The Board of Trustees of the International Mission Board (IMB) recently approved two guidelines for new missionary candidates.
Part of the baptism clause states...
a. Baptism is a church ordinance.Many missionaries, including myself, are interested in knowing whether or not these guidelines apply towards our missionary work overseas? It is one thing they are guidelines for new missionary candidates, but quite another if expected to be enforced overseas in a totally different context.
Baptism must take place under the authority of a local church that practices believer’s baptism alone, embraces the doctrine of the security of a believer’s salvation and does not view baptism as sacramental, regenerative or essential to salvation.
b. A candidate who has not been baptized under the authority of a local church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his or her Southern Baptist church.
While the baptism and "private prayer language" guidelines are still fresh on many S. Baptists minds these days, I'd like to share a recent incident related to the application of the baptism guideline...
Early Sunday morning in late April of this year, a group of new believers we relate to made their way to a river outside the city for baptisms. (See "Salitre Baptisms" video below.)
Right as we were ready to begin, the bus driver interrupts the proceedings and asks aloud "¿puedo yo bautizarme también?--can I too be baptized?" Everyone gathered around and begin to ask him about his salvation experience. The man convinced us all he had truly given his heart to Jesus and wanted to be obedient to what Christ had commanded. He stated he had long wanted to be baptized but could find no one to do so. Without further debate or delay he was instructed to the go to the back of the line and await his turn along with the others. (Part of this dialogue can be briefly observed at 0:58-1:08 in the video below.) When his turn came, he was immersed in the muddy river waters along with everyone else that day. All of us rejoiced and praised God as he came up out of the waters with a smile on his face!
The only problem to this whole story is that, according to the above baptism guideline, this man was not baptized correctly...or at least not correctly according to the IMB guidelines.
He was baptized into Christ Jesus--into the Body of Christ, but not into a local church or by the authority of a local church.
This is the fourth occasion at a baptism where I have personally witnessed people coming forward asking to be baptized in this fashion. In each of the cases the people who had professed faith in Christ were baptized right there on the spur of the moment. Is this not what Philip did with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8?
Our own daughter was also baptized in this same fashion. She was not baptized into any local church, but rather on her profession of faith in Christ. Sadly, if God should ever lead our daughter to become a missionary with the IMB, she would have to request to be rebaptized in a Southern Baptist church, or else join another missions organization.
I guess the real question in all this is the title of today's post: WAS THIS MAN BIBLICALLY BAPTIZED? If he was, why are we setting up standards and guidelines that go beyond what Scripture teaches about believers baptism?