Feb 13

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Is there a case of “re-baptizing” in the New Testament? In other words, is there a case where a person was taught wrong, baptized, then, taught right and baptized a second time? There are some who might even laugh at such questions, yet, the very idea of baptizing a person a second time is scorned in some places!
The subject is not new within the churches of Christ! Tolbert Fanning, with William Libscomb, the older brother of David, started the “Gospel Advocate” in 1855, Fanning was mentor to David Lipscomb; he wrote the following in 1859:
“Bro. N. W. Smith, of Georgia, recently immersed some eleven Baptists into Christ. This he did because their first immersion was only intended to bring them into the Baptist church. Whilst we do not desire to debate the necessity of re-baptism, we have no doubt it is as fully the duty of persons who are baptized without understanding the truth, as it was for the twelve who were taught, and no doubt, baptized by Apollos, to be baptized by the authority of Jesus Christ after they heard Paul preach. We do not intimate that the candidate must understand every thing regarding the ordinance of baptism to render the act valid in the sight of heaven; but our position is, that he must know some scriptural statement of the matter in order to acceptable obedience. If he should not know baptism is in order for the remission of sins, it may answer to understand that he who believes and is baptized shall be saved, or in being buried in Christ and rising again, we put off the old man and put on Christ; but he who is put into the water because he is pardoned, has got religion–been regenerated and made and heir of God, evidently does not honor Jesus Christ, or in any sense obey the gospel. No one in profound ignorance can walk in the light; but there is neither occasion of darkness or stumbling, if we follow the dictates of the Good Spirit.” (“Immersion of Baptists,” Gospel Advocate 5 (November 1859) 346).
It may not be known by many today, but the “Firm Foundation” was started because of the disagreement on the subject of re-baptizing, by Austin McGary in 1844 and David Lipscomb of the “Gospel Advocate.” He gave the reason for starting the “Firm Foundation:” “to oppose everything in the work and worship of the church, for which there was not a command or an apostolic example or a necessary scriptural inference.” McGary taught that a person subject to baptism, as revealed in the New Testament, must be taught and understand, that baptism is unto the remission of sins. Lipscomb on the other hand, taught that the one being baptized only needed to believe in any scriptural reason qualified as scriptural baptism. By the late 1930s the McGary position came to dominate the churches of Christ in all but Middle Tennessee, which was most under the influence of Lipscomb. However, over the last few years the Lipscomb view has been making a comeback. Therefore, we have one of the reasons for addressing the subject in this series of articles.
It is being taught, just as it was in the past, that a person may be taught wrong, but baptized biblically. It must be understood by all who would set out to teach another the gospel of Christ. It would seem so unnecessary to say, yet apparently it is not, you must “teach” the gospel! You must “teach” Christ! In teaching the gospel, in teaching Christ, you must teach baptism. Now, just think about this simple question: “If you must teach baptism, would it seem out of place to teach the reasons for being baptized?” No! As a matter of fact, it would be totally out of place to affirm that you have taught someone about baptism, but did not teach them the reasons for being baptized. So, if you are going to teach the gospel, and you come to the subject of baptism, just what should you teach? First, you would teach that baptism is necessary unto salvation (Mark 16:16). Second, you would teach that baptism is unto remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Third, you would teach that one is baptized into the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3). Fourth, you would teach that we are “buried with him by baptism into death” (Rom. 6:4). Fifth, you would teach that you are “baptized into the one body,” which is the church (1 Cor. 12:13, Eph. 1:21-22). Sixth, you would teach that “baptism doeth now save us” (1 Pet. 3:21). Seventh, you would teach that “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
Did I hear someone object, saying, “That is just too much to teach?” My answer is, are you teaching the gospel or not? Are you truly interested in the salvation of the soul/spirit that dwells within the body of that person you are teaching? Yes, it is true, you must be taught the gospel, and teaching the gospel includes the reasons for being baptized; if you are to be baptized biblically; this may require a second immersion! This would be the case, if the person was “taught wrong,” then, he would have been also be baptized wrong!

— Frank R. Williams

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