Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In Defense of Trinitarian Baptism: Part 1

Recently, Steve Welborn, a Protestant from a "Pentecostal / Assembly of God" -type church in Indiana wrote a 3-part rebuttal to my post on Baptism in the name of Jesus (see his words in the Comments section). I would like to respond to his rebuttal.

As I understand it, Steve is actually making two arguments:
  1. Authentic baptism is in Jesus' name, not in the Trinitarian formula
  2. You know someone has been authentically baptized b/c they speak in tongues afterwards (I'm assuming he believes this should happen immediately, until he says otherwise)
I've been in conversations with Christians like this before, but I don't think any of it has ever made it on my blog. It's been a while since I've been in a debate of any kind, so this should be fun. His words will be italicized and indented.

There are a few things I would like to address in this blog post that I find misguided.

You quote just Matthew 28:18-20 as the only book that speaks of the Great Commission. I find that this is the most over used Scripture in not only defending a trinity, but also on how to baptize someone.
Well, in all fairness, I didn't say it was the only book that contained the Great Commission. I simply cited Matthew's gospel as a place where you can find Jesus' final words to His apostles. I have no doubt that similar exchanges take place in the other Synoptic Gospels.

You are correct in saying that the Apostles baptized in the Name of Jesus. Notice too that everyone that was baptized this way received the Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in tongues (John 3:5).
Everyone did? I don't see how that follows. When the 3,000 from Acts 2 were baptized (cf. vs. 37-41), there's no mention of them speaking in tongues. Yes, Peter said they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38), but it's a great leap to assume that he's referring to the charism of speaking in tongues. When the people of Samaria were baptized by Philip, there's no mention of them speaking in tongues (cf. Acts 8:12). When the eunuch was baptized by Philip, no tongues then either (cf. Acts 8:38). When Saul was baptized, no tongues (cf. Acts 9:18; 22:16). When Lydia and her household were baptized, no tongues (cf. Acts 16:14-15). When the jailer and his household were baptized, no tongues (cf. Acts 16:33). When the Corinthians were baptized, no tongues (cf. Acts 18:8). I'm starting to see a trend!

Even when speaking in tongues does appear in the vicinity of baptism it does not prove your point. In Acts 10:44-48, Cornelius and the Gentiles with him began speaking in tongues before they were baptized, as a way of confirming Peter's message that salvation was as much for the Gentiles as it was for the Jews. In Acts 19:5-6, the disciples in Ephesus began speaking in tongues when Paul laid his hands on them (what Catholics would call their Confirmation), not when they were baptized.

The reason I'm pointing this out is because Christians like Steve are fond of saying that a person's baptism is ineffective if it is not accompanied by speaking in tongues, or a person is not saved until he speaks in tongues. But, "Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" (1 Cor 12:30). Obviously not. Why then must every Christian speak in tongues before their baptism, or their salvation, or their faith can be considered genuine? This requirement of yours is man-made and anti-scriptural.

What I don't understand is why someone would desire to get baptized in a way that was never done in Scriptures? You do realize that not one single person in Scripture were ever baptized in the Titles right? No one. So why do it?
How about because Jesus said so? Seems like a good enough reason to me. At any rate, in Acts, where we see people being baptized, there is no record of the formula that was used. Instead, we only see the type of baptism that was being administered. The only safe assumption is that the Apostles would have went out and did what Jesus told them to do.

You are right in saying the Apostles were not disobedient when they baptized that way.
I never said they used the Jesus-only formula when they baptized, nor did I say that such action would be okay. Instead, I said that it is nonsensical to assume that they baptized in any other way than in the Trinitarian formula that Jesus instructed them to use.

However, those that baptize in the titles ARE being disobedient. Here is why

We know that there are TWO other accounts in Scripture of the Great Commission, lets see what they say:

turn to Mark 16:15-17

15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;"

We see here that Jesus told the Apostles to preach the Gospel to every Creature. To those that believe, are to be baptized.

To those that are baptized here are the signs that will follow those - They shall cast out devils, in MY Name (whos Name? Jesus). They will speak in new tongues - Now this doesn't mean I'll be speaking German after baptism - For God said that He will speak to His people with stammering lips and a new language (Read 1 Corinthians 14 on this).

So we know we are going to be doing things in His Name, who is Jesus.
First of all, if Jesus tells the Apostles to go out and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and then the apostles go out and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I really don't see how in the world that can be considered disobedient.

