Spirit baptism is an important Biblical doctrine. Wrong views of the event do not only constitute Pneumatological error, but lead to various other errors in systematic theology, such as false ecclesiology (developing, e. g., from a wrong view of 1 Corinthians 12:13). Furthermore, incorrect views of the baptism of the Holy Ghost lead to confusion in the intensely practical matter of sanctification. Entire religious movements, such as Pentecostalism, have arisen in large part from unbiblical views of Spirit baptism. Thus, one’s ability to glorify God, and to love Him with the heart, soul, and mind, is strengthened by a correct comprehension of Spirit baptism, and weakened by erroneous views of it.
Statement of views
Many conflicting views of Spirit baptism compete for adherents in the modern religious milieu. One prominent view, which will be referenced below as the post-conversion special power (PCP) view, affirms that the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which it avers continues to take place today, occurs subsequently to the point of conversion in the life of some, but not all, Christians. The baptism is said to bestow a variety of special benefits or powers. The adumbration of these benefits or powers varies greatly based on the theological paradigm of specific PCP advocates. In contrast, what this composition will term the universal-church dispensational (UCD) view holds that at the moment of faith and regeneration, the Holy Spirit baptizes a believer into the universal, invisible church, the body of Christ. The UCD and PCP views agree that Spirit baptism continues to take place today, but the UCD position, contrary to the PCP, affirms that all believers have been Spirit-baptized, and maintains that Spirit baptism is not intrinsically connected with any visible signs or special powers.
A third view, which will be termed the historic Baptist view, affirms that the baptism of the Holy Ghost is a phenomenon restricted to the first century and connected with the sending of the Holy Spirit by Christ on the day of Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts. This position, contrary to both the UCD and PCP doctrines, denies that anyone receives Spirit baptism today, although it affirms that the Holy Spirit indwells all believers immediately at the point of faith and regeneration (Romans 8:9, 14; Galatians 4:5-6). In agreement with the PCP position but against the UCD view, the historic Baptist position affirms that the Bible teaches that Spirit baptism took place after regeneration. In agreement with some PCP advocates, the historic Baptist position connects Spirit baptism with miracles, signs, and wonders. Furthermore, while advocates of the historic Baptist position agree that Scripture contains dispensational distinctions, their ecclesiology, against the UCD doctrine and the generality of PCP advocates, denies that the doctrine of a universal, invisible church is Scriptural, affirming instead that the word church pertains solely to the local, visible assembly. Since the doctrine of a universal, invisible church, developed especially by Augustine of Hippo in his battles against the Anabaptist Donatists and assumed within the Protestant movement by the Magisterial Reformers, is the position of almost all non-Baptist, Protestant religious denominations, this third view is held nearly exclusively by Baptists. Thus, it is properly termed Baptist. Furthermore, since many modern Baptists, especially those who have abandoned the militant separatism of the New Testament, are influenced more by the broad spectrum of Protestant evangelicalism than by classical Baptist systematics, and have consequently abandoned much historic Baptist doctrine and practice, including its position on Spirit baptism, in favor of UCD or PCP positions, this third position is properly termed historic among Baptists because of its historical dominance in past centuries, despite its decline among many today that claim the Baptist name.
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Note that this complete study, with all it parts, is available by clicking here.
 Some of the major divisions of the post-conversion special power position are: 1.) The Wesleyan view, which connected Spirit baptism with an experience of entire sanctification and perfect love; 2.) A large variety of Methodist and revivalist views, which developed from the Wesleyan doctrine, such as the doctrine of the Oberlin evangelist and Pelagian Charles Finney’s belief that Spirit baptism brought special holiness and empowerment, a view that influenced the post-conversion empowerment views of Spirit baptism held by men such as D. L. Moody, R. A. Torrey, and John R. Rice. The early Keswick employment of Spirit baptism language for what it later generally called Spirit filling also bears a substantial relationship to the earlier Oberlin position. 3.) The classical Pentecostal view, which developed under Wesleyan, Methodist, and revivalist influences, connects the baptism with the ability to speak in tongues. 4.) The Oneness Pentecostal view, which likewise associates the baptism and tongues speaking, but affirms that it is absolutely necessary to salvation and that it occurs only after one has believed, repented, and been baptized with a “Jesus only” formula in order to obtain the remission of sins. It should be noted that this fourth view is somewhat different from the first three divisions listed in that it affirms that all Christians receive Spirit baptism, because nobody who has not, after being baptized with a “Jesus only” formula, received the Spirit and spoken in tongues is a Christian. Also, no true Christian can hold view four, as it entirely corrupts the gospel and is accursed (Galatians 1:8-9), while true believers can hold the first three views, although they are erroneous. Note also pgs. 9-14, Holy Spirit Baptism, Anthony A. Hoekema (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972) for the special benefits and powers bestowed in what the book terms the Neo-Pentecostal view.
 Disagreements among UCDs exist, although the divisions are not as wide as the chasms that separate proponents of many of the subdivisions in the PCP position. See “Dispensationalists and Spirit Baptism,” Larry D. Pettegrew, Master’s Seminary Journal 8 (Spring 1997): 29-46.
 In the words of Lewis Sperry Chafer (Systematic Theology: Pneumatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1976 (reprint ed.), pgs. 142-143, vol. 6, chap. 11): “[T]he Spirit’s baptism . . . is a joining of the believer to, the bringing into, the Body of Christ—in other words, the forming of that organic relation between Christ and the believer which is expressed by the words in Christ and which is the ground of the Christian’s positions and possessions. . . . The members are a unity, being in one Body . . . joined to its Head . . . [t]hey are said to be baptized into this Body by one Spirit. . . . The central truth is that one Spirit baptizes all—every believer—into the one Body. What is thus accomplished for every believer is a part of his very salvation, else it could not include each one.”
 Individual advocates of the UCD or PCP position are also referenced below as UCDs or PCPs.
 Documentation for the affirmation that this is the classical Baptist position will appear in later posts. Note the brief exposition of the historic Baptist view in Landmarks of Baptist Doctrine, Robert Sargent (Oak Harbor, WA: Bible Baptist Church Publications, n. d.), vol. II:4, pgs. 293-299.
 Baptists believed in doctrines connected with modern dispensationalism before the days of John Darby and the popularization of the system within Protestantism; thus history documents, e. g., that English Baptist pastor Benjamin Keach was put on trial in the 1600s as a heretic because he believed in a literal millennium (see The Baptist Heritage Journal, Vol. 1, #1, Baptist Heritage Press, 1991, “The Tryal of Mr. Benjamin Keach,” pg. 129-140).
 While the overwhelming majority of advocates of the PCP doctrine believe in a universal, invisible church, such an ecclesiological position is not key to their position on Spirit baptism, as it is to the UCD. If there is no universal, invisible church, the UCD position is absolutely impossible.