so, then he works towards 100% agreement.

Rather than hand each new prospective brother-in-fellowship a massive list of teachings and demand complete assent lest he get the boot, the standard for fellowship is Scripture. If the new prospect assents to the complete rule of Scripture in faith and practice, then there is no need for a doctrinal cross examination. What he actually believes and just how close they are doctrinally will come out in the wash. Again, the goal is not to weed but to grow towards agreement. The weeding may be necessary along the way if it becomes evident someone is belligerent.

The same then goes for churches. Just like a person, it may be obvious at the outset that there is a major difference, and if that can't be sorted out then fellowship cannot take place.

So for example as it currently stands Kent and PS wouldn't be able to have true fellowship in Bethel due to the staunch Reformed beliefs PS holds. If PS later abandoned those beliefs in favor of teachings of Bethel Baptist, then he would be welcome to fellowship there. It may come out down the track that there are some other beliefs that separate PS from Bethel's teaching, and then they'd work to bring PS into unity with them on the issue. If he insisted on holding his view, then he'd probably eventually remove himself or be disciplined?

At no stage will there be any ascribing of doctrines as less or more important. Any doctrine that divides PS and Bethel will be a doctrine that church will work to bring him into unity with.

How's that? Is this an accurate representation of Kent/Gary here? Corrections welcome

d4v34x said...

Good stuff, Bro. B, in that last comment.

It's sad to me that some Baptists almost seem afraid talking biblically about baptism.

PSFerguson said...


You still have not made clear do you separate over every doctrine or "didache" as per Romans 16:17? Just to make this simple:

(1) Can you have fellowship with any church or person who has a different interpretation from what you preach in the pulpit of Bethel Baptist about the interpretation of the text of Genesis 6 and 1 Peter 3:19? Yes or No?

If it is yes, then you do have a ranking system of doctrines that your fellowship is determined by. If no, then I have to conclude that you are absolutely consistent (though mistaken) as to you views on unanimity of doctrine and fellowship.

I do not know why you portray this as a "gotcha" exercise. You were the one positing absolute positions on these issues, so we are entitled to test the veracity and consistency of your statements from Scripture.

Kent Brandenburg said...


It was spot on. I disagreed with nothing you said. You did a great job of synthesizing and collating. Very good. Well stated.


Thanks. Baptism is devalued in evangelicalism and even often in fundamentalism.


We have to start by coming to some agreement on what doctrine is. I thought I illustrated it with Acts 2:38. For instance, if one thinks sons of God were angels and someone else thinks they were the godly line versus the ungodly line, our church would say that there is no necessary difference in doctrine based on those differences in intepretation. We would say the same with Jephthah's daughter. Someone can believe Satan is Lucifer (which I don't) and not believe anything differently than I do about Satan. In other words, it doesn't change His angelology. I don't know of anyone in our church who differs even on the meaning of any of these. But we're talking also about fellowship with those outside of our church, I think, and I differentiate meaning or interpretation from "doctrine."

We unify and fellowship on the doctrine and also disfellowship or separate over it. All of it. That requires no ranking.

PS, do you believe "interpretation" and "doctrine" mean the same, that they are synonyms? Do you know of a mark and avoid type of verse that mentions "intepretation"? Please answer.

I'd be happy to have you show me how that our complete unanimity of doctrine results in or is ranking of doctrines.

Liam O'Brian said...

Regarding your answer. It was quite good. However, it did not at all address the primary thing I was driving at - how that baptism could be water when it indicates a spiritual benefit. If it is water baptism (which I doubt), then the water baptism itself is said to deliver from ta hammartia. There is no other baptism mentioned, so we must stick with the context. As to the baptism into Moses, this also is a stretch to make it water baptism as the only people actually wet in the ordeal were the Egyptian soldiers.

Water baptism itself is a mere symbol of that which has already taken place in the heart - just as circumcision was to be an outward sign of a heart-circumcision (which even Moses said was more important than the physical act which Paul agreed to in Romans 2 and elsewhere). It is the same as the Lord's Supper - by partaking it shows the participant is in communion with God, which is why my church practices open communion. Who is a local church to say that a visitor - of whom they would admit they know nothing - is under discipline or not in communion?

Kent Brandenburg said...


People who were dead to sin pictured that through their baptism. When they got baptized they said they were dead to sin by identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Paul wants them to live what their baptism was saying about them.

Regarding 1 Cor 10, the Red Sea was water, and they were under it in a sense that I think we all understand. We don't have to get so technical that we miss the point. They had to go through that water to follow Moses. We, by the way, go through water to follow Christ to, as we are "baptized into Him."