Vol.IX No.VIII Pg.7
October 1972

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

We enclose a tract containing arguments on "the name" for scriptural baptism. Please comment.


The tract (author unnamed) indicates several erroneous concepts, beginning with the superstitious idea that certain sounds -- "magic" words-are essential to valid baptism. If the passages cited are giving the one valid "formula for baptism" why does the wording differ from place to placer. If the differences are just alternate ways of saying the same thing, and all are saying what was commanded in MAT.28:19, then why can we not say, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" as stated by Jesus?

Nine passages are cited to "prove" a single formula for baptism: ACT.2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16; ROM.6:3; 1CO.6:11; GAL.3:27; and COL.2:12. As an unprejudiced reading will show, there is no uniformity here, as respects a "formula"; and the verbal expression of a proper "name" is not even under consideration.

In ACT.2:21 Peter quotes Joel as saying, "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved". Although invoking the Lord (22:16) is not ruled out, the promise is of the Messiah -- Redeemer for those who depend upon, put their trust in, Him. He manifested God, showed God's love, died for us, and is our LIFE. Call upon Him has no specific reference to verbally saying "Jesus", but refers to faith and trust in Him, indicated by submissive obedience to His will.

Calling upon the Lord extends to the whole of our dependence upon Him in the Christian life. "In the name of Jesus Christ" meant letting Him tell what to do, submitting to His authority, trusting His power. Many "say the right name" without "calling on the Lord". (ACT.19:13-16)

Baptism depicts burial and resurrection, and by it we are "buried with Him" ("co-buried" Marshall) as stated in COL.2:12. Baptized into Jesus Christ (ROM.6:; GAL.3:) refers to our relationship with God through Christ. Jesus died for our sins, and only through forgiveness found "in Him" can we have fellowship with God. (lJO.1:2:1-2) All spiritual blessings are thus "in Christ" (EPH.1:3); and I fear there is scant hope for one who confuses these profound yet fundamental truths with the words pronounced at the time of baptism.

Giving a cup of water "in my name" is explained by Christ as meaning "because ye belong to Christ" (MAR.9:41) i.e., to encourage and promote the cause of Christ. We are to do all things "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (COL.3:17-f) -- in the light of and in harmony with His will. It is appropriate to acknowledge Him by "name"-but the doing is here commanded.

Finally, some urge prayer and baptismal "words" through simple misunderstanding -- failure to think the matter through. But this writer fails to accept God's word concerning Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- triune functions of Deity. I accept revelation without understanding the nature of God. Apparently he does not.