Friday, October 14, 2011

Spirit Baptism--the Historic Baptist View, part 2

While the prominence of the UCD (universal church dispensational) and PCP (post-conversion power) doctrines of Spirit baptism throughout the gamut of denominational affiliations within evangelicalism and fundamentalism leads to large amounts of interaction between their advocates, as manifested in books, journal articles, and other studies comparing the merits of the two, the modern restriction of the historic Baptist doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Ghost to the most conservative elements within the Baptist movement has led to most advocates of the PCP and UCD doctrines ignoring it, often because of ignorance of its existence. This is unfortunate, since, as later posts will demonstrate, the historic Baptist view, not the PCP or UCD doctrine, is taught in the Bible.

Indeed, such has been the falling away from the old Baptist doctrine of Spirit baptism that evangelicals affiliated with churches in bodies such as the modern Southern Baptist Convention are almost universally ignorant of its existence, as are many neo-fundamentalist and truly fundamental Baptist churches connected with larger bodies such as the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches or the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, although the historic Baptist position remains dominant among the generality of unaffiliated Baptist separatists. Baptist pastors trained in parachurch institutions generally affiliated with generic fundamentalism (such as Bob Jones University) often are never even presented with the historic Baptist position, while those trained in church-run fundamental Baptist colleges and local-church specific Baptist Bible institutes tend to both learn about and embrace the historic Baptist position on Spirit baptism.

Baptists who read only neo-evangelical or non-historic Baptist compositions on Spirit baptism will probably never even have the historic Baptist position presented to them. For example, in critiquing the PCP position in favor of a UCD view of 1 Corinthians 12:13, the evangelical J. I. Packer wrote: “Can it be convincingly denied that 1 Corinthians 12:13 . . . refers to one aspect of what we may call the ‘conversion-initiation complex’ with which the Christian life starts, so that according to Paul every Christian as such is Spirit-baptized? Surely it cannot. The only [emphasis added] alternative to this conclusion would be to hold, as the late R. A. Torrey influentially did, that Paul here speaks of a ‘second blessing,’ not mentioned in his letters elsewhere, which he knew that he and all the Corinthians had received, though some Christians today have not” (pg. 163, Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005). Packer goes on to (effectively) critique the PCP view of 1 Corinthians 12:13. What is noteworthy is that he presents his UCD position as the “only” alternative. The historic Baptist position is entirely ignored. Packer is typical of evangelical books and articles on Spirit baptism, as even a cursory examination will verify. Journal articles such as “Dispensationalists and Spirit Baptism,” Larry D. Pettegrew, Master’s Seminary Journal 8 (Spring 1997): 29-46 ignore the historic Baptist view, despite historic Baptist acceptance of dispensational distinctions. Dictionary articles such as “Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” by Craig Blomberg in the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (ed. Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996) ignore the historic Baptist position. Evangelical books such as Baptism & Fulness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today, John R. W. Stott, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1978) and Holy Spirit Baptism, Anthony A. Hoekema (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972) ignore the historic Baptist position. It is noteworthy, however, that Hoekema admits that the passages concerning Spirit baptism in the gospels, as well as Acts 1:5, refer to Pentecost alone, stating (pg. 17-20, cf. 15-29):

This outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost Day . . . was a historical event of the greatest importance—unique, unrepeatable, once-for-all. It may be thought of as an event comparable in magnitude to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. . . . In Jerusalem the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 disciples . . . in fulfillment of the promise of the Father; this outpouring was a great salvation-history event[.] . . . In this sense, therefore, Pentecost can never be repeated, and does not need to be repeated. . . . [T]he expression ‘to be baptized in the Spirit’ is used in the Gospels and in Acts 1:5 to designate the once-for-all, historical event of the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost Day. In this sense the baptism of the Spirit is never repeated. 

