Section VII of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states:
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. . . . Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.
Allow me to state from the beginning that I affirm this statement.
However, I have my doubts about its biblical basis, and I am deeply concerned about the implications of such a statement. (Interestingly, the statement strikes me as even narrower than the respective statement on the Lord’s Supper in the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, which is somewhat shocking, given the somewhat “big tent” philosophy which seems to drive certain aspects of the BFM 2000.)
- Are those who disagree with credobaptist (baptism as or upon profession of faith) immersion (which is to say, “baptism”) in unrepentant sin?
- Are those in (1) thereby excluded from catholic church membership, as seems to follow from the presence of unrepentant sin, their exclusion from local church membership, and especially their exclusion from the Lord’s Supper?
- Are we to have any fellowship with those in (1), given (2), and since it seems to follow that they do not gather as true gospel churches?
The really fun response to those questions is to pull a person’s Baptist card.
I think I understand (I think) the systematic concerns that drive the aforementioned statement from the BFM 2000, assuming I am reading the statement correctly. In fact I think denying that section, as a Baptist, is inconsistent. It is just that in terms of my fellowship with other Christians who are not Baptists, I run into inconsistencies again.
But more on that later, Lord willing.