Is this Question Important?

A couple of weeks ago, I was privy to a discussion that made me think.  It was sad as the discussion turned to being real careful with who we allow to put on Christ.  I recently discussed what I had heard in this discussion with one of my close friends.  At this moment, you can debate in your own mind the validity of the discussion.

When one obeys the gospel, I believe the Bible is very clear that this person will follow the example given throughout the book of Acts and they will be baptized.  The question for discussion is this: How much does one need to know to be baptized? I assume you need to know something or else why would you want to express your faith in this manner?  So my follow up question to this would be:  What is it you need to know?

Let me add to this question and ask your opinion on this issue.  Is this a matter of intellect, or emotion? Is it one or the other, or is it where the two meet?

If a youngster at bible camp wants to get baptized, then the adult supervisors go into panic mode and begin a two hour grilling session to see where this kid is at.  When an adult on Sunday morning goes forward and says he wants to be baptized, no one challenges their motives.  Why the discrepancy?  Why such judgment of ones decision?

I often find answers to unique questions of the Christian mindset here at Tentpegs hosted by Patrick Mead.  The topic of baptism is discussed here on his blog.

I encourage you to leave your comments as I am curious what people think about this.


23 responses to “Is this Question Important?

  1. Steve, I guess I shouldn’t go near commenting on this topic. I am not sure if you know my story… which I should write sometime.
    Firstly “When one obeys the gospel, I believe the Bible is very clear that this person will follow the example given throughout the book of Acts and they will be baptized.” is problematic for me. Credo baptism as essential for salvation is not taught by most Protetant churches and so most of those adults who have had an paedo-baptism and come to faith as adults are not baptised “again” And they are not taught about credo baptism. They are not wantonly disobeying what the Bible teaches, but have not yet come to see the necessity of a believers baptism and maybe never will. I have serious issues with those who condemn them as unsaved. Anyway.. I digress.
    How much does one need to know to be baptised? One does not need perfect understanding. We are not saved by perfect understanding. We need to know that we are lost without Christ, that we need to repent and that we are saved by grace through faith. That’s it as I see it.

  2. As for how much does one need to know? Simple, very little. That Jesus is God’s son, that he came and died on the cross for us, and if you’re willing, he’ll save you from your sins.

    That’s pretty much it. Matthew 28:18-20 says for us to Go and preach, then baptize, THEN teach. The teaching comes afterwards.

  3. PS – I love that Jeff Foster that’s been hanging out over here recently. Good man. Had supper with him recently 🙂

  4. And Patrick Mead gives you the answer today

  5. definitely one’s need/sinfulness
    and definitely that Jesus is able to save, because of who he is….

    i can’t go too far past those two

  6. oh wait, one more thing, that we leave out

    the covenant/commitment that is being made.

    i think many believe it all ends at baptism

  7. Wow, I’m being quoted as if I were a better and wiser man than I really am. I am humbled by your kindness.

    As for your question, I truly believe all a person needs to know is that Jesus is the Son of God and that they want to belong to Him for the rest of their lives.

  8. Steve,

    I’ve struggled with this one too. The issue is less about what the rest of us think and more about what the child is going to think 10 years down the road. When that 8 year old is 18, there’s a good chance he is going to question what he knew at age 8.

    I have a minister friend who approaches this issue by encouraging parents to have the child write down why he is responding to the gospel and what he knows about it. That way, he can read his own thoughts years later when he wonders if he really did it for the right reasons.

  9. Some great comments and I will elaborate on this subject next week.
    Wendy, you used some big words for this common folk, but thank you, you made me do some research. I would love to hear your story sometime.
    Trey, I agree with you and this blog world is helping make this world even smaller.
    Brian my friend, you speak so eloquently with so few words, and thanks for adding the commitment angle-that’s what it comes down too.
    Patrick Mead-I am honored to have you stop by. You are wise and have said it in so few of words. I hope you come back!
    B-I wish I knew who you were. I love the idea of your minister friend using the written words to give someone a lifetime of assurance. Great idea.

    Thanks to everyone!

  10. Yeah, maybe it was Wendy’s comment that made my head hurt…

    I think I’ve shied away from answering this because, in short, “it depends…”. Is it an 8, 18, or 48 year old? All of those things make a difference in the subject at hand. My 12 year old did attend a camp where baptism was TAUGHT, but not allowed at camp — no one wanted parents becoming furious with the staff for missing it, or poor timing, yada, yada. I actually appreciated that, because I would have missed it! It lit the fire in her, and she was baptized about 2 weeks after returning from camp.

    I, too, like the idea of young children writing it down. Tucker, I don’t know if you read my blog about BOTH of my children telling me, via different means, within about 15 min. of each other, that they were ready to be baptized. I felt completely ill-equipped to deal with that and didn’t know WHAT questions to ask. I wanted to say, “Sounds good! Let’s go!”

    And I think Brian is on the right track — someone has to know way less than we think they do to be baptized: Jesus is the road to salvation, and I’m with Jesus. (I know that’s way over-simplified, but that really is about all that one needs to know!)