However, Hoekema then argues for a UCD perspective based on Acts 11:16 and 1 Corinthians 12:13, interacting with the PCP doctrine but engaging in no interaction at all with the historic Baptist position. His bibliography (pgs. 94-95) lists no books by historic Baptists, so it appears that his affirmations on the Spirit baptism texts in the gospels and in Acts 1:5 agree with the conclusions of the classic Baptist doctrine simply from the force of grammatical-historical interpretation, and potentially without any knowledge on his part of the existence of the view.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-examination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Spirit in relation to Pentecostalism Today by James D. G. Dunn (Chatham, England: SCM Press, 1970) may be considered as representative of treatments of Spirit baptism by those less conservative than historic Baptists, fundamentalists, or evangelicals. Dunn writes (pgs. 3-4):

Of particular interest to the NT scholar is the Pentecostal’s teaching about the baptism in the Spirit, for in it he claims to have discovered the NT pattern of conversion-initiation—the only pattern which makes sense of the data in Acts—and also the principal explanation for the amazing growth of the early Church. But does the NT mean by baptism in the Holy Spirit what the Pentecostal understands the phrase to mean? Is baptism in the Holy Spirit to be separated from conversion-initation, and is the beginning of the Christian life to be thus divided up into distinct stages? Is Spirit-baptism something essentially different from becoming a Christian, so that even a Christian of many years’ standing may never have been baptized in the Spirit? These are some of the important questions which Pentecostal teaching raises, and it will be the primary task of this book to re-examine the NT in the light of this teaching with a view to answering these questions. Put in a nutshell, we hope to discover what is the place of the gift of the Spirit in the total complex event of becoming a Christian. This will inevitably involve us in a wider debate than merely with Pentecostals. For many outside Pentecostalism make a straghtforward identification between a baptism in the Spirit and the Christian sacrament of water-baptism, while others distinguish two gifts or comings of the Spirit, the first at conversion-initation and the second at a later date, in Confirmation or in the bestowal of charismata. I shall therefore be defining my position over against two and sometimes three or four different standpoints. . . . I hope to show that for the writers of the NT the baptism in or gift of the Spirit was part of the event (or process) of becoming a Christian, together with the effective proclamation of the Gospel, belief in (ei˙ß) Jesus as Lord, and water-baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus; that it was the chief element in conversion-initation so that only those who had thus received the Spirit could be called Christians; that the reception of the Spirit was a very definite and often dramatic experience, the decisive and climactic experience in conversion-initiation, to which the Christian was usually recalled when reminded of the beginning of his Christian faith and experience. We shall see that while the Pentecostal’s belief in the dynamic and experiential nature of Spirit-baptism is well founded, his separation of it from conversion-initation is wholly unjustified; and that, conversely, while water-baptism is an important element in the complex of conversion-initiation, it is neither to be equated or confused with Spirit-baptism nor to be given the most prominent part in that complex event. The high point in conversion-initation is the gift of the Spirit, and the beginning of the Christian life is to be reckoned from the experience of Spirit-baptism.

One notes that Dunn equates Spirit baptism and the gift of the Spirit and adopts other elements of the UCD view while corrupting the doctrine of conversion by mixing in baptism in water and other heresy as a consequence of his non-evangelical, anti-inerrancy, semi-sacramentalist position. (Compare his statement that “[W]ater-baptism can properly be described as the vehicle of faith; but not as the vehicle of the Spirit. It enables man to approach God . . . but otherwise it is not the channel of God’s grace.” Pg. 100, Ibid. Dunn states that Paul’s sins were forgiven at the time of his baptism, pg. 75, and argues against the view that baptism is a sign of a conversion which has already taken place, pg. 145, 226-227. His acceptance of forms of higher criticism is obvious throughout his book.) Dunn also interacts with the PCP position and rigid sacramentalism in his book, speaking of his “debate with Pentecostal and sacramentalist” (pgs. 21, 170), but he never acknowledges the existence of the historic Baptist view. Advocates of the historic Baptist doctrine do not appear in his index of modern authors and works (pgs. 230-236). Non-evangelical writers, like many of their modern fundamental and evangelical counterparts, are entirely ignorant of the historic Baptist view of Spirit baptism.

