"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VII No.I Pg.26
Septermber 1944

Is Pouring Or Sprinkling Baptism?

T. B. Wilkinson

"I indeed baptize you with water but he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." This, we are told, proves that pouring is baptism because the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles. What John said he did with water, Jesus would do with the Holy Spirit. But Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit when he gave it to the apostles. Therefore, John poured out the water when he baptized the people with it. Therefore, pouring is baptism.

Did Jesus pour out the Holy Spirit like a liquid? Is that the idea which we have of the Holy Spirit? Jesus said, "I will send him unto you, and he shall abide with you forever." Also we read of the Spirit. "He shall not speak of himself but whatsoever He heareth that shall He speak." Joel prophesied that God would pour out of His Spirit upon all flesh, and Peter said on the day of Pentecost that it was the fulfillment of this prophecy. What happened on the day of Pentecost is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, according to John and Jesus. But the Spirit was poured out upon them.

But Joel did not say the Holy Spirit would be poured out, he said God would pour out of His Spirit upon all flesh. God poured out of His Spirit the power which came upon the apostles that day. The Spirit was the source of those powers that Joel said would be given to them on that day.

To baptize with 'water according to this argument is to do all with the water that Jesus did with the Holy Spirit. But Jesus filled them with the Spirit, therefore he must fill them with the water. A few drops will not do in this case, you must drench them with the water, and you must fill them as full of water as the Lord filled them with the Spirit.

One more argument I want to call attention to in this connection. That is the meaning of the word baptism in the Greek, the language in which the Lord spoke. Baptidzo is the word, and while it is admitted by all scholars it also means to wash, to dye, to color, and while these are known as secondary meanings they prove that it does not always mean to immerse, necessarily. It might take one of these secondary meanings.

But which one? Call on your Methodist friend to take his choice, which meaning he wants to apply to the word. Suppose we take the word, wash, does that imply some thing less than an immersion? The man who would say, yes, must know very little about washing clothes. I used to help my mother wash the clothes, and what she did to them in the water was much more than a mere immersion, or dipping. She immersed, and she dipped them, and she soaked there, and she chugged them, and then she soaped them, and scrubbed them on the old rub board. This is what the word wash means, and I know I would not want a Methodist preacher to baptize me by this mode.

But try the word, dye, or color. It takes more than a mere immersion to dye things, or color them. It takes a good soaking in every case, and even that is not enough, they must be kept in the water steaming hot, and boiled for many minutes, like boiling a soup bone. If they want that definition for their mode they can take it for me, but their converts won't have any hide left when they come out of the water. A simple immersion is all I want. The primary meaning is the one that always governs in the meaning of words, the secondary meanings must correspond to it. It can't mean less, but it might possibly mean more. Thus while the word baptidzo means to dip, plunge, immerse, the words wash, color, dye, imply a continued immersion, and all the other things I mentioned. A simple dipping in the water will not wash clothes, nor dye them, or color them, it takes much more than a dip. What a sprinkler ever expected to gain from making this argument has always been a mystery to me. A sprinkling copious enough to wash clothes, or dye them, would strangle their converts, and drown them, and that is the only kind of sprinkling that would get the job done. But no Lexicon can be found which gives sprinkling as a definition of the word, this is admitted by all scholars, even those who practice sprinkling and pouring instead of baptism.

I use the words, instead of baptism, advisedly, for sprinkling and pouring never could be baptism regardless of what you called them. They come from different words both in the Greek, and in the English, and apply to different kinds of acts. In baptism you baptize the man, the subject, but in pouring and sprinkling you act upon the element, you sprinkle and pour the water.

In the English we have dip, sprinkle, pour, while in the Greek they had, baptidzo, Rantidzo, and Ek Cheo, and the words are never used interchangeably. They refer to different, independent acts. You can't sprinkle by dipping any more than you can dip by sprinkling or pouring. To sprinkle means to scatter in drops, and refers to the element sprinkled, the word pour means to cause to flow in a stream, and also refers to the element. To dip means to plunge under the water, and refers to the subject who is baptized, or dipped.

Thus while a Methodist preacher sprinkles or pours water, a gospel preacher baptizes men and women. The three words are not even akin, much less can they be applied to the same act, and no greater mockery was ever perpetrated on the earth than to sprinkle or pour a few drops of water on the head of man or woman and call it baptism. The authority for sprinkling and pouring came originally from the pope of Rome who claimed he had power to change the laws of God.

What the apostles and other inspired men thought on the subject is shown by what they practiced. To them baptism was a burial and a resurrection. In it the body was washed with pure water according to Paul. He probably got this idea from Ananias who first used the phrase, Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord. To the Lord it was a birth of water, and idea which probably came to Him when he came straightway out of the water after he was baptized of John in the river of Jordan. To Phillip it was going down into the water, baptism, and coming up out of the water. There is no need for me to remind you that none of these ideas are suggested by the words sprinkle or pour.