Secondly, all Mark is saying here is that believers will speak in tongues. He's not saying that this gift will be received immediately upon their baptism. He's also not saying that all believers will speak in tongues. He's simply saying that the people who evidence this charism will be believers. If I say, "Girls will play with dolls" does that mean that all girls will play with dolls? Of course not. It just means that the ones you find playing with dolls will be girls. As we have already seen, Paul refutes any notion that every Christian will or should speak in tongues.

Finally, no formula for baptism is actually given here. They will cast out devils in His name, but there's no mention of how baptism should be done.

Lets look at Luke 24:45-49

45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

The first thing Jesus did before giving the Apostles direction was open their understanding. Upon opening their understanding they KNEW not only everything Jesus had said and taught them - but also WHO Jesus was.

Jesus said in 47 repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

What I am trying to point out is that upon their understanding being opened they knew who Jesus was - Matthew knew who Jesus was and that is why He wrote it the way He did. Jesus is the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit - He is the Fullness of the Godhead bodily. Matthew knew this, which is why it says Name and not plural for Names.
Now you've completely gone off the reservation. Jesus is the Father? Jesus is the Holy Spirit? Yes, the apostles knew who Jesus was ... but you don't seem to know him at all! I see now that the only way you can reconcile Mt 28:19 with your preferred practice is to completely confuse the inner-life of God, to destroy the distinction in Personality that exists within God. Yet, the bible is clear that such a distinction exists. How can Jesus send the Holy Spirit if he IS the Holy Spirit? How can the Father send the Son into the world if the Son IS the Father? Absolutely none of the Biblical data about who God is makes any sense once you blur these distinctions. I'm afraid your problems go much deeper than the formula for baptism!

Matthew 28, Mark 16 and Luke 24 all say the same thing; That we are to do all these things in HIS Name - which is Jesus.
Instead of destroying the inner-life of God, there really is a much simpler way to reconcile all of this. Baptism with the Trinitarian formula is in the name of Jesus insofar as it is in or by His power that anyone baptizes. That's what it means to do something "in the name of" Jesus: You're doing it in or by the authority and power you have received from Him.

Catholics believe that when a person is baptized, it is actually Christ who is doing the baptizing. He is the great High Priest and celebrant of all the sacraments of the Church. The priest (or in times of urgency, the lay person) is acting in persona Christi ("in the person of Christ"), as if Christ Himself was there, in that moment, pouring water on the sinner's head. In this light, the Catholic baptism is very much "in the name of Jesus Christ" (2:38; 10:48) and “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (8:16; 19:5) even though it is performed using the Trinitarian formula.

From here, you may proceed to Part 2 of the debate.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

9 comments:

Philip Jude said...

Your patience is impressive. This sort of yokel Christianity gets my dander up faster than you can say Jerry Falwell, God forgive me.

Philip Jude said...

Whenever I meet a unitarian, I ask him if he has read De Trinitate, or the various works of the Cappadocians.

No? End of conversation. If he hasn't done his homework, there's no point: he isn't serious.

Yes? If he's too dense to be enlightened by the likes of Basil and Augustine, I'm certainly of no use.

This matter is settled. It was settled more than a thousand years ago. The Council of Nicaea is not overthrown by the pastor of New Life Community Church in Peoria, USA.

Rick DeLano said...

It its always a great pleasure to watch a truly Catholic response to heresy.

Bravo.

I look forward with interest to Part 2......

Anonymous said...

Since I don't have the luxury of creating a blog for each response like you did. You are just going to have to sift through my lengthy response to talk about your rebuttals. For the future record, making a blog for each one is very time consuming and since they are all of the same topic, makes no sense.

So first I want to set the record straight on the first sentence you posted here:

Yes my name is Steve Welborn, a very well catechized ex-Catholic that use to be a Church Militant for the church. I was widely known here on PhatMass as well.

No I am not a part of the Assembly of God, mainly because they are trinitarian.

Yes, I follow the Apostles and everything they did and believe everything they did.

No, I am not a Protestant, we did not break off from the Roman Catholic Church nor carry over ANY of their teachings they created. Protestants are those that broke away from the main church and believe the same foundation that the catholic church believes. I do not share in that argument.

I believe in Acts 2:38 as being the path of Salvation and fulfills Matthew 28:19 and that Jesus never intended on anyone baptizing any other way than what the Apostles did it. He was clear on what He wanted done and the Apostles were obedient to follow Him. Just as we are to be. If the Apostles did, we do it. If you say something is suppose to happen contrary to what the Apostles did - then you are going against the men who knew Jesus more than you.

Now to get with what you said about my rebuttal.

1)Yes everyone spoke in tongues when they received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. No not everyone received the Holy Spirit immediately after getting baptized, that is also shown in Scriptures. But what you DO see is that EVERYONE that got the Holy Spirit spoke in tongues.

