Are there any Baptists around?

Actually anyone may reply but I have a question for Baptists or others who do not believe in baptismal regeneration. How do you interpret verses of bible such as those below?

Thanks,
Annie

In Acts 2, when St. Peter is preaching at Pentecost, his hearers ask what they must do to be saved, and he replies, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Acts 22:16And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

Annie39, you’re not getting many responses because evangelicals don’t dwell on these verses very much. Indeed most evangelicals have never even considered their implications. However, for those who have tried to explain Acts 2:38, the two most popular theories go like this:

  1. One acceptable option is to take the Greek preposition eis and translate it “because of” or “on the basis of” rather than using its traditional meaning, which is “for”. Thus we could paraphrase this view as follows. “Repent and you will receive the gift of the Spirit. Be baptized because your sins are forgiven.”

  2. Other interpreters emphasize the correspondence between the number (singular and plural) of the verbs and pronouns in the two parts of the sentence. “Repent” is plural as is “your.” “Be baptized” and “you” (in “each of you”) are singular. According to this view Peter was saying, “You all repent for the purpose of the forgiveness of your sins, and you all will receive the Spirit.” Then he added parenthetically, “And each of you be baptized as a testimony to your faith.”

This is taken from notes by Dr. Thomas Constable of Dallas Theological Seminary. As you can see getting away from the plain meaning of this verse requires major linguistic gymnastics.

Thank you Zenas. Apparently they ignore “wash away your sins” correct? I’d sure like to meet this Thomas Constable so he could tell me this face to face.
BTW May I invite you to come home to the Catholic Church she is waiting for you.

Annie

Well, they don’t skip it if it happens to be part to the text they are reading at a particular time. Again, however, your average evangelical would not give it any thought and if they did it would be regarded as a euphemism.

Here is what Dr. Constable says about washing away your sins:

Verse 16 has been a problem to some readers of Acts because one might understand it to say that water baptism washes away sins. The writers of Scripture present water baptism elsewhere not as the agent of spiritual cleansing but as the illustration of spiritual cleansing that has already taken place (1 Cor. 6:11; 1 Pet. 3:21). The agent of spiritual cleansing is faith in Christ. Paul referred to faith in this verse as “calling on His name” (cf. Joel 2:32). Paul evidently experienced regeneration on the Damascus road; he believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the divine Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. He experienced baptism in water after he called on the Lord for salvation. The Lord washed Paul’s sins away when he called on the Lord. Then Paul arose and received baptism.

And here is what the Zondervan NASB Study Bible says about Acts 22:16:

Baptism is the outward sign of an inward work of grace. The reality and the symbol are closely associated in the NT (see Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:21). The outward rite, however, does not produce the inward grace.

This is very helpful Zenas:

Me: I looked up the passages that you gave from Dr. Constable. I will try to get to those from the study bible when I have more time. I have some comments on my research below:

The passages: 1 Cor. 6:11 But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

1 Pet….of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ

Dr Constable says The writers of Scripture present water baptism elsewhere not as the agent of spiritual cleansing but as the illustration of spiritual cleansing that has already taken place
Me: I cannot for the life of me figure out how he can really think that baptism is not an agent of spiritual cleansing based on these scriptures. I’m flummoxed

Dr Constable uses: Joel2:32 And it shall come to pass, that every one that shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved: for in Mount Sion, and in Jerusalem shall be salvation, as the Lord hath said, and in the residue whom the Lord shall call.

Me: Also in the NT it says “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead you will be saved”

But in Matt. 7:21 we read "Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

There is more to it and a whole lot of work to be done according the bible such as feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and so on.
I appreciate the time you have taken with this subject,

Annie

I think that’s a fairly debatable generalization on your part. One wonders what position you are in to speak for “most evangelicals.” That said, I fully grant you that there are far too many people who self-identify as Evangelicals who are woefully ignorant of the Bible in general and the doctrine of baptism in particular. So I won’t quibble too much more with your point here…

However, for those who have tried to explain Acts 2:38, the two most popular theories go like this: 1. One acceptable option is to take the Greek preposition eis and translate it “because of” or “on the basis of” rather than using its traditional meaning, which is “for”. Thus we could paraphrase this view as follows. “Repent and you will receive the gift of the Spirit. Be baptized because your sins are forgiven.”

Yes, but…The problem isn’t that “for” is the traditional transalation of eis; rather it is the problem that the word “for” in English presents to the reader since “for” has such a wide range of meanings in English. Consider the following sentences.

