Vol.XII No.VII Pg.5
September 1975

Official Baptism

Jim R. Everett

Our Lord taught the Apostles and the priests, who carry on their work, to teach the people first and then to baptize them. Therefore, in the Catholic Church we insist that you take a full course of religious instructions. At the end of the course the priest will examine you to see if you are prepared for baptism. And if you have the right intention he will baptize you. (Instructions In The Catholic Faith, p. 88). While the sacrament of baptism is normally administered by priests, exceptions are recognized by the Catholic Church. However, the priesthood must officiate or administer the other six.

The claim for Divine Authority which gives the priesthood official power to administer sacraments eventuated, supposedly, by Apostolic Succession. This makes logical their conclusions on sacraments and officials: The power to change bread and wine into His Body and Blood has passed down through the centuries from the Apostles to bishops, and from bishops to priests for the last 2000 years ... Only those validly ordained in the priesthood of Christ have the power to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord. . . (Ibid., pp. 94, 97).

It is possible that some Christians have reached an official baptism concept, for they believe that baptism is scriptural obedience only if the baptizer is a Gospel preacher (in the nomenclature of some, a Church-of-Christ preacher). While to others a person is immersed into Christ only if it is done by a member of the church. This would necessitate that the baptizer be neither an alien nor a hypocrite — if a non-member invalidates baptism, then a hypocrite would also. And that creates another problem about those baptized by brothers in error. Does the error of a brother mean that the one correctly taught and scripturally immersed is not a new creature in Christ?

I am fully aware, by first-hand experience, of the difficulty involved with one who learns that baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), then, post-dates his understanding to the ripe-old-age of 8, when he was baptized by a local Baptist pastor. The easiest solution might be to say, You were not baptized scripturally because a Baptist preacher baptized you, but that means one becomes committed to a Catholic-like concept; that is, certain acts are valid only if performed by the church. The nature of truth is such that a man can discover it and obey it without knowledge of other Christians. Consequently, being washed by the blood of Christ in baptism is not dependent upon the status of the baptizer but upon the heart and understanding of the obeyer.

I, personally, have never met a man, who was taught denominational doctrine, confessed denominational error, and was baptized scripturally. But the IMMERSER was never the problem with his baptism. I believe it logical that Christians are those interested in and involved in scriptural teaching and immersing — I am not advocating a different practice. Its the scriptural concept we must keep straight.

- -verett