The So Called Special and Transitional Cases
For a long time, we have been debating invisible churchers with their nebulous, universal, mystical, invisible, interdenominational body/church views. We listen carefully to their arguments (although they never think that we do), for they are NOT all totally wrong about everything. Still, years ago, I wrote for the "Baptist Examiner," a, Landmarker periodical, where I observed and discovered a similar but opposite and parallel view to the invisible churcher view. IN ESSENCE, these Briders and Landmarkers believed in a nebulous, universal, mystical, invisible Baptist body/church and believed that only Baptists would be in this church in heaven, which necessitates that this heavenly church must be composed of Baptists from different churches from different time periods and/or consisting of parts of Baptist churches.
Now, these brethren did qualify their views by saying that they sometimes refer to a generic and institutional church/body as do the scriptures. I have no problem with that, if they would apply such generic terms properly, as opposed to using them improperly on a "specific" Baptist church. Nevertheless, you cannot water baptize anyone into a generic or institutional church or a metaphorical church. There is no such physical entity as "THE" Baptist church or even "THE" church (as some staunch Baptists and Catholics would say). Also, there is no such physical entity such as THE husband or THE wife any more than THE invisible, universal husband or wife.
It would be difficult to visibly discern outwardly any difference between the Landmarker/Brider baptismal practice and the Assembly of God and Church of Christ water baptisms and what we believe to be the correct practice of baptism. However, there is a great difference in concept between what we perceive a water baptism to be that ends up uniting the converts with the local church membership. At first, it seems like we are arguing semantics and that we are splitting hairs with technicalities, but when someone states that converts are baptized INTO Baptist churches or THE Baptist Church, there is a radical concept in that one's mind, or else it is a mere slip of the tongue terminology. Now, those that believe in being baptized INTO a Baptist church are hard put to provide us with any scriptural examples. Yet when we provide them specific scriptural examples of those who were not baptized into any body, they pull the old "special" case or "transition period" arguments.
The so called Special and Transitional Cases
1. The apostles' baptisms by John the Baptist
2. Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist
3. Peter's converts' baptisms Acts 2:38-41
4. Philip's converts' baptisms Acts 8:12
5. Simon's baptism Acts 8:13
6. The eunuch's baptism Acts 8:38
7. Paul's baptism Acts 9:18; 22:16
8. Italians band's baptisms Acts 10:47, 48
9. Lydia's baptism Acts 16:15
10. Jailer and household's baptisms Acts 16:33
11. Crispus and Corinthians' baptisms Acts 18:8; 1 Cor.1:4
12. House of Stephanus' baptisms 1 Cor. 1:6
13. John the Baptist's converts and/or disciples' converts' baptisms Acts 19:3
14. Disciples of John the Baptist and/or disciples' baptisms by Paul Acts 19:5
None of these were baptized into any body, unless our friends want to argue from silence. Where are the non-special and non-transitional cases of the Baptistantiation advocates? Not even one of our examples was baptized INTO a local body. The closest they can come to that is that folks were added UNTO the church early in Acts 2:41. Of course to call any later baptism than that a special case or transitional baptism would be to eliminate their use of Acts 2:41 to prove their case. This is the same proof text that the invisible churchers use to get saved folks INTO the mystical body, which some begin at the cross and other later. Nevertheless, being added UNTO the church the same day is a far cry from being baptized INTO "A" or "THE"BODY the same day. Nothing in Acts 2:41 demand the simultaneity of baptism and membership that Baptistantiators try to force there.
". . . and he said, INTO [eis] what then were you baptized?' And they said, INTO [eis] John's baptism." --John 19:3
"At this point I must admit to a personal predisposition. I believe every word of scripture is very important. Therefore, I believe much can be drawn out of the phrase Paul asked, ". . . INTO what then were you baptized?" We can deduct from these words that a person is baptized INTO something when he/she is baptized. This is in addition to the picture symbolized in immersion where we are baptized INTO Christ's death, burial, and resurrection." --James McMullen
Above, you will find the comments of a Southern Baptist pastor, who believes that converts are water baptized INTO local churches much like certain Protestant views. These comments reflect the faulty thinking of a number of Local Church Only brethren, who rightly repudiate the invisible, mystical, universal body/church of all believers and the invisible, mystical, baptism that makes them members in an invisible body. Such Local Church Only thinking parallels the universal church brethren in that they believe, IN ESSENCE, that water baptism by an automatic, invisible, and mystical PROCESS puts converts into a local body of believers by an nebulous and ethereal process, which is BAPTISTANTIATION (similar to Catholic TRANSUBSTANTIATION). Notice his definitional preference of INTO here rather than UNTO.