  1. We baptize children for the forgiveness of sins.
  2. We punish children for their disobedience.
  3. We praise children for their achievements.

There is a tendency for those who hold to baptismal regeneration to assume in #1 that baptism is the cause of, or means to, the forgiveness of sins. But how many of us would want to argue that we punish in order that children might become more disobedient or that our praise is the cause, rather than the result of our children’s achievements?

One cannot simply assume that “for the forgiveness of sins” has the causal meaning; rather one has to argue this. How would a defender of baptismal generation go about doing this? I would argue that you need far more to go on than just a possible meaning of eis, since it too has a range of possible meanings. Those wishing to defend baptismal regeneration on the basis of Acts 2:37-39 need to show why both the immediate and wider context favor a rendering of eis that is causal in meaning. I just haven’t seen an argument to that effect.

  1. Other interpreters emphasize the correspondence between the number (singular and plural) of the verbs and pronouns in the two parts of the sentence. “Repent” is plural as is “your.” “Be baptized” and “you” (in “each of you”) are singular. According to this view Peter was saying, “You all repent for the purpose of the forgiveness of your sins, and you all will receive the Spirit.” Then he added parenthetically, “And each of you be baptized as a testimony to your faith.”

The gospel message can be summarized as “Repent and believe.” This is a command given to all of humanity. Anyone who responds positively to this message will find Jesus Christ to be a perfect savior. But man will only respond to this message as his nature permits. Fallen, unregenerate man, cannot, by an act of the will, turn himself toward God. In fact, man in his fallen state is at enmity with God and will always turn away from God. But when we find people asking us, “What should we do?” as in this passage, then we know the Holy Spirit is at work among them. If someone responds positively to a presentation of the gospel, then repentance and faith will result because that person has already been brought back to spiritual life so that he/she can respond. Once we see evidence of repentance and faith, then baptism is the appropriate response.

As you can see getting away from the plain meaning of this verse requires major linguistic gymnastics.

But surely you’re begging the question here. For the “plain meaning” is precisely the question at hand.

And here is the rub I think:
Fallen, unregenerate man, cannot, by an act of the will, turn himself toward God. In fact, man in his fallen state is at enmity with God and will always turn away from God. But when we find people asking us, “What should we do?” as in this passage, then we know the Holy Spirit is at work among them.
So far, correct as I understand Catholic Theology. When the Holy Spirit is working in unregenerate man He gives us what is called Actual Grace not Sanctifying Grace.
You write: If someone responds positively to a presentation of the gospel, then repentance and faith will result because that person has already been brought back to spiritual life so that he/she can respond. Once we see evidence of and faith, then baptism is the appropriate response.
Me: But the Reformed folks take our Bible and reinterpret it to say that which it did not mean. One responds to Actual Grace it is a gift of God sure enough and without Actual Grace we simply cannot respond, but one must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. It says so in our Bible. Reformed interpretation is simply put, wrong.
Annie

Help me understand what your position is. You belive that the baptism is what saves a person?

1 Pet. 21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Perhaps it is a debatable generalization and I would not pretend to speak for any group that large. I’m just relating what I have observed as a Southern Baptist for 66 years, a Sunday School teacher for 26 years, and a deacon for 24 years. Also I regularly listen to preachers like Charles Stanley, Alistair Begg, Chuck Swindoll and Ravi Zacharias on our local Christian radio station. And I can tell you that I have never heard a sermon or read a Sunday School lesson that focused on scripture that points to baptismal regeneration. I don’t think most evangelicals are ignorant of scripture. However, for the most part they are rather clueless on matters of doctrine.

Yes, but…The problem isn’t that “for” is the traditional transalation of eis; rather it is the problem that the word “for” in English presents to the reader since “for” has such a wide range of meanings in English. Consider the following sentences.

  1. We baptize children for the forgiveness of sins.
  2. We punish children for their disobedience.
  3. We praise children for their achievements.

There is a tendency for those who hold to baptismal regeneration to assume in #1 that baptism is the cause of, or means to, the forgiveness of sins. But how many of us would want to argue that we punish in order that children might become more disobedient or that our praise is the cause, rather than the result of our children’s achievements?

