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The Betwixt and Between Baptismal Theology of Baptists in Colonial America (Report)

Baptist History and Heritage, 2010, Wntr, 45, 1

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"It's just a symbol," is an oft-repeated description of baptism in Baptist life. That description served to remind Baptists that baptism is not necessary for salvation. It is not an objective means of grace or the seal of saving union with Christ. (1) In other words, it is not a sacrament. Over the last four hundred years, many Baptists have argued against the various sacramental theologies expressed by Puritans, Separatists, Congregationalists, Methodists, Restorationists, and Catholics, among others. On the one hand, according to many Baptists, these sacramental theologies have made too much of the baptismal act by arguing that baptism somehow sealed saving grace. On the other hand, these same Baptists were equally uncomfortable with the type of language that suggests baptism was just a symbol. This discomfort was particularly the case when Baptists encountered such theologies as those expressed by the Quakers, who argued that baptism had no perpetual significance outside the New Testament era and was therefore completely unnecessary in modern times. (2) In such theological dialogues, Baptists argued that baptism was an important command and should not be taken lightly. Baptism is just a symbol flippantly suggests that baptism has no value or worth outside the pictorial presentation. As a mere symbol, it could be dismissed as a redundant act tacked on at the end of the conversion experience. Baptists countered that baptism was not a mere symbolic act of the isolated self, but it was a participatory act in the relational reality made possible in the believer by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. (3)

The Betwixt and Between Baptismal Theology of Baptists in Colonial America (Report)
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  • Category: History
  • Published: 01 January 2010
  • Publisher: Baptist History and Heritage Society
  • Print Length: 24 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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