Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Outward sign of inward reality - jive

I have been thinking about the jive I often hear and have been taught many years ago by my credo-baptistic pastors, in that baptism is the outward sign of an inward reality.

Now, that bit - "inward reality" technically does not play up in Scripture neither does Scripture speak of such construct. If there is one, I like to be shown which Scripture that might be.

I go back to Acts 2:38

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
This passage is commonly interpreted by Baptistic folk to mean, 1.) repent first, b.) then be baptized.

So only those that are to be baptized are those who have repented. Baptistic commentators also make bones about that repentance comes first before baptism.

The question is, how do you know you have repented? Hence, this makes the baptizer and the baptizee (sic?) look at the "inward reality" so that they may adhere to the command to be baptized. Honestly neither the credo-baptizer nor the baptizee know of such "inward reality" yet they have it in their language.

And this brings up another point, Acts 2:38 is looked at by the Baptistic person as a command.

This the reason why they have a hard time undestanding why a Lutheran can affirm JBFA and have real Sacraments of Baptism and Communion, they view the passage as a command to be performed, a Law.

If I have a Baptistic reader here, I like to throw another posibility of reading the text. That Act 2:38 passage is not a command but a promise! A gift. In fact that is what the passage says - "the promise is to you and to your children". Also the connection between the forgiveness of sins and baptism should not be ignored as some of you do. If you do not believe that forgiveness of sins is a gift, then you have to believe it is earned. Yet the passage speaks of baptism as a promise with attachments - forgiveness of sins and the gift of the HS.

That baptism is the repentance. That is why in Church History, it is not possible for someone to be considered a Christian if he is not baptized. Also in your circles, you have people questioning, "if baptism does not save, why do I have to be baptized, since I have given my heart to Jesus and I have already asked him to come in"? You have this paradigm and a conundrum of convincing the professor of the need to be baptized to fulfill a command.

In Lutheran circles, that paradigm does not compute because baptism is the gift itself, and the receiving of the gift...itself, in the name of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins.


Steve said...

Well said, LPC!

Yes! The baptism IS the repentance.

The Lord gives what He commands!

You want to watch the fur fly?

Bring up baptism to the sectarians.

L P said...


There is a lot of excitement going on your post simply because you shared Chloe's baptism.

The babtsiks there just cannot go pass their gnostic paradigm.


Steve said...

"The babtsiks there just cannot go pass their gnostic paradigm."

It is incredible how dense they can be!

You can say it a million times that God is the One who does the baptizing...that it is His work...and they'll still say stuff like, "you are adding a work to the work on the cross"...or other such nonsense.

Oh well...we can't make them believe it.

But we ought to keep proclaiming it.

Thanks for a great post, LPC!

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve, LP,

It's Larry. Yea Steve I was just surveying the commentary opposed generally to that post. It donned on me what Luther said once of infant baptism showing forth most plainly the Gospel...and hence the Cross...and hence the tripping stone and offense thereof the Cross.

A baby's baptism does indeed so purely proclaim the Gospel that the old Adam religions cannot but help stamp its light out. Anytime the Gospel seems to light up the "room" the darkness goes to stamping it out with fury. Like the mythical vampires who hate the sun light so much when a crack of it comes in they block it immediately, stamp it out, flee it.

Whether it comes via the witness and proclamation of Chloe's baptism in specific, or my kids or other's children, or infants broadly speaking or now adults so baptized in infancy, or in the Lord's Supper, or when Luther shown the Gospel more brilliantly than anyone since the Apostle Paul, or even Paul Himself, not to mention Christ Himself - where ever the Gospel light really begins to shine, the darkness rushes over like a vampire to immediately viciously stamp it out.

The more the baptist raged against it in your post, with LP's comments, Patrick, mine and other Lutherans the more I was encouraged by it. Because that is the way the Gospel is treated. They won't attack the Gospel labeled with the letters "the Gospel" they attack what it is by other names per se. So that when the Gospel is baptism and the sacrament as Luther stated but perhaps called the Lord's Supper they attack it. Because the freeness and giving from God to us -ness of it, its light, simply cannot be tolerated. And also they deny that one name baptism or the Lord's Supper as "Gospel", which it is, lest they be seen as denying the "Gospel" so explicitly stated. They don't want to be heard as saying, "the Gospel doesn't save", yet they are fine in saying "baptism doesn't save (contra Peter)". Yet baptism has and is the Gospel.

So when they hide behind word games and say "baptism doesn't save", when the mask is pulled off what they are really saying that they'd deny if pointed out is, "the Gospel doesn't save".

And LP nailed it on the gnostic thing, it goes right to very subtly turning away from the Word via a spiritualistic interpretation. Luther was right in seeing, so very keenly, that the real issue with the real body and blood of the LS, if interpreted metaphorically or symbolic, ultimately destroys the ENTIRE Word of God. Think about that for a minute, if THAT is symbolic or metaphorical, then nothing is firm in the Word at all. And you see it in baptistic interpretations of clear baptism passages as meaing "dry" or "spiritual" baptism like Acts 2. Spiritualizing or symbolizing it makes uncertain as opposed to an objective concrete real promised given to us on us in Baptism. Because one then must go INWARD as Lito points out, the gnosticism, which is away from the objective Word to KNOW if "I'm saved/elect, etc..." Luther was as right as rain on that issue.


L P said...


Sorry for this late reply.

The truth is what you speak, the fact that baptistic groups deny baptism efficacy is really a misunderstanding of the free Gospel of God.

Also, once again, the reasoning is governed not by what the Word simply is saying, but what the rational mind can understand.

So they see nothing happens to the baby who got baptized and even may be the baby grew up to be an adult which is known for its rampant worldliness, so they say nothing has happened nor has been given. This is even faulty logic, for something could have happened but the gift could have been cast aside.

I saw Calvin reasoning this way too.


Xan said...


Isn't it the Lutheran position that we would cast the gift aside if we could? Or are you describing half of the "single predestination" paradox?

I do think the Baptist argument about the baptised-but-worldly fellow is at least logical.

I prefer to look at it this way: I'm not responsible for what others do after their baptisms. And I'm certainly not in a position to bring my own logic and philosophy to the table in order to determine what the meaning of baptism is. (That would be making logic my assurance, and therefore my god.)

A promise has been made, and that's something I can (and need to) latch onto. Whatever else falls where it may.

L P said...



A gift has been given, as to what the person does with it, is another matter. The acknowledging of the gift is what I believe the Lutherans are on about.

The gift itself is wrapped and woofed into baptism the forgiveness of sins because that is linked to the Cross.

If baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality, how do you know if you have the reality - that is my counter argument to the baptistic view.

It has to be incurvatus in se if the baptistic theory is correct.


joel in ga said...


you are on a roll lately, aren't you? Very good posts and very timely since a Baptist friend and I have been discussing the very same issues.

Btw, in an unabridged dictionary I spotted a deliciously pedantic word for "baptizee", viz., "baptizand". I didn't bother to check where the accent is supposed to go, so I've been pronouncing it Southron style, primary stress on the first syllable and secondary stress on the last.

Xan said...


John H today posted a fine post on the Lutheran view of this topic here:


+1 for the Southron pronunciation of "baptizand" (or anything else!).

L P said...


Thanks bro.

*baptizand* Southron style sounded ok to me, I tried pronouncing it LOL


L P said...


John H gave a good reminder from the Small Cat, which is refreshing for me, cause sometimes I forget what it says there.

When proving the point to a babtsik, you need Scripture.


joel in ga said...

Haha, y'all are the best :^)