Southern Baptist McMullen Refuted
And he said unto them, UNTO [eis] what then were ye baptized? And they said, UNTO [eis] John's baptism. --Acts 19:3 (KJB)
Now, aside from McMullen’s translation of EIS as INTO in Acts 19:3, McMullen has the same problem that some local church onlies have in regard to baptizing someone INTO THE local body/church. The underlying Greek word is "eis" in Acts 19:3 (and 1 Cor. 12:13 as well), so does that justify changing the KJB word "INTO" in 1 Cor. 12:13 to "UNTO" in the KJB's "baptized INTO one body@ as McMullen changes Acts 19:3? No, but it does illustrate a truth as to how that these English prepositions can some times be used synonymously as the KJB some times uses them and as the OED allows.
Note: See G.A. Riplinger In Awe of thy Word, p. 243 to 258 on this and also our Oxford English Dictionary on preposition synonym.
The point to be made here is that these converts of John or his disciples were not baptized into the interior of ANY body at all, when they were baptized, either mystical, ethereal, generic, local, metaphorical, baptisms or otherwise. There is no record of anyone in the Gospels or the Book of Acts being baptized INTO a church body of any kind. And there is no record of Paul being baptized INTO any body. Paul asked them AUNTO what were ye baptized@ and they said that they were baptized AUNTO John's baptism@ in the KJB. McMullen and his interpretation are consistent in that they use "INTO" here in the same way in both places of Acts 19:3, but how could the disciples of John be baptized INTO John's water baptism? More attention to these verses causes us to question which body Paul finally baptized them INTO. Moreover, we are curious as to which body Paul was water baptized INTO by Free Lancer Ananias, when no local church was present or aware of Paul's water baptism (especially, if we are to view what Paul said in 1 Cor. 12:13 to mean being baptized automatically INTO the local church membership, for Paul said ". . . are WE ALL baptized INTO ONE BODY" there.)
Now, we believe 1 Cor. 12:13 is, indeed, talking about water baptism and that a local church/body metaphor is consistent throughout the chapter, i.e., toes, ears, hands, and etc. Nevertheless, if 1 Cor. 12:13 is supposed to prove that converts are automatically being water baptized INTO the church membership here, INTO a local body membership, are they also automatically baptized INTO Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:3) and INTO Christ (Gal. 3:27). Please explain? Are they also automatically water baptized, as McMullen says, INTO Christ's death, burial, and resurrection? How? Now, are we looking at a mystical baptismal PROCESS, or are we looking at an identification and explanation of baptism in metaphor? Surely, these members do not become actual toes, hand, eyes, noses, and ears of the "BODY" in 1 Cor. 12! Is it possible that both the invisible churcher brethren and the Local church only brethren and some Landmark brethren have all stretched this metaphor too far?
What Is the Proper View of Entering the Church Membership?
And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were RECEIVED OF THE CHURCH, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. --Acts 15:4
And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to RECEIVE HIM: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: -- Acts 18:27
Him that is weak in the faith RECEIVE YE, but not to doubtful disputations. -- Rom. 14:1
. . . when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren RECEIVED us gladly. -- Acts 21:7
That ye RECEIVE her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. -- Rom. 16:2
And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye RECEIVED him [Titus]. -- 2 Cor. 7:1
Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, RECEIVE HIM . . . --Col. 4:10
We therefore ought to RECEIVE such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. --3 John 1:8 [see also 1:9, 10]
Whether formally or informally, the churches of the N.T. have RECEIVED other Christians in various capacities as missionaries, as members, as baptismal candidates, as pastors. Moreover, the only way that a person can become a legitimate member of a local Baptist church is to be RECEIVED by such.
Christians can be RECEIVED by a local Baptist church into their membership UPON their water baptism or UPON their letter or UPON their statement of faith/baptism and/or membership from a former Baptist church and even by reinstatement. Nevertheless, they still must be RECEIVED. Need we mention that Paul was NOT RECEIVED and was refused membership, when he assayed to join up with the Jerusalem Baptist church, after he was baptized in Damascus by Ananias (Acts 8:26)?
