Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Correct Formula For Baptism Part Two

The Correct Formula For Baptism Part Two

The following thesis will attempt to answer the following questions. This time it is in my own words and thoughts. I hope you enjoy it!

A) What formula, or pronouncement should be made at baptism?
B) What was the historical and biblical process of the early church – apostolic and post apostolic?

The correct practice of baptism has long been debated between adherents of the Christian faith. Disagreements such as how one is baptized: sprinkling or immersion, what is pronounced during the baptism “in Jesus name” or “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost ”are a few that exist.
These disagreements have created quite a rift in the Christian church, most notably among those of the Pentecostal faith. In Fact adherents of the oneness doctrine assess and state that no one baptized in: “the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost”(Matthew 28:19) is saved, nor can they be until they are water baptized with the pronunciation of “in Jesus name.”

Here an attempt will be made to rightly divide the Word of God, to verify if such disagreements should exist and to what importance they actually bare on baptism.

What is the proper announcement or verbal formula for baptism?

Much debate and division has been waged over the proper formula of pronunciation at baptism. Some attest it is to be done in the name of Jesus while others insist it is to be done in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

(Matthew 28:18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
(Matthew 28:19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

The dominant formula spoken at baptisms in this day and for history by and large is derived from the above text. Such pronouncements would be:
“I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”

I could include a variety of sources – but I think it is well beyond debate, that this is the most common of formulas. With great ease we could fill a page with such examples but for brevity I’ll include only a few

Irenaeus Against Heresies Book III a.d. 120-202.
A student of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John. Wrote 123 years before Nicaea

That is the Spirit of whom the Lord declares, "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."308 And again, giving to the disciples the power of regeneration into God,309 He said to them," Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

Justin 1st Apology Chapter LXI.-Christian Baptism. 110-165 a.d. [160 years before Nicaea]

Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, "Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Tertullian The Prescription Against Heretics.1 a.d. 145-220
[105 years before Nicaea]

Accordingly, after one of these had been struck off, He commanded the eleven others, on His departure to the Father, to "go and teach all nations, who were to be baptized into the Father, and into the Son, and into the Holy Ghost."203

Tertullian-On Baptism.
105 years before Nicaea

For the law of baptizing has been imposed, and the formula prescribed: "Go," He saith, "teach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Now then, it is dully noted that church fathers as credible as they may be, are not bible – and in this manner – I will look then to the WORD – though I may draw a comparison to some wording that I see of interest down the road a bit!

The bible states the following regarding the pronouncement at baptism, this is the veru first instruction we receive, and it comes right from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ

(Matthew 28:18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
(Matthew 28:19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

With post apostolic/early church history well established we then must deal with biblical precepts such as:

Which is the most correct formula for baptism? Here is where we (you(the reader) and I) need to take a hard well deserved look at the formation of the “Jesus Name” doctrine.

Which is as followed:

A) the assessment of the apostles wording in Acts 2:38 is that “JESUS” is the one name subscribed to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

- In this manner the apostles then, understood the seemingly cryptic message of Jesus, that they where not to invoke the name of the Father, the Son and The Holy Ghost at baptism as Jesus said, but instead – this was a coded message to use his name.

I think we have to deal with this first – for this is the cornerstone of the view
1) Did Jesus ever speak in this code prior to this?

Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Mar 9:39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

He uses freely “my name” in the above texts, so why now at such a crucial point of salvation does Jesus “mix it up” a bit? Why not be forthwith with it?


Another thought process could be – is their another meaning behind “in my name”?

2) Is the name of the Father, JESUS?

Here is the crux of the matter – We really have to determine this one issue. It is critical because this is where the doctrine makes its presumption. It states JESUS is the one name of GOD revealed to humanity by which to call – Hence the name of the Father is JESUS, and the Holy Spirit is JESUS .

The problematic scene we have – is biblically we do not see such a reality – this causes us a problem with the oneness interpretation of Acts 2:38.

There is no scriptural text to validate that the one name of JESUS is the one name ascribed to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. In fact scripture contains distinctions such as those noted in the greetings to the Romans See Romans 1:1-7

(Rom 1:7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Again in 2 John 3 (2 John 1:3) Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Such greetings and statements are problematic for the oneness adherents; in fact in most cases such a greeting would not be welcome among oneness ranks, for its supposed Trinitarian implication.

