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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Excursus on Baptism Becomes Discursive

Anthony Lane, the British theologian and Calvin scholar, makes the point I made in my previous excursus on baptism with greater authority and sophistication when he writes [in Baptism: Three Views, ed. David F. Wright (Downer's Grove: IVP Academic, 2009)126-127]:

"The instrumental role of baptism in receiving salvation ought not to need stating, but this aspect of New Testament teaching has been so widely suppressed in most (not all) evangelical teaching that it is worth quoting some passages in full. These all portray baptism, not as a symbol pointing to something but as having a role in the reception of salvation---not of course in opposition to faith, but together with it.

And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38).

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name. (Acts 22:16).

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom.6:4)

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Gal.3:26-27)

Having been buried with [Christ] in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Col.2:12)

Baptism . . . now saves you. (1 Pet.3:21)

All of these passages portray baptism as (not in isolation but together with faith) the means by which we receive the gift of salvation, including forgiveness, union with Christ and the Holy Spirit . . . the New Testament writers were not embarrassed to attribute salvation to baptism as well as to faith . . . Of course, attributing this power to bring salvation to baptism separate from faith is an abuse of the New Testament."