So the point I was making was that everyone in Scripture was baptized in the Name of Jesus. NEVER in the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit..not one..

What you are also not seeing is that every-time someone RECEIVED the Holy Spirit - they spoke in tongues..how else would they know they received Him?

This is clearly demonstrated in many places in Scripture but to note one place lets go to Acts 10:44-48 - 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

What did Peter say next?

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

So what happened after they HEARD them receive the Holy Ghost?

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.



You see this is the common theme the Apostles followed. Starting in Jerusalem in Acts 2. This is how every Church started that was found in the Holy Scriptures.

So the point I want to take home is:
1) Every one that was baptized was baptized in Jesus' Name (according to Acts 2:38) You cannot show me one person that was baptized differently in Scriptures.

2) Every person in Scriptures that received the Holy Ghost spoke in tongues. Doesn't matter if it came before or after baptism, but everytime they said someone got the Holy Ghost - they spoke in tongues. Scriptural fact.

3) Not one person was baptized according to Matthew 28:19.

Again, you want to put the baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost in the same context and they are not. Jesus said that we must be born of Water AND Spirit in order to even see the Kingdom of Heaven. But Scriptures clearly show us that you can get the Holy Spirit before baptism. But Scriptures also demonstrate to us that you cannot get the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues.

BUT what happens after they get the Holy Spirit? They are COMMANDED to be baptized in the Name of Jesus.

Anonymous said...

continued
The reason I'm pointing this out is because Christians like Steve are fond of saying that a person's baptism is ineffective if it is not accompanied by speaking in tongues, or a person is not saved until he speaks in tongues. But, "Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" (1 Cor 12:30). Obviously not. Why then must every Christian speak in tongues before their baptism, or their salvation, or their faith can be considered genuine? This requirement of yours is man-made and anti-scriptural.

Please don't talk out the side of your mouth brother. You clearly do not understand the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or how it feels to have it. I never said this nor do you have your facts straight on what I believe.

1)Baptism, if done according to Scriptures (Acts 2:38) is NEVER ineffective. Nor is baptism having anything to do with speaking in tongues. They have nothing to do with one another.

Jesus said that we need both Water AND Spirit to be saved. Water is the baptism part, Spirit is being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Which is what Peter said would happen - that after Repenting of our sins and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, we SHALL receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

At the time the Holy Spirit ascends upon the person, the soul reacts to it. God said that He will speak to His people in an unknown tongue and with stammering lips. When the Spirit ascends upon the person, baptizing them in His Spirit, you speak in tongues - not EARTHLY tongues, but a Heavenly language that is between you and God.

To make clear my point, speaking in tongues has nothing to do with Baptism. You need both the Water and the Spirit to be born again and saved.

Your argument on Paul saying 'Do all speak in tongues?' is weak because 1 Corinthians is talking about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, not the initial tongues that a person speaks as a mere Evidence that they received the Holy Ghost.

A great example of how important it is to be baptized in the Name of Jesus as opposed to any other way - See Acts 19: Paul found others that were baptized differently (in this case mere repentance by John). I'll let you read Verse 4-6.

Again, my belief in speaking in tongues as a sign that you received the Holy Spirit is clearly in Scriptures.

Anonymous said...

continued

How about because Jesus said so? Seems like a good enough reason to me. At any rate, in Acts, where we see people being baptized, there is no record of the formula that was used. Instead, we only see the type of baptism that was being administered. The only safe assumption is that the Apostles would have went out and did what Jesus told them to do.

Because Jesus said so? That is your rebuttal to why you would do something that Scriptures does differently?

How about this for what Jesus said of the Apostles: Luke 10:16 "He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me"

So what is this saying? We are to listen to the Apostles because this is who Jesus chosen to go out and preach to us Salvation.

So if you had your way the Apostles would be disobedient because not one single one of them baptized according to Matthew 28:19..show me one time it was done.

How about Acts 2:38 as a good reason because Peter (ahem, your first pope) clearly instructed everyone that this is how it is suppose to be. Matthew was present, He didn't seem to have a problem with it.

The only safe assumption..
Why are you continuing to assume!? You don't have to assume that the Apostles would have went out and did what Jesus told them to do. This is what the book of Acts is all about, which is why its called 'The Acts of the Apostles'. Why assume, if the Apostles did it in Acts then the 'only safe to assumption is that the Apostles' did it exactly how Jesus told them - which is found in the Book of Acts.

I never said they used the Jesus-only formula when they baptized, nor did I say that such action would be okay. Instead, I said that it is nonsensical to assume that they baptized in any other way than in the Trinitarian formula that Jesus instructed them to use.