One cannot simply assume that “for the forgiveness of sins” has the causal meaning; rather one has to argue this. How would a defender of baptismal generation go about doing this? I would argue that you need far more to go on than just a possible meaning of eis, since it too has a range of possible meanings. Those wishing to defend baptismal regeneration on the basis of Acts 2:37-39 need to show why both the immediate and wider context favor a rendering of eis that is causal in meaning. I just haven’t seen an argument to that effect.

Yet it would seem that all English translations present this verse with a cause and effect relationship between baptism and remission of sins. If the Greek manuscripts were ambiguous, wouldn’t at least some of the translators go with language that did not show cause and effect?

The gospel message can be summarized as “Repent and believe.” This is a command given to all of humanity. Anyone who responds positively to this message will find Jesus Christ to be a perfect savior. But man will only respond to this message as his nature permits. Fallen, unregenerate man, cannot, by an act of the will, turn himself toward God. In fact, man in his fallen state is at enmity with God and will always turn away from God. But when we find people asking us, “What should we do?” as in this passage, then we know the Holy Spirit is at work among them. If someone responds positively to a presentation of the gospel, then repentance and faith will result because that person has already been brought back to spiritual life so that he/she can respond. Once we see evidence of repentance and faith, then baptism is the appropriate response.

Sorry, I can’t go down that path. The gospel message is to all persons everywhere and it is God’s will that all would respond. The Holy Spirit can convict but He cannot compel, at least He does not compel. Whether to follow Christ is a choice made by us exercising our own free will.

But surely you’re begging the question here. For the “plain meaning” is precisely the question at hand.

No one can consider Acts 2:38 or 22:16 and give it any meaning other than baptismal regeneration—unless one already has a preconceived belief that baptismal regeneration is untrue. Like I said, the English translators have been rather uniform in their work here. A common problem of exegesis is to look at something in scripture and say, “That can’t mean what it seems to say because we know it is not true.” Then we go looking for ways to make it say something else. Perhaps before we go looking for alternative meanings we ought to consider the possibliity that the plain meaning is the real meaning.

Okay, I get you now. I had to read a bit to catch it. You should include a chapter when you cite the Bible.

And include Ro 6:3-7 and Ga 3:27 when you’re speaking about baptism. It sounded like you were talking about the ceremony providing salvation.

God bless!

I don’t know what the question was asked the way it was but I feel compelled to explain the Catholic position on baptism and salvation just for clarity.

We believe that you are saved by grace through faith when you are baptized. Baptism is a covenantial sacrament, where we agree to do God’s will going forward in exchange for God’s forgiveness of our past sins, he grace to do the God works in which we call him and our entrance into the Holy Catholic Church, which teaches the truth about salvation and administers the grace giving sacraments. You do not need to do good works to be baptized, it is a gift freely given to those that desire it. Because we are physical beings, we need to take the physical step of baptism to demonstrate that desire to enter the church in a real way.

Baptism does not guarantee that we will go to heaven, however. We must be in the state of grace at death to enter heaven, which we maintain by doing God’s will for us - loving God and neighbor If we fall from grace through committing mortal sin after baptism we will be condemned to hell UNLESS we reconcile with God through the sacrament of reconciliation (also called confession or penance) and re-enter the state of grace.

It isn’t a mere ceremony. It is how one is regenerated. Please read Paul C’s post.

Annie

Not at all. The English translations simply use the word “for.” But what does “for” mean here? That is the question at hand. It seems to me that you are assuming/attributing to the translators a causal meaning for “for.” But as my illustrations were intended to demonstrate, “for,” isn’t always or even usually causal in meaning. Consider again:

The man is a member “for” life. (Here “for” has a temporal meaning.)
The man took the exam “for” his son. (Here “for” means “on behalf of.”)
The man is searching “for” meaning. (Here “for” indicates a purpose.)
The man is leaving “for” Florida. (Here “for” indicates a destination.)

Examples can be multiplied. So when we say, “baptism for the forgiveness of sins,” why do you and others assume the causal meaning such that baptism is the cause of the forgiveness of sins and not, say, the response to having been forgiven?

Sorry, I can’t go down that path. The gospel message is to all persons everywhere and it is God’s will that all would respond.

I agree that the gospel is to be preached to all. This is for two reasons. First, we don’t know who the elect are and so since anyone could potentially be among them we preach to all firm in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. Second, the gospel is not only salvation for the elect, but it is also judgment for the reprobate. The gospel message not only saves, it also hardens–both of which are what God wills to do in his sovereign freedom. Remember, God doesn’t owe mercy to anyone, but only judgment. That he shows mercy to anyone is what makes grace truly amazing.

