For the record, I believe that the Bible teaches the following about baptism, as experienced in the first century:
- It is by immersion. No serious Bible scholar believes otherwise.
- It is of a believer. Infants were not immersed in the early church.
- It is for the remission of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
- It is the time and place where we die, are buried, and raised to new life in Christ (Romans 6:1-8)
- When we are baptized, we are clothed with Christ, and identified with His body, the church. (Galatians 3:27ff)
- It is the point at which we are saved. (1 Peter 3:21)
I even get that some people, having experienced four years of a Christian college education at a "Restoration Movement" institution of higher learning will disagree with that position. Our best schools have never turned out mind-numbed Christians cut with an Alexander Campbell shaped cookie cutter.
What I don't get, though, is how a graduate from one of "our" colleges can write to me, as one recently did when applying for the youth ministry position at our church:
I am unfamiliar with the Independent Christian Church. I will have to do some research. Obviously, I didn't learn anything about it at [Nameless West Coast Christian College]. With all the different denominations represented there, I figured the school was non-denominational.Okaaaay. He was concerned about our church's view of baptism. I told him, essentially, what I wrote above. His response:
Thank you for taking the time to share with me a little bit about your church. However, I will respectfully withdraw my resume from consideration for your youth ministry position. Although I do respect your belief about baptism, I believe the way forward for the future of the Church is to side step dogmatic theology and make room for everyone who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior of the world in spite of our theological differences as long as they maintain the basic tenants of the historical faith.Again, I understand that we might disagree. What I cannot fathom, though, is how this young man could graduate from [Nameless West Coast Christian College] and not understand that, for Independent Christian Churches, "the way forward" is all about finding the way back to our New Testament roots.
I am thankful that a person cannot matriculate from my alma mater without understanding this concept. Do my fellow alums always agree with it? No. But they do learn it and understand it. I realize that this young man does not represent the majority of Independent Christian Church college graduates. Perhaps he doesn't even represent his own alma mater fairly. But if he does, if I'm wrong and today's graduates believe that baptism is just another dogmatic doctrine to be side-stepped on the road to an I'd-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-in-perfect-harmony sort of theology, in the words of one old professor of mine, "I fear for the brotherhood."