No, what is nonsensical is continuing to believe they used the trinitarian formula to baptize when at least 5 places in Scriptures clearly, clearly say demonstrate otherwise. Do you not know that when they say 'Lord' in Acts they are referring to Jesus, when they say 'In the Name of the Lord' they are referring to Jesus. Not the trinitarian formula.

Why would you say they didn't use the Jesus Only formula? All one has to do is read and they can see it clearly.

First of all, if Jesus tells the Apostles to go out and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and then the apostles go out and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I really don't see how in the world that can be considered disobedient.

Had the Apostles actually went out and baptized this way, there would be no argument at all. But the mere fact that they DID go out and baptized in the Name of Jesus INSTEAD of Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit should make one question whether the Apostles were disobedient, which they were NOT. Or that one verse of Scripture is being taken out of context and it means something the RCC says it's not. I explained the real meaning to Matthew 28:19 which you never really rebutted but went back into taking about tongues

Anonymous said...

continued

Secondly, all Mark is saying here is that believers will speak in tongues. He's not saying that this gift will be received immediately upon their baptism. He's also not saying that all believers will speak in tongues. He's simply saying that the people who evidence this charism will be believers. If I say, "Girls will play with dolls" does that mean that all girls will play with dolls? Of course not. It just means that the ones you find playing with dolls will be girls. As we have already seen, Paul refutes any notion that every Christian will or should speak in tongues.

Secondly, you missed the point again.My point is there is no mention, absolutely NO mention of Father, Son and Holy Spirit here. Its just Jesus. This is suppose to be the exactly same account called the Great Commission where Jesus supposidly told the Apostles to go do things in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit..but funny how no other book mentions these 3 things - just one and that is Jesus. THIS is my point.

Tongues, you want to talk about Tongues..You are mixing the Spiritual Gift of Tongues to the initial evidence of tongues when you say 'Hes also not saying ALL believers will speak in tongues' - not all believers will have the Spiritual Gift of Tongues, which is how God speaks to us by way of Interpretation. But ALL WILL speak in tongues as an initial sign they have just received the Holy Spirit. Which I clearly demonstrated above using Scriptures.

Anonymous said...

continued

Now you've completely gone off the reservation. Jesus is the Father? Jesus is the Holy Spirit? Yes, the apostles knew who Jesus was ... but you don't seem to know him at all! I see now that the only way you can reconcile Mt 28:19 with your preferred practice is to completely confuse the inner-life of God, to destroy the distinction in Personality that exists within God. Yet, the bible is clear that such a distinction exists. How can Jesus send the Holy Spirit if he IS the Holy Spirit? How can the Father send the Son into the world if the Son IS the Father? Absolutely none of the Biblical data about who God is makes any sense once you blur these distinctions. I'm afraid your problems go much deeper than the formula for baptism!


I beg to differ, I'm not the one who thinks Jesus is a second person of God, equal to God and co-Eternal to the Father. You might want to read 1 Corinthians 15 where it states that in the End Jesus will move to the side and be SUBJECT unto the Father also, so that God may be all in all..He isn't co-equal or eternal. I know who Jesus is, and I know who the Father is. There is only 1 God where there is not other God next to Him or Above Him.

Trinity is a false lie and was forewarned to us by Paul in His letter to the Churches. I understand your blindness brother. I was like this for over 10 years as I defended the teachings.

The bible is clear in the distinctions alright, but not in making Jesus equal to God. Jesus is the Son of God, Scriptures never say 'God the Son' nor even hint to it.

The Bible is clear who the Messiah really is and what His purpose is. Read Isa 53:4-12 with emphasis on 12. Isaiah is clearly speaking of Jesus as he see's the things to come. Verse 12 tells us that God "will divide him (Jesus) a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors"

Jesus, when all things are laid under his feet by God; Death being the last thing, will move to the side. No longer by our intercessor and he will also be subject unto God like we will be. So that God can be all in all. Jesus is not co-eternal to God nor does Scriptures ever say he is.

Could even read 1 Timothy 3:16 - '16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.'

How did God manifest Himself into flesh? Read Acts 10:38 "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."

You need to know who Jesus is before you and all the other trinity believing people end up a Goat.

From here I will refer to Part 2

Anonymous said...

continued

Before moving to the next steps, since I covered a lot of what was in the next steps here. Let me answer one question you posted in the other steps.

One, Paul did baptize in the Name of Jesus. Acts 19 clearly shows Paul coming up to other believers that were baptized differently. He said they MUST be baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus.

And what do you know, Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

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