Most ironically, the book Perspectives on Spirit Baptism (gen. ed. Chad Brand; authors Ralph D. Colle, H. Ray Dunning, Larry Hart, Stanley Horton, & Walter Kaiser, Jr. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2004) ignores the historic Baptist view, although it contains chapters presenting and then critiquing what are termed the Sacramental, Wesleyan, Charismatic, Pentecostal, and Reformed views of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The book ignores the historic Baptist position despite asserting that it “presents in counterpoint . . . the basic common beliefs on Spirit baptism which have developed over the course of church history with a view toward determining which is most faithful to Scripture.” Amazingly, the book is edited by a Southern Baptist professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and published by the same Southern Baptist Convention that, only a half century earlier, had a president and long time professor at the very same seminary that advocated the historic Baptist view in the classic and widely circulated International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Thus, as indicated, the historic Baptist position is advocated in the article “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” within the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (gen. ed. James Orr. orig. pub. Eerdmans, 1939; elec. acc. Online Bible For Mac software, Ken Hamel). The article’s author, E. Y. Mullins, was professor and later president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at the turn of the ninteenth century, and, from 1921-1924, president of the very Southern Baptist Convention that in modern times either ignores or repudiates his doctrine of Spirit baptism. “The question is often raised whether or not the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred once for all or is repeated in subsequent baptisms. The evidence seems to point to the former view to the extent at least of being limited to outpourings which took place in connection with events recorded in the early chapters of the Book of Acts. . . . [Evidence is then presented in favor of the conclusion that Spirit baptism was limited to the events in Acts.] . . . [N]owhere in the epistles do we find a repetition of the baptism of the Spirit. This would be remarkable if it had been understood by the writers of the epistles that the baptism of the Spirit was frequently to be repeated. There is no evidence outside the Book of Acts that the baptism of the Spirit ever occurred in the later New Testament times. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 Paul [makes] . . . reference . . . not to the baptism of the Spirit, but rather to a baptism into the church.

The historic Baptist view ignored by the modern Southern Baptist Convention was also affirmed by other prominent Southern Baptists in the time of Mullins, such as B. H. Carroll, professor of theology and Bible at Baylor University and Seminary from 1872-1905 and professor and president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1908-1914.

The historic Baptist view of Spirit baptism is, therefore, not widely adopted, not because it is contrary to Scripture, but because many ignore its existence, although it is, as subsequent posts in this series will prove, the clear teaching of the Bible.

Link to part 1.
Link to part 3

Note that this complete study, with all it parts and with additional material not reproduced on this blog in this series,  is available by clicking here.


J. R. Miller said...

You write, "most advocates of the PCP and UCD doctrines ignoring it, often because of ignorance of its existence. "
That seems to be accurate. When I started my own study of BHS more than 15 years ago, I could only find a few scattered references to the HBV and quite honestly was not sure anyone still even held to it. So I appreciate you bringing this out and sharing the resources and names of folks who still hold this view.

Anonymous said...

The Biblical/historic Baptist position does not recognize baptism of the Holy Spirit because this phrase is never found in Scripture. We are sealed and indwelt with the Holy Spirit upon salvation. We have spiritual gifts that each member exercises in the nt church body. But this is not a baptism. There was a baptism "with the Holy Ghost as promised of the Lord on apostolic church. It was -as the lord described - an empowerment. It was to happen in the four places as promised (Jerusalem, Judea,Samaria and the uttermost part), and so it did. The errant premise of a spirit baptism is a Protestant doctrine to replace the "one baptism" of the NT church (Eph 4:5) with an invisible mystical one. Essentially, Baptists that embrace this doctrine are ultimately Protestant, having given over the Lord's ordinance. Also, a mystical baptism demands a mystical "church".