  11. Okay, some other things I didn’t look at: “who we allow to put on Christ…”???? Are ya flippin’ kiddin’ me?? So… once we put on Christ, we are then SO Christ-like that we become God Himself and can weed out the wheat and the chaff by looking? Yeah — there is so much wrong with that I don’t know where to start (my tact-mechanism has already gone to bed — I probably should stop here). That may be your interpretation and not the original meaning of the conversation — let’s hope it is. I can’t imagine anyone that Jesus would have said, “No. Not you. You don’t love me enough, don’t know enough, haven’t done enough…” Now, he did tell the rich guy to go sell all that he had. Very wise.

    I think the decision, almost like marriage, can be one of intellect AND emotion — we must daily pick up our cross and follow Him, but sometimes the joy and peace of choosing to do that bubble over into wonderful emotions. I definitely think it’s where the two meet.

  12. Sarah, my journey to baptism made my head and heart hurt..

  13. Since I am not wise enough I will let Jim McGuiggan comment here.

    McGuiggan’s friend =),

  14. Wow, for a humble farmer, you have a way of stirring things up. Great question. Makes you think.

    Our heritage in the restoration movement is very intellect based. In the past, I have heard warnings like, “We have to be careful that we don’t just stir up people’s emotions.” Or “We don’t want people responding to Jesus out of emotion.”

    I have to wonder why we are so quick to write emotion out of the equation. It seems to me that faith is almost entirely an emotional response. The Bible says that faith that is seen is no longer faith. It is sight. That leaves faith to be driven almost entirely by emotion.

    Certainly there needs to be some level of understanding. Faith that is not founded in truth is not faith. It is wishful thinking.

    Simple acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God doesn’t seem to pass the threshold either. James says that the demons believe and tremble.

    So I guess I would have to come down somewhere between Brian and Patrick:
    1. Understanding the need.
    2. Believing that Jesus is the answer.
    3. Willingness to accept the cure He offers.

    Just a few thoughts to add to the discussion. But certainly not the last word.

  15. hey trey, wait a minute,

    what about “make disciples, then baptize them”

    before baptism, they should know enough to be a disciple, which of course, is more about heart and commitment than knowledge, but implies some knowledge

  16. thanks, Sarah for bring up counting the costs, we seldom teach that to our youngins or adults, for that matter,
    it’s “come be saved!”

  17. my other comment didn’t make it, I am going to pick on a preacher for “taking something out of context”

    in Matt 28, Jesus says, “make disciples, then baptize them, then teach”

    do we baptize disciples?? who is a disciple?

  18. I think we might be making a little too much of the word order in Matthew 28:19-20.

    Since it has been mentioned twice, let’s clarify that the word “then” is not there at all. If anything, it seems like the teaching and baptizing is all part of the process of making disciples.

    As far as the words go, in the Greek “make disciples” is the imperative verb. It is a command. “Baptize” and “teach” are both participles. More literally, it would read “Therefore, going (you) make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them…” It seems like the baptizing and teaching is describing in more detail how to make disciples. Obviously, the teaching never stops, or we would just take communion on Sunday and go home.

    Hopefully all of us will know much more 10 years after our conversion than on the day of it. Maybe the answer to the question is as simple as the confession that most give before the baptism.

  19. Hey Steve. For a humble farmer, you know how to ask a great question. And I am impressed by the passion and knowledge of your commenters.

    I would have to weigh in somewhere between Brian and Patrick. What do I need to know?
    1. That I have a problem.
    2. That Jesus is the answer.
    3. That I am willing to accept what He offers.

    The other part of your question is equally intriguing. Is it a matter of knowledge of emotion? Our heritage (Restoration Movement) has shown a definite lean toward intellect almost to the exclusion of emotion. In the past I have heard well meaning folk say, “We don’t want to just appeal to their emotions.” or “That was just meant to stir up an emotional response.” As if emotion has no place in our decision to follow Jesus.

    The Bible says faith that is “seen” is not faith anymore, it is sight (intellect). So if faith doesn’t reside in intellect, where does faith reside?

    It also says that merely accepting the truth (an action of intellect) that Jesus is the Son of God is not enough (the demons do that – James 2).

    Following Jesus is surely an intelligent decision, but equally, maybe more importantly, it is an act of will – desire – emotion.

    Not the last word. . .just a few thoughts to add to the discussion.

  20. When people are mentally handicap
    (there are so many levels of this)
    how do we know when they are lost and when are they safe ,if this all they need to know .
    that they can know that christ died for them,
    but do not have the ability to learn more ?
    do we baptizm them with the knowledge they
    may not be able to understand the lifetime walk.
    this weigh heavy on my heart .but know Christ will work it out.

  21. Absolutely fabulous! So many of you bring up some awesome thoughts. I will now prepare round 2 as we move through this discussion. Let’s keep it up.

  22. Jim…
    Did you receive my quirry on your article, ‘Where Is Heaven’? I ministered to your son when he was in San Angelo, Texas. I spoke to you when you were in Midland, Tex. for a ‘Streams in the Dessert’ retreat. Let me know if you got this message.

    –Miguel Zúñiga
    Laredo church of Christ
    Laredo, Texas

  23. Jim…
    Did you receive my query on your article, ‘Where Is Heaven’? I ministered to your son when he was in San Angelo, Texas. I spoke to you when you were in Midland, Tex. for a ‘Streams in the Dessert’ retreat. Let me know if you got this message.

    –Miguel Zúñiga
    Laredo church of Christ
    Laredo, Texas

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