Dear Friends,

How is it that some “Bible-believing” Christians believe the Bible allows the baptism of infants? This is my second blog on this question. Today I will focus on where Anglicanism (and Presbyterians) agree with Baptists and Pentecostals.

First, we agree that baptism was instituted (or commanded) by Jesus Himself for His church. Even though there is only one text that records this in the Gospels, all Christians agree that Jesus wanted His disciples to baptize. “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 18-20 – Jesus is the one speaking.)

Second, we agree that baptism does not “save”. Putting this in a more technical way, Baptists and Anglicans do not believe in “baptismal regeneration.” This is the idea that baptism makes a person “born again” or regenerated. Now, I need to pause here to explain what I mean by “Anglicans believe”. In fact, many Anglicans in Canada would be very surprised to hear that Anglicans do not believe in baptismal regeneration. Many Canadian Anglicans do believe that baptism “saves” a person, or “means they will go to Heaven”. In a sociological sense, then, it is probably fairer to say that in Canada, most Anglicans believe in baptismal regeneration – including most clergy and bishops. However, I am using “Anglican” in the sense of its formal, historic doctrines/ideas. At the level of Anglican formularies, “what Anglicans, especially its clergy and bishops, are supposed to believe”, it is clear that we are supposed to believe that we are saved by God’s grace, received by faith in Jesus Christ and not by baptism. Please note that in all of my blogs on baptism I am referring to official Anglican formularies, not sociological Anglicanism in Canada.

So, Anglicans and Baptists agree that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, not by works and not by baptism. What else do we agree on? One more matter for now. We agree that Christ’s “ordinances” or “sacraments”, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, do not work “automatically”, but that a person’s faith matters. This is another way of talking about the second point. The water of baptism does not create or impart or cause or force salvation. In the same way, being in a communion service and partaking of the bread and wine does not create or impart or cause or force some positive change from God in the one partaking. My faith and repentance matters in receiving from God.

We do agree that the baptism of Jesus is different from the baptism of John the Baptist – but this is going to require another blog.

Please pray for me. Please send me your comments and questions at george@messiahchurch.ca

George +