One of our readers asks: "If, as a child, you were baptized, but your parents are unbelievers, should you get baptized again when you are converted?"
Very simply, our answer is, "No." We do not believe in rebaptism, not even of converts from Romanism, though we know there are many who would differ from us at this point.
At the time of the Protestant Reformation, there were those who believed in rebaptism not only of converts from Rome, but also of those who had been baptized as infants, whether in Romish churches or Protestant churches. Because they believed in rebaptism, they were called "Anabaptists."
Generally speaking, the Protestant Reformers did not believe in rebaptism, and we agree with them. There is good reason, we think, for their disinclination to rebaptise anyone.
We would add, however, that when people come from apostate Protestant churches and especially when they come from Rome, the temptation to rebaptise them is very great in light of Rome's gross errors and the equally great errors of apostate Protestantism. Nevertheless, we still think it better not to rebaptise, and would ordinarily rebaptise no one.
First, and most importantly, we must remember that baptism is a sign of entering the covenant of God and so also of entering salvation by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ. Baptism pictures how this happens through the washing away of our sins.
Those who believe in salvation by grace alone, i.e., the Protestant Reformers and those who follow their teaching, believe on the basis of Scripture that a person can only be saved once. Only once, and that by God's sovereign grace, can anyone enter salvation and the covenant of God, and that salvation can never again be lost (Jn. 10:28, 29; I Pet. 1:3-5). For this reason especially we would not want to see the sign of salvation applied to a person more than once, even if it had previously been applied by a godless apostate.
That brings us to the second point, that the profit of being baptised, insofar as it is of any profit to the person baptised, does not depend on the person who administers the baptism. No matter who he is or may have been, the application of the water pictures the washing away of sins by Christ's precious blood and remains such a testimony to the person baptised.
Indeed, it is not at all unfitting, in light of God's sovereign purpose and the atoning work of Christ, for someone who has been baptised many years before his actual conversion and that by means of unbelieving parents and ministers, now to remember that already then the blood of Christ, pictured in the water of baptism had been shed for him. Nor, it seems to us, is there any need to be rebaptised if that is true.
What is more, and finally, we are convinced that the insistence on rebaptism puts far too much emphasis on what is, after all, only an outward sign and seal of salvation. The strong emphasis on rebaptism suggests that baptism is after all viewed by some (though very superstitiously) as having some saving power in itself. For this reason, too, we would, all other things being equal, not want Christians to be rebaptised no matter when and how they had previously been baptised.
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 13
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address317 North Park St.
State or ProvinceWA