The Holy Spirit can convict but He cannot compel, at least He does not compel.

Fascinating. This sounds like your tradition is getting in the way of your exegesis. The Holy Spirit can do whatever he wills to do. “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (Romans 9:18).

Whether to follow Christ is a choice made by us exercising our own free will.

Again, your tradition seems to be getting in the way of your exegesis. First, let me simply point out that you will never find the words “free will” in the Bible. Now, depending on what you mean by the those words, you might not even find the concept in the Bible either. So what is “free will?” If by that you mean that man is sovereign in his own salvation, that when push comes to shove it is finally man’s decision to save himself by choosing and/or cooperating with God, then you are gravely mistaken. Please read the gospel of John and prayerfully reconsider. I am confident that you will see that from start to finish it is God’s free decision to save man and that we can only choose God because he has first chosen us (cf, John 1:13; 15:16)

No one can consider Acts 2:38 or 22:16 and give it any meaning other than baptismal regeneration—unless one already has a preconceived belief that baptismal regeneration is untrue.

Quite the opposite, I’m afraid. Only by taking those two passages out of context, both immediate, and biblical can you possibly conclude that baptism is what causes our regeneration. Acts 10:44-48 shows us that people are regenerated before they are baptized. In other words, it is your tradition in favor of baptismal regeneration that is guiding your interpretation of those verses. (At least consider this as a possibility.)

Like I said, the English translators have been rather uniform in their work here.

Uniform in choosing the word “for” to translate eis. But you’re the one that is assuming “for” is causal, not the translators.

A common problem of exegesis is to look at something in scripture and say, “That can’t mean what it seems to say because we know it is not true.” Then we go looking for ways to make it say something else. Perhaps before we go looking for alternative meanings we ought to consider the possibliity that the plain meaning is the real meaning.

Well said. Consider that you may be the one with this problem.

Peace.

Miguel, I am simply asking this out of curiosity and for the sake of a better understanding of the reformed teaching that you’re representing. Although I do not place human sovereignty over God’s, it seems to me that the notion of a covenant (both the Old Covenant and the New) requires people to cooperate with God according to his plan of salvation for us. In a covenant, each person has a part to play for the sake of the covenantal agreement. In light of this, how would you define your above statement in terms of ones biblical understanding of a covenant?

Once again, I am just curious, so hopefully this won’t turn into another enormous debate between us. And because this thread concerns baptism (which many view as an integral part of the New Covenant) I think it would benefit the discussion having this aspect addressed a bit more.

Although I started this thread I’m bowing out now. Good luck in getting through to a Calvinist. Calvin was a lawyer remember, they can twist a clear passage into a pretzel. Remember “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” Me thinks Johnny may have studied Calvin.

Thanks for the laugh (regarding the Johnny Cochran reference).

Although I have engaged in doctrinal debates with Miguel on CAF a few times before (and a couple of these threads hit epic proportions) I am not really looking to get anything through to him in the current discussion. I am simply interested in (for the sake of curiosity and to better comprehend each side’s position) how the idea of covenant is defined and understood within the branch of reformed theology that he represents. Although, being a Catholic, I do not subscribe to some of Miguel’s understanding of doctrine, it has been my experience that he articulates and illustrates Protestant theology better than many others.

Zenas, in your experience, do Baptist and other Baptistic Evangelicals ever think twice about the preacher pulling out the Greek dictionary to expalin what the translators failed to convey? For instance, we could lay out 12 or 15 translations and all of them would be similar to the above. Does the congregant ever ask: “How come all of them got it wrong and pastor has to come to the rescue with his dictionary?”

I often wonder about that. My family has all de-poped for the mega church which is self described Baptistic. The various and sundry teachers and pastors often resort to what the word really means in “the Greek.” If I were to ask them to translate, from their knowledge of the Greek, a sentence like: “Fido took the keys from the round walnut table in the hall.” would they be completely flabbergasted or correctly translate it?

If one said: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you.” 1 Pt 3:21, what would the reaction be? I heard a pastor excitedly talk about upcoming mass baptisms who said: “I don’t know why I get so excited about Baptisms, it’s not like Baptism saves them.” To which I averred to a family member: “Well that’s not what the Bible says.” To which she replied: “You can’t base your religion on that.” OK, I guess, whatever floats your boat, but I wondered if that was a kind of standard answer or whether she was just caught without a thoughtful answer.

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