The not so accurate cliche' that insists that converts are automatically baptized into "THE" local Baptist church, leaves something to be desired. There is no such thing as "THE" Baptist church. Also, no one gets the membership of "A" local Baptist church without being RECEIVEDby that church. They are RECEIVED into a Baptist church membership in the way that they receive members (often publicly stated that way); nothing is automatic. They are RECEIVED just like the apostles were received by the first New Testament church and its pastor, the Lord Jesus Christ. When were the apostles ever water baptized into Jesus' local church? Was it their baptism that put them INTO Jesus' church? Or were they RECEIVED into the Lord's local church by Him? Yes, that one, the church that took the Lord's supper. There is nothing different that takes place on the mission field today. The first converts are not baptized into any body, unless it is a Landmark missionary who baptizes them into his home church 5,000 miles away. Some LOCAL church!
When someone says that converts are baptized INTO "THE" body of Christ, what do they mean? A mystical, invisible, universal, Baptist church? Or do they mean "A" BODY of Christ? If a convert is initially put INTO "A" local Baptist church by baptism, how does one get INTO his second church? Does he still belong to the same church that he was initially baptized "INTO?" How does he get out of it? Now, to say they are automatically letter-ed INTO another Baptist church, or automatically statement-ed INTO another Baptist church would be consistent with being automatically baptized INTO it, but arguably such an idea and terminology would be woefully lacking.
The Use of Letters
As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I RECEIVED LETTERS unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. --Acts 22:5
And they said unto him, We neither RECEIVED LETTERS out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. --Acts 28:21
And when I come, whomsoever ye shall APPROVE BY YOUR LETTERS, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. -- 1 Cor. 16:3
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or LETTERS OF COMMENDATION from you? -- 2 Cor. 3:1
And they wrote LETTERS by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia . . . it seemed good unto us, being ASSEMBLED with one accord, to send chosen men unto you . . . --Acts 15:23
And they said unto him, We neither received LETTERS out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. --Acts 28:21
Now, this is but a side note to the above to remind the brethren of the use of letters of approval and recommendation for various reasons by the apostles and church, so that other Christians could be RECEIVED for one thing or another by some means of identification and verification. We understand that some do not believe in such vehicles and would object to such usage. Nevertheless, the practice continues for verification purposes but has been largely replaced, for the most part, by the telephone.
We have no real quarrel with brethren, who believe in BAPTISTANTIATION. We do think their terminology is unfortunate and lends itself as ammunition for the very people that they are trying to correct and convert from their invisible, universal church views. It has nothing to do with Bible correcting or heresy or a test of fellowship or anything like that. It is merely a challenge to faulty interpretation, which is often the result of tradition. Personally, I am unimpressed with tradition that has no support in the scriptures.
Now, after all that being said, may I say that since baptism is a FIGURE of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and not a PHYSICAL or MYSTICAL REALITY, then water baptism into or unto His body is also a FIGURE but neither a PHYSICAL or MYSTCAL REALITY. Now, it is important here not to confuse the spiritual with the mystical, whether you are an invisible, interdenominational churcher or an invisible, Baptist churcher. We are IN CHRIST spiritually but not in Christ mystically or physically. We are in the physical local church—PHYSICALLY by reception by the local church in the way that they receive members. You can receive the water baptism that you perform, and you can receive the water baptisms that others have performed. Still you must RECEIVE the members, and that is not automatic.
-- by Herb Evans, November 11, 2005
ADDENDUM 1A - INTO as Used in the Scriptures
Many of the following KJB readings are synonymously stylistic, where either the word into@ or Aunto@ might have been chosen by the translators. Obviously, in the KJB, many of them do NOT actually mean the entrance INTO the interior of something.
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again INTO a mountain himself alone. B John 6:15
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give INTO your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. B Luke 6:38
The sun shall be turned INTO darkness, and the moon INTO blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: -- Acts 2:20
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized INTO Jesus Christ were baptized INTO his death? BRom. 6:3
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up INTO HIM in all things, which is the head, even Christ: --Eph 4:15
For as many of you as have been baptized INTO Christ have put on Christ. BGal. 3:27
For by one Spirit are we all baptized INTO one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink INTO one Spirit. B 1 Cor.12:13
ADENDUM 1B - UNTO as Used in the Scriptures
And he said unto them, UNTO what then were you baptized? And they said, UNTO John=s baptism. BActs 19:3
According to the twenty volume Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, the word >unto= has 29 different meanings.
"Un-holy NIV, TNIV, HCSB, NKJV, or so-called easy reading KJV-ER bibles have no >unto=s= at all, just >to=s= with no clues about what >to= means to a ChristianCno notion of just how very close Christ wants us to cleave. They have no mortar to hold Christian meaning. The connection with the defining >under= >upon,= >on,= >one,= and >INTO= is gone." BRiplinger, ibid, p.251