Typically most of the text that is used to support this view are interpretational errors such as…

(John 5:43) I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible states…
John 5:43 - I am come in my Father's name,.... Power and authority; by his consent, with his will, and according to a covenant with him: Christ came not of himself, of his own accord, by a separate power and will of his own, but was called, and sent, and came by mutual agree meat; and brought his credentials with him, doing the works and miracles which his Father gave him to finish:

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible states…
I am come in my Father’s name - With all his influence and authority. Among the rabbins, it was essential to a teacher’s credit that he should be able to support his doctrine by the authority of some eminent persons who had gone before. Hence the form, Coming in the name of another.

The most accurate rendition of this is “I am come in my Father’s authority, power and consent” not that the name of the Father is JESUS. You’ll find few biblical scholars who assume the text to mean anything more than the commentaries above have noted. Much like David stated

(1 Samuel 17:45) Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

Meaning the power, authority and might of GOD, David was not implying that the name of the Father was DAVID!!! But under the exegesis of apostolics – we must assume this to be the meaning since they insist the same words spoken by JESUS to mean this very thing.

Another instance is seen here in (John 10:25) Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.

The greek word for “name” according to Strongs is:
G3686 ο
From a presumed derivative of the base of G1097 (compare G3685); a “name” (literally or figuratively), (authority, character): - called, (+ sur-) name (-d).

”Name” here could be figuratively or literally – but we see the two fold meaning
1) a “name
2) authority, character
It is scholarly assumed to mean: authority, character

Thirdly some assume the prophecy of
Zechariah 14:9 to be fulfilled by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ

It reads

Zechariah 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

Insisting this prophecy has been fulfilled and that name is Jesus, oneness adherents often site this verse to establish the validity of their doctrine…

Lets look at the verse in context…

The chapter starts with this prophetic word

(Zechariah 14:2) For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

(Zechariah 14:3) Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

(Zechariah 14:4) And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown

Zec 14:4 -

… The place of His departure at His ascension shall be the place of His return: and the “manner” of His return also shall be similar (Act_1:11). He shall probably “come from the east”…

John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Zec 14:1 - Behold, the day of the Lord cometh,.... Or the day when the Lord will come, both in his spiritual and personal reign; for this is not to be understood of his first coming in the flesh…

Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

One Lord, and his name one - There shall be in those blessed days, only one religion, and one form of religion. There shall not be gods many, and lords many. All mankind shall be of one religion, the essence of which is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength; and thy Neighbor as thyself.”

Further the context states

Zec 14:11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.

Zec 14:12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.

Obviously this is a futuristic event and not a current reality! Therefore their use of Zechariah 14:9 is improper.

Seeing that we do not have the ability to attribute the name of JESUS CHRIST to the Father - we must then consider a possible variance in meaning...

One could from these thoughts parallel the phrase, "in the name of the Lord" is not so much a baptismal formula, but a reference to authority.

Consider the following using this phrase:

It is easily discerned that the phrase is used in a Biblical sense as an expression of authority.
Acts 16:18 above. "And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour."

If power and authority was not intended and simply just the name of “JESUS” was enough – someone would be hard pressed to convince the sons of Sceva of such a theology…

Notice in Acts, there is no occasion where one person says to another, “I baptize you in Jesus’ name.” Every time Acts mentions a baptism in Jesus’ name, the phrase characterizes the baptism; it does not record what the baptizer said. In this manner supposition is the only ally.

If instead it means the baptism was in Jesus’ name, under the authority that Jesus gave them. This flows more clearly with the words of Jesus, the apostles and the entire word of God… Making all three elements(Jesus, The Apostles, and the rest of the Inspired Word) in harmony, as opposed to using only two ingredients to derive at a doctrinal position.

The most common thought is it was the way they distinguished what sort of baptism was done. They were not performing a Jewish baptism for a convert to Judaism, nor were they performing John’s baptism for repentance, they were performing a Christian baptism into Jesus Christ, at the command and verbiage